Peter Winch

Philosopher, Author

1926 – 1997

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Who was Peter Winch?

Peter Guy Winch was a British philosopher known for his contributions to the philosophy of social science, Wittgenstein scholarship, ethics, and the philosophy of religion. Winch is perhaps most famous for his early book, The Idea of a Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy, an attack on positivism in the social sciences, drawing on the work of R. G. Collingwood and Ludwig Wittgenstein's later philosophy.

Major influences upon Winch include Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rush Rhees, R. G. Collingwood and Simone Weil. He gave rise to a form of philosophy that has been given the name ‘sociologism’. He also bears responsibility for a small school of sociology that was prepared to accept his radical criticism of the subject.

Winch saw himself as an uncompromising Wittgensteinian. He was not personally acquainted with Wittgenstein; Wittgenstein’s influence upon him was mostly mediated through that of Rush Rhees, who was his colleague at the University College of Swansea, now known as Swansea University, and whom Wittgenstein appointed as one of his literary executors. In 1980 Winch published Wittgenstein’s Culture and Value, translated by himself. After the death of Rhees in 1989 he took over his position as literary executor.

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Jan 14, 1926
Apr 27, 1997

on July 23, 2013


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