Wittgenstein’s late account of meaning

Marchesin, Marco (2021) Wittgenstein’s late account of meaning. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The thesis investigates Wittgenstein’s conception of meaning in the light of his late philosophical methodology. Against views which focus mainly – if not exclusively – on the claim that in the Philosophical Investigations meaning is generally conceived in terms of use, this thesis develops an alternative account of Wittgenstein’s conception of meaning that is consistent with Wittgenstein’s broader rejection of metalogical thinking. Metalogic is a recurrent concept in the writings of the early ‘30s and figures as a model of a philosophical methodology – ascribable mainly, but not only, to the Tractatus - that Wittgenstein wants resolutely to avoid in his late investigations of language. Among other concepts, meaning is denied being metalogical. In a nutshell, as metalogic consists in an attempt to ground any possible philosophical clarification in a set of definitions of privileged concepts able to outline the essence of language once and for all, it follows that it was not Wittgenstein’s aim to formulate a universal account of meaning to put as a foundation of any philosophical clarification of language. The thesis shows that the metalogical tendency to conceive Wittgenstein’s late philosophy in the light of such a universal account of what meaning must be in essential is a common feature of many influential interpretations of Wittgenstein, especially those that find Wittgenstein advancing a claim about meaning as rule-governed use. Gordon Baker and Peter Hacker’s commentary to the Investigations is a paradigmatic example of such a tendency. The thesis further argues that the rejection of metalogic works not only as an invitation to refuse to ascribe to Wittgenstein any claim about the rule-governed nature of meaning, but also consists of an opportunity to develop a pluralistic account of understanding and meaning, beyond and apart from the one based only and reductively on linguistic rules. As a consequence, the thesis shows that many themes in Wittgenstein’s late philosophy – such as the case of experience of meaning, understanding music and secondary uses of words, among many others – can be interpreted as an articulated and systematic attempt to substantiate such a pluralistic account of the grammar of our concept of meaning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Political, Social and International Studies
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2022 10:25
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2022 10:25
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/84304

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