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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 22, Issue 3, 2018

Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Technology

Michael Funk
Pages 352-376
DOI: 10.5840/techne201812388

Repeatability and Methodical Actions in Uncertain Situations
Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Technology and Language

In this paper Ludwig Wittgenstein is interpreted as a philosopher of language and technology. Due to current developments, a special focus is on lifeworld practice and technoscientific research. In particular, image-interpretation is used as a concrete methodical example. Whereas in most science- or technology-related Wittgenstein interpretations the focus is on the Tractatus, the Investigations or On Certainty, in this paper the primary source is his very late triune fragment Bemerkungen über die Farben (“Remarks about the Colours”). It is argued that Wittgenstein’s approach can supplement Don Ihde’s concept of material hermeneutics, and that Wittgenstein’s constructivist and pragmatist claims relate to current authors in the philosophy of technology like Peter Janich, Carl Mitcham or Jürgen Mittelstraß. Ludwig Wittgenstein enables a philosophical approach of transcendental grammars, techno-linguistic forms of life and technoscientific language games. In detail, several methodological aspects regarding relations between language and technology are summarized. Here concretely repeatability and methodical actions play major roles in uncertain situations of language and technology practice. It is shown that Wittgenstein is still underestimated in the philosophy of technology—although his thoughtful conceptualizations of language, social practice and technology bear important methodical insights for current technosciences like synthetic biology, robotics and many others.