Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Ian G. Weeks
The philosophical work of Ludwig Wittgenstein divides into two periods. His earlier philosophy is found in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and his later philosophy is most clearly presented in the Philosophical Investigations. In this dissertation I present an interpretation of these two works which demonstrates a fundamental continuity between them concerning the essential relationship of language and reality. The origins of my argument lie in a recent discussion of the question of the nature of religious belief which has been called 'Wittgensteinian Fideism'. The Fideists offer an interpretation of Wittgenstein's later philosophy which asserts that language constitutes an epistemologically prior framework which forms a linguistic community's view of reality. In this sense language and its grammar are said to be autonomous from reality and construct an essentially formless world.
I argue against this interpretation of Wittgenstein's later work by showing that in both periods of his life he taught that language and its structural principles are one with reality and that this unity is established in human nature. Wittgenstein argues that language is an objective order of facts in the real world, and that the human production of linguistic facts shows the essential unity of all language as well as the essential unity of language and reality. The assumption that human beings are the source of linguistic facts also enables Wittgenstein to argue for an ethical-religious view of man's place in the world. By means of this interpretation of Wittgenstein's works I am able to refute the epistemological approach to Wittgenstein's later work as well as to offer an alternative view of the implications of his philosophy far understanding religion.
Ard, David J., "Language, Reality and Religion in the Philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein" (1978). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3172.