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A highly accessible account of the thought of Wittgenstein

Interpreting Wittgenstein

A Cloud of Philosophy, a Drop of Grammar

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Ronald Suter

"A very well written and reasoned book; a good introduction to and exposition of Wittgensteinian thinking. Suter does a fine job of showing why Wittgenstein should not be viewed as 'just another analytic philosophy practitioner,' without making him into some sort of mystic.... The book addresses an audience that is rarely addressed by Wittgenstein studies, and it presents interpretations that are original, interesting, and should raise good discussions among the experts."
Julius M. Moravcsik, Stanford University

Ludwig Wittgenstein conceived of philosophy as beneficially destructive: its purpose was to remove blocks to the understanding, to destroy "houses of cards," to eliminate philosophical muddles. Rather than providing solutions to philosophical problems—the mind-body problem, the problem of other minds, the problem of skepticism, the problem of universals—Wittgensteinian philosophy tries to show that the problems are nonsensical. This controversial philosopher has been the object of intense scrutiny—both professional and popular—and widely divergent interpretations. In this 100th anniversary of Wittgenstein’s birth, Ronald Suter offers a highly accessible account of the thought of one of the most influential Anglo-American philosophers of the twentieth century.

Focusing on his mature conception of philosophy and the application of his philosophical methods to traditional and contemporary debates, Suter shows how Wittgenstein’s philosophy can be applied to many philosophical problems. He gives an account of the doctrine of family resemblance and discusses Wittgenstein’s relationship to Freud and to Russell. Contrasting Wittgenstein’s radically new view of philosophy with more traditional views, the author challenges various notions about the philosopher and shows how his approach dissolves traditional problems in theories of nature, mind, knowledge, and the philosophy of language.

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Reviews

"This presentation of Wittgenstein is interesting and admirably on target when defending certain interpretations against those of commentators with whom Suter disagrees. And Suter writes lucidly. This is not a simple achievement, and I commend him for really clear and helpful analyses of sticky, dense issues.... A fresh, original study that will be widely discussed—it is no mere 'introduction.'"
Gerald E. Myers, Professor of Philosophy, C.U.N.Y

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Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
List of Abbreviations

Part I: Wittgenstein's Conception of Philosophy
1. Wittgenstein's Conception of Philosophy
2. The Doctrine of Family Resemblance
3. Wittgenstein's Freud

Part II: Wittgenstein and Mind
4. Behaviorism: Logical, Philosophical, Metaphysical
5. The Mind-Brain Identity Theory
6 . Cartesian Dualism
7. Wittgenstein's Refutation of Cartesian Dualism
8. Characteristics of Criteria

Part III: Wittgenstein on Some Problems of Philosophy
9. Augustine on Time
10. Dissolving the Dream Argument
11. Russell's Theory of Proper Names
12. Saul Wittgenstein's Skeptical Paradox

Appendix: Russell's Theory of Descriptions
Notes
Index

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About the Author(s)

Ronald Suter is Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University and the author of Are You Moral?

Subject Categories

Philosophy and Ethics

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