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Title: Different ways of seeing : the language games of mothering
Author: Mitchell, Elizabeth Gay
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2005
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My thesis is original in placing together Wittgenstein's ideas of how language works, and arguments for the philosophical significance of the embodied and relational figure of the mother. I both use and resist a Wittgensteinian therapy to overcome the problem of the forgetting of the mother in philosophy. I begin with the problem of essentialism, important to Wittgenstein and to feminist philosophy. My reading of Wittgenstein finds an ignored lacuna between language and (female) experience. I add in to the debate the type specimen approach from botany. Adopting this approach enables me to avoid a classification which requires a true inner essence to mothering, and provides a way for me to denote the significant place of the language games of mothering in language games about women. I argue for a different symbol of the mother. I agree with Wittgenstein's account of language, but add to it. I show the importance of Wittgenstein's insight that although meaning is not fixed independently of use, use does not fix meaning in that I create new meanings for the figure of the mother. I argue, through an exploration of Wittgenstein's concept of `├╝bersichtlichen Darstellung ; that Wittgenstein can help us to see the phenomena of our life differently, in a way that makes space for understanding female difference. His concept of a form of life provides such openings. As the Wittgensteinian agent seems distinctly un-female, I bring in the philosophy of Kierkegaard in my argument for a different relational self as mother. I argue for a Kierkegaardian flexible maternal self with mobile edges. I insert the language games of the mother into Kierkegaard's writing on women. My aim is a more adequate representation of a (true) reality. I use the work of John Wisdom to make a bridge between Wittgenstein and the narrative form, which I use throughout. Wisdom's strategy is to engage in unconventional reflection in looking for new ways of telling philosophical stories, and in finding new patterns of meaning in the familiar. I claim that the narrative form enables me to express the shifting essence of the mother and the diversity of mothers; and to acknowledge the silences which are part of the mother's story. My aim in this thesis is creative. I use Wittgenstein to create a new kind of relation to philosophy. I do not offer a correct reading of Wittgenstein or Kierkegaard. Instead, aided by the insights provided by feminist philosophy, I write in the language games of the mother to their ideas. Thus, I bring into existence through utterance a different, feminist philosophical symbol of the mother.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General)