Wittgenstein: Key Concepts

Wittgenstein: Key Concepts

Wittgenstein: Key Concepts

Wittgenstein: Key Concepts


Wittgenstein's complex and demanding work challenges much that is taken for granted in philosophical thinking as well as in the theorizing of art, theology, science and culture. Each essay in this collection explores a key concept involved in Wittgenstein's thinking, relating it to his understanding of philosophy, and outlining the arguments and explaining the implications of each concept. Concepts covered include grammar, meaning and meaning-blindness language-games and private language, family resemblances, psychologism, rule-following, teaching and learning, avowals, Moore's Paradox, aspect seeing, the meter-stick, and criteria. Students new to Wittgenstein and readers interested in developing their understanding of specific aspects of his philosophical work will find this book very welcome.


Kelly Dean Jolley

Biographical sketch

Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in 1889 to a wealthy and cultured Viennese family. He decided to study aeronautical engineering, and so went to Manchester University (England) in 1908. There, he became deeply interested in the philosophy of mathematics, and eventually in the works of Gottlob Frege. He met Frege, who advised him to go to Cambridge to study with Bertrand Russell. He did so in 1911. Wittgenstein studied in Cambridge from 1911 to 1913. When the First World War began, he joined the Austrian army, fought, and was taken captive in 1917. The war ended while he was interned. During the war years he drafted the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and after the war the book was published in German and translated into English.

Around 1920, believing that he had in the Tractatus solved the problems of philosophy, he tried a variety of jobs – gardener, teacher and architect. Finally, in 1929, he found himself again entangled in philosophical problems and he returned to Cambridge to work as a philosopher. Wittgenstein was dissatisfied in various ways with the Tractatus; the problems he had treated in it he was again puzzling over. For several years in Cambridge he worked feverishly to find new and better ways of thinking through those problems. He conducted famous and darkling seminars in which he worked out many of the ideas that would compose the Philosophical Investigations. He worked on that book for roughly twenty years, drafting and redrafting the remarks in it, as well as organizing and reorganizing them. He prepared to publish the book in 1945, but then withdrew the manuscript. The book was . . .

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