Do Your Exercises: Reader Participation in Wittgenstein’s Investigations

Chapter

Abstract

Many theorists have focused on Wittgenstein’s use of examples , but I argue that examples form only half of his method. Rather than continuing the disjointed style of his Cambridge Lectures , Wittgenstein returns to the techniques he employed while teaching elementary school . Philosophical Investigations (PI) trains the reader as a math class trains a student—‘by means of examples and by exercises’ (§208). Its numbered passages, carefully arranged, provide a series of demonstrations and practice problems. I guide the reader through one such series, demonstrating how the exercises build upon one another and give us ample opportunity to hone our problem-solving skills . Through careful practice , we learn to pass the test Wittgenstein poses when he claims that something is ‘easy to imagine’ (§19). Whereas other critics have viewed the Investigations as merely a diagnosis of our philosophical delusions, I claim that Wittgenstein also writes a prescription for our disease: Do your exercises.

Keywords

Practice Active participation Wittgenstein’s method 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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