Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wittgenstein Installment 3 - Kara Stallings sec 11

One more important aspect of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s work was his ideas regarding family resemblance and word games. With the family resemblance explanation, Wittgenstein attacks conventional views on how words can have deeper and sometimes far different intentional meanings. His beliefs in some ways attack the traditional view that words acquire meaning from the thoughts of the person who speak them. However, ironically enough it at the same time challenges Wittgenstein’s own concept from his earlier Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, that words get their meaning by standing in for objects in reality.

Instead, Wittgenstein says that some words do not have a single essence that encompasses their definition. He uses the example of the word ‘game’. Although we may think of the term as having a definite meaning, Wittgenstein points out counterexamples to this idea. No single thing is common to all uses of the word ‘game’. For instance, not all games are played for fun or as recreation; games like hockey and football are played professionally, and some casino games are played out of addiction. Not all games have scores or points, nor do they all have teams or any equipment that would define them as games and not some other activity.

Wittgenstein says that rather than each use of the word ‘game’ having a relationship to a specific common trait of certainty or even of the judgments behind them, that it is the relationships between the uses of the word that is more remarkable and significant. It is here that he brings up his coined term of family resemblance.

Wittgenstein says that the way in which family members resemble each other is not through a specific trait but a variety of traits that are shared by some (but not all) members of a family.

Importantly, Wittgenstein does not say that the family resemblance relation is not always the way that words get their meaning. Instead, words can get their meaning by picking out objects in reality, as he claims in the Tractatus, but he asserts that philosophers must recognize the difference between the varied methods of assigning meaning to words.

Overall his work constitutes an articulate description of how language impacts the intellectual progress of society. He argues strongly that in order to survive as an individual, communication with other scholars are crucial. To further this idea he expressed in great length the significance of preserving language for only such a highly weighted purpose by stating that if something cannot be expressed clearly that it should not be spoken at all. However, this quote remains quite a contradictory belief juxtaposed to his complete message of language. In order for progress in any degree of further knowledge one must not shy away from fear of unclear, mistaken or even just plain bizarre ideologies. In replace of this quote I feel as though his other quote mentioning the event of death better summarizes his works; if the spread of knowledge is the entire purpose behind our existence than the present is where our timelessness lives.
“Death is not an event in life; we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.”
Installments 1 & 2:

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1 comment:

  1. Your first Wittgenstein graphic was too big, had to downsize it. Maybe that's a metaphor for the philosopher himself! His later work represented a kind of downsizing from grandiose claims about essentialist language hooking precisely onto reality, towards "meaning-as-use". That still leaves plenty for language to do. More, in fact.