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The Legacy of Wittgenstein: Pragmatism or Deconstruction

Edited By Ludwig Nagl and Chantal Mouffe

What is striking in the current reception of Wittgenstein is just how wide-ranging his influence has become among those who are trying to elaborate an alternative to the rationalistic framework dominant today. Pragmatists and deconstructionists are at the forefront of such a movement, of course, and it comes as no surprise that several of them have turned to Wittgenstein and have opened up new perspectives on his work. This joint interest has created a very welcome bridge between post-analytic and continental philosophy which have all but ignored each other for far too long. A promising dialogue is now developing, one to which the contributions to this volume can testify. They were originally presented at a conference organized in November 1999 at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London, sponsored by the Austrian Cultural Institute.

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Foreword 7

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Foreword The Legacy of Wittgenstein: Deconstruction or Pragmatism', was the title of the conference in November 1999 at which the essays collected in this volume were originally presented. The conference was sponsored by the Austrian Cultural Institute in London and hosted by the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster. Our aim as organizers was to bring together a group of distinguished scholars interested in Wittgenstein to discuss the relevance of his work for contemporary debates. This was not, however, a traditional philosophy conference. We did not look for Wittgenstein 'experts' who would engage in very technical and special- ized discussion. The idea was to have a broader discussion among theorists who had found the philosophy of Wittgenstein of particular significance for their work in different fields. We therefore invited people from a variety of disciplines: political theory, aesthetics, comparative literature, as well as philosophers. These scholars were also chosen to represent both the Anglo-American tradition of pragmatism and the continental one of deconstruction. The affinities between those two traditions and Wittgenstein's thought have recently been acknowledged and it seemed timely to scrutinize them. What is striking in the current reception of Wittgenstein is how wide-ranging his influence has become among those who are trying to elaborate an alternative to the dominant rationalistic framework. Pragmatists and deconstructionists are of course at the forefront of such a movement and it is no surprise to find that sev- eral of them have turned to Wittgenstein and have opened...

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