A critique of theoretical philosophy

Paul Horwich

in Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588879
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744716 | DOI:
A critique of theoretical philosophy

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The purpose of this long chapter — the heart of the book — is to elaborate and establish the Wittgensteinian metaphilosophy sketched in Chapter 1. It begins with a detailed description of the mainstream scientistic view of philosophy, which he rejected — a conception defined by goals of a priori theory-construction, and by norms of simplicity and data-accommodation — that are modelled on scientific methodology. This intellectual practice (here called ‘T-philosophy’) is then subjected to a variety of criticisms, as are the different forms of theory that are typically produced by it — instances of skepticism, revisionism, mysterionism, and conservative systematization — and Wittgenstein's alternative (‘therapeutic’) approach is described and justified. His general view of the ‘rise and fall’ of any philosophical problem is articulated through an abstract eight-stage schema: (i) scientism, (ii) analogy, (iii) generalization, (iv) idiosyncrasy, (v) paradox, (vi) bewilderment, (vii) theory, and (viii) therapy, which is illustrated by reference to problems concerning numbers, time, truth, and the good. Finally, a couple of widely-debated Wittgenstein's position are addressed: first, whether or not it is inconsistent (in advancing an anti-theoretical theory), and second, whether or not it rests on his identification of the meaning of a word with its use.

Keywords: scientism; a priori; skepticism; revisionism; mysterion; conservative systematization; number; time; truth; good

Chapter.  17831 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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