Learning Politics by Means of Examples

Chapter

Abstract

My aim is to explain Wittgenstein’s remarks on the epistemology of giving examples and to consider how this ramifies in the study of politics . In parts of The Blue and Brown Books (Preliminary Notebooks) and throughout Philosophical Investigations , one of Wittgenstein’s central epistemological claims is that learning takes place by means of comparing examples, and by practice , rather than by essential definitions or formal abstractable rules . Comparing examples is not an inferior method of explanation, because we have nothing better. Rather, there is nothing deeper than the examples . So he says, “let the use teach you the meaning ”. To illustrate how this approach has been mobilized in the study of politics , I will consider the writings of James Tully’s “aspectival ” political science . Tully agrees with Wittgenstein’s refutation of generality and his appreciation for particular cases. He agrees that we learn by practice , and by comparing examples in dialogue, not rules. Likewise, Tully gives examples, not theories or rules , to explain and to stimulate diversity awareness. These similarities are readily apparent in Strange Multiplicity, and with a sculpture called The Spirit of Haida Gwaii. The artwork is an object of persuasion: to invite negotiation, stimulate diversity awareness, and encourage transformative reconciliation .

Keywords

Examples Dialogical comparison Epistemology Aspectival Reconciliation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Political StudiesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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