Wittgenstein and Stage-Setting: Being brought into the space of reasons

David Simpson

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Wittgenstein constantly invokes teaching, training and learning in his later work. It is therefore interesting to consider what role these notions play for him there. I argue that their use is central to Wittgenstein's attempt to refute cognitivist assumptions, and to show how normative practices can be understood without the threat of circularity, grounded not in a kind of seeing, but in doing, and the natural reactions of an organism. This can generate a worry that Wittgenstein's position is quietist and anti-critical: critique, as a challenge to the taken-for-granted grammar of our language game, is technically meaningless. I argue that Wittgenstein does not rule out critique. His own practice demonstrates that critique is possible, but takes place within a language game, and its status as critique is always subject to challenge in the agora of a discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-639
Number of pages16
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitivism
  • critique
  • pedagogy
  • space of reasons
  • stage-setting
  • Wittgenstein

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