A deed Without a Name



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Géza Kállay ©


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A Deed Without a Name”:

a Wittgensteinian Approach to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Singularity of Meaning


’A Deed Without a Name’:

a Wittgensteinian Approach to Shakespeare’s Macbeth

and the Singularity of Meaning


by Géza Kállay ©

The moral rights of the author have been asserted.

2015, SEAS, ELTE, Budapest

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in

a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the

prior permission from the author Géza Kállay (kallay@ucsc.edu). Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the author as well.


“All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be King hereafter.” (Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1.3.50)
“And yet there is something right about this ‘disintegration of the sense’. You get it in the following example: one might tell someone: if you want to pronounce the salutation ‘Hail!’ expressively, you had better not think of hailstones as you say it.” (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations Part II, 175)

“As quick as hail,


Came post with post; and everyone did bear
Thy praises in his kingdom’s great defence,
And pour’d them down before him.”
(Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1.3.97-100)
“The question of style is always the examination, the weighing-in of a pointed object. Sometimes it is only a feather, a quill, but it may also be a stylet, or even a dagger.” (Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles, Derrida 1991: 355)

“But so you can use a screw-driver as a dagger; that won’t make a screw-driver a dagger.” (Stanley Cavell, The Claim of Reason, Cavell 1979:71)

“Make an analysis of literature in this sense:

as inscription of Being”.

(Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, 197)


A Deed Without a Name”: 1

a Wittgensteinian Approach to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Singularity of Meaning 1

Preface and Acknowledgements 6

Introduction 8

A “happy prologue to the swelling act / of the imperial theme” (1.3.130-131) 8

“The subject of our watch” (3.3.8) 13

“…and metaphysical aid…” (1.5.29) 18

“And you whose places are the nearest…” (1.4.36) 37

Chapter 1: Philosophy and Literature 46

Preliminary remarks 46

The ancient quarrel 47

Plato versus Aristotle on poetry and drama (tragedy) 53

How we may (not) tie them together 59

Chapter 2 Wittgenstein: 77

The Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations: 77

attitudes to language 77

Reading (with) Wittgenstein 77

Tractatus 83

Traditional and resolute readers 87

Peter Hacker’s objections to Diamond’s reading (the ‘metaphysical view’) 90

Meredith Williams’s objections to Diamond’s reading (the ‘standard view’) 92

The ‘austere’ and the ‘standard’ (‘metaphysical’) readings compared 94

Two ‘I’-s 96

The Third and the First Persons: perspectives 99

Personal and impersonal perspectives: an example from Camus’ The Plague 102

Must (Muß) 105

Philosophical Investigations 108

Meaning and use 109

Language-games 110

Rule-following 111

Wittgenstein against mentalism (conceptualism) 113

‘Private-language’ 114

Is Philosophical Investigations itself philosophical? 115

Chapter 3 Macbeth: Source 118

Where is the problem? 118

Baptism and prayer 119

Attitudes 121

How sources may be relevant 126

Genius as source 127

Chapter 4 Macbeth: Place 131

The Weird Sisters: when and where 131

The universalist and the personalist accounts of space, place and time 137

Displaced and fixed Macbeth 143

Chapter 5 Macbeth: Time 151

Philosophers seldom live in castles 151

The context of the other “great tragedies” and how it all began 152

Macbeth’s ‘baptismal feast’ and ‘birth’ 155

Out in the world: “and nothing is but what is not”. Expectation and Wittgenstein 159

Narrative versus ‘the dramatic’ 165

Narrative versus ‘the dramatic’: “be-all” and “end-all” 172

Narrative versus the ‘dramatic’: plot 175

Catching up with time and “looking like time” : Macbeth and Lady Macbeth 177

Tomorrow 180

The “walking shadow”. Mimesis. Four meanings of before 188

Chapter 6 Macbeth: “Is this a dagger…?” Object-Identity and 195

Self-Identity 195

Mistress, bed, cup 195

A metatheatrical trick and “this” 201

Investigations again: a ‘drama for many voices’ 204

Penetration versus reminders 208

Grammar and concept 211

Concepts: the example of the three caskets, Hamlet and
Wittgenstein’s boxes with beetles 212

“The possibilities of phenomena”. “Being so and being so” 218

Philosophy-before-philosophy 220

“This” revisited and nothing 224

Identity 226

Position: the “object” and its “reality” 231

“There’s no such thing”: killing, bewitchment and conceptualisation 234

Conceptualisation: clutching and the hand 238

Wittgenstein’s ‘before’-s and the ‘narrative’ aspect of Philosophical Investigations 244

Philosophy and literature – close-down and re-opening 251

Chapter 7 Macbeth: metaphysical Fear 253

Lady Macbeth and “the illness which should (not) attend it” 253

Attention and perception: : neuro-science versus the enactive view 255

Phenomenology 261

Levinas and transcendence 264

Levinas and Macbeth 268

Appendix: Lady Macbeth and Goodwife Agnes: 277

a case of cultural transmission 277

BIBLIOGRAPHY 288





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