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What Does It Look Like?

Wittgenstein’s Philosophy in the Light of His Conception of Language Description: Part I

Sebastiaan A. Verschuren

This book is the first part of a comprehensive study of Wittgenstein’s conception of language description. Describing language was no pastime occupation for the philosopher. It was hard work and it meant struggle. It made for a philosophy that required Wittgenstein’s full attention and half his life. His approach had always been working on himself, on how he saw things. The central claim of this book is that nothing will come of our exegetical efforts to see what Wittgenstein's later philosophy amounts to if his work on describing language is not given the place and concern it deserves. The book shows what his philosophy might begin to look like in the light of critical questions around his interest to see the end of the day with descriptions, and these things only.


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1. Not a common way of looking


17 1. Not a common way of looking Ich weiß, daß ich logisches Gift in mich hineintrinken muß — um es überwinden zu können. Ludwig Wittgenstein 1.1 In the end A couple of years ago, on a rainy day and through a curious twist of fate, a note- worthy piece of writing fell into my hands and caught my attention: a paper with the innovative title ‘What is Philosophy?’ The author: Graham Priest, a mod- ern philosopher of long academic standing; the scholarly paper in question: ‘the text of an inaugural lecture delivered at the University of Melbourne, November 2003.’12 Interestingly, it is already at the very outset that Priest bursts in upon the established order of his readership, or Melbourne audience, for that matter, in the following way: In the thirty or so years that I have been doing philosophy there have been two views about the nature of philosophy which have had wide acceptance. These views are the views of the later Wittgenstein and of Derrida. In the first two parts of this paper I will describe these views and explain why I find them unsatisfactory. I will then go on, in the final part of the paper, to outline a view that inspires more confidence in me. You find these words at the bottom of p. 189 of the printed version. A few pages further on, at the top of p.195, you can find yourself reading the following: ‘So much for Wittgenstein’s view of philosophy.’ Unfortunately,...

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