Wittgenstein on ethics: working through Lebensformen
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Citation (published version)Juliet Floyd. 2020. "Wittgenstein on ethics: working through Lebensformen." Philosophy and Social Criticism, Volume 46, Issue 2 - Special Issue on Nature, Value and Normativity, pp. 115 - 130. https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453718810918
In his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein conveyed the idea that ethics cannot be located in an object or self-standing subject matter of propositional discourse, true or false. At the same time, he took his work to have an eminently ethical purpose, and his attitude was not that of the emotivist. The trajectory of this conception of the normativity of philosophy as it developed in his subsequent thought is traced. It is explained that and how the notion of a ‘form of life’ (Lebensform) emerged only in his later thought, in 1937, earmarking a significant step forward in his philosophical method. We argue that the concept of Lebensform represents a way of domesticating logic itself, the very idea of a claim or reason, supplementing the idea of a ‘language game’, which it deepens. Lebensform is contrasted with the phenomenologists’ Lebenswelt through a reading of the notions of ‘I’, ‘world’ and ‘self’ as they were treated in the Tractatus, The Blue and Brown Books and Philosophical Investigations. Finally, the notion of Lebensform is shown to have replaced the notion of culture (Kultur) in Philosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein’s spring 1937 ‘domestication’ of the nature of logic is shown to have been fully consonant with the idea that he was influenced by his reading Alan Turing’s 1936/1937 paper, ‘On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem’.
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