Wittgenstein, Tolstoy, and the “Apocalyptic View”

Some aspects of Wittgenstein’s thought are considered in the light of a remark he makes about the “apocalyptic” view of the world. The influence of Tolstoy on Wittgenstein is discussed and elaborated with reference to the idea of a “form of life” as a locus of order, and also to that of “exceptionality” in an unfolding course of events—the latter setting up a connection with the “apocalyptic” theme. This imaginative backdrop remains discernible in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, which draws upon it to perhaps unexpected effect in achieving a dialectical balance between the motifs of order and breakdown.