Wittgenstein, Literature, and the Idea of a Practice

British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (4):375-388 (2010)
The familiar idea that literature is embedded in social practices that help explain both its existence and its value took a distinctive form in analytic philosophy, drawing on speech act theory and a conception of ‘rules’. A major influence was John Rawls's seminal paper ‘Two Concepts of Rules’ (1955) in which he introduced the ‘practice conception of rules’ according to which certain practices are defined by rules that in turn make possible certain kinds of action. The idea underlies the notion of ‘constitutive rules’ in speech act theory and draws on a comparison with games. The origin of this idea can clearly be traced to Wittgenstein, with his highly original thoughts on practices, rules, and games. Yet the Wittgensteinian influence is not sufficiently acknowledged in this context (that is, the context of literary aesthetics). As someone who holds the idea of a practice or ‘institution’ to be of crucial importance in philosophy of literature, I therefore thought it would be useful to put the record straight and remind ourselves what Wittgenstein says about practices (and games) to see just what the relation is between the roots of that idea (in Wittgenstein) and its current manifestations in literary aesthetics. The results suggest that there is much to be learned from Wittgenstein and that his model might be more fruitful than that of Rawls
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayq040
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,122
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Patterns, Particularism and Seeing the Similarity.Michael Luntley - 2002 - Philosophical Papers 31 (3):271-291.
Wittgenstein on Rules and Practices.Mark McCullagh - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:83-100.
III. On the Very Idea of a Form of Life.Lynne Rudder Baker - 1984 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 27 (1-4):277-289.
Wittgenstein, Durkheim, Garfinkel and Winch: Constitutive Orders of Sensemaking.Anne Warfield Rawls - 2011 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 41 (4):396-418.
Wittgenstein, History and Hermeneutics.Christopher Lawn - 2003 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (3):281-295.
Wittgenstein on Rules and Platonism.David H. Finkelstein - 2000 - In Alice Crary & Rupert Read (eds.), The New Wittgenstein. Routledge. pp. 83-100.
Sharing the Background.Titus Stahl - 2013 - In Michael Schmitz, Beatrice Kobow & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), The Background of Social Reality. Springer. pp. 127--146.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
47 ( #113,850 of 2,191,269 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #291,145 of 2,191,269 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature