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Title PageEdit

Title: Before Reading the Philosophical Investigations: a Necessary Context
Short Title: Reading Philosophical Investigations
First author: Robert Parr
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  1. The wikicities username of Robert Parr is Parrwiltt.
  2. This article is the first in a series of articles. The series title is, "Reading the Philosophical Investigations: a Commentary and Aid". The second article in the series is called, "Aid and Commentary on Remarks 1 to 142 of the PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS".

Abstract. Ludwig Wittgenstein intended his book, Philosophical Investigations, to be a stimulus to thinking about human language and related topics. He was working on the contents of the book until shortly before his death and he was dissatisfied with the end of Part I and all of Part II. There is more organization in most of Part I than he is usually given credit for, but many readers of Philosophical Investigations can benefit from an introduction that reviews the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy leading up to what was published as Philosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein's life as a philosopher began after he learned about the work of Bertrand Russell. Russell and Wittgenstein shared an interest in the idea that a formal logical system could be used to analyze complex philosophical propositions into a set of simpler propositions: "atomic" facts. In his only book published during his lifetime, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein developed a "picture theory" of language in which the logical atoms implicit in a proposition would account for the meaning of a proposition as a conceptual picture of a state of affairs. From 1929 into 1931, often called his transitonal period, Wittigensein thought through the implications of the Tractatus. He moved past the mistakes and illusions of the Tractatus and developed a new method of doing philosophy without theoretical foundations and the lofty generalizations of the Tractatus. He gave up the quest for an "ideal" logical theory of language. He looked to natural language as containing a logic that was a cultural tradition passed on through generations, always changing, the logic of our form of life.

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