Wittgenstein

  • Created by: beaw18
  • Created on: 31-05-19 11:35

who was Wittgenstein?

  • Austrian philosopher from 1889-1951
  • influenced the Vienna circle and logical positivism; however he felt as though the circle had misunderstood his ideas 
  • viewed himself as a religious person
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picture theory

  • written in his book 'tracatus logico-philosophus' - believed he had 'completed' philosophy
  • argued that language works by creating a picture of reality in someone's mind - e.g 'the cat sat on the mat' creates this picture
  • statement can be true or false depending on whether the picture corresponds with reality
  • apart from tautologies and mathematical truths, only statements which picture something in your head that can be checked against reality are meaningful
  • ethical and religious statements are therefore outside of what we can meaningfully communicate in language
  • "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" - if it can't be pictured, don't speak of it
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difference to logical positivists

  • logical positivists considered anything outside of 'meaningful' or factual language was unimportant
  • Wittgenstein disagreed and referred to language outside the picture theory as 'the mystical' which cannot be communicated through language
  • "Wittgenstein passionately believes that all that really matters in life is precisely what, in his view, we must be silent about" - Engelmen
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later philosophy

  • book - 'philosophical investigations'
  • some see theory as going against early views, others see it as further development
  • now argues that his picture theory as describing only one form of language - the language of natural science
  • although a statement may be meaningless in the language of natural science, Wittgenstein now believes language may still be valuable under different forms
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language games

  • languge is like a game to Wittgenstein for 2 reasons:
    • 1. there are lots of different forms of language, but there is not a single thing all of which have in common 
    • 2. different forms of language have different rules about what can be said meaningfully 
  • Wittgenstein refers to forms of language as different games such as: 
    • scientific language 
    • the language of jokes 
    • exclamations
    • poetry
    • giving orders
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meaning is determined by use

  • the meaning of a word is determined by its use within a language 
  • meaning depends on how it is used within a language game
  • example: "thats a great try"
    • language game of rugby - positive, achievement
    • language game of football - you gave it a go, but didn't succeed
  • example: 'ow!' is meaningless in scientific language games, but works in the language games of exclamations
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surface and depth grammar

  • surface grammar - the meaning a sentence appears to have at first sight without thinking about the language game
  • depth grammar - the meaning of a phrase within the language game
  • example: parent says to worried child "everything is going to be fine"
    • surface grammar - parent is making a prediction about the future
    • depth grammar - not a real prediction, language game of reassurance and comfort. said to make the child feel better
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forms of life

  • language games are based on forms of life, or the way in which people live their lives
  • different types of community have language games; language games do not need justification as they work with our way of life
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religious language

  • religious language can appear meaningless if it is taken in the form of scientific language
  • religious language is playing a different type of language game, and is not attempting to make statements of fact about the world
  • criticised James Frazwe, writer of The Golden Bough - studied old religious practices and decided religious and magic practices were poor attempts at science
    • Wittgenstein disagreed: Frazer believed that when people used voodoo dolls, they really believed it would hurt their enemies. Wittgenstein disagreed, and said this is the way people would express emotions
  • The Last Judgement: argued that the belief in the last judgement is not a prediction about what will happen in the future, but rather an expression of commitment to the way Christians live their lives
  • religious language overall expresses an emotional attitiude and understanding of life and not a description of how the world is
  • religious statements are therefore non cognitive
  • Wittgenstein believes we cannot replace religious language with any other language. they are not reducible
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