§6. We could imagine that the language of §2 was the whole language of A and B; even the whole language of a tribe. The children are brought up to perform these actions, to use these words as they do so, and to react in this way to the words of others.

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. ((1) 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 could not be imagined otherwise.) This ostensive teaching of words can be said to establish an association between the word and the thing. But what does this mean? Well, it can 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 can 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 that it effects an 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 brake up by connecting up rod and lever."—Yes, given the whole of the rest of the mechanism. Only in conjunction with that is it a brake-lever, and separated from its support it is not even a lever; it may be anything, or nothing.



  1. Just because the word 'name' has not yet appeared in the child's language, or even in the parent's, does not imply that we, as reflective philosophers, are unable to correctly describe this imagined scenario as "The child has now learned the name of their pet dog".

  2. Perhaps we could rephrase W., by saying that at the initial stage the child may not understand that 'Rover' is the name of their dog; she may not have got the idea of naming. For her, initially, the game is that her father says 'Rover' - she points at the dog; the dog comes into the room - she says "Rover!". But this is not really helpful, since at some point, even if the child has still not begun to use the word 'name', she will be using 'Rover' in the consistent way which the community calls, unbeknownst to her, 'naming' the dog.

  3. In the same vein, we may object that whatever the difficulties may be in the process of learning how to use 'Rover', including odd underdetermination problems with dog-parts, dog-temporal-slices, (gavagai) and so on, the final result of the process appears to be potentially correctly analysed as an invisible arrow - a silver thread - linking 'Rover' to that family pet. At the stage where the child starts to use the word 'name' correctly, as well as 'Rover', and says "'Rover' is the name of my dog", she is referring to this imaginary silver thread. The yellow Post-it note is not naming the dog; saying 'Rover' and pointing at the dog is not naming the dog; both activities are hints as to what 'naming' means; they are attempts to coax the child in the direction of the abstract idea.

  4. So, W. asks us, "What is naming, then? What is this weird "abstract idea" you refer to? Describe it fully! Analyse it!". Our best reply is that we are sorry to say that because it is a primitive of our language, no description is possible. It is just that → ('Rover' ..........õ.) Further elucidation is beyond the limits of our language. Describing - analysing - must come to an end. (Cp. §29)