Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy

Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy

Paul Horwich

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: 019966112X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Paul Horwich develops an interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein's later writings that differs in substantial respects from what can already be found in the literature. He argues that it is Wittgenstein's radically anti-theoretical metaphilosophy--and not (as assumed by most other commentators) his identification of the meaning of a word with its use--that lies at the foundation of his discussions of specific issues concerning language, the mind, mathematics, knowledge, art, and religion. Thus Horwich's first aim is to give a clear account of Wittgenstein's hyper-deflationist view of what philosophy is, how it should be conducted, and what it might achieve. His second aim is to defend this view against a variety of objections: that is, to display its virtues, not merely as an accurate reading of Wittgenstein, but as the correct conception of philosophy itself. And the third aim is to examine the application of this view to a variety of topics--but primarily to language and to experience. A further distinctive feature of this approach is its presupposition that Wittgenstein's ideas may be formulated with precision and that solid arguments may be found on their behalf. This pair of guiding assumptions--the centrality of Wittgenstein's metaphilosophy, and its susceptibility to rigorous articulation and rational support--are admittedly controversial but are vindicated, not just textually, but by the power and plausibility of the philosophy that results from them.

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form o f “platonism ”.— In which case, what I am suggesting is that platonism per se is not necessarily objection­ able. W hat is objectionable is the position for which I introduced the label “mysterian platonism ”— the philosophical theory that goes beyond our naive view in supposing th at num bers are intrinsically mysterious, calling for involv­ ing inexplicable conceptions o f ‘object’ and ‘intuitive access’. See C hapter 2, Sections 2.3 and 2.5. Wittgenstein’s metaphilosophy 17 T hird,

contradict his Tracta­ tus position. H is change o f view concerns not w hat m eaning is, but which brand o f m eaning is philosophically im portant. For further discussion see C hapter 4 Section 2(E). 100 Wittgenstein’s Metaphilosophy iven that languages evolve to help us engage w ith the phenom ­ ena we actually encounter, not all possible phenom ena. A related revision concerns the Tractarian view that (T6) There is a set of basic entities from which all facts are composed, and,

And I have elaborated his idea that the only appropriate response to this sort o f puzzlement is to expose the mistakes that provoked it— so that the upshot will be an absence o f confusion rather than the establishment o f theoretical knowledge. The purpose o f the present chapter is to provide a reading, from this metaphilosophical perspective, o f W ittgen­ stein’s discussion o f meaning and understanding. W ithin that dom ain, the idea for which he is m ost famous is that the meaning o f a

it). But the definition o f “m eaning” as “use” will allow such tem porary violations to be rectified. For further discussion sec C hap­ ter 5, footnote 16. 4 G oing perhaps beyond W ittgenstein, let m e stress that (as suggested in footnote 2) his conception o f word use— though it shouldn’t be sem antic or intentional— need not be behaviouristic. Ihe linguistic activities th at constitute meanings may take place w ithin the m ind, and n o t be outwardly expressed. In particular, these

Oxford: Blackwell, 149-68), Colin M cG inn in Wittgenstein on Meaning (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984, 77—93), and Malcolm Budd in “W ittgen­ stein on M eaning, Interpretation and Rules” (Syntbese 58, 1984, 303-23). 168 Wittgensteins Metaphilosophy in term s o f m eaning by the schem a, “w m eans F —* (x)(w is tru e o f x <-> fx)”— an em pirical investigation in to the n a tu ­ ralistic basis o f ‘w ’s m eaning d o g ’ is n o t in the slightest con­ strained by the fact th at words w ith th at m

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