Feeling at home in language

Synthese 102 (3):413 - 452 (1995)
Abstract
What do we learn about language from reading Wittgenstein'sPhilosophical Investigations? This question gains urgency from Wittgenstein's alleged animus against philosophical theorizing and his indirectness. Section 1 argues that Wittgenstein's goal is to prevent philosophical questioning about the foundations of language from the beginning. This conception of his aim is not in tension with Wittgenstein's use of the notion of community; community interpretations of his views betray a misguided commitment to the coherence of the idea that language might need grounding. Wittgenstein's goal is not to enjoin us not to step outside of language-games, but to show that we have insufficiently clear grasp of the terms we try to use to express the limits of intelligibility. Section 2 suggests that appreciating Wittgenstein's moral concerning the relation between language and philosophizing about it involves allowing him to teach us how to read his book. What makes readingPhilosophical Investigations possible is openness to learning how not to forget our lives in language.
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