The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein: A Short Introduction, with an Epilogue on John Wisdom

The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein: A Short Introduction, with an Epilogue on John Wisdom

The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein: A Short Introduction, with an Epilogue on John Wisdom

The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein: A Short Introduction, with an Epilogue on John Wisdom

Excerpt

The greatest present single influence on English Philosophy is unquestionably that of Wittgenstein; his disciples and debtors are everywhere, yet his own work and thought are not easy for an outsider of the movement to approach. The doctrines of the latter part of his life, differing radically from those of his youth, were expounded only in lectures and circulated privately in typescript. His posthumous work, Philosophical Investigations , proves to be less a formal treatise than a commonplace book, or, as he himself calls it in the preface, a philosophical album of sketches and remarks. Other and easier philosophers who borrow from his ideas often adapt them freely: and he himself has been popularly portrayed as a kind of fanatic of subtlety--if not, worse, an addict of mystification. Despite all this I shall maintain that Wittgenstein's central ideas, like those of most thinkers of comparable stature, are essentially simple. Great subtlety in the application, the working out of an idea, is compatible with simplicity in its conception.

I shall seek first to present these central concepts in broad terms. It was Wittgenstein who directed the attention of modern philosophers to the study of language; though the elaboration of what would be called a 'Philosophy of Language' was, so he said, no part of his purpose. How well this disavowal agrees with the contents of his published writings may be disputed. But this at least is clear, that his own interest was not in . . .

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