I Want You to Bring Me a Slab: Remarks on the Opening Sections of the "Philosophical Investigations" Author(s): Warren D.

Goldfarb Source: Synthese, Vol. 56, No. 3, Ludwig Wittgenstein: Proceedings of a Conference Sponsored by the Austrian Institute, New York, Part II (Sep., 1983), pp. 265-282 Published by: Springer Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20115907 . Accessed: 03/01/2011 16:16
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have read mentalism into Frege and the early Wittgenstein. simply unsupported they render it impossible understand what the aims of early analytic philosophy could have effected the dramatic change it did. by their complacent commentators. construal of the Investigations' back early sections. and. their protestations. Copyright ? 1983 byD. U. point the genstein's presumed point is that when we find no such phenomena. can sense be made see as underlying communication of objective notions. Wittgenstein phenomena. GOLDFARB IWANT REMARKS YOU TO BRING ME A SLAB: SECTIONS OF THE INVESTIGATIONS1 ON THE OPENING PHILOSOPHICAL The first few pages are often seen as of the Philosophical Investigations To many this portion of the text has appeared relatively unproblematic. Witt command.S. issue a appropriate to a property. easily digestible. to my mind.80 Holland. in or constituted and allied notions are grounded meaning by occurrent con even mental mental perhaps images. andBoston. to a thing. psychological it could be claimed Of course. primary to be naive mentalism is to take him to be attacking a straw man. despite were in some straightforward mentalists way early analytic philosophers in disguise. the that.1 and the early Wittgenstein Frege on the irrelevance of the passing mental show to any questions of Their order of priority is clear: only given the structures they meaning. . viz. but to take Wittgenstein's So far this is easily digestible. Many of Witt The source of such complacency remarks throughout his treatment of language and meaning genstein's a view to the effect that seem to be directed against a naive mentalism. reasonably clear in intent and operation. It object is difficult to find any significant philosopher whose doctrines could be so is most Indeed. After all. These readings are. Moreover.WARREN D. in the end. case is won.2 Synthese 56 (1983) 265-282. is not hard to find. foreign to just with whose views on language Wittgenstein ismost those philosophers and the author of the Tractatus. Various led on. I believe.. attend and so on. Reidel were and how it 0039-7857/83/0563-0265 Publishing Co. Frege is "always to separate the logical keynote of early analytic philosophy are insistent from the psychological". to by the texts. the concerned. Dordrecht. such naive mentalism easily defeated. us to look and see whether there are phenomena of the stantly urges sorts "going on inside" when we assert a sentence. $01..A.

or what have theory of naming. that what he has pointed out is remarks must exact an acknowledgement such an acknowledgement what might have led one on.g.. What opening set up the particular that he does? The oppositions Wittgenstein of an answer can come only from a close scrutiny of how these beginnings attention has to be paid to the interactions unfold. It temptations". form. to go beyond deeply. you. account of what is going on in the sections where the work is being it can mean anything. does not Wittgenstein pervasive one who expresses anything recogniz set up as his opponent ordinarily able as a philosophical mind. e. what Wittgenstein For in these sections Wittgenstein is examining what it is to basic level. which but which mises (in. moreover. who puts forward some he is not a sophisticated Fregean or Tractarian. "Unmasking temptations". not merely a curious To is to recognize and take these questions seriously feature of Wittgenstein's method. could be meant the passages an attack on some rather unsophisticated i. however.. but to pull the rug out from it hints that to be successful Wittgenstein's under the theory. is how Wittgenstein's seemingly naive remarks. pre ing that there are specific theses which play the role of unnoticed are beguiling. In this. and provoke the reader. and why does sections. masking seeks not so much to propose an alternative indicates that Wittgenstein to such and such a philosophical theory. Indeed. is a slogan. and My question. This question has a specifically theories of meaning. to engage ways Wittgenstein's rejoinders and proposals may be meant to elicit acquiescence.266 WARREN D. to cut more in which they are embedded. Like all Witt if it is not supported by a detailed gensteinian metaphilosophical slogans. Frege's arguments). to bring to light operates at a more wishes Rather. counters "not p". for exegetical of the nature of Wittgenstein's interlocutor in the it is the question stance does he represent. for a philosophical account of language and meaning. The begin looking . GOLDFARB then. The interlocutor does not voice developed philosophical positions.e. Obtaining may the sources of a philosophical rather than position require portraying itmay well be more a matter of depiction than of refuting the position: argument. in suggest the slogan can mislead done. can be recognized as incorrect or misguided as soon as they are made explicit. Moreover. meaning. This tenet p of his system to which Wittgenstein as Wittgenstein's characterized interest in "un feature is sometimes Talk of temptations has its good points.

Wittgenstein Confessions.0312). that the logical constants do not stand for anything (Tractatus L?gico-Philosophicus. the conception to the early analytic philosophers I have mentioned. with a passage from Augustine's a particular and tells us that the passage expresses essence of language. as is well known. seems most inaccurate if attributed position. to this as a starting point (just as with naive Surely we ought object see that anyone of importance has ever held this it is hard to mentalism). There is no way of it out but to scrutinize Wittgenstein's it is to the words. the meaning no difference word is what it names. conception that their differences with these thinkers share enough of the conception it are mere matters of detail. Now it might be said that although this so-called Augustinian true to these or other modern is not particularly thinkers. begins. 1. there is between kinds of words.BRING ME A SLAB 267 in the conjuring trick" (as he puts it in another context. To say that Frege takes the meaning of a word to be what it names is to misread him blindly. Thus I see the earlier than the development as crucially concerned with exhibiting such opening of the Investigations an early stage and with evoking its character. "decisive moves ?308) do not amount to specific theses held by this or that philosopher. 4. To say of Frege that in kinds of words is to ignore the cen he does not recognize differences to his thought of his distinction between saturated and unsaturated trality (in the ordinary sense) expressions. and emphasizes the role in what we "Bedeutung" of a word of both Bedeutung call the meaning and Sinn. unreflectively to attribute this conception to the early Wittgenstein is tomiss Moreover. that Wittgenstein this. I think. That is to say that their actual theories of is language are not what is at issue. And again. in fact. For Frege gives a special usage. far they are made without notice at a point in the course of philosophizing of a particular position. and then take any considerations conception" as directly or undermining features the refuting its crude so philosophers against . All this is still not far beyond the level of slogans. The conception of the he elaborates conception of a has three features: every word names something. Hence fleshing text that I now turn. what he himself calls his Grundgedanke. But it surely does not do to use the label "Augustinian suggesting at will.

Many commentators would us meekly to this sentence. hardly goes beyond surely be made of it. He is suggesting that despite its common a way of looking at can be taken as expressing air the quotation place that is in its very core philosophical. well-nigh It is just a harmless unobjectionable. This is giving the essence of Wittgenstein of meaning? language? This is a philosophical conception to the unclarity of In short. that our ordinary understanding have I take Wittgenstein like these function to want in philosophy goes on. prosaic. we and "state of mind". to be intended to shock. "wishing to point a thing Augustine after all. Wittgenstein in ?1. That to claim that. pointing is. and learn to express their wants and needs verbally. that in ?1 Wittgenstein is also raising a deeper however. My primary reaction to the citation from the is obvious . is expressing a conception problem. The notions invokes. like "naming some object". of the observations that early in life children elaboration learn what are called. I believe. GOLDFARB labelled. out".268 WARREN D. they come to have a weight of them does not support. to first sentence after the quotation. language of Augustine's The transformation remarks from trivial to metaphysi to treat certain sorts cal occurs when we read the passage as attempting as being entered of problems in certain sorts of debates. so construed. However. is to think that what it expresses Confessions. innocent notions to set up the frameworks in continually are everyday notions fuels our they essence which debate of their availability for philosophical conviction But when exploitation. seems trivial. and what there is about a operating like this that carries over to sophisticated crude conception theorizing. It is not at all obvious that Augustine of the essence of language. use them all the time. we know neither what what a conception constitutes (a "picture of the essence") nor when it happens that our words express one. a structure in general explanatory is imposed on they figure settings. already it is to have a conception of language. can be entirely unexceptionable. they will shape how we view the task of any account what is to be accounted for. roughly put. It things no capital can the level of the commonplace.4 I suggest whereas that acquiesce means to call up amazement. and how we characterize . Iwould take Wittgenstein's the effect that Augustine's remarks contain a definite picture of the of language. Thus.3 The task is to figure out on what level Wittgenstein might be that would make details unimportant. seeks to show that when Wittgenstein these notions are used in certain contexts.it read by itself. them.

where like "picking the notion of fact is something to have some independent the point here content). he gives a Wittgenstein begins simple example where all is open to view: the language of the builders. that seems often to be the obvious. etc. of course. supposed a sentence counts as description will depend on goes further.e. I take it. which are perhaps best hesitation. In the list of "uses of language" in ?23. the way having in this. things that in ordinary contexts are the most can become else. Wittgenstein will adopt what we might call an intentional naivete. . In ?2. literally and word for word. and when we are in danger of going beyond it. i. we cannot category out the facts".. ordinary sorts of descriptions. something to flesh out these ideas at once. This remark ought not to be taken flatly. So here we see that Augustine is correct. seeing what builder A wants. He says it is a language for which the description is given by Augustine correct. two ways in which the example may be brought out by considering taken.BRING ME A SLAB 269 To expose these ordinarily hidden moves. does. "It disperses Wittgenstein in primitive kinds of application in which one can command a language clear view of the aim and functioning of the words". it is a language. The chief expression of this stance is the constant hectoring to substantiate of the interlocutor his a hectoring remarks and even his terminology. Wittgenstein's aim here is to keep us to a low challenging for we cannot see what our words come to the level of description. but (1) We can imagine the builders as people much four special sounds that they use in a specific way. Whether the work to which it is to be put. is not a single or homogeneous indicates that description Wittgenstein to amount to take description (and. However. To be sure. grasping the intentions in the utterances. Yet I cannot that he intends us to accept the example without imagine For surely it raises serious questions. There seems to me little problem think of an apprentice's this "language" learning by watching. Wittgenstein adduces the example of ?2 because he hopes it to be illuminating.5 like you or me. The forced naivete to is thus meant how things we say. where there can be no question of what it "amounts to" to make the ascriptions In ?5. To be sure. Augustine unearth the fog to study the phenomena of notes. it is never clear beforehand what "description" is. We can then easily given in ?2. level. And there can be no hesitation in saying of A that he wants a slab and therefore calls out "Slab!". until we have a perspicuous and unbiased view of what the data are.

that it is an example meant the builders.". by the inter in ?65 that Wittgenstein the real problem evades locutory accusation of what counts as a language..e.270 WARREN D. what explode has described leaves no room for thinking". so to speak.g. "You are just tacitly assuming that these people interlocutor think. it is then hardly a because "the study of the phenomena can we take them language at all. I take Wittgenstein denced by his use of "calls" for the words of this language. stories that seem to support the challenge. Remarks he alludes All this shows a fascination with V ?50 and Zettel ?99.. so as to deny the relevance of anything further that might be said about ?2? What. as we shall presently outside the Investigations ??19-20. GOLDFARB (2) On the other hand.. most natural then (to all I have asked) to think of these builders as as plodding. and so on. as perhaps is evidenced by our imaginings.. we can imagine the builders as people whose in ?2. says. Moreover. Now what are the grounds for this challenge. Now. as having blank expressions. for denying language. and suggests is described is not a The challenge is that under reading (2) what i. reasons for vesting would anything insistently demand in one or another particular part of any story that could be told important the challenger might well want to here. where Indeed. on theFoundations to the builders several times. if that they are like people as we know them in that respect. Surely to it can be objected that under reading (2) the example has no relevance of language". cavemen. e. Now is given by the description the entire linguistic behavior It seems terrain has changed. Wittgenstein what pulls together and underlies the force of the challenge does lie in the . This is evi In fact. at the denying very start. is wrong with taking the assistant who a slab upon hearing as starts getting it right (bringing "Slab!") understanding? There are. Here a worry arises: perhaps the terrain has changed too much. In the face of this insistence. Wittgenstein ourselves leading imagine would then ask why one should dig in one's heels on such ground. to be human? to be speaking. That is. here that there can be understanding this. to be using words with understanding. If this is the whole of their "language". seems more than to say that these builders are not fully intelligible or that we cannot their lives. and by by not giving a characterization see. Wittgenstein in Zettel the is suggested such a reaction ?99. of course. imagined builders do seem mechanical to us. after all. to be asking for this reaction. with this: "These 'builders' don't think! They can't think. These Yet this hardly and animal-like. ofMathematics to be spun out.

the sort of thought appropriate thought". then it should be clear that the challenge cannot operate invokes an unexamined for it implicitly at the level of description. in the small. (The answer is also hinted at in ?360:"We say only of a human being. We must examine. he is posing two general questions: From what stance to come? Upon are standards for what counts as "thinking" supposed to thought supposed to be we are ascribing what features is the power based? These questions have particular force. and There are. Again. we are taking as crucial to "animate" language.BRING ME A SLAB 271 idea of thought. of course. To mount such a challenge is. and why. cal conceptions the wealth of assumptions made when is enough to emphasize in the present context. In Zettel ?99 Wittgenstein is exploited say of the builders: But that the important there is such and their thing is that their language. though. "rudimentary means to undermine "either they the sharp dichotomy Wittgenstein are just like people as we know them or else they are automata". against those who hold handle we can get on the notion of thought comes only via that whatever that they is suggesting about language.6 is that one cannot buy the whole kit and caboodle at The moral. I think. already have thoughts." The hint comes from the obviously what the subject intentional vagueness of "like". to have of taking the builders the possibility In simply presenting to their lives. the from the worries about conclusive Hence. of ?19. thoughts are what make noises into language. it of "thinking" until later in the Investigations. thinking is to be described via primitive behaviour. in some measure. More important. of great intricacy and power. in conception the end. This is. to imagine an independent process of thinking that is behind and It is to imagine language as stuck on to people who animates language. For Wittgenstein considerations in implicitly (or even subliminally) using may well have stacked the deck a conception of what is to be of thought to frame the characterization for. however. ways to respond to Wittgenstein's questions. emerges nothing I take this to be intentional. that it thinks. absence of a definite builders. and of is like one. in thereby coloring the data that have to be accounted analyzed. what aspects of our operations the start. in a full-tilt assault on philosophi does not engage Now Wittgenstein For now.) We are then meant to retain a certain . may be rudimetary. a thing as "primitive thinking" which "thinking" goes on to too.

we have denied that we are reluctant to call the calls names. perhaps at stake in the operation of language. but rather to expose a slide that results in reference a special place underlying connection the use of giving the word-thing . about reading (2) of the builders' uneasiness. Thus. language. the ideology reluctance itself is a datum. Given are in place.e. Wittgenstein talks of the connection between word and example. To say that them so much here "Slab!" names slabs is just to say that A calls out "Slab!" and B brings a slab. Stripped of the that leads to the blunt assertion "this is not language". and the like. when we take "naming". His remarks there are intended not to deny that attributions to words make sense. the two readings. GOLDFARB a sense of oddity. Wittgenstein's is correct has a double edge. we want to say that this is perhaps like a name but really is not one. What creates the reluctance. can be given whose character in picked of any surrounding structure. and so on. "state of well as. dependently to why the double aspect of is connected This idea of surroundings contexts. This suggests that our everyday of these notions presuppose the sur applications that the surroundings roundings provided by the rest of language. various distinctions. if we take the notions that figure in it to be The trouble comes when we segment the description. under reading (1) there is no question remarks.the sense inwhich we have names in our language. or not one in the real sense . presumably. we can use these notions without to mark out reservation are removed. "wishing out isolatable phenomena. Augustine's description given by Augustine remarks can be trivial. operating locally. is the abrogation of the rest of language. When the surroundings the notions no longer operate quite rightly. however. all is open to view. Under accuracy of Augustine's reading (2). we are to apply the notion of "naming some object" . as if they i.as uneasy. of thing. to point". in and of themselves for then become the focus of theorizing. in ?6. those of "wishing the difference between mind"..272 WARREN D. and hesitate to point a thing out". This reluctance reflects back on what I've said about ?1. These phenomena foundationally. In denying the builders anything else but these calls. Because of this simplicity. To take the notions remarks arises in philosophical Augustine's invokes as figuring in a general account of language is to take Augustine them as picking out particular phenomena that are crucially. As we've about the word-for-word seen. Thus the relation of ?2 to Augustine's remarks is far from straightfor note that the builders provide a case for which the ward.

of the notions that In his investigations too broad characterization intends to give this altogether Wittgenstein content by teasing out the ways in which these notions are illicitly taken as separable when exploited for certain ends. as the essential item in the explanation language. Wittgenstein in taking these commonplaces.e.we can terization of how one can go wrong expect no systematic in isolation from the surroundings account of what it is to treat notions that ordinarily insight can be gained only by give them life. I shall consider one such examination. commonplace when I say "Slab!" Imean "Bring me a slab". different from fact that the builders' the overarching . them to evidence is putting on them a something deep about language. which poses the question of how words are meant. but because they anything directly. on their own. and so on. detailed examination in ??19-20. the notions are construed as operating When this sort of thing happens. Our considerations is already a large move. after all. have a very The says in these sections things the interlocutor air: our order "Slab!" is elliptical for "Bring me a slab".BRING ME A SLAB 273 of understanding. lives are. and in particular language of ?2 to raise questions our words consists in. Further that of cases. one lesson we are to is that there is no accurate learn from Wittgenstein general charac . and our sentence the he is using our hesitations regarding "Bring me a slab". 2.. For it is they that about ?2 thus suggest that what ground the structure. burden they cannot bear. Now. examines what I have called the notion of In ??19 and 20. He is is elliptical since command. the builders' "Slab!". as opposed in something finer than about their calls i. Wittgenstein the animation of language by thought by looking at the relations among our command call "Slab!". consider languages force certain questions back on us. to locate our uneasiness with the builders in something specific trying to our sentences. It disperses the fog to about what our meaning not because settle such primitive the builders. when I say "Slab!" I want does not deny that you should bring me a slab. independently of the rest of the structure. such general accounts is involved in undertaking can play a role here. Here about our language. starts by claiming that the builders' call is not our The interlocutor our command for "Bring me a slab". but seeks to show that the interlocutor.

is in which the notion of ellipticality. He is claiming that any account of what we do with the shortened sentence must go by way of the longer one: our command it is at bottom the longer "Slab!" can function as it does only because sentence. Agreement the shorter and longer sentences will rapidly drive towards the idea of as some have there being a full sense of our sentences (or a proposition. Something sentence is left out in the of the real "Bring former. the something as uttered. "Do you say the unshortened .. GOLDFARB ours. why we don't take the one-word to be "convention command as the basic form. then. put it). But call? The it and the builders' interlocutor that the between responds follows conclusion because builders' the does not simply language contain the longer sentence.) Why standard? answers that it is because you really mean the longer in one tone of voice utter the shorter sentence. Thus he asks. Wittgenstein command is elliptical (as it agrees that our one-word how does this humdrum observation show a difference surely is).274 WARREN D. Wittgenstein dismissively asks. Again. In the philosophical run. that the conviction the deep-seated and is thereby voicing "really". with an innocent air. The interlocutor. He sentence is construing has "really longer as a relation to something. viz. there is no bar to identifying the builders' (If ally lengthened". not-so-long turns out to be the full sense. here is headed towards a philosophical theory of of the relation between with his characterization language. The interlocutor must. He that the functioning of our one-word command as a conventionally conceives shortened form me a slab". and we are in some way more accurate when we put it back in by filling in the ellipsis. when construed ways The interlocutor groundless. the sentence which may well go beyond some support for taking such talk of "really To point out the need for as showing that one form of the sentence ismore basic than the meaning" The interlocutor when sentence other. to be taken as the is the longer sentence call with our command. you a triviality. or the thought in its entirety. to the will call our attention To block this drive at the start Wittgenstein in this way. some sort of priority. The something here is the longer meaning" sentence as opposed to the shorter. be construing of our command "Slab!" for "Bring me a slab" to imply the ellipticality of the former is parasitic on that of the latter. is in effect emphasizing this is however. and the longer sentence we do this. what is obtained when all of the "ellipses" have been filled in.

when something is unclear. about the utterance response It is hard to imagine a case in which we would be unclear about "Bring me a slab" yet would have understood had "Slab!" been said. This is not. at . we normally do not say such things.) . Surely this shows that the longer sentence is a more accurate locus of meaning.BRING ME A SLAB 275 to yourself?" The answer. But how does this show that? We say "When he says X he means Y" in to a question. sentence. sentence is no. Perhaps at this question. but the interlocutor that the concludes shorter sentence depends on the longer one. "Why should I not say one is. He challenges criticizes this conception the idea of and all possible and denies that unclarities. Hence the shorter sentence the longer. assumption of such a final resting point provides a notion of a "direction of analysis". shorter.a philosophical of the essence of something picture is ever there were one then that is enough. But enough cases like this will these disavowals surely make ring hollow. complete explanation and doubts elicit something in the questions already there. For the full sense represents the complete of explanation the one that handles any unclarity that could possibly arise. however. It is this notion that funds the interlocutor's claim that me a slab" is more basic than "Slab!". These need not be rehearsed criticisms. A defender of the conception under attack can.not else fact under each juncture. somehow. Now Wittgenstein "Bring in many ways. claim that something the putative consideration furnishes its true support. original we make task is to show that the observations here.7 For the present about meaning when we stick to the descriptive level do not by themselves substantiate the interlocutor's claims. useful for explaining is an innocent observation. All that can be is that the two sentences mean the same. well. Of course there is a jump here that amounts to an implicit adoption of an inchoate conception of "full sense". Wittgenstein 'When he says "Slab!" he means "Slab!"'?" then we should Now. no one Wittgensteinian could be conclusive. but not "When he says 'Slab!' he means 'Slab!' ". Nor do we say "When he says 'Bring me a 'slab' he means 'Slab!'". in general. If these claims are a conception when we of full sense or substantiated only import tantamount to it . For it suggests that the interlocutor could pause he does not) point out the following: we say "When he says (although 'Slab!' he means 'Bring me a slab'". and that the shorter concluded even asks. of course. The meaning. language attack of the sort I am discussing (Clearly.

He had isolatable parts corresponding wanting of the speaker's desires to something passes from a certain description But what is the justification for this move? about the "real sentence". a state of and that has a specific character affairs that is wanted given by a canonical verbal description. "When I say 'Slab!'. "When I say 'Slab!'. but it can the idea that the . in general. The various ways we can transform here no evidence for taking one sentence constitute rather than the other as basic. the interlocutor is simply presupposing thought. that we can equally well say. present. He takes a different tack. the interlocutor is taking there to be an object of the wanting. The give interlocutor's suggestion may rise to yet another philosophical seem obviously conception: right. the interlocutor of ?19 does not invoke features of how we explain what we mean. Clearly.. then what Iwant is. to mean the longer mean. The interlocutor place. I shall call these other like "Bring him Yet if we sentences "variants". cannot rely on a basic level of language to anchor what we what is it to mean "Bring me a slab" itself. "Bring me a pillar". In trying to base his claim on what the utterer of "Slab!" wants. "When I call 'Slab!'. Note. Hence the construal either or else relies upon some notion of unconscious or implicit is groundless in the latter case. viz. no such conscious thought is. the interlocutor says. And to substantiate. what he needs the idea that the He must support one-word command depends on the four-word command.e.276 WARREN D. however. by the way. etc. a slab". To show that something can be gotten at only via the four-word about the one-word command one. i. Wittgenstein asks for the grounds for such a construal of the wanting. form? In ?20 the interlocutor suggests a plausible answer: it is to use the sentence contrast with other sentences in that share some of these words. or. I want him to obey the command the description 'Slab!'".. with which Wittgenstein The question concludes is grounded only if the utterer ?19 suggests that the construal of "Slab!" in some sense thinks the longer sentence. But to assert or implicit thought of the longer sentence that unconscious always occurs is already to assume that "Bring me a slab" is a more accurate of the "elliptical" command "Slab!": it is to assume that our expression with "Slab!" are mediated by some more basic relation to operations "Bring me a slab". that he should bring me a slab?" Again Wittgenstein agrees to the common is speaking as if the its efficacy. but challenges to the longer sentence. GOLDFARB In any case. Iwant a slab".

It is not far to the in using just this word as opposed we understand and the sentence by grasping its constituents idea that are combined. He is happen?" . and when one utters the given sentence one is not uttering the variants. a truism that we could not use a sentence in contrast to others if the others were not available. to ground the notion of how we mean a sentence. The act of choosing particular is visible. The interlocutor's notion is not like this. e. seeing how they in contrast to its variants" is taken when "using a sentence However. and questions like "When does it are answerable. Wittgenstein means more. but in specific settings like these we have the Exactly facts that anchor the "using in contrast". it appears that to use a an act that explains sentence in contrast is to perform the speaker's as before.BRING ME A SLAB 277 out of something of the sentence is constructed meaning specific located in each word that can be gleaned from contrasts with those something variants in which that word alone is replaced. questions like "Do all the seem enter into the act?" and "When does it happen?" variants completely inappropriate.g. so.as in contrast" as a general phenomenon talking of "using the sentence with the contrast class including all the possible always occurring variants. of course.. for it indicates the otherwise unobjectionable that this ascription rests on no facts whatever. then points out that we say we use the sentence in Wittgenstein contrast because our language contains the variants. The absence of such introspectibilia it in contrast" in a particular the jump that has been made in ascribing a certain character to highlights notion of using in contrast. that that no uttering a localization of "using of mental life support such features introspectible act. however: to say one uses in contrast to the variants the sentence is to say no more than that the language contains these variants. Wittgenstein notes sentence. Wittgenstein adduces the to undermine further considerations the ascription: the usual following talk surrounding particular acts is inapplicable. there are specific alternatives. when I have thought about whether to write rather than "very talented" in a letter of recom talented" "quite mendation. There is no particular act which is the "using in contrast". The whole content of our talk of using a sentence in contrast lies in the availability of alternatives in our language. It is. Here. And then there are no facts that could ground a notion of a . Itmight be objected that we do have a richer notion of using a sentence in contrast to others. and that tells what is done to the alternatives. except for the utterance of the sentence itself.

in the end. "using in contrast" gives what lies behind my saying this sentence and not to explain those others. more must be going on. given the whole of our language. we need only misleadingly To rely on unexplored is operating say that that desire prematurely. about the nature of rational language use is to assume far presuppositions too much about the subject that we are supposed to be investigating from the ground up. The Wittgensteinian response to all this would be to scrutinize both the the picture of picture of rational language use at work here (including it embodies) for explanations and the felt need of our rationality utterances. what I say explanation after all.a sentence whose internal sentence mean" picks out a privileged how my utterance does its job. just as I do consciously when Iwrite letters of recommendation. has tried to show that what we all agree Once again. checking. out arises from the fact The feeling that the former leaves something like the latter can that. that the sentence leaves talk does not commit us to thinking out that I supply by "meaning it". these words and added to the description "I said Thus the interlocutor may be charged with illicitly importing features into an overly general notion. GOLDFARB sort of act. Wittgenstein no more is going on than that I said this sentence and meant it. Either acts of like picking. but not exactly picking) go on all the picking (or something . When we recognize features will explain to speak of a sentence's this. though I but didn't. Wittgenstein to concerning meaning does not by itself support the idea that "what I . bespeaks The notion of those other sentences. for Wittgenstein these surface frequently as operating for explanation and desire powerfully. For the fact that I could have said object that but didn't. then. "Slab!" for is elliptical something "Bring me a slab" because they mean the same and the former is shorter. isn't my meaning is to be secured by demanding further? Is there something enough? What like that. however. something. Nothing is being particular meant them".278 WARREN D. would satisfy these demands? Questions anything sees the in the Investigations. it is no longer dangerous being elliptical. pervasively. One wants to could have said any of those other sentences. and selecting my words. Why. or else I am not speaking only mooing. certain forms Such . With regard to ?20. There must be something behind my utterances are available to me. However. Imust in them rather than others that why Imake some way be constantly weighing.I am time. in philosophy. in special contexts that emerge claims that in general the diagnosis may be taken further.

since there will inevitably be some occasions where one would be employed but not the other. of sense at all. by and large. this is not simply that Wittgenstein To ascribe sameness of sense to two sentences is to say that they have in common. Admittedly. of theorizing about meaning. talk of "use" simpliciter. in the last there is a privileged way of expressing of ?20. he is hardly denying that we can and do mean sentences various ways. and that. Iwould argue that there is no general notion of use. then little can be made of behaviorist. In short. His point may perhaps about meaning philosophical questions be summarized by a remark from the Zettel ?16: The mistake is to say that there is anything that meaning something consists in.8 Partly. of course. in Yet. or read his notorious "definition" of meaning as explanatory.BRING ME A SLAB 279 for example. What features might be essential features of their application to the ascription for that depends on our aims in is not given beforehand. no two sentences have (exactly) the same use. Indeed. on the reasons we are talking . (Forms. Wittgenstein in which is concerned in ??19-20 with ways can arise. that can forestall be taken as paradigmatic. The reply to means "more or less the same use". that two sentences have the same sense does not imply that that sense. for two expressions It might be objected that this is false. he is trying to get us to resist the impulse to localize in a specific act or event. I do not as use in ?43 as a definition. there are no absolutely paradigmatic forms. Indeed. indeed. and would claim thatWittgenstein agrees.) Given that invoking use by itself carries little I take his remark in ?43 to be. in unclarities are familiar enough and used frequently enough. or as suggesting a "use-based (This theory of meaning". As the occurrences of indicate. Wittgenstein off a request for just such a puts paragraph verbal expression with the observation that what it comes to privileged to have the same sense is that they have the same use. and appropriateness possibility In sum.in the particular context the classification.) Ellip "enough" ticality does not point to any notion of the complete content of our words that which may go beyond the words as uttered and which those words in some ultimate way express. or forms that simply a wide enough range of circumstances. Rather. Wittgenstein is urging that the . For such reasons. it is no easy meaning something to pin down precisely what the denial of this status to meaning matter something amounts to. not to be a is closely connected with reading taking Wittgenstein It should be clear that if he is not. a denial of the information.

His point then is that these preconceptions That . it is a question of the grammar of crucial notions like a naive of that grammar. or few things. etc. Given certain misunderstandings meaning. of thought as animating language. of the nature of rational language explanations affect what we take use. in supports meaning something that it supports the idea that there is the thing that ismeant particular. here as elsewhere. a mentalistic to account. rely on the same presuppositions is not tied discerns. But reactions attempt might philosopher mentalism seek only to replace one explanans with another. wanting. notions that philosophers will begin to philosophers wishes to snap such debates off before they begin by refine. will begin to debate. certain conceptions and. (which would be the content or relatum of the act). of what protopictures conceptions of meaning must rest on. the move Wittgenstein to any one developed it ismade on the way view. To use his any specifically theory term of art. GOLDFARB answer to a question of how a sentence ismeant depends on no one thing. and hence about the explanandum. His pointing notions like meaning. can serve unexamined pre question.280 WARREN D. can claim are perfectly unobjectionable (that iswhy Wittgenstein places in ?305 that he is not denying anything). Wittgenstein that at the start we have misread the facts. It is this step mentalistic that he wishes to undercut. the common By themselves. and on the circumstances inwhich the question is denying that the notion of is asked. Indeed. but rather on a variety of features of the utterance and the utterer. expressed groundlessness places we all agree to. the ways we As we've seen. In taking meaning amiss. he does this by constantly challenging might want to exploit the commonplaces. in particular. sorts is a way to of the appropriate lack of introspectible phenomena rather than show that an unwarranted step has been taken. This assumed interpretation already raises the question of where the insistence that the facts must be so read comes from. Yet every time we try to make of them. we illicitly use the life in talking of ways we have of talking about the surface level of mental to the and understanding. Wittgenstein charges. Wittgenstein of language. point inevitably to the notions that are the subject of philosphical debate. it turns out that a jump has been made: we have something a special of the commonplaces. philosophical it is made. He is indicating the showing in common of our insistence that these facts. to uncover in turn. that Once there will be questions into philosophizing. Rather. More important.

It is not easy to recognize this. must go on to investigate Wittgenstein further aspects of what he sees as the fuel for such misconstruals. of this line of thought is in P. foundation. 1972). 1. p. (Evanston. Mounce. Chapter II. faute de mieux. 3 Cf. NOTES at theWittgenstein This paper. read the commonplaces through are powerful. Of course. Kenny. I am most grateful too to Thomas Ricketts for many comments instructive and much advice. of Arithmetic Press. What makes it possible for philosophizing is a decisive move that is ordinarily unrecognized. 1980). which. years have greatly influenced my views on the later Wittgenstein. and Meaning Wittgenstein: Understanding (Chicago: of Chicago Basil Blackwell. to Burton over with whom discussions the last fourteen Dreben. delivered on April Florida State University. Insight seem allegations these philosophers undermine in philosophy. "criss-cross appear to proceed vestigations The opening sections of the Investigations. especially Chapters 'Objectivity of judgement' objecthood: Frege's metaphysics Synthese).) Such on a lack of appreciation of the ways inwhich the theories of received views Wittgenstein's Blackwell. and T. Conference. to subscribe That is where to some implicit the mentalism and to me Illusion to rest * Hacker.1982. Wittgenstein conceive is trying to expose the distance we take matters when we first start philosophizing between how and what we really have to go on. helpful 1 Gottlob The Foundations Illinois: Northwestern Frege. Press. It is the subtle and interwoven nature of these factors that makes the In in every direction". on the Investigations. and hard to of avoiding. (forthcoming. Press.g. We spectacles. and Oxford: 1980). University . and itmay be far more difficult to accept the "pictureless" view of things that such a recognition entails. Chapter University 4 Massachusetts: Harvard E.. A. and 1981). have the crucial to light that there is something to be examined role of bringing at this even to begin level. Wittgenstein (Cambridge. though.BRING ME A SLAB 281 philosophically tinted as data. Ricketts. See H. To substantiate groundlessly misconstrue the commonplace. must be psychologistic. Baker and P. (Chicago: University 1 and 2. (The best example (Oxford: Oxford University Press. these philosophers have Thus. such protopictures and cannot be simply In a sense. the opening dismissed. XL University 2 of disguised mentalism often arise from the view that the logicolinguistic Allegations some sort of "epistemological" theories of Frege and of the early Wittgenstein presuppose it is alleged. sections of the Investigations set an the charge that philosophers agenda. Hacker. epistemology resides. (then and now) of the place of epistemology Tractatus of Chicago and Oxford: Basil Press. very natural. G. is a fragment of a work in progress I am profoundly indebted 1.

cit. 'Wittgenstein's University to me by first suggested . ??140-160 to be attempting to pin down the related idea that understanding is not a specific. 154. ??87-89 ?209 are most directly 8 I take. p. 1958). e. N.S. A Memoir p. Baker of the builders may be read in two ways the example Stanley Cavell.A. 5 That (London: of Wittgenstein and Kegan Paul. Hacker. Rhees. U.282 1973). isolatable mental Dept. 71. GOLDFARB (Oxford: was Oxford Press. WARREN D. and G. of Philosophy Harvard University MA 02138 Cambridge.g. Ludwig Wittgenstein: and P.. loc. 6 See R. Routledge 7 and perhaps relevant. Malcolm. 1970). state or process. in Discussions builders'.