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Reference as Action: Space and Time in Later Wittgenstein

Enakshi Ray Mitra (Author)

This work projects the later Wittgenstein as dissolving the unwanted cleavage between reference and description through a uniquely original route that also outgrows the traditional dichotomy between the descriptive and non-descriptive theories of reference. Following a nuanced track of arguments, the author argues that the supposed primacy of reference vis-à-vis the optional and indeterminate character of description (or meaning) virtually feeds on a containment model of space and time. Objects or referents lie smugly encased in neat space-time boundaries that serve as static and irrevocable foundations-capable of receiving a vast range of alternative descriptions and withdrawals. The ontology of such pre-semantic referents throw up a parallel otology of actions-where the latter also come to be seen as brute physical events with a bare space-time outline over and above their various intentional or adverbial descriptions. This work seeks to break through such uninspiring splits between reference and description by synthesizing Wittgenstein’s treatment of these notions with those of space, time and action. A systematically detailed exposition of Wittgenstein’s arguments against the inert and external character of space shows actions not as bare space-time extensions, but as richly qualitative blends of such putative physical events with their intentions and modalities. Overall this exercise presents a graphic depiction of actions as not being constrained by real lumps of objects in space, but as breaking, bending and fusing space-time into objects and their interrelations, thereby suturing description and reference together in a seamless complex.

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Bibliographic information

Title Reference as Action: Space and Time in Later Wittgenstein
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2019
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9789382396673
length xv+555p., Illustrations (Black and White); 23cm.