Fabrizio Calzavarini

Wittgenstein and the Limits of Understanding

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Keywords: Wittgenstein; Frege; Cerbone; Understanding; Costitutivity of Logic; Family Resemblance.

In this paper we are going to analyse David R. Cerbone's exegetical proposal of the wood sellers scenario discussed by Wittgenstein in the "Remarks of the Foundation of Mathematics". According to Cerbone, the wood seller scenario is meant to propose a «constitutive view» of logic by demonstrating that our ability to understand alternative concepts is limited. Our claim is that Cerbone's interpretation, though suggestive, is not well supported by textual evidence. In addition, it is not consistent with Wittgenstein's repeated suggestions that we can easily understand different conceptual frameworks. And, finally, the conception of human conceptual abilities and linguistic practices that follows from such assumptions is too restrictive. For Wittgenstein, concepts are flexible and extendable units that are applied on the basis of analogies and resemblances. Thus, understanding and describing alternative forms of life is, within certain limits, perfectly possible.

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