Wittgenstein on Language: From Simples to Samples

Michael Beaney

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191727474 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Wittgenstein on Language: From Simples to Samples

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The so-called ‘linguistic turn’ that took place in philosophy in the first half of the twentieth century is most strongly associated with the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951). If there is a single text that might be identified as the source of the linguistic turn, then it is Wittgenstein's first book, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, published in German in 1921 and in an English translation in 1922. Throughout his work, Wittgenstein was concerned with the foundations of language; the crucial shift lay from the appeal to simples to the appeal to samples, and a corresponding shift from assumptions about what lies hidden to an appreciation of what is visible to all in our linguistic practices. This article first outlines the main elements of Wittgenstein's early conception of language, before considering his critique of that conception and his later views.

Keywords: Ludwig Wittgenstein; Wittgenstein; language; samples; linguistic practice; conception of language

Article.  10153 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language ; Non-Western Philosophy

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