Wittgenstein and Analytic Revisionism

Martin Gustafsson


Wittgenstein’s dictum, that philosophy “leaves everything as it is” (PI 124), suggests a stark contrast between his thought and what might be called revisionist varieties of analytic philosophy. Revisionist analytic philosophers share a general outlook according to which the problems of philosophy are to be dealt with not just by analyzing or describing language as it is already used, but by changing and improving our linguistic resources. In this paper, my aim is to gain a deeper understanding of Wittgenstein’s conception by identifying difficulties with the revisionist approach as it gets variously implemented by three arch-revisionists: Carnap, Quine and Rorty. I shall argue that Wittgenstein’s non-revisionism must be sharply distinguished from linguistic conservatism: What fundamentally motivates Wittgenstein’s conception is not some general predilection for established usage, but his sense of what a philosophical problem is and what its solution requires.


philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; 20th century philosophy; Quine Willard van Orman; metaphilosophy; revisionism; analytic philosophy; language; ordinary; Carnap Rudolf; Rorty Richard

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