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Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning: Volume 1 of an Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, Part I: Essays, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-470-75279-1
424 pages
April 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning: Volume 1 of an Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, Part I: Essays, 2nd Edition (0470752793) cover image
This is a new edition of the first volume of G.P.Baker and P.M.S. Hacker’s definitive reference work on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.

  • New edition of the first volume of the monumental four-volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations.
  • Takes into account much material that was unavailable when the first edition was written.
  • Following Baker’s death in 2002, P.M.S. Hacker has thoroughly revised the first volume, rewriting many essays and sections of exegesis completely.
  • Part One - the Essays - now includes two completely new essays: 'Meaning and Use' and 'The Recantation of a Metaphysician'.
  • Part Two - Exegesis §§1-184 - has been thoroughly revised in the light of the electronic publication of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass, and includes many new interpretations of the remarks, a history of the composition of the book, and an overview of its structure.
  • The revisions will ensure that this remains the definitive reference work on Wittgenstein’s masterpiece for the foreseeable future.
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Acknowledgements xi

Introduction to Part I: Essays xiii

Abbreviations xix

I The Augustinian conception of language ( 1) 1

1. Augustine’s picture 1

2. The Augustinian family 4

(a) word-meaning 4

(b) correlating words with meanings 6

(c) ostensive explanation 7

(d) metapsychological corollaries 9

(e) sentence-meaning 11

3. Moving off in new directions 14

4. Frege 19

5. Russell 23

6. The Tractatus 26

II Explanation ( 6) 29

1. Training, teaching and explaining 29

2. Explanation and meaning 33

3. Explanation and grammar 35

4. Explanation and understanding 39

III The language-game method ( 7) 45

1. The emergence of the game analogy 45

2. An intermediate phase: comparisons with invented calculi 54

3. The emergence of the language-game method 57

4. Invented language-games 61

5. Natural language-games 63

IV Descriptions and the uses of sentences (§18) 65

1. Flying in the face of the facts 65

2. Sentences as descriptions of facts: surface-grammatical paraphrase 67

3. Sentences as descriptions: depth-grammatical analysis and descriptive contents 70

4. Sentences as instruments 73

5. Assertions, questions, commands make contact in language 76

V Ostensive definition and its ramifications (§28) 81

1. Connecting language and reality 81

2. The range and limits of ostensive explanations 83

3. The normativity of ostensive definition 88

4. Samples 92

5. Misunderstandings resolved 97

6. Samples and simples 103

VI Indexicals (§39) 107

VII Logically proper names (§39) 113

1. Russell 113

2. The Tractatus 117

3. The criticisms of the Investigations: assailing the motivation 120

4. The criticisms of the Investigations: real proper names and simple names 124

VIII Meaning and use (§43) 129

1. The concept of meaning 129

2. Setting the stage 136

3. Wittgenstein: meaning and its internal relations 144

4. Qualifications 152

IX Contextual dicta and contextual principles (§50) 159

1. The problems of a principle 159

2. Frege 164

3. The Tractatus 170

4. After the Tractatus 171

5. Compositional theories of meaning 173

6. Computational theories of understanding 181

X The standard metre (§50) 189

1. The rudiments of measurement 189

2. The standard metre and canonical samples 192

3. Fixing the reference or explaining the meaning? 193

4. Defusing paradoxes 197

XI Family resemblance (§65) 201

1. Background: definition, logical constituents and analysis 201

2. Family resemblance: precursors and anticipations 208

3. Family resemblance: a minimalist interpretation 212

4. Sapping the defences of orthodoxy 216

5. Problems about family-resemblance concepts 219

6. Psychological concepts 222

7. Formal concepts 224

XII Proper names (§79) 227

1. Stage-setting 227

2. Frege and Russell: simple abbreviation theories 230

3. Cluster theories of proper names 233

4. Some general principles 235

5. Some critical consequences 238

6. The significance of proper names 239

7. Proper names and meaning 244

XIII Turning the examination around: the recantation of a metaphysician (§89) 251

1. Reorienting the investigation 251

2. The sublime vision 253

3. Diagnosis: projecting the mode of representation on to what is represented 256

4. Idealizing the prototype 259

5. Misunderstanding the role of the Ideal 263

6. Turning the examination around 266

XIV Philosophy (§109) 271

1. A revolution in philosophy 271

2. The sources of philosophical problems 277

3. The goals of philosophy: conceptual geography and intellectual therapy 284

4. The difficulty of philosophy 287

5. The methods of philosophy 290

6. Negative corollaries 294

7. Misunderstandings 299

8. Retrospect: the Tractatus and the Investigations 303

XV Surveyability and surveyable representations (§122) 307

1. Surveyability 307

2. Precursors: Hertz, Boltzmann, Ernst, Goethe, Spengler 311

3. The morphological method and the difficulty of surveying grammar 320

4. Surveyable representations 326

XVI Truth and the general propositional form (§134) 335

1. The demands of the picture theory 335

2. ‘That’s the way the cookie crumbles’ 340

3. ‘. . . do we have a single concept of proposition?’ (PG 112) 344

4. ‘. . . the use of the words “true” and “false” . . . belongs to our concept “proposition” but does not fit it . . .’ (PI §136) 346

5. Truth, correspondence and multi-valued logic 349

XVII Understanding and ability (§143) 357

1. The place of the elucidation of understanding in the Investigations 357

2. Meaning and understanding as the soul of signs 359

3. Categorial misconceptions of understanding 362

4. Categorial clarification 367

(a) Understanding is not an experience 368

(b) Understanding is not a process 369

(c) Understanding is not a mental state 371

(d) Understanding is neither a dispositional state of the brain nor a disposition 373

5. Powers and abilities 375

6. Understanding and ability 380

Index 387

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G.P. Baker was a Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford from 1967 until his death in 2002. He is the co-author with P.M.S. Hacker of the first two volumes of the four-volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations (Blackwell, 1980–96), and with Katherine Morris of Descartes’ Dualism (1996). He also wrote numerous articles on Wittgenstein, Frege, Russell, Waismann and Descartes.


P.M.S. Hacker is the leading authority on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. He is author of the four-volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations, the first two volumes co-authored with G.P. Baker, (Blackwell, 1980–96) and of Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-century Analytic Philosophy (Blackwell, 1996). He has also written extensively on philosophy of language and philosophy of mind, most recently The Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (Blackwell, 2003), co-authored with M.R. Bennett.

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  • New edition of the first volume of the monumental four-volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations.
  • Takes into account much material that was unavailable when the first edition was written.
  • Following Baker’s death in 2002, P.M.S. Hacker has thoroughly revised the first volume, rewriting many essays and sections of exegesis completely.
  • Part One - the Essays - now includes two completely new essays: 'Meaning and Use' and 'The Recantation of a Metaphysician'.
  • Part Two - Exegesis §§1-184 - has been thoroughly revised in the light of the electronic publication of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass, and includes many new interpretations of the remarks, a history of the composition of the book, and an overview of its structure.
  • The revisions will ensure that this remains the definitive reference work on Wittgenstein’s masterpiece for the foreseeable future.
See More
"The essays...are scholarly, and profound, and also acute, confident, and full of good sense and judgment" (Colin Radford, Mind)

"This book is a landmark in Wittgenstein studies, raising to a new level the criteria for an adequate understanding of Wittgenstein." (Philosophical Studies)

"For someone who wants to understand, point for point and in detail, how Wittgenstein's later philosophy upsets the philosophies of Russell, Frege and the Tractatus, this is the book to read." (Philosophical Books)

"[The authors'] interpretive essays develop with care, subtlety, and in considerable detail...they have performed a great service in presenting the programmatic views clearly, carefully and dispassionately."
--James Bogen

"Wittgenstein: Meaning and Understanding is a sort of compendium which I wouldn’t want to do without. As a matter of fact, I cannot do without it, both in the sense that I need it to get all kinds of historical or philological information, as well as philosophical stimulation, and in the sense that I have become addicted to the book's magisterial way of bringing out and dealing with the difficulties of Wittgenstein’s masterpiece."
--Joachim Schulte, University of Bielefeld

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