Description Alone

  • Daniel D. Hutto


Many philosophers take exception to Wittgenstein’s bold injunction that ‘we may not advance any kind of theory. There must not be anything hypothetical in our considerations. We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place’ (PI, §109). In alarming contrast to the endeavours of most contemporary philo­sophers we are warned that, ’In philosophy we do not draw conclu­sions. “But it must be like this!” is not a philosophical proposition’ (PI, §599; cf. CV, p. 6e). Philosophers tend to be strongly divided in their views about the worth of this kind of approach. Sometimes it is applauded for its anti-metaphysical virtues, as in Pleasants’ remark below:

Wittgenstein came to relinquish the idea that philosophy could, or should, claim to reveal ‘the way things are’ … I advocate taking entirely seriously the descriptive approach he commends.

(Pleasants 2000, p. 292)


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Copyright information

© Daniel D. Hutto 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel D. Hutto
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HertfordshireUK

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