This e-text version of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is provided freely for the use of all, in support of the collective reading underway at The Academy. Following this link will also take you to further Wittgenstein resources. The text itself is divided by aphorisms across several pages.
1."When they (my elders) named some object, and accordingly moved towards something, I saw this and I grasped that that the thing was called by the sound they uttered when they meant to point it out. Their intention was shown by their bodily movements, as it were the natural language of all peoples; the expression of the face, the play of the eyes, the movement of other parts of the body, and the tone of the voice which expresses our state of mind in seeking, having, rejecting, or avoiding something. Thus, as I heard words repeatedly used in their proper places in various sentences, I gradually learnt to understand what objects they signified; and after I had trained my mouth to form these signs, I used them to express my own desires."
These words, it seems to me, give us a particular picture of the essence of human language. It is this: the individual words in language name objects--sentences are combinations of such names.--In this picture of language we find the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning. The meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands.
Augustine does not speak of there being any difference between kinds of word. If you describe the learning of language in this way you are, I believe, thinking primarily of nouns like 'table', 'chair', 'bread', and of people's names, and only secondarily of the names of certain actions and properties; and of the remaining kinds of word as something that will take care of itself.
Now think of the following use of language: I send someone shopping. I give him a slip marked 'five red apples'. He takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who opens the drawer marked 'apples', then he looks up the word 'red' in a table and finds a colour sample opposite it; then he says the series of cardinal numbers--I assume that he knows them by heart--up to the word 'five' and for each number he takes an apple of the same colour as the sample out of the drawer.--It is in this and similar ways that one operates with words--"But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word 'red' and what he is to do with the word 'five'?" ---Well, I assume that he 'acts' as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere.--But what is the meaning of the word 'five'? --No such thing was in question here, only how the word 'five' is used.
2. That philosophical concept of meaning has its place in a primitive idea of the way language functions. But one can also say that it is the idea of a language more primitive than ours.
Let us imagine a language ...The language is meant to serve for communication between a builder A and an assistant B. A is building with building-stones; there are blocks, pillars, slabs and beams. B has to pass the stones, and that in the order in which A needs them. For this purpose they use a language consisting of the words 'block', 'pillar', 'slab', 'beam'. A calls them out; --B brings the stone which he has learnt to bring at such-and-such a call. -- Conceive this as a complete primitive language.
3. Augustine, we might say, does describe a system of communication; only not everything that we call language is this system. And one has to say this in many cases where the question arises 'Is this an appropriate description or not?' The answer is: 'Yes, it is appropriate, but only for this narrowly circumscribed region, not for the whole of what you were claiming to describe."
It is as if someone were to say: "A game consists in moving objects about on a surface according to certain rules..." --and we replied: You seem to be thinking of board games, but there are others. You can make your definition correct by expressly restricting it to those games.
4. Imagine a script in which the letters were used to stand for sounds, and also as signs of emphasis and punctuation. (A script can be conceived as a language for describing sound-patterns.) Now imagine someone interpreting that script as if there were simple a correspondence of letters to sounds and as if the letters had not also completely different functions. Augustine's conception of language is like such an over-simple conception of the script.
5. If we look at the example in (1), we may perhaps get an inkling how much this general notion of the meaning of a word surrounds the working of language with a haze which makes clear vision impossible. It disperses the fog to study the phenomena of language in primitive kinds of application in which one can command a clear view of the aim and functioning of the words.
A child uses such primitive forms of language when it learns to talk. Here the teaching of language is not explanation, but training.
6. We could imagine that the language of was the whole language of A and B; even the whole language of a tribe. The children are brought up to perform these actions, to use these words as they do so, and to react in this way to the words of others. An important part of the training will consist in the teacher's pointing to the objects, directing the child's attention to them, and at the same time uttering a word; for instance, the word "slab" as he points to that shape.
( I do not want to call this "ostensive definition", because the child cannot as yet ask what the name is. I will call it "ostensive teaching of words".----- I say that it will form an important part of the training, because it is so with human beings; not because it could not be imagine otherwise.)
This ostensive teaching of words can be said to establish an association between the word and the thing. But what does this mean? Well, it can mean various things: but one very likely thinks first of all that a picture of the object comes before the child's mind when it hears the word. But now, if this does happen---is it the purpose of the word?
---Yes, it can be the purpose.--- I can imagine such a use of words (of series of sounds). (Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.) But in the language of it is not the purpose of the words to evoke images. (It may, of course, be discovered that that helps to attain the actual purpose.)
But if the ostensive teaching has this effect, ---am I to say that it effects an understanding of the word? Don't you understand the call "Slab!" if you act upon it in such-and-such a way?--- Doubtless the ostensive teaching helped to bring this about; but only together with a particular training. With different training the same ostensive teaching of these words would have effected a quite different understanding.
"I set the brake up by connecting up rod and lever."---Yes, given the whole of the rest of the mechanism. Only in conjunction with that is it a brake-lever, and separated from its support it is not even a lever; it may be anything, or nothing.
7. In the practice of the use of language one party calls out the words, the other acts on them. In instruction in the language the following process will occur: the learner names the objects; that is, he utters the word when the teacher points to the stone. ---And there will be this still simpler exercise: the pupil repeats the words after the teacher--- both of these being processes resembling language.
We can also think of the whole process of using words in as one of those games by means of which children learn their native language. I will call these games "language-games" and will sometimes speak of a primitive language as a language-game.
And the processes of naming the stones and of repeating words after someone might also be called language-games. Think of much of the use words in games like ring-a-ring-a-roses.
I shall also call the whole, consisting of language and the actions into which it is woven, the "language-game".
8. Let us now look at an expansion of language. Besides the four words "block", "pillar", etc., let it contain a series of words used as the shopkeeper in used the numerals (it can be the series of letters of the alphabet); further, let there be two words, which may as well be "there" and "this" (because this roughly indicates their purpose), that are used in connexion with a pointing gesture; and finally a number of colour samples. A gives an order like: "d---slab---there". At the same time he shews the assistant a colour sample, and when he says "there" he points to a place on the building site. From the stock of slabs B takes one for each letter of the alphabet up to "d", of the same colour as the sample, and brings them to the place indicated by A. ---On other occasions A gives the order "this---there". At "this" he points to a building stone. And so on.
9. When a child learns this language, it has to learn the series of 'numerals' a, b, c, ... by heart. And it has to learn their use. ---Will this training include ostensive teaching of the words?--- Well, people will, for example, point to slabs and count: "a, b, c slabs". ---Something more like the ostensive teaching of the words "block", "pillar", etc. would be the ostensive teaching of numerals that serve not to count but to refer to groups of objects that can be taken in at a glance. Children do learn the use of the first or six cardinal numerals in this way.
Are "there" and "this" also taught ostensively? ---Imagine how one might perhaps teach their use. One will point to places and things---but in this case the pointing occurs in the use of the words too and not merely in learning the use.---
10. Now what do the words of this language signify? ---What is supposed to shew what they signify, if not the kind of use they have? And we have already described that. So we are asking for the expression "This word signifies this" to be made a part of the description. In other words the description ought to take the form: "The word . . . .signifies . . . ."
Of course, one can reduce the description of the use of the word "slab" to the statement that this word signifies this object. This will be done when, for example, it is merely a matter of removing the mistaken idea that the word "slab" refers to the shape of building-stone that we in fact call a "block" ---but the kind of 'refering' this is, that is to say the use of these words for the rest, is already known.
Equally one can say that the signs "a", "b", etc. signify numbers; when for example this removes the mistaken idea that "a", "b", "c", play the part actually played in language by "block", "slab", "pillar". And one can also say that "c" means this number and not that one; when for example this serves to explain that the letters are to be used in the order a, b, c, d, etc. and not in the order a, b, d, c.
But assimilating the descriptions of the uses of the words in this way cannot make the uses themselves any more like one another. For, as we see, they are absolutely unlike.
Think of the tools in a tool-box: there is a hammer, pliers, a saw, a screw-driver, a ruler, a glue-pot, glue, nails and screw.---The functions of words are as diverse as the functions of these objects. (And in both cases there are similarities.)
Of course, what confuses us is the uniform appearance of words when we hear them spoken or meet them in script and print. For their application is not presented to us so clearly. Especially when we are doing philosophy!
12. It is like looking into the cabin of a locomotive. We see handles all looking more or less alike. (Naturally, since they are all supposed to be handled.) But one is the handle of a crank which can be moved continuously (it regulates the opening of a valve); another is the handle of a switch, which has only a brake-lever, the harder one pulls on it, the harder it brakes; a fourth, the handle of a pump: it has an effect only so long as it is moved to and fro.
When we say: "Every word in language signifies something" we have so far said nothing whatever; unless we have explained exactly what distinction we wish to make. (It might be, of course, that we wanted to distinguish the words of language from words 'without meaning' such as occur in Lewis Carroll's poems, or words like "Lilliburlero" in songs.)
Imagine someone's saying: "All tools serve to modify something. Thus the hammer modifies the position of the nail, the saw the shape of the board, and so on."---And what is modified by the rule, the glue-pot, the nails?---"Our knowledge of thing's length, the temperature of the glue, and the solidity of the box."-----Would anything be gained by this assimilation of expressions?---
The word "to signify" is perhaps used in the most straight-forward way when the objects signified is marked with the sign. Suppose that the tools A uses in building bear certain marks. When A shews his assistant such a mark, he brings the tool that has that mark on it.
It is in this and more or less similar ways that a name means and is given to a thing.---It will often prove useful in philosophy to say to ourselves: naming something is like attaching a label to a thing.
What about the colour samples that A shews to B: are they part of language? Well, it is as you please. They do not belong among the words; yet when I say to someone: "Pronounce the word 'the' ", you will count the second "the" as part of the language-game (8); that is, it is a sample of what the other is meant to say.
It is most natural, and causes least confusion, to reckon the samples among the instruments of the language.
It will be possible to say: In language (8) we have different kinds of word. For the functions of the word "slab" and the word "block" are more alike than those of "slab" and "d". But how we group words into kinds will depend on the aim of the classification,---and on our own inclination.
Think of the different points of view from which one can classify tools or chess-men.
Do not be troubled by the fact that languages (2) and (8) consist only of orders. If you want to say that this shews them to be incomplete, ask yourself whether our language is complete;---whether it was so before the symbolism of chemistry and the notation of the infinitesimal calculus were incorporated in it; for these are, so to speak, suburbs of our language. (And how many houses or streets does it take before a town begins to be a town?) Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with straight regular streets and uniform houses.
It is easy to imagine a language consisting only of orders and reports in battle.---Or a language consisting only of questions and expressions for answering yes and no. And innumerable others.-----And to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.
But what about this: is the call "Slab!" in example (2) a sentence or a word?--- If a word, surely it has not the same meaning as the like-sounding word of our ordinary language, for in (2) it is a call. But if a sentence, it is surely not the elliptical sentence: "Slab!" of our language.
-----As far as the first question goes you can call "Slab!" a word and also a sentence; perhaps it could be appropriately called a 'degenerate sentence' (as one speaks of a degenerate hyperbola); in fact it is our 'elliptical' sentence.---But that is surely only a shortened form of sentence "Bring me a slab", and there is no such sentence in example (2).---But why should I not on contrary have called the sentence "Bring me a slab" a lengthening of the sentence "Slab!"?---
Because if you shout "Slab!" you really mean: "Bring me a slab".---
But how do you do this: how do you mean that while you say "Slab!"? Do you say the unshortened sentence to yourself? And why should I translate the call "Slab!" into a different expression in order to say what someone means by it? And if they mean the same thing---why should I not say: "When he says 'Slab!'"? Again, if you can mean "Bring me the slab", why should you not be able to mean "Slab!"? -----But when I call "Slab!", then what I want is that he should bring me a slab!----- Certainly, but does 'wanting this' consist in thinking in some from or other a different sentence from the one you utter?---
But now it looks as if when someone says "Bring me a slab" he could mean this expression as one long word corresponding to the single word "Slab!" ----Then can one mean it sometimes as one word and sometimes as four? And can one mean it sometimes as one word and sometimes as four? And how does one usually mean it?-----
I think we shall be inclined to say: we mean the sentence as four words when we use it in contrast with other sentences such as "Hand me a slab", "Bring him a slab". "Bring two slabs", etc.; that is, in contrast with sentences containing the separate words of our command in other combinations.-----
But what does using one sentence in contrast with others consist in? Do the others, perhaps, hover before one's mind? All of them? And while one is saying the one sentence, or before, or afterwards?---
No. Even if such an explanation rather tempts us, we need only think for a moment of what actually happens in order to see that we are going astray here. We say that we use the command in contrast with other sentences because our language contains the possibility of those other sentences. Someone who did not understand our language, a foreigner, who had fairly often heard someone giving the order: "Bring me a slab!", might believe that this whole series of sounds was one word corresponding perhaps to the word for "building-stone" in his language. If he himself had then given this order perhaps he would have pronounced it differently, and we should say he pronounces it so oddly because he takes it for a single word.-----
But then, is there not also something different going on in him when he pronounces it,---something corresponding to the fact that he conceives the sentence as a single word?---
Either the same thing may go on in him, or something different. For what goes on in you when you give such an order? Are you conscious of its consisting of four words while you are uttering it? Of course you have a mastery of this language---which contains those other sentences as well---but is this having a mastery something that happens while you are uttering the sentence?---And I have admitted that the foreigner will probably pronounce a sentence differently if he conceives it differently; but what we call his wrong conception need not lie in anything that accompanies the utterance of the command.
The sentence is 'elliptical', not because it leaves out something that we think when we utter it, but because it is shortened---in comparison with a particular paradigm of our grammar.---
Of course one might object here: "You grant that the shortened and the unshortened sentence have the same sense.---What is this sense, then? Isn't there a verbal expression for this sense?"-----
But doesn't the fact that sentences have the same sense consist in their having the same use?---(In Russian one says "stone red" instead of " the stone is red"; do they feel the copula to be missing in the sense, or attach it in thought?)
21. 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. (Of course, we might use the words "statement" and "command" to stand for grammatical forms of sentence and intonations; we do in fact call "Isn't the weather glorious to-day?" a question, although it is used as a statement.) We could imagine a language in which all statements had the form and tone of rhetorical questions; or every command the form of the question "Would you like to. . .?". Perhaps it will then be said: "What he says has the form of a question but is really a command",---that is, has the function of a command in the technique of using the language. (Similarly one says "You will do this" not as a prophecy but as a command. What makes it the one or the other?)
22. Frege's idea that every assertion contains an assumption, which is the thing that is asserted, really rests on the possibility found in our language of writing every statement in the form: "It is assert that such-and-such is the case."--- But "that such-and-such is the case" is not a sentence in our language---so far it is not a move in the language-game. And if I write, not "It is asserted that . . . .", but "It is asserted: such-and-such is the case", the words "It is asserted" simply become superfluous.
We might very well also write every statement in the form of a question followed by a "Yes"; for instance: "Is it raining? Yes!" Would this shew that every statement contained a question?
Of course we have the right to use an assertion sign in contrast with a question-mark, for example, or if we want to distinguish an assertion from a fiction or a supposition. It is only a mistake if one thinks that the assertion consists of two actions, entertaining and asserting (assigning the truth-value, or something of the kind), and that in performing these actions we follow the prepositional sign roughly as we sing from the musical score. Reading the written sentence loud or soft is indeed comparable with singing from a musical score, but 'meaning' (thinking) the sentence that is read is not.
Frege's assertion sign marks the beginning of the sentence. Thus its function is like that of full-stop. It distinguishes the whole period from a clause within the period. If I hear someone say "it's raining" but do not know whether I have heard the beginning and the end of the period, so far this sentence does not serve to tell me anything.
23. But how many kinds of sentence are there? Say assertion, question, and command?--- There are countless kinds: countless different kinds of use of what we call "symbols", "words", "sentences". And this multiplicity is not something fixed, given once for all; but new types of language, new language- games, as we may say, come into existence, and others become obsolete and get forgotten. (We can get a rough picture of this from the changes in mathematics.)
Here the term "language-game" is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a form of life. Review the multiplicity of language-game in the following examples, and in others:
* Giving orders, and obeying them---
* Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its measurements---
* Constructing an object from a description (a drawing)---* Reporting an event---* Speculating about an event---
* Forming and testing a hypothesis---
* Presenting the results of an experiment in tables and diagrams---
* Making up a story; and reading it---
* Singing catches---
* Guessing riddles---
* Making a joke; telling it---
* Solving a problem in practical arithmetic---
* Translating from one language into another---
* Asking, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying.
---It is interesting to compare the multiplicity of the tools in language and of the ways they are used, the multiplicity of kinds of word and sentence, with what logicians have said about the structure of language.( Including the author of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.)
24. If you do not keep the multiplicity of language-games in view you will perhaps be inclined to ask questions like: "What is a question?"---Is it the statement that I do not know such-and-such, or the statement that I wish the other person would tell me. . . .? Or is it the description of my mental state of uncertainty?---And is the cry "Help!" such a description?
Think how many different kinds of thing are called "description": description of a body's position by means of its co-ordinates; description of a facial expression; description of a sensation of touch; of a mood.
Of course it is possible to substitute the form of statement or description for the usual form of question: " I want to know whether . . . ." or "I am in doubt whether . . . ."---but this does not bring the different language-games any closer together. The significance of such possibilities of transformation, for example of turning all statements into sentences beginning "I think" or "I believe" (and thus, as it were, into descriptions of my inner life) will become clearer in another place. ( Solipsism.)
25. It is sometimes said that animals do not talk because they lack the mental capacity. And this means: "they do not think, and that is why they do not talk." But---they simply do not talk. Or to put it better: they do not use language---if we except the most primitive forms of language.--- Commanding, questioning, recounting, chatting, are as much a part of our natural history as walking, eating, drinking, playing.
26. One thinks that learning language consists in giving names to objects. Viz, to human beings, to shapes, to colours. to pains. to moods, to numbers, etc. To repeat-naming is something like attaching a label to a thing. One can say that this is preparatory to the use of a word. But what is it a preparation for?
27. "We name things and then we can talk about them: can refer to them in talk." 'As if what we did next were given with the mere act of naming. As if there were only one thing called "talking about a thing". Whereas in fact we do the most various things with our sentences. Think of exclamations alone, with their completely different functions.
; Are you inclined still to call these words "names of objects"?
In languages and there was no such thing as asking something's name. This, with its correlate, ostensive definition, is, we might say, a language-game on its own. That is really to say: we are brought up, trained, to ask: "What is that called?"-upon which the name is given. And there is also a language-game of inventing a name for something, and hence of saying, "This is ...." and then using the new name. (Thus, for example, children give names to their dolls and then talk about them and to them. Think in this connexion how singular is the use of a person's name to call him!)
28. Now one can ostensively define a proper name, the name of a colour, the name of a material, a numeral, the name of a point of the compass and so on. The definition of the number two, "That is called 'two' "--pointing to two nuts-is perfectly exact. --But how can two be defined like that? The person one gives the definition to doesn't know what one wants to call "two"; he will suppose that "two" is the name given to this group of nuts! He may suppose this; but perhaps he does not. He might make the opposite mistake; when I want to assign a name to this group of nuts, he might understand it as a numeral. And he might equally well take the name of a person, of which I give an ostensive definition, as that of a colour, of a race, or even of a point of the compass. That is to say: an ostensive definition can be variously interpreted in every case.
29. Perhaps you say: two can only be ostensively defined in this way: "This number is called 'two' ". For the word "number" here shews what place in language, in grammar, we assign to the word. But this means that the word "number" must be explained before the ostensive definition can be understood.
--The word "number" in the definition does indeed shew this place; does shew the post at which we station the word. And we can prevent misunderstandings by saying: "This colour is called so-and-so", "This length is called so-and-so", and so on. That is to say: misunderstandings are sometimes averted in this way. But is there only one way of taking the word "colour" or "length"?-Well, they just need defining.-Defining, then, by means of other words! And what about the last definition in this chain? (Do not say: "There isn't a 'last' definition". That is just as if you chose to say: "There isn't a last house in this road; one can always build an additional one''.)
Whether the word "number" is necessary in the ostensive definition depends on whether without it the other person takes the definition otherwise than I wish. And that will depend on the circumstances under which it is given, and on the person I give it to.
And how he 'takes' the definition is seen in the use that he makes of the word defined.
30. So one might say: the ostensive definition explains the use--the meaning--of the word when the overall role of the word in language is clear. Thus if I know that someone means to explain a colour-word to me the ostensive definition "That is called 'sepia' " will help me to understand the word.
--And you can say this, so long as you do not forget that all sorts of problems attach to the words "to know" or "to be clear".
One has already to know (or be able to do) something in order to be capable of asking a thing's name. But what does one have to know?
footnote: Could one define the word "red" by pointing to something that was not red? That would be as if one were supposed to explain the word "modest" to someone whose English was weak, and one pointed to an arrogant man and said "That man is not modest". That it is ambiguous is no argument against such a method of definition. Any definition can be misunderstood.
But it might well be asked: are we still to call this "definition"?-- For, of course, even if it has the same practical consequences, the same effect on the learner, it plays a different part in the calculus from what we ordinarily call "ostensive definition" of the word "red".
31. When one shews someone the king in chess and says: "This is the king", this does not tell him the use of this piece-unless he already knows the rules of the game up to this last point: the shape of the king. You could imagine his having learnt the rules of the game without ever having been strewn an actual piece. The shape of the chessman corresponds here to the sound or shape of a word.
One can also imagine someone's having learnt the game without ever learning or formulating rules. He might have learnt quite simple board-games first, by watching, and have progressed to more and more complicated ones. He too might be given the explanation "This is the king",-- if, for instance, he were being strewn chessmen of a shape he was not used to. This explanation again only tells him the use of the piece because, as we might say, the place for it was already prepared. Or even: we shall only say that it tells him the use, if the place is already prepared. And in this case it is so, not because the person to whom we give the explanation already knows rules, but because in another sense he is already master of a game.
Consider this further case: I am explaining chess to someone; and I begin by pointing to a chessman and saying: "This is the king; it can move like this, .... and so on." -- In this case we shall say: the words "This is the king" (or "This is called the 'king' ") are a definition only if the learner already 'knows what a piece in a game is'. That is, if he has already played other games, or has watched other people praying 'and understood'-and similar things. Further, only under these conditions will he be able to ask relevantly in the course of learning the game: "What do you call this?"--that is, this piece in a game. We may say: only someone who already knows how to do something with it can significantly ask a name.
And we can imagine the person who is asked replying: "Settle the name yourself"-and now the one who asked would have to manage everything for himself.
32. Someone coming into a strange country will sometimes learn the language of the inhabitants from ostensive definitions that they give him; and he will often have to 'guess' the meaning of these definitions; and will guess sometimes right, sometimes wrong.
And now, I think, we can say: Augustine describes the learning of human language as if the child came into a strange country and did not understand the language of the country; that is, as if it already had a language, only not this one. Or again: as if the child could already think, only not yet speak. And "think" would here mean something like "talk to itself".
33. Suppose, however, someone were to object: "It is not true that you must already be master of a language in order to understand an ostensive definition: all you need --of course!-- is to know or guess what the person giving the explanation is pointing to. That is, whether for example to the shape of the object, or to its colour, or to its number, and so on." -- And what does 'pointing to the shape', 'pointing to the colour' consist in? Point to a piece of paper. --And now point to its shape -- now to its colour -- now to its number (that sounds queer). --How did you do it? --You will say that you 'meant' a different thing each time you pointed. And if I ask how that is done, you will say you concentrated your attention on the colour, the shape, etc. But I ask again: how is that done?
Suppose someone points to a vase and says "Look at that marvellous blue-the shape isn't the point." --Or: "Look at the marvellous shape-the colour doesn't matter." Without doubt you will do something different when you act upon these two invitations. But do you always do the same thing when you direct your attention to the colour? Imagine various different cases. To indicate a few:
* "Is this blue the same as the blue over there? Do you see any difference?"
* You are mixing paint and you say "It's hard to get the blue of this sky."
* "It's turning fine, you can already see blue sky again."
* "Look what different effects these two blues have."
* "Do you see the blue book over there? Bring it here. "
* "This blue signal-light means ...."
* "What's this blue called.'-Is it 'indigo'?"
You sometimes attend to the colour by putting your hand up to keep the outline from view; or by not looking at the outline of the thing; sometimes by staring at the object and trying to remember where you saw that colour before. You attend to the shape, sometimes by tracing it, sometimes by screwing up your eyes so as not to see the colour clearly, and in many other ways. I want to say: This is the sort of thing that happens while one 'directs one's attention to this or that'. But it isn't these things by themselves that make us say someone is attending to the shape, the colour, and so on. Just as a move in chess doesn't consist simply in moving a piece in such-and-such a way on the board-nor yet in one's thoughts and feelings as one makes the move: but in the circumstances that we call "playing a game of chess", "solving a chess problem", and so on.
34. But suppose someone said: "I always do the same thing when I attend to the shape: my eye follows the outline and I feel....". And suppose this person [were] to give someone else the ostensive definition "That is called a 'circle' ", pointing to a circular object and having all these experiences[,[ cannot his hearer still interpret the definition differently, even though he sees the other's eyes following the outline, and even though-he feels what the other feels?
That is to say: this 'interpretation' may also consist in how he now makes use of the word; in what he points to, for example, when told: "Point to a circle".-
For neither the expression "to intend the definition in such-and-such a way" nor the expression "to interpret the definition in such-and-such a way" stands for a process which accompanies the giving and hearing of the definition.
35. There are, of course, what can be called "characteristic experiences" of pointing to (e.g.) the shape. For example, following the outline with one's finger or with one's eyes as one points. --But this does not happen in all cases in which I 'mean the shape', and no more does any other one characteristic process occur in all these cases. --Besides, even if something of the sort did recur in all cases, it would still depend on the circumstances --that is, on what happened before and after the pointing --whether we should say "He pointed to the shape and not to the colour".
For the words "to point to the shape", "to mean the shape", and so on, are not used in the same way as these: "to point to this book (not to that one), "to point to the chair, not to the table", and so on. --Only think how differently we learn the use of the words "to point to this thing", "to point to that thing", and on the other hand "to point to the colour, not the shape", "to mean the colour", and so on.
To repeat: in certain cases, especially when one points 'to the shape' or 'to the number' there are characteristic experiences and ways of pointing-'characteristic' because they recur often (not always) when shape or number are 'meant'. But do you also know of an experience characteristic of pointing to a piece in a game as a piece in a game?
All the same one can say: "I mean that this piece is called the 'king', not this particular bit of wood I am pointing to". (Recognizing, wishing, remembering, etc. )
36. And we do here what we do in a host of similar cases: because we cannot specify any one bodily action which we call pointing to the shape (as opposed, for example, to the colour), we say that a spiritual (mental, intellectual) activity corresponds to these words. Where our language suggests a body and there is none: there, we should like to say, is a spirit.
37. What is the relation between name and thing named? Well, what is it? Look at language-game or at another one: there you can see the sort of thing this relation consists in. This relation may also consist, among many other things, in the fact that hearing the name calls before our mind the picture of what is named; and it also consists, among other things, in the name's being written on the thing named or being pronounced when that thing is pointed at.
38. But what, for example, is the word "this" the name of in language-game or the word "that" in the ostensive definition "that is called ...."?
--If you do not want to produce confusion you will do best not to call these words names at all.-- Yet, strange to say, the word "this" has been called the only genuine name; so that anything else we call a name was one only in an inexact, approximate way. This queer conception springs from a tendency to sublime the logic of our language-as one might put it.
The proper answer to it is: we call very different things "names"; the word "name" is used to characterize many different kinds of use of a word, related to one another in many different ways;-but the kind of use that "this" has is not among them.
It is quite true that, in giving an >ostensive definition for instance, we often point to the object named and say the name. And similarly, in giving an ostensive definition for instance, we say the word "this" while pointing to a thing. And also the word "this" and a name often occupy the same position in a sentence. But it is precisely characteristic of a name that it is defined by means of the demonstrative expression "That is N" (or "That is called 'N' "). But do we also give the definitions: "That is called 'this' ", or "This is called 'this'"?
This is connected with the conception of naming as, so to speak, an occult process.
Naming appears as a queer connexion of a word with an object. --And you really get such a queer connexion when the philosopher tries to bring out the relation between name and thing by staring at an object in front of him and repeating a name or even the word "this" innumerable times. For philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday. And here we may indeed fancy naming to be some remarkable act of mind, as it were a baptism of an object. And we can also say the word "this" to the object, as it were address the object as "this"-a queer use of this word, which doubtless only occurs in doing philosophy.
What is it to mean the words "That is blue" at one time as a statement about the object one is pointing to --at another as an explanation of the word "blue"? Well, in the second case one really means "That is called 'blue' ". --Then can one at one time mean the word "is" as "is called" and the word "blue" as " 'blue' ", and another time mean "is" really as "is"?
It is also possible for someone to get an explanation of the words out of what was intended as a piece of information. [Marginal note: Here lurks a crucial superstition.]
Can I say "bububu" and mean "If it doesn't rain I shall go for a walk"? --It is only in a language that I can mean something by something. This shews clearly that the grammar of "to mean" is not like that of the expression "to imagine" and the like.
39. But why does it occur to one to want to make precisely this word into a name, when it evidently is not a name?-That is just the reason. For one is tempted to make an objection against what is ordinarily called a name. It can be put like this: a name ought really to signify a simple. And for this one might perhaps give the following reasons: The word "Excalibur", say, is a proper name in the ordinary sense. The sword Excalibur consists of parts combined in a particular way. If they are combined differently Excalibur does not exist.
But it is clear that the sentence "Excalibur has a sharp blade" makes sense whether Excalibur is still whole or is broken up. But if "Excalibur" is the name of an object, this object no longer exists when Excalibur is broken in pieces; and as no object would then correspond to the name it would have no meaning. But then the sentence "Excalibur has a sharp blade" would contain a word that had no meaning, and hence the sentence would be nonsense. But it does make sense; so there must always be something corresponding to the words of which it consists. So the word "Excalibur" must disappear when the sense is analysed and its place be taken by words which name simples. It will be reasonable to call these words the real names.
40. Let us first discuss this point of the argument: that a word has no meaning if nothing corresponds to it.-It is important to note that the word "meaning" is being used illicitly if it is used to signify the thing that 'corresponds' to the word. That is to confound the meaning of a name with the bearer of the name. When Mr. N. N. dies one says that the bearer of the name dies, not that the meaning dies. And it would be nonsensical to say that, for if the name ceased to have meaning it would make no sense to say "Mr. N. N. is dead."
41. In #15 we introduced proper names into language. Now suppose that the tool with the name "N" is broken. Not knowing this, A gives B the sign "N". Has this sign meaning now or not.?-What is B to do when he is given it?-We have not settled anything about this. One might ask: what mill he do? Well, perhaps he will stand there at a loss, or shew A the pieces. Here one might say: "N" has become meaningless; and this expression would mean that the sign "N" no longer had a use in our language-game (unless we gave it a new one). "N" might also become meaningless because, for whatever reason, the tool was given another name and the sign "N" no longer used in the language-game. -- But we could also imagine a convention whereby B has to shake his head in reply if A gives him the sign belonging to a tool that is broken.-In this way the command "N" might be said to be given a place in the language-game even when the tool no longer exists, and the sign "N" to have meaning even when its bearer ceases to exist.
42. But has for instance a name which has never been used for a tool also got a meaning in that game? Let us assume that "X" is such a sign and that A gives this sign to B -- well, even such signs could be given a place in the language-game, and B might have, say, to answer them too with a shake of the head. (One could imagine this as a sort of joke between them.)
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.
And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to its bearer.
44. We said that the sentence "Excalibur has a sharp blade" made sense even when Excalibur was broken in pieces. Now this is so because in this language-game a name is also used in the absence of its bearer. But we can imagine a language-game with names (that is, with signs which we should certainly include among names) in which they are used only in the presence of the bearer; and so could always be replaced by a demonstrative pronoun and the gesture of pointing.
45. The demonstrative "this" can never be without a bearer. It might be said: "so long as there is a this, the word 'this' has a meaning too, whether this is simple or complex." But that does not make the word into a name. On the contrary: for a name is not used with, but only explained by means of, the gesture of pointing.
46. What lies behind the idea that names really signify simples? --Socrates says in the Theaetetus: "If I make no mistake, I have heard some people say this: there is no definition of the primary elements -- so to speak -- out of which we and everything else are composed; for everything that exists in its own right can only be named, no other determination is possible, neither that it is nor that it is not..... But what exists in its own right has to be ....... named without any other determination. In consequence it is impossible to give an account of any primary element; for it, nothing is possible but the bare name; its name is all it has. But just as what consists of these primary elements is itself complex, so the names of the elements become descriptive language by being compounded together. For the essence of speech is the composition of names." Both Russell's 'individuals' and my 'objects' (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) were such primary elements.
47. But what are the simple constituent parts of which reality is composed? -- What are the simple constituent parts of a chair? -- The bits of wood of which it is made? Or the molecules, or the atoms? -- "Simple" means: not composite. And here the point is: in what sense 'composite'? It makes no sense at all to speak absolutely of the 'simple parts of a chair'.
Again: Does my visual image of this tree, of this chair, consist of parts? And what are its simple component parts? Multi-colouredness is one kind of complexity; another is, for example, that of a broken outline composed of straight bits. And a curve can be said to be composed of an ascending and a descending segment.
If I tell someone without any further explanation: "What I see before me now is composite," he will have the right to ask: "What do you mean by 'composite'? For there are all sorts of things that that can mean! --
The question "Is what you see composite?" makes good sense if it is already established what kind of complexity -- that is, which particular use of the word -- is in question. If it had been laid down that the visual image of a tree was to be called "composite" if one saw not just a single trunk, but also branches, then the question "Is the visual image of this tree simple or composite?" and the question "What are its simple component parts?", would have a clear sense-a clear use. And of course the answer to the second question is not "The branches" (that would be an answer to the grammatical question: "What are here called 'simple component parts'?") but rather a description of the individual branches.
But isn't a chessboard, for instance, obviously, and absolutely, composite?
-- You are probably thinking of the composition out of thirty-two white and thirty-two black squares. But could we not also say, for instance, that it was composed of the colours black and white and the schema of squares? And if there are quite different ways of looking at it, do you still want to say that the chessboard is absolutely 'composite'? --
Asking "Is this object composite?" outside a particular language-game is like what a boy once did, who had to say whether the verbs in certain sentences were in the active or passive voice, and who racked his brains over the question whether the verb "to sleep" meant something active or passive.
We use the word "composite" (and therefore the word "simple") in an enormous number of different and differently related ways. (Is the colour of a square on a chessboard simple, or does it consist of pure white and pure yellow? And is white simple, or does it consist of the colours of the rainbow? -- Is this length of 2 cm. simple, or does it consist of two parts, each ~ cm. long? But why not of one bit 3 cm long, and one bit I cm. long measured in the opposite direction?)
To the philosophical question: "Is the visual image of this tree composite, and what are its component parts?" the correct answer is: "That depends on what you understand by 'composite'." (And that is of course not an answer but a rejection of the question.)
48. Let us apply the method of (2) to the account in the Theaetetus. Let us consider a language-game for which this account is really valid. The language serves to describe combinations of coloured squares on a surface. The squares form a complex like a chessboard. There are red, green, white and black squares. The words of the language are (correspondingly) "R", "G", "W", "B", and a sentence is a series of these words. They describe an arrangement of squares in the order:
And so for instance the sentence "RRBGGGRWW" describes an arrangement of this sort:
Here the sentence is a complex of names, to which corresponds a complex of elements. The primary elements are the coloured squares. "But are these simple?"-I do not know what else you would have me call "the simples", what would be more natural in this language-game. But under other circumstances I should call a monochrome square "composite", consisting perhaps of two rectangles, or of the elements colour and shape. But the concept of complexity might also be so extended that a smaller area was said to be 'composed' of a greater area and another one subtracted from it. Compare the 'composition of forces', the 'division' of a line by a point outside it; these expressions shew that we are sometimes even inclined to conceive the smaller as the result of a composition of greater parts, and the greater as the result of a division of the smaller.
But I do not know whether to say that the figure described by our sentence consists of four or of nine elements! Well, does the sentence consist of four letters or of nine? And which are its elements, the types of letter, or the letters? Does it matter which we say, so long as we avoid misunderstandings in any particular case?
49. But what does it mean to say that we cannot define (that is, describe) these elements, but only name them? This might mean, for instance, that when in a limiting case a complex consists of only one square, its description is simply the name of the coloured square.
Here we might say --though this easily leads to all kinds of philosophical superstition-- that a sign "R" or "B", etc. may be sometimes a word and sometimes a proposition. But whether it 'is a word or a proposition' depends on the situation in which it is uttered or written. For instance, if A has to describe complexes of coloured squares to B and he uses the word "R" alone, we shall be able to say that the word is a description -- a proposition. But if he is memorizing the words and their meanings, or if he is teaching someone else the use of the words and uttering them in the course of ostensive teaching, we shall not say that they are propositions. In this situation the word "R", for instance, is not a description; it names an element but it would be queer to make that a reason for saying that an element can only be named! For naming and describing do not stand on the same level: naming is a preparation for description. Naming is so far not a move in the language-game -- any more than putting a piece in its place on the board is a move in chess. We may say: nothing has so far been done, when a thing has been named. It has not even got a name except in the language-game. This was what Frege meant too, when he said that a word had meaning only as part of a sentence.
50. What does it mean to say that we can attribute neither being nor non-being to elements? --One might say: if everything that we call "being" and "non-being" consists in the existence and non-existence of connexions between elements, it makes no sense to speak of an element's being (non-being); just as when everything that we call "destruction" lies in the separation of elements, it makes no sense to speak of the destruction of an element.
One would, however, like to say: existence cannot be attributed to an element, for if it did not exist, one could not even name it and so one could say nothing at all of it.
--But let us consider an analogous case. There is one thing of which one can say neither that it is one metre long, nor that it is not one metre long, and that is the standard metre in Paris.-But this is, of course, not to ascribe any extraordinary property to it, but only to mark its peculiar role in the language-game of measuring with a metre-rule.-Let us imagine samples of colour being preserved in Paris like the standard metre. We define: "sepia" means the colour of the standard sepia which is there kept hermetically sealed. Then it will make no sense to say of this sample either that it is of this colour or that it is not.
We can put it like this: This sample is an instrument of the language used in ascriptions of colour. In this language-game it is not something that is represented, but is a means of representation.-- And just this goes for an element in language-game (48) when we name it by uttering the word "R": this gives this object a role in our language-game; it is now a means of representation. And to say "If it did not exist, it could have no name" is to say as much and as little as: if this thing did not exist, we could not use it in our language-game.--
What looks as if it had to exist, is part of the language. It is a paradigm in our language-game; something with which comparison is made. And this may be an important observation; but it is none the less an observation concerning our language-game-our method of representation.
51. In describing language-game (48) I said that the words "R", "B", etc. corresponded to the colours of the squares. But what does this correspondence consist in; in what sense can one say that certain colours of squares correspond to these signs? For the account in (48) merely set up a connexion between those signs and certain words of our language (the names of colours).
-- Well, it was presupposed that the use of the signs in the language-game would be taught in a different way, in particular by pointing to paradigms.
Very well; but what does it mean to say that in the technique of using the language certain elements correspond to the signs? --Is it that the person who is describing the complexes of coloured squares always says "R" where there is a red square; "B" when there is a black one, and so on?
But what if he goes wrong in the description and mistakenly says "R" where he sees a black square --what is the criterion by which this is a mistake? --Or does "R"s standing for a red square consist in this, that when the people whose language it is use the sign "R" a red square always comes before their minds?
In order to see more clearly, here as in countless similar cases, we must focus on the details of what goes on; must look at them from close to.
52. If I am inclined to suppose that a mouse has come into being by spontaneous generation out of grey rags and dust, I shall do well to examine those rags very closely to see how a mouse may have hidden in them, how it may have got there and so on. But if I am convinced that a mouse cannot come into being from these things, then this investigation will perhaps be superfluous.
But first we must learn to understand what it is that opposes such an examination of details in philosophy.
53. Our language-game (48) has various possibilities; there is a variety of cases in which we should say that a sign in the game was the name of a square of such-and-such a colour. We should say so if, for instance, we knew that the people who used the language were taught the use of the signs in such-and-such a way. Or if it were set down in writing, say in the form of a table, that this element corresponded to this sign, and if the table were used in teaching the language and were appealed to in certain disputed cases.
We can also imagine such a table's being a tool in the use of the language. Describing a complex is then done like this: the person who describes the complex has a table with him and looks up each element of the complex in it and passes from this to the sign (and the one who is given the description may also use a table to translate it into a picture of coloured squares).
This table might be said to take over here the role of memory and association in other cases. (We do not usually carry out the order "Bring me a red flower" by looking up the colour red in a table of colours and then bringing a flower of the colour that we find in the table; but when it is a question of choosing or mixing a particular shade of red, we do sometimes make use of a sample or table.)
If we call such a table the expression of a rule of the language-game, it can be said that what we call a rule of a language-game may have very different roles in the game.
54. Let us recall the kinds of case where we say that a game is played according to a definite rule.
The rule may be an aid in teaching the game. The learner is told it and given practice in applying it.
--Or it is an instrument of the game itself.
--Or a rule is employed neither in the teaching nor in the game itself; nor is it set down in a list of rules. One learns the game by watching how others play. But we say that it is played according to such-and-such rules because an observer can read these rules off from the practice of the game-like a natural law governing the play. --But how does the observer distinguish in this case between players' mistakes and correct play? --There are characteristic signs of it in the players' behaviour. Think of the behaviour characteristic of correcting a slip of the tongue. It would be possible to recognize that someone was doing so even without knowing his language.
55. "What the names in language signify must be indestructible; for it must be possible to describe the state of affairs in which everything destructible is destroyed. And this description will contain words; and what corresponds to these cannot then be destroyed, for otherwise/the words would have no meaning." I must not saw off the branch on which I am sitting.
One might, of course, object at once that this description would have to except itself from the destruction.
--But what corresponds to the separate words of the description and so cannot be destroyed if it is true, is what gives the words their meaning --- is that without which they would have no meaning. In a sense, however, this man is surely what corresponds to his name. But he is destructible, and his name does not lose its meaning when the bearer is destroyed
--An example of something corresponding to the name, and without which it would have no meaning, is a paradigm that is used in connexion with the name in the language-game.
56. But what if no such sample is part of the language, and we bear in mind the colour (for instance) that a word stands for? --"And if we bear it in mind then it comes before our mind's eye when we utter the word. So, if it is always supposed to be possible for us to remember it, it must be in itself indestructible."
--But what do we regard as the criterion for remembering it right?
--When we work with a sample instead of our memory there are circumstances in which we say that the sample has changed colour and we judge of this by memory. But can we not sometimes speak of a darkening (for example) of our memory-image? Aren't we as much at the mercy of memory as of a sample? (For someone might feel like saying: "If we had no memory we should be at the mercy of a sample".) --Or perhaps of some chemical reaction. Imagine that you were supposed to paint a particular colour "C", which was the colour that appeared when the chemical substances X and Y combined.-Suppose that the colour struck you as brighter on one day than on another; would you not sometimes say: "I must be wrong, the colour is certainly the same as yesterday"? This shews that we do not always resort to what memory tells us as the verdict of the highest court of appeal.
57. "Something red can be destroyed, but red cannot be destroyed, and that is why the meaning of the word 'red' is independent of the existence of a red thing."
-Certainly it makes no sense to say that the colour red is torn up or pounded to bits. But don't we say "The red is vanishing"? And don't clutch at the idea of our always being able to bring red before our mind's eye even when there is nothing red any more. That is just as if you chose to say that there would still always be a chemical reaction producing a red flame.-For suppose you cannot remember the colour any more.;-When we forget which colour this is the name of, it loses its meaning for us; that is, we are no longer able to play a particular language-game with it. And the situation then is comparable with that in which we have lost a paradigm which was an instrument of our language.
58. "I want to restrict the term 'name' to what cannot occur in the combination 'X exists'. --Thus one cannot say 'Red exists', because if there were no red it could not be spoken of at all."
--Better: If "X exists" is meant simply to say: "X" has a meaning,
-then it is not a proposition which treats of X, but a proposition about our use of language, that is, about the use of the word "X".
It looks to us as if we were saying something about the nature of red in saying that the words "Red exists" do not yield a sense. Namely that red does exist 'in its own right'.
The same idea --that this is a metaphysical statement about red --finds expression again when we say such a thing as that red is timeless, and perhaps still more strongly in the word "indestructible".
But what we really want is simply to take "Red exists" as the statement: the word "red" has a meaning. Or perhaps better: "Red does not exist" as " 'Red' has no meaning".
Only we do not want to say that that expression says this, but that this is what it would have to be saying if it meant anything. But that it contradicts itself in the attempt to say it --just because red exists 'in its own right'. Whereas the only contradiction lies in something like this: the proposition looks as if it were about the colour, while it is supposed to be saying something about the use of the word "red"
--In reality, however, we quite readily say that a particular colour exists; and that is as much as to say that something exists that has that colour. And the first expression is no less accurate than the second; particularly where 'what has the colour' is not a physical object.
59. "A name signifies only what is an element of reality. What cannot be destroyed; what remains the same in all changes."
-- But what is that? --Why, it swam before our minds as we said the sentence! This was the very expression of a quite particular image: of a particular picture which we want to use. For certainly experience does not shew us these elements. We see component parts of something composite (of a chair, for instance). We say that the back is part of the chair, but is in turn itself composed of several bits of wood; while a leg is a simple component part. We also see a whole which changes (is destroyed) while its component parts remain unchanged. These are the materials from which we construct that picture of reality.
60. When I say: "My broom is in the corner",-is this really a statement about the broomstick and the brush?
Well, it could at any rate be replaced by a statement giving the position of the stick and the position of the brush. And this statement is surely a further analysed form of the first one.
-But why do I call it "further analysed"?
Well, if the broom is there, that surely means that the stick and brush must be there, and in a particular relation to one another; and this was as it were hidden in the sense of the first sentence, and is expressed in the analysed sentence.
Then does someone who says that the broom is in the corner really mean: the broomstick is there, and so is the brush, and the broomstick is fixed in the brush?
-If we were to ask anyone if he meant this he would probably say that he had not thought specially of the broomstick or specially of the brush at all. And that would be the right answer, for he meant to speak neither of the stick nor of the brush in particular. Suppose that, instead of saying "Bring me the broom", you said "Bring me the broomstick and the brush which is fitted on to it."!-Isn't the answer: "Do you want the broom? Why do you put it so oddly?" Is he going to understand the further analysed sentence better?
Is he going to understand the further analysed sentence better?-This sentence, one might say, achieves the same as the ordinary one, but in a more roundabout way.
-Imagine a language-game in which someone is ordered to bring certain objects which are composed of several parts, to move them about, or something else of the kind. And two ways of playing it: in one (a) the composite objects (brooms, chairs, tables, etc.) have names, as in (15) in the other (b) only the parts are given names and the wholes are described by means of them. -In what sense is an order in the second game an analysed form of an order in the first? Does the former lie concealed in the latter, and is it now brought out by analysis.' - True, the broom is taken to pieces when one separates broomstick and brush; but does it follow that the order to bring the broom also consists of corresponding parts?
61. "But all the same you will not deny that a particular order in (a) means the same as one in (b); and what would you call the second one, if not an analysed form of the first?"
-Certainly I too should say that an order in (a) had the same meaning as one in (b); or, as I expressed it earlier: they achieve the same. And this means that if I were shewn an order in (a) and asked: "Which order in (b) means the same as this?" or again "Which order in (b) does this contradict?" I should give such-and-such an answer. But that is not to say that we have come to a general agreement about the use of the expression "to have the same meaning" or "to achieve the same". For it can be asked in what cases we say: "These are merely two forms of the same game."
62. Suppose for instance that the person who is given the orders in (a) and (b) has to look up a table co-ordinating names and pictures before bringing what is required.
Does he do the same when he carries out an order in (a) and the corresponding one in (b) -Yes and no. You may say: "The point of the two orders is the same". I should say so too.-But it is not everywhere clear what should be called the 'point' of an order. (Similarly one may say of certain objects that they have this or that purpose. The essential thing is that this is a lamp, that it serves to give light;-that it is an ornament to the room, fills an empty space, etc., is not essential. But there is not always a sharp distinction between essential and inessential.)
63. To say, however, that a sentence in (b) is an 'analysed' form of one in (a) readily seduces us into thinking that the former is the more fundamental form; that it alone shews what is meant by the other, and so on.
For example, we think: If you have only the unanalysed form you miss the analysis; but if you know the analysed form that gives you everything.
But can I not say that an aspect of the matter is lost on you in the latter case as well as the former?
64. Let us imagine language game (48) altered so that names signify not monochrome squares but rectangles each consisting of two such squares. Let such a rectangle, which is half red half green, be called "U"; a half green half white one, "V"; and so on. Could we not imagine people who had names for such combinations of colour, but not for the individual colours? Think of the cases where we say: "This arrangement of colours (say the French tricolor) has a quite special character."
In what sense do the symbols of this language-game stand in need of analysis? How far is it even possible to replace this language-game by (48)? -It is just another language-game; even though it is related to (48)
65. Here we come up against the great question that lies behind all these considerations.-For someone might object against me: "You take the easy way out! You talk about all sorts of language-games, but have nowhere said what the essence of a language-game, and hence of language, is: what is common to all these activities, and what makes them into language or parts of language. So you let yourself off the very part of the investigation that once gave you yourself most headache, the part about the general form of propositions and of language."
And this is true.-Instead of producing something common to all that we call language, I am saying that these phenomena have no one thing in common which makes us use the same word for all,-but that they are related to one another in many different ways. And it is because of this relationship, or these relationships, that we call them all "language". I will try to explain this.
66. Consider for example the proceedings that we call "games". I mean board-games, card-games, ball-games, Olympic games, and so on. What is common to them all? -- Don't say: "There must be something common, or they would not be called 'games' "-but look and see whether there is anything common to all. -- For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at that. To repeat: don't think, but look! --
Look for example at board-games, with their multifarious relationships.
Now pass to card-games; here you find many correspondences with the first group, but many common features drop out, and others appear.
When we pass next to ball-games, much that is common is retained, but much is lost.-- Are they all 'amusing'? Compare chess with noughts and crosses. Or is there always winning and losing, or competition between players? Think of patience. In ball games there is winning and losing; but when a child throws his ball at the wall and catches it again, this feature has disappeared. Look at the parts played by skill and luck; and at the difference between skill in chess and skill in tennis.
Think now of games like ring-a-ring-a-roses; here is the element of amusement, but how many other characteristic features have disappeared! sometimes similarities of detail.
And we can go through the many, many other groups of games in the same way; can see how similarities crop up and disappear.
And the result of this examination is: we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and cries-crossing: sometimes overall similarities.
67. I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than "family resemblances"; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and cries-cross in the same way.-And I shall say: 'games' form a family.
And for instance the kinds of number form a family in the same way. Why do we call something a "number"? Well, perhaps because it has a-direct-relationship with several things that have hitherto been called number; and this can be said to give it an indirect relationship to other things we call the same name. And we extend our concept of number as in spinning a thread we twist fibre on fibre. And the strength of the thread does not reside in the fact that some on e fibre runs through its whole length, but in the overlapping of many fibres.
But if someone wished to say: "There is something common to all these constructions-namely the disjunction of all their common properties" --I should reply: Now you are only playing with words. One might as well say: "Something runs through the whole thread- namely the continuous overlapping of those fibres".
68. "All right: the concept of number is defined for you as the logical sum of these individual interrelated concepts: cardinal numbers, rational numbers, real numbers, etc.; and in the same way the concept of a game as the logical sum of a corresponding set of sub-concepts."
It need not be so. For I can give the concept 'number' rigid limits in this way, that is, use the word "number" for a rigidly limited concept, but I can also use it so that the extension of the concept is not closed by a frontier. And this is how we do use the word "game". 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.
You can draw one; for none has so far been drawn. (But that never troubled you before when you used the word "game".)
"But then the use of the word is unregulated, the 'game' we play with it is unregulated."
It is not everywhere circumscribed by rules; but no more are there any rules for how high one throws the ball in tennis, or how hard; yet tennis is a game for all that and has rules too.
69. How should we explain to someone what a game is?
I imagine that we should describe games to him, and we might add: "This and similar things are called 'games' ". And do we know any more about it ourselves? Is it only other people whom we cannot tell exactly what a game is?
-But this is not ignorance. We do not know the boundaries because none have been drawn. To repeat, we can draw a boundary-for a special purpose. Does it take that to make the concept usable? Not at all! (Except for that special purpose.) No more than it took the definition: 1 pace = 75 cm. to make the measure of length 'one pace' usable. And if you want to say "But still, before that it wasn't an exact measure", then I reply: very well, it was an inexact one.-Though you still owe me a definition of exactness.
#[Someone says to me: "Shew the children a game." I teach them gaming with dice, and the other says "I didn't mean that sort of game." Must the exclusion of the game with dice have come before his mind when he gave me the order?]
70. "But if the concept 'game' is uncircumscribed like that, you don't really know what you mean by a 'game'."
-- When I give the description: "The ground was quite covered with plants" --do you want to say I don't know what I am talking about until I can give a definition of a plant?
My meaning would be explained by, say, a drawing and the words "The ground looked roughly like this". Perhaps I even say "it looked exactly like this."-Then were just this grass and these leaves there, arranged just like this? No, that is not what it means. And I should not accept any picture as exact in this sense.
71. One might say that the concept 'game' is a concept with blurred edges.-
"But is a blurred concept a concept at all?"- Is an indistinct photograph a picture of a person at all? Is it even always an advantage to replace an indistinct picture by a sharp one? Isn't the indistinct one often exactly what we need?
Frege compares a concept to an area and says that an area with vague boundaries cannot be called an area at all. This presumably means that we cannot do anything with it.
-But is it senseless to say: "Stand roughly there"?
Suppose that I were standing with someone in a city square and said that. As I say it I do not draw any kind of boundary, but perhaps point with my hand-as if I were indicating a particular spot.
And this is just how one might explain to someone what a game is. One gives examples and intends them to be taken in a particular way.
--I do not, however, mean by this that he is supposed to see in those examples that common thing which I --for some reason-- was unable to express; but that he is now to employ those examples in a particular way. Here giving examples is not an indirect means of explaining -- in default of a better.
For any general definition can be misunderstood too.
The point is that this is how we play the game. (I mean the language-game with the word "game".)
72. Seeing what is common. Suppose I shew someone various multi-coloured pictures, and say: "The colour you see in all these is called 'yellow ochre' ".-This is a definition, and the other will get to understand it by looking for and seeing what is common to the pictures. Then he can look at, can point to, the common thing.
Compare with this a case in which I shew him figures of different shapes all painted the same colour, and say: "What these have in common is called 'yellow ochre' ".
And compare this case: I shew him samples of different shades of blue and say: "The colour that is common to all these is what I call 'blue'".
73. When someone defines the names of colours for me by pointing to samples and saying "This colour is called 'blue', this 'green' ..... " this case can be compared in many respects to putting a table in my hands, with the words written under the colour-samples.-Though this comparison may mislead in many ways.-
One is now inclined to extend the comparison: to have understood the definition means to have in one's mind an idea of the thing defined, and that is a sample or picture. So if I am shewn various different leaves and told "This is called a 'leaf' ", I get an idea of the shape of a leaf, a picture of it in my mind.-But what does the picture of a leaf look like when it does not shew us any particular shape, but 'what is common to all shapes of leaf'? Which shade is the 'sample in my mind' of the colour green-the sample of what is common to all shades of green?
"But might there not be such 'general' samples? Say a schematic leaf, or a sample of pure green?"
-Certainly there might. But for such a schema to be understood as a schema, and not as the shape of a particular leaf, and for a slip of pure green to be understood as a sample of all that is greenish and not as a sample of pure green-this in turn resides in the way the samples are used.
Ask yourself: what shape must the sample of the colour green be? Should it be rectangular? Or would it then be the sample of a green rectangle?-So should it be 'irregular' in shape? And what is to prevent us then from regarding it-that is, from using it-only as a sample of irregularity of shape?
74. Here also belongs the idea that if you see this leaf as a sample of 'leaf shape in general' you see it differently from someone who regards it as, say, a sample of this particular shape. Now this might well be so -- though it is not so -- for it would only be to say that, as a matter of experience, if you see the leaf in a particular way, you use it in such-and-such a way or according to such-and-such rules.
Of course, there is such a thing as seeing in this way or that; and there are also cases where whoever sees a sample like this will in general use it in this way, and whoever sees it otherwise in another way. For example, if you see the schematic drawing of a cube as a plane figure consisting of a square and two rhombi you will, perhaps, carry out the order "Bring me something like this" differently from someone who sees the picture three-dimensionally.
75. What does it mean to know what a game is? What does it mean, to know it and not be able to say it? Is this knowledge somehow equivalent to an unformulated definition? So that if it were formulated I should be able to recognize it as the expression of my knowledge? Isn't my knowledge, my concept of a game, completely expressed in the explanations that I could give? That is, in my describing examples of various kinds of game; shewing how all sorts of other games can be constructed on the analogy of these; saying that I should scarcely include this or this among games; and so on.
76. If someone were to draw a sharp boundary I could not acknowledge it as the one that I too always wanted to draw, or had drawn in my mind. For I did not want to draw one at all. His concept can then be said to be not the same as mine, but akin to it. The kinship is that of two pictures, one of which consists of colour patches with vague contours, and the other of patches similarly shaped and distributed, but with clear contours. The kinship is just as undeniable as the difference.
77. And if we carry this comparison still further it is clear that the degree to which the sharp picture can resemble the blurred one depends on the latter's degree of vagueness. For imagine having to sketch a sharply defined picture 'corresponding' to a blurred one.
In the latter there is a blurred red rectangle: for it you put down a sharply defined one. Of course-several such sharply defined rectangles can be drawn to correspond to the indefinite one.-But if the colours in the original merge without a hint of any outline won't it become a hopeless task to draw a sharp picture corresponding to the blurred one? Won't you then have to say: "Here I might just as well draw a circle or heart as a rectangle, for all the colours merge. Anything-and nothing-is right." And this is the position you are in if you look for definitions corresponding to our concepts in aesthetics or ethics.
In such a difficulty always ask yourself: How did we learn the meaning of this word ("good" for instance)? From what sort of examples? in what language-games? Then it will be easier for you to see that the word must have a family of meanings.
78. Compare knowing and saying:
how many feet high Mont Blancis-
how the word "game" is used-
how a clarinet sounds.
If you are surprised that one can know something and not be able to say it, you are perhaps thinking of a case like the first. Certainly not of one like the third.
79. Consider this example. If one says "Moses did not exist", this may mean various things. It may mean: the Israelites did not have a single leader when they withdrew from Egypt or: their leader was not called Moses or, there cannot have been anyone who accomplished all that the Bible relates of Moses -- or: etc. etc.--
We may say, following Russell: the name "Moses" can be defined by means of various descriptions. For example, as "the man who led the Israelites through the wilderness", "the man who lived at that time and place and was then called 'Moses' ", "the man who as a child was taken out of the Nile by Pharaoh's daughter" and so on. And according as we assume one definition or another the proposition "Moses did not exist" acquires a different sense, and so does every other proposition about Moses.-And if we are told "N did not exist", we do ask: "What do you mean? Do you want to say ...... or ...... etc.?"
But when I make a statement about Moses,-- am I always ready to substitute some one of these descriptions for "Moses"? I shall perhaps say -- By "Moses" I understand the man who did what the Bible relates of Moses, or at any rate a good deal of it. But how much? Have I decided how much must be proved false for me to give up my proposition as false? Has the name "Moses" got a fixed and unequivocal use for me in all possible cases?
--Is it not the case that I have, so to speak, a whole series of props in readiness, and am ready to lean on one if another should be taken from under me and vice versa?
Consider another case. When I say "N is dead", then something like the following may hold for the meaning of the name "N": I believe that a human being has lived, whom I (1) have seen in such-and-such places, who (2) looked like this (pictures), (3) has done such-and-such things, and (4) bore the name "N" in social life. --Asked what I understand by "N", I should enumerate all or some of these points, and different ones on different occasions. So my definition of "N" would perhaps be "the man of whom all this is true".-But if some point now proves false? --Shall I be prepared to declare the proposition "N is dead" false-even if it is only something which strikes me as incidental that has turned out false? But where are the bounds of the incidental?-- If I had given a definition of the name in such a case, I should now be ready to alter it.
And this can be expressed like this: I use the name "N" without a fixed meaning. (But that detracts as little from its usefulness, as it detracts from that of a table that it stands on four legs instead of three and so sometimes wobbles.)
Should it be said that I am using a word whose meaning I don't know, and so am talking nonsense? - -Say what you choose, so long as it does not prevent you from seeing the facts. (And when you see them there is a good deal that you will not say.)
(The fluctuation of scientific definitions: what to-day counts as a observed concomitant of a phenomenon will to-morrow be used to define it.)
80. I say "There is a chair". What if I go up to it, meaning to fetch it, and it suddenly disappears from sight.? --"So it wasn't a chair, but some kind of illusion". --But in a few moments we see it again and are able to touch it and so on. --"So the chair was there after all and its disappearance was some kind of illusion". --But suppose that after a time it disappears again-or seems to disappear. What are we to say now? Have you rules ready for such cases ---rules saying whether one may use the word "chair" to include this kind of thing? But do we miss them when we use the word "chair"; and are we to say that we do not really attach any meaning to this word, because we are not equipped with rules for every possible application of it?
81. F. P. Ramsey once emphasized in conversation with me that logic was a 'normative science'. I do not know exactly what he had in mind, but it was doubtless closely related to what only dawned on me later: namely, that in philosophy we often compare the use of words with games and calculi which have fixed rules, but cannot say that someone who is using language must be playing such a game. --But if you say that our languages only approximate to such calculi you are standing on the very brink of a misunderstanding. For then it may look as if what we were talking about were an ideal language. As if our logic were, so to speak, a logic for a vacuum. --Whereas logic does not treat of language -- or of thought -- in the sense in which a natural science treats of a natural phenomenon, and the most that can be said is that we construct ideal languages. But here the word "ideal" is liable to mislead, for it sounds as if these languages were better, more perfect, than our everyday language; and as if it took the logician to shew people at last what a proper sentence looked like.
All this, however, can only appear in the right light when one has attained greater clarity about the concepts of understanding, meaning, and thinking. For it will then also become clear what can lead us (and did lead me) to think that if anyone utters a sentence and means or understands it he is operating a calculus according to definite rules.
82. What do I call 'the rule by which he proceeds'? --The hypothesis that satisfactorily describes his use of words, which we observe; or the rule which he looks up when he uses signs; or the one which he gives us in reply if we ask him what his rule is? --But what if observation does not enable us to see any clear rule, and the question brings none to light? --For he did indeed give me a definition when I asked him what he understood by "N", but he was prepared to withdraw and alter it.-So how am I to determine the rule according to which he is playing? He does not know it himself. --Or, to ask a better question: What meaning is the expression "the rule by which he proceeds" supposed to have left to it here?
83. Doesn't the analogy between language and games throw light here? We can easily imagine people amusing themselves in a field by playing with a ball so as to start various existing games, but playing many without finishing them and in between throwing the ball aimlessly into the air, chasing one another with the ball and bombarding one another for a joke and so on. And now someone says: The whole time they are playing a ball-game and following definite rules at every throw.
And is there not also the case where we play and-make up the rules as we go along? And there is even one where we alter them-as we go along.
84. I said that the application of a word is not everywhere bounded by rules. But what does a game look like that is everywhere bounded by rules? whose rules never let a doubt creep in, but stop up all the cracks where it might? -- Can't we imagine a rule determining the application of a rule, and a doubt which it removes-and so on?
But that is not to say that we are in doubt because it is possible for us to imagine a doubt. I can easily imagine someone always doubting before he opened his front door whether an abyss did not yawn behind it, and making sure about it before he went through the door (and he might on some occasion prove to be right)-but that does not make me doubt in the same case.
85. A rule stands there like a sign-post.--Does the sign-post leave no doubt open about the way I have to go? Does it shew which direction I am to take when I have passed it; whether along the road or the footpath or cross-country? But where is it said which way I am to follow it; whether in the direction of its finger or (e.g.) in the opposite one? --And if there were, not a single sign-post, but a chain of adjacent ones or of chalk mar ks on the ground-- is there only one way of interpreting them?-- So I can say, the sign-post does after all leave no room for doubt. Or rather: it sometimes leaves room for doubt and sometimes not. And now this is no longer a philosophical proposition, but an empirical one.
86. Imagine a language-game like (2) played with the help of a table. The signs given to B by A are now written ones. B has a table, in the first column are the signs used in the game, in the second pictures of building stones. A shews B such a written sign; B looks it up in the table, looks at the picture opposite, and so on. So the table is a rule which he follows in executing orders.-One learns to look the picture up in the table by receiving a training, and part of this training consists perhaps in ~e pupil's learning to pass with his finger horizontally from left to right; and so, as it were, to draw a series of horizontal lines on the table.
Suppose different ways of reading a table were now introduced; one time, as above, according to the schema:
another time like this:
or in some other way.
--Such a schema is supplied with the table as the rule for its use.
Can we not now imagine further rules to explain this one?
And, on the other hand, was that first table incomplete without the schema of arrows? And are other tables incomplete without their schemata?
87. Suppose I give this explanation:I take 'Moses' to mean the I man, if there was such a man, who led the Israelites out of Egypt, whatever he was called then and whatever he may or may not have done besides." --
But similar doubts to those about "Moses" are possible about the words of this explanation (what are you calling "Egypt", whom the "Israelites" etc.?). Nor would these questions come to an end when we got down to words like "red", "dark", "sweet".
"But then how does an explanation help me to understand, if after all it is not the final one? In that case the explanation is never completed; so I still don't understand what he means, and never shall!" --
As though an explanation as it were hung in the air unless supported by another one.
Whereas an explanation may indeed rest on another one that has been given, but none stands in need of another -- -unless we require it to prevent a misunderstanding.
One might say: an explanation serves to remove or to avert a misunderstanding -- one, that is, that would occur but for the explanation not every one that I can imagine.
It may easily look as if every doubt merely revealed an existing gap in the foundations; so that secure understanding is only possible if we first doubt everything that can be doubted, and then remove all these doubts.
The sign-post is in order -- if, under normal circumstances, it fulfills its purpose.
88. If I tell someone "Stand roughly here"-- may not this explanation work perfectly? And cannot every other one fail too?
But isn't it an inexact explanation? -Yes; why shouldn't we call it "inexact"? Only let us understand what "inexact" means. For it does not mean "unusable".
And let us consider what we call an "exact" explanation in contrast with this one. Perhaps something like drawing a chalk line round an area? Here it strikes us at once that the line has breadth. So a colour-edge would be more exact. But has this exactness still got a function here: isn't the engine idling?
And remember too that we have not yet defined what is to count as overstepping this exact boundary; how, with what instruments, it is to be established. And so on.
We understand what it means to set a pocket watch to the exact time or to regulate it to be exact. But what if it were asked: is this exactness ideal Of course, we can speak of measurements of time in which there is a different and as we should say a greater, exactness than in the measurement of time by a pocket-watch; in which the words "to set the clock to the exact time" have a different, though related meaning, and 'to tell the time' is a different process and so on.--
Now, if I tell someone: "You should come to dinner more punctually; you know it begins at one o'clock exactly"--
is there really no question of exactness here? because it is possible to say: "Think of the determination of time in the laboratory or the observatory; there you see what 'exactness' means"? exactness, or how nearly does it approach the ideal?-
"Inexact" is really a reproach, and "exact" is praise. And that is to say that what is inexact attains its goal less perfectly than what is more exact. Thus the point here is what we call "the goal". Am I inexact when I do not give our distance from the sun to the nearest foot, or tell a joiner the width of a table to the nearest thousandth of an inch?
No single ideal of exactness has been laid down; we do not know what we should be supposed to imagine under this head -- unless you yourself lay down what is to be so called. But you will kind it difficult to hit upon such a convention; at least any that satisfies you.
89. These considerations bring us up to the problem: In what sense is logic something sublime?
For there seemed to pertain to logic a peculiar depth -a universal significance. Logic lay, it seemed, at the bottom of all the sciences.-- For logical investigation explores the nature of all things. It seeks to see to the bottom of things and is not meant to concern itself whether what actually happens is this or that.
--It [logic] takes its rise, not from an interest-- in the facts of nature, nor from a need to grasp cause connexions: but from an urge to understand the basis, or essence, of everything empirical. Not, however, as if to this end we had to hunt out new facts; it is, rather, of the essence of our investigation that we do not seek to learn anything new by it. We want to understand something that is already in plain view. For this is what we seem in some sense not to understand.
Augustine says in the Confessions "quid est ergo tempus? si nemo ex me quaerat scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio".
-This could not be said about a question of natural science ("What is the specific gravity of hydrogen?" for instance). Something that we know when no one asks us, but no longer know when we are supposed to give an account of it, is something that we need to remind ourselves of. (An it is obviously something of which for some reason it is difficult to remind oneself.)
90. We feel as if we had to penetrate phenomena: our investigation, however, is directed not towards phenomena, but, as one might say, towards the 'possibilities' of phenomena.
We remind ourselves, that is to say, of the kind of statement that we make about phenomena.
Thus Augustine recalls to mind the different statements that are made about the duration, past present or future, of events. (These are, of course, not philosophical statements about time, the past, the present and the future.) Our investigation is therefore a grammatical one. Such an investigation sheds light on our problem by clearing misunderstandings away.
Misunderstandings concerning the use of words, caused, among other things, by certain analogies between the forms of expression in different regions of language.
-Some of them [misunderstandings] can be removed by substituting one form of expression for another; this may be called an "analysis" of our forms of expression, for the process is sometimes like one of taking a thing apart.
91. But now it may come to look as if there were something like a final analysis of our forms of language, and so a single completely resolved form of every expression. That is, as if our usual forms of expression were, essentially, unanalysed; as if there were something hidden in them that had to be brought to light. When this is done the expression is completely clarified and our problem solved.
It can also be put like this: we eliminate misunderstandings by making our expressions more exact; but now it may look as if we were moving towards a particular state, a state of complete exactness; and as if this were the real goal of our investigation.
92. This finds expression in questions as to the essence of language, of propositions, of thought. --For if we too in these investigations are trying to understand the essence of language -- its function, its structure, --yet this is not what those questions have in view.
For they see in the essence, not something that already lies open to view and that becomes surveyable by a rearrangement, but something that lies beneath the surface. Something that lies within, which we see when we look into the thing, and which an analysis digs out.
'The essence is hidden from us': this is the form our problem now assumes. We ask:
"What is language?", "What is a proposition?"
And the answer to these questions is to be given once for all; and independently of any future experience.
One person might say "A proposition is the most ordinary thing in the world" and another: "A proposition - that's something very queer!" --And the latter is unable simply to look and see how propositions really work. The forms that we use in expressing ourselves about propositions and thought stand in his way.
Why do we say a proposition is something remarkable? On the one hand, because of the enormous importance attaching to it. (And that is correct). On the other hand this, together with a misunderstanding of the logic of language, seduces us into thinking that something extraordinary, something unique, must be achieved by propositions. -- A misunderstanding makes it look to us as if a propositions did something queer.
93. (Text for this may be above, Hugo check your book!)
94. 'A proposition is a queer thing!' Here we have in germ the subliming of our whole account of logic
The tendency to assume a pure intermediary between the propositional signs and the facts. Or even to try to purify, to sublime, the signs themselves.
-For our forms of expression prevent us in all sorts of ways from seeing that nothing out of the ordinary is involved, by sending us in pursuit of chimeras.
95. "Thought must be something unique". When we say, and mean, that such-and-such is the case, we -- and our meaning-- do not stop anywhere short of the fact; but we mean: this-is-so. But this paradox (which has the form of a truism) can also be expressed in this way: Thought can be of what is not the case.
96. Other illusions come from various quarters to attach themselves to the special one spoken of here. Thought, language, now appear to us as the unique correlate, picture, of the world. These concepts proposition, language, thought, world, stand in line one behind the other, each equivalent to each. (But what are these words to be used for now? The language-game in which they are to be applied is missing.)
97. Thought is surrounded by a halo. --Its essence, logic, present an order, in fact the a priori order of the world: that is, the order of possibilities, which must be common to both world and thought. But this order, it seems, must be utterly simple. It is prior to a experience, must run through all experience; no empirical cloudiness or uncertainty can be allowed to affect it --It must rather be of the purest crystal. But this crystal does not appear as an abstraction; but as something concrete, indeed, as the most concrete, as it were the hardest thing there is (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus No. 5.5563).
We are under the illusion that what is peculiar, profound, essential, in our investigation, resides in its trying to grasp the incomparable essence of language. That is, the order existing between the concepts of proposition, word, proof, truth, experience, and so on. This order is a super-order between --so to speak-- super-concepts. Whereas, of course, if the words "language", "experience", "world", have a use, it must be as humble a one as that of the words "table", "lamp", "door".
98. On the one hand it is clear that every sentence in our language is in order as it is'. That is to say, we are not striving after an ideal, as if our ordinary vague sentences had not yet got a quite unexceptionable sense, and a perfect language awaited construction by us.-- On the other hand it seems clear that where there is sense there must be perfect order. So there must be perfect order even in the vaguest sentence.
99. The sense of a sentence --one would like to say-- may, of course, leave this or that open, but the sentence must nevertheless have a definite sense. An indefinite sense-- that would really not be a sense at all. --This is like: An indefinite boundary is not really a boundary at all. Here one thinks perhaps: if I say "I have locked the man up fast in the room --there is only one door left open"-- then I simply haven't locked him in at all; his being locked in is a sham. One would be inclined to say here: "You haven't done anything at all". An enclosure with a hole in it is as good as none. --But is that true?
100. "But still, it isn't a game, if there is some vagueness in the rules". -- But does this prevent its being a game? -- "Perhaps you'll call it a game, but at any rate it certainly isn't a perfect game." This means: it has impurities, and what I am interested in at present is the pure article.
-But I want to say: we misunderstand the role of the ideal in our language. That is to say: we too should call it a game, only we are dazzled by the ideal and therefore fail to see the actual use of the word "game" clearly.
[The Philosophical Investigations continues after this point but only the first 100 aphorisms are provided here at present.]