Professor John Fruncillo
October 12th, 2018.
Wittgenstein’s Language Concept
Ludwig Wittgenstein was born April 26th, 1889 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. He was regarded by many as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Wittgenstein’s works were very instrumental in the twenty-century philosophy of language. He made a significant contribution to conversations on language, logic, and metaphysics and the way we should live in the world. Wittgenstein’s initial or early concepts of language, published in the “Tractatus Logico Philosophicus (1921)” and his later concepts of language which were published in the Philosophical Investigations (1953) (Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc) shows a change in his philosophical concept on language.
Wittgenstein developed an interest in the philosophy of logic and mathematics after reading a book entitled “The Principles of Mathematics by Bertrand Russell and The Foundations of Arithmetic by Gottlob Frege” (Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc). He then attended Trinity College, the University of Cambridge where he started to work on the foundations of logic and mathematical logic. Wittgenstein eventually left Cambridge and relocated to Norway in a remote hut where he developed the beginning of what is known as the picture theory of language. The philosophy of language “picture theory of language” was emphasized in Wittgenstein’s early work entitled Tractatus Logico Philosophicus.
In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein attempted to show the similarity between the way pictures characterize the world, and the way language characterizes reality and events expressed in language (philosophybasics.com). In his argument, he infers that language is made up “of complex propositions that can be analyzed into less complex propositions until one arrives at simple or elementary propositions”(Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia). He further explains that reality is an immense collection of facts that we can picture in language, with the assumption that language has a logical form. That is, within each sentence, the words provide a picture of actual objects in the world and the entire sentence as a picture shows us what reality is. He believed for words in a sentence to make sense the entire sentence, and the context should be a consideration. Furthermore, Wittgenstein’s notions implied that the world is made up of facts, not things and that facts are a sequence of events whereby these facts are structured logically.
However, in the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein formulated almost an entirely different perspective or concept from his initial concept of language (picture theory of language) to “behaviorism” and “pragmatism” (Rayner). Wittgenstein argued that if we look to see how we use language, then its variation of linguistic usage would become visible. He theorized that we view words as a “tool” in that, the meaning of a word is its “use” in the language because w...