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Beyond Words

Pictures, Parables, Paradoxes


Edited By András Benedek and Kristóf Nyíri

Human thinking depends not only on words but also on visual imagery. Visual argumentation directly exploits the logic of the pictorial, while verbal arguments, too, draw on figurative language, and thus ultimately on images. In the centuries of handwritten documents and the printed book, our educational culture has been a predominantly verbal one. Today the challenge of the pictorial is explicit and conspicuous. In the digital world, we are experiencing an unprecedented wealth of images, animations and videos. But how should visual content be combined with traditional texts? This volume strives to present a broad humanities background showing how going beyond the word was always an issue in, and by now has become an inevitable challenge to, pedagogy and philosophy.
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The Thread and the Chain “Family Resemblances” and the Possibility of Non-Essentialist Conceptual Structure


Monika Jovanović

The Thread and the Chain

“Family Resemblances” and the Possibility of Non-Essentialist Conceptual Structure

In this paper I propose an interpretation of Wittgenstein’s idea of family resemblances. Beginning with Wittgenstein’s metaphors of the thread and the chain, put forward in his Philosophical Investigations and Philosophical Grammar, respectively,1 I interpret Wittgenstein’s idea in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions for concept-application. The central thesis of my paper is that there are both necessary and sufficient conditions for application of family resemblance concepts. Hence, my interpretation is essentially anti-decisionist. The difference between Wittgensteinian concepts and Platonic concepts consists in the fact that the latter, unlike the former, have individually necessary and jointly sufficient application conditions. Still, the lack of these conditions is not exclusively characteristic for family resemblance concepts. I will therefore compare Wittgensteinian concepts with some other kinds of concepts that have a similar “loose” structure.

Wittgenstein’s idea of family resemblances represents a model of conceptual structure alternative to the traditional Platonic view that every concept has strictly determined application conditions. According to Platonist western thought, as well as the common-sense perspective, there is a crucial relation between the concept of a certain thing and essential characteristics of that thing. Plato’s dialogues give us probably the best example for that. In his dialogues Plato is always looking for a definition of some X: what is justice, knowledge, beauty, etc? He always presupposes there has to be something common for all...

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