Wittgenstein The Blue Book Summary

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Ludwig Wittgenstein’s The Blue and Brown Books and Philosophical Investigations attempt to abandon traditional philosophical views on the meaning of words. In The Blue Book, Wittgenstein criticizes other philosophers’ approaches, saying there is a constant “craving for generality” when trying to determine the meaning of a word. He additionally stresses this common approach in Philosophical Investigations. The piece begins with a passage form St. Augustine’s Confessions, talking about the tendency of learning a language through learning names of objects. Wittgenstein responds to this, saying, “These words, it seems to me, give us a particular picture of the essence of human language. It is this: the words in language name objects – sentences…show more content…
Wittgenstein once said that most philosophical findings are nonsensical. Many traditional philosophers try and find a single meaning of philosophy. However, Wittgenstein believes that philosophy cannot be reduced to a set theory. Rather, it’s an ongoing process of investigating the world around us – particularly, language. Wittgenstein believes we are limiting ourselves by having set parameters for words and meanings. For example, many traditional philosophers, such as Plato, look for definitions and meanings that are universally true. However, Wittgenstein says that there is no such thing as a universal definition or meaning. Rather, each meaning is dependent on the situation. One meaning for the same word may not be applicable for another situation. This is why Wittgesntein believes philosophy is an ongoing activity, rather than a set…show more content…
He posses the question, “What do all languages have in common?” He then says that even though languages are connected, they don’t necessarily have a uniting trait. He then says that “language” is like the example he gave earlier with the word “game.” There are many different definitions and components of the word “game.” One single definition cannot possibly be formed to include all parts of the word “game.” Rather, the meaning of the word “game” relies on the situation of how it’s used. However, like the example with “game,” different types of languages are related, and share a “family resemblance.” This approach directly conflicts with traditional philosophy in the sense that there are no boundaries are restrictions. However, the idea that the definitions of “game” can seem endless might be daunting for many. For example, many might have trouble determining what is and what is not a “game.” Wittgenstein’s reply to this criticism is that people do not need to necessarily have single definitions to use a word in a sentence. Wittgenstein clarifies that we do not need to have an exact idea of what a word means in order to understand what we are talking about. He gives the example sentence, “Moses did not exist.” People may have many definitions of Moses. However, by defining Moses as a person who was alive and did something, we can determine that the claim of the sentence is true – no matter what we substitute as the

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