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October 2021

'Going nowhere' with Wittgenstein - And staying in the everyday

Journal/Book: Theor Psychol. 2000; 10: 2455 Teller Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320, USA. Sage Publications Inc. 214-237.

Abstract: Wittgenstein is famous for eschewing 'scientific' explanations of language in philosophy and for commending, as an alternative, the examination of ordinary language, 'the language of everyday'. 'Scientific' explanations should be avoided, according to Wittgrenstein, because they lead our attention into paradoxical ontologies and away from the one place where solutions and clear understandings will be found. This desire to avoid going into such ontological mires I term 'going nowhere' and I suggest that it is one of the most insightful yet most misunderstood aspects of Wittgenstein's later work. This paper examines the arguments in favour of 'going nowhere' and in the process rebuts the charge that Wittgenstein himself was involved in providing explanations. The discussion then focuses on the conceptual benefits to be gained in psychology from 'going nowhere', including that of the demystification of psychological phenomena. Finally, the paper explores the sense in which 'going nowhere' leaves psychologists in the 'world' of ordinary language, an everyday 'world' that is surprisingly robust in the face of irrealism without succumbing to the temptations of ontological realism.

Note: Article Moore K, Lincoln Univ, Div Human Sci, POB 84, Canterbury, NEW ZEALAND

Keyword(s): philosophical explanation; psychological explanation; realism; Wittgenstein

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