Wittgenstein and Scientific Knowledge: A Sociological by Derek L. Phillips

By Derek L. Phillips

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It is neither the book nor the table, but the book's lying on the table, which is one of the elements constituting the world. Such an element is a fact. Thus, Wittgenstein's second proposition: 'What is the case-a fact-is the existence of states of affairs. ' 5 A 'state of affairs' is a fact that in itself does not consist offacts; it is a constellation of objects. It is a combination ofthings; and a thing is a simple, an irreducible entity. And a state of affairs that actually obtains is a fact.

69 The point with this example is that the hypothetical anthropologist would have no way of choosing among the various alternatives unless THE 'EARLY' AND 'LATER' WITTGENSTEIN 37 he were familiar with the 'forms of life' of the tribe. Could we imagine a form of life where men measured cloth by the length of its stripes, regardless of whether it was single-width, double-width or even triplewidth? To do so would require that we also imagine the whole activity of 'measuring' to be far different from ours throughout that society.

Perhaps it is possible to teach him to howl 36 WITTGENSTEIN AND SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE on particular occasions as if he were in pain, even when he is not. But the surroundings which are necessary for this behaviour to be real simulation are missing. 65 Thus, one can teach a child to tell a lie, for instance, but not a stone, a tree or a dog, for the surrounding circumstances, the actions, the form of life, connected to it do not exist. ' 66 And how we talk is part of it. ' 67 These shared forms oflife have never been 'taught' us in any explicit manner, although we are all familiar with them.

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