Wittgenstein and censorship | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1757-1952
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1960

Abstract

The current debates around censorship are about more than whether or not censorship is desirable. These debates are also about what counts as censorship. The question of what counts as censorship is a relatively new one since the Liberal conception of censorship was taken as given until the 1980s. Since then, a new approach to understanding censorship has gained momentum. What Matthew Bunn calls ‘New Censorship Theory’ argues that the Liberal conception is far too narrow to properly encompass the vast complexities of censorship. New Censorship Theory does not deny the insights offered by the Liberal conception, but expands upon them. This expansion pushes the notion of censorship out of the censor’s office and into the marketplace, politics and social life. New Censorship Theory also recognizes the way that censorship is both prohibitive and productive. In light of this, some authors have argued that New Censorship Theory overstretches the concept of censorship to such a degree that it risks becoming useless and it risks equating all forms of censorship. Beate Müller borrows the notion of family resemblances from the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein to try to avoid getting stuck in the debates around terminology. She does this by trying to identify the essential elements of censorship, distinguishing between its core and periphery characteristics and by mapping censorial actions and reactions systematically. I argue that Müller uses the philosophy of Wittgenstein to make an anti-Wittgensteinian argument. In order to show why I think that this is the case, I will review the censorship debate before providing my own Wittgensteinian contribution.

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2022-12-23
2024-05-24
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