dr. Clinton Peter Verdonschot

philosopher // aesthetician // critical theorist

That They Point Is All There Is to It’: Wittgenstein’s Romanticist Aesthetics

‘If the Color Changes’ (2001) by Mel Bochner, photo (2006) by Bruce M. White, via the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University


Why is aesthetics important to Wittgenstein? What, according to him, is the function of the aesthetic? My answer consists of three parts: first, I argue that Wittgenstein finds himself in an aporia of normative consciousness – that is to say, a problem with regard to our awareness of the world in terms of its relation to a norm. Second, I argue that the function of Wittgenstein’s aesthetic writings is to deal with this aporia. Third, through a comparison with Friedrich Schlegel’s writings on allegory, I try to show that the way in which Wittgenstein resolves the aporia renders him a Romanticist philosopher. The point of an aesthetic interaction, for Wittgenstein, is that it can render clear what cannot be described without running against the walls of our cage: the absolute. Through aesthetic interactions we are able to (indirectly) access a ground for norms by which we experience ourselves as unconditionally bound.

  author       = {Verdonschot, Clint},
  date         = {2021},
  journaltitle = {Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics},
  title        = {\emph{That} They Point Is All There Is To It},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {72-88},
  subtitle     = {Wittgenstein's Romanticist Aesthetics},
  volume       = {58},