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The Fate of WonderWittgenstein's Critique of Metaphysics and Modernity$
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Kevin Cahill

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158008

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158008.001.0001

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The Concept of Progress in Wittgenstein’s Thought

The Concept of Progress in Wittgenstein’s Thought

(p.107) 4 The Concept of Progress in Wittgenstein’s Thought
The Fate of Wonder

Kevin M. Cahill

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how the concept of progress is intertwined with Ludwig Wittgenstein's thought. It first considers some textual and literary-critical questions that bear on the motto of Philosophical Investigations and on the interpretative use of source materials that fall outside of Wittgenstein's “strictly philosophical” texts. It then shows how the motto of Philosophical Investigations, a quotation about the nature of progress taken from a work by the Austrian playwright Johann Nepomuk Nestroy, can be understood to refer both to certain features of the development of Wittgenstein's thought and to the concept of progress when it is connected to certain value judgments one makes when comparing, for example, different features of earlier and later historical periods. Finally, it explains how the remarks on rule following, particularly as they have been interpreted by John McDowell, can be taken as an example of Wittgenstein's attempt to lead his reader to a perspective on language that prepares the way for a distinctive kind of cultural critique.

Keywords:   progress, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, Johann Nepomuk Nestroy, value judgments, rule following, John McDowell, language, cultural critique

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