Making sense of nonsense: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein



Publication Details

Lippitt, J. and Hutto, D. (1998). Making sense of nonsense: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 98 (3), 263-286.

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The aim of this paper is to make sense of cases of apparent nonsense in the writings of Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein. Against commentators such as Cora Diamond and James Conant, we argue that, in the case of Wittgenstein, recognising such a category of nonsense is necessary in order to understand the development of his thought. In the case of Kierkegaard, we argue against the view that the notion of the ‘absolute paradox’ of the Christian incarnation is intended to be nonsensical. However, we recognise that Kierkegaard’s discussion of Christianity uses a similar methodology to a Wittgensteinian grammatical investigation. We maintain that by making sense of their respective views on nonsense and paradox we are able more fully to appreciate their positions on, and approaches to, ethics and religion.

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