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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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JAMES M. THOMPSON Translating Form(s)-of-Life? Remarks on Cultural Difference and Alterity 97

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97 Translating Form(s)-of-life? Remarks on Cultural Difference and Alterity JAMES M. THOMPSON Das Fremde als das, was in seiner Unzugänglichkeit zugänglich ist, bedeutet kein unbestimmtes X, das auf seine Bestimmung wartet. Waldenfels 1997 The discussion in the secondary literature concerning Wittgen- stein’s expression of Lebensform(en) or “form(s)-of-life” has pri- marily focused on the question of whether there is only one shared human form-of-life or multiple forms-of-life. As is commonly known this situation arose in connection with Wittgenstein’s use of the term in the Philosophical Investigations both in the singular and plural form. Of course, this debate has long since moved beyond the confines of the Investigations and spilled over into the Nachlaß in the hopes of finding other uses of the term as well as insightful references that might shed light on what Wittgenstein meant by it. Although Wittgenstein does use the expression in other places, unfortunately, they are just as enigmatic and vague as those found in the Investigations. However, as Wittgenstein is well-known for his cryptic and indirect approach to philosophic problems, this lack of a clear and positive definition of the term is nothing new to those engaged in Wittgenstein scholarship. In fact, it is the term’s vagueness, infrequent use in his writings, and the close relationship Wittgenstein draws to the concept of language-game that has spawned a considerable amount of speculation and lite- rature as to the meaning and significance of form(s)-of-life within Wittgenstein’s thought. 98 As...

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