Category: Philosophy of Language

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

by  Ludwig Wittgenstein. (Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung (1921) Introduction   By Bertrand Russell Mr Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, whether or not it prove to give the ultimate truth on the matters with which it deals, certainly deserves, by its breadth and scope and profundity, to be considered an important event in the philosophical world. Starting from the principles of Symbolism and the relations which are necessary between words and things in any language, it applies the result of this inquiry to various departments of traditional philosophy, showing in each case how traditional philosophy and traditional solutions arise out of ignorance of the principles of...

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s private language argument in short

(LW stands for Ludwig Wittgenstein, PU for “Philosophische Untersuchungen”.) The origin of the private language argument 1. The meaning of a word is the object the word stands for (PU 1). 2. Sensations are private. Hence a language that refers to private objects could only be understood by the owner of the sensations (PU 243). Nobody else could understand it, because he has no access to the inner world of another person. (Besides: This is an similar paradoxical result to that of rule-following (PU 201) and the whole treatment of it resembles that of the preceding paragraphs concerning meaning and...

Meaning, Understanding, & Naming

from Philosophical Investigations         26. One thinks that learning the language consists in giving names to objects. Viz., to human beings, to shapes, to colors, to pains, to moods, to numbers, etc. To repeat–naming is something like attaching a label to a thing. One can say that this is preparatory to the use of a word. But what for? 27. “We name things and then we can talk about them: can refer to them in talk.”–As if what we did next were given with the mere act of naming. As if there were only one thing called “talking about a thing.” Whereas in fact we...

Private Language and Private Experience

Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. 243-314 243. A human being can encourage himself, give himself orders, obey, blame and punish himself, he can ask himself a question and answer it. We could even imagine human beings who spoke only in monologue; who accompanied their activities by talking to themselves. — An explorer who watched them and listened to their talk might succeed in translating their language into ours. (This would enable him to predict these people’s actions correctly, for he also hears them making resolutions and decisions.) But could we also imagine a language in which a person could write down or give...

Language Games; Rejection of Logical Atomism

But how many kinds of sentences are there? Say assertion, question, and command?–There are countless different kinds of what we call “symbols,” “words,” “sentences.” And this multiplicity is not something fixed, given once for all; but new types of language, new language-games, as we may say, come into existence, and others become obsolete and get forgotten. (We can get a rough picture of this from the changes in mathematics.)

Primitive Language, Language Games. Toolbox Analogies.

From Philosophical Investigations: 1. “When they (my elders) named some object, and accordingly moved towards something, I saw this and I grasped that the thing was called by the sound they uttered when they meant to point it out. Their intention was shown by their bodily movements, as it were the natural language of all peoples: the expression of the face, the play of the eyes, the movement of other parts of the body, and the tone of the voice which expresses our state of mind in seeking, having, rejecting, or avoiding something. Thus, as I heard words repeatedly used in their...