Wittgenstein and the Life We Live with Language

Wittgenstein and the Life We Live with Language

By Lars Hertzberg

Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

This work is guided by the idea that Wittgenstein’s thought opens the door to a more profound break with the philosophical tradition than has been generally recognized. It brings this insight to bear on some basic problems of philosophy. 

Hardback, 250 Pages


May 2022

£80.00, $125.00

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About This Book

This work is guided by the idea that Wittgenstein’s thought opens the door to a more profound break with the philosophical tradition than has been generally recognized. It brings this insight to bear on some basic problems of philosophy. 

Wittgenstein’s work has been assimilated to the analytic tradition in such a way that its radical character has been made nearly invisible. In fact, Wittgenstein formulates a basic critique of a predominant conception in contemporary analytic philosophy, according to which language can be seen as a formal structure describable in general terms. This conception neglects the profound context-dependence of the way things said are to be understood, thus imposing a schematic view of the connections between words and life. By distancing us from the life we live with language, it makes the problems of philosophy come to appear intractable. In this work, the attempt is made to show how philosophical confusions are to be overcome through attending to the actual use of words in conversation. The questions discussed belong to what would commonly be called the philosophy of language and of logic, ethics, philosophical anthropology, philosophy of religion and aesthetics. 

The formal view of language is connected with a tendency, deeply entrenched in the Western philosophical tradition, to view human life in terms of dichotomies such as that between thought and behaviour, between the intentional and the non-intentional, between the mental and the corporeal, dichotomies which have given rise to philosophical bewilderment. The road to liberation from that bewilderment goes through the dissolution of those dichotomies by taking note of the variety of ways in which human thought and speech are bound up with human action and reaction.

Several of the essays will contain attempts at interpreting key passages from Wittgenstein’s work, but they will also contain some criticisms of Wittgenstein as well as of certain common ways of reading him; however, their main purpose is not to interpret Wittgenstein but to address the problems raised in their own right. 


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Author Information

Lars Hertzberg is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Åbo Akademi University, Finland.


Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Attending to the Actual Sayings of Things; 2. The Sense Is Where You Find It; 3. On Excluding Contradictions from Our Language; 4. How Do Sentences Do It?; 5. On the Need for a Listener and Community Standards; 6. 'It Says What It Says'; 7. Ethics as We Talk It; 8. Moral Escapism and Applied Ethics; 9. Very General Facts of Nature; 10. Reasons to Be Good?; 11. The Importance of Being Thoughtful; 12. What’s in a Smile?; 13. On Aesthetic Reactions and Changing One’s Mind; Index.


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