In Jonathan Beale & Ian James Kidd (eds.), Wittgenstein and Scientism. London: Routledge. pp. 59-80 (2017)

Jonathan Beale
University of Reading (PhD)
This chapter outlines ways in which Wittgenstein’s opposition to scientism is manifest in his later conception of philosophy and the negative attitude he held toward his times. The chapter tries to make clear how these two areas of Wittgenstein’s thought are connected and reflect an anti-scientistic worldview he held, one intimated in Philosophical Investigations §122. It is argued that the later Wittgenstein’s metaphilosophy is marked out against two scientistic claims in particular. First, the view that the scientific method is superior to all other means of learning or gaining knowledge. Second, the view that scientific knowledge is superior to all other kinds of knowledge and understanding. Wittgenstein’s opposition to these claims is brought out through examining a fundamental aim of his later philosophy, producing the ‘kind of understanding which consists in “seeing connections”’ (PI §122), and his attempts to expose certain philosophical confusions. It is argued that these reflect his antiscientistic worldview. Through discussion of Oswald Spengler’s influence on Wittgenstein, the chapter outlines how Wittgenstein’s opposition to scientism underwrites his negative cultural outlook and how this is connected with the anti-scientistic elements of his later philosophy discussed. The work of Ray Monk (1999; 1990) and Hans-Johann Glock (1996) is instrumental in what follows.
Keywords Wittgenstein  Scientism  Antiscientism  Ludwig Wittgenstein  Later Wittgenstein  Metaphilosophy  Epistemology  Philosophy of Science  Spengler  Oswald Spengler
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach.Karl Raimund Popper - 1972 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.Simon Blackburn - 1994 - Oxford ;Oxford University Press.

View all 44 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Scientism and Scientific Imperialism.Jonathan Beale - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (1):73-102.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Reawakening to Wonder: Wittgenstein, Feyerabend, and Scientism.Ian James Kidd - 2018 - In Jonathan Beale & Ian James Kidd (eds.), Wittgenstein and Scientism. London: Routledge. pp. 101-115.
Morpho-Logical Investigations: Wittgenstein and Spengler.A. Losev - 2012 - Philosophia: International Journal of Philosophy 4.
The Good, the Bad, and the Vacuous: Wittgenstein on Modern and Future Musics.Eran Guter - 2015 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (4):425-439.
Wittgenstein Und Spengler.Rafael Ferber - 1991 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 73 (2):188-207.
Wittgenstein And Spengler Vis-À-Vis Frazer.Aydan Turanli - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 7:59-65.
Declining Decline: Wittgenstein as a Philosopher of Culture.Stanley Cavell - 1988 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):253 – 264.
Wittgenstein on Mahler.Eran Guter - 2013 - In Danièle Moyal-Sharrock, Volker A. Munz & Annalisa Coliva (eds.), Mind, Language and Action: Contributions to the 36th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society.
Wittgenstein and Spengler Vis-À-Vis Frazer.Aydan Turanli - 2005 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 31 (1):69-88.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,928 ( #2,032 of 2,455,480 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
570 ( #569 of 2,455,480 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes