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The practical significance of use and its conceptual implications for the understanding of language, method and philosophy in the later Wittgenstein

Grant number: 15/21159-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2016
Effective date (End): February 28, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Itala Maria Loffredo D'Ottaviano
Grantee:Florian Franken Figueiredo
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):17/05530-9 - Understanding the Philosophical Method(s) in Wittgenstein's 'Philosophical Investigations', BE.EP.PD


It is a central insight in Wittgenstein's later philosophy that the meaning of linguistic expres-sions is not possible apart from attention to their public use. Accordingly, philosophers are often concerned with the pragmatic character of language in respect of linguistic and semantic questions. In this project I take a different perspective: I investigate the practical implications of language as an object of use. Instead of asking for Wittgenstein's conception of language regarding semantic and linguistic issues, I put the focus on the use of language in terms of practical rationality and normativity. In taking this view, the investigation deals with three different topics which are crucial for the Later Wittgenstein: the application of language, the application of methods, and the concept of philosophy. The understanding of the three topics is highly controversial among recent commentators. In taking the perspective of practical ra-tionality and normativity, I offer a new possibility how to understand each of them and how they are related to each other. I argue that language-application can be conceived under prin-ciples of instrumental rationality, so that linguistic expressions are taken as a means to achieve certain ends. This opens the view to normative principles of the correct use of language as a means. I argue that there are no certain principles but different methods which can be used to show the correct language-application under certain circumstances, and, furthermore, I show how these methods work. I also discuss what it means from a Wittgensteinian point of view to have methods in philosophy. Finally, I offer an understanding of the concept of philosophy. I argue that it may be conceived of as the justification of the methods which we use in order to justify language-applications.

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