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

Claudine Verheggen
York University
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
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2007.00508.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 61,089
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Zettel.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1967 - Blackwell.

View all 41 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Private Language.Stewart Candlish - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The International Community as Moral Agent.Karen Kovach - 2003 - Journal of Military Ethics 2 (2):99-106.
The Community View.John V. Canfield - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (4):469-488.
The Politics of Aristotle. Aristotle - 2007 - BiblioBazaar, LLC.
Rethinking Community in the Global Age.Elena Pulcini - 2010 - Iris. European Journal of Philosophy and Public Debate 2 (3):87-101.
Models and Theories I: The Semantic View Revisited.Chuang Liu - 1997 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 11 (2):147 – 164.


Added to PP index

Total views
63 ( #165,390 of 2,439,697 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #282,463 of 2,439,697 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes