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Stroud on Wittgenstein, Meaning, and Community

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2010

Claudine Verheggen
Affiliation:
City University of New York, City College and Graduate Center

Abstract

According to Barry Stroud, Wittgenstein thought that language is social only in this minimal way: we cannot make sense of the idea of someone having a language unless we can describe her as using signs in conformity with the linguistic practices of some community. Since a solitary person could meet this condition, Stroud concludes that, for Wittgenstein, solitary languages are possible. I argue that Wittgenstein in fact thought that language is social in a much more robust way. Solitary languages are not possible because we cannot make sense of the idea of someone having a language unless we can think of her as actively participating in the linguistic practices that fix the standards governing the applications of her words.

Résumé

Selon Barry Stroud, Wittgensteinpensait qu'une langue n'est sociale que de maniére minimale: “'idee qu'une personne possède une langue n'a de sens que si nous pouvons la décrire comme se servant de signes conformément aux pratiques linguistiques de quelque communauté. Un solitaire pouvant satisfaire à cette condition, Stroud en conclut que pour Wittgenstein, les langues solitaires sont possibles. Je ferai valoir qu' en fait, Wittgenstein pensait qu'une langue est sociale en un sens beaucoup plus robuste. Les langues solitaires ne sont pas possibles, parce que l'idée que quelqu'un possède une langue n'a de sens pour nous que si nous le concevons comme participant aux pratiques linguistiques fixant les standards qui gouvernent l'application des mots qu'il emploie.

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Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Philosophical Association 2005

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