Two Conceptions of Wittgenstein's Contextualism
How should we understand Wittgenstein's proposals that "the meaning of a word is its use in the language" (Wittgenstein 1953, §43) and that a name only has a meaning in a language-game (ibid. §49)? Are they incompatible with occasion-invariant semantics? In this paper I present two leading interpretations of Wittgenstein's contextualism: James Conant's meaning-eliminativism (ME) and Charles Travis's meaning-underdetermination (MU). I argue that, even though these two interpretations are very similar, the latter gives a more nuanced account of Wittgenstein's contextualism which does not involve a commitment to the claim that words have no meaning outside immediate contexts of use.
Bergqvist, Anna. 2009. Semantic Particularism and Linguistic Competence. Logique & Analyse 52(208): 343-361.Search in Google Scholar
Diamond, Cora. 2000. Ethics, imagination and the method of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. In: Alice Crary and Rupert Read (eds.), The New Wittgenstein. London: Routledge, 149-174.Search in Google Scholar
Conant, James. 2001. Two Conceptions of Die Überwindung der Metaphysik: Carnap and Early Wittgenstein. In: Timothy McCarthy and Sean C. Stidd (eds.), Wittgenstein in America. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 13-62.Search in Google Scholar
Frege, Gottlob. 1884/1997. Foundations of Arithmetic. In: Michael Beany (ed.), The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 84-130.Search in Google Scholar
Hilmy, Stephen. 1987. The Later Wittgenstein: Themes From the Later Denkweise. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar
Travis, Charles. 1989. The Uses of Sense: Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar
Travis, Charles. 2006. Thought's Footing: A Theme in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Search in Google Scholar
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1953/1958. Philosophical Investigations. Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe and Rush Rhees (eds.), tr. Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1969. On Certainty. Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe and Georg Henrik von Wright (eds.), tr. Denis Paul and Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar
Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1974. Philosophical Grammar. Rush Rhees (ed.), tr. Anthony Kenny. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar
This content is open access.