[hist-analytic] Reichenbach and Wittgenstein on Language Rules

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 24 17:12:44 EST 2009


Recall Wittgenstein's discussion of private languages.
Some of us, probably, haven't read it. Some of us are
sick of it. No one can intelligently deny its historical
significance, and in all likelihood its viability.

For those who haven't read it take a look at Philosophical
Investigations PI 258. I have thought for a long time
that Wittgenstein was a close reader of Reichenbach, 
evidence continues to mount of the connection. Since
I'm going to incorporate some of this into my book on
Anscombe, and in particular a criticism of the Anscombe/
Kenny view of the private language arguement - that is,
as directed against Cartesianism - I will forego providing
the most interesting stuff. But I can resist one conceptual
(not so much textual) juxtaposition. Ok, you've read PI. 258,
etc. Now look at something Reichenbach said in _Experience
and Prediction_. He says this after disussing some general
uses of language, emotional ("Ouch") and communicative
(we all get this I guess). Now here is what he says I think
is intereting:

"The first is that a communticative function begins only when 
there are certain rules established for the use of the terms."

For Wittgenstein the idea of a private rule was ruled out.
Thus "internal" meanings were ruled out. Public language
prevailed because private languages required private rules,
and private rules were such that following them and thinking
we do can be distinguished. But, now, what Reichenbach is
suggesting is that the rules of a public language make the
presupposition of rules, not that (as Wittgenstein is at 
least very close to arguing) public rules make possible
the communicative function (I make him sound more Kantian
than he is for simplicity, although Kant is a "monsta").
In other words communication requires public rules in order
to have language. For Reichenbach the communicative function
requires rules; but Wittgenstein goes a further step from
this position, saying that on public rules are possible. Only
a communicative function of language is possible. But what of
the emotional use. Anscombe will implicitly deny it exists
in a special sense I will describe. She broaches the subject
on two occasions. Wittgenstein on several. At the back of the
bus, sitting quietly, is Mr. Language as a Vehicle of Thought
and Mr. Language as Communication. Later we shall eaves drop
on what they have to say to one another in light of Wittgenstein
and Reichenbach. 

Apologies to those whose mail I haven't answered. Aside
from a modem problem I am moving quickly through the
Anscombe stuff. I hope I didn't write this posting too fast,
no time to preview etc.


STeve Bayne
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