Meaning as Use in the Digital Turn

Anat Biletzki


What is the “meaning” of terms, concepts, and ideas now extant in the information society and in digital culture? What theory of meaning can address, in satisfactory manner, the digital turn, which is, fundamentally, a conceptual revolution? This article submits that the only way to make sense of this revolution – and it does insist that it is a conceptual revolution – is by harnessing a meaning-as-use theory (with this conscription of “theory” being admittedly un-Wittgensteinian). Furthermore, although it may be unfeasible to formulate a bona fide theory of meaning here, as elsewhere, Wittgensteinian steps can be fruitfully taken in describing novel culturallinguistic circumstances and situations, thereby elucidating the digital use of terms and concepts. The applicability of “meaning as use“ in the digital context will be presented, subsequently, as the best theory of meaning, perhaps the only one, that can address both the promise and the vagaries of digitization.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; digital turn; digitation; language; meaning; meaning as use

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