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Was Wittgenstein an Analytic Philosopher?

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This article first surveys the established views on Wittgenstein's relation to analytic philosophy. Next it distinguishes among different ways of defining analytic philosophy—topical, doctrinal, methodological, stylistic, historical, and the idea that it is a family-resemblance concept. It argues that while certain stylistic features are important, the historical and the family-resemblance conceptions are the most auspicious, especially in combination. The answer to the title question is given in section 3. Contrary to currently popular “irrationalist” interpretations, Wittgenstein was an analytic philosopher in all phases of his career, albeit an exceedingly exotic one whose style transcends the limits of academic philosophy in general. On the historical understanding he qualifies because he was influenced by and in turn influenced mainly analytic philosophers. On the family-resemblance conception he qualifies both because he developed and employed logico-linguistic analysis and because he initiated the linguistic turn and the distinction between philosophy and science that characterizes one important strand in analytic philosophy.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; analytic philosophy; family resemblance; philosophical style; philosophy and science

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Reading, United Kingdom

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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