Research Article

Wittgenstein, Loos, and the Critique of Ornament



Adolf Loos is one of the few figures that Wittgenstein explicitly named as an influence on his thought. Loos’s influence has been debated in the context of determining Wittgenstein’s relation to modernism, as well as in attempts to come to terms with his work as an architect. This paper looks in a different direction, examining a remark in which Wittgenstein responded to Heidegger’s notorious pronouncement that ‘the Nothing noths’ by reference to Loos’s critique of ornamentation. Wittgenstein draws a parallel between the requirement to start philosophy with an inarticulate sound and the need, in certain cultural periods, to highlight the borders of tablecloths using lace. Paying heed to Wittgenstein’s remark sheds further light on a Loosian influence at work in his thinking about modern civilization, both in his well-known ‘Lectures on Aesthetics’ and in the earlier notes from his 1930 lectures at Cambridge.


Ludwig WittgensteinAdolf LoosMartin Heideggermodernism
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 58 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 144–159
  • DOI: 10.33134/eeja.218
  • Submitted on 19 Jun 2020
  • Accepted on 19 Sep 2020
  • Published on 16 Sep 2021
  • Peer Reviewed