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Subject and world in Wittgenstein and Heidegger

Shatil, Sharon; (2001) Subject and world in Wittgenstein and Heidegger. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Wittgenstein and Heidegger both claim that statements, situations and actions are meaningful only within an essentially involved perspective. The concept of 'involvement' essentially makes references to purposes, aims aid designs, unlike a theoretical attitude, thatonly makes reference to properties of objects which are either perceivable or causally related to perceivables. Their view contrasts with the traditional conception of meaning, and they point to various problems with it which, I argue, are far from being resolved in post Wittgensteinian analytic philosophy. Both thinkers agree that for involvement to be meaningful is for it to come under a demand for reasons explicitly for the agent performing it. Heidegger argues that for this to be possible a totality of possible involvements, which he calls 'the world' must be presupposed. Such a world, though, can only exist for a subject that is essentially involved in some project on the basis this totality. I argue that Wittgenstein shares this view, if less explicitly, as is demonstrated in the anti-Cartesianism of his conception of meaning and mind. I conclude that the locus of agreement between Wittgenstein and Heidegger is their conception of human beings as essentially possessing a freedom to be invoked in any meaningful practice. This freedom sums up subject, the world and the essential relation between them. This freedom amount to the possibility to enter (and leave) any meaningful practice pertaining to a situation. It is a necessary result of explicitly demanding reasons to enter a meaningful involvement. What Wittgenstein and Heidegger manage to demonstrate is the limitation of the theoretical attitude-its inherent inability to explain meaning and the structures necessarily correlated with it: the involved subject, and the totality of possible meaningful involvement with entities. This opens to criticism certain current metaphysical and ontological presuppositions and scientific attempts to explain language, mind, and human behaviour.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Subject and world in Wittgenstein and Heidegger
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Heidegger; Wittgenstein
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105584
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