Chapter

Language

Thomas Nagel

in The Last Word

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195149838
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199872206 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195149831.003.0003
Language

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Nagel rejects the view that the social phenomenon of language is at the bottom of everything by arguing that we cannot account for reason by means of a naturalistic description of the practices of language. The most general forms of reason do not depend on any given language, says Nagel, and any language adequate for rational thought must have some way of expressing them. Meaning is not just use unless we understand use in a normative sense that already implies meaning. Nagel finds support for his view in Wittgenstein's argument on rule‐following, which provides a way to avoid the perpetual desire to get outside our thoughts. From Wittgenstein's comments, it is clear, Nagel argues, that the rule‐following practices of our linguistic community can be understood only by specifying the internal content of our thoughts.

Keywords: internal content; language; meaning; naturalistic description; rule‐following; use; Wittgenstein

Chapter.  5489 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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