, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 255–274 | Cite as

Davidson and a Twist of Wittgenstein: Metaontology, Self-Canceling Paradox, and Settled Insight



The paper proposes with Davidson that the talk of metaontology is literally meaningless, but with Wittgenstein that it is so in a way that grants a unique type of insight. More specifically, it argues both that Davidson’s arguments have a cogency that is hard to dismiss, and also that, since his own arguments are metaontological, they are self-referential, and consequently in turn undermine their own meaning as well. The paper argues further that metaontological statements cannot be avoided. Consequently, this kind of statement constitutes an unavoidable self-referential paradox that means what it also excludes as capable of meaning. The result is a reinstatement of the meaning of ontological insight and in fact, the paper argues, a deep enrichment and also a particularly cogent justification of it. In addition, the logical peculiarity of the paradox involved has further useful consequences for the outcome of this justification, including a mutually illuminating commonality with some versions of metaethics.


Metaontology Davidson Wittgenstein Self-canceling paradox Nonsense Meaningful ontology 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentMarshall UniversityHuntingtonUSA

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