Wittgenstein and spengler vis-à-vis Frazer

Philosophy and Social Criticism 31 (1):69-88 (2005)
Perspicuous representation, Wittgenstein offers, is not another methodology, but it consists in seeing the connections. The Wittgensteinian perspicuous representation is therapeutic. The method he suggests for philosophy is the same method he suggests for social sciences. In both of these cases, he tries to get us to see the confusions we become entangled in when philosophizing and theorizing. In both of these disciplines he warns us not to advance explanatory, metaphysical theories. In this paper, I connect this concern with Wittgenstein’s critique of Frazer. In criticizing Frazer, Wittgenstein adopts the important part of Spengler’s view. Nonetheless, there are differences between Wittgenstein’s views and those of Spengler; this paper aims to show similarities as well as these differences. The first part of the paper briefly summarizes Frazer’s views. The second part focuses on Wittgenstein’s critique of Frazer concerning science and technology. The third part gives an account of his critique regarding method of social sciences and philosophy. The last part concentrates on Wittgenstein’s critique of Frazer pertaining to the tolerance towards alternative forms of life. Key Words: context-free vacuum • evolutionary explanation • incommensurability • methodology of social sciences • perspicuous representation • science • technology • tolerance • totem and taboo.
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