Wittgenstein's Grammar: Through Thick and Thin

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It may be said that the single track of Wittgenstein's philosophy is the discernment and elucidation of grammar – its nature and its limits. This paper will trace Wittgenstein's evolving notion of grammar from the Tractatus to On Certainty. It will distinguish between a 'thin grammar' and an increasingly more fact-linked, 'reality-soaked', 'thick grammar'. The 'hinge' certainties of On Certainty and the 'patterns of life' of Last Writings attest to the fact that one of the leitmotifs in the work of the third Wittgenstein is the grammaticalization of experience. This reflects Wittgenstein's realisation that grammar can manifest itself as a way of acting. In moves that exceed anything in Philosophical Investigations, the third Wittgenstein makes grammar enactive. We shall see that Wittgenstein's hesitant but unrelenting link of grammar to the stream of life in no way infringes on the 'autonomy of grammar'.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWittgenstein (adj.): Looking at the world from the viewpoint of Wittgenstein´s philosophy
EditorsShyam Wuppuluri, Newton da Costa
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-27569-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-27568-6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2019

Publication series

NameThe Frontiers Collection
ISSN (Print)1612-3018
ISSN (Electronic)2197-6619


  • Wittgenstein
  • grammar


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