1st Edition

Wittgenstein and Democratic Politics Language, Dialogue and Political Forms of Life

    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume demonstrates how Wittgenstein’s philosophy can illuminate our understanding of politics and open new ways of conceptualizing democratic theory and practice. Its focus is on language, reason and communication as central to identifying present confusions in our understanding of democracy.

    The book seeks to engage Wittgenstein’s philosophical insights, aiming to go beyond the dichotomous oppositions and conceptual entanglements pervading existing frameworks of social and political theories of democracy. Its key topic is the irreplaceable role of dialogue in civic democratic engagement as a condition for the understanding of self and others and, hence, for political life in which reason has a role. Indeed, it presents concrete examples of how Wittgenstein can be constructively applied to current political discourse. Part I of the volume focuses on the general idea of applying Wittgenstein’s philosophy to political and democratic theory and explains the deep and intrinsic relation between Wittgenstein’s thought and politics. Part II discusses Wittgenstein’s concrete concepts as illuminating for understanding selected aspects of democratic politics. Part III deals with a possible exchange between Wittgenstein and other political thinkers, especially Hannah Arendt.

    Wittgenstein and Democratic Politics will appeal to researchers and advanced students working on Wittgenstein’s philosophy, political philosophy, and democratic theory.


    1. Wittgenstein and Democratic Politics Lotar Rasiński and Leszek Koczanowicz

    Part 1: Grounding the Political

    2. The Heart of the Heart: Wittgenstein's Place in Political Theory Thomas Wallgren

    3. Using Wittgenstein’s Method to Explain and Understand Democratic Politics Michael Temelini

    4. Wittgenstein as a Political Philosopher Richard Raatzsch

    5. Wittgenstein’s Lecture on Politics Hans Sluga

    Part 2: Conceptual Entanglements

    6. Grounding Democracy in Radical Practices of Care: From Sameness to Entanglement Naomi Scheman

    7. What Is a “Democratic” Form of Life? Anat Biletzki

    8. Community and Temporality: A Wittgensteinian Approach to Political Judgment Désirée Weber

    9. Wittgenstein’s “Family Resemblances” and their Political Potential Dimitris Gakis

    Part 3: Seeing Connections

    10. Wittgenstein, Arendt, and the Problem of Democratic Persuasion Linda M. G. Zerilli

    11. Wittgenstein and the Politics of Vision Adam Chmielewski

    12. The Proletariat and the Left: Critical Perspectives – Thinking of Political Understanding and Persuasion with Eribon, Arendt and Wittgenstein Anat Matar

    13. Language-Based Critique of Deliberation as a “Picture” in the “Album Theory” of Democracy Wojciech Ufel


    14. Philosophy and / or Politics: Learning from Engagement with Wittgenstein Thomas Wallgren and Anat Biletzki


    Lotar Rasiński is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the DSW University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw, Poland. He is the author of many articles and 6 books, including the 2012 award-winning monograph, Following Marx and Wittgenstein. Social Criticism without Critical Theory (in Polish), and Marxism and Education. International Perspectives on Theory and Action (ed., Routledge, 2018).

    Anat Biletzki is the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Philosophy at Quinnipiac University, USA and Professor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Israel. She is the author of Philosophy of Human Rights: A Systematic Introduction (Routledge, 2019). Her publications include books and articles on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Hobbes, analytic philosophy, political thought, digital culture, and human rights.

    Leszek Koczanowicz is Professor of Cultural Studies and Political Science at the SWPS University (Poland). Leszek Koczanowicz is the author and editor of many books and articles, his recent books include Anxiety and Lucidity: Reflections on Culture in Times of Unrest (Routledge 2020) and The Emancipatory Power of the Body in Everyday Life: Niches of Liberation (2023).

    Alois Pichler is head of the Bergen Wittgenstein Archives and teaches Wittgenstein and philosophy at the University of Bergen. Recent publications include the monograph "Style, Method and Philosophy in Wittgenstein" (2023) and the article “Glaube und Aberglaube nach Wittgenstein” (2004).

    Thomas Wallgren is professor of philosophy, director of The von Wright and Wittgenstein Archives, editor of Challenging Authoritarian Capitalism: The Transformative Power of the World Social Forum (Routledge, 2023) and of The Creation of Wittgenstein: Understanding the Roles of Rush Rhees, Elizabeth Ancombe and Georg Henrik von Wright (2023).

    “This important new book gathers together an international line-up of scholars to reflect upon the relevance of one of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers, Ludwig Wittgenstein, to contemporary concerns about democracy. Every one of the chapters of the book is an original piece, and the book as a whole is a multi-aspect, sustained examination of Wittgenstein’s relevance to contemporary problems of democracy.”

    Robert Vinten, Universidade Nova, Lisbon, Portugal

    “The work of Ludwig Wittgenstein continues to influence the education of political theorists and the discourse of contemporary political theory. This volume offers an excellent selection of contributions both to our understanding of how to deploy Wittgenstein’s ideas on language, and how Wittgenstein’s philosophy illuminates features of democratic theory and theorizing.”

    Christopher C. Robinson, Clarkson University, USA