Review of Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy by Paul Horwich 248p (2013) (review revised 2019)

In The Logical Structure of Human Behavior. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 142-165 (2019)
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Abstract
Horwich gives a fine analysis of Wittgenstein (W) and is a leading W scholar, but in my view, they all fall short of a full appreciation, as I explain at length in this review and many others. If one does not understand W (and preferably Searle also) then I don't see how one could have more than a superficial understanding of philosophy and of higher order thought and thus of all complex behavior (psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, literature, society). In a nutshell, W demonstrated that when you have shown how a sentence is used in the context of interest, there is nothing more to say. I will start with a few notable quotes and then give what I think are the minimum considerations necessary to understand Wittgenstein, philosophy and human behavior. First one might note that putting “meta” in front of any word should be suspect. W remarked e.g., that metamathematics is mathematics like any other. The notion that we can step outside philosophy (i.e., the descriptive psychology of higher order thought) is itself a profound confusion. Another irritation here (and throughout academic writing for the last 4 decades) is the constant reverse linguistic sexism of “her” and “hers” and “she” or “he/she” etc., where “they” and “theirs” and “them” would do nicely. Likewise, the use of the French word 'repertoire' where the English 'repertory' will do quite well. The major deficiency is the complete failure (though very common) to employ what I see as the hugely powerful and intuitive two systems view of HOT and Searle’s framework which I have outlined above. This is especially poignant in the chapter on meaning p111 et seq. (especially in footnotes 2-7), where we swim in very muddy water without the framework of automated true only S1, propositional dispositional S2, COS etc. One can also get a better view of the inner and the outer by reading e.g., Johnston or Budd (see my reviews). Horwich however makes many incisive comments. I especially liked his summary of the import of W’s anti-theoretical stance on p65. He needs to give more emphasis to ‘On Certainty’, recently the subject of much effort by Daniele Moyal- Sharrock, Coliva and others and summarized in my recent articles. Horwich is first rate and his work well worth the effort. One hopes that he (and everyone) will study Searle and some modern psychology as well as Hutto, Read, Hutchinson, Stern, Moyal-Sharrock, Stroll, Hacker and Baker etc. to attain a broad modern view of behavior. Most of their papers are on academia dot edu and philpapers dot org , but for PMS Hacker see his papers on his Oxford page. He gives one of the most beautiful summaries of where an understanding of Wittgenstein leaves us that I have ever seen. “There must be no attempt to explain our linguistic/conceptual activity (PI 126) as in Frege’s reduction of arithmetic to logic; no attempt to give it epistemological foundations (PI 124) as in meaning based accounts of a priori knowledge; no attempt to characterize idealized forms of it (PI 130) as in sense logics; no attempt to reform it (PI 124, 132) as in Mackie’s error theory or Dummett’s intuitionism; no attempt to streamline it (PI 133) as in Quine’s account of existence; no attempt to make it more consistent (PI 132) as in Tarski’s response to the liar paradoxes; and no attempt to make it more complete (PI 133) as in the settling of questions of personal identity for bizarre hypothetical ‘teleportation’ scenarios.” Finally, let me suggest that with the perspective I have encouraged here, W is at the center of contemporary philosophy and psychology and is not obscure, difficult or irrelevant, but scintillating, profound and crystal clear and that to miss him is to miss one of the greatest intellectual adventures possible. Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Human Behavior (2019), and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019)
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Archival date: 2019-02-23
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