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Wittgenstein’s Thought Experiments and Relativity Theory

  • Carlo PencoEmail author
Chapter
Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Abstract

In this paper, I discuss the similarity between Wittgenstein’s use of thought experiments and Relativity Theory. I begin with introducing Wittgenstein’s idea of “thought experiments” and a tentative classification of different kinds of thought experiments in Wittgenstein’s work. Then, after presenting a short recap of some remarks on the analogy between Wittgenstein’s point of view and Einstein’s, I suggest three analogies between the status of Wittgenstein’s mental experiments and Relativity theory: the topics of time dilation, the search for invariants, and the role of measuring tools in Special Relativity. This last point will help to better define Wittgenstein’s idea of description as the core of his philosophical enterprise.

Keywords

Description Language games Mental experiments Relativity theory Einstein Wittgenstein 

Wittgenstein, L. abbreviations

BT

The Big Typescript, TS 213. Edited and translated by G. G. Luckhard and M. A. E. Aue, Oxford: Blackwell 2005

LFM

Lectures on the Foundation of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1939. Edited by Cora Diamond, Ithaca: Cornell U.P. 1976

LW

Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology, vol. 1, Blackwell, Oxford, 1982

OC

On Certainty/Über Gewissheit. Oxford: Blackwell, 1974

PR

Philosophical Remarks/Philosophische Bemerkungen. Oxford: Blackwell, 1964. Engl. transl. Oxford: Blackwell, 1975

PI

Philosophical Investigation/Philosophische Untersuchungen. Edited and translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell 1968

RFM

Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. Oxford: Blackwell, 1978 (Third edition)

RPP

Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, 2 voll., Oxford: Blackwell, 1980

VB

Vermischte Bemerkungen. Edited by Von Wright, Frankfurt aM, 1977

Z

Zettel. Oxford: Blackwell, 1967

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy of Language, Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GenovaGenoaItaly

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