We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

The Caesura : remarks on Wittgenstein's interruption of theory, or, why practices elude explanation.

Harrison, P. (2002) 'The Caesura : remarks on Wittgenstein's interruption of theory, or, why practices elude explanation.', Geoforum., 33 (4). pp. 487-503.


This paper aims to bring the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein into contact with the growing interest and concerns over the status of practice, performance and non-representational ‘theory’ within human geography. Drawing predominantly on Wittgenstein’s later work, the aim is to use Wittgenstein’s comments to illuminate how certain presuppositions and idealisations over the nature of understanding and meaning are or have been built into our (social scientific) modes and methods of explanation. Thus Wittgenstein’s work is used as a diagnosis––a diagnosis of how the modus operandi of giving an explanation can, and often does, prevent us from acknowledging the practical and the performative, from witnessing the taking-place of meaning and understanding. The paper carries out this task by focusing first on Wittgenstein’s critique of the role of ‘rules’ and ‘rule-following’ in the construction of social scientific accounts and secondly, through a consideration of the implications of Wittgenstein’s ‘scenic’ style of writing through which he attempts to deconstruct the epistemo-methodological idealisations and representationalist desires of social analysis. The claim here is not that Wittgenstein’s work provides the solution to the problematics which confront us in considering the status (or otherwise) of practice, but rather that his work may provide us with other ways of going-on, ones more sensitive to the eventful, creative, excessive and distinctly uncertain realms of action.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Performativity, Practice, Non-representational theory, Social explanation, Event.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:No date available
Date of first online publication:November 2002
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar