Wittgenstein and theory of the arts


For the past weeks I´ve been desperately trying to find something intresting theoretical writings for my final written work for the MA here in Bergen. I have doubted myself that maybe I´m not so good contemporary artist cause i dont find any intrest in postmodernistic theories from Barthes, Derrida, Foucalt, Zizek, Lacan… – I mean lots of brainwork there and all, but I just find it utterly boring. What has this to do with art, I ask myself, or if this is art do I want to be part of it?

But then, enter Mr. Wittgenstein and his later philosophy. Calmly and arrogantly Wittgenstein (or Wittgensteinian philosophy) states that even though all the theories have made certain succes in their fields, nonetheless they are false! In a book Wittgenstein, theory and the arts Richard Allen and Malcolm Turvey state that according to Wittgensteins autonomity of language, Theorys in such, falsify themselves as all the theorys (This is very generally put, and filtered through my limited understanding of wittgensteins philosophy) reduce the plurality and richness of human expression, thought, meaning to one principle. Also they assume that the reason why people do something is something hidden, unknown. This unknown varies, but it is still there.

The wish behind such theorethical hypothesis is that in future the theory will be verified. Like a scientific theory, like we can verify that earth is in orbit with sun and not vice versa even though we cant see it, by measuring certain things. But in humanistic theories such a verification is not possible, it either reduces all the human functions to mere physiologial functions, or reduces the plurality of causes to one specific cause,(“-This reason is why we do all this”) or/also then assumes something hidden force behind our actions. And that force can not be verified by scientifical means, cause we cant have scientifical evidence about it. The discovery of such hypothesis cannot be awaiting empirical discovery, according to Wittgensteins conception of the autonomity of linguistic meaning. If we are to form a theory we will have to form it from the things that are there; from things which are open to view in our practices with art.

I really dont think that I have been capable of clearly describing Wittgensteins critique on theory or his linguistic philosophy. Maybe it doesnt even matter, if you are intrested I can recommend the book “Wittgenstein, theory and the arts”, edited by Richard Allen and Malcolm Turvey. But what for me is intresting that such critique was for me like a breath of fresh air, giving the freedom to not be intrested on such theories. And still be part of the discussion, or part of contemporary art field.

The meaning of art doesn´t have to lie in any theory. For me the most intresting part is experience. And experience, in itself doesnt need any verification of theory, if it is there it is there. We don´t have to understand it through our intellect.

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