Culture and Value Essay - Critical Context

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Critical Context

Readers generally encounter Wittgenstein within the very intimidating context of modern analytical and linguistic philosophy. As represented and practiced by academics, this branch of philosophy demands a thorough grounding in modern mathematical logic as well as a good acquaintance with the extremely complex and highly technical subtleties of language analysis. Consequently, the uninitiated reader is virtually precluded from access to his views. In Culture and Value, however, Wittgenstein can be encountered within the far more congenial and readily accessible context of cultural criticism.

Nevertheless, even this work, as is frequently the case with Wittgenstein, does not quite conform to the standard genre. It is markedly different, for example, from the works of historians such as Otto Spengler (Der Untergang des Abendlandes: Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte, 1918; The Decline of the West, 1922) and Arnold Toynbee (A Study of History, 1934-1961) or the investigations of sociologists such as P. A. Sorokin (Social and Cultural Dynamics, 1937-1941). These critics postulate a certain age of a particular culture as constituting its high point and judge all former and subsequent periods accordingly. They also focus upon a dominant feature of a given civilization and seek to trace its long-term implications. In other words, they do comparative analyses and speculative prediction. Wittgenstein, in...

(The entire section is 432 words.)