Questions tagged [wittgenstein]

Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher, professor in philosophy at the University of Cambridge (1939-1947). He worked in foundations of mathematics and on mathematical logic, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. He played a central, if controversial, role in 20th-century analytic philosophy.

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Should Wittgenstein be given some credit for Godel's incompleteness theorem?

Is there a connection between Wittgenstein's argument against the "Theory of Types" and the proof of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem? Being only semi-knowledgeable, I will draw the connection of which ...
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What are some ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus other than resolute/irresolute?

There are, at present, two dominant ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (TLP). One is called the irresolute reading, the other the resolute reading. The irresolute reading ...
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What are some good books about Wittgenstein's philosophy of language?

I'm a computer science PhD student which does some work in Knowledge Representation, and I have studied a lot of (mathematical) logic. As far as I remember from my high school philosophy classes, ...
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Is “propositions of logic are tautologies” (Wittgenstein) literal or mystical?

At 6.1 in the Tractatus, Wittgenstein says, "The propositions of logic are tautologies." When he says this, is he referring to the fact that the axioms of propositional logic as presented, for ...
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Does Wittgenstein's Tractatus establish serious bounds for discussions of the supernatural from a modern point of view?

In today's mathematics, we have many variants of logic (propositional, first order, higher order, fuzzy logic, etc.). These are all self-consistent formal systems that are based on some set of axioms. ...
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Was Wittgenstein anticipating Gödel?

The Tractatus 6.123: 6.123 Clearly the laws of logic cannot in their turn be subject to laws of logic. (There is not, as Russell thought, a special law of contradiction for each 'type'; one law is ...
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Why would Wittgenstein say we can't have a perfect language?

I have been reading Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and my question is how does he come to realize that we can't have a perfect language. For instance I would say math is a perfect ...
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If “the limits of my language are the limits of my world”, then how can it be that “what can be shown, cannot be said”?

I'm trying to understand Wittgenstein, but two of his most oft quoted statements seem to me to be implying contradicting things. I understand that later Wittgenstein did refute a lot of his earlier ...
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Are there any true Wittgensteinians?

[CRUCIAL CLARIFICATION: unless I explicitly say otherwise, all references to Wittgenstein, or W, below should be read as "the post-Tractatus Wittgenstein." I am not interested in those who could be ...
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On Wittgenstein's family resemblance and machine learning

Wittgenstein proposed in his later philosophy the concept of family resemblance to describe groups which cannot be defined by a single (or simple set) of common features but instead display (from the ...
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Which if any philosophers might be considered affiliated with Wittgenstein's school of thought or have expressed similar views?

Are there any philosophers who might be considered affiliated or belonging to the same turn or school, or perhaps hold the same kind of views, as Wittgenstein?
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Defenses of Descartes's rationality in regards to “cogito” fallacy?

What philosophers and in what writings, if any, have attempted to explain or defend Descartes's rationalism in respect to the "cogito ergo sum" fallacy pointed out by philosophers like Russell, and ...
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What does Wittgenstein mean by “grammatical jokes”?

In §111 of his Philosophical Investigation, Ludwig Wittgenstein writes (my hopefully not-too-inept translation1): Let’s ask ourselves: why do we perceive a grammatical joke as deep? (And that is ...
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What did Wittgenstein mean by saying that the belief in the causal nexus is a superstition?

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittenstein says: 5.1361 The events of the future cannot be inferred from those of the present. Superstition is the belief in the causal nexus. I'm ...
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Do mainstream philosophers believe that Wittgenstein “solved” philosophy?

After finishing his first work, Wittgenstein left philosophy, thinking that he "solved" all philosophical problems. He is now considered one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, if ...
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How do we know how to follow a rule?

This question seems to either be at the forefront or the background of countless philosophical enquiries. Much has been written on Wittgenstein's rule paradox (e.g. Kirke's Wittgenstein: On Rules and ...
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Do Wittgenstein and Quine give the same criticisms of semantics?

What is the connection between the criticisms offered by Wittgenstein and Quine of meaning and language? Are both philosophers generally criticizing the same semantic theories with similar arguments, ...
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One or two Wittgensteins?

It is common opinion that Wittgenstein has two main different periods which are best exemplified by the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the Philosophical Investigations and that these periods are ...
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Should we not talk about ethics according to Wittgenstein?

Wittgenstein says in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: 6.4 All propositions are of equal value. 6.41 The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is ...
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Can someone explain this Wittgenstein joke?

Schoolmaster: Suppose x is the number of sheep in this problem Pupil: But, Sir, suppose x is not the number of sheep (I asked professor Wittgenstein if this is not a profound philosophical joke, ...
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Did Wittgenstein think that pure description, without the influence of explanation, could be pursued?

Wittgenstein is stated as having said "we must do away with the explanation and description alone must take its place" (PI 109). But isn't this akin to the myth of the given that Sellars attacked? ...
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What is Wittgenstein claiming when he says that “each thing can be the case or not the case while everything else remains the same”?

In Tractatus 1.21 Wittgenstein writes  Each item can be the case or not the case while everything else remains the same. [1] I'm looking for commentary on this point, since it seems out of place ...
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What is the role of sensations in Wittgenstein's private language argument?

In Philosophical Investigations 244-254, before talking about private signs, Wittgenstein is talking about sensations. He seems to divide this section into addressing in what way words refer to ...
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Why does Wittgenstein say that the world is made of facts, and not things?

Proposition 1.1 of the Tractatus says: The world is the totality of facts, not of things. Does this mean that he regards the world being that of propositions whose truth can be determined - that ...
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Why is private language an incoherent idea?

The fact that I have no problem imagining a private language probably implies that I don't understand the notion of private language. My understanding is private language is a language understandable ...
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What does disposition mean in dispositional theory of meaning?

In discussion about rule-following and sceptical paradox, there is one solution called dispositional theory of meaning, which says, that if we are disposed to use a symbol + to denote addition, then ...
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Is Wittgenstein right when he criticises recursion theory in the Tractatus 3.333?

In a notorious text from the Tractatus 3.333 Wittgenstein argues that a function that has a value in one argument cannot be re-used in a another. Hence recursive functions are meaningless. This ...
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How long is the standard meter?

In the Philosophical Investigations §50, Wittgenstein writes: There is one thing of which one can say neither that it is one metre long, nor that it is not one metre long, and that is the ...
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Wittgenstein: Why is bipolarity necessary?

I do get that for a certain proposition there may be the possibility of it being either true or false, but why must this possibility exist for every proposition?
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How would Wittgenstein respond to Functionalist accounts of consciousness?

So far, I've only been able to dig up a partial footnote by Kripke in his essay "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language" where he tantalizingly writes that "... Wittgenstein would regard his ...
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Why does Wittgenstein say Schopenhauer has a crude mind?

"Schopenhauer has got quite a crude mind. Where real depth begins, his ends." What does Wittgenstein mean by this?
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How would Descartes respond to Wittgenstein's objection to radical doubt?

From what I understand, Descartes wrote refutations to criticisms made of his Meditations. I'm just interested in what he would say to Wittgenstein, who I think has the most compelling critique of ...
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What criticisms of Wittgenstein's philosophy of language have been offered?

In a 2003 obituary, Anna Sherrat described one of my many philosophy heroes, Donald Davidson, as “one of the greatest American philosophers.” She did an excellent job of summarizing one of the ...
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How does Wittgenstein's argument against recognizing private sensations work?

Wittgenstein writes in his Philosophical Investigations in paragraph 270: Let us imagine a use for the entry of the sign "S" in my diary. I discover that whenever I have a particular sensation a ...
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The Tractatus and the Meaninglessness of Traditional Philosophy

After some research and personal investigation of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, I can't help but be confused by his conclusion that metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, etc. are meaningless given our language'...
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Is it possible to use Wittgenstein's family resemblance approach to universals to separate high art from commercial art?

In a previous post, I asked whether it is possible to objectively compare the quality and validity of different pieces and forms of art. In the responses I got the overall response is that there is no ...
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How do modern metaphysicians respond to Kant and Wittgenstein?

As far as I've understood, Kant argued that metaphysical knowledge is impossible because the human mind is not capable enough to acquire it. Wittgenstein, on the other hand, claimed that metaphysical ...
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Did Wittgenstein consider the possibility of a private language with public content?

Wittgenstein criticized the idea that there could be a meaningful language that was only known in principle by one person. His insights have often been used to disregard the idea of private mental ...
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Where did Carnap express his disagreement with Wittgenstein's Tractatus?

I read the following in G. E. M. Anscombe's description of the consequences of Wittgenstein's picture theory of language: (page 82) Carnap strongly objected to Wittgenstein's doctrine with its ...
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Wittgenstein's Challenge: Good Practice or Bad Advice?

Wittgenstein, in his Tractacus, lays out a number of interesting propositions. His 7th is famous for the odd advice it seems to suggest. It reads: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be ...
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Had Wittgenstein moved away from Schopenhauer by the time of the Tractatus?

Wittgenstein, according to Elizabeth Anscombe (one of his students), was impressed by Schopenhauer as a young man; given Schopenhauer is known for asserting The world is my idea:”—this is a truth ...
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What is the difference between Jerry Fodor's LOT and Wittgenstein's Picture Theory of Meaning?

From Wikipedia: "[The] the language of thought hypothesis (LOTH) put forward by American philosopher Jerry Fodor describes thoughts as represented in a "language" (sometimes known as mentalese) that ...
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Did Wittgenstein's maxim about doubt and knowing originate from Descartes?

Wittgenstein said, "If you cannot doubt a thing, you cannot know it." For example he said that you cannot know your pain because you cannot doubt that you are in pain. I don't quite understand this ...
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Can Kant's Copernican revolution be viewed as an extension of Wittgensteinian language games?

Forgive me if this question is clumsily posed. The so-called 'Copernican revolution' of declaring the mind as bringing objecthood and properties to objects, rather than their perception bringing ...
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What are the objections to Wittgenstein's argument that semantics and syntax are the same?

Wittgenstein claimed that syntax and semantics are the same because in some language constructions, syntax can be made to function as semantics. Since it seems like there is still some opposition to ...
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What does Wittgenstein mean when he says “there are no numbers in logic”?

From the Tractatus: 5.453 All numbers in logic stand in need of justification. Or rather, it must become evident that there are no numbers in logic. There are no pre-eminent numbers. What does ...
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Isomorphism vs homomorphism in the Tractatus' picture theory of language

People often mention that there is an isomorphic nature between language and the world in the Tractatus' conception of language. As far as I can see it, according to Wittgenstein (it's been a few ...
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Is the Tractatus considered to have had any permanent influence on philosophy, given that Wittgenstein himself later repudiated it?

I was reading a text book that stated that Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is rarely criticized in a serious way, since Wittgenstein himself rejected its ideas in his later phase, as ...
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Why did Wittgenstein read out loud metaphysical poetry to the Vienna Circle?

In this essay by Phil Shields, Wittgenstein & Silence he relates the following story: Wittgenstein was invited to a meeting of the Vienna circle: “When he finally came, instead of ...
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Is philosophy meaningless?

*By meaningless I mean undefined, and by meaning I mean definition. As a student of philosophy, I, like the general public, thought that my difficulty in understanding the concepts of philosophy is ...