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What's the point of elucidation?

Hutchinson, Anthony Philip A. (2007) What's the point of elucidation? Metaphilosophy, 38 (5). pp. 691-713. ISSN 1467-9973

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Abstract

In this article I examine three ways in which one might interpret Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations (PI). In a partial response to Hans-Johann Glock's article in this journal, I suggest that since publication PI has, broadly speaking, been interpreted in three ways: doctrinal; elucidatory; or therapeutic. The doctrinal interpretation is shown to be, at best, difficult to sustain textually. The elucidatory (standard) interpretation, though seemingly closer to the text, is shown both to implicate Wittgenstein in some unfortunate philosophical commitments and to face a problem of "motivation." I argue that, correctly understood, any attempt to elucidate in PI is undertaken only in pursuit of the therapeutic goal. I conclude by arguing that the therapeutic interpretation is the only interpretation that can adequately make sense of Wittgenstein's text as a whole and the metaphilosophical remarks in particular. Furthermore, it is the only interpretation that can demonstrate Wittgenstein's continued importance and relevance as a philosopher.

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