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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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3. Wittgenstein’s Copernican Revolution, Part I

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135 3. Wittgenstein’s Copernican Revolution, Part I The first thing the intellect does with an object is to class it along with something else. But any object that is infinitely important to us and awakens our devotion feels to us also as if it must be sui generis and unique. William James 3.1 By way of a prologue Fleshing out fictitious language-games has turned out to be quite a troublesome affair, or at least a far more challenging task than Wittgenstein’s playground of abstract consideration has stipulated it to be. It has turned out to be so, as I should like to emphasize here, irrespective of whether Wittgenstein found himself do- ing philosophy in the psychological domains of our language or in a field such as mathematics. He considered every part of our language from his uncommon way of looking, and it is owing to that looking that he was committed to flesh- ing out fictitious language-games, an activity that he could not possibly dodge should his philosophical hand grow weak, weary or tentative at the request. So, in order to understand Wittgenstein’s difficulties on the playground of inventing and collating language-games, we need to see what kind of ground it actually is and how it pertains to the playground of abstract consideration. It is this task that I wish to pick up and to carry out in the present and the next chapter. What lies at the heart of both chapters is Wittgenstein’s notion of the language- game as...

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