Special Issue Research Article

Wittgenstein and Heidegger against a Science of Aesthetics



Wittgenstein’s and Heidegger’s objections against the possibility of a science of aesthetics were influential on different sides of the analytic/continental divide. Heidegger’s anti-scientism leads him to an alētheic view of artworks which precedes and exceeds any possible aesthetic reduction. Wittgenstein also rejects the relevance of causal explanations, psychological or physiological, to aesthetic questions. The main aim of this paper is to compare Heidegger with Wittgenstein, showing that: (a) there are significant parallels to be drawn between Wittgenstein’s and Heidegger’s anti-scientism about aesthetics, and that (b) their anti-scientism leads both towards partly divergent criticisms of what I will call ‘aestheticism’. The divergence is mainly due to a broader metaphilosophical disagreement concerning appeals to ordinary language. Thus situating the two philosophers’ positions facilitates a possible critical dialogue between analytic and continental approaches in aesthetics.


  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 57 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 64–85
  • DOI: 10.33134/eeja.29
  • Submitted on 31 Oct 2018
  • Accepted on 10 Sep 2019
  • Published on 15 Apr 2020
  • Peer Reviewed