Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 2, 1976

Eike von Savigny
Pages 141-158

Das normative Fundament der Sprache
Ja und Aber

There are at least two vital restrictions on setting out to construct a common language independently of any natural language: 1. Laying down rules for a common language makes use of rules for stipulating uses of words and/or for pointing at things, rules that should, in their turn, count as rules of language. 2. The classification schemes to be proposed must be learnable for men. "Ostensive definition" of predicates is no kind of definition at all, but a way of teaching, and useful as such precisely because most classification systems are not learnable. So if language has a normative foundation, this is not so because its rules have been or might ideally have been reasonably laid down, but because it is governed by rules that could not possibly be all laid down in complete liberty.

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