Wittgenstein on Mind and Language

Wittgenstein on Mind and Language

Wittgenstein on Mind and Language

Wittgenstein on Mind and Language

Synopsis

Drawing on ten years of research on the unpublished Wittgenstein papers, Stern investigates what motivated Wittgenstein's philosophical writing and casts new light on the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations. The book is an exposition of Wittgenstein's early conception of the nature of representation and how his later revision and criticism of that work led to a radically different way of looking at mind and language. It also explains how the unpublished manuscripts and typescripts were put together and why they often provide better evidence of the development of his ideas than can be found in his published writing. In doing so, the book traces the development of a number of central themes in Wittgenstein's philosophy, including his conception of philosophical method, the picture theory of meaning, the limits of language, the application of language to experience, his treatment of private language, and what he called the "flow of life." Arguing that Wittgenstein's views are often much more simple (and more radical) than we have been led to believe, Wittgenstein on Mind and Language provides an overview of the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy and brings to light aspects of his philosophy that have been almost universally neglected.

Excerpt

This book is an exposition of Wittgenstein's early conception of the nature of representation and how his later revision and criticism of that work led to a radically different way of looking at mind and language. Most interpretations of the development of Wittgenstein philosophy focus on the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus [hereafter called Tractatus], written during World War I and published shortly afterward, the Philosophical Investigations, written and rewritten during the last twenty years of Wittgenstein's life and published shortly after his death in 1951, and the literature that has grown up around these books. In contrast, my reading of his philosophy of mind and language begins from the initial articulation of his thoughts in his first drafts, conversations, and lectures and the process of revision that led to the published works. Consequently, I quote extensively from such sources as his manuscript notes, notes taken at his lectures in Cambridge, and records of conversations with the members of the Vienna Circle and Frank Ramsey, and I emphasize the importance of the ideas expressed in these passages. This introductory chapter offers an outline of my reasons for taking such an approach and the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy to which it leads.

Because the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations were published well before most of Wittgenstein's other published writing became available, interpretation began with these two books. Most interpreters have regarded the Tractatus, published in 1922, and the Philosophical Investigations, published in 1953, two years after his death, as the only reliable expositions of Wittgenstein's earlier and later philosophy. The Tractatus was the only bookWittgenstein published during his lifetime, while the Philosophical Investigations was the book he wrote and rewrote for most of the rest of his life. But the compressed and aphoristic character of these works made it particularly easy for interpreters to find their own concerns and commitments in those texts. The obvious differences between the early and the late work, coupled with Wittgenstein's criticism of the Tractatus in the Philosophical Investigations, gave rise to the view that the early and late Wittgenstein were diametrically opposed. Partly as a result of the diversity and complexity of the material, and partly because so many different readers appropriated Wittgenstein's writings for their own purposes, the literature on Wittgenstein proliferated, consisting for the most part of a series of self-contained debates, often conducted at a considerable distance from the . . .

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