The Mission of Wittgenstein On Learning


The cognitive revolution (exemplified by such work as the work of Noam Chomsky) has exerted a great influence in the fields of linguistics and education. Whilst there is little doubt that this work has contributed significantly to our technical understanding of cognition, language and learning, it has also produced unintended negative consequences by encouraging models of learning that appear overly mechanical, acultural and linear. In contrast, a return to the themes of Wittgenstein re-engages a picture of language and learning within context which is highly dynamic, reiterative, dialectical, interpersonal and ontological.


The mission of this site is to utilise the Wittgenstein's philosophy as a catalyst to promote rigorous investigations of teaching, literacy, acculturation and psycho-social development. Key pillars of Wittgenstein's teachings - analytical thought and enactivism - urge us to examine how and why we come to learn what we learn by urging us to critically reflect on the very conditions and expectations of learning. This critical practice should call all educators, citizens and political leaders to be comprehensive in framing learning events which are sensitive to the diversity of socio-cultural practices and diligent in promoting equity in learning opportunities for all. 


  • To use Wittgenstein's concept of aspect seeing as a platform to explain how one's perceptual skills (e.g. literacy), knowledge (e.g. historical appreciation), practices (e.g. mechanical skills) and beliefs (e.g. democratic ideals) develop over time in stages through repeated practice, enabling opportunities and guidance from those who are more experienced; 
  • To ask us all to be mindful and respectful of the experiences, rituals, practices, cultural artefacts and "learning moments" that give shape to the ways we live, see, act, react and believe by showing how all learning and language has its form, content, purpose, context and history, all of which may not necessarily be apparent to the acculturated learner or the outsider; and
  • To understand what it means to ensure equity in the opportunity for all to learn whilst respecting the cultural, social and economic pluralism exhibited within and across local, national and historical boundaries.


In short, nothing a priori. There are no universals. All is learned. That which is learned becomes the foundation for later learning. Any cultural similarities in learning practices are due to similarities in human needs that are present across time and space. Our learning comes to serve as the framework to our perceiving, interpreting and acting, which will evolve, alter direction, fragment, decay, leap, etc. Therefore, the trajectory for learning is neither determined nor automatic. At the same time, the trajectory of learning is not arbitrary. The trajectory is conditioned through context, practice and the will, and this conditioning is far from simple and rarely pure.

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