Wittgenstein’s Musing on the Self and its Other Through Philosophy of Langugage

Bhaskar Bhattacharyya


Wittgenstein in his later work points out two sorts of language. One is private
language and the other is ordinary language. He means by private language a typical
language, which is only accessible to the speaker. He defines it as ”The
individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the
person speaking; to his immediate sensations, so, another person cannot understand
the language.”(Inv-243). Wittgenstein does not accept this because it is
not communicable to others. Again people do not share it. Language becomes
communicable when others share it. Ayer also acknowledges the functions of sharing or
non-sharing in the context of language. Some interlocutors want to talk about
Robinson Crusoe, but it is not entertained in the context of society (self’s other).
Therefore, Wittgenstein advocates ordinary language, which is easily communicable. We
know that society is a centre of life for different people coming from different
backgrounds. People follow ordinary language because it is accessible or
communicable. So, it can unite people or bring harmony or co-ordination among people.
Again it can bring out the defects of society. Through ordinary language people are
able to exit the cave of egoism and can concentrate on society. Significantly,
Wittgenstein states that language is a social phenomenon. So, ordinary language has a
unique role in the present context of society (self and its other). He also opines
that language is a game. And the playing of this game necessarily implies the social
perspective. Hence, private language, which makes the self isolate itself by
withdrawing others, has rightly been condemned by Wittgenstein.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig

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