Wittgenstein Week Cont.

A quite interesting passage from Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations:

“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” (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 2nd ed., trans. G.E.M. Anscombe [Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1997 (1958)], 27e).

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