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Hacker Philosophical Method Notes

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Peter Hacker - Insight and Illusion: Themes in the Philosophy of Wittgenstein Chapter Six: Wittgenstein's Later Conception of Philosophy

1. A Kink in the Evolution of Philosophy
* There are significant similarities in Wittgenstein's earlier and later conceptions of philosophy, but also differences
* Wittgenstein saw his method as the creation of a new subject, beyond philosophy
# it was no longer a cognitive pursuit, as it has been for
* Plato - philosophy concerned with eternal truths about abstract objects
* Descartes - concerned with the study of the foundations of all sciences
* Russell - philosophy as continuous with the natural sciences
* British empiricists - investigation into the essential nature of the human mind, to clarify the extent of the possibility of human knowledge
* Kant - investigation into the conditions of the possibility of experience which would yield knowledge of truths
# For W, there are no philosophical propositions and no philosophical knowledge
* philosophy does not aim at accumulating fresh knowledge, like science
* hence it cannot be the foundation upon which science rests
* the Empiricist idea that, in order to keep scepticism at bay, we must have self-certifying indubitable knowledge is a Cartesian myth
* scepticism must be shown to be nonsense, rather than answered with positive theory
* philosophy is concerned with the bounds of sense by not with the synthetic apriori truths that describe them (as with Kant)
# Wittgenstein saw past philosophies as casting 'norms of representation in the role of objects represented'
* i.e. seeing features of the grammar of representation as essential truths about the reality we represent through language
* thus past philosophies are not false, but nonsensical
# Wittgenstein also rejected the idea that philosophy should construct an ideal language
* in the Tractatus he claimed that the idea that natural languages were defective was absurd, and that the idea that a better/logically more perfect one could be created was ridiculous
* later he refuted the idea that a concept script could represent the logical syntax of a natural language, because language is a family resemblance concept - languages don't have one thing in common
* in fact natural language are dissimilar to logical calculi
* natural language is where philosophical problems arise, and creating a logical language isn't going to solve these problems

2. A Cure for the Sickness of the Understanding
* For W, the positive aim of philosophy is to order/rearrange our ideas, to establish an order in our use of language
* it must give a synoptic view (of our modes of representation)
# W saw grammar as analogous to geography: we can walk around a place quite

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