Resolute readings of later Wittgenstein and the challenge of avoiding hierarchies in philosophy [Elektronische Ressource] / Stefan Giesewetter. Betreuer: Hans Julius Schneider
261 pages
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Resolute readings of later Wittgenstein and the challenge of avoiding hierarchies in philosophy [Elektronische Ressource] / Stefan Giesewetter. Betreuer: Hans Julius Schneider

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Resolute Readings of Later Wittgenstein andthe Challenge of Avoiding Hierarchies in PhilosophyDissertationzur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophie (Dr. phil.)vorgelegt der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität PotsdamvonStefan Giesewettergeb. 20.1.1969 in HamburgPotsdam 2011 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License: Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 3.0 Germany To view a copy of this license visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/de/ Published online at the Institutional Repository of the University of Potsdam: URL http://opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2011/5702/ URN urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-57021 http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-57021 2Table of ContentsIntroduction .............................................................................................................................. 41. The Idea of a Resolute Reading of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy ........................ 111.1 The Basic Challenge................................................................................................. 121.2 The Readings of Robert Brandom and Crispin Wright............................................ 141.3 The Reading of Gordon Baker and Peter Hacker..................................................... 231.4 Resolute Readings of Later Wittgenstein: A First Overview................................... 291.

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Publié le 01 janvier 2011
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Resolute Readings of Later Wittgenstein and
the Challenge of Avoiding Hierarchies in Philosophy
Dissertation
zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophie (Dr. phil.)
vorgelegt der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Potsdam
von
Stefan Giesewetter
geb. 20.1.1969 in Hamburg
Potsdam 2011 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License:
Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 3.0 Germany
To view a copy of this license visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/de/










































Published online at the
Institutional Repository of the University of Potsdam:
URL http://opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2011/5702/
URN urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-57021
http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-57021 2
Table of Contents
Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 4
1. The Idea of a Resolute Reading of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy ........................ 11
1.1 The Basic Challenge................................................................................................. 12
1.2 The Readings of Robert Brandom and Crispin Wright............................................ 14
1.3 The Reading of Gordon Baker and Peter Hacker..................................................... 23
1.4 Resolute Readings of Later Wittgenstein: A First Overview................................... 29
1.5 The Resolute Reading of James Conant................................................................... 47
1.6 The Resolute Reading of Martin Gustafsson ........................................................... 63
1.7 The Resolute Reading of Oskari Kuusela ................................................................ 79
1.8 Summary .................................................................................................................. 91
2. The Rule-Following Problem ........................................................................................ 98
2.1 The Rule-Following Paradox in the Investigations.................................................. 99
2.2 Saul Kripke’s and Crispin Wright’s Solutions....................................................... 106
2.3 The Role of Customs, Practice, and Institutions.................................................... 114
2.4 Use on Two Logical Levels ................................................................................... 123
2.5 John McDowell’s Dissolution of the Rule-Following Paradox ............................. 135
2.6 Summary ................................................................................................................ 137
3. Baker and Hacker on the Significance of the Rule-Following Remarks for the
Dissolution of Any Philosophical Problem......................................................................... 143
3.1 Baker and Hacker on Rule-Following and Practice ............................................... 144
3.2 Baker and Hacker on the Role of Rules in Dissolving Philosophical Problems.... 147
3.3 Baker and Hacker on the Role of the Rule-Following Remarks............................ 152
3.4 The Inconsistency Within Baker and Hacker’s Account ....................................... 158
3.5 The Role of the Rule-Following Remarks for Wittgenstein’s Philosophy ............ 164
3.6 Summary ................................................................................................................ 169
4. Resolute Readings and the Challenge of Avoiding Hierarchies in Philosophy ...... 174
4.1 Gustafsson on the Significance of the Rule-Following Problem ........................... 175
4.2 Kuusela on the Role of the Remarks on Meaning and Use.................................... 190
4.3 Kuusela’s View Leads into a Regress .................................................................... 200
4.4 Global Remarks on Meaning and Use 211
4.5 The Non-Foundational Role of the Remarks on Meaning and Use ....................... 218
4.6 Summary ................................................................................................................ 2213
Conclusion............................................................................................................................. 227
Bibliography ......................................................................................................................... 237
Deutsche Zusammenfassung ................................................................................................ 2464
1Introduction
This dissertation is concerned with an issue related to the so-called “resolute reading”
2of the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. The term “resolute reading” has evolved as a label for
the readings of Wittgenstein’s work which have been advanced by Cora Diamond, James Co-
3nant, Michael Kremer, Thomas Ricketts, and others . An earmark of these readings is that
they all take Wittgenstein’s primary goal – in his early as well as in his later work – to be that
of introducing ways of dissolving philosophical problems. In this view, a philosophical prob-
lem concerning a certain topic is seen as a seeming contradiction between, on the one hand,
how we think things concerning this topic must be, and, on the other hand, how we perceive
these things to really be. Dissolving such a philosophical problem then means to come to see
that this contradiction was merely apparent. This involves coming to see that our idea of how
things must be was founded on an illusion – an illusion induced through our misunderstanding
the forms of expression which we had used in formulating our apparent contradiction. Once
such a contradiction has been exposed as based on such an illusion, resolute readers hold, the
problem falls away, and the task of philosophy is finished. For resolute readers, bringing out
this aspect of Wittgenstein’s philosophy means to reject readings of Wittgenstein which put
the main focus on purported claims of his concerning topics in the philosophy of language –
topics such as how language hooks on to the world or what the necessary preconditions of
language use are. As resolute readers take it, Wittgenstein concerns himself with language
and meaning, not because he wishes to give any theoretical answer to the question “How does
linguistic meaning come into being?”, but because his proposed ways of dissolving philo-
sophical problems involve asking ourselves whether the linguistic forms of expression which
we call upon in formulating our philosophical problems really have the sort of meaning that
we imagine them to have. Connected to this is another earmark of resolute readings: Not only

1 I wish to express my deepest thanks to Hans Julius Schneider. Without his continuous and generous support,
this dissertation project would not have been possible. Also, our joint seminar on Wittgenstein with the opportu-
nity to introduce resolute readings was of great value for the present project. Moreover, this dissertation project
owes greatly to the most generous support of James Conant. His untiring encouragement, the opportunity to
thoroughly discuss my ideas, his utterly helpful advice concerning how to organize them, and, most importantly,
the opportunity to spend a year as a Visiting Graduate Student at the University of Chicago, were of crucial sig-
nificance for the success of the present project. Lastly, I wish to thank the participants of the Contemporary Phi-
losophy and the Wittgenstein Workshops of the University of Chicago for their valuable comments on previous
versions of Chapter 3.
2 The label “resolute” for these kinds of readings is first due to Thomas Ricketts. It has been first used in print by
Warren Goldfarb in his “Metaphysics and Nonsense: On Cora Diamond’s The Realistic Spirit” (1997)
3 These other resolute readers include: Alice Crary, Ed Dain, Piergiorgio Donatelli, Juliet Floyd, Warren Gold-
farb, Logi Gunnarsson, Rupert Read, Matt Ostrow, and Ed Witherspoon. Although Margaret Anscombe could5
do these readings reject the idea that Wittgenstein were concerned with providing an answer
to the question “How does linguistic meaning come into being?”, but furthermore, these
readings insist that Wittgenstein’s proposed ways of dissolving philosophical problems may
not be taken as themselves depending on any theoretical answer to the question “How does
linguistic meaning come into being?” According to resolute readers, the main question with
which Wittgenstein was concerned throughout his philosophical career was this: How to
achieve the aim of putting forward a way of dissolving philosophical problems – which way
involves asking ourselves what we mean by our words – without making any claims about the
essence of language and meaning?
Most of the discussion of resolute readings has focused on how to read Wittgenstein’s
4 5Tractatus, or on how to conceive the relation of the Tractatus to Wittgenstein’s later work.
However, some resolute readers have discussed the main question – How can the aim of put-
ting forward a way of dissolving philosophical problems without making any claims about the
essence of language and meaning be achieved? – focusing chiefly on Wittgenstein’s later
6works. When it comes to reading Wittgenstein’s later works, a major point of criticism for
resolute readers is the reading of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy which has been put forward
by Gordon Baker and Peter Hacker. Important resolute readers who have offered detailed
criticisms of Baker and Hacker are Martin Gustafsson and Oskari Kuusela.
In his Entangled Sense: An Inquiry into the Philosophical Significance of Meaning
and Rules (2000), Gustafsson sets out to determine the role that the recourse to rules can play
in philosophy. Gustafsson rejects the idea that it is the role of philosophy to furnish an ex-
planatory account of meaning, and that rules can play any part in such an account. He agrees
with Baker and Hacker that, rather, the recourse to rules can be instrumental in the dissolution
of philosophical problems. In Entangled Sense, as also in his “Nonsense and Philosophical
Method” (2006), Gustafsson then goes on to show, against Baker and Hacker, that the role of

not be counted as a resolute reader, her article “The Reality of the Past” (1950) contains lines of thought which
can be seen as a first articulation of a resolute reading.
4 Cf. the collection of essays in the first half of Cora Diamond’s The Realistic Spirit (1991), her articles “Logical
Syntax in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus” (2005), and “On Reading the Tractatus Resolutely” (2004, with James Co-
nant), James Conant’s “The Method of the Tractatus” (2002), Michael Kremer’s “The Purpose of Tractarian
Nonsense” (2001), “Mathematics and Meaning in the Tractatus” (2002), “To What Extent is Solipsism a Truth?”
(2004), and “The Cardinal Problem of Philosophy” (2007), Thomas Ricketts’s “Frege, the Tractatus, and the
Logocentric Predicament” (1985), “Pictures, Logic and the Limits of Sense in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus” (1996),
and “Wittgenstein against Frege and Russell” (2002).
5 Cf. James Conant’s “Why Worry about the Tractatus?” (2004), “Wittgenstein’s Later Criticism of the Tracta-
tus” (2006), and “Mild Mono-Wittgensteinianism” (2007).
6 Besides Martin Gustafsson and Oskari Kuusela, these readers include Rupert Read (cf. his “Throwing Away
the Bedrock”, 2004) and Avner Baz (cf. his When Words are Called For, forthcoming).6
rules in such a dissolution cannot be that of distinguishing sense from nonsense in philosophy,
but merely that of describing different forms of use of expressions. As Gustafsson points out,
philosophical problems cannot be treated, as Baker and Hacker argue, by diagnosing whether
these rules have been “violated” – but rather by our coming to realize that we have uncon-
sciously been vacillating between these different forms of use of expressions, thereby entan-
gling ourselves in them.
In The Struggle against Dogmatism (2008), Kuusela criticizes Baker and Hacker for
not fully grasping the radical way in which Wittgenstein transformed his philosophy as a les-
son from the failure of the Tractatus. As Kuusela highlights, Wittgenstein, in the Tractatus,
aimed to put forward a way of dissolving philosophical problems which did not rest on any
answer to the question “How does linguistic meaning come into being?” This aim Wittgen-
stein attempted to achieve by merely introducing a tool for conceptual clarification: the logi-
cal analysis of propositions. Yet, as Kuusela holds, in claiming that he, by introducing this
tool, had solved all philosophical problems “in essentials”, Wittgenstein had saddled himself
with an (implicit) thesis about the nature of the proposition. Wittgenstein later recognized this
as a crucial mistake – a mistake which, in his own eyes, meant that his first attempt at a way
of dissolving philosophical problems which did not rest on any answer – however implicit –
to the question “What constitutes a meaningful expression?” had failed. According to Ku-
usela, in his later philosophy, Wittgenstein analyzed his mistake as that of turning a useful
comparison – namely, that of propositions as pictures of states of affairs – into a thesis about
what propositions must be. Kuusela criticizes Baker and Hacker for not clearly seeing the
radical consequence Wittgenstein drew from this when it comes to the role of rules in the dis-
solution of philosophical problems. Baker and Hacker take Wittgenstein’s comparing lan-
guage to a game with fixed rules such as chess to license the conclusion that everyday lan-
guage use is governed by such rules. Also, they take it that Wittgenstein introduced this com-
parison in order to do justice to the fact that speaking a language is an activity. Kuusela agrees
with Baker and Hacker that it can be helpful in the dissolution of a philosophical problem to
describe the use of language in the form of rules. Yet against Baker and Hacker’s idea of the
role of rules, Kuusela argues that Wittgenstein employed rules as mere objects of comparison.
Against Baker and Hacker, Kuusela holds that Wittgenstein’s reason for describing language
use in the form of rules of language games was not that this way of describing language better
fits the way language really is, but because it is a helpful means for clarifying the use of
words. In Kuusela’s eyes, the problem with Baker and Hacker’s conception is that it still ties
Wittgenstein’s way of dissolving philosophical problems to a certain conception of what lan-7
guage is really like. In order to appreciate how later Wittgenstein succeeded in fully moving
away from his way of dissolving philosophical problems being tied to any answer to the
question “What are the conditions of meaningful speech?”, Kuusela holds, we need to recog-
nize that grammatical descriptions in the form of rules are mere models – not to be taken as
characteristic of the object of investigation, but merely of a certain mode of presentation – a
mode of presentation which is answerable, not to how language really is, but solely to how
helpful it is in clearing up conceptual confusions.
An important corollary of this, for Kuusela, is the absence of hierarchies in Wittgen-
stein’s later philosophy. In the Tractatus, the dissolution of any problem had unwittingly de-
pended on the solution of the one problem “What is the essence of the proposition?” Accord-
ing to Kuusela, Wittgenstein’s later reaction to this issue was to now conceive of each philo-
sophical problem to be on a par with any other – no dissolution of any one problem was to be
fundamental to the dissolution of any other problem. Kuusela attacks Baker and Hacker’s idea
that Wittgenstein establishes the fact that language is a rule-governed activity through an in-
vestigation of the grammar of “rule” – which then results in his describing language in the
form of a game according to fixed rules. Against this, Kuusela shows how this idea leads into
a regress. According to Kuusela, this shows that in later Wittgenstein, there is no such thing
as the investigation of the grammar of one concept being fundamental to the investigation of
the grammar of any concept. Kuusela holds that for Wittgenstein, there are no fundamental
concepts or “super-concepts” which constitute the foundation of his philosophy: every gram-
matical investigation stands or falls on its own, without needing any backing from any
“grammatical truth” established through another grammatical investigation.
In this dissertation, I will take up Kuusela’s conclusion that fully appreciating how
later Wittgenstein aimed to achieve the goal of putting forward a way of dissolving philo-
sophical problems without making any claims about the essence of language and meaning
means to appreciate how he aimed to do away with any hierarchies in philosophy. My lead
question will be: What does it mean to come to see that the investigation of the grammar of
particular concepts cannot have a bearing on Wittgenstein’s way of dissolving philosophical
problems as such? Do Gustafsson’s and Kuusela’s own reading arrive at fully appreciating
this point?
Under this aspect, I will take a close look at Gustafsson’s reading of later Wittgen-
stein. One of the major outcomes of Gustafsson’s Entangled Sense is that we can draw a les-
son from the role that a background of agreement plays for our talk of “meaning” – which8
role comes out during the dissolution of the rule-following problem – for the role which
agreement plays for the dissolution of philosophical problems in general. As Gustafsson takes
it, whatever our talk of “meaning” turns out to rely on, this holds for the dissolution of philo-
sophical problems in general. Gustafsson takes Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule-following to
disclose facts such as that the dissolution of philosophical problems relies on a “massive una-
nimity in unreflective language use”. I will argue that this idea of Gustafsson’s rests on a con-
flation of what, in later Wittgenstein, is tied to the dissolution of a specific philosophical
problem and what is tied to the dissolution of philosophical problems in general. A major
focus of this dissertation will be to bring out this distinction as clearly as possible. To this
end, I will reread Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule-following in the Investigations, focusing on
how the notions of use and application figure on two distinct logical levels in the dissolution
of the rule-following paradox.
Another major focus of this dissertation will be on Kuusela’s reading of later Wittgen-
stein’s recurrent remarks on a relation of the meaning of expressions and their use – remarks
such as “the meaning of a word is its use in the language” (PI 43). I will take a close look at
how Kuusela attempts to account for the fact that these remarks are not intended as furnishing
an answer to the question “How does linguistic meaning come into being?” In his view, Witt-
genstein’s remarks on meaning and use have the status of remarks clarifying the grammar of
the word “meaning”. His account of why these remarks do not form theses about what mean-
ing must be centers on exploiting his basic idea that the rules which we describe in a gram-
matical investigations are mere objects of comparison. Accordingly, Kuusela holds that
“meaning is use” is one of the rules which Wittgenstein employs to make the fluctuating ac-
tual use of the word “meaning” perspicuous to us. One element of Kuusela’s account is that
Wittgenstein, in adopting his way of philosophical clarification as the description of language
use, is following the “meaning is use” which he employs to make the grammar of the word
“meaning” perspicuous to us. I will show how Kuusela, in postulating such a connection be-
tween an investigation of the grammar of “meaning” and Wittgenstein’s way of philosophical
clarification as such, is not fully minding a distinction, drawn by Conant, of how “use” and
“employment” figure on two distinct logical levels in the full wording of PI 43. As I will
show, Kuusela’s account of the role of remarks such as PI 43 as having a bearing on Wittgen-
stein’s way of dissolving philosophical problems as such amounts to assigning this particular
grammatical investigation a special role for the whole of his philosophy – thereby reintro-
ducing a hierarchy into later Wittgenstein. Moreover, I will show that this idea leads into a
regress of the same type as in the case of Baker and Hacker. The aim of this dissertation is to