DS-2012-06: Contextual Metaphilosophy - The Case of Wittgenstein

DS-2012-06: Gakis, Dimitris (2012) Contextual Metaphilosophy - The Case of Wittgenstein. Doctoral thesis, University of Amsterdam.

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The aim of this dissertation is two-fold. First, we wish to present an
alternative to the dominant metaphilosophical approaches that try to
answer the question of what philosophy is by providing a normative
answer, i.e. an answer based on each philosopher's views on what
philosophy (proper) should be. That kind of answer may take many
forms: conceptual analysis, science, way of life, critique, the
discovery of truth, and others. In opposition to such normative
answers, we try to provide a descriptive answer to metaphilosophical
questions by treating philosophy as an activity or praxis, as
something that is actually done by human beings. Thus we approach
philosophy as what philosophers do, as the product of the activity of
humans who are situated in concrete historical, social, and cultural
settings. From such a perspective, we come to see philosophy, not as a
homogenous domain based on some kind of a philosophical essence, but
as a multifarious and complex network composed of different paradigms
which are related, not through a single characteristic that they all
share, but through various kinds of resemblances (and differences of
course). For such an enterprise, the relation of philosophy to its
context, i.e. to the rest of the nexus of human activity and life,
becomes crucial.

The second and principal aim of this study is to make such a
contextual metaphilosophical perspective more concrete by means of a
detailed investigation of the broader context of the life, thought,
and work of a particular philosopher: Ludwig Wittgenstein. Thus we
investigate many facets of the context of Wittgenstein's life and
thought, both in his early and his later phase. With regard to the
early phase, we focus on the relation of his personal and
(meta)philosophical stance to certain characteristics of modernity and
of various strands of modernism. With regard to the later phase, we
pay attention in particular to the social and anthropological shift of
his perspective and to the largely Marxist context of his later life
and thought. In this way, we come to see Wittgenstein not just as a
philosopher occupied mainly with logic, philosophy of language,
philosophy of mind, and epistemology, but also as a philosopher who
through his life and his work (and the interaction of the two) puts
forward a certain ethical, social, and political stance as well, one
that calls for a change in our form(s) of life.

What links the two aspects of the dissertation's general goal is not
only the contextual character of our approach, but also the emphasis
on the idea that humans are a self-institutional species. This, we
argue, is a major feature of Wittgenstein's later (meta)philosophical
perspective and shapes our contextual metaphilosophical approach as
described above. It is the idea that human doings, beliefs, and
sayings are not founded on any kind of metaphysical entities or
extra-human essences like 'God', 'Nature', 'Reality', 'Truth',
'Reason', 'History', 'Spirit/Mind', 'Subject', or 'Man'. The only
thing we can rely on, (epistemo)logically, ethically, aesthetically,
or psychologically, is ourselves and our fellow human beings, the
communities that are constituted by and are constitutive of us and
that we form, belong to, and interact with.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Report Nr: DS-2012-06
Series Name: ILLC Dissertation (DS) Series
Year: 2012
Subjects: Language
Depositing User: Dr Marco Vervoort
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 15:16
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2022 15:16
URI: https://eprints.illc.uva.nl/id/eprint/2112

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