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The Expression of Wonderment

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Abstract:

Abstract

In this paper, I consider certain remarks raised by Wittgenstein in his Lecture on Ethics in connection with the effability of absolute value. My focus is on the expressions we use to talk about the experience of wonderment at the existence of the world, which he dismisses as nonsensical owing to the way they deviate from the conditions of ordinary usage (specifically, to wonder at something, one must be able to imagine its contrary). I suggest that the concept of imagination that Wittgenstein invokes cannot carry great weight as a ground for judging utterances of wonderment to be nonsense. Yet this does not seem to give one a wholly adequate defence of their sense, and I explore whether or not an invocation of the religious form of life can provide a solution, considering some of the special difficulties that this range of utterances presents within the context of questions about how the identity of separate language-games (especially the religious) affects the sense of words.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9205.2007.00314.x

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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