Metaphilosophy 38 (5):612-631 (2007)

Authors
Claudine Verheggen
York University
Abstract
Joining a vast Wittgensteinian anti-theoretical movement, John Canfield has argued that it is possible to read the claims that (1) “language is essentially communal” and (2) “it is conceptually possible that a Crusoe isolated from birth should speak or follow rules” in such a way that they are perfectly compatible, and, indeed, that Wittgenstein held them both at once. The key to doing this is to drain them of any theoretical content or implications that would put each claim at odds with the other. I argue here, first of all, that it is not possible to detheorize both (1) and (2) and still hope to say anything illuminating about the nature of language. In fact, Canfield himself does not succeed in detheorizing both (1) and (2) but ends up trivializing (1) and leaving (2) with quite a bit of theoretical content. I further argue, however, that this is getting the matter the wrong way around. Contra Canfield et al., it is only when we recognize this that we can appreciate how radical and innovative Wittgenstein's claims about language really are.
Keywords language  meaning  individualism  rule‐following  quietism  community  Wittgenstein
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2007.00508.x
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References found in this work BETA

Zettel.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1967 - Blackwell.

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