Wittgenstein on Being (and Nothingness)

Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio 17 (2):189-202 (2023)
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Abstract

In this paper, I present an interpretation of Wittgenstein's remarks on the experience of wonder at the existence of the world. According to this interpretation, Wittgenstein's feeling of wonder stems from perceiving the existence of the world as an absolute miracle, that is, as a fact that is in principle beyond explanation. Based on this analysis, I will suggest that Wittgenstein's experience is akin to what has been described by other authors such as Coleridge, Pessoa, Heidegger, Scheler, Sartre, and Hadot, among many others. Through a comparison between Wittgenstein and Coleridge on the experience of existence, I shall highlight some core features of this experience, chief among them the use of the notion of nothingness in clarifying what is understood in the experience, the role of intuition, and the presence of a specific pathos. As a whole, this paper aims to provide a contribution to the project of a phenomenology of the experience of existence and intends to create a bridge for a dialogue between Wittgenstein and the phenomenological tradition on the enigma of existence.

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