Chapter

Meaning

Paul Horwich

in Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588879
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744716 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588879.003.0004
Meaning

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This chapter begins by clarifying what Wittgenstein has in mind in defining the ‘meaning’ of a word as its ‘use’. To that end, the following questions, amongst others, are posed and answered. Why does he suggest that this equation holds only ‘For a large class of cases — though not for all’? What exactly does he mean by the ‘use’ of a word? Is this supposed to be its function, or is it some practice with the word? Is he thinking of norms or rules of use, or mere regularities or dispositions? Does he assume that the relevant aspect of use must be characterized in terms that are themselves neither semantic nor intentional? Wittgenstein's discussion (in Philosophical Investigations, paras. 138–242) of central problems surrounding meaning and understanding is then interpreted via the eight-stage metaphilosophical framework developed in Chapter 2. This reading focuses on his dissolution of paradoxes that stem from the clash between the definition of ‘meaning’ as ‘use’ and the seductive idea that meanings are a kind of introspectable mental object.

Keywords: meaning; understanding; use; function; rule; norm; disposition; semantic; intentional; introspection

Chapter.  13080 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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