Explanation and Definition: On Hallett on Wittgenstein

Craig Fox


An overall concern of mine is how to understand what Wittgenstein is doing in PI §43.
In this paper, I will examine an article by Garth Hallett having to do with that
section. The article, “Did Wittgenstein Really Define ‘Meaning’?” is one with which I
disagree; I do not believe that Hallett accurately represents Wittgenstein’s views.
Nevertheless, he is remarkably forthright and clear about his views, and he raises
the right questions. This makes for a well-defined, narrowly focused discussion of
Wittgenstein’s views on meaning. A discussion centered on §43 is an important one,
however slowly-paced caution dictates it must be. Understanding it is, it seems to
me, necessary if one is to understand the Investigations itself. Hallett’s view is
that Wittgenstein defined “meaning” in §43. I stress the significance of seeing what
Wittgenstein says there not as a definition, but rather as an explanation.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; meaning; use; explanation; definition

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