Wittgenstein and Language


Wittgenstein puts the language at the top of his philosophy. According to him, each language has its limits.

Wittgenstein’s FIRST PHILOSOPHY (1911-1918)

The Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921)  asserts six central thesis.

“1. The world is everything that happens. ”

“2. What happens, the fact, is the existence of states of affairs. ”

“3. The logical picture of facts is the thought. ”

“4. Thought is the meaningful proposition. ”

“5. The proposition is a truth function of elementary sentences. ”

“6. The general form of the function of truth is [p, x, N (x)] This is the general form of the proposal. ”

Things are connected by relationships. These relationships are the backbone of the world logic that defines the junction between language and the world. “A is related to b” or “ARB”, is the general form of a state of affairs. To be meaningful, a statement must represent the existence or nonexistence of states of affairs. If the state of affairs “in the statement placed on a trial basis” exists, we say that the proposition is true.  The reality is composed of different states of affairs, each of which should be described by an elementary sentence. Wittgenstein has a clear vision of the world in which all philosophical problems – in particular the fundamental problems of logic, mathematics and mechanics – can be solved. But this does not solve any problems of life, quite the contrary:

“We know that even if we have an answer to all possible scientific questions, our life’s problems have not even been addressed. ”

Each language has, in fact, its “limits”, in other words, properties that can not be expressed in the same language, but that can only be shown:

“For example, although we can not say what the meaning of life, there is still something, but we can not express, it appears, it is the mystical element. ”

There are limits to what we can talk, God, the ego, the sense of the world and the mystic are outside the scope of the word: ineffable.

Objects form the substance of the world or a human subject is not the world, there is a limit of the world (5632), or rather the world of this and we can never talk about it in a proposal. If one does, however, you enter a dead end. [One can not speak for anyone, but we can talk about the facts surrounding it.] Ethics and religion are also held outside the world outside of the speech provided to sense and scientific investigation. Where the last argument of the Tractatus, which simply says:

Philosophy can not find any truth. Its sole task is to clarify our thoughts by analyzing our use of language. The philosopher is a kind of vigil of thought whose mission is to show the limits of speech sense.


Wittgenstein’s SECOND PHILOSOPHY (1929-1951)

The Philosophical Investigations offer a more flexible alternative theory, which is as follows: “A whole cloud of philosophy condensed in a droplet theory of language.” Know the meaning of a word or phrase is to understand them. And understand is to be able to use them, “the meaning of a word is its use in the language.” The meaning of a word is not in its concrete reference, but its use in the language. Now Wittgenstein conceives language as a game: the game of language. Like pieces of chess must follow the rules assigned to them, the words are set by the language. Speaking becomes a game in which the activities of life. Description of an object by its appearance or from his actions, construction of an object from a drawing or description; reporting process; translation from one language into another; request; thanks, greetings, prayer, oath, these are all language games. The rules of grammar (the game) can not be denied. It is impossible that a rule is followed only once. The meaning of words is governed by common usage. Since a private sensation can not be part of a language game, one can not describe it meaning.

What we mean by “truth” and “reality” is constituted by how we use these words in everyday life. We have a tendency to have an absolute conception of the world, as if truth and reality are dependent on us. The “truth” and “reality” are formed by our language games.

“If a lion could talk we would be incapable of understanding.” Because the lion’s way of speaking would be part of a form of life so different from ours that it would make no sense for us. The lion would have its own conception of reality, different from ours. The Lion and we would each have our own idea about what is correct, according to our forms of life.

Philosophy fight against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language. Its purpose is to “show the fly the way out through which to escape from the bottle flies.” It led to the discovery of some pure non-sense understanding of the bumps is running to attack the borders of language. The world is measured by the language, its limits are logical statements; we can only show the unspeakable and the “secret”. Philosophy is not a doctrine, it is an activity.

Wittgenstein’s philosophy is not an end in itself but a tool that helps to understand the position of each. Once all the flies out of the bottle is language, philosophy is no longer anything, and once at the top, we do not need the ladder.

In asserting that all meaning is produced following the rules of a language game, Wittgenstein invalidates two philosophical traditions of rationalism and empiricism, since these are based on the description of the contents of the private mind. His position has provoked strong philosophical controversies.

Cite this article as: Tim, "Wittgenstein and Language, April 24, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, April 24, 2012, https://www.the-philosophy.com/wittgenstein-language.

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