The Search for the "Essence of Human Language" in Wittgenstein and Davidson

In Claudine Verheggen (ed.), Wittgenstein and Davidson on Language, Thought and Action. cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 139-158 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
This paper offers an interpretation of the later Wittgenstein's handling of the idea of an "essence of human language", and examines in particular his treatment of the 'Augustinean' vision of reference as constituting this "essence". A central theme of the interpretation is the perennial philosophical desire to impose upon linguistic meaning conceptual templates drawn from outside the forms of thought about meaning in which we engage when we exercise our capacity to speak and understand a language. The paper closes with a consideration of ways in which Donald Davidson's generally congenial work on interpretation may diverge from Wittgenstein's thinking in this vicinity.
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Archival date: 2017-10-18
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Philosophical investigations.Wittgenstein, Ludwig & Anscombe, G. E. M.

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