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The mysterious appeal of 'Wittgenstein’s conservatism'

The mysterious appeal of 'Wittgenstein’s conservatism'
The mysterious appeal of 'Wittgenstein’s conservatism'
This paper attempts to explain the abiding appeal of the suspicion that Wittgenstein is a conservative thinker. Among Wittgensteinians, there is a growing orthodoxy which takes the notion of 'Wittgenstein's conservatism' to be 'nutty' (Diamond 1991 p34). One justification for this opinion is that the charge of conservatism has typically been defended on the basis of highly implausible interpretations of Wittgenstein. However, the critical core of the conservatism charge has been mislocated by Wittgenstein's supporters and by most of his critics. No conservative theses are defended in his work. But in challenging the conceptual tools so often used in justifying criticism of our practices, Wittgenstein appears to abandon us to a conservatism by default. To understand this charge, we must broaden the context within which Wittgenstein's work is normally discussed. Odd as it may sound, what Wittgenstein actually says may only be one (and perhaps not the most important) consideration that we must bear in mind in assessing whether he is a conservative thinker.
McManus, Denis
95bb0718-d3fa-4982-9cde-05ac00b5bb24
McManus, Denis
95bb0718-d3fa-4982-9cde-05ac00b5bb24

McManus, Denis (1995) The mysterious appeal of 'Wittgenstein’s conservatism'. Wittgenstein-Studien, 2 (2).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper attempts to explain the abiding appeal of the suspicion that Wittgenstein is a conservative thinker. Among Wittgensteinians, there is a growing orthodoxy which takes the notion of 'Wittgenstein's conservatism' to be 'nutty' (Diamond 1991 p34). One justification for this opinion is that the charge of conservatism has typically been defended on the basis of highly implausible interpretations of Wittgenstein. However, the critical core of the conservatism charge has been mislocated by Wittgenstein's supporters and by most of his critics. No conservative theses are defended in his work. But in challenging the conceptual tools so often used in justifying criticism of our practices, Wittgenstein appears to abandon us to a conservatism by default. To understand this charge, we must broaden the context within which Wittgenstein's work is normally discussed. Odd as it may sound, what Wittgenstein actually says may only be one (and perhaps not the most important) consideration that we must bear in mind in assessing whether he is a conservative thinker.

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Published date: 1995
Organisations: Philosophy

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Local EPrints ID: 368473
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/368473
PURE UUID: a462aa23-81d8-413b-83b1-ce72a4acb356

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Date deposited: 22 Sep 2014 11:32
Last modified: 10 Jul 2020 16:37

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