Is the later Wittgenstein Falling into the Abyss of Relativism? an assessment through the lens of critical rationalism

Philosophical Investigations 16 (40):208-224 (2022)
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Abstract

The later Wittgenstein presents all kinds of knowledge in the form of language games based on forms of life. One of the implications of his later views is that certain language games and forms of life are incommensurable. Since each person can know the world only through his/her own form of life and language game, those who subscribe to entirely different language games cannot have a proper understanding of the forms of life of others. They are not able to critique and evaluate their knowledge of reality unless they abandon their own customary forms of life and internalize other forms of life that they want to know about, that is, to become a member of a society based on those different forms of life. In contrast, Popper emphasizes the objective nature of knowledge by considering external reality as a major criterion of objectivity. Popper maintains that the growth of human knowledge takes place through a never-ending process of critical evaluation of previous knowledge claims and a continuous supply of new conjectures for capturing reality and their critical appraisal incessantly. In this article, following a brief description of the philosophical approaches of Wittgenstein and Popper (Sections 1 and 2), and a brief explanation of the anti-relativist attitude of critical rationalism (Section 3), we turn to a critical assessment of Wittgenstein's relativist approach through the prism of Critical Rationalism (Section 4). The last chapter of the article (Section 5) is dedicated to a brief recap of the topics discussed in the earlier sections.

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Ali Paya
University of Westminster

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