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Unreasonable Men by Victor J. Seidler

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Chapter 13

Language

MEANING AND LANGUAGE

When Wittgenstein in his later writings discusses the meaning of concepts, he asks us to think back to childhood when we first learned how to use a particular concept. But childhood often does not provide the kind of transparent content that Wittgenstein might have hoped for, since not only were we often lied to but we were often told what we should feel and think.

Wittgenstein was contesting a linguistic rationalism seeking to ground the natural expression of some of our emotions. He was wanting to grasp how language develops as an elaboration or substitution for more basic behaviours. Thus, for instance, a cry of pain is a natural expression that we might later learn to express linguistically.1 But ...

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