Impure reason vindicated

Allan Janik


It is less that Wittgenstein’s later philosophy offers us a new paradigm ofrationality than that it helps us to recover an old, unjustly neglected one.The central notion in his later philosophy is the idea of following a rule,where there are no formal rules to which we can appeal, but examples to beimitated. This view of rule-following ultimately entails the primacy of practiceover theory in epistemology. The primacy of practice, the assertion thatin traditional terms belief is groundless, in turn, implies that practice musttake care of itself. That, further, entails that rationality is practice-immanent.Theory can neither capture nor justify the character of practice. Moreover,the practice-immanent character of rationality determines that the rationalityof our actions and beliefs must be reconstructed ex post facto on the basisof reflection upon what we do in the normal case of events. Such a claimand such reflection is the basis of the Common Law, which is in fact interalia rooted in the Aristotelian notion of phronesis.


20th century philosophy; Aristotle; Wittgenstein Ludwig; common sense; epistemology; knowledge; knowledge how to; philosophy; rationality

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