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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 2008

Approaches to Philosophy

Ora Gruengard
Pages 59-66

Dialectics in Everyday Life

Wittgenstein, in his first period, where he adopted a theory of meaning as representation, can be thought to consider language and reality as separated entities. However, in the second period, where the use theory of meaning is put forward, he can be thought to conceive language as something dependent on the human agencies that employ it, as something into which actions are interwoven. So, in his later work, Wittgenstein can be said to consider language as a unit together with reality -as far as the notion of meaning is concerned. In this sense, his two theories of meaning are the opposites of one another. My claim, in this paper, is that the gist of this radical change on Wittgenstein’s position on the connection between language and reality can be found in the private language argument given in Philosophical Investigations. For, reminding that this is a semantic claim, I think, the repudiation of private language in Wittgenstein’s philosophy amounts to the repudiation of the representational relation between language and world -or reality- as distinct entities; and hence, the traditional dichotomy of mind-body or inner-outer which is inherited from Descartes. This, I think, also means the rejection of the traditional distinction of language (as a vehicle of thought) and world as two different realms where skepticism is possible. In parallel with the rejection of this dichotomy, in this paper, by focusing on Wittgenstein’s understanding of meaning by which his overall philosophy is structured, I will examine his rejection of the representational theory of meaning (to avoid skepticism) and evince the effect of it to his later understanding of meaning (or vice versa). I will come to the conclusion that the gist of the radical change in his view on meaning and language can be found in his private language argument.

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