Wittgenstein's Contributions to Philosophy

James M. Thompson


Contrary to most interpreters of Wittgenstein, I contend that his true contributions
to our philosophic pursuits lie not within a positive doctrine of ideas or theories,
but rather in the 'negative' aspects of his project. The majority of Wittgenstein's
later work is pre-occupied with the task of bringing perspicuity to the ailing
philosopher. For Wittgenstein, the problems of philosophy are only pseudo-problems or
grammatical fictions brought about by a deficient understanding of how language
functions. Rather than attempting to rectify this situation by means of traditional
argumentation, Wittgenstein utilizes an indirect method of discourse; the reader is
engaged in an active dialogue, where he encounters the 'problem' from constantly
shifting vantage points, thereby gaining the necessary perspective for its
dissolution. The conclusions, if any, are not drawn by Wittgenstein; rather they are
left to the reader's discretion.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; method; discourse; language game; critique; description

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