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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wittgenstein as philosopher-therapist

For Kuusela, the key to the transition from the early to the later philosophy lies in Wittgenstein's recognition of the role of prototypes, examples and analogies in philosophy: they provide a way of looking at things that can be used to throw a new light on our use of concepts. There is no claim that these objects of comparison provide correct descriptions of a system of grammatical rules that is held to govern our employment of expressions; rather they are used to relieve the mental cramps caused by an entrenched way of looking at things; it is a matter of using one representation of the use of language to combat the pathological effects of another. That's why Wittgenstein can give up a particular representation of the use of a word, with which someone disagrees, and employ some other object of comparison: there never was a claim that a rule that Wittgenstein articulates is one by which speakers of the language proceed, or that it defines the absolute limits of sense.
He tries to show that it is precisely by not taking sides in any philosophical dispute that Wittgenstein's method offers the hope of doing justice to the immensely complex phenomenon that is our linguistic practice, and of achieving clarity about various aspects of our everyday life with language that are the focus for philosophical problems and paradoxes.

The Struggle Against Dogmatism: Wittgenstein and the Concept of Philosophy
Oskari Kuusela (Review by Marie McGinn)
Thanks to a pointer from Methods of Projection.

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