Towards a Wittgensteinian Metaphysics of the Political

  • Allan Janik
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 114)


What is political? The question is stupefyingly simple. It leaves you dumbfounded. Like St. Augustine, everybody knows till they are asked but when asked are unable to reply. Political “scientists”, above all, avoid it like the plague. They are quick to point out how silly, how “philosophical” (i.e., naïve/unimportant), it is to raise such an issue. Precious few of them are prepared to tackle it. Radicals such as certain feminists and Marxians (not Marxists), as well as some conservatives, on the other hand, suggest to us that our chief political problems arise from an unquestioning acceptance of the status quo; which is precisely because we fail to pose just such silly questions (R. G. Collingwood’s view of metaphysics is one which takes posing such silly questions to be metaphysics par excellence). To fail to pose this question in the minds of these critics of the existing order is to put yourself in a lamentable situation where you remain blind to — and, therefore, coerced by — class structure, patriarchy or trendy notions about, say, egalitarianism.


Language Game Political Dimension Political Knowledge Chapter Versus Private Language 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Janik
    • 1
  1. 1.Brenner ArchiveInnsbruck UniversityAustria

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