Wittgenstein and Austin on ‘What is in Common’: A Neglected Perspective?

Al Zobi, Odi (2014) Wittgenstein and Austin on ‘What is in Common’: A Neglected Perspective? Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis seeks to shed light on what I claim is a neglected aspect in the writings of later Ludwig Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin. I badge this the ‘unity problem’. Many interpreters tend to underestimate, or ignore, this important aspect, and to focus instead on what I will call the ‘compatibility problem’. The compatibility problem focuses on cases where philosophers say something which we would not say in ordinary language, or when philosophers violate its rules. According to this reading, Austin and Wittgenstein show philosophers that this is a source of traditional philosophical troubles.
I argue for a different reading. My claim is that Austin and Wittgenstein think, instead, that in some specific cases philosophical trouble arises because philosophers look for one common thing in all cases where the same word is used. The aim in these cases is not to identify strings of words that we would not ordinarily say, rather it is to show that looking for something common to all cases in which we use the same word is problematic. This is the ‘unity’ problem.
I will examine how both philosophers characterise the unity problem, and how they demonstrate that there is something misleading in looking for one common thing in all the cases in which we use the same word. This constitutes what might be termed the ‘theoretical’ part of the thesis. Alongside this, I will examine key examples of Wittgenstein’s and Austin’s application of this ‘theory’ to their treatment of specific philosophical problems. These applications constitute some of the central examples in their writings, such as ‘understanding’ for Wittgenstein, and ‘truth’ for Austin. I will argue that their work on these examples does not fit comfortably into the framework of the compatibility problem, and is better viewed through the lens of the unity problem.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Philosophy
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2015 08:55
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2015 08:55
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/53445

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