§3 Augustine, we might say, does describe
a system of communication, only not everything that we call 'language' is this
system. And one has to say this in many cases where the question arises "Is this
an appropriate description or not?" The answer is: "Yes, it is appropriate, but
only for this narrowly circumscribed region, not for the whole of what you were
claiming to describe."
It is as if someone were to say: "A game consists in moving objects about on
a surface according to certain rules..."--- and we replied: You seem to be
thinking of board games, but there are others. You can make your definition
correct by expressly restricting it to (only) those games.
- The last word would be better as 'activities'.
- 'Game' is his key illustration, in §66,
of a word which does not refer to any clearly bounded region of activities
in the world. It therefore has no essential meaning, though it nonetheless
does a good job for us in ordinary use.
- He is criticising his intellectual tendency in his Tractatus to
oversimplification and inappropriate abstraction. This is indeed a typical
danger for the intellectual. Abstraction and simplification are very
attractive tools for those that can master them, and achieve very powerful
results in some areas, such as mathematics and physics. This does not
imply that they are constructive tools for use in all areas. In some areas,
far from enabling us to find the truth, they will obscure it.
- It was the criticism of his friends Ramsey and Sraffa which finally made
him see that language served many more human purposes than the one he
had singled out in the Tractatus. Apparently Sraffa asked him how this - at
which point he shrugged - fitted into his Picture Theory of language.
- There is no harm in restricting the meaning/use of a word for some
particular purpose - giving it, say, a special technical meaning (such as
'weight' in Physics) - as long as we are quite clear that this is what we
have done. But we shouldn't pretend that we have thus unpacked or analysed
the real, essential, meaning of the word; we have merely defined a
new, more precise, meaning/use for it, for our convenience.