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Wittgenstein and the Study of Politics

Wittgenstein and the Study of Politics

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Wittgenstein and the Study of Politics
    Book Description:

    InWittgenstein and the Study of Politics, Michael Temelini outlines an innovative new approach to understanding the political implications of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Most political philosophers who have approached Wittgenstein have done so through the idea of therapeutic skepticism, implying politics that privilege conservatism or non-interference. Temelini interprets Wittgenstein differently, emphasizing his view that we come to understand the meanings of words and actions through a dialogue of comparison with other cases. Examining the work of Charles Taylor, Quentin Skinner, and James Tully, Temelini highlights the ways in which all three, despite their differences, share a common debt to that dialogical approach.

    A cogent explanation of how Wittgenstein's epistemology and ontology can shed light on political issues and offer a solution to political challenges,Wittgenstein and the Study of Politicshighlights the importance of Wittgensteinian thinking in contemporary political science, political theory, and political philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6545-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    My aim in this book is to explore Wittgenstein’s impact on the study of politics. This task is made difficult by the fact that Wittgenstein himself did not write about politics and was quite enigmatic about what political implications his remarks might have. In spite of this (and perhaps because of it), there has been considerable discussion about what if any political ideas can be derived from his remarks. In this book I contrast two traditions of interpretation: one that draws political implications from Wittgenstein’s therapeutic scepticism, and another that draws political lessons from his practice of perspicuous representation, what...

  5. 1 Scepticism, Therapy, and Leaving the World Alone
    (pp. 9-39)

    Ludwig Wittgenstein did not write political science, at least not in the customary way in which this discipline is understood. He did not seem concerned about the impact of his thought on politics. Among his commentaries we find no blueprint for the just constitution or any discussion of conventional modes of political justification such as welfare, rights, or democratic self-government. There is no discussion about what political virtues might cultivate good citizenship, no discussion about what political institutions should be established. He does not propose solutions to any prevailing political difficulties. Wittgenstein’s celebrated short-paragraphed numbered “philosophical remarks” largely ignore customary...

  6. 2 The Primacy of Training in a Shared Form of Life
    (pp. 40-67)

    In the previous chapter, I described a therapeutic interpretation of Wittgenstein’s remarks that rested on scepticism and that entailed or licensed conservative, negative, or contingent political views. Here I want to look at a related construal, one that emphasizes the primacy of training in a shared form of life. I will explain how this contributes to the sceptical tendencies I’ve been talking about as well as their various political implications. To sketch the textual sources of this interpretation, I will review thePhilosophical Investigations(hereafterPI)¹ as well as the lectures Wittgenstein gave to his class at Cambridge in 1933...

  7. 3 Wittgenstein’s Method of Perspicuous Representation
    (pp. 68-94)

    In the preceding chapters I surveyed a family of interpretations which suggests that Wittgenstein is promoting a kind of therapeutic scepticism. His remarks are intended to cure us of metaphysical cravings for foundations, external standpoints, or epistemologically certain explanations, to expose these as nonsense; at the same time, he suspends judgment about any substantive or positive conclusions that might replace those cravings, be they epistemic, moral, or political. We are disqualified from taking a stand on any substantive epistemological or normative claims, and we are allowed only to attend to the indeterminate, non-metaphysical, philosophically innocent meanings of words and linguistic expressions....

  8. 4 Charles Taylor’s Wittgensteinian Aspects
    (pp. 95-136)

    In the first two chapters of this book, I surveyed two related tendencies among Wittgenstein commentators. One is the suggestion that his remarks promote a kind of therapeutic sceptical orientation directed at either epistemological or philosophical dogmatism. Connected to this is a view that emphasizes the primacy of training in a shared form of life, in which there is a necessary equation between training and learning – a reading we could call pedagogical or disciplinary. I argued that this pedagogical reading helps constitute therapeutic scepticism. I also suggested that these tendencies cannot account for the practice of genuine dialogue or...

  9. 5 Quentin Skinner: Wittgenstein and the Historical Approach to Political Thought
    (pp. 137-164)

    In chapter 4, I explored the various areas of similarity in the philosophical approaches of Charles Taylor and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and I talked about how Taylor offers a reading of Wittgenstein that is different from the tradition I outlined in the first two chapters, and similar to the reading outlined in the third. This is a reading that learns realist lessons from Wittgenstein, not therapeutic sceptical ones. On this reading, we learn not just by being trained or conditioned into a form of life, but also in comparative dialogue with those inside and outside our forms of life. We can...

  10. 6 James Tully’s Aspectival Approach to the Study of Politics
    (pp. 165-205)

    Like Charles Taylor and Quentin Skinner, James Tully draws on a variety of philosophical sources, and as with those two, Wittgenstein is one of them. In this chapter I hope to show how Tully is similar to the others in another important respect: his work provides another case study of a comparative dialogical reading of Wittgenstein that avoids therapeutic scepticism. My aim is to survey the Wittgensteinian sources and recall the aspects of Tully’s work that show Wittgensteinian inheritance. This will shed light on how Tully interprets classic political texts and their political concepts, understands historical contexts and their authoritative...

  11. Conclusion: Seeing Politics as a Dialogical Science
    (pp. 206-212)

    In these brief concluding remarks I would like to review what we have learned from the examples and practical uses of Wittgenstein’s remarks. Let’s recall what lessons Charles Taylor, Quentin Skinner, and James Tully teach us about what Wittgenstein’s remarks might mean for the study of politics. My intention all along has been to suggest some possibly different ways of looking at things. To borrow a phrase from Wittgenstein, I was interested in exploring other neighbourhoods in the city, or perhaps I should say, in nourishing what I saw as a one-sided diet with other examples. I began by noticing...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 213-256)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-274)