Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's in a name?

I think Wittgenstein's discussion of the meaning of words in "Philosophical Investigations" fits nicely into our discussion of the ordinary. At the beginning of the course we talked about how the ordinary is often something we take for granted. We do this every day with words. We use words, not thinking about the origins of their meanings or how we learned them. But in fact, as Wittgenstein says, we put a lot effort into ingraining the meaning of words in young children. We train them until the words' meanings are so ordinary they do not give them a second thought when using them. I am little confused when he says "it is not the purpose of the words to evoke images" (151). I know he sees words mainly as a form of identification, but isn't associating pictures with the word based on its meaning part of the identification process? I guess he sees it as an unnecessary consequence, but I don't really agree with that. Perhaps, I am just splitting hairs here, though.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't even catch that in the reading. I think at first a word is a picture, but that's because it's the best way t teach things. That's the same reason that kids are taught 1-10 before they're taught 0. I think that it is only when you really learn a word that you stop seeing it as a thing. Like the statement 'three snakes in a tree', I just read and accept what it is without seeing a picture of it in my head. But I never see anything in my head, so I'm probably just splitting hairs like you.