Meaning as Use: Why Wittgenstein Was Not an Empiricist

Dissertation, University of Arkansas (2003)

In this dissertation I argue that the interpretation of Wittgenstein's later philosophy as a phenomenalism is a misinterpretation. John Cook produces such an interpretation in his book Wittgenstein, Empiricism, and Language . Cook is concerned with rescuing ordinary language philosophy from Wittgenstein's view. He describes three kinds: Standard, Metaphysical, Investigative. ;Standard Ordinary Language Philosophy prescribes that one examine ordinary language initially, then structure one's ontological views based on the ordinary language. Cook presents G. E. Moore as a Standard Ordinary Language Philosopher. ;Cook does not believe that Wittgenstein holds the Standard view. Cook believes that Wittgenstein is engaged in what he calls, "Metaphysical Ordinary Language Philosophy." Metaphysical Ordinary Language Philosophy is the opposite view of Standard; Metaphysical prescribes that one ought to first adopt a metaphysical view, then adapt ordinary language to it. Cook believes that Wittgenstein has adopted the metaphysical view of phenomenalism; then he adapts ordinary language to this view. ;Investigative Ordinary Language Philosophy is Cook's solution to avoiding the problems in Stardard and Metaphysical views. The problem with Standard is it assumes that English is an ideal philosophical language for describing the world. Metaphysical has the problem of presupposing a metaphysical view is true. Investigative Ordinary Language prescribes examining language in "bits of stories" and "examples in language." ;I argue that the key passages that Cook uses to transform Wittgenstein into a phenomenalist can have an alternative reading. This alternative reading shows that Wittgenstein is presenting a view akin to Investigative Ordinary Language Philosophy. I contend that Cook has misinterpreted Wittgenstein as a metaphysician and that the true nature of Wittgenstein's work is that Wittgenstein is presenting a method for doing philosophy by examining the use of words within language, in order to show the sense that can be made of a word within language-games. I attempt to provide some examples of Wittgenstein working through how the word "pain" functions in ordinary language. This examination shows the main underlying theme of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: The meaning of a word is not a hidden referent, but the use of a word in language
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