Wittgenstein, language name object- sentences are combinations

            Wittgenstein,
the Austrian philosopher who worked on logic, philosophy of language, philosophy
of mathematics etc. wrote the paper Philosophical
Investigations. In his paper, he begins with a quote from St. Augustine’s Confessiones which describes a process
of learning language through the process of learning the names of objects. But
then an issue arises when discussing the connection between word and a thing.

This entails the core relationship that joins language to the world. In the
philosopher’s paper, he argues that the meaning of words cannot be rigidly
defined. I agree and disagree on a small point with Wittgenstein’s view and
will discuss my opinion through the two points and conclude that the meaning of
the word cannot have a distinct meaning.

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            To
explain, in his paper Philosophical
Investigations, as mentioned previously he cites Saint Augustine’s Confessiones; Wittgenstein cites his
work to illustrate the first beliefs and goals of language which Wittgenstein
says it: “give us a particular picture of the essence of human language. It is
this: ‘the individual words in language name object- sentences are combinations
of such names … every word has meaning.” (Wittgenstein 2). Wittgenstein
argues that Saint Augustine’s definition is a limited view of how language
works. Though, he does admit that Augustine’s conception of how to learn the
proper names and significance of objects by ostensive teaching, which is a way
of defining words by pointing to an object and naming it, has some form of
relevance, this is a form of “language-game”. This practice of language is
commonly used to teach children primitive language, according to Wittgenstein. In
addition, the philosopher explains that the use of language-games is useful as
they have an important function on language in different contexts and the
rule-governed character of language, but this does not mean there are strict
and definite systems of rules for each language-game: “what is common to all
these activities and what makes them into language or parts of language” (Wittgenstein
65). Language-games are examined for their insights on characteristic of
language. In addition, he frequently brings up mechanics and metaphors to help
the reader to understand his arguments. In this example, the builder and his
assistant only use four terms screaming “block!”, “pillar!”, “slab!” and “beam!”.

This is used to illustrate the part of the Augustinian view of language which
might be correct but is limited. In contrast, Wittgenstein argues that even
though Augustine describes system of communication, language is much more
complex and richer than the simple naming and recognition described by
Augustine: “But assimilating the descriptions of the uses of words in this way
cannot make the uses themselves anymore like one another. For, as we see, they
are absolutely unlike” (Wittgenstein 6) Also, Wittgenstein states that language
allows words to execute a wide variety of functions, he illustrates this notion
through the comparison of a toolbox, the function of the words are as diverse
as the functions of these objects. But, as Wittgenstein notices, they all look
alike: “Of course, what confuses us is the uniform appearance of word when we hear
them spoken or meet them in script and print. For their application is not
presented to us so clearly. Especially when we are doing philosophy!” (Wittgenstein
6) The problem with the relation
between the word and the thing as the fundamental relationship that links
language to the world. “For a large class of cases of the employment of
the word ‘meaning’- though not for all- this word can be explained in this way:
the meaning of a word is its use in the language” (Wittgenstein 43) This
citation explains what is the change of perspective, which is Wittgenstein’s
thought which consists of a change from a conception of meaning as
representation. 

I agree with
Wittgenstein notably on the point of the rejection of the Augustinian way of
describing things, while bearing in mind the importance of ostensive teaching,
and the meaning of words are not as distinct. First off, I agree with
Wittgenstein’s disagreement with the Augustinian point of view of language as
it is very limited and it says that each word has one significant meaning but
that is impossible. Words have varied meanings depending on the context and the
way the word is used. For example, in his paper Philosophical Investigation, Wittgenstein uses the model of
defining games. To define a game in an Augustinian point of view you would
define only one certain way, for example, a game consists of a dice and board
etc. That is just representing one type of game while there are many games and
thus contradicts the Augustinian principle of language. So, on this point I do
agree with Wittgenstein that there is no way of giving one distinct definition
for a word. Whoever, like Wittgenstein, I do agree with Saint Augustine’s point
of view as it is pertinent to define a proper name and nouns. As mentioned in
the paper, he uses ostensive teaching which is a form of language-games, that
is pertinent in the acquisition of the language for children and is used in
many outlets that are directed for young children. Secondly, the meaning of
words is not distinct, which I do agree with Wittgenstein but I do disagree on
the point that it is especially in philosophy and I would argue that in fact it
affects mostly in poetry. To begin, the philosopher states the example of the
word ‘slab’ and how it could be reduced to its meaning, in other words it is
referring to another subject but it could not be clear to the reader. Indeed,
depending on what the word is referring to the word could have several
different meanings. Wittgenstein points out: “Of course, what confuses us is the
uniform appearance of word when we hear them spoken or meet them in script and
print. For their application is not presented to us so clearly. Especially when
we are doing philosophy!” (Wittgenstein 6) On that point, I do not agree with
Wittgenstein that it is especially in philosophy. As a linguistics major,
throughout my classes I have learned many theories by many linguists on the
role of language and one being the “Linguistic poetics” and this theory, that
is supported through the linguist Roman Jacobson states that the core function
of language is a metaphor. In language, speakers play with a variety of words
to the point that our sentences can become quite poetic by commuting specific
terms with others that are more poetic or that have sous-entendre. In Philosophy Investigation, Wittgenstein
said that this is the case in philosophy, words have different meanings, and it
is difficult to understand the core meaning. Indeed, as they are native
speakers in their language, they have control, like in everyday speech, to play
with words, terms and utilise particular examples, all the elements create
different meaning that seems confusing for the reader, and in fact, it requires
for the recipient to read it over many times. In fact, in Wittgenstein in his
paper he uses metaphors and comparisons that could be difficult for readers to
comprehend. Even though he wrote his paper in a different style with the use of
points, to make his statements clear this could be difficult for the average
reader. So, I understand when Wittgenstein says that it is quite difficult to
understand the meaning behind the words in philosophy. Moreover, we could draw
similarities of philosophy papers to the arts. In the written artistic forms,
it gives more freedom of expression and usage of many terms and style which
thus creates different meanings, such as poetry. In fact, I would argue that
poetry is confusing on the bases of the meaning of words as it is filled with
metaphors, allusions, double meaning, rhyme scheme that creates meaning etc.

This type of text, filled with many literary devices plays with words on a deeper
level and in result can create different meanings and interpretation that are
never answered for many years. The difference with a philosophy paper and
poetry is that in they are analysed, like poetry, many times but they take in
consideration the education of the philosopher, their views and the
interpretation of these papers done by other philosophers. Through all these
elements of observation done, arises the core meaning of the article, unlike
poetry the purpose is never discovered as we are taught that there is never one
distinct meaning. In conclusion, I agree with Wittgenstein on the concept of
Saint Augustine views of language and on the basis that words can have a
definite sense, but I find it affects every form of communication, especially
in poetry rather than philosophy.

To conclude, in
Wittgenstein’s paper Philosophy
Investigation, I do agree with most of the concept that the philosopher
presents in his paper mainly on his views on the Augustinian perspective on
language and Wittgenstein discussion on words not having a distinct meaning.

However, I disagree on a small point that the philosopher’s analysis of how
this concept that mostly affects philosophy but instead poetry. The
non-distinct meaning of words influences every form of communication, more than
others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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