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Wittgenstein on Simile as the “Best Thing” in Philosophy


St. Mary's University College, School of Theology, Philosophy and History, Waldegrave Road, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham TW1 4SX,


In a remark written sometime between 1933 and 1943, Wittgenstein suggests that philosophy ought really to be written as one “writes a poem.” Around this time he also talks of simile as the “best thing” in philosophy. In this paper I consider what it would mean to take such claims seriously. Through examining newly discovered material from the (unpublished) Skinner manuscripts (MSS), I offer an analysis of Wittgenstein's approach to literary techniques (broadly conceived) and see how this impacts on his conception of philosophy.