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Subject Philosophy

People Wittgenstein, Ludwig

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631185376.1996.x


One of the principles of Wittgenstein's early philosophy was the autonomy of sense: whether a proposition makes sense must not depend on another proposition's truth (NM 117; TLP 2.0211). Language is a self-contained abstract system governed by rules of logical syntax. Recognizing the importance of the surroundings of language is a major achievement of Wittgenstein's later reflections. His first step is to radicalize the Tractatus's CONTEXTUALISM: a word has meaning only as part of a language-game, which itself is part of a communal form of life. The second is a kind of naturalism. Our linguistic and non-linguistic activities are conditioned by certain ‘facts of nature’. Our concepts rest on a ‘scaffolding of facts’ in that different facts of nature would make intelligible different ‘concept-formations’ (PI II 230; RPP I §48; Z §§350, 387–8). In this context Wittgenstein distinguishes three elements: (a)  the grammatical rules which constitute a language-game like that of measurement; (b)  the application of these rules in empirical propositions (specific measurements); (c)  the framework or ‘scaffolding’ which allows us to operate the language-game. Disputes do not break out … over the question whether a rule has been obeyed or not … That is part of the scaffolding from which our language operates … [Human beings] agree in the language they use. That is not agreement in opinions ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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