Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy (AO):313-334 (2020)

David Hommen
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
The later Wittgenstein famously holds that an understanding which tries to run up against the limits of language bumps itself and results in nothing but plain nonsense. Therefore, the task of philosophy cannot be to create an ‘ideal’ language so as to produce a ‘real’ understanding in the first place; its aim must be to remove particular misunderstandings by clarifying the use of our ordinary language. Accordingly, Wittgenstein opposes both the sublime terms of traditional philosophy and the formal frameworks of modern logics---and adheres to a pointedly casual, colloquial style in his own philosophizing. However, there seems to lurk a certain inconsistency in Wittgenstein’s ordinary language approach: his philosophical remarks frequently remain enigmatic, and many of the terms Wittgenstein coins appear to be highly technical. Thus, one might wonder whether his verdicts on the limits of language and on philosophical jargons might not be turned against his own practice. The present essay probes the extent to which the contravening tendencies in Wittgenstein’s mature philosophy might be reconciled. Section 2 sketches Wittgenstein’s general approach to philosophy and tracks the special role that the language of everyday life occupies therein. Section 3 reconstructs Wittgenstein’s preferred method for philosophy, which he calls perspicuous representation, and argues that this method implements an aesthetic conception of philosophy and a poetic approach to philosophical language, in which philosophical insights are not explicitly stated, but mediated through well-worded and creatively composed descriptions. Section 4 discusses how Wittgenstein’s philosophical poetics relates to artificial terminologies and grammars in philosophy and science.
Keywords Wittgenstein  ordinary language  poeticity  philosophical methodology
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2022
DOI 10.1515/krt-2021-0036
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: 70,337
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 47:5-20.
On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 286-298.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1906 - Philosophical Review 15:346.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Authenticity of the Ordinary.David Egan - 2013 - In David Egan Stephen Reynolds & Aaron James Wendland (eds.), Wittgenstein and Heidegger. Routledge. pp. 66-81.
How to Use (Ordinary) Language Offensively.Alex Davies - 2012 - Nordic Wittgenstein Review 1 (1):55-80.
The Moral Dimension of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Method.Chrysoula Gitsoulis - 2007 - Analysis and Metaphysics (Special Issue on Wittgenstein) 6:452-467.
Common Sense and Ordinary Language: Wittgenstein and Austin.Krista Lawlor - forthcoming - In Rik Peels & René Van Woudenberg (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Common Sense Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wittgenstein and Surrealism.Chrysoula Gitsoulis - 2012 - Essays in Philosophy 13 (1):74-84.
Feeling at Home in Language.Edward H. Minar - 1995 - Synthese 102 (3):413 - 452.
Wittgenstein’s Paradox of Ordinary Language.Barry Stocker - 2000 - Essays in Philosophy 1 (2):1-14.
Wittgenstein’s Weltanschauung.I. I. I. John F. Miller - 1964 - Philosophical Studies (Dublin) 13:127-140.
Wittgenstein on Mind and Language.David G. Stern - 1995 - Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
11 ( #852,788 of 2,507,887 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,715 of 2,507,887 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes