Philosophical Review 107 (1):163 (1998)

Lars Hertzberg
Åbo Akademi University
Which famous twentieth-century philosopher instigated a revolution in philosophy, arguing that the philosopher’s business is not to advance general theories about reality, but rather to help release our thinking from the intellectual cramps produced by a misunderstanding of the forms of language? Wittgenstein? Wrong! according to John W. Cook. This revolution in philosophy actually had no author. Apparently, it arose through a misinterpretation of Wittgenstein’s later writings. In fact, Cook implies, Wittgenstein himself was not genuinely engaged in a struggle with philosophical puzzles, but rather had an ontological theory up his sleeve: he was a conventional empiricist in the tradition of Berkeley, Ernst Mach, and Russell, though he happened to express himself so obscurely that some philosophers, believing themselves inspired by his writings, dreamed up the whole revolution by mistake, as it were. However, Cook is not arguing that the revolution should be canceled; rather he looks at Wittgenstein’s work from the standpoint of that accidental revolution, berating Wittgenstein, as it were, for not having thought to be a Wittgensteinian himself.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0031-8108
DOI 10.2307/2998336
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