Wittgenstein: Grammar and Nature
University of Southampton, Monday 9th July 2018, Highfield Campus, Building 44, Room 1057
Registration deadline: Monday 25th June
About the Event
Wittgenstein’s concept of grammar is agreed to be crucial to his later philosophy and philosophical method, but there has been much controversy about the meaning of this concept and what form a grammatical enquiry can, and should, take. How are we to understand this crucial concept, and how (if at all) can grammatical enquiry solve, or dissolve, philosophical problems and confusions? And how does the notion of grammar relate to Wittgenstein’s overall view of philosophy and philosophical method?
A leading approach to these issues gives central place to the “rules of grammar” governing our ordinary language-games. Some of the questions this approach raises include: do these “rules of grammar” merely describe actual language-use or do they carry some sort of prescriptive power? Wherein lies the authority (if any) of these rules? Are they “arbitrary”, and if so, in what sense?
In addressing these and related questions, the later Wittgenstein seems sometimes to appeal to “very general facts of nature”. Thus the “importance” – and perhaps, therefore, authority – of certain linguistic rules might be understood through their “correspondence” (in some sense) with some such facts. If we take this option, however, questions arise about how this fits with the grammatical approach. What role might facts of nature have in a grammatical investigation? Or does this option take us beyond the limits of pure grammatical enquiry?
09:30-10:15 Registration, tea and coffee
10:15-11:45 Oskari Kuusela (East Anglia): ‘Logic, grammar, and natural history’
11:45-12:00 Break, tea and coffee
12:00-13:30 Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (Hertfordshire): ‘Wittgenstein’s reality-soaked grammar’
14:45-16:15 Rachael Wiseman (Liverpool): ‘General facts of nature and acting under a description’
16:15-16:30 Break, tea and coffee
16:30-18:00 Constantine Sandis (Hertfordshire): ‘No picnic: Cavell on rule-descriptions’
Each talk will be followed by a short response by a graduate student and a discussion.
A call for respondents will be sent out soon.
Registration is free and lunch will be provided on the day, so please state in your email whether you have any dietary requirements. Please also state whether you would like to attend dinner in the evening (this will be at your own expense). Attendance is open to all, but numbers are limited. The deadline to register is 25th June.
This workshop is organised in accordance with the BPA/SWIP good practice scheme.
To register to attend and for further information contact Felix Hagenström at
More detailed information to be circulated soon.