By Theodora Kroeber
Frontis. + xi + 292 pp. with a variety of illus., octavo.
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Additional info for Alfred Kroeber: A Personal Configuration
We must settle this obvious problem before reasonably beginning a survey of the City. Page 24 Two Thickets Several kinds of intellectual biographies have been used to organize the intellectual development of major philosophers. In one kind, an early philosophical inspiration is developed into a systematic elaboration whose parts remain relatively consistent with one another, while the scope of the system is gradually enlarged. Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume; Kant, Hegel, and many other philosophers, have been portrayed as developing early central insights into systematic presentations of this kind, even if their developments cause some strain between their early texts and their later texts that require interpretive adjustments.
Wittgenstein's defenders have stressed the subtlety of his views, at times aping the behavioral characteristics of the master but always suggesting that others are the boors at the feast of philosophy, picking up the wrong forks and turning the wrong edge of their spoons to the soup. Wittgenstein is liberating but flawed. To circumvent the philosophical polemics and the interpretations that have dominated the first generation of Wittgenstein scholarship, it is time to take a fresh look at Wittgenstein's texts without the hermeneutical coercion of those who trace their authority of interpretation to personal ac- Page xi quaintance.
Context helps us to find the appropriate horizon, provided that an assertion makes sense, after which one-step hermeneutics delivers the meaning. This account clarifies several otherwise puzzling features of Wittgenstein's remarks about language. He shares with many versions of positivism an emphasis on the sentence as the bearer of meaning. But a sentence is not intelligible by itself, so that Wittgenstein always avoided the crudest forms of positivist semantics. Wittgenstein uses the possibility of different horizons to escape problems with the idea that a sentence must, if it is an assertion, say only one thing.