Philosophy

Private Language in The Philosophy of Wittgenstein

In the Tractatus Wittgenstein argued that there is much deeper connection between words and the world than that the mere notion that words stand for things. Wittgenstein saw a structural similarity between language and the world, so that the structure of reality could actually be read off the structure of language. The notion of correspondence, with its attendant conception of meaning as static, was abandoned in the later philosophy.In the Preface to his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein (1953) writes, For since beginning to occupy myself with philosophy again, sixteen years ago, I have been forced to recognize grave mistakes in what I wrote in that first book (p.vi). What Wittgenstein came to recognize was that it is ill conceived to think that words always have fixed meanings. Rather, meaning is dynamic in the sense that it can only be determined by the interpretation that language users give it as they use it. In section 43 of Investigations, he tells us, For a large class of cases— though not for all—in which we employ the word meaning it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. The idea of meaning as use is the principle idea advanced in the Investigations.Searle (1998) points out that whereas Wittgensteins earlier philosophy revolves around the metaphor of language as a picture, his later philosophy revolves around the metaphor of language as a tool. The difference between the two metaphors is crucial. When Wittgenstein said that words are like pictures, he was operating on the assumption that words, like pictures, represent. When Wittgenstein said that words are like tools, he was trying to stress that words, like tools, can be used in many different ways and for many different purposes. Wittgensteins contention that in most cases, the meaning of a word is its use suggests that the same word could mean different things at different times

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