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form of life

Subject Philosophy

People Wittgenstein, Ludwig

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631185376.1996.x


( Lebensform ) A work by Spranger bears the title Lebensformen , but this refers to types of individual character. Wittgenstein's term, by contrast, stresses the intertwining of culture, world-view and language. He may have picked up this idea from Spengler ( Decline of the West I 55), but it has a long tradition in German philosophy (Hamann, Herder, Hegel, von Hum-boldt). Although the term occurs only half a dozen times in Wittgenstein's published work, it has given rise to a multitude of misinterpretations, partly due to his nonchalant use. The term ‘language-game’ is meant to highlight that ‘the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a form of life’ (PI §23; see RFM 335; MS119 148). like speech-act theory, Wittgenstein stresses that speaking is a rule-guided activity. But he goes further by holding that our language-games are ‘interwoven’ with non-linguistic activities, and must be understood within this context. This holds not just for our actual speech-patterns. Indeed, the best argument for Wittgenstein's claim that the non-linguistic context is essential to understanding linguistic activities is that fictitious ianguage-games can only be properly assessed if one tells a story about how they fit in with the overall practice of the fictitious community. ‘To imagine a language means to imagine a form of life’ (PI §§7, 19). In Blue and Brown Books 134, to imagine ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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