Download Wittgenstein and the Idea of a Critical Social Theory: A by Nigel Pleasants PDF

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By Nigel Pleasants

This e-book makes use of the philosophy of Wittgenstein as a viewpoint from which to problem the belief of a serious social idea, represented pre-eminently through Giddens, Habernas and Bhaskar.

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Extra info for Wittgenstein and the Idea of a Critical Social Theory: A Critique of Giddens, Habermas and Bhaskar (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought)

Sample text

Nevertheless, Rorty surely invites this kind of description. Unless he wants to attach a highly unusual and idiosyncratic meaning to the term ‘metaphysical’, I can see no reason why his views on the contingency of language, world and self are not accurately described in this way. I now want to utilise a notion which plays a central role in Habermas’s philosophical programme, namely the idea of a ‘performative contradiction’— though the use that I make of it will differ significantly from his. The notion of performative contradiction brings me to the heart of the problem which Rorty needs, but fails—unlike Wittgenstein— to avoid.

16 For example, Wittgenstein (1968:§402) points out that disputes between ‘Idealists, Solipsists and Realists’ cannot be settled either empirically or rationally—because each side appeals to the very same facts of experience, yet sees them in a completely different way. By their nature, ontological pictures seek to explain the very basis of all facts, and therefore are not amenable to the ways in which factual disputes might be judged in terms of truth or falsity. Such ontological pictures deal with ‘the order of possibilities’, which ‘must be utterly simple.

These, and countless other kinds of theory and explanation, involve various degrees of generalisation without being ipso facto metaphysical, philosophical theories. Wittgenstein does not recommend that we should all cease such activities in favour of ‘pure description’, and that we should stop speculating about things which are not immediately apparent and uncontroversial. Rorty, on the other hand, argues that theory, explanation and generalisation are bad per se, and that everyone, from scientists to factory operatives, should avoid such practices.

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