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Milton and the Ineffable$
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Noam Reisner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572625.001.0001

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Epilogue: Wittgenstein's verdict

Epilogue: Wittgenstein's verdict

Chapter:
(p.282) Epilogue: Wittgenstein's verdict
Source:
Milton and the Ineffable
Author(s):

Noam Reisner (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572625.003.0007

This brief epilogue offers a quotation from Wittgenstein's letters about poetry as a concluding remark for the book as a whole, and speculates whether or not Wittgenstein — a philosopher everywhere committed to exploring the limits of language and the problems of ineffability — would have approved of Milton's poetry, which appears to transgress the limits of Wittgensteinian ‘sense’ as it moves into the realms of ineffable ‘nonsense’. Using Wittgenstein's say-show distinction, as outlined in the Tractatus and implicitly alluded to in the discussed quotation, the epilogue finally concludes that Milton only ever pretends to say the unsayable, and that this pretence is what matters in his poetry.

Keywords:   Wittgenstein, Milton, Tractatus, say-show distinction, ineffable nonsense, unsayable

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