A Confusion of Categories: Wittgenstein's Kierkegaardian Argument Against Heidegger

Philosophical Writings (Special Issue):15-26 (2010)
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A mysterious remark to Friedrich Waismann on 30 December 1929 marks the only occasion where Wittgenstein refers to both Heidegger and Kierkegaard. Yet although this has generated much controversy, little attention has been paid to the charge of nonsense that Wittgenstein here appears to bring against Heidegger; thus, the supporting argument that may be latent has not been unearthed. Through analysis of this remark, Wittgenstein's arguments in the Tractatus and 'A Lecture on Ethics', and Heidegger's account of anxiety (Angst) in Being and Time, I argue that we can extract an argument against the central question of Heidegger's philosophy: the question of being. To understand this, I examine the Kierkegaardian ideas employed by Wittgenstein and Heidegger and attempt to show that this argument can be partly understood in Kierkegaardian terms. I further argue that examining what Heidegger means by 'being' (Sein) shows that Wittgenstein's argument does not meet its target.



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Jonathan Beale
University of Reading (PhD)

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References found in this work

Concluding unscientific postscript to Philosophical fragments.Søren Kierkegaard - 1992 - Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Edited by Howard Vincent Hong, Edna Hatlestad Hong & Søren Kierkegaard.
Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir.Norman Malcolm - 1958 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. Edited by G. H. von Wright & Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Ludwig Wittgenstein.Norman Malcolm - 1958 - New York,: Oxford University Press. Edited by G. H. von Wright & Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Why there is something rather than nothing.Bede Rundle - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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