“What the Picture Tells Me Is Itself”: The Reflexivity of Knowledge between Brandom and Wittgenstein

Vojtěch Kolman
Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic | vojtech.kolman @ff.cuni.cz

Received: 31-January-2019 | Accepted: 10-April-2019 | Published: 30-June-2019
Disputatio [Jun. 2019], Vol. 8, No. 9, pp. 00-00 | DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3236883
Article | [EN] | Full Text | Statistics | Copyright Notice [es] | Vol. 8 No. 9

How to cite this article:

Kolman, Vojtěch (2019). «Wittgenstein (and his followers) on meaning and normativity». Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 8, no. 9: pp. 00–00.

Abstract | Both Brandom and Wittgenstein base their concepts of experience on the game metaphor and the associated concept of rule. In fact, what Brandom seems to do is further refine Wittgenstein’s vocabulary by specifying the game as the game of giving and asking for reasons and rules as the rules of inference. By replacing the plurality of “games” with the one and only “game”, though, Brandom also lays the ground for a possible discord. This relates particularly to the cognitive significance of different forms of human experience, such as music or art in general, which are treated by Wittgenstein as language games despite their being rather independent of claims and commitments and despite their utterly lacking the representational dimension. In my paper, I will show that with respect to these objections (as phrased, e.g., by Andrew Bowie), one can argue that Brandom is in fact true to Wittgenstein’s instruction to always read his Investigations against his Tractatus. The general idea is to look at the game and picture metaphor as parts of a single concept that both philosophers work on together by going back to the very idealist concept of reflexivity or self-consciousness.
Keywords |
Language Game · Self-Consciousness · Reflexivity · Game Metaphor · Hegel.

«Lo que el retrato me relata es a sí mismo»: la reflexividad del conocimiento entre Brandom y Wittgenstein

Resumen | Tanto Brandom como Wittgenstein basan sus conceptos de la experiencia en la metáfora del juego y el concepto asociado de la regla. De hecho, lo que Brandom parece hacer es refinar adicionalmente el vocabulario de Wittgenstein al especificar el juego como el juego de dar y preguntar por razones y las reglas como reglas de inferencia. Al reemplazar el plural de «juegos» con el único «juego» Brandom, sin embargo, también prepara el terreno para una posible discordancia. Esto tiene que ver en particular con la significancia cognitiva de las diferentes formas de la experiencia humana, tales como la música o el arte en general. Wittgenstein trata a estas como juegos de lenguaje, no obstante de que sean más bien independientes de afirmaciones y compromisos y no obstante de carecer totalmente de la dimensión representacional. En mi trabajo mostraré que con relación a estas objeciones (como las formuló, e.g., Andrew Bowie), se puede argüir que Brandom cumple de hecho la instrucción de Wittgenstein de siempre leer sus Investigaciones contra su Tractatus. La idea general es tomar la metáfora del juego y del retrato como partes de un único concepto en el cual ambos filósofos trabajan juntos al retornar al concepto idealista de la reflexividad o autoconsciencia.
Palabras Clave | Juego de lenguaje · Autoconsciencia · Reflexividad · Metáfora de juego · Hegel.


Ball, Philip (2010). The Music Instinct, How Music Works and Why We Can‘t do Without It. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brandom, Robert (1994). Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing, and Discursive Commitment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Brandom, Robert (1999). “Some Pragmatist Themes in Hegel’s Idealism: Negotiation and Administration in Hegel’s Account of the Structure and Content of Conceptual Norms”. European Journal of Philosophy 7:2, pp. 164–189. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0378.00079

Brandom, Robert (2000). Articulating Reasons. An Introduction to Inferentialism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Brandom, Robert (2007). “The structure of desire and recognition: self-consciousness and self-constitution”, Philosophy & Social Criticism 33:1, pp. 12 –150. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453707071389

Brandom, Robert (2011). Perspectives on Pragmatism. Classical, Recent and Contemporary. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Brandom, Robert (Unpublished). A Spirit of Trust: A Semantic Reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology, unpublished manuscripts  http://www.pitt.edu/~brandom/spirit_of_trust.html, version 2014.

Gettier, Edmund (1963). “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?”, Analysis 23:6, pp. 121–3. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/analys/23.6.121.

Harries, Karsten. (2001). Infinity and Perspective. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Doi:  https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/3755.001.0001

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1977). The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy. Trans. by H. S. Harris and Walter Cerf. New York: State University of New York Press

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. (2018). The Phenomenology of Spirit. Trans. by T. Pinkard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kolman, Vojtěch (2014a). “Normative Pragmatism and the Language Game of Music”, Contemporary Pragmatism 11:2, pp. 147–163. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/18758185-90000295

Kolman, Vojtěch (2014b). “Emotions and Understanding in Music: A Transcendental and Empirical Approach”, Idealistic Studies 44:1, pp. 83–100. Doi: https://doi.org/10.5840/idstudies20152317

Kolman, Vojtěch (2016). “Hegel’s Bad Infinity as a Logical Problem”, Hegel–Bulletin 37:2 pp. 257–280. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/hgl.2016.18

Kolman, Vojtěch (forthcoming). “Master, Slave, and Wittgenstein. The Dialectic of Rule–Following.” In: Wittgenstein and Hegel. Reevaluation of Difference, ed. by J. Mácha, A. Berg. Berlin: De Gryuter.

Kvasz, Ladislav (2008). Patterns of Change. Linguistic Innovations in the Development of Classical Mathematics. Basel: Birhäuser.

Massey, Lyle (2007). Picturing Space, Displacing Bodies. Anamorphosis in Early Modern Theories of Perspective. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Meyer, Leonard (1956). Emotion and Meaning in Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Price, Huw (2011). Naturalism Without Mirrors. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scruton, Roger (1998). The Aesthetic Understanding. Essays in the Philosophy of Art and Culture. South Bend: St. Augustine‘s Press.

Sellars, Wilfrid (1997). Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1953). Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1958). The Blue and Brown Books. Oxford: Blackwell.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1961). Tractatus Logico–Philosophicus. Trans. by D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinness. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1974). Philosophical Grammar. Trans. by Anthony Kenny. Oxford: Blackwell.

© The author(s) 2019. This work, published by Disputatio [www.disputatio.eu], is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License [BY–NC–ND]. The copy, distribution and public communication of this work will be according to the copyright notice. For inquiries and permissions, please email: boletin@disputatio.eu.