Cross-cultural languages as a possible basis for reconciling wittgenstein's tractatus and the philosophical investigations
Owino, Stephen Omondi
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The study is primarily an attempt to reconcile Ludwig Wittgenstein's major works namely, the Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus and the Philosophical Investigations. It is contented in the study that contrary to the common perception that the two works are contradictory, they are actually complementary. Therefore, it is only when they are considered together that we can have a complete grasp of Wittgenstein's thought. The study has focused on the concepts of language, meaning and communication as can be unfolded in both works. The Tractatus holds that language is a rule- guided system. These rules can be rewritten in logical language. Hence, language is conceived of as rigorous, logical and determinate. On meaning, the Tractatus, holds that language functions primarily to picture or represent the world. Hence, meaning is the picturing or the representational relationship between language and the world. This implies that language is meaningful only in the proportion that it represents the world. Otherwise in any other function, it is meaningless. Lastly, on communication, consistent with its theory of language and meaning, the Tractatus upholds that linguistic communication has got only an informative role. But in apparent opposition to the Tratatus the philosophical investigations holds that languages is an open textured and flexible phenomenon which makes it possible for us to express new experiences and to perform a multiplicity of functions that transcends the mere genre of reporting about the world. On meaning, the investigations maintains that fundamentally, it (meaning) is how words are used in accordance with custom rules. In this sense, even the picturing function is conditioned and guided by customary linguistic rules and not by the isomorphic structures of language and the world. On communications, it holds that the simple role of factual information is insufficient as an explanation of linguistic communication. Instead, communication involves a complex body of shared background information between speakers and listeners or writers and readers. This establishes communication as an interactive and multilateral activity. The study applies the theoretical framework of philosophy of linguistic as proposed by Katz (1985). This theory brings the linguistic insights of Transformational generative grammar as formulated by Chomsky to bear on philosophy. English as a cross-cultural language used in cross-cultural communication media is used in the study as an instance for evaluating the relevance of the arguments. In the light of this framework, the study establishes that the Tractatus and the Investigations are not contradictory. They are complimentary hence reconcilable in principle. The study notes that the weaknesses of the arguments of the Tractatus are made up for by the arguments of the Investigations and vice versa. It is also noted that the philosophical insights of both works have proofs in theoretical linguistics as well. Finally, the study recommends that since the two works are better understood when looked at compromising a single system, effort should be made to unify Wittgenstein’s thought in other areas of philosophy. This would enable us to come to a more complete grasp of Wittgenstein's philosophy.