Wittgenstein on Heidegger’s remarks on the nothing
January 25th 2022
@ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
About the Speaker
Maria Balaska is currently a research fellow at the University of Hertfordshire and at Åbo Akademi University. Her publications include the monograph Wittgenstein and Lacan at the Limit: meaning and astonishment, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019 and the edited collection Cora Diamond on Ethics, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. Her second and forthcoming monograph focuses on wonder and anxiety as encounters with nothing that can offer an ontological insight; it brings together Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Kierkegaard.
I focus on Wittgenstein’s discussion of Heidegger’s remarks on the nothing in the Diktat für Schlick, and Gordon Baker’s response to that discussion in The Voices of Wittgenstein. Baker argues that Wittgenstein treats Heidegger’s expressions -more specifically, the sentence "das Nichts nichtet” (the nothing nihilates) and the idea that the nothing precedes negation- as disquietudes that call for therapy. I put forward a different way of understanding the remarks by drawing attention to two things: a. Wittgenstein’s own ambivalence towards similes, b. Wittgenstein’s other reference to Heidegger in the Conversations with Waismann as well as indirectly in the Lecture on Ethics. Challenging the idea that Heidegger’s remarks are cases of pictures that hold him captive, I suggest, instead, that they are helpful pictures insofar as they show an attentiveness to the complexity of the human experience, and more specifically to certain encounters that Wittgenstein himself described as a ‘running-up-against’ paradox and connected in 1929 to Heidegger’s ‘anxiety’ and to Kierkegaard’s ‘paradox’. The overall aim is twofold: to show why I think that Heidegger’s expressions are not cases of disquietude or empty pictures and to show why Wittgenstein’s work can have space for such an interpretation.