Rush Rhees: The Reality of Discourse

David Cockburn


Of the work published in his lifetime, the most widely known, and influ-ential, of Rush Rhees’s writings are the papers ‘Can there be a private lan-guage?’ and ‘Wittgenstein’s Builders’. These appeared initially in the 1950s in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society and were later reprint-ed in his collection Discussions of Wittgenstein (1970). One other collec-tion of writings, Without Answers (1969), was published during his life-time. Since his death seven volumes of his writings have appeared under the editorship of D. Z. Phillips: On Religion and Philosophy (1997), Witt-genstein and the Possibility of Discourse (1998), Moral Questions (1998), Discussions of Simone Weil (1998), Wittgenstein’s ‘On Certainty’ (2003), In Dialogue with the Greeks Volume I: The Presocratics and Reality (2004), and In Dialogue with the Greeks Volume II: Plato and Dialectic (2004). This essay will concentrate on the second of these volumes, which is an extended development of the themes of the two Aristotelian Society papers. In the final section I will say a little about the place that his concern with discourse has within his general understanding of the character of philosophy.


20th century philosophy; Rhees Rush; Swansea school; Wittgenstein Ludwig; Wittgenstein and the Possibility of Discourse; discourse; language; meaning and use; philosophy; philosophy of language; reading of Wittgenstein; scepticism; use

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