From Logical Atomism to Practical Holism

David G. Stern

in Wittgenstein on Mind and Language

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780195080001
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786145 | DOI:
 From Logical Atomism to Practical Holism

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This chapter examines the developments that led from Wittgenstein’s early logical atomist view that all meaningful discourse can be analyzed into logically independent elementary propositions to his later philosophy. In 1929, Wittgenstein rejected logical atomism for a “logical holist” conception of language as composed of calculi, formal systems characterized by their constitutive rules. By the mid-1930s, he had rejected the model of a calculus, emphasizing that language is action within a social and natural context — more like a game than a calculus — and that rule-governed behavior is dependent on a background of practices which cannot themselves be explicitly formulated as rules. The discussion of these central developments for the emergence of his later “practical holism” focuses on changes in his conception of the nature of measurement and the role of mind and mental processes in linguistic meaning.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; logical atomism; practice; rules; calculus; holism; mind; meaning; language

Chapter.  22019 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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