Deconstruction, Literature, and Wittgenstein’s Privileging of Showing

Alex Segal


Wittgenstein’s distinction between saying and showing involves a privileging of the latter. This privileging, which is both ethical and aesthetic, emerges in Wittgenstein’s attitudes to literature. Involving the metaphysics of presence and an oppositional hierarchy, it seems to be a possible target of Derrida’s deconstruction. Indeed, in Wittgenstein, Derrida sees an effacement of theory, an effacement that Derrida criticises and that can be construed as part and parcel of Wittgenstein’s privileging of showing. For theory belongs to saying rather than to showing. Focusing on commentators of Wittgenstein who affirm the privileging of showing, this essay explores a tension between Wittgenstein and Derrida that pertains to this privileging.   


literature, ethics, showing, saying, theory, humility, self-recognition

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