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Groundless Grounds

A Study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger

Lee Braver

Publication Year: 2012

An in-depth comparison of Wittgenstein and Heidegger shows how the views of both philosophers emerge from a fundamental attempt to dispense with the transcendent.

Published by: The MIT Press

Cover, Title Page

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p. 1-1


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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-13

I want to thank Jonathan Beale, Charles Guignon, Iain Thomson, Jim Edwards, Jon Cogburn, and John Koritansky for helpful comments and suggestions on drafts. Any errors are, of course, entirely their fault. An NEH Summer Seminar helped my early work on it. Andy Paiko made the beautiful glassworks which he graciously...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. 1-11

First, let’s get the obligatory biographical parallels out of the way. Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein were both born in 1889 in adjacent German-speaking countries (Germany and Austria, respectively). After flirting with other occupations (priesthood and engineering), they both came to study under leading philosophers of the day...

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1. What Is Philosophy?

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pp. 13-52

The topics philosophers discuss are as diverse as the types of things there are in the universe, and plenty of them ignore even that restriction. But there is one topic that all great philosophers address, and that is philosophy itself. This issue carries personal significance for Wittgenstein and Heidegger since their methodological innovations were partially undertaken...

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2. What Is a Thing?

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pp. 53-79

Chapter 1 explained Wittgenstein’s and Heidegger’s diagnoses of philosophical confusion as the result of being guided by a picture or understanding of being during reflection, instead of by the tacit understanding that informs pre-reflective acting and speaking. In this chapter, I want to look at the specific picture/conception of being responsible...

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3. The Whole Hurly-Burly of Human Actions

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pp. 81-118

Atomism in some form or other has been the default ontology for most of the history of philosophy: objects are what they are because of their own intrinsic nature, gaining only superficial features from whatever relationships they happen to enter into. This metaphysical structure can then secure semantic determinacy: synching words with referents...

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4. What Is Called Thinking?

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pp. 119-171

We began this study by examining Wittgenstein’s and Heidegger’s projects as therapeutic treatments of the pseudo-problems that strike us when we disengage from normal, ongoing activity. We then devoted a chapter to each of the perspectives or stances that frame their thought—the theoretical notion of static, discrete meaning...

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5. The Essence of Ground

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pp. 173-221

As we have seen, Wittgenstein and Heidegger challenge a number of the assumptions and aspirations that have guided philosophy since its inception. One of these, foundationalism, is the attempt to trace all knowledge back to a source or set of claims that, as necessarily true, secure the truth of all that is derived from them. Just as a valid argument produces only true conclusions...

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Conclusion: Original Finitude

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pp. 223-239

Like all great philosophers, Wittgenstein and Heidegger discuss a wide range of topics; I have surveyed those I consider to be central to their work and of greatest interest. One topic at the foundation of much of their thought is the idea of limits or finitude. Wittgenstein’s early work plots the limitations of what we can think and speak. Focusing on language rather than thought...


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pp. 241-323


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pp. 325-349


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pp. 351-354

E-ISBN-13: 9780262301718
E-ISBN-10: 0262301717
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262016896
Print-ISBN-10: 0262016893

Page Count: 370
Publication Year: 2012