Slow Learning and the Multiplicity of Meaning

  • Richard Smith


A major theme both in Wittgenstein’s early work, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus , and in his later work, especially the Philosophical Investigations , is the question of how language can be meaningful. Although there are major differences in the earlier and later treatments, in both there is an emphasis on the need for intuition, for ‘waiting for the penny to drop’: there is a limit to what can be achieved by the giving of explanations. In both treatments, Wittgenstein also asks us to think of philosophy as a kind of therapy that can release us from conceptual confusion, and in his later work, the humanities, especially art and literature, replace the natural sciences as his model site of learning . I suggest that these features both imply a necessary slowness in fundamental aspects of learning and that this has the potential to be a corrective to our modern world of education which is obsessed with quick fixes and programmes of accelerated learning.


Wittgenstein Meaning Interpretation Understanding Educational assessment 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DurhamDurhamUK

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