Language Games: Late Wittgenstein

Language Games: Late Wittgenstein

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

While talking about Wittgenstein’s life story, we mentioned that after he wrote the Tractatus, he brought a final solution to the issues he dealt with and started to teach in Austrian villages.

We also said that his opinion changed as a result of the discussions he had with some of his friends and the Vienna Circle. This does not mean, for example, that thinkers in the Vienna Circle convinced Wittgenstein that his views were wrong. On the contrary, the Vienna Circle found the basic theses of the Tractatus suitable for their own philosophical purposes and continued to defend them. It was Wittgenstein himself who changed his mind about his own work and entered into a new search.

In his second important work, Philosophische Untersuchungen (English title: Philosophical Investigations; Turkish title: Philosophical Investigation), published posthumously, we see that he fiercely criticized some of the views he defended in the Tractatus.

He pointed out in the last section that the Tractatus has some problems. For example, the Tractatus method using propositional logic and truth tables becomes useless when it comes to predicates logic involving variables from infinite domains. Moreover, many of these propositions become meaningless if the requirements of painting theory are applied to the Tractatus’ propositions. But the reasons for Wittgenstein’s abandonment of the Tractatus’ perspective go deeper. Wittgenstein thinks that there is a problem in the theory of painting itself and in the understanding of the name and object that he developed accordingly. The following conversation, narrated by Norman Malcolm, on a train between Wittgenstein and P. Sraffa, sheds light on why Wittgenstein changed his mind:

One day (while traveling on a train, I think) Witgenstein insisted that a proposition and what the proposition describes must have the same “logical form,” the same “logical multiplicity,” Sraffa makes a gesture of disgust or dislike, familiar to the Neapolitans, of one hand. he moves his fingertips outward as if brushing under his chin. He then asks: “What is the logical form of this?” (Malcolm, 69, p.622).

Sraffa’s example suggests that it is absurd in Wittgenstein’s insistence that a proposition and what the proposition describes must have the same “form”. This event causes him to abandon his understanding that a proposition must be a “picture” of the reality it describes (Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, p.69).

There are such expressions, facial expressions and gestures that are used during communication that can convey a meaning very well. But in them there is a logical form, simple names, etc. Calling doesn’t make much sense. If they are a noun, it is completely unclear what state of affairs they represent. While painting theory can be extremely effective in representing the phenomena that natural sciences deal with, it may be insufficient in the use of language in other fields. The logical analysis in the Tractatus, then, seems insufficient to reveal the essence of language.

Please look:

– Philosophical illusion

– Language games

– Defining by example



Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook