Saturday, February 27, 2010

from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations

"..ask yourself whether our own language is complete- whether it was so before the symbolism of chemistry and the notation of the infinitesimal calculus were incorporated into 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 regarded as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, of houses with extensions from various periods, and all this surrounded by a multitude of new suburbs with straight and regular steets and unifrom houses." (18)

"to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life" (19)

"... Instead of pointing out something in common to all that we call language, I'm saying that these phenomena have no one thing in common in virtue of which we use the same word at all- but there are many different kinds of affinity between them. And so on account of this affinity, or these affinities, we call them 'languages'." (65)

" Consider for example the activities that we call 'games'. I mean board-games, card-games, ball-games, athletic games and so on. What is common to them all?- Don't say: "They must have something in 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 won't see anything that is common to all, but similiarities, affinities, and a whole series of them at that. To repeat: don't think, but look!- look, for example, at board games, with their various affinities. 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 'entertaining'? Compare chess with noughts and crosses. Or is there always winning and losing, or competition between players? Think of patience. In ball-games, these is winning and losing; but when a child throws his ball at the wall and catches it again, this feature has dissappeared. .... We see a complicated network of similiarities overlapping and criss-crossing: similiarities in the large and in the small" (66)

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