‘Resolution’ – an Illusion of Sense?

Genia Schönbaumsfeld


Resolute readings’ initially started life as a radical new approach to Wittgenstein’s early philosophy, but are now starting to take root as a way of interpreting the later writings as well – a trend exemplified by Stephen Mulhall’s latest book (2007), Wittgenstein’s Private Language, as well as by some recent work published in Metaphilosophy (Hutchinson 2007; Harré 2008). In this paper I will show that there are neither good philosophical nor compelling exegetical grounds for accepting a resolute reading of the later Wittgenstein’s work. It is possible to make sense of Wittgenstein’s philosophical method without either ascribing to him an incoherent conception of ‘substantial nonsense’ or espousing the resolute readers’ preferred option of nonsense austerity. If my interpretation is correct, it allows us to recognize Wittgenstein’s radical break with the philosophical tradition without having to characterize his achievements in purely therapeutic fashion.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; nonsense monism; Conant James; Harré Horace; Hutchinson Phil; Mulhall Stephen; private language; resolute reading; Philosophical Investigations; Tractatus logico-philosophicus

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