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When Meaning isn't Use [message #6879] Thu, 25 August 2011 04:32 Go to next message
zettel is currently offline  zettel
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§43 of the Investigations famously says:

Quote:
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 the word is its use in the language.

And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to its bearer.


The caveat in this passage ("though not for all") has always intrigued me. Which class - or classes - of cases might Wittgenstein have wanted to exclude? Of course, he gives an example of one such class at the end: pointing to the bearer of a name.

But are there any others you can think of?
Re: When Meaning isn't Use [message #6881 is a reply to message #6879] Thu, 25 August 2011 11:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
admin
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... there's only one of three answers.

1. The point at which meaning isn't use is simply the point where the use doesn't create meaning (if that's possible); or where, better yet, it does not create successful meaning.

2. He speaks of words that do not develop more than one sense in the language culture, because of the way those words are socially policed. It is possible that certain kinds of scientific jargon work like this. If more than one sense cannot develop for any word, meaning seems fixed.

3. It's an unfortunate passage that didn't get cleaned up in a book that he never got to the point of being "finished." You'd have to be able to square it with everything else he said and wrote in that period. So if meaning isn't use for some things, those things sure are rather limited.
Re: [Wittrs] New Discussion Board Message [message #6882 is a reply to message #6879] Thu, 25 August 2011 12:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean Wilson is currently offline  Sean Wilson
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Zettel: "Of course, he gives an example of one such class at the end: pointing to the bearer of a name."



.. I don't read the "pointing" to be an exclusion. That's what the use does. It's a behavior.  
Regards and thanks.

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Wittgenstein Discussion: http://seanwilson.org/wittgenstein.discussion.html


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Re: When Meaning isn't Use [message #6895 is a reply to message #6881] Fri, 26 August 2011 14:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
zettel is currently offline  zettel
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I find the metaphor at (1) confusing. Use "creates" meaning? So "here's the use and there's the meaning it created"? And it is quite hard to find any meaning in the suggestion that sometimes "meaning" can be explained with reference to a use that "does not create a successful meaning". Maybe some examples would help. I doubt it.

2. Surely, though, even for words that only had one use you would still have to explain that use (unless the word in question was a proper name) to give their meaning?

3. I disagree with your suggestion that we should just take §43 as a rough draft. This was, after all, part of an MS that Wittgenstein had worked on extensively and actually sent to the publishers. True, he later recalled the MS but that seems to have been more to do with dissatisfaction over his comments about the philosophy of psychology than anything in the first 200 or so sections (it could also have been because he wasn't happy publishing the work without a section dealing with mathematics - something he had originally intended to include). In the fifteen or so years after he wrote the PI's opening he never once returned to the subject of meaning as use - whereas he hammered away at the philosophy of psychology almost up until the day he died. This suggests, to me at least, that §43 is very much a finished article.
Re: When Meaning isn't Use [message #6897 is a reply to message #6895] Fri, 26 August 2011 15:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
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... it wasn't a metaphor. I was only giving one of three possible answers. If one said that there were situations in which "meaning wasn't use," it would seem to posit a situation where use resulted in no meaning, where it resulted in only one meaning (ever), or where it resulted in the "wrong" meaning. As to what would qualify, it would depend upon what the person had in mind for the ideas.

It also is still possible for the wording in those passages to not be ideal. Again, you'd have to square it with everything else said and would have to know something about the way Wittgenstein "was." He frequently called his own stuff rubbish months after writing it. He had peculiar editing practices (sometimes cutting and pasting, literally, not as we in the computer age do). The stuff we are talking about is written in the 3rd quarter (around 36 if my memory serves). He was always misunderstood, both in print and in person. And he frequently had in mind more than one sense of a word when using it -- the sign of both a incredibly brilliant man and someone who is bound to mislead you with any expressed thought.

So my point is not to dwell on any clause or strip of language in PI as though it is lawyerly. It isn't what he meant by that little fragment that matters. What matters is, once you have touched his ideas, how do they work. And so, if someone put forth, as an idea, that "in some cases meaning isn't use," we would want to know how this idea could POSSIBLY work. What it could possibly say. And like I said, possibilities might be:

1. gibberish
2. rigid designators
3. polysemy, idiom?

Keep in mind that none of these are acceptable to me. I personally don't believe one can find any situation where meaning isn't use.
Re: [Wittrs] New Discussion Board Message [message #6899 is a reply to message #6882] Fri, 26 August 2011 18:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
zettel is currently offline  zettel
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Sean Wilson wrote on Thu, 25 August 2011 12:51
.. I don't read the "pointing" to be an exclusion. That's what the use does. It's a behavior.


You might not, but I think Wittgenstein has to, or else there cannot possibly be anything that falls outside of "meaning as use" - unless you can think of a way to communicate the meaning of a word without exhibiting behaviour?

Just a reminder: I asked what you thought Wittgenstein meant, not what he should have meant. Very Happy
Re: [Wittrs] New Discussion Board Message [message #6902 is a reply to message #6879] Fri, 26 August 2011 19:43 Go to previous message
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... now that I actually look at this particular passage instead of doing this in long hand, you aren't reading it correctly.

Here's all he is saying:

1. When we use the phrase "[word] means," it almost always translates to "meaning is use."

2. That explains how some uses of names work (pointing).

3. There still remain times at which we speak of "word meaning" where we do not translate it to "word use." An example might be: "the meaning of life." We don't mean in this expression what does "life" mean, we mean what is the purpose of living. It's a red herring.

Also, what Wittgenstein should have said and what he did really are the same thing in the context we were talking about. What I was saying is that what he MEANS in any particular passage is a function of understanding his life and who he was. I wasn't saying he should have written X because what he wrote was flawed. I was saying any X from Wittgenstein only comes about from biographical understanding and not cross examination. You can't take a passage or clip and just run down the hallway.


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