Wittgenstein and the Practice of Philosophy
  • Publication Date: December 31, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118925 / 1551118920
  • 280 pages; 9" x 6"

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Wittgenstein and the Practice of Philosophy

  • Publication Date: December 31, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118925 / 1551118920
  • 280 pages; 9" x 6"

Wittgenstein and the Practice of Philosophy introduces Wittgenstein’s philosophy to senior undergraduates and graduate students. Its pedagogical premise is that the best way to understand Wittgenstein’s thought is to take seriously his methodological remarks. Its interpretive premise is that those methodological remarks are the natural result of Wittgenstein’s rejection of his early view of the ground of value, including semantic value or meaning, as something that must lie “outside the world.”

This metaphysical view of meaning is replaced in his transitional writings with a kind of conventionalism, according to which meaning is made possible by the existence of grammatical conventions that are implicit in our linguistic practices. The implicit nature of these conventions makes us vulnerable to a special kind of confusion that results from lacking a clear view of the norms that underlie our linguistic practices. This special confusion is characteristic of philosophical problems, and the task of philosophy is the therapeutic one of alleviating confusion by helping us to see our grammatical norms clearly.

This development of this therapeutic view of philosophy is traced from Wittgenstein’s early
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus through his transitional writings and lectures to his great masterwork, Philosophical Investigations, and his final reflections on knowledge and scepticism in On Certainty. Wittgenstein’s discussions of naming, family resemblances, rule-following and private language in Philosophical Investigations are all examined as instances of this sort of method, as is his discussion of knowledge in On Certainty. The book concludes by considering some objections to the viability of Wittgenstein’s method and speculating on how it might be extended to a discussion of moral value to which Wittgenstein never explicitly returns.

Comments

“A wide-ranging and extraordinarily clear introduction to Wittgenstein’s treatment of central philosophical problems about the nature of science, logic, language, and knowledge, the relationship between his earlier and his later philosophy, and his therapeutic conception of philosophical method.” — David Stern, University of Iowa

“This book is a clear and sensible introduction to Wittgenstein’s philosophy, which, rightly, gives pride of place to his extraordinary conception of the subject: his striving for conceptual clarity instead of new philosophical theories. At a time when uncritical emulation of scientific methodology is common in philosophy, this accessible presentation of Wittgenstein’s unorthodox methodological views should be particularly salutary and useful to students.” — Severin Schroeder, University of Reading

Acknowledgements
Introduction

CHAPTER 1 PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE

  1. A Foundation for the Sciences
  2. The Queen of the Sciences
  3. Philosophy as an Under-labourer to the Sciences
  4. Locke, the Under-labourer
  5. Philosophy as Logic: Russell
  6. Philosophy as Logic: The Vienna Circle
  7. Quine’s Naturalism

CHAPTER 2 PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE IN THE TRACTATUS

  1. The Tractatus
  2. Facts and Propositions
  3. Analysis and Extensionality
  4. Logical Pictures
  5. Silence
  6. The Transcendental
  7. Saying and Showing
  8. Philosophy as an Activity
  9. Russell and Wittgenstein

CHAPTER 3 AFTER THE TRACTATUS

  1. Certainty in a Time of Doubt
  2. The Demise of Logical Atomism
  3. Verification for a While
  4. Whistling in the Dark?
  5. Implicit Conventions
  6. The Synopsis of Trivialities
  7. Tidying Up
  8. Lost in the City
  9. Against Explanation
  10. Illusion, Weakness, Illness, Therapy
  11. Farewell to Philosophy?

CHAPTER 4 LANGUAGE WITHOUT ESSENCE

  1. Language-games
  2. Learning Names
  3. Analysis and Bearerless Names
  4. Proper Names
  5. Meaning and Use
  6. From Necessary Objects to Contingent Conventions
  7. The Multiplicity of Language-games
  8. The Problem of Universals
  9. Beyond Realism and Nominalism
  10. The Family of Numbers
  11. The Voices of the Investigations

CHAPTER 5 RULES AND PRIVATE LANGUAGE

  1. Kripke’s Problem
  2. Kripke’s “Sceptical Solution”
  3. Contra Kripke
  4. Kripke on Private Language
  5. Some Arguments against Private Language
  6. A Refutation of the Possibility of Private Language?
  7. “Robinson Crusoe”
  8. Expressivism
  9. Other Minds

CHAPTER 6 SCEPTICISM, KNOWLEDGE, AND JUSTIFICATION

  1. Moorean Propositions and Sceptical Doubts
  2. Definitive Refutation?
  3. Reminders and Diagnoses
  4. ‘I Know’
  5. Doubt Requires Certainty
  6. Contextualism
  7. The Riverbed of Thought
  8. The Hard Rock of the Riverbed
  9. Back to the Tractatus?

CHAPTER 7 OBJECTIONS AND EXTRAPOLATIONS

  1. Farewell to Philosophy?
  2. Ordinary Language Philosophy
  3. Quietism and Pessimism
  4. Conservatism
  5. How General Is Wittgenstein’s Method?
  6. Wittgenstein’s Silence about Ethics
  7. Ethical Concepts and Family Resemblances
  8. Wittgenstein and Quine

Bibliography
Index

Michael Hymers is Professor of Philosophy at Dalhousie University, Halifax.