Forms of Life
Keywords:Wittgenstein Ludwig, form of life, Lebensform, calculus conception of language, ethnological conception of language
AbstractThe phrase ‘Lebensform’ (form of life) had a long and varied history prior to Wittgenstein’s use of it on a mere three occasions in the Philosophical Investigations. It is not a pivotal concept in Wittgenstein’s philosophy. But it is a minor signpost of a major reorientation of philosophy, philosophy of language and logic, and philosophy of mathematics that Wittgenstein instigated. For Wittgenstein sought to replace the conception of a language as a meaning calculus (Frege, Russell, the Tractatus) by an anthropological or ethnological conception. A language is not a class of sentences that can be formed from a set of axioms (definitions), formation and transformation rules and the meanings of which is given by their truth-conditions, but an open-ended series of interlocking language-games constituting a form of life or way of living (a culture). Wittgenstein’s uses of ‘Lebensform’ and its cognates, both in the Investigations and in his Nachlass are severally analysed, and various exegetical misinterpretations are clarified.
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