On Wittgenstein’s Notion of a Surveyable Representation: Rituals, Aesthetics, and Aspect-Perception

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (4):825-838 (2022)
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I demonstrate that analogies, both explicit and implicit, between Wittgenstein’s discussions of rituals, aesthetics, and aspect-perception, have important payoffs in terms of understanding his notion of a “surveyable representation” (übersichtliche Darstellung) as it applies to phenomena that are not exclusively grammatical in nature. In particular, I argue that a surveyable representation of certain anthropological and aesthetic facts allows us to see, qua form of aspect-perception, internal relations and formal connections, so that the inner nature of a ritual or the solution of an aesthetic puzzle is exhibited. This particular form of seeing both explains why Wittgenstein thought that hypothetical explanations about the origins of a ritual are irrelevant to appreciating its meaning and elucidates his understanding of rituals, which involves seeing “internal relations” and “formal connections.” The upshots of the account for work in anthropology are discussed.

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Nir Ben-Moshe
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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References found in this work

Understanding a Primitive Society.Peter Winch - 1964 - American Philosophical Quarterly 1 (4):307 - 324.
Culture and Value.Ludwig Wittgenstein, G. von Wright, Heikki Nyman & Peter Winch - 1982 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 44 (3):562-562.
Philosophical Grammar.Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rush Rhees & Anthony Kenny - 1975 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 8 (4):260-262.

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