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Wittgenstein on Forms of Life and the Nature of Experience

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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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STEFAN MAJETSCHAK Forms and Patterns of Life: A Reassessment of a So-Called Basic Concept in the Late Philosophy of Wittgenstein 75

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75 Forms and Patterns of Life: A Reassessment of a So-Called Basic Concept in the Late Philosophy of Wittgenstein1 STEFAN MAJETSCHAK I. The concept of “life-form” has long been assigned by well-known scholars to be one of the “basic concepts of the mature philosophy of Wittgenstein”.2 Since the appearance of the Philosophical Inves- tigations in 1953 many people have expressed the opinion that a note such as “to imagine a language means to imagine a life-form” (PI § 19) expresses a basic philosophical insight of Wittgenstein. Early interpretations, such as that of Wittgenstein’s pupil and friend Norman Malcolm, therefore stressed that the importance of this concept could scarcely be overestimated.3 Many adopted this view and continue to follow it by ascribing to it a key position in Witt- genstein’s late philosophy similar to that of the concept of the “language game”, to which it seems to be intrinsically related. “Language games”, i. e. those multifaceted techniques and habits of using words which the speakers of a language employ in the course of practical dealings with other people or things, seem to be impossible to detach from the particular life form in which they are embedded. It is precisely this that Wittgenstein seems to wish 1 I am grateful to Katalin Neumer and Richard Raatzsch as well as to the participants of the International Wittgenstein Workshop Form(s) of Life and the Nature of Experience, Lisbon, May 2009, for helpful comments and references. 2 Schulte 1999, p. 157. 3 Garver 1984,...

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