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Ed. by Floyd, Juliet / Jiang, Yi / Majetschak, Stefan / Raatzsch, Richard / Venturinha, Nuno / Vossenkuhl, Wilhelm

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Reading the Opening of the Philosophical Investigations

The Role of the Shopkeeper, the Builders and Augustine’s Child in a ‘Community View’ of Wittgenstein’s Text

Derek McDougall
Published Online: 2017-04-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/witt-2017-003


In a recent paper (Lugg 2013: 21-36), Andrew Lugg argues that the beginning of the Philosophical Investigations (PI 1958: 1-7) can be read in a literal and straightforward way, a way that is not intended to involve any kind of irony, or to present the reader with any form of complex philosophical argument. Consequently, a number of commentators who have read into these passages an intention on Wittgenstein’s part to acquaint us with bizarre or unusual paradoxes, have seriously misunderstood his method. The present discussion will assess how far Lugg’s approach is reflected in the very extensive and multi-faceted secondary literature on these passages, whilst discovering how the description of Augustine’s child who is said to have already acquired his first language, bears upon the way in which philosophers have used the concept of a born-Crusoe to point towards an “Individualist” as distinct from a “Communitarian” interpretation of Wittgenstein’s thinking.

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Published Online: 2017-04-21

Published in Print: 2017-04-01

Citation Information: Wittgenstein-Studien, Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 61–80, ISSN (Online) 1868-7458, ISSN (Print) 1868-7431, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/witt-2017-003.

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