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After losing 500,000 soldiers in Russia during 1812, Napoleon quickly rebuilt his army in early 1813 to stop the pursuing Russians in Germany. His strategic situation took an unfavorable turn after Prussia broke its alliance with him and joined the Russians and British to form the Sixth Coalition. With Austria choosing to remain neutral, the Allies hoped to achieve a victory to convince Vienna to join the Coalition. Although the Allies took the offensive against his raw conscripts, Napoleon remained the master of operations. He drove the Allied army over 200 miles eastward in one month, earning important yet indecisive victories at Lützen and Bautzen. With the Allied army pinned against the Oder River in eastern Silesia, Napoleon agreed to an armistice brokered by the Austrians. Both sides used the time to build up massive forces and to woe Austria but Napoleon’s intransigence drove them to join the Coalition. After the armistice expired on 17 August, Napoleon won his only victory in the campaign at Dresden on 27 August. For the first time in the history of the coalition wars, the Allies had a plan of operations that Napoleon could not overcome. For the next six weeks, he chased phantoms, exhausting his troops, and grinding his army into the ground while the Allies defeated his subordinates in Silesia, Bohemia, and Saxony. Finally, tired of running after an elusive enemy, Napoleon allowed himself to be surrounded in the city of Leipzig in the hope of finally waging and winning a decisive battle. The contest started on 16 October and ended with Napoleon commencing the retreat to France with a battered army on 19 October. Germany was lost.
In this article, I explore a Wittgensteinian approach to blasphemy. While philosophy of religion tends to have very little to say about blasphemy, we can note two key, typically unchallenged, assumptions about it. First, there is the Assertion from Anywhere Assumption: whether one can successfully blaspheme is entirely independent of one's religious views, commitments, or way of life. Second, there is the Act of Communication Assumption: blasphemy is essentially an act of assertion. I contend that a Wittgensteinian approach rejects both assumptions and, thus, reorients our conception of blasphemy. Take two characteristically Wittgensteinian claims. First, religious statements/beliefs have a different ‘grammar’ than empirical propositions. Second (and relatedly), holding religious beliefs necessarily connects with how one lives. Wittgensteinian blasphemy rejects the Assertion from Anywhere Assumption: to blaspheme, one must be in or have been in the religious framework one blasphemes. Being entirely outside of that context divests one's blasphemy from its proper content. Second, Wittgensteinian blasphemy rejects the Act of Communication Assumption: if religious belief is centrally a form of life, then blasphemy must be lived out as well. Wittgensteinian blasphemy is less about the utterances one makes and more about how one's life intersects (or fails to intersect) with religiosity.
There exists wide methodological diversity in philosophy of religion and many of the ways of responding to it are inadequate. This article argues that resources from virtue epistemology can help respond better, specifically connecting the issue to the notion of wisdom. A framework for this is articulated and then applied to Aquinas and Wittgenstein, chosen as utilizing starkly different methodologies in dealing with problems from philosophy of religion.
Wittgenstein published next to nothing on the philosophy of religion and yet his conception of religious belief has been both enormously influential and hotly contested. In the contemporary literature, Wittgenstein has variously been labelled a fideist, a non-cognitivist and a relativist of sorts. This Element shows that all of these readings are misguided and seriously at odds, not just with what Wittgenstein says about religious belief, but with his entire later philosophy. This Element also argues that Wittgenstein presents us with an important 'third way' of understanding religious belief – one that does not fall into the trap of either assimilating religious beliefs to ordinary empirical or scientific beliefs or seeking to reduce them to the expression of certain attitudes.
In this paper, I will defend a communitarian perspective on the so-called “hinge propositions” (hinges, for short). Accordingly, I will argue that hinges play a normative role, in the sense that, among other things, they govern the mechanisms of social inclusion/exclusion. In particular, I will examine the so-called “religious hinges”; and I will argue that such hinges, being the product of mere indoctrination, are particularly effective in shaping boundaries among communities. Finally, with the help of Peter Munz's theory of altruism, I will attempt to explain why religious hinges play the role they do.
This article argues that society is not a thing. It is abbreviated and adapted with permission from a public lecture, titled There Is No Such Thing as Society: Margaret Thatcher, Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Social Science. The original was presented by Gavin Kitching to the Cuadernos de la Catedra Ludwig Wittgenstein at Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico, in March 2019.
In the interpretive literature from the 1950's through the 1970's the term 'criterion' was thought to be a central key to the understanding of Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Later on, it was relegated from this place of honour to being one of a variety of expressions used by Wittgenstein in dealing with philosophical questions. This Element tries to account for the shifting fate of this concept. It discusses the various occurrences of the word “criteria” in the Philosophical Investigations, argues that the post-Wittgensteinian debate about criteria was put on the wrong track by a problematic passage in Wittgenstein's early Blue Book, and finally gives an overview of the main contributions to this debate, trying to achieve a reconciliation between the rival conceptions.
The influence of Wittgenstein on Wallace has become a truism in the scholarship. This chapter explores the contribution of the philosopher and logician to Wallace’s fiction writing, focusing on the logical questions that are most directly present in the fiction. More particularly, the chapter offers a provocative look at Wallace’s philosophical entanglement with Richard Taylor and ideas of fatalism. Imagining an alternate world in which Wallace was a philosopher by profession instead of an author, the chapter traces the development of his argument against Taylor’s proposition by way of logic, one of the key philosophical features of his writing, and traces a path from here to the interest in Wittgenstein and language games that dominated his fiction. In imagining this alternative world, the chapter invites the reader to think through exactly the ideas of choice, contingency, language and logic that animate argument it discusses.
Chapter 6, “Emma and Other Minds,” discusses Austin’s critique of certainty in “Other Minds,” and his account of the pluralities of verbal action in the essays “Pretending” and “A Plea for Excuses.” Austin’s arguments in these essays possess not only cognitive and epistemological dimensions; they are supremely rich investigations of moral thought and sociality: dimensions of life that produce endless opportunity for mistake. Illuminating Austen’s Emma, Austin’s rejection of the exclusive dimension of certainty driving so much modern theory of knowledge goes hand in hand with his recognition of the epistemological character of social responsibility. The novel’s famous scene at Box Hill enacts these dynamics in a tour de force of recursive layers. The ordinary-language philosophical topics treated in this chapter include moral luck, pretending, and the self-problematizing division (made famous by Paul de Man’s reading of Rousseau) between exculpatory confessions and pleasure-taking excuses. The chapter begins with Austin’s and Austen’s joint critique of certainty. It ends by dislodging omniscience as a placeholder of philosophical value.
This chapter examines Heidegger’s use of seemingly nonsensical sentences in his 1926 Logic lectures to illustrate the primacy of a kind of practical sense, which serves as a basis for a derivative logical-propositional sense. It contrasts Heidegger’s approach with a conception of nonsense emerging out of an “austere” reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, according to which nonsense is never a function of what words mean but only a result of a failure to assign a meaning to one or more elements of a would-be proposition; according to this austere reading, there are thus no nonsensical propositions, but only strings of meaningless signs. Although Heidegger in certain respects hews to this austere conception, viz. in recognizing the interplay between bipolarity and something’s being a proposition at all, his use of nonsense nonetheless departs from the specifics of the austere reading. Doing so, the chapter argues, allows Heidegger to do a kind of phenomenological-ontological work, whose possibility the austere reading renders obscure (at best).
The question of what Wittgenstein meant by 'forms of life' has attracted a great deal of attention in the literature, yet it is an expression that Wittgenstein himself employs on only a relatively small number of occasions, and that he does not explicitly define. This Element gives a description of this concept that also explains Wittgenstein's reluctance to say much about it. A short historical introduction examines the origins and uses of the term in Wittgenstein's time. The Element then presents a survey of Wittgenstein's employment of it, and an overview of the literature. Finally, the Element offers a methodological reading of this notion, interpreting it as a conceptual tool in Wittgenstein's wider inquiries into the workings of our language.
The normativity of practice remains a major research challenge in practice turn scholarship. Recent debates have nevertheless demonstrated the promise of international practice theory for a wider IR audience. Instead of focusing on the effects of norms, constructivist norm research, for instance, has turned its attention to processes, practices, and actions in world politics through which norms are negotiated, contested, and embedded. This processual perspective overcomes simple explanations built on the agency-structure dichotomy, and resembles the research objectives of practice-oriented scholars. I argue, first, that a conversation between practice theorists and norm researchers is analytically fruitful thanks to their shared interest in normativity; this includes the consideration of power and agency, a social understanding of learning, and the contestation and multiplicity of normative orders. Secondly, I argue that practice approaches provide innovative conceptual vocabulary and methodological tools. Thirdly, in contrast to norm research, however, practice-oriented scholars (following Wittgenstein) do not ontologically distinguish practices from norms and attribute theoretical and methodological primacy to practice. I present three different practice-oriented research examples that study normativity from different angles: through power relations of structuring normative orders, learning processes via active participation in communities, and disputes on political actors’ competing moral claims.
This Element outlines Wittgenstein's early and later philosophies of logic, and explains Wittgenstein's views regarding the methodological significance of logic for philosophy. Wittgenstein's early philosophy of logic is presented as a further development of Frege's and Russell's accounts of logic, and Wittgenstein later philosophy as a response to problems with his early views, including confusions about idealization and abstraction in logic. The later Wittgenstein's novel logical methods, such as the method of language-games, are outlined, and the new kind of logical naturalism developed in his later philosophy described. I conclude by discussing the later Wittgenstein on names.
In Chapter 5, I set out the notion of correctness as a condition for understanding. If one understands, one understands correctly. This feature allows a distinction between understanding and misunderstanding. In this chapter, I set out a second feature for understanding, namely that the concept of understanding is applicable to self and the other. In Chapter 2, I pointed out that “understanding” was a word in a public language such as English and, being public, is shared between self and the other.
Practice theory seeks to explain the relationship between human action by reasoning that most behavior is socially determined and best studied through practices and the institutions they represent and instantiate. Practice theory conceives of behavior as patterned deeds in socially organized contexts. I provide an overview of the practice turn literature. I discuss different understandings of practice, the mechanism of habit, which is closely associated with them, and whether practice theory can be considered causal.
Must We Mean What We Say? is the first and only work in contemporary thought to carry the project of ordinary language philosophy through to its end. It thereby confronts and overcomes the harsh criticisms of ordinary language philosophy that began with Gellner’s attack in 1959, belying repeated claims that the tradition is “dead.” MWM shows that ordinary language philosophy is more than ever alive and relevant. Cavell’s emphasis on the “voice of the ordinary” responds to the risk of skepticism, that loss of or distancing from the world that film also explores (see The World Viewed). In Must We Mean What We Say?, Cavell offers us new ways to explore the relation between an individual speaker and her community, the possibility of revolution in philosophy, and the sense in which our relation to our own words figures our relations to ourselves: the question of self-knowledge and voice.
Instead of taking the impossibility of certain knowledge in experience as an intellectual problem, Cavell understands it as an existential condition. Philosophers have traditionally disavowed that condition by turning skepticism into an intellectual problem. The pathology behind that disavowal becomes the center of what Krebs calls Cavell’s “clinical turn.” The philosophical criticism resulting from that turn involves a radical change in attitude, where thinking is – as Cavell puts it – a mode of praise. This essay argues that thinking as praise makes receptiveness paramount, and requires a reconnection with feeling and passion that brings the body back into philosophy.
An exploration of what made Cavell’s debut with Wittgenstein so revolutionary, not only at the time he wrote it, but in relation to themes that have continued to rise tenaciously to prominence within philosophy, especially philosophy of language and epistemology, since 1969. Rule-following and skepticism; truth, conventionalism, necessity, and creativity in meaning; the New Wittgenstein and Cavell’s overcoming of the idea of Wittgenstein as an end-of-philosophy or conservative philosopher; the transformation of Wittgenstein into a radically reformist philosopher. These are strewn throughout Must We Mean What We Say? through Cavell’s radically new redeployment of Wittgenstein in and for ordinary language philosophy conceived as a liberatory tradition, a tradition whose significance has lasted into our time.
This chapter highlights how Cavell’s pioneering interpretation of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations in “The Availability of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy” bears on literary studies. It traces an influential misreading of the Investigations deriving from Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition (1979) whose understanding of “language-games” has become foundational to the conception of postmodern literature put forth by leading literary scholars, even as it relies on an unacknowledged simplification of how Wittgenstein understands the linked concepts of “language-games” and “rules” in the Investigations.
Cavell’s “Availability” essay exposes the problems with this postmodern reading of Wittgenstein. As Cavell makes clear, Wittgenstein compares the “rules” of language to “moves in a game” in part because he wishes to emphasize the differences between these two cases: unlike those of, say, a board game, the rules of “everyday language” cannot be exhaustively listed or written down, and yet, “the absence of such a structure in no way impairs its [i.e., language’s] functioning.” For this reason, as the “Availability” essay shows, “rules” turn out to be a concept of only secondary importance within the Investigations; rather, language-games emerge against the backdrop of what Wittgenstein calls “forms of life” or, elsewhere, “the natural history of human beings.”
Cavell proposed that the ordinary language philosopher’s appeals to “what we say when” are to be modeled on aesthetic judgments in Kant’s sense. Both judgments express what Kant called “a universal voice.” However, both also share another feature that stands in tension with their universal purport in being open to seemingly intractable disagreement. Cavell’s insistence – following Kant – that there are judgments with such a logical form is significant, for the idea that there are judgments with this logical form cuts against a prevailing assumption: if a judgment does not enjoy the objectivity of a theoretical judgment, its content must be understood to be constrained by, or be an expression of, psychological or sociological fact.
These claims are essentially first-personal, not transferrable by testimony, are claims“in which” one’s community with others, or lack thereof, can be established, as opposed to claims that are made “about” a community, whether aesthetic or linguistic, from a third-person, anthropological point of view. Blindness to the existence of judgments with this pair of logical features is a form of psychologism about judgment, a failure fully to recognize the irreducibility of the first person, in both its singular and plural forms, in our relation to the world.