Do Your Exercises: Reader Participation in Wittgenstein's Investigations

In Michael A. Peters & Jeff Stickney (eds.), A Companion to Wittgenstein on Education: Pedagogical Investigations. New York: pp. 147-159 (2017)
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Abstract
Many theorists have focused on Wittgenstein’s use of examples, but I argue that examples form only half of his method. Rather than continuing the disjointed style of his Cambridge lectures, Wittgenstein returns to the techniques he employed while teaching elementary school. Philosophical Investigations trains the reader as a math class trains a student—‘by means of examples and by exercises’ (§208). Its numbered passages, carefully arranged, provide a series of demonstrations and practice problems. I guide the reader through one such series, demonstrating how the exercises build upon one another and give us ample opportunity to hone our problem-solving skills. Through careful practice, we learn to pass the test Wittgenstein poses when he claims that something is ‘easy to imagine’ (§19). Whereas other critics have viewed the Investigations as merely a diagnosis of our philosophical delusions, I claim that Wittgenstein also writes a prescription for our disease: Do your exercises.
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