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Wittgenstein on Forms of Life and the Nature of Experience


Edited By Antonio Marques and Nuno Venturinha

To what extent is the form of our life fixed, i.e. is there a form of life or forms of life? How does this bear on the nature of experience? These are two Wittgensteinian questions in need of clarification. Wittgenstein on Forms of Life and the Nature of Experience sheds light on a much exploited but rarely analysed topic in Wittgenstein scholarship while addressing central themes of contemporary philosophy. Bringing together essays from some of the leading scholars in the field, the book concentrates on Wittgenstein’s concept of Lebensform(en), and more specifically its evolution in the author’s thought until his death in 1951.


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NUNO VENTURINHA Introduction 13


Introduction NUNO VENTURINHA The topic of forms of life and its relation to the nature of experi- ence in Wittgenstein’s philosophy can be approached in several different ways. Even if the first occurrence of Lebensform, or Form des Lebens, takes place only in the second half of MS 115, which is Wittgenstein’s attempt to revise in German the so-called “Brown Book”,1 the rationale behind this notion makes its appearance much earlier in Wittgenstein’s work. In fact, a remark penned on 27 August 1937 that focuses on “form of life” is truly reminiscent of some remarks written down during the First World War.2 It is 1 Cf. MS 115, 239: “Ungekehrt könnte ich wirklich einen Sprachgebrauch eine Sprache (und das heißt wieder eine Lebensform Form des Lebens) denken, der die zwischen Dunkelblaurot und Hellblaurot eine Kluft befestigt. etc.” Wittgenstein dates the beginning of this “Versuch einer Umarbeitung” of his first Philosophische Untersuchungen, posthumously published as “Eine Philosophische Betrachtung”, “end of August 1936” (cf. MS 115, 118). The corresponding passage in the “Brown Book” (D 310, 89) runs as follows: “We could also easily imagine a language (and that means again a culture) in which there existed no common expressions for light blue and dark blue […].” Cp. PI, § 19, where he concludes the first paragraph saying: “– Und eine Sprache vorstellen heißt, sich eine Lebensform vorstellen.” Interest- ingly enough, the same idea reappears on page 8 of TS 235, a table of contents for an unknown work, presumably prepared...

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