Volume 13, Issue 2, 2013
Ever the Twain shall Meet? Chomsky and Wittgenstein on Linguistic Competence
It is a dominant view in the philosophical literature on the later Wittgenstein that Chomsky’s approach to the investigation of natural language stands in stark contrast to Wittgenstein’s, and that their respective conceptions of language and linguistic understanding are irreconcilable. The aim in this paper is to show that this view is largely incorrect and that the two approaches to language and its use are indeed compatible, notwithstanding their distinctive foci of interest. The author argues that there is a signifi cant correspondence in at least five different areas of their work, and that once we pay attention to these there will be less
temptation to see Wittgenstein and Chomsky as enemies.