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Stephen Mulhall presents a detailed critical commentary on sections 243-315 of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: the famous remarks on 'private language'. In so doing, he makes detailed use of Stanley Cavell's interpretations of these remarks; and relates disputes about how to interpret this aspect of Wittgenstein's later philosophy to a recent, highly influential controversy about how to interpret Wittgenstein's early text, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, by drawing and testing out a distinction between resolute and substantial understandings of the related notions of grammar, nonsense and the imagination. The book is concerned throughout to elucidate Wittgenstein's philosophical method, and to establish the importance of the form or style of his writing to the proper application of this method.
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...genuinely thought-provoking...Mulhall subverts ingrained readings of the text, challenging the reader to re-examine features of Wittgenstein's work she may have, unwisely taken for granted. (Genia Schönbaumsfeld MIND)
This is an extremely important book, written in a style at once subtle and nuanced as well as strikingly compelling (Steven Hall Philosophical Investigations 31.3 July 08)
it is hard to imagine a more subtle, searching or sensitive exploration of Wittgenstein's remarks on private language (Quassim Cassam, Times Literary Supplement)
many-layered, stimulating, and often illuminating (Charles Crittenden, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)
Stephen Mulhall is Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at New College, Oxford.
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