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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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4. Wittgenstein’s Copernican Revolution, Part II


183 4. Wittgenstein’s Copernican Revolution, Part II Aus Trägheit verlangt der Mensch bloßen Mechanism oder bloße Magie. Er will nicht thätig sein – seine productive Einbil- dungskraft brauchen. Novalis 4.1 Parallel cases From time to time Wittgenstein appealed to the Copernican Revolution so as to illustrate the point of his frequent use of examples and similes. In the 1930s, for instance, he is reported to have said the following: Now you may question whether my constantly giving examples and speaking in similes is profitable. My reason is that parallel cases change our outlook because they destroy the uniqueness of the case at hand. For example, the Copernican revolution destroyed the idea that the earth has a unique place in the solar system. (AWL: 50). The obsessions of philosophers vary in different ages because terminologies vary. When a terminology goes some worries may pass, only to arise again in a similar terminology. Sometimes a scientific language produces an obsession and a new language rids us of it. When dynamics first flourished it gave rise to certain obsessions which now seem obso- lete. Something may play a predominant role in our language and be suddenly removed by science, e.g., the word “earth” lost its importance in the new Copernican notation. Where the old notation had given the earth a unique position, the new notation116 put lots of planets on the same level. Any obsession arising from the unique position of something in our language ceases as soon as another...

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