Normativity, Meaning and Philosophy: Essays on Wittgenstein

Normativity, Meaning and Philosophy: Essays on Wittgenstein

Edited by Hans-Johann Glock

Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

This is a collection of essays on Wittgenstein originally published between 1996 and 2019, with a new introduction. The essays defend and develop a central Wittgensteinian idea: ‘grammatical rules’ for the use of expressions hold the key to understanding linguistic meaning, as well as its connections to necessary propositions, conceptual thought, and the nature of philosophy.

Hardback, 284 Pages


April 2024

£80.00, $110.00

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About This Book

This is a collection of essays on Wittgenstein and Wittgensteinian themes that appeared between 1996 and 2019. It is divided into three parts, with a common trajectory laid out in a substantial introduction. The first part links meaning, necessity and normativity. It defends and modifies Wittgenstein’s claim that the idea of a ‘grammatical rule’ holds the key to understanding linguistic meaning and its connection to necessary propositions. The second part elucidates the connections between meaning, concepts and thought in Wittgenstein and beyond. It shows how he laid the grounds for a sound understanding of four contested issues—radical interpretation, concepts, nonsense and the scope and limits of animal thought. The third part provides a qualified defence of Wittgenstein’s influential yet extremely controversial idea that philosophical problems are conceptual, and thereby rooted in confusions concerning the meanings of and semantic relations between linguistic expressions. Against irrationalist interpretations, Glock demonstrates that Wittgenstein’s method is argumentative rather than therapeutic.

The essays reconstruct Wittgenstein’s writings in a way that identifies the often cryptic problems and arguments in his work. This sets them apart from a currently popular trend of therapeutic interpretations, as in the ‘New Wittgenstein’ school. By contrast to other critics of such interpretations, Glock acknowledges that they are to a limited extent warranted by some aspects of Wittgenstein’s work, e.g. concerning the notion of nonsense or what he calls ‘the myth of mere method’. At the same time the essays convincingly criticize these aspects and show that they are not presupposed by the more important lessons that Wittgenstein still has to teach. 

The collection brings out the abiding relevance of Wittgenstein’s reflections to contemporary debates on central themes such as the importance of normativity, the foundations of meaning and necessity, the nature of concepts, the possibility of animal thought and the proper method of philosophy. 


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Author Information

Dr. Hans-Johann Glock is professor of philosophy at the University of Zurich (Switzerland), visiting professor at the University of Reading (UK) and a recipient of a Humboldt Research Prize.


Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

Table of Contents

Introduction; I. Norm and Necessity: 1. “Necessity and Normativity”; 2. “Necessity and Language: In defence of Conventionalism”; 3. “Does Language Require Conventions?”; 4. “Philosophy Rehinged?”; II. Thought and Concepts: 5. ‘On Safari with Wittgenstein, Quine and Davidson’; 6. “All Kinds of Nonsense”; 7. “Wittgenstein on Concepts”; 8. “Thought, Language and Animals”; III. Meaning and Philosophy: 9. “What Is Meaning? A Wittgensteinian Answer to an UnWittgensteinian question”; 10. “Investigations §128: Theses in Philosophy and Undogmatic Procedure”; 11. “Philosophy and Philosophical Method”.


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