Philosophy as Therapy
An Interpretation and Defense of Wittgenstein's Later Philosophical Project
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This book presents an account and defense of Wittgenstein's later philosophy emphasizing its therapeutic character. Peterman argues that any therapeutic philosophy must present an account of human health, a related account of the mechanisms of health and illness, and finally an account of how philosophy can bring someone from a state of illness to health. In light of this general model, he presents an interpretation of Wittgenstein's therapeutic project that emphasizes the continuity between it and the earlier ethical project of the Tractatus. The book confronts the problem of continuity by arguing that the earlier ethical goal of coming into agreement with the world as such is replaced in the later views by the therapeutic goal of coming into agreement with forms of life. In the course of the argument, Peterman challenges standard interpretations of Wittgenstein's project and standard modes of criticizing and defending it. The book also contributes to contemporary philosophical discussion by showing why we should take seriously the project of philosophical therapy.
James F. Peterman is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at The University of the South.
"The book is a thorough attempt to read Wittgenstein in his own terms. It is rare to see a scholar take as seriously as does Peterman Wittgenstein's own image of philosophy as a kind of therapy. Thus the book is a useful (and practically unique) contribution to the literature.
"I very much like his master-notion of agreement ('agreement with the world' in the early work; 'agreement with the form of one's life' in the later) as a way of organizing what Wittgenstein was up to in his philosophical efforts. Peterman has seen something important here, something that no other commentator has grasped in the same way he does. This notion is the major contribution of the book to Wittgenstein studies. " — James C. Edwards, Furman University