Grammar in the Philosophical Investigations

Marie McGinn

in The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199287505
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Grammar in the Philosophical Investigations

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Ludwig Wittgenstein describes the kind of investigation he is engaged in Philosophical Investigations as ‘a grammatical one’. He speaks of looking for ‘grammatical differences’ and of ‘the rules of grammar’; and he makes a distinction between the ‘surface grammar’ of a word and its ‘depth grammar’. He traces the misunderstandings which he holds to lie at the root of philosophical problems and paradoxes to ‘grammatical illusions’, and to the creation of ‘grammatical fictions’. It is clear that he places the concept of grammar and of grammatical investigation at the heart of his understanding of the aims and methods of his later philosophy. Understanding what he means by the terms ‘grammar’, ‘depth grammar’, and ‘grammatical investigation’ is therefore fundamental to an understanding of the Investigations. It is possible that a perspicuous representation is concerned with a dimension of use that focuses on how speakers operate with words. Moreover, Wittgenstein has been interpreted as aiming to clarify the use of the concepts of understanding, meaning, and thinking.

Keywords: Ludwig Wittgenstein; grammar; Philosophical Investigations; surface grammar; depth grammar; grammatical investigation; perspicuous representation; understanding; meaning; thinking

Article.  11542 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy

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