Wittgenstein's House: Language, Space, and Architecture

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Wittgenstein's House reads Wittgenstein's his two main philosophical texts, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations, in relation to an experience that intervened between them: his design and construction of the Stonborough-Wittgenstein house in Vienna. Arguing that the practice of architecture occupies not just a historical position between Wittgenstein's early and late philosophy, but a conceptual position as well, the book demonstrates that Wittgenstein's practice of architecture constitutes a fundamental component in the development of his philosophy of language from its early to late phases. The book advances the radical proposition that the field in which architecture and philosophy operate includes linguistic and spatial practices. It develops innovative forms of interdisciplinary analyses to demonstrate that the philosophical positions put forth by Wittgenstein's two main works are literally unthinkable outside of their respective conceptions of space: the view from above in the early work and the view from within constructed by the late work. To examine the manner in which Wittgenstein's practice of architecture insinuated itself into his philosophy, the author interweaves in-depth analyses of the spatial constructs underpinning the early and late philosophies with conceptual, formal and operative discussions of the design of the Stonborough-Wittgenstein house. Together these discussions reveal how Wittgenstein's practice of architecture engaged philosophical concepts, through which it influenced Wittgenstein's philosophy of language. At the heart of this approach is the finding that the philosophical concepts at the core of Wittgenstein's philosophy are indeed spatial ones, including his concerns with the limits of language, the boundary between showing and saying, the intricate textual numbering systems he devises, the relationship between the interiority of the subject and the publicness of language, and the formative principle of family resemblance.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
. . . An interesting and thought-provoking work, one that adds to the corpus of writings on Wittgenstein's ideas about architecture and aesthetics.

...sheds light on the architectural experiences that led Wittgenstein from an account of language emanating from a...paranormal perspective...to an interior view of language.-Christopher C. Robinson

A noteworthy synthesis of Wittgenstein's philosophy with the subject of architecture.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823228805
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

NANA LAST is Assistant Professor of Architecture at Rice University.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction Spatial Practices from Architecture to Philosophy 1

Pt. 1 Transgressions and Inhabitations

1 Transgressions 33

2 From Without to Within: The Building of Inhabitation 61

3 The Stonborough-Wittgenstein House 78

4 The Practice of Architecture 95

Pt. 2 Images of Entanglement

Images of Entanglement 123

Family Resemblance 125

The Landscape of Language 136

Nets and Webs 143

Crystalline Purity 146

Spatial Crises 149

Labyrinths and Mazes 155

Albums 161

Surface Practices 168

Boundaries 174

Shared Territory 182

Notes 191

Selected Bibliography 201

Index 205

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