Philosophy Quietism
by
Stelios Virvidakis, Vasso Kindi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0184

Introduction

Quietism in contemporary analytic philosophy is the view or stance that entails avoidance of substantive philosophical theorizing and is usually associated with certain forms of skepticism, pragmatism, and minimalism about truth. More particularly, it is opposed to putting forth positive theses and developing constructive arguments. It is directly related to a certain construal of Wittgenstein’s early and late work emphasizing the therapeutic purport of his thought. Quietism has been invoked recently mainly by Wittgensteinian and neo-pragmatist thinkers, while it has been criticized by defenders of realist positions. In most cases, the term is used incidentally and sporadically in a variety of dialectical contexts. The term originally referred to a certain tradition in Christian theology and religious practice that can be traced back to the earlier Eastern orthodox “hesychasm,” from the monastic technique of prayer since the 4th century to the theological teaching of St. Gregory Palamas in 14th-century Byzantium, and to the kind of mysticism elaborated by the 17th-century Spanish priest Miguel de Molinos, which spread in Spain and in France. The first conception of philosophical quietism in the history of Western thought is encountered in the approach of Pyrrhonian skeptics of the Hellenistic period, who pursued imperturbability, quietude or tranquility of mind (ataraxia) through suspension of judgment (epoché) and refused assent (synkatathesis) to any philosophical thesis. In fact, Pyrrhonian quietism provides the first combination of a more or less therapeutic goal of philosophizing with an antitheoretical stance. In contemporary discussions, the notion of quietism is often presented in vague, elusive, or ambiguous ways. Its defense is quite controversial insofar as it is often thought to imply intellectual idleness or laziness and objectionable conservatism. One can distinguish among various forms of quietism on the basis of the scope, the strength, and the motivation of the claims advanced, and of the argumentative tactics employed to develop and sustain them. Regarding scope, one can contrast local or partial versions, which restrict the rejection of theorizing to one or more particular areas of philosophical thinking, such as philosophy of language, epistemology, metaphysics, ontology, ethics, or political philosophy, and to global versions, which entail jettisoning philosophical theory in all areas. Moreover, there are stronger and weaker expressions of quietist commitment and different reasons sustaining them at the beginning or at the end of philosophical inquiry. Philosophers advocating quietism of a global or more ambitious form sometimes find themselves in a paradoxical situation when they endorse theoretical positions and proceed to the construction of arguments involving a kind of pragmatic self-refutation.

General Overviews

There are very few comprehensive surveys and systematic accounts of philosophical quietism in different areas. Virvidakis 2006 presents an attempt at a classification of various quietist views and arguments. A useful discussion of quietism of all kinds can be found in a symposium on quietism that was presented in six issues of the journal Common Knowledge (see Perl 2009). There are sporadic references to Wittgensteinian quietists, as opposed to naturalists in contemporary philosophy, in Leiter 2004, but these do not amount to a proper survey, while the selection of papers in the volume edited and introduced by Leiter, including Pettit 2004, reflects his bias against quietism. Pettit 2004 provides a more general construal of quietism, which is contrasted with existentialism as a metaphilosophical stance. Blackburn 2006 offers a short critical account of quietism as a kind of response to debates on metaphysical commitments in different areas of discourse aiming at deconstructing the issue (see also Semantics and Metaphysics).

  • Blackburn, Simon. Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Penguin, 2006.

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    An introduction to debates on the notion of truth and on the metaphysical commitments of alternative positions. The chapter entitled “The Possibility of Philosophy” provides a concise and useful discussion of quietism and of its relation to minimalist conceptions of truth, and also puts forth a negative assessment of quietism as a general stance.

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    • Leiter, Brian. “Introduction.” In The Future for Philosophy. Edited by Brian Leiter, 1–24. Oxford: Clarendon, 2004.

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      A description of basic trends dividing contemporary philosophers in America opposing Wittgensteinian quietism, which proposes a therapeutic, antitheoretical attitude and the dissolution of problems to naturalists engaged in a constructive cognitive enterprise. The author indirectly expresses his negative assessment of quietist views.

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      • Perl, Jeffrey M., ed. Special Issue: Apology for Quietism: A Sotto Voce Symposium, Part 1. Common Knowledge 15.1 (2009).

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        First of six special issues of Common Knowledge edited by Perl, with essays on various aspects of quietism, including theological quietism, political quietism, Wittgensteinian quietism, quietism in 18th-century France, Quaker quietism, quietism in Buddhist thought, Islam, and German mysticism. There are also essays on Rorty, Wittgenstein, and Thorstein Veblen in the various issues. Continued in Common Knowledge 15.2 (2009), 15.3 (2009), 16.1 (2010), 16.2 (2010), and 16.3 (2010).

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        • Pettit, Philip. “Existentialism, Quietism, and the Role of Philosophy.” In The Future for Philosophy. Edited by B. Leiter, 304–328. Oxford: Clarendon, 2004.

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          An attempt to outline and defend a middle position between an existentialist approach to philosophical issues and a quietist stance aiming at “leaving the world as it is.”

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          • Virvidakis, Stelios. “Varieties of Quietism.” Philosophical Inquiry 30.1–2 (2006): 157–175.

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            A survey of different versions of philosophical quietism, with a first attempt at a comparative assessment of their scope, their strength, and their motivation and of the arguments that sustain them.

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            Religious and Theological Origins

            There are many works on religious and theological quietism in Christianity, both in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, offering an analysis of characteristic doctrines and practices, tracing affinities with the mystical traditions of Eastern religions, and examining their impact on European thought. One can consult Horujy 2004 for a thoroughgoing bibliographical study on hesychasm and Meyendorff 1976 for a presentation of the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas. Jones 1917, Choudhury 2009, and Magee 2010 provide historical and systematic approaches to religious and philosophical quietism in Western Europe.

            • Choudhury, Mita. “A Betrayal of Trust: The Jesuits and Quietism in Eighteenth-Century France.” In Special Issue: Apology for Quietism: A Sotto Voce Symposium, Part 2. Edited by Jeffrey M. Perl. Common Knowledge 15.2 (2009): 164–180.

              DOI: 10.1215/0961754X-2008-056Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              A historical account of the reception of religious quietism in France and an attempt at an assessment of the reaction of Jesuits and, more generally, of the Catholic Church.

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              • Horujy, Sergej. Isikhazm: Annotirovannaia Bibliografiia. Moscow: Izdat Sovet Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi, 2004.

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                This exhaustive bibliography is written mostly in Russian, but it provides titles of publications on hesychasm in many languages. The book has a table of contents and an introduction in English.

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                • Jones, Rufus M. “Quietism.” Harvard Theological Review 10.1 (1917): 1–51.

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                  A historical account and detailed critical discussion of the main tenets of quietism in Western Europe with references to the views of its main representatives, such as Molinos and Fénelon, among others.

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                  • Magee, Glenn Alexander. “Quietism in German Mysticism and Philosophy.” In Special Issue: Apology for Quietism: A Sotto Voce Symposium, Part 6. Edited by Jeffrey M. Perl. Common Knowledge 16.3 (2010): 164–180.

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                    A brief survey of quietist views in the works of German mystics such as Eckhart, but also of diverse quietist elements in the thought of a variety of philosophers in the German tradition, from Fichte to Heidegger.

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                    • Meyendorff, John. St. Grégoire Palamas et la mystique orthodoxe. Paris: Seuil, 1976.

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                      An introductory study of the theological doctrine of hesychasm as it was elaborated by St. Gregory Palamas, and a discussion of his influence on mysticism in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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                      Pyrrhonian Quietism and Its Legacy

                      There is a vast literature on Pyrrhonian skepticism, its quietist purport, and its legacy. The first, classical account of the original views and arguments of Pyrrhonian skeptics is provided in Sextus Empiricus’s Outlines of Pyrrhonism (Sextus Empiricus 1996), where it is explained how suspension of judgment can make it possible to attain the therapeutic aim of quietude (ataraxia). Burnyeat and Frede 1997 provide a fascinating confrontation of opposed exegetical and philosophical construals of issues relevant to the skeptical road to ataraxia and to its practical implications. Hiley 1988 provides a general Pyrrhonian reading of the works of a variety of philosophers from Montaigne to the present (see also Rorty’s Neo-Pragmatist Quietism). The papers in Machuca 2011 deal with details of the main arguments of Pyrrhonian skeptics, and with their legacy in modern and contemporary philosophy. Fogelin 1994 marks what may be regarded as a neo-Pyrrhonian revival in analytic epistemology at the turn of the 20th century, and critical approaches to these views can be found in Sinnott-Armstrong 2004. The affinities of Wittgenstein’s thought to Pyrrhonism, emphasized by Fogelin 1994, are also discussed in Stern 2004, and in more detail in Plant 2004 and Pritchard 2011 (see also Wittgensteinian Quietism).

                      • Burnyeat, Myles, and Michael Frede. The Original Sceptics: A Controversy. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1997.

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                        A debate on whether the Pyrrhonian skeptics could “live their skepticism” and on whether they were committed to suspending assent to all general beliefs.

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                        • Fogelin, Robert J. Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

                          DOI: 10.1093/0195089871.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          An interesting elaboration and reappropriation of Pyrrhonian arguments in the context of contemporary epistemological debates drawing on a sympathetic, neo-Pyrrhonian construal of Wittgenstein’s thought.

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                          • Hiley, David R. Philosophy in Question: Essays on a Pyrrhonian Theme. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

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                            A critical presentation of Pyrrhonian trends in the thought of modern and contemporary philosophers, from Montaigne, Rousseau, and Hume to Foucault and Rorty.

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                            • Machuca, Diego E., ed. Pyrrhonism in Ancient, Modern, and Contemporary Philosophy. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and New York: Springer, 2011.

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                              A collection of papers on Pyrrhonism from the ancient sources to the present, providing different critical perspectives.

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                              • Plant, Bob. “The End(s) of Philosophy: Rhetoric, Therapy and Wittgenstein’s Pyrrhonism.” Philosophical Investigations 27.3 (2004): 222–254.

                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9205.2004.00225.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                A detailed analysis of basic elements of Wittgenstein’s later work, highlighting the similarities with Pyrrhonian skepticism, especially regarding the common therapeutic spirit of the two approaches to philosophical problems, despite some obvious particular differences.

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                                • Pritchard, Duncan. “Wittgensteinian Pyrrhonism.” In Pyrrhonism in Ancient, Modern, and Contemporary Philosophy. Edited by Diego E. Machuca, 193–202. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and New York: Springer, 2011.

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                                  A succinct and dense discussion of particular affinities between Wittgenstein and Pyrrhonian skeptics, emphasizing the conception of the structure of reasons in On Certainty, as well as the analogous quietist intent of Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophizing and of the general stance of the Pyrrhonians.

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                                  • Sextus Empiricus. The Skeptic Way: Sextus Empiricus’s Outlines of Pyrrhonism. Translated, with introduction and commentary, by Benson Mates. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                    A reliable translation of the Outlines of Pyrrhonism with a useful, detailed introduction and commentary.

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                                    • Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter, ed. Pyrrhonian Skepticism. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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                                      A collection of papers on Pyrrhonian skepticism, most of which deal with Fogelin’s neo-Pyrrhonian variant, including Sinnott-Armstrong’s own sympathetic account.

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                                      • Stern, David G. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139167185Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Following Fogelin’s reading of the Wittgenstein’s later work, the book presents his antitheoretical approach as consistently Pyrrhonian, insofar as there is no dogmatic articulation of quietism and the arguments employed are apparently regarded as a ladder to be thrown away once their goal is reached.

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                                        Wittgensteinian Quietism

                                        Wittgenstein is often understood as advocating a quietist view in philosophy emerging from his injunction for philosophical silence in his early work and his therapeutic approach to philosophical problems in his later period. His quietism has been taken as a form of failure or defeat, as not being able to provide answers to legitimate questions, but also as a form of achievement when one succeeds in resisting the temptation of getting mired in nonsensical philosophical entanglements. According to Wittgenstein, quieting the metaphysical urge gives our thoughts peace and cures us from philosophical illness, from the craving for generality or the striving for ideals. His suggestion, however, should not be taken as a recommendation for passivity or idleness. Wittgenstein’s philosophy involves hard work in order to dissolve philosophical illusions. There is no book devoted exclusively to Wittgenstein’s quietism. There is a PhD dissertation (Finkelstein 2006) that covers both the early and the later period of Wittgenstein’s work, as well as a journal article (McDowell 2009) and a book chapter (Schulte 2001) that discuss this subject (see also Pyrrhonian Quietism and Its Legacy).

                                        • Finkelstein, David Michael. “Wittgensteinian Quietism.” PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2006.

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                                          An assessment of the quietist interpretation of Wittgenstein, early and late. It discusses quietism with respect to logical categories, the laws of logic, and the rule-following considerations. The author criticizes what he takes to be the quietist interpretation of Conant and Diamond as being wrongly preoccupied with nonsense.

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                                          • McDowell, John. “Wittgensteinian ‘Quietism.’” In Special Issue: Apology for Quietism: A Sotto Voce Symposium, Part 3. Edited by Jeffrey M. Perl. Common Knowledge 15.3 (2009): 365–372.

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                                            Wittgenstein’s quietism is presented as aiming at a particular mode of philosophy and not at philosophy tout court. McDowell criticizes Wright 2001 and Brandom 1994 (both cited under Philosophy as Therapy) and credits Wittgenstein with the kind of philosophy that quiets the urge for substantive philosophy by explaining away apparently genuine problems.

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                                            • Schulte, Joachim. “Wittgenstein’s Quietism.” In Metaphysics in the Post-Metaphysical Age: Proceedings of the 22nd International Wittgenstein-Symposium, 15th to 21th August 1999, Kirchberg am Wechsel (Austria). Edited by Uwe Meixner and Peter Simons, 37–50. Vienna: Oebvahpt Verlagsgesellschaft, 2001.

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                                              Schulte offers a brief history of the term “quietism” and shows in what sense Wittgenstein can or cannot be called a quietist. He stresses that Wittgenstein’s quietism does not mean indifference or idleness, and suggests that attaining peace may be a mark of philosophical success rather than of failure.

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                                              Ineffability and Mysticism in Wittgenstein’s Early Work

                                              In his early work (Wittgenstein 1961), Wittgenstein is interpreted as being quiet about metaphysical issues, ethics, and aesthetics, but he is also taken to be inconsistent and self-refuting when, on the one hand, he is recommending silence to philosophy and, on the other, he is putting philosophy into words. The so-called New Wittgensteinians (Crary and Read 2000), with the most prominent among them being Cora Diamond and James Conant (see Diamond 1991 and Conant 2002), address this inconsistency by concentrating on the penultimate proposition of the Tractatus, which says that the propositions of the book must be recognized as nonsensical. This therapeutic (or resolute) reading of the Tractatus, which finds continuities between Wittgenstein’s early and later work in that the reader is taken to be cured of metaphysical tendencies, is heavily criticized in Hacker 2000, as Hacker acknowledges the inconsistency besetting the Tractarian paradox. Intermediate readings have been advanced in Kremer 2001 and Moyal-Sharrock 2007, among other works. A mystical reading of the Tractatus that connects the book to mystical experiences and the literature of mysticism is provided in McGuinness 1966 and Nieli 1987.

                                              • Conant, James. “The Method of the Tractatus.” In From Frege to Wittgenstein: Perspectives on Early Analytic Philosophy. Edited by Erich H. Reck, 374–462. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                                                An interpretation of the Tractatus that defends the view that the book’s propositions do not show any ineffable truths. They give an illusion of sense that, eventually, after going through the book, dissolves on the reader, leaving just plain nonsense.

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                                                • Crary, Alice, and Rupert J. Read, eds. The New Wittgenstein. London: Routledge, 2000.

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                                                  A collection of papers propounding a controversial therapeutic reading of early and late Wittgenstein. Therapy is achieved when we come to recognize that apparent philosophical problems are nonsensical in the strict sense of the term (nonsense as gibberish), and we are, thus, relieved of our tendency to fall into confusion.

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                                                  • Diamond, Cora. “Throwing Away the Ladder: How to Read the Tractatus.” In The Realistic Spirit: Wittgenstein, Philosophy, and the Mind. By Cora Diamond, 179–204. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991.

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                                                    A reading of the Tractatus in view of Wittgenstein’s later insistence that he was not putting forward philosophical doctrines.

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                                                    • Hacker, P. M. S. “Was He Trying to Whistle It?” In The New Wittgenstein. Edited by Alice Crary and Rupert J. Read, 353–388. London: Routledge, 2000.

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                                                      A sustained and thorough critique of the therapeutic reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus advanced by the so-called New Wittgensteinians.

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                                                      • Kremer, Michael. “The Purpose of Tractarian Nonsense.” Noûs 35.1 (2001): 39–73.

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                                                        Kremer connects the purpose of Wittgenstein’s nonsense to the book’s ethical point. He invokes St. Paul and St. Augustine to argue that the Tractatus aims at showing that the need to justify our thoughts and deeds is, in the end, meaningless.

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                                                        • McGuinness, B. F. “The Mysticism of the Tractatus.” The Philosophical Review 75.3 (1966): 305–328.

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                                                          McGuinness brings out the kinship of the end of the Tractatus with mystical experiences and beliefs. He singles out as particularly significant the experience of feeling absolutely safe in the world, whatever happens.

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                                                          • Moyal-Sharrock, Danièle. “The Good Sense of Nonsense: A Reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus as Nonself-Repudiating.” Philosophy 82.1 (2007): 147–177.

                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0031819107319062Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            A “grammatical reading,” according to which the sentences of the Tractatus resemble the grammatical propositions of Wittgenstein’s later writings, that is, they cannot be negated and, in this technical sense, cannot be said, even if they can be expressed in well-formed sentences.

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                                                            • Nieli, Russell. Wittgenstein: From Mysticism to Ordinary Language; A Study of Viennese Positivism and the Thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.

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                                                              Wittgenstein’s Tractatus is presented in Section II of the book as a product of mystic vision. According to Nieli, Wittgenstein wanted to get rid of metaphysics in preparation for transcendental religious experience, the contemplation of which required silent piety.

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                                                              • Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinness. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961.

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                                                                English translation of Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung, first published in 1922. It consists of propositions numbered by a decimal notation. The remarks most relevant to the issue of quietism are the 5.6s, 6.4s, 6.5s, and the final proposition 7. In them, Wittgenstein discusses the limits of language, what cannot be put into words and what we must pass over in silence.

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                                                                Philosophy as Therapy

                                                                In his later work (Wittgenstein 2005, Wittgenstein 2009), Wittgenstein explicitly endorses the therapeutic role of the kind of philosophy he practices, and aims at getting rid of bumps of the understanding by dissolving problems which are, in his view, similar to houses of cards. He wants to be able to stop doing philosophy when he chooses, and to leave everything as it is. He denies that he puts forward theses or that he is interested in building theories. The debate regarding Wittgenstein’s quietism in the Philosophical Investigations (Wittgenstein 2009) concentrates mostly on the exegesis and the implications of the rule-following considerations that involve the discussion of linguistic meaning. Scholars have maintained that Wittgenstein’s quietism led him to refrain from answering the issues he raised (see Wright 1992, cited under Semantics and Metaphysics, Wright 2001, Wright 2008, and Brandom 1994), while others have argued that there are no substantive issues to be answered but, rather, illusions to be dissolved (McDowell 1994; McDowell 2009; Huchinson, et al. 2008—see also McDowell’s Therapy of Transcendental Anxiety).

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

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                                                                  A massive, dense, and intricate articulation of a theoretical account of norms implicit in and governing practice that Wittgenstein, supposedly, because of his quietism, did not provide.

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                                                                  • Huchinson, Phil, Rupert J. Read, and Wes Sharrock. There Is No Such Thing as a Social Science: In Defense of Peter Winch. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.

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                                                                    A reassessment and defense of the views of Peter Winch, a sociologist and a Wittgenstein expositor and scholar. See especially chapter 4 on philosophical quietism and, in particular, the section on Wittgenstein and quietism.

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                                                                    • McDowell, John. Mind and World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.

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                                                                      McDowell aims at quieting the anxieties of modern philosophy. He distinguishes his quietism from Rorty’s debunking of traditional philosophy and from the defeatist “official quietism” that Wright attributes to Wittgenstein. See especially the “Afterward, Part I” and the “Postscript to Lecture V.”

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                                                                      • McDowell, John. “How Not to Read Philosophical Investigations: Brandom’s Wittgenstein.” In The Engaged Intellect: Philosophical Essays. By John McDowell, 96–111. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

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                                                                        Criticism of Brandom’s Wittgenstein (Brandom 1994), who supposedly showed the need for constructive philosophy but, because of his quietism, did not finish the job.

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                                                                        • Wittgenstein, Ludwig. The Big Typescript, TS 213. Edited and translated by C. Grant Luckhardt and Maximilian A. E. Aue. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

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                                                                          Wittgenstein’s notes from manuscripts he wrote between 1930 and 1932. One of the “chapters” is devoted to the nature of philosophy and includes a section titled “Method in Philosophy: The Possibility of Quiet Progress.” He elaborates on themes that also appear in Wittgenstein 2009.

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                                                                          • Wittgenstein, L. Philosophical Investigations. Rev. 4th ed. Translated by G. E. M. Anscombe, P. M. S. Hacker, and Joachim Schulte. Edited by P. M. S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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                                                                            The German text and English translation of Philosophische Untersuchungen, first published in 1953. It consists of numbered remarks. The most relevant to quietism are the remarks discussing Wittgenstein’s understanding of philosophy (§106–133) and his rule-following considerations (§143–214).

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                                                                            • Wright, Crispin. Rails to Infinity: Essays on Themes form Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

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                                                                              A collection of essays written between 1980 and 2000 dealing with the metaphysics and epistemology of meaning in relation to Wittgenstein. Wright agrees with Wittgenstein that meaning is not constituted by consensus or a rule as rail, but tries to provide the answer to the constitutive question supposedly denied by Wittgenstein’s quietism.

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                                                                              • Wright, Crispin. “Rule-Following without Reasons: Wittgenstein’s Quietism and the Constitutive Question.” In Wittgenstein and Reason. Edited by John Preston, 123–144. Ratio Book Series. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1002/9781444307092Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Wright revisits Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations and rejects deflationary and quietist responses to constitutive questions such as “how a rule leads us” and “what makes an assessment correct.” Also published in Ratio 20.4 (2007): 481–502.

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                                                                                Wittgensteinian Quietism and Conservatism

                                                                                Wittgenstein’s quietist claims that philosophy must not interfere in any way with the actual use of language, that it leaves everything as it is, and that it can only describe and not prescribe have inclined commentators to attribute to Wittgenstein conservative tendencies (Bloor 2000, Nyíri 1982). In relation to his philosophy, Wittgenstein’s conservatism is associated with hostility to change and progress, and to the emphasis given to customs, tradition, and conformity to rules (Heyes 2003). The idea is that his quietism favors inactivity, passivity, and a complacent attitude toward the status quo. The conservative interpretation of Wittgenstein’s work has been contested by other scholars (Cerbone 2003, Jones 1986, Lugg 1985, Schulte 1983), who have insisted that custom and practice highlighted by Wittgenstein, far from precluding reform and change, are the conditions for bringing them about. Janik 1985 and Lugg 1985 further criticize the depiction of Wittgenstein as a conservative personality, which was based on his respect for ethics and religion and his critical attitude toward modern culture.

                                                                                • Bloor, David. “Wittgenstein as a Conservative Thinker.” In The Sociology of Philosophical Knowledge. Edited by Martin Kusch, 1–14. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and Boston: Kluwer, 2000.

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                                                                                  Bloor attributes conservatism to Wittgenstein based on criteria, such as emphasis on tradition and history, which he gets from Manheim.

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                                                                                  • Cerbone, D. R. “The Limits of Conservatism: Wittgenstein on ‘Our Life’ and ‘Our Concepts.’” In The Grammar of Politics: Wittgenstein and Political Philosophy. Edited by Cressida J. Heyes, 43–62. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                    Cerbone argues, along lines contrary to conservative interpretations of Wittgenstein, that his philosophy can have a liberating and transformative effect.

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                                                                                    • Heyes, Cressida J. “Introduction.” In The Grammar of Politics: Wittgenstein and Political Philosophy. Edited by Cressida J. Heyes, 1–13. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                      A brief overview of the reasons Wittgenstein has been considered a conservative philosopher.

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                                                                                      • Janik, Allan. “Nyíri on the Conservatism of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy.” In Essays on Wittgenstein and Weininger. By Allan Janik, 116–135. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1985.

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                                                                                        Janik challenges Nyíri’s interpretation of Wittgenstein as a conservative thinker. See also Nyíri 1982.

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                                                                                        • Jones, K. “Is Wittgenstein a Conservative Philosopher?” Philosophical Investigations 9.4 (1986): 274–287.

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                                                                                          Jones does not think that Wittgenstein’s rejection of theory or his emphasis on blind conformity in following a rule precludes change or criticism.

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                                                                                          • Lugg, Andrew. “Was Wittgenstein a Conservative Thinker?” Southern Journal of Philosophy 23.4 (1985): 465–474.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.1985.tb00416.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Lugg criticizes the view that Wittgenstein was a conservative thinker as regards his philosophy, his politics, and his temperament. He argues that Wittgenstein was not against the improvement or even the radical change of practices. He even considers Wittgenstein’s asceticism to be a mark of a radical temperament.

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                                                                                            • Nyíri, J. C. “Wittgenstein’s Later Work in Relation to Conservatism.” In Wittgenstein and His Times. Edited by Brian McGuinness, 44–68. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

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                                                                                              Nyíri argues that several of Wittgenstein’s claims have affinities with the thought of eminent conservative thinkers, such as Michael Oakeshott and Oswald Spengler. He does not explicitly relate Wittgenstein’s alleged conservatism to quietism.

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                                                                                              • Schulte, Joachim. “Wittgenstein and Conservatism.” Ratio 25.1 (1983): 69–80.

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                                                                                                Schulte contests Nyíri’s view that Wittgenstein is a conservative thinker. See also Nyíri 1982.

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                                                                                                Rorty’s Neo-Pragmatist Quietism

                                                                                                Apart from the versions of the quietist stance and the views associated with Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophizing, there is a distinct neo-Pragmatist paradigm of quietism elaborated by Richard Rorty and his followers. A first Pyrrhonian construal of Rorty’s metaphilosophical approach, which involves a thoroughgoing critique of the modern philosophical tradition since Descartes (and is put forth in Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature), is provided in Hiley 1988 (see also Pyrrhonian Quietism and Its Legacy). A study of Rorty’s explicitly quietist proposals may begin from Rorty 1998, which develops his attack on Crispin Wright’s attempt to provide a minimalist account of truth departing from deflationism. The radicalism of his approach emerges clearly from more recent writings, such as Rorty 2007, where he advocates a thoroughgoing quietist attitude as part of a new philosophical cultural politics, which will liberate us from our traditional representationalist vocabulary and will allow us not only to undermine and set aside all debates between realists and antirealists, but also to jettison epistemology and ontology altogether. This attitude can be defended on the basis of a genealogical deconstruction of the philosophical idea of reality going back to its Parmenidean origins, summarized in Rorty 2006. Rorty’s critique of Wright’s project is challenged by Hohwy 1997, while Kraugerud and Ramberg 2010 point to Rorty 2000, showing that despite his appeal to a quietist stance, Rorty is much more of an activist or “loudist” than he appears, since his revisionist agenda differentiates him clearly from the acquiescence in actual language games and forms of life. The debate with Engel (Rorty and Engel 2007) reveals his insistence on denying the normativity of truth and the fundamental character of its distinction from justification. Kraut 1990 provides a detailed critique of Rorty’s claims in many areas, with a view to questioning his vision of an alternative conception of philosophy. Guignon and Hiley 2003 offers a variety of perspectives on Rorty’s philosophical and political views.

                                                                                                • Guignon, Charles B., and David R. Hiley, eds. Richard Rorty. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511613951Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  A useful collection or articles on various aspects of Rorty’s writings, including a paper by Charles Taylor on his conception of philosophy.

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                                                                                                  • Hiley, David R. Philosophy in Question: Essays on a Pyrrhonian Theme. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                    The final chapter of the book provides a critical discussion of Rorty’s general attack on the modern philosophical tradition and of his conception of a new “edifying” rather than “systematic” philosophy, elaborated in his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.

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                                                                                                    • Hohwy, Jakob. “Quietism and Cognitive Command.” Philosophical Quarterly 47.189 (1997): 495–500.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/1467-9213.00073Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      A critique of Rorty’s quietism focusing on his rejection of the reliability and the usefulness of Wright’s criterion of Cognitive Command for the realist construal of a certain area of discourse.

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                                                                                                      • Kraugerud, Hanne Andrea, and Bjørn Torgrim Ramberg. “The New Loud: Richard Rorty, Quietist?” In Special Issue: Apology for Quietism: A Sotto Voce Symposium, Part 4. Edited by Jeffrey M. Perl. Common Knowledge 16. 1 (2010): 48–65.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1215/0961754X-2009-060Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Drawing on Rorty 2000 and on various claims in his recent pronouncements, the article shows that Rorty’s quietism displays in many respects more of an activist approach than one would expect from a real quietist.

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                                                                                                        • Kraut, Robert. “Varieties of Pragmatism.” Mind 99.394 (1990): 157–183.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/mind/XCIX.394.157Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          A detailed analysis of the validity and the implications of Rorty’s pragmatist positions on a variety of issues, especially concerning the overcoming of dichotomies presented as a “big bifurcation,” leading to doubts about his prospects for a radically different practice of philosophizing.

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                                                                                                          • Rorty, Richard. “Is Truth a Goal of Inquiry? Donald Davidson versus Crispin Wright.” In Philosophical Papers. Vol. 3, Truth and Progress. By Richard Rorty, 19–42. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511625404.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            A critique of Wright’s views in his Truth and Objectivity and a reaffirmation of Rorty’s deflationary construal of a Davidsonian, deflationary conception of truth that doesn’t leave any room for a revival of debates on realism and antirealism.

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                                                                                                            • Rorty, Richard. “Response to Conant.” In Rorty and His Critics. Edited by Robert Brandom, 342–350. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000.

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                                                                                                              An expression of Rorty’s own reservations concerning a wholesale quietist impulse, and of his faith in some form of dialectical progress allowing us to invent and establish radically new vocabularies.

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                                                                                                              • Rorty, Richard. “Truth and Realism: Remarks at St. Andrews.” In Truth and Realism. Edited by Patrick Greenouch and Michael P. Lynch, 239–247. Oxford: Clarendon, 2006.

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                                                                                                                Comments on views about the proper understanding of truth and its relation to debates on realism; mostly responses to papers presented at a conference and included in the same volume. An attempt at a historical debunking of epistemological and ontological projects, tracing them back to Parmenides’ quest for the “really real.”

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                                                                                                                • Rorty, Richard. “Naturalism and Quietism.” In Philosophical Papers. Vol. 4, Philosophy as Cultural Politics. By Richard Rorty, 147–159. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511812835.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  A defense of pragmatist quietism involving the rejection of metaphysical theorizing, which is presented as compatible with “pragmatic” or “subject” naturalism as opposed to “object” naturalism.

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                                                                                                                  • Rorty, Richard, and Pascal Engel. What’s the Use of Truth? Edited by Patrick Savidan. Translated by William McCuaig. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                    A debate with the French philosopher Pascal Engel, with an exchange of arguments concerning the nature of truth as a norm of beliefs and of claims to objectivity, leading to a reelaboration and reaffirmation of Rorty’s views about truth and justification.

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                                                                                                                    Mcdowell’s Therapy of Transcendental Anxiety

                                                                                                                    One of the main goals of McDowell’s philosophical enterprise in Mind and World (McDowell 1994) is to provide a quietist dissolution of traditional epistemological problems. He focuses on the consequences of Sellars’s attack on the “Myth of the Given” and on the transcendental discomfort caused by our inability to secure the justification of our claims about the “external” world by appealing either to an unconceptualized access to reality or, alternatively, to a coherent set of interrelated beliefs lacking the proper connection to this reality (see also Philosophy as Therapy). De Gaynesford 2004 provides a systematic account of McDowell’s philosophy since his earlier writings. It emphasizes his attempt to show how “we can be at home in the world” by undertaking a therapeutic treatment of philosophical theories and theses, which make it difficult for us to appreciate this fact. Virvidakis 2006 highlights the Wittgensteinian inspiration and the quietist character of McDowell’s inquiry into the conditions of possibility of our openness to the world, which leads to the elaboration of a form of antiskeptical transcendental arguments (McDowell 2009a) and the adoption of a form of transcendental empiricism (McDowell 2009b). Virvidakis 2010 discusses McDowell’s more or less Hegelian orientation in his recent work.

                                                                                                                    • De Gaynesford, Maximilian. John McDowell. Cambridge, UK, and Malden, MA: Polity, 2004.

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                                                                                                                      A critical discussion of McDowell’s philosophical enterprise, laying emphasis on the Wittgensteinian therapeutic goals and the method of “knot-unraveling,” which makes it possible to understand how we can “be at home in the world.”

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                                                                                                                      • McDowell, John. Mind and World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                        An attempt to deal with epistemological worries that seem to justify the impression of an unbridgeable gap between mind and reality, and the elaboration of an account of the conceptual character of perceptual experience, with a view to dissolving rather than solving metaphysical problems and constructing substantive philosophical theories.

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                                                                                                                        • McDowell, John. “The Disjunctive Conception of Experience as Material for a Transcendental Argument.” In The Engaged Intellect: Philosophical Essays. By John McDowell, 225–240. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009a.

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                                                                                                                          A discussion of a transcendental argument relying on McDowell’s disjunctive conception of experience, which makes it possible to block certain kinds of post-Cartesian skepticism and is presented as belonging to a minimal Kantianism.

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                                                                                                                          • McDowell, John. “Experiencing the World.” In The Engaged Intellect: Philosophical Essays. By John McDowell, 243–256. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009b.

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                                                                                                                            McDowell’s elaboration of his notion of experiential access of the world, involving the actualization of our conceptual capacities, which constitutes the basis for his transcendental empiricism, presented as a view that is not part of constructive philosophical theorizing.

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                                                                                                                            • Virvidakis, Stelios. “On McDowell’s Conception of the Transcendental.” Teorema 25.1 (2006): 35–58.

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                                                                                                                              An analysis of McDowell’s uses of the term transcendental, with an emphasis on the therapeutic and quietist aspects of McDowell’s conception of transcendental inquiry.

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                                                                                                                              • Virvidakis, Stelios. “The Allure of Hegelian Quietism.” Teorema 29.3 (2010): 163–174.

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                                                                                                                                A critical review of McDowell’s collection of papers Having the World in View: Essays on Kant, Hegel and Sellars (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), focusing on the main points of McDowell’s quietist use of his construal of Hegelian idealism.

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                                                                                                                                Semantics and Metaphysics

                                                                                                                                Philosophy of language is one of the main areas where one encounters the deployment of a stance Blackburn first dubbed quietism or “dismissive neutralism” (Blackburn 1984). Wright 1992 discusses Wittgenstein’s quietist attitude concerning the rule-following considerations, cautioning the reader that irrealism about meaning may lead to irrealism about truth, and presumably to global irrealism, which would justify an all-pervasive quietist attitude. Indeed, it is clear that quietism on semantic and epistemological issues paves the way to quietism concerning metaphysics and ontology, particularly regarding the opposition between realism and antirealism, and the separation of levels or areas here looks artificial. Thus, one may begin from quietist views in semantics, such as the deflationism about truth defended by Horwich, and soon try to jettison all forms of philosophical “isms” (Horwich 2006). It is ironic that Blackburn, who earlier advocated the rejection of quietism in metaethics (Blackburn 1993), after his debate with Wright and a mutual repudiation of allegations of quietism (Blackburn 1998, Wright 1998), seems ready to endorse quietist views, at least concerning realism in the philosophy of science (Blackburn 2002). Zangwill 1992 elaborates a distinction between “criterial” and “quietist” readings of Blackburn’s quasi-realism and proposes an argumentative strategy for countering most kinds of local quietism (see also Metaphysics and Ontology).

                                                                                                                                • Blackburn, Simon. Spreading the Word: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Clarendon, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                  An introduction to basic themes in the philosophy of language, including issues pertaining to meaning, truth, and realism. Quietism about metaphysical theorizing, attributed to the logical positivists and Wittgenstein, and to their descendants, is criticized, probably for the first time in analytic philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                  • Blackburn, Simon. “Truth, Realism, and the Regulation of Theory.” In Essays in Quasi-Realism. By Simon Blackburn, 15–34. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                    A general discussion of opposed views in debates on realism, with a presentation of quasi-realism, which comes perilously close to quietism, although the author finally endorses an antirealist position.

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                                                                                                                                    • Blackburn, Simon. “Wittgenstein, Wright, Rorty and Minimalism.” Mind 107.425 (1998): 157–181.

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                                                                                                                                      A critical discussion of the minimalist account of truth endorsed by Wright 1992, and of its alleged quietist implications, and a defense of expressivist antirealism for certain areas of discourse, despite the possibility of a quasi-realist description of their assertoric surface.

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                                                                                                                                      • Blackburn, Simon. “Realism: Deconstructing the Debate.” Ratio 15.2 (2002): 111–133.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/1467-9329.00180Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        A discussion of the debate on realism in the philosophy of science, with a sympathetic assessment of the option of quietism.

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                                                                                                                                        • Horwich, Paul. “A World Without Isms.” In Truth and Realism. Edited by Patrick Greenough and Michael P. Lynch, 188–202. Oxford: Clarendon, 2006.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199288878.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          A defense of a thoroughgoing quietist stance, which goes along with a deflationist account of truth and attempts to show that we can get rid of metaphysical theorizing and the various opposed “isms” to which it gives rise.

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                                                                                                                                          • Wright, Crispin. Truth and Objectivity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                            A detailed presentation of a minimalist theory of truth departing from deflationism, followed by an effort to elaborate criteria of metaphysical commitment, making possible the recognition and the defense of realist and antirealist or irrealist views concerning different areas of discourse, thus avoiding the vindication of Wittgensteinian quietism.

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                                                                                                                                            • Wright, Crispin. “Comrades against Quietism: Reply to Simon Blackburn on Truth and Objectivity.” Mind 107.425 (1998): 182–202.

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                                                                                                                                              A defense of Truth and Objectivity (Wright 1992) against Blackburn’s critique, arguing that it offers a better mapping of the contours of metaphysical landscapes than Blackburn’s quasi-realist expressivism, and clearly rejecting allegations of quietism.

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                                                                                                                                              • Zangwill, Nick. “Quietism.” In Midwest Studies in Philosophy. Vol. 17. Edited by Peter A. French, Theodore Edward Uehling, and Howard Wettstein Jr., 160–176. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                A critical discussion of various kinds of quietism, local and global, including an argumentative strategy for defeating it and an examination of different criterial and quietist readings of Blackburn’s quasi-realism.

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                                                                                                                                                Metaphysics and Ontology

                                                                                                                                                Metaphysical and ontological theorizing are among the most central targets of thinkers who are ready to adopt quietism as the appropriate stance toward traditional philosophical views (see also Semantics and Metaphysics). Here one may turn to various contemporary quietist rejections of metaphysics and ontology, attributable to diverse motivations, including the strictures against analytic metaphysics imposed by Van Fraassen’s “empirical stance” (Van Fraassen 2002) and Arthur Fine’s “natural ontological attitude” (pp. 112–135) (Fine 1986) toward scientific theorizing. One can also recognize the quietist flavor of Putnam’s post-Wittgensteinian “second naiveté” in his understanding of direct realism (Putnam 1999), a long way since his own cautioning against Wittgensteinian quietism (Putnam 1981). On most metaphysical and ontological issues, one could take into consideration intermediate or compromise positions, such as the forms of “moderate quietism” or “semiquietism” discussed by Kit Fine (see Fine 2001).

                                                                                                                                                • Fine, Arthur. The Shaky Game: Einstein, Realism and the Quantum Theory. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                  An interesting account of Einstein’s views on quantum mechanics, as well as of realist construals of quantum physics. Chapters 7 and 8 present an elaboration of the conception of a “natural ontological attitude,” which is supposed to avoid the problems of both realism and antirealism in the philosophy of science.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Fine, Kit. “The Question of Realism.” Philosophers’ Imprint 1.2 (2001).

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                                                                                                                                                    A clear and succinct description of the main positions in debates on realism, including a middle view presented as moderate or semiquietism, which accepts the factuality but rejects the fundamentality of what may be regarded as “real.”

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                                                                                                                                                    • Putnam, Hilary. “Convention: A Theme in Philosophy.” New Literary History 13.1 (1981): 1–14.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/468639Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      In the course of a discussion of the theme of convention in the history of analytic philosophy, with references to literature and modernist culture, Putnam takes distances from both Wittgensteinian quietism, which may presumably lead to objectionable relativism, and scientism.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Putnam, Hilary. The Threefold Cord: Mind Body and World. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                        The elaboration of a form of direct, naïve realism, which seems to be influenced by the more or less quietist approach adopted by Wittgenstein.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Van Fraassen, Bas C. The Empirical Stance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                          The defense of an empirical stance in the philosophy of science that doesn’t leave any room for the articulation of any substantive metaphysical views about reality.

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                                                                                                                                                          Metaethics

                                                                                                                                                          There are many philosophers whose positions on metaethical issues can be characterized as quietist, insofar as they deny the interest, the usefulness, or even the coherence of all endeavors to provide an epistemological, semantic, or ontological grounding for normative claims, apart from the arguments developed at the level of ethical theorizing itself. Dworkin 1996 argues extensively against philosophers who seek either to debunk or to provide foundations for morality from a point of view external to morality itself, while Putnam 2004 makes the case for the adoption of an ethics without ontology, and Kramer 2009 puts forth a conception of moral realism as a moral doctrine, and not as a distinctive metaethical one. In the defense of his antirealist positions, Blackburn (in Blackburn 1993) argues against a form of quietist metaethics that he attributes to R. M. Hare. An attempt at a rebuttal of Dworkin’s arguments can be found in Bloomfield 2009. McPherson 2011 attacks the quietist claims that McPherson detects in Thomas Scanlon’s writings. Enoch 2011 tries to show that metaethical reasoning has an important role to play in sustaining a robust moral and more generally metanormative realism.

                                                                                                                                                          • Blackburn, Simon. “Errors and the Phenomenology of Value.” In Essays in Quasi-Realism. By Simon Blackburn, 149–165. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                            A detailed defense of quasi-realist projectivism, which is presented as a more plausible form of antirealism in ethics than J. L. Mackie’s error theory, and goes along with a rejection of the option of quietism about values proposed by R. M. Hare.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Bloomfield, Paul. “Archimedeanism and Why Metaethics Matters.” In Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Vol. 4. Edited by Russ, Shafer-Landau, 283–302. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                              It is argued that Dworkin’s attack on metaethics as a whole doesn’t succeed (see Dworkin 1996). The truth about metaethics provides constraints that can affect the form of engaged ethics and morality. Dworkin may eventually be unable to avoid adopting the Archimedean viewpoint he is attacking and risks contradicting himself.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Dworkin, Ronald. “Objectivity and Truth: You’d Better Believe It.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 25.2 (1996): 87–139.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1088-4963.1996.tb00036.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                A forceful effort to show that there is no way to undermine or to defend moral claims from an external, “Archimedean” point of view, and that an objectivist approach to ethics can be sustained by arguments entirely at the normative level. There is no need for metaethics.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Enoch, David. Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579969.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Two chapters of the book provide an extensive critical discussion of the more or less quietist positions of various philosophers, such as Dworkin, Nagel, Scanlon, and Putnam, and argue against the usefulness of metaethics, especially moral metaphysics and ontology. The author highlights the importance of metaethical considerations for the defense of a robust form of moral realism.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Kramer, Matthew H. Moral Realism as a Moral Doctrine. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1002/9781444310641Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    A systematic exposition of moral realism, conceived as an array of substantive ethical positions and arguments not requiring support from an external viewpoint, including a sympathetic but critical discussion of Dworkin’s views on these issues. The difference between metaethics and ethics is presented as one of degree of abstraction rather than as one of distinct levels.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • McPherson, Tristram. “Against Quietist Normative Realism.” Philosophical Studies 54.2 (2011): 223–240.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s11098-010-9535-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      It is argued that Scanlon’s quietist treatment of normative reasons shifts the focus of metaphysical inquiry and is not able to provide a satisfactory account of the correctness of the normative system it points to, as opposed to alternative normative standards.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Putnam, Hilary. Ethics Without Ontology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                        An attempt to apply Putnam’s pragmatist approach to ethics, casting doubts on the fruitfulness of all ontological pursuits, and a sustained defense of objectivity in ethics without any appeal to an ontological basis.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Politics and Political Philosophy

                                                                                                                                                                        Chamberlain 2009 discusses quietism in politics and in political philosophy as an attitude involving objectionable neutrality and lack of commitment, which is usually the object of attacks both from the left and from the right. Quietism in liberal political philosophy resulting from a refusal to engage in any metaethical enterprise that would provide foundations for basic values and principles is attributed to Dworkin, who finds the term misleading insofar as he thinks that arguing at the normative level is sufficient in practical philosophy, and that there is nothing to be quiet about (Dworkin 2011—see also Metaethics). Mondal 2008 provides a quietist construal of John Rawls’s conception of political theory.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Chamberlain, Lesley. “Quietism and Polemic: A Dialectical Story.” Special Issue: Apology for Quietism, Part 2: A Sotto Voce Symposium. Edited by Jeffrey M. Perl. Common Knowledge 15.2 (2009): 181–196.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1215/0961754X-2008-048Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          A dense historical and systematic account of references to quietism in different political contexts and polemics among various thinkers and activists, mostly in Great Britain and in Germany.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Dworkin, Ronald. Justice for Hedgehogs. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Further elaboration of the arguments developed in Dworkin 1996 (cited under Metaethics), sustaining the position that there is no need for any epistemological and metaphysical justification for normative claims about moral, ethical, and political values, apart from their defense at the first-order normative level itself.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Mondal, Parthasarathi. “Justice as Fairness: A Quietist Reading of Rawls.” Politicon: South African Journal of Political Studies 35.1 (2008): 107–127.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/02589340802113105Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              The author defends Burton Dreben’s suggestion that there is an affinity between John Rawls’s defense of the independence of political theory from any comprehensive metaphysical doctrine and the late Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy. He argues that this quietist aspect of Rawls’s approach is compatible with the Kantian elements in his thought.

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