Wittgenstein and nonsense: Psychologism, Kantianism, and the habitus

José Medina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This paper is a critical examination of Wittgenstein's view of the limits of intelligibility. In it I criticize standard analytic readings of Wittgenstein as an advocate of transcendental or behaviourist theses in epistemology; and I propose an alternative interpretation of Wittgenstein's view as a social contextualism that transcends the false dichotomy between Kantianism and psychologism. I argue that this social contextualism is strikingly similar to the social account of epistemic practices developed by Pierre Bourdieu. Through a comparison between Wittgenstein's and Bourdieu's view and an analysis of the notion of habitus , I try to show how social contextualism can account for the distinction between sense and nonsense without falling into transcendental constructivism or social behaviourism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-318
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophical Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003


  • Bourdieu
  • Contextualism
  • Kantianism
  • Nonsense
  • Psychologism
  • Wittgenstein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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