Wittgenstein on Perspicuous Presentations and Grammatical Self-Knowledge


  • Christian Georg Martin Ludwig Maximilans University, Munich


perspicuous presentation, surveyable representation, grammar, self-knowledge, Wittgenstein Ludwig, PMS Hacker, Gordon Baker, Hans Sluga, Stanley Cavell


The task of this paper is to exhibit Wittgenstein’s method of perspicuous presentation as aiming at a distinctive kind of self-knowledge. Three influential readings of Wittgenstein’s concept of perspicuous presentation – Hacker’s, Baker’s and Sluga’s – are examined. All of them present what Wittgenstein calls the “unsurveyablity of our grammar” as a result of the “complexity” of our language. Contrary to this, a fundamental difference between matter-of-factual complexity and the unsurveyability of grammar is pointed out. What perspicuous presentations are designed to deal with, isn’t, accordingly, occasioned by the complexity of our language but by an unnoticed assimilation of our own activities as speaking beings to matter-of-factual affairs. In response to this, perspicuous presentations help us to fully appropriate our activities as speakers in virtue of achieving a transparent understanding of the use of “our words”. It thus provides us with a distinctive kind of grammatical self-knowledge.

Author Biography

Christian Georg Martin, Ludwig Maximilans University, Munich

Christian Georg Martin is assistant professor of philosophy (wissenschaftliger Mitarbeiter) at LMU Munich. During the academic year 2015-16 he is a visiting scholar in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. He has published a book-length study on Hegel’s “Science of Logic”, entitled Ontologie der Selbstbestimmung (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck 2012). In his more recent work he seeks to develop an account of language as a form of life, which is inspired by both Hegel and Wittgenstein. He is currently editing a volume of papers on Wittgenstein, entitled Language as a Form of Life.


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