Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, Entry 4, Language Games and Forms of Life

     In paragraph 23 Wittgenstein lists a number of language games:
"Giving orders, and obeying them--
Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its measurements--
Constructing an object from a description(a drawing)--
Reporting and event--
Speculating about an event--
Forming and testing a hypothesis--
Presenting the results of an experiment in tables and diagrams--
Making up a story; and reading it--
Singing catches--
Guessing riddles--
Making a joke; telling it--
Solving a problem in practical arithmetic--
Translating from one language to another--
Requesting, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying."(Wittgenstein pg. 11)

     I take it this list is not supposed to be exhaustive. Wittgenstein associates a 'Form of Life', a Lebensform, with each language-game. So, what's a Lebensform? Well, its a way of interacting with other people and the world, I guess. I suppose this is a good word for it. Rather than a single way of dealing with the world, as represented in earlier works, like the Tractatus etc..., there are all these different ways.
     This is probably popular with postmoderns as it doesn't privilege one game over the other. He puts hypothesis testing etc.. as games like the others, there's nothing special about sciency games. It suggests the possibility, though Wittgenstein has not said anything like this, that science only applies within its own game -- it's fascistic to claim its power over the other games. Again, Wittgenstein hasn't said anything like this, at least, not yet. I don't know if he ever does.

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