The concept of practice in Wittgenstein's later philosophy

Inquiry 31 (3):357 – 369 (1988)
It is argued in this article that the concept of practice is one of the key concepts in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. It partly replaces his earlier talk about the inexpressible. ?The practice has to speak for itself, as Wittgenstein succinctly puts it. The concept of practice not only points to the ways in which the unity of our concepts are underpinned, as Gordon Baker has it, it also comprises the skills involved in handling the conceptualized phenomena, our prereflective familiarity with them, expressed in the sureness in our behaviour towards them, and the judgmental power exercised in applying or withholding a given concept on a particular occasion. These factors are all relevant to the establishment of knowledge, but they cannot themselves be fully and straightforwardly articulated by verbal means. Nevertheless, they represent what we go by when we apply concepts and other types of rules. To follow a rule is what Wittgenstein calls a practice. The sketched analysis of this concept makes us understand better how it is possible to apply a rule without the support of another rule. It also makes us realize in what sense one is justified in talking about tacit knowledge in connection with the application of concepts and rule?following in general. Quite a lot hangs on seeing the world aright at this point
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DOI 10.1080/00201748808602161
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