Wittgenstein: Grammar & Nature

July 9, 2018
University of Southampton

Building 65, Lecture Theatre B
Avenue Campus
Southampton SO17 1BF
United Kingdom

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


University of East Anglia
University of Hertfordshire
University of Hertfordshire
University of Southampton

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Wittgenstein: Grammar and Nature

University of Southampton, Monday 9th July 2018, Avenue Campus, Building 65, Lecture Theatre B

*Registration deadline: Monday 25th June*

About the Event

Wittgenstein’s concept of grammar is agreed to be crucial to his later philosophy and philosophical method, but there has been much controversy about the meaning of this concept and what form a grammatical enquiry can, and should, take. How are we to understand this crucial concept, and how (if at all) can grammatical enquiry solve, or dissolve, philosophical problems and confusions? And how does the notion of grammar relate to Wittgenstein’s overall view of philosophy and philosophical method?

A leading approach to these issues gives central place to the “rules of grammar” governing our ordinary language-games. Some of the questions this approach raises include: do these “rules of grammar” merely describe actual language-use or do they carry some sort of prescriptive power? Wherein lies the authority (if any) of these rules? Are they “arbitrary”, and if so, in what sense?

In addressing these and related questions, the later Wittgenstein seems sometimes to appeal to “very general facts of nature”. Thus the “importance” – and perhaps, therefore, authority – of certain linguistic rules might be understood through their “correspondence” (in some sense) with some such facts. If we take this option, however, questions arise about how this fits with the grammatical approach. What role might facts of nature have in a grammatical investigation? Or does this option take us beyond the limits of pure grammatical enquiry?


09:30-10:15 Registration, tea and coffee
10:15-11:45 Oskari Kuusela (East Anglia): Logic, grammar, and natural history; response: Felix Hagenström (Southampton)
11:45-12:00 Break, tea and coffee
12:00-13:30 Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (Hertfordshire): Wittgenstein’s reality-soaked grammar; response: Lawrence Wang (Freiburg)
13:30-14:45 Lunch
14:45-16:15 Genia Schönbaumsfeld (Southampton): "Signs by themselves are dead"; response: Antonio Scarafone (Reading)

16:15-16:30 Break, tea and coffee

16:30-18:00 Constantine Sandis (Hertfordshire): No picnic: Cavell on rule-descriptions; response: Matt Dougherty (Cambridge)
18:30 Dinner


Felix Hagenströ[email protected]

Fionn O’Donovan F.B.O'[email protected]

Tim Kjeldsen [email protected]

We are grateful to the Aristotelian Society, the British Society for the History of Philosophy and the Mind Association for generously helping to fund this event.

Registration is free and tea and coffee will be provided on the day. Please state in your email whether you would like to attend dinner in the evening (this will be at your own expense). Attendance is open to all, but numbers are limited. The deadline to register is 25th June.

This workshop is organised in accordance with the BPA/SWIP good practice scheme.

To register to attend and for further information contact Felix Hagenström at [email protected]


PLEASE NOTE: This event is being held at the humanities campus (Avenue Campus), and not the main Highfield Campus. It is roughly a 10 minute walk from the main campus.

For details on how to get here visit http://www.southampton.ac.uk/about/visit/getting-to-our-campuses.page 

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June 25, 2018, 7:45pm BST

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