The later Wittgenstein is known for his reinforcement of the distinction between explanation and description. The latter is what philosophers (of language) need to do, w hile it is the former that has caused so many paradoxes and logical inconsistencies.
He indicates that philosophy is a sort of therapy, one that consists in describing the ways in which it is possible to use this or that word, where this or that word is the cause of some philosophical difficulty; that is, because of two or more seemingly paradoxical meanings associated with it.
Philosophy is the therapy that gets us out of bewilderment about our linguistic confusions. Description, not explanation, is the tool with which philosophers can dissolve, rather than solve, epistemological and ontological puzzles.
That said, what exactly is the difference between an explanation and a description? Wittgenstein’s use of the term “description” seems to rely on the sense of description as an activity more fluid, less rigid, more observational and more descriptive than explanation. Whereas explanation might rely on explicit rules, or governed by standards of use, description shows us how the rules can be bent, or how a new use for a concept can express itself.
I have struggled with this for some time, but that is my current line of thought. Description seems theoretically innocent, merely observational for the sake of looking…explanation seems rigid, logical, rule-bound and systematic. The former opens the possibility of examing the meaning of a term in a new way, whereas the latter considers all such instances to be merely anomalous.