A metaphilosophical defense of Wittgenstein's conception of polythetic methods of analysis
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This thesis advances a metaphilosophical interpretation of Wittgenstein’s later conception of philosophy and specifically, its emphasis on a plurality of different philosophical methods. The thesis aims to achieve three things. The first task is to clarify the meaning of Wittgenstein’s emphasis on methods. This is attained by defending a metaphilosophical interpretation of methods as polythetic. I argue that Wittgenstein’s later emphasis on methods consists of a polythetic account of numerous different methods. The diversity of the methods is a necessary consequence that results from two distinct sources of conceptual confusions. These relate to grammatical confusions and confusions resulting from captivations that Wittgenstein identifies as numerous aspects of scientism. The second is to develop the potential application that the metaphilosophical analysis and defence of polythetic methods can offer to current exegetical controversies, relating to the meaning of methods (PI 133). The metaphilosophical interpretation of methods rejects both grammatical and therapeutic interpretations as having missed the metaphilosophical context of Wittgenstein’s emphasis on methods. It is argued that the complexity of the sources of confusions determine the form of methods to be polythetic and far more complex and diverse than either grammatical or therapeutic interpretations would permit. Thirdly, in concluding, the thesis claims that the metaphilosophical interpretation of methods and its defence of the polythetic conception of methods has several potential applications. This is evident in the need for new diverse methods of analysis that require dynamic forms of conceptual analysis, as well as diverse multiple conceptions of methods.