Call the Midwife: Maieutic methods of inquiry in Socrates and Wittgenstein

Manzi, Jack (2022) Call the Midwife: Maieutic methods of inquiry in Socrates and Wittgenstein. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis explores a proposed continuity in the philosophical methodology of Plato’s Socrates and Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. More specifically, this thesis argues that Wittgenstein is demonstrably a maieutic philosopher, where maieutic refers to a practice of philosophy as a form of what has been called by various Plato scholars ‘intellectual midwifery’. Throughout this thesis, I argue that central aspects of the later Wittgenstein’s method have significant points of contact with Socrates’ ‘hidden doctrine’ of philosophical midwifery advanced in the Theaetetus, including (but not limited to) an active interest in an interlocutor’s implicit knowledge, an idea of philosophy as reminding or clarifying what has been said, and a disinterest in advancing philosophical theses to one’s interlocutor.

As I argue throughout this thesis, examining certain maieutic practices in the Investigations opens the door to clarifying aspects of Wittgenstein’s method and practice. It is hoped that this thesis will provide justification for reading Wittgenstein as a maieutic philosopher, and solid foundations for doing so – and in doing so, will expose a continuation of philosophical tradition between the Socrates of the Theaetetus and Wittgenstein of the Investigations. Furthermore, it is hoped that re-examining Wittgenstein as a maieutic philosopher will bring more attention generally to the practice of maieutic philosophy, and how it might help us as philosophers working in the early 21st century.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2023 13:01
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2023 13:01


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