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Wittgenstein on Grammar, Theses and Dogmatism

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It is sometimes argued that Wittgenstein's conception of grammar and the role he allocated to grammar (in his sense of the term) in philosophy changed between the Big Typescript and the Philosophical Investigations. It is also held that some of the grammatical propositions Wittgenstein asserted prior to his writing of the Philosophical Investigations are theses, doctrines, opinions or dogmatism, which he abandoned by 1936/37. The purpose of this paper is to show these claims to be misunderstandings and misinterpretations. On all important matters, his conception of grammar and of grammatical investigations, of grammatical statements or propositions and of grammatical clarification did not change between the Big Typescript and the Investigations. Grammatical propositions (e.g. the meaning of a word is its use; a sample in an ostensive definition belongs to the means of representation; belief is not a mental state) are no more theses, doctrines or opinions than is “a bachelor is an unmarried man.” Nor are they in any way dogmatic.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: St. John's College, Oxford

Publication date: January 1, 2012


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