Wittgenstein’s Criticism of the “Atmosphere” Conception of Meaning
in PI §117
: A Problem for Therapeutic Readings?

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Stefan Giesewetter
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Wittgenstein-Studien
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 1
Start page: 203
End page: 225
eISSN: 1868-7458


recent years, so-called “therapeutic” readings of the later
Wittgenstein have centered on the claim that his treatment of
questions involving ‘meaning’ should not be seen as playing a
foundational role for his approach of treating philosophical problems
by clarifying the grammar
of expressions. As they argue, the treatment of problems involving
‘meaning‘ should not be seen as playing a special role for this
approach as such. Now in Investigations
§117, Wittgenstein is bringing in his criticism of the “atmosphere”
conception of meaning – which he links directly to his approach of
clarifying the grammar of expressions figuring in philosophical
problems. Assuming the widespread view that what should be pitted
against this “atmosphere” conception are remarks clarifying the
grammar of ‘meaning’, the problem apparently confronting
therapeutic readings here is that the clarification of the grammar of
this particular word
might thus appear to assume yet a special relevance for
Wittgenstein’s clarificatory approach as a whole. My aim in this
paper is to show that this dilemma is not a real one – by showing
that there is actually a problem with the view that remarks
clarifying the grammar of ‘meaning’ could play a privileged role
in debunking the type of misconception Wittgenstein introduces in
PI §117.


Language, Ludwig Wittgenstein, ordinary language philosophy


Last updated on 2019-12-12 at 02:44

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