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By Andrew Stables (auth.), Andrew Stables (eds.)

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The development of a foundational semiotic theory can therefore draw important elements from both Wittgenstein and Lyotard. The development of a post-analytic philosophy, as signalled by Richter at the beginning of this chapter, may draw from the analytic tradition a rejection of speculative metaphysics and a concern with what we can be most sure of. Semiotics, whether developed through Peirce, Saussure or Derrida, echoes Wittgenstein in claiming that we must accept language and other semiotic systems for what they are: we cannot think outside our mechanisms for thinking (although Peirce does explain the processes in the context of what amounts to a metaphysical scheme).

38 One implication, shared by many contemporary commentators, is that educational debate, starved of recognition of cultural difference and debate over aims and values, becomes constrained into a delivery model, whereby students and teachers are merely components in a grand social machine designed to produce results in relation to prespecified criteria. (For educational 33 CHAPTER 1 arguments specifically drawing on Lyotard, see, for example, Blake, Smeyers, Smith and Standish, 1998). Accepting the forthcoming ubiquity of computerised information systems, but writing before the Internet, Lyotard ends PC with a plea for an open information society: to ‘give the public free access to the memory and data banks’ (Lyotard, 1986: 67), for, if the acquisition of knowledge is easy and universal, space can then once again be made available for the kind of paralogical thinking that science has tried to suppress whilst being itself reliant upon it.

As an enterprise, it is strongly anti-relativist, and thus intensely skeptical of much of the work referred to in the two preceding chapters: most particularly of Continental language philosophy, especially in forms associated with postmodernism, which is often rejected as not philosophy at all. Ironically, 27 CHAPTER 1 however, the major Twentieth Century figure in this tradition of most interest to later Continental philosophers, and whose work most obviously bridges the considerable gaps between the traditions is the towering one of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).

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