• frank
    Yes, but I think he is also challenging traditional assumptions about man and reason.Fooloso4

    Ok, I'll do some more reading.
  • Fooloso4
    Ok, I'll do some more reading.frank

    Yes, there is always more reading to do.
  • RussellA
    language is not a game consisting of rules.Metaphysician Undercover

    In linguistics, syntax is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences (sentence structure) in a given language, usually including word order.
  • RussellA

    It looks as if I made an assumption that has turned out incorrect.

    I took the passage from www.newworldencyclopedia.org: "Thus, Wittgenstein argued that the meaning of the term or concept is highly contextualized; two different contexts, be it a theory or a culture, can be incommensurable although they may present a loose similarity." New World Encyclopedia is an offshoot of Wikipedia for teachers and students.

    The first statement
    I think that the first part of what I wrote is correct: "Wittgenstein wrote that as the meaning of a term or concept is highly contextualised.............."

    Context is defined as the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.

    In para 21, Wittgenstein wrote "Imagine a language-game in which A asks and B reports the number of slabs or blocks in a pile, or the colours and shapes of the building-stones that are stacked in such-and-such a place.—Such a report might run: "Five slabs". Now what is the difference between the report or statement "Five slabs" and the order "Five slabs!"?—Well, it is the part which uttering these words plays in the language game. No doubt the tone of voice and the look with which they are uttered, and much else besides, will also be different. But we could also imagine the tone's being the same—for an order and a report can be spoken in a variety of tones of voice and with various expressions of face—the difference being only in the application."

    In para 43, "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."

    IE, meaning is in use, and use is in a context.

    The second statement
    However - I am having difficulty justifying the word "incommensurable" within the quote.

    The definition of incommensurable is - i) not able to be judged by the same standards - ii) having no common standard of measurement. For example, the beliefs of the atheist and the theist are incommensurable.

    Starting with para 21, the term "five-slabs" could be being used either as a report or a statement.
    Even if there are no clues in the speaker's tone of voice, the difference is only within the application. As in para 43: "the meaning of a word is its use in language". For example, if used on site, five-slabs would be a statement, whereas if used in the office it would be a report.

    As regards the word incommensurability, this means that there are different standards for judging the meaning of five-slabs - one on site and one in the office. However, for Wittgenstein, there is only one standard for knowing the meaning of five-slabs, and therefore the word incommensurable is not appropriate. Perhaps a better word than "incommensurability" would have been "different".

    Then how does Wittgenstein explain how one knows the correct meaning of five-slabs ?
    In para 68 - "For how is the concept of a game bounded? What still counts as a
    game and what no longer does? Can you give the boundary? No."
    In para 138 - "But we understand the meaning of a word when we hear or say it; we grasp
    it in a flash, and what we grasp in this way is surely something different from the 'use' which is extended in time!"
    In para 220 - "Let the use of words teach you their meaning. (Similarly one can often say in mathematics: let the proof teach you what was being proved.)"
    In para 692 - "But now the problem is: how are we to judge whether someone meant such-and-such?—The fact that he has, for example, mastered a particular technique in arithmetic and algebra, and that he taught someone"
    On page 218 - he writes - "How do I find the 'right' word? How do I choose among words?........But I do not always have to make judgments, give explanations; often I might only say: "It simply isn't right yet". I am dissatisfied, I go on looking. At last a word comes: "That's it!"

    Wittgenstein seems to be using the transcendental argument, in that we don't judge the meaning of a word, the use of the word teaches us the meaning. But this seems chicken and egg - in that how can I use a word if I don't know its meaning.

    In summary, the term "incommensurabity" seems wrong, whereas "different" may have been better.
  • Banno
    OK - you worried my because I have been on the lookout for anything Witti wrote concerning the commensurability of language games.
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