The Unity of Wittgenstein's Philosophy

Necessity, Intelligibility, and Normativity

By José Medina

Subjects: Philosophy Of Language
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791453889, 245 pages, July 2002
Hardcover : 9780791453872, 245 pages, July 2002

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Table of contents




1. Necessity and Intelligibility in the Tractatus


1.1. Possibility and Necessity in the Tractatus
1.2. What's Color Got to Do with It?
1.3. The Myth of 'Hidden Bodies'
1.4. Deflationism and Realism in the Tractatus


2. From Pictures to Yardsticks: The Colorful Transformations of the Tractarian View of Language


2.1. Let the Phenomena Speak for Themselves!
2.2. The Emergence of the Satzsystem Conception of Language


3. The Calculus View of Language: Meaning and Rules


3.1. Rules as Constitutive of Meaning
3.2. Local Holism, Verificationism, and the Proliferation Problem
3.3. Idealizing Language: The Autonomy of Rules


4. The “Unbridgeable Gulf” between Rule and Application


4.1. Frege on Applicability
4.2. The “Internal Relation” between Rule and Application
4.3. Is Grammar Up to Me?


5. Internal Relations in Action: Following a Rule versus Conforming with It


5.1. Searching for a Differentia Specifica
5.2. The Irrelevance of Learning: Reasons and Causes
5.3. From Possible Applications to Actual Uses


6. Normativity in Practice: Learning and Techniques


6.1. Psychologism and “Logical Madness”
6.2. Learning and Necessity
6.3. Back to the Rough Ground!
6.4. The Role of the Community: Contextualism and Quietism in Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy





Explores the stable core of Wittgenstein's philosophy as developed from the Tractatus to the Philosophical Investigations.


Exposing the myth of "the two Wittgensteins," this book provides a detailed account of the unity in Wittgenstein's thought from the Tractatus to the Philosophical Investigations. Unlike recent interpretations in the literature, this account is not the story of the unfolding of a single view, but instead the story of an ongoing conversation and its internal logic. Throughout his career, Wittgenstein argued that philosophical problems about the necessary and the impossible, on the one hand, and about the meaningful and the nonsensical, on the other, might be dissolved by means of an elucidation of ordinary language use. This approach always relied on the same strategy, namely contextualism. He identified decontextualization as the main source of philosophical confusion and argued that philosophical understanding consists of situating concepts in the normative contexts in which they function. This critical reconstruction contributes to the understanding of Wittgenstein's philosophy and illuminates contemporary debates concerning necessity, intelligibility, and the normativity of language.

José Medina is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.


"This is a carefully conceived and imaginatively executed piece of work with a great deal to offer its intended audience. Medina is thoroughly familiar with the primary and the secondary literature, he has a thesis both important and unexpected, and his arguments are plausible and far-reaching." — James C. Edwards, Furman University