‘Operating with words’ and the Shopping Scene

Ioana Nafornita


In this paper I challenge Mulhall’s claim that Wittgenstein's remark in the
opening of the PI “It is in this and similar ways that one operates with words.”
implies that the shopping scene “is a paradigm of the
ordinary”. First, I show that the shopping scene is not meant as a paradigm of
the ordinary. Then I show that Wittgenstein’s remark is meant to make the
shopping scene a paradigmatic case for ‘operating with words’ and that Mulhall's
claim rests on the assumption that ‘operating with words’ is what we ordinary do
with words. But ‘operating with words’ is only part of what we call ‘using
words’. Hence, Mulhall's assumption is false. In the end I suggest that we
should not see the shopping scene as a paradigm of the ordinary, but as
providing us with a picture of the use of our words (an alternative to the
Augustinian one).


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig

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