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Unity of Wittgenstein's Philosophy, The

Necessity, Intelligibility, and Normativity

Jose Medina

Publication Year: 2002

Exposing the myth of “the two Wittgensteins,” this book provides a detailed account of the unity in Wittgenstein’s thought from the Tractatus to the Philosophical Investigations. Unlike recent interpretations in the literature, this account is not the story of the unfolding of a single view, but instead the story of an ongoing conversation and its internal logic. Throughout his career, Wittgenstein argued that philosophical problems about the necessary and the impossible, on the one hand, and about the meaningful and the nonsensical, on the other, might be dissolved by means of an elucidation of ordinary language use. This approach always relied on the same strategy, namely contextualism. He identified decontextualization as the main source of philosophical confusion and argued that philosophical understanding consists of situating concepts in the normative contexts in which they function. This critical reconstruction contributes to the understanding of Wittgenstein’s philosophy and illuminates contemporary debates concerning necessity, intelligibility, and the normativity of language.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-x

This book began as a dissertation written in the philosophy department at Northwestern University from 1995 to 1998. Thanks are first due to the dissertation committee that supervised my work during those years: Meredith Williams, Michael Williams, Arthur Fine, and Joan Weiner. I am greatly indebted to all of them for their careful reading of my work and for being always both critical and supportive. But my greatest debt is to...

ABBREVIATIONS

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pp. xi-xii

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-4

Until recently it was almost universally 1 assumed in the literature on Wittgenstein that he developed two radically different philosophies, which found expression in his two main works, the Tractatus and the Investigations. Accordingly, the task for those interested in the evolution of Wittgenstein’s thought was to explain the radical shift from his early to his later philosophy. Recent interpretations, however, have called into question...

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1. Necessity and Intelligibility in the Tractatus:

1.1 Possibility and Necessity in the Tractatus

1.2. What’s Color Got to Do with It?

1.3. The Myth of ‘Hidden Bodies’

1.4 Deflationism and Realism in the Tractatus

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pp. 5-30

As many commentators have pointed out,1 one of Wittgenstein’s key concerns when he returned to philosophy in 1929 was the so-called color-exclusion problem; that is, the problem of how to account for the impossibility of attributing two colors to the same point in the visual field. However, although there are interesting analyses of this problem in the literature,2 the questions of what is at stake in this problem and why it had the critical potential to destabilize the Tractarian framework have not yet been settled. What is so special about the mutual exclusion of colors? In the...

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2. From Pictures to Yardsticks: The Colorful Transformations of the Tractarian View of Language:

2.1 Let the Phenomena Speak for Themselves!

2.2. The Emergence of the Satzsystem Conception of Language

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pp. 31-54

In 1929 the reexamination of the color-exclusion problem led Wittgensteinto rethink the notions of logical form and logical analysis. A new version of these core Tractarian notions together with a new analysis of the color-exclusion problem appeared in “Some Remarks on Logical Form” (here-after SRLF), the paper that Wittgenstein wrote for the 1929 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society. The arguments of this paper did not leave...

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3. The Calculus View of Language: Meaning and Rules:

3.1. Rules as Constitutive of Meaning

3.2. Local Holism, Verificationism, and the Proliferation Problem

3.3. Idealizing Language: The Autonomy of Rules

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pp. 55-82

A recurrent theme in Wittgenstein’s writings and lectures from 1930–34 is the critique of the idea that there is a single calculus of propositions that underlies every possible symbolism. He remarks that “Frege and Russell made up a calculus which looked to be the calculus underlying the correct use of language” (Lectures 1932–35, p. 68). He also points out that in the Tractatus he shared this “mistaken idea” with Frege and Russell:...

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4. The “Unbridgeable Gulf” between Rule and Application:

4.1. Frege on Applicability

4.2. The “Internal Relation” between Rule and Application

4.3. Is Grammar Up to Me?

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pp. 83-116

As discussed in the previous chapter, the core idea in Wittgenstein’s view of meaning in the early 1930s is that the rules for the use of a sign are constitutive of its meaning.108 Wittgenstein’s conception of symbolic rules as constitutive of meaning seems to have been influenced by formalist accounts of geometry and arithmetic. Wittgenstein’s claim that the meaning of a sign is given by an entire system of rules (e.g., Lectures 1932–35, p. 3) echoes Hilbert’s thesis that the meaning of a geometrical sign is defined by...

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5. Internal Relations in Action: Following a Rule versus Conforming with It:

5.1. Searching for a Differentia Specifica

5.2. The Irrelevance of Learning: Reasons and Causes

5.3. From Possible Applications to Actual Uses

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pp. 117-140

In this chapter I will examine the account of rule-following actions that goes with the conventionalist view of normativity Wittgenstein held in the early 1930s. According to Wittgenstein’s contractualist view of rules, following a rule requires, so to speak, signing a contract that fixes the applicability of the rule, a contract by virtue of which one becomes committed to do certain things and not others. But how does an individual enter into...

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6. Normativity in Practice: Learning and Techniques:

6.1. Psychologism and “Logical Madness”

6.2. Learning and Necessity

6.3. Back to the Rough Ground!

6.4. The Role of the Community: Contextualism and Quietism in Wittgenstein’s Later Phil

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pp. 141-194

With the introduction of the notion of “technique” in the late 1930s the focus of Wittgenstein’s rule-following discussions shifts from stipulations and their range of possible applications to actual practices of application and situated contexts of use. This shift brings with it a reversal of the order of explanation in Wittgenstein’s view of rule following. In the view of the early 1930s the “internal relations” between rules and their applications...

NOTES

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pp. 195-220

REFERENCES

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pp. 221-226

INDEX

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pp. 227-


E-ISBN-13: 9780791488508
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791453872
Print-ISBN-10: 0791453871

Page Count: 245
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: SUNY series in Philosophy
Series Editor Byline: George R. Lucas Jr.

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1889-1951.
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