“A Quite Different System of Payment”

In contrast to recent trends that depict the later Wittgenstein’s work as wholly therapeutic in nature, this essay argues that the famous wood sellers scenario of Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics is evidence of the later Wittgenstein’s linguistic naturalism and relativism. This scenario, like many others, is intended to show the naturalistic and arbitrary character of our own concepts, as well as the possibility of different forms of life with different concepts. David R. Cerbone’s more therapeutic take on these passages, that the purpose of the wood sellers is to demonstrate the impossibility of logically alien practices, is then addressed. It is shown that such a read is incompatible with numerous passages in Wittgenstein’s writings, overlooks the nexus of remarks within which this scenario appears, and ignores much of what Wittgenstein actually states about the wood sellers
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