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Leavis and Wittgenstein
Abstract

Abstract:

The literary critic, according to Leavis, “ought to be an anti-philosopher.” Leavis ranked Wittgenstein, in this regard, with other philosophers. This, I argue, was a mistake. Wittgenstein’s philosophy is anti-Cartesian and anti-Lockean in ways that not only mirror Leavis’s distrust of Locke and Descartes but also advance his efforts to argue against them. This essay specifically explores the commitment of both Leavis and Wittgenstein to the idea of “the life of language”: to the idea of language as deeply involved in the constitution of “human worlds,” rather than a mere system of notation for the recording of natural regularities.