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Language, vorstellung, and meaning as use

Ruthrof, H. (2011) Language, vorstellung, and meaning as use. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, 10 . pp. 60-92.


The paper focuses on the tension between Wittgenstein’s “meaning as use” and his ubiquitous use of Vorstellung in the PI. My argument opens with a rough sketch of a theory of natural language in which Vorstellung, defined as variation of perception, plays a prominent part. I then address the distinction between intension and extension in relation to meaning, redefining extension as an essential component in a Vorstellung oriented theory of language. Wittgenstein’s treatment of Vorstellung in the PI is discussed in relation to my challenge of the assumed privacy of mental images. Employing his own “private language” arguments, I propose to replace Vorstellung as mental image by the notion of schematization. So redefined, Vorstellung is reviewed in relation to assertability conditions and the aboutness of language. The conclusion suggests a reconciliation of the tension between the demotion of Vorstellung and its pivotal use in the PI by subsuming Vorstellung under a broadened notion of “use”.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: Addleton Academic Publishers
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