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Hacker, Peter M.S. / Puhl, Klaus / Rentsch, Thomas


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Was ist das Spielerische am Sprachspiel?

Hans Julius Schneider
Published Online: 2015-04-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/witt-2015-0104


Did Wittgenstein in coining the term ‘Sprachspiel’ mean to convey the connotation of an open playfulness, as the German terms ‘Spiel’ and ‘spielerisch’ suggest? The paper tries to show that although this was not his original motive for choosing the term, the characterization of natural language offered in the Philosophical Investigations includes and indeed highlights its open, not rule-governed (and in this sense playful) sides. In this respect language is unlike a calculus and unlike a game like chess.

Wittgenstein compares language to both, but, so the paper argues, he does so in order to make visible what is special in language and is different from a calculus as well as a strictly regulated game like chess.When he applies the word ‘calculus’ in an affirmative sense for describing a feature of what he describes as language games, the context is the principle of compositionality, interpreted, however, in such a way that the difference between the workings of a calculus and the workings of language is preserved.

The paper comes to the conclusion that, in using a natural language, speakers have some freedom to decide whether they cling to or depart from conventional usage. This freedom is a central ingredient of the human language faculty.

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Published Online: 2015-04-07

Published in Print: 2015-04-15

Citation Information: Wittgenstein-Studien, Volume 6, Issue 1, Pages 19–38, ISSN (Online) 1868-7458, ISSN (Print) 1868-7431, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/witt-2015-0104.

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