The Analogy Between Psychoanalysis and Wittgenstein's Later Philosophical Methods

Dissertation, University of Oxford (1993)
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Abstract

Wittgenstein’s analogy between psychoanalysis and his later philosophical methods is explored and developed. Historical evidence supports the claim that Wittgenstein characterized an early version of his general remarks on philosophy (§§89-133 in the Philosophical Investigations) as a sustained comparison with psychoanalysis. A non-adversarial, therapeutic interpretation is adopted towards Wittgenstein which emphasizes his focus on dissolving the metaphysical puzzlement of particular troubled individuals. A “picture” of Freudian psychoanalysis is sketched which highlights several features of Freud’s therapeutic techniques and his conception of a neurosis. This portrait of Freud’s methods is used as an “object of comparison” for drawing attention to important aspects of Wittgenstein’s later practice of philosophy. Wittgenstein’s therapeutic conception of philosophy, though concerned with ordinary linguistic practices, is held to focus primarily on rooting out the prejudices and dogmas which lie at the heart of the puzzled philosopher’s inclinations to make metaphysical assertions.

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Paul Muench
University of Montana

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