Bewitching Oxymorons and Illusions of Harmony

  • Robert D. Stolorow Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles
  • George E. Atwood Rutgers University (Emeritus)


Wittgenstein’s account of how language bewitches one’s intelligence is a singular achievement in the phenomenology of language. In section 426 of Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein famously claims that the meaning of a word is to be found in the “actual use” of it, and he contrasts this understanding with the projection of a picture:

A picture is conjured up which seems to fix the sense unambiguously. The actual use, compared with that suggested by the picture, seems like something muddied. ... [T]he form of expression we use seems to have been designed for a god, who knows what we cannot know; he sees the whole of each of those infinite series and he sees into human consciousness. (Wittgenstein, 1953, section 426)


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How to Cite
Stolorow, R., & Atwood, G. (2021). Bewitching Oxymorons and Illusions of Harmony. Language and Psychoanalysis, 10(1), 49-52.
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