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Wittgenstein and scientism

Beale, J. (2014) Wittgenstein and scientism. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This thesis aims to show that attention to the role of scientism in Wittgenstein's thought helps to better understand the principal areas of his thought, and that it is therefore an important theme of investigation for understanding Wittgenstein. There are three further aims. First, to offer an account of what scientism is; second, to describe the role of scientism - or, rather, anti-scientism - in Wittgenstein's philosophy; third, to establish central elements of a Wittgensteinian critique of scientism. Chapter 1 reflects the first further aim, by constructing an account of scientism through identifying its central features and demarcating its forms by appeal to their possession of these features. In the subsequent chapters this account is used to identify which kinds of scientism Wittgenstein criticizes and is hostile towards. Chapters 2 and 3 seek to fulfil the second and third of the further aims. Focus is paid to Wittgenstein's conceptions of language and philosophy, and his diagnosis of philosophical confusion. Chapter 2 argues that we can partly understand the shift Wittgenstein's conception of language underwent berween his early and middle periods, on the one hand, and his later period, on the other, as a movement from scientistic theories of meaning to an anti-scientistic conception of language. Chapter 3 argues that Wittgenstein's opposition to scientism plays an important role in the way he conceived of philosophy in his later work and that some of his attempts to expose philosophical confusions can be undersrood as targeting scientistic confusions. His attack on a certain picture of mental phenomena is studied as a key example.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:De Gaynesford, M. and Schroeder, S.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Humanities
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:84740

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