Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Language

Wittgenstein often remarks that the point of his philosophy is not to answer philosophical questions. For  example, section 255 says “The philosopher’s treatment of a question is like the treatment of an illness”. He  seems to think that his job is to point out when philosophers’ temptation to theorize leads them to transcend  the bounds of possible explanation (see, for example, sections 14 and 67). His style of posing questions and  answering them is supposed to help the reader work through their confusions and come to see the philosophical  questions as misguided, or based on false presuppositions.  How is this method supposed to work? Pick a particular example, and reconstruct how Wittgenstein tries  to reveal confusions and to provide ‘therapy’ for philosophical questions. Do you think the method works? Is  Wittgenstein’s picture of philosophy compelling.

     The paper should go beyond the explanations I gave in class, and make your own contribution. This can take  different forms. It might be to offer an argument against a position we talked about in class. It might be to  offer an argument in favour of a position we discussed. But it could also be some interpretive work. As we’ve  seen, it can be difficult to figure out what Wittgenstein is trying to say. If you disagree with an interpretation  I offered in class, or you have an idea about places where we didn’t reach a satisfying interpretation, the goal  of your paper can be to offer a convincing interpretation of some aspect of Wittgenstein.

8 Pages

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