Wittgenstein Reading: chapter 26
Wittgenstein, recall, has two periods. (Requirement reading)–In chapter 26 In this reading (pp. 617-650 provided—“The Great Conversation”), remember that when he wrote Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus, he was a logical positivist, at least of a kind. Actually, Wittgenstein did not get along with the other logical positivists (e.g. Moritz Schlick) and soon distinguished his view from theirs. Amusingly, Ray Monk, in his biography Wittgenstein: the Duty of Genius, covers these facts. Concerning his second period, Wittgenstein first left philosophy for a decade- he actually lived in the woods, and became a primary school teacher. At the behest of Bertrand Russell and others, Wittgenstein returned to philosophy (i.e. to Cambridge) but had changed his mind. In this later period, he compiled notes for his book Philosophical Investigations, which had much common with the pragmatists.
Ludwig Wittgenstein is unique in the history of philosophy. In his early views, he argued that language puts limits on what we can say. But later, he insists changed his mind.
So, answer one of the following prompts.
1. What is the picture theory of meaning? According to this theory, how does language picture reality, exactly? What kinds of things, moreover, does the picture theory make unsayable, and why? Explain.
2. In his later work, Wittgenstein abandoned the picture theory of meaning. Rather, he said that meaning is how words are used (e.g. like a hammer just is its use) and that there are interlocking language games. What are language games, exactly? What do language games, if they exist, entail about our contact with reality?
Even if you disagree with Wittgenstein- and you must, since he changed his mind- it is easy to appreciate how carefully and slowly he argues. Given this, make sure to be careful in articulating his views.
(Optional reading) These external sources just to help you finish this work easier)
So when reading Wittgenstein, it is paramount to understand his early logical positivist period, his later period, and how they differ. Given his obscure style of writing, secondary sources can really help. Concerning the early period, Wittgenstein by Anthony Kenny is a great overview. In the chapters entitled “The Picture Theory” and “The Metaphysics of Logical Atomism,” he outlines all the major positions. In the next few chapters, Kenny covers how Wittgenstein changed his mind. So here is that book.
Although it is standard to say that Wittgenstein abandoned his logical atomism entirely, this is not really so. Peter Winch, for one, argues that he changed some things, yet kept others. So here is his classic paper on the unity between the positions.
What about the later Wittgenstein, and the Philosophical Investigations? Actually, in Kenny, the chapters called “Language Games,” and the one after called “Private Languages” are good here. However, Wittgenstein scholarship is vast, and often contradictory. But at least, Guidebook to the Philosophical Investigations by Marie McGinn is very clear, and is in the library.
In the last years of his life, Wittgenstein addressed epistemology, and his notes were published as On Certainty. As always, the literature here is vast. However, Paul Snowden offers a good introduction called “Wittgenstein on Knowledge,” in Epistemology: The Key Thinkers, edited by Hetherington. So again, here is that book.