|Hanne Appelqvist, Post-doctoral researcher
Wittgenstein on Rationality and the Limits of Language
There is a long tradition of reading Wittgenstein as a Kantian philosopher. Like Kant, who wanted to determine the limits of our experience, Wittgenstein is concerned with the limits of our language. In his early philosophy, Wittgenstein claims logic to be such a limit, a necessary condition for the possibility of sense. And while the later Wittgenstein rejects a number of assumptions made in the early Tractatus about the nature of logic, his later work may still be read as elaborating a Kantian notion of grammar as the necessary condition for the possibility of meaningful discourse. According to Wittgenstein, “If language is to be a means of communication there must be agreement in definitions but also (queer as this may sound) in judgments”. The idea is, roughly, that in order for us to meaningfully debate and disagree on matters of opinion and fact, and indeed to communicate with one another, a great deal of agreement must already be in place. Wittgenstein’s account of the nature of this agreement is the key question of the research at hand. Specific issues to be explored are Wittgenstein’s treatment of the difficulty of understanding another culture, the (im)possibility of a dialogue between the religious person and the naturalist, and the role of non-conceptual (e.g. practical or aesthetic) norms that are constitutive of our language. This research contributes to the Centre of Excellence: Reason and Religious Recognition by explicating one version of the Kantian-cum-Wittgensteinian conceptual framework of dealing with issues of recognition and by exploring its application in the more concrete settings just mentioned.