Introduction  I  Recognising  I  Naming  I  Associating  I  Systems & Sets  I  Choosing & Selecting  I  Abstract Qualities  I  Concepts  I  References  I  Comments 


PI (Part 11) 208e-209e): We talk, we utter words, and only later get a picture of their life.

“It acquires a content only in the ways in which (and when) our words and our actions - that is, our verbal and non-verbal behaviour - begin to articulate it (PI, 220).” (Krebs, 2010, pg 137)

PI 6: I can imagine such a use of words (of a series of sounds). (Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.)

CV: A new word is like a fresh seed sewn on the ground of discussion. 

“We are told further that ‘there is a close kinship’ between forming an image and ‘experiencing the meaning of a word’ (PI, 210), as if to make clear that the imagination concerned brings in a certain sensible or bodily density.” (Krebs, 2010, pg 128)

“The experience of having an aspect dawn, or of being struck by something, or of seeing the familiar in a new light, is thus intimately and pervasively joined to a human form of life as talking.” (Day, 2010, pg 212)

OC 472: When a child learns language it learns at the same time what is to be investigated and what not.

“Learning to talk is conceptually connected to one’s (the child’s) taking an interest in one’s experience, particularly in one’s experience of words themselves.” (Day, 2010, pg 214-215)

“Wittgenstein’s pedagogical turn: “We often find him turning from a consideration of the meanings of a term or concept to ask, “How was this learned?” or “How would I teach this?” (MacMillan, 1984, pg. 7)” (Burbles, Peters and Smeyers, 2010, pg 2)

“Susan Carey of Harvard ... finds that most children between two and five years old are learning on average between two and four new words every day, and thousands of words in these early years.” (Wolf, 2008, p 84)

“By kindergarten, words from books will be one of the major sources of the 10,000-word repertoire of many an average five year old.” (Wolf, 2008, p 87)

'Our experimental study proved that it is the functional use of the word, or any other sign, as means of focussing one's attention, selecting distinctive features and analyzing and synthesizing them, that plays a central role in concept formation... Words and other signs are those means that direct our mental operations, control their course, and channel them toward the solution to the problem confronting us' (Vygotsky, 1986, pp.106-7).

“When a child learns the conventional uses of [words], what she is learning are the ways her forebears in the culture found it useful to share and manipulate the attention of others in the past. And because the people of a culture, as they move through historical time, evolve many and varied purposes for manipulating one another’s attention (because they need to do this in many different types of discourse situations), today’s child is faced with a whole panoply of [words] and constructions that embody many different attentional construals of any given situation.” (Tomasello, 2003, pg 13)

“Usage-based theories hold that the essence of language is in its symbolic dimension, with grammar being derivative ... In usage-based approaches the grammatical dimension of language is a product of a set of historical and ontogenetic processes referred to collectively as grammaticalisation. When human beings use [words] to communicate with one another, stringing them together into sequences, patterns of use emerge and become consolidated into grammatical constructions.” (Tomasello, 2003, pg 5)

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Literally recognising spoken and written words

“Learning to retrieve a name for an abstract, visually presented letter-symbol is an essential precursor for all the processes that come together in reading, and a powerful indicator of a child’s readiness to read.” (Wolf, 2008, p 93)

“Wittgenstein points out that seeing aspects requires a capacity for imagination - for example,  for relating the objects seen to other objects not currently in view.” (Minar, 2010, pg 186)

TLP 4.011: At first sight a proposition - one set out on the printed page, for example - does not seem to be a picture of the reality with which it is concerned. But neither do written notes seem at first sight to be a picture of a piece of music, nor our phonetic notation (the alphabet) to be a picture of our speech. And yet these sign languages prove to be pictures, even in the ordinary sense of what they represent.

“One must learn actually to hear to see in the words or notes that are present in experience the possibilities (sometimes even the necessities) of further transitions to just this or that.” (Eldridge, 2010, pg 176)

TLP 4.014: A gramophone record, the musical idea, the written notes, and the sound-waves, all stand to one another in the same internal relation of depicting that holds between language and the world. They are constructed according to a common logical pattern.

TLP 4.0141: There is a general rule by means of which the musician can obtain the symphony from the score, and which makes it possible to derive the symphony from the groove on the gramophone record, and, using the first rule, to derive the score again. That is what constitutes the inner similarity between these things which seem to be constructed in such entirely different ways. And that rule is the law of projection which projects the symphony into the language of musical notation. It is the rule for translating this language into the language of gramophone records.

“From the child’s first, halting attempts to decipher letters, the experience of reading is not so much an end in itself as it is our best vehicle to a transformed mind, and literally and figuratively, to a changed brain.” (Wolf, 2008, p 18)

“For some children, knowledge of a word’s meaning pushes their halting decoding into the real thing.” (Wolf, pp 122)

“For thousands of code-cracking novice readers ... semantic development plays much more of a role than many advocates of phonics recognise, but far less of a role than advocates of whole language assume.” (Wolf, pp 122)

“If the meaning of the child’s awkwardly decoded word is readily available, his or her utterance has a better chance of being recognised as a word and also remembered and stored.” (Wolf, pp 123) 

OC 473: Just as in writing, we learn a particular basic form of letters and then vary it later, so we learn first the stability of things as the norm, which is then subject to alterations.

“At its root the alphabetic principle represents the profound insight that each word in spoken language consists of a finite group of individual sounds that can be represented by a finite group of individual letters.” (Wolf, 2008, p 18)

Z 209: This shape that I see - I want to say - is not simply a shape; it is one of the shapes I know; it is marked out in advance. It is one of those shapes of which I already had a pattern in me; and only because it corresponds to such a pattern is it this familiar shape. (I as it were carry a catalogue of such shapes around with me, and the objects portrayed in it are the familiar ones.) 

PG 119: This shape I see is not simple a shape, but is one of the shapes I know. -- But it is not as if I were comparing the object with a picture set beside it, but as if the object coincided with the picture I see only one thing, not two.

Vygotsky has to say about why it is not at first easy for a child to learn to write. For: 'Even its minimal development requires a high level of abstraction. It is speech in thought and image only, lacking the musical, expressive, intonational qualities of oral speech. In learning to write, the child must disengage himself from the sensory aspect of speech and replace words by images [or forms] of words' (Vygostsky, 1986 p.181 as quoted in Shotter, 1996).

“When I asked my Chinese students at Tufts University how they had learned so many characters at such a young age, they laughed and said they had a “secret system” - pinyin. Beginning readers learn pinyin to help them grasp the concept of reading and writing to prepare them conceptually for having to learn 2,000 characters by the fifth grade. What is the secret of pinyin? It is a little alphabet. By giving your readers a sense of mastery over a small subset of characters, this Chinese alphabet prepares them to understand what reading is about and to tackle what lies ahead.” (Wolf, 2008, p 49)

“As the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker eloquently remarked, “Children are wired for sound, but print is an optional accessary that must be painstakingly bolted on.”” (Wolf, 2008, p 19)

“Becoming virtually automatic does not have overnight and is not a characteristic of either a novice bird-watcher or a young novice reader. These circuits and pathways are created through hundreds or, in the case of some children with some reading disabilities like dyslexia, thousands of exposures of letters and words.” (Wolf, 2008, p 14)

“A child’s first effort at naming letters is not much more than “paired-associate” learning: that is, it has all the conceptual glamour of a pigeon learning to pair some objects with a label to get a pellet. Quickly enough, however, far more cognitively elegant learning of letters emerges, something akin to Susan Carey’s notion of ‘bootstrapping’ in learning of numbers. For example, for many children counting to ten and the “alphabet song” provide a conceptual “placeholder” list. Gradually, each number and letter name in the list will be mapped onto its grapheme (written) form, accompanied by a growing understanding of what the letter or number does.” (Wolf, 2008, p 92)

“Parents should be encouraged to help children name letters whenever they appear ready, and the same principle applies to “reading” what is called environmental print -- familiar words and signs in the child’s environment such as a stop sign, a box of cereal, the child’s name, and the names of siblings and friends ... Gradually, each child in most literate cultures begin to acquire a repertoire of frequently seen letters and words before ever learning to write these letters.” (Wolf, 2008, p 93 - 94)

“Children move very gradually from an awareness of what makes up a word in a sentence to syllables inside a word (e.g., “sun-ny”), until finally each individual phoneme inside a word can be segmented (e.g. “s”, “u”, “n”) A child’s awareness of discrete sounds and phonemes in a word is both a critical component and an outgrowth of learning to write and learning to read.” (Wolf, 2008, p 98 - 99)

“At the most basic level, the children learn first to perceive words more analytically in the most effortless way possible - through attending to alliteration and rhyme and learning to categorise sounds on that basis.” (Wolf, 2008, p 100)

“Writing and listening to poetry, for example, sharpen a child’s developing ability to hear (and ultimately to segment) the smallest sounds in words, the phonemes. Such first attempts to write reflect a sequence in a child’s growing knowledge about the connection between oral and written language. First, letters are written (or drawn) in imitation. To be sure, there is often more scribbled ‘art’ than concept here. Next, letters begin to show off children’s evolving concept of print, particularly the letters in their own names. Gradually, the other letters capture how children think words are spelled.” (Wolf, 2008, p 97)

“These seemingly simple methods help children learn several difficult linguistic concepts: (1) ... that there can be a one-to-one correspondence between a sound and a symbol; (2) the more difficult concept that each letter has been a letter name and a sound or group of sounds that it represents: and the converse that each sound is represented by a letter or sometimes several letters; and (3) the understanding that words can be segmented into syllables and sounds.” (Wolf, 2008, p 101)

“Cohen observed that the novice readers learned list of words based on one of several particular linguistic principles. Some lists taught semantic, or meaning-based, categories, with each category identified by a specific markers. As the Sumerian writing system began to incorporate symbols for syllables, a second set of word lists was grouped on the basis of shared pronunciations. This meant that Sumerians were analysing the sound-based or phonological system - the emphasis of most phonics-based reading programs today.

A major contribution of early Sumerian writing is the way that teaching methods promoted conceptual development. Requiring Sumerian pupils or any children to learn semantically and phonetically related words helped them recall the words more efficiently, increase their vocabulary and increase their conceptual knowledge. In current terms, the Sumerians used the first known metacognitive strategy to teach reading. That is, the Sumerian teachers gave their pupils tools that made explicit how to learn everything and how to remember it.”  (Wolf, 2008, p 38)

“Over time, the novice Sumerian readers also learned words that illustrated the common morphological properties of language (e.g. how two symbolic units can come together to make a new related word). Morphology is a system of rules for forming words from the smallest meaningful parts of language, called morphemes.” (Wolf, 2008, p 39)

“A list is one way to represent information, but a princi- ple from which each member of the list can be deduced and from which new members of the list can be generated is more powerful for many purposes. For example, a list of English words ending in “-ness” (e.g., “goodness,” “happiness,” “sadness”) is less efficient, for many purposes, than a general- ization like: “adjective + ness = an abstract noun” coupled with a “blocking principle” in terms of which the generalization does not apply if a non-ness word already exists for the same meaning. Thus, there is no “tallness” because “height” already exists.” (Gee, 2008, pp. 78)

“The Chinese writing system is a gift from the past to the present and is clearly hallowed by its readers. When Gish Jen, the celebrated Chinese American novelist, travelled to China for a long stay, she noticed a very old man who came to a park every day with a long stick. Slowly over the course of an afternoon he would draw huge Chinese characters in the dry soil, each character perfectly rendered. The characters would be erased by the wind, but not before being admired by the people in the park. The scene captures the powerful ways that Chinese orthography incorporated not only a system for communication but also an artistic medium and, perhaps, for this old Chinese man, an expression of spirituality as well.” (Wolf, 2008, p 48) 

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Ostensive teaching - naming/labeling

“As children’s perceptual and attention abilities grow, they engage with the most important precursor for reading, early language development, and with it the pivotal insight that things like ponies and dogs have names” (Wolf, 2008)

“It can be difficult for adults to suspend their own views of the everyday world in order to realise that very young children don’t ‘know’ each thing has a name. Very gradually, children learn to label the salient parts of their world, usually beginning with the people who care from them. But the realisation that everything has its own name typically comes at around eighteen months and is one of the insufficiently noted eureka events in the first two years of life.” (Wolf, 2008, p 83 - 84)

“If a person lacks the ability to take pleasure in the game of spotting pictures hidden in puzzle-pictures, or in playing the game I Spy (in which shared words sought for what we together can see) them she may not be able to go on in language in ways our culture demands.” (Floyd, 2010, pg 315)

“I’m imagining a time in the child’s life when he utters his ‘bloh’ excitedly, sometimes repeatedly, and when my repeating it or something like that back to him - doubtless excitedly, and probably with the ball already at hand - seems response enough. ... Like other toddlers, he has been playing with a ball or balls for months before he said ‘bloh’ - reaching for them, grabbing them, putting them in his mouth, tossing them, shrieking when I roll them back to him, etc ...”  (Day, 2010, pg 211)

“But I think one can describe the child, in his first tentative or delighted or contented utterances of ‘bloh,’ as ‘experiencing the meaning’ of ball, by which I mean to say that a word’s meaning begins for him necessarily as the experience of its meaning, as find a new home in its utterance.” (Day, 2010, pg 212)

OC 455: Every language-game is based on words ‘and objects’ being recognised again. We learn the same inexorability that this is a chair as that 2 x 2 = 4

“For we want to ask, ‘What would be missing if you did not experience the meaning of a word?’ (PI, 214).” (Minar, 2010, pg 186)

PG 74: We learnt the meaning of the word “plant” by examples.

PI 6: An important part of the training will consist in the teacher’s pointing to the objects, directing the child’s attention to them, and at the same time uttering a word; for instance, the word “slab” as he points to that shape. (I do not want to call this “ostensive definition”, because the child cannot as yet ask what the name is. I will call it “ostensive teaching of words”. --- I say that it will form an important part of the training, because it is so with human beings; not because it cannot be imagined otherwise.) The ostensive teaching of words can be said to establish an association between the word and the thing. But what does this mean? Well, it may mean various things; but one very likely thinks first of all that a picture of the object comes before the child’s mind when it hears the word. But now, if this does happen -- is it the purpose of the word? Yes, it may be the purpose. -- I can imagine such a use of words (of series of sounds.) (Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.) But in the language of $2 it is not the purpose of the words to evoke images. (It may, of course, be discovered that that helps to attain the actual purpose.)

But if the ostensive teaching has this effect, -- am I to say it effects the understanding of the word? Don’t you understand the call “Slab!” if you act upon it in such-and-such a way? -- Doubtless the ostensive teaching helped to bring this about; but only together with a particular training. With different training the same ostensive teaching of these words would have effected a quite different understanding. 

“I set the break up by connecting up rod and lever.” -- Yes, given the whole of the rest of the mechanism. Only in conjunction with that is a brake-lever, and separated from its support it is not even a lever; it may be anything, or nothing.  

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Meanings, associations and uses

“As I imagine it, it must betoken that the ball or balls he has been playing with (reaching for, putting in his mouth, etc) and our repeated utterance of the word ‘ball’ which the child now hears as one (sort of) utterance, and as (close to) the same utterance he now makes - together have undergone a change of aspect for him. The ball he sees is not yet the ball that I and his 4-year-old sister see, which we may tell one another is round, red, shiny, the size of a grapefruit, etc ... ” (Day, 2010, pg 211-212)

TLP 2.0123: If I know an object (word) I also know all its possible occurrences in states of affairs. (Every one of these possibilities must be part of the nature of the object/word.)

Z 138: It looks as if a sentence with e.g. the word “ball” in it already contained the shadow of other uses of this word. That is to say, the possibility of forming those other sentences. -- To who does it look like that? And under what circumstances?

PI II, vi: Suppose someone said: every familiar word, in a book for example, actually carries an atmosphere with it in our minds, a ‘corona’ of lightly indicated uses. -- Just as if each figure in a painting were surrounded by delicate shadowy drawings of scenes, as it were in another dimension, and in them we saw figures in different contexts. For if it is like this, if the possible uses of a word do float before us in half-shades as we say or hear it. -- this simply goes for us. But we communicate with other people knowing if they have this experience too.

“Years ago, the cognitive scientist David Swinney helped uncover the fact that when we read a simple word like “bug,” we activate not only the more common meaning (a crawling, six legged creature), but also the bug’s less frequent associations - spies, Volkswagens, and glitches in software. Swinney discovered that the brain doesn’t just find one simple meaning for a word; instead it stimulates a veritable trove of knowledge about the word and the many words related to it.” (Wolf, 2008, p 9)

“Take something as simple as a glass: The meaning of the glass to you, at [a] particular moment, is in terms of the actions available. The meaning of the glass changes when different constraints on action are combined. For example, in a noisy room, the glass may become a mechanism for capturing attention (by tapping it with a spoon), rather than a mechanism for quenching thirst (Glenberg 1997, 41).

Faced with the word “glass” in a text or a glass in a specific situation, the word or object takes on a specific meaning or significance based not just on the model simulation we build, but also on the actions with the glass that we see as salient in the model. In one case, we build a model simulation in which the glass is “for drinking”; in another it is “for ringing like a bell to get attention”; in another it is a precious heirloom in a museum that is “not for touching.” Our models stress affordances for action so that they can prepare us to act or not act in given ways in the real world.” (Gee, 2008, pp. 85)

“The meaning-blind person might not have the experience of an ambiguous word like ‘bank’, ‘March’, or ‘till’ taking on one meeting rather than another. He or she would not ‘feel that a word lost its meaning and became a mere sound if repeated ten times over.’ (PI, 214)” (Minar , 2010, pg 186)

Children with a rich repertoire of words and their associations will experience any text or any conversation in ways that are substantively different from children who do not have the same stored words and concepts.” (Wolf, 2008, p 9)

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Word systems and word sets

“Words that form a semantic set, such as color words, must have part of their meaning explained by reference to one another. This reference will sometimes be contrastive and sometimes be inclusive: ‘scarlet‘ and ‘puce‘ stand in semantic contrast with one another; but they refer to shades of red, and therefore both are semantically included in the meaning of ‘red.‘ ... It is these incompatibilities and entailments that are the basis for the structure of the lexicon of the language.” (Garver, 1997, pg 143) 

CV: What is pretty cannot be beautiful.

Z 360: “a is between b and c. and nearer to be than to c’: this is a characteristic relation between sensation of the same kind. That is, there is e.g. a language-game with the order “Produce a sensation between this and this, and nearer the first than the second.” And also, “Name two sensations which this is between.”

“These ineluctable incompatibilities have a dual nature. First and foremost they are modal features of discourse, or of discourse continuations. They are learned when we learn the language ... We learn that if something is blue, it cannot have any other primary colour, but it can have any shape all ... Without such incompatibilities descriptive words have no meaning and can have no meaning.” (Garver, 1997, pg 145)

PG 1: Now think of the following use of language; I send someone shopping. I give him a slip marked “five red apples”. He takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who opens the drawer marked “apples”; then he looks up the word “red” in a table and finds a colour sample opposite it; then he says the series of cardinal numbers - I assume he knows them by heart - up to the word “five” and for each number he takes an apple of the same colour as the sample out of the drawer. -- It is this and similar ways that one operates with words. -- “But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word ‘red’ and what he is to do with the word ‘five’? -- Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere. -- But what is the meaning of the word ‘five’? -- No such thing was in question here, only how the “five” is used.

TLP 2.0251: Space, time and colour (being coloured) are forms of objects. 

Z 357: We have a colour system as we have a number system.

Do the systems reside in our nature or in the nature of things? How are we to put it? -- Not in the nature of numbers or colours. 

OC 548: A child must learn the use of colour words before it can ask for the name of a colour.

PG 27: The names I give to bodies, shapes, colours, lengths have different grammars in each case. The meaning of a name is not the thing we point to when we give an ostensive definition of the name. 

PI 26: One thinks that learning a language consists of giving names to objects. Viz, to human beings, to shapes , to colours, to pains, to moods, to numbers, etc. To repeat -- naming is something like attaching a label to a thing. One can say that this is preparatory to the use of a word. But what is it a preparation for?

PI 11: Think of the tools in a tool-box: there is a hammer, pliers, a saw, a screw-driver, a rule, a glue-pot, glue, nails, and screws. -- The function of words are as diverse as the function of these objects. (And in both cases there are similarities.)

Of course, what confuses us is the uniform appearance of words when we hear them spoken or meet them in script and print. For their application is not presented to us so clearly. 

PI 12: It is like looking into the cabin of a locomotive. We see handles all looking more or less alike. (Naturally, since they are all supposed to be handled.) But one is the handle of a crank which can be moved continuously (it regulates the opening of a valve); another is the handle of a switch, which has only two effective positions, it is either off or on; a third is the handle of a brake-lever, the harder one pulls on it, the harder it brakes; a fourth, the handle of a pump;it has an effect only so long as it is moved to and fro.

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Choosing the right word

“The ‘attachment to words’ [manifests] in ‘the way we choose and value words.’ (PI, 218)” (Minar, 2010, pg 192)

PI II, xi: How do I find the ‘right‘ word? How do I choose among words? Without doubt it is sometimes as if I were comparing them by fine differences of smell: That is too ... that is too ... , -- this is the right one. -- But I do not always have to make judgements, give explanations; often I might only say: “It simply isn’t right yet”. I am dissatisfied, I go on looking. At last a word comes: “That’s it!” Sometimes I can say why. This is simply what searching, this is what finding, is like here.

OC 128: From a child up I learn to judge like this. This is judging. 

OC 129: This is how I learned to judge, this I got to know as judgement.

OC 130: But isn’t it experience that teaches us to judge like this, that is to say, that it is correct to judge like this? But how does experience teach us, then? We may derive it from experience, but experience does not direct us to derive anything from experience. If it is the ground of our judging like this, and not just the cause, still we do not have a ground for seeing his in turn as a ground.

PG 10: “Understanding a word” -- being able to apply it. - “When I said, ‘I can play chess” I really could.” how did I know that I could? My answer will show in what way I used the word ‘can’.

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Learning to apply qualitative or abstract terms

PG 129: A friendly mouth, friendly eyes, the wagging of a dog’s tail are primary symbols of friendliness: they are parts of the phenomena that are called friendliness. If we want to imagine further appearances as expressions of friendliness, we read these symbols into them. It is not that I can imagine that this man’s face might change so that it looked courageous, but that there is a quite definite way in which it can change into a courageous face. 

Think of the multifariousness of what we call “language”: word-language, picture-language, gesture-language, sound-language.

“They want to know whether there is a thing or object corresponding to the word ‘two’ in at least the robust way that there are objects corresponding to the word ‘sofa.’ ... How about an echo, a vector, a pang of remorse, a boundary, a phantasm, and so on? We speak about all these things and assign properties to them. They are in this broad sense objects of discourse.” (Fogelin, 2009, pg 110 - 111)

CV: If I say A has beautiful eyes someone may ask me: what you find beautiful about his eyes, and perhaps I shall reply: the almond shape, long eye-lashes, delicate lids. What do these eyes have in common with a gothic church that I find beautiful too? Should I say they make a similar impression on me? What if were to say that in both cases my hand feels tempted to draw them? That at any rate would be a narrow definition of the beautiful. It will often be possible to say: seek your reasons for calling something good or beautiful and then the peculiar grammar of the word 'good' in this instance will be evident.

PI 257: When one says “He gave a name to his sensation” one forgets that a great deal of stage-setting in the language is presupposed if the mere act of naming is to make sense. And when we speak of someone’s have given a name to pain, what is presupposed is the existence of the grammar of the word “pain”, it shews the post where the new word is stationed.

PI 293: If I say of myself that it is only from my own case that I know what the word “pain” means -- must I not say the same of other people too? And how can I generalise the one case so irresponsibly. 

Now someone tells me that he knows what pain is only from his own case!! -- Suppose everyone had a box with something in it: we call it a “beetle”. No one can look into anyone else’s box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle. -- Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly changing. -- But suppose the word “beetle” had a use in these people’s language? If so it would not be used as the name of a thing. The thing in the box has no place in the language-game at all; not even as a something: for the box might even be empty.

“Wittgenstein explicitly distinguishes ‘image’ from ‘picture’ earlier in the Investigations, and he claims that, for example, the language-game with pain (i.e. when someone tells me he is in pain), of course, pain plays a part, ‘only not as a picture’ but as an image (PI, 300).” (Krebs, 2010, pg 129)

“The impression of that relevant experience (of pain, of hesitancy, of childishness, etc) produces in me is (re) constituted in the spontaneous articulation of my bodily awareness made possible by the concepts in my life in language.” (Krebs, 2010, pg 130)

“I can see someone else’s behaviour as pain-behaviour, therefore, and any event as invested with a significance, if I have made the relevant past experiences conscious, that is, if I have woven them into the web of concepts, images, memories and words with which I receive all new impressions, and in terms of which my body learns to respond physically and verbally to its perceptions.” (Krebs, 2010, pg 131)

“Once we have them, once we have assimilated these experiences - of hesitancy, childishness, vulgarity - as complex linguistic gestures, something in the object we perceive connects to our sensibility, resonates within, and triggers a response, an ‘inner experience’ that wrenches from us a verbal expression, just as pain elicits a cry from a baby in pain or a sudden joy calls forth a glittering bodily gesture. A behaviour of sensation, Wittgenstein will say, is substituted by an expression  of sensation (RPP, I, 313). Seeing aspects is not the normal seeing. I do not perceive the meaning of a gesture, the grace of an arabesque, the virility of a voice, etc., as I do the shape of the table or the colour of the carpet. They belong to different categories of objects of sight. (PI, 193).” (Krebs, 2010, pg 131)

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Exploring our concepts and how to unpack them

Thus, as for children, so for us as researchers too: 'Learning to direct one's own mental processes with the aid of words or signs is an integral part of the process of [new] concept formation,' claims Vygotsky (1986, p.108)

“The concepts we have settle for us the form of the experience we have of the world ... there is no way of getting outside the concepts in terms of which we think of the world ... The world is for us what is presented through those concepts.” (Winch [1958] in Smeyers and Peters, 2010, pg 38)

CV: Nothing is more important for teaching us to understand the concepts we have than constructing fictitious ones.

CV: One of the most important methods I use it to imagine a historical development of our ideas different from what actually occurred. If we do this, we see the problem from a completely new angle.

PG 29: Is the meaning really only the use of the word? Isn’t it the way this use meshes with our life?

CV: Concepts may alleviate mischief or they may make it worse; foster it or check it.

PI 569: Language is an instrument. Its concepts are instruments. Now perhaps one thinks that it can make no great difference which concepts we employ. As, after all, it is possible to do physics in feet and inches as well as in metres and centimetres: the difference is merely one of convenience. But even this is not true if, for instance, calculations in some system of measurement demand more time and trouble than it is possible for us to give them.

PI 570: Concepts lead us to make investigations; are the expression of our interest, and direct our interest.

OC 65: When language-games change, then there is a change of concepts, and with the concepts the meanings of words change.

References  (back to top)

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