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Episteme

Abstract

The author’s method in this paper is to draw connections between Wittgenstein’s thoughts and Lewis Carroll’s play on words in the Alice tales. Even though Carroll obviously wishes to delight the reader, his puzzles map closely with the philosophical puzzlement at the heart of Wittgenstein’s language-game and meaning as use concepts. The author highlights Wittgenstein’s notion of meaning as use in connection to the nature of time, the concept of “nobody,” and language on holiday, all of which are ideas played upon in the Alice tales. The author also invokes Hegel’s philosophy about Now in order to help clarify what is going on in Wittgenstein and Carroll’s play on a “point in time.” Finally, the author supports Peter Heath’s belief that Carroll shows absurd uses of language rather than nonsense. This “absurd” classification maps well to Wittgenstein’s term “patent nonsense,” and thereby helps us judge that Carroll aids Wittgenstein in showing the fly the way out of the bottle, or Alice the way out of Wonderland.

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