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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Wittgenstein: Grammar and Nature Workshop Event

09:30 - 18:00
9 July 2018
Avenue Campus, Building 65, Lecture Theatre B, University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please email Felix Hagenström at .

Event details

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 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 Tea and coffee
16:30-18:00 Constantine Sandis (Hertfordshire): No picnic: Cavell on rule-descriptions; response: Matt Dougherty (Cambridge)
18:30 Dinner at Baffi (267-271 Portswood Rd, Southampton SO17 2LA)

Each talk will be followed by a short response by a graduate student and a discussion.


Felix Hagenström:

Fionn O’Donovan: F.B.O'

Tim Kjeldsen:

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 25 June.

To register to attend and for further information contact Felix Hagenström

For details on how to get here visit 

Accessibility information about the room can be found here.  If you would like further information about childcare options or about accessibility, please contact Tracy Storey

​The dinner venue will also be accessible.

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


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