Wittgenstein At His Word



Wittgenstein's work is notoriously difficult to understand and, at least superficially, deals almost exclusively with obscure and technical problems in logic and the philosophy of language. He has been blamed for leading philosophers away from the problems of the real world. However, Wittgenstein himself certainly was a man of the real world. He once asked rhetorically: 'What is the use of philosophy ... if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life?'. From this and other remarks it is clear that his philosophical work was meant to have real practical value. This book explains how Wittgenstein's idea of the value of philosophy shaped his philosophical method and led him to talk and write about the abstruse questions he dealt with in most of his work.
This is not just another introductory overview of Wittgenstein's philosophy. It is one of the few that provide such an overview while also referring constantly to ethics and religion (which is significant because Wittgenstein famously said that he saw every problem from a religious point of view and that his aim, at least in the Tractatus, was ethical). Moreover, its interpretation of Wittgenstein is far from orthodox. Standard treatments of his work disregard or downplay his claims about what he was doing and why. Duncan Richter takes him at his word, showing the connections between Wittgenstein's aims, the various subjects he worked on (psychology, religion, aesthetics, etc.) and the way in which he worked on them.

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