Liberation from Solitude: Wittgenstein on Human Finitude and Possibility



In Wittgenstein: A Feminist Interpretation, Tanesini (Wittgenstein: a feminist interpretation. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004) convincingly argues that Wittgenstein be read as a critic of modern philosophy . He is, in particular, she maintains, rejecting the “modern quest for autonomy and independence”. Tanesini argues that these philosophical tropes of modern political and moral thought, their promises of self-determination, self-reliance and self-understanding , are responsible for generating in persons “loneliness and a separation from other human beings”. Tanesini believes that what the moderns “perceive as liberating”, Wittgenstein takes as being a “prison”. In this paper, I am interested in Tanesini’s reading of Wittgenstein and its implications for education . It is not unusual to treat Wittgenstein as defending the project of the moderns, aligning with the tradition that has him extending the work of Carnap and Russell. I defend the view that fundamental to Wittgenstein’s work is a anti-modern strand, diagnosing as an ill the privileging of the individual as self-determining and its consequent pathological concerns with matching language to “reality”. I articulate, to a first approximation, implications for our understanding of pedagogy in the context of what I take to be Wittgenstein’s critique of modernity, and his descriptive account of a shared way of life.


Tractatus Wittgenstein Solitude Finitude Transcendence 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of General Education and Humanities (Philosophy)Mount Royal UniversityCalgaryCanada

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