WHERE THE SPADE TURNS: AN ANALYSIS OF WITTGENSTEIN'S CONCEPT OF THE FORM OF LIFE

GERTRUDE DOLORES CONWAY, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the fact that a number of contemporary philosophers have undergone radical reversals regarding the issue of foundations. They initially posited atemporal, nonhistorical, unchanging grounds of language, thought, and meaning only to move eventually in the direction of positions which have been labelled relativistic and anthropocentric. The dissertation considers Wittgenstein's position regarding foundations in his two periods, focusing upon the later period. In both periods, there is a predominant form which structures langauage, experience, and the world. In the later works, one moves from logical space to lived space, from logical form to form of life. Arguing that the form of life is considered finally to be the foundation of language, thought, and meaning and recognizing that commentaries fail to consider this concept exhaustively in the broad context of the later works, the dissertation offers an extensive analysis of the concept and its philosophic implications. It considers possible antecedents to the concept in the Tractatus and critically considers a number of interpretations offered by commentators. A detailed consideration of the origin of the term, its emergence in Wittgenstein's works and related concepts in the later works leads to the conclusion that Wittgenstein offers a two fold account of the form of life. Failure to recognize this leads to confusion and misunderstanding of his position.^ The dissertation considers the issue of foundations in light of the concept of the form of life. Rather than breaking with a philosophic tradition, Wittgenstein's consideration of foundations both links him to this tradition and at the same time heralds a new philosophic beginning. The shift in position regarding foundations is explored through the shift of imagery from bedrock to riverbed. It is argued that Wittgenstein's account of the form of life as rendered in the dissertation leads to a new understanding of foundations which does allow for accounts of justification and objectivity. It is argued that Wittgenstein's account of the form of life does not lead to extreme positions of relativism and conventionalism as commentators such as Trigg and Dummett have maintained. A thorough explanation of the concept and its implications exonerates Wittgenstein of such charges. ^

Subject Area

Philosophy

Recommended Citation

CONWAY, GERTRUDE DOLORES, "WHERE THE SPADE TURNS: AN ANALYSIS OF WITTGENSTEIN'S CONCEPT OF THE FORM OF LIFE" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8213238.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8213238

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