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

Authors
David Hommen
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Abstract
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
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Reprint years 2022
DOI 10.1515/krt-2021-0036
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