1st Wittgenstein Conference Theme

The Concept note of the 1st Wittgenstein Conference, University of Lucknow, March 12-13, 2016,

Language and Life: a reflection on Wittgenstein’s Philosophy

The purpose of the conference is to discuss the relationship between language, reality and life in Wittgenstein’s Philosophy. In Tractatus, language is viewed as a picture or model of reality. But the notion of language undergoes radical change in Philosophical Investigations. Here, language is taken as open-ended; it is in a flux and is a continuum. The Later Wittgenstein’s consideration of language as a game brings out the fact that there are many jobs that a language does and that there are many ways in which language can be related to the world.

In Investigations, language has been considered from an ordinary point of view. That is, there is not only language of propositions or language of logic, but also language in the ordinary sense of the the term. And this ordinary language is the primary language that we have and deal with in life. Therefore, the task of philosopy is to discover the structure, logic, and meaning of ordinary language.  In Tractatus, language consists of elementary propositions and their truth functions. This constitutes the logic of language. But in his later philosophy, Wittgenstein is not concerned with the logical structure of language as described in Tractatus. He feels that there should be no search for the logical language and there is no need to go for the hidden struture of language. Rather, there is a shift from the pictorial form of language to the functional character of language. Language is something through which we communicate with one another in our day to day life. Thus, each language-game is an activity, a form of life. Here, the term language-game is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is a part of an activity or a form of life. So, in every language-game, there is a form of life. To talk of form of life is nothing but to talk of a linguistic activity.

According to this view, each language-game is an activity, a ‘form of life’ which is closely associated with the way human beings live as linguistic beings. So, language is not considered here from a narrow logical point of view, but as it is closely embedded in human life. Each language-game is a form of life and is an expression of human action. So language is not one man’s language rather it is the language of the human community. A child starts learning language from the society which helps him to develop himself as a linguistic being. Here, language is not only the medium of communication but also a tool that allows a person to express himself.

Each language-game introduces a particular activity, i.e. a particular form of life. To talk of a form of life is nothing other than to talk of an activity. That is, each language-game carries an episode of life. As Wittgenstein points out: “I shall also call the whole, consisting of language and the actions into which it is woven, ‘the language-game’.” (Philosophical Investigations, Sec. 10) Thus, our actions are embedded in language-games, in the sense that, they show how words are being used in a particular way. So, speaking of language is a part of communal activity, a way of living in a society, i.e. our form of life.  The idea of language brings along the idea of life as we cannot imagine what language is, in the absence of human life, in the community. Therefore, one aim here is to explore the relation between language and life.

Wittgenstein didn’t write much about religion and ethics. But his writing on these are very much fascinating and many scholars are researching on it.

In his last days Wittgenstein was engaged in writing on Epistemological issues which has been published as On Certainty. Further, many scholars have found Wittgenstein’s ‘Notes on Logic’ interesting and a number of publications are proof of it. Thus, the 1st Wittgenstein Conference aims at exploring all the aspects of Wittgensteinian Philosophy.

The sub-themes are: Language and life, Language games, Family resemblance, Forms of life, Rule and following, Language and Meaning, Ordinary language and Grammar, Language and rules, Picture theory of meaning, Logical form of language, Language and reality, Wittgenstein’s notion of Philosophy, Wittgenstein and Epistemology, Wittgenstein and Religion, Wittgenstein and Ethics, Wittgenstein on Logic.

A note on justification of the relevance of the conference:The Philosophy of Wittgenstein is not only a philosophy but also a method which could be employed to explore Indian Philosophical systems more rigorously than ever before. Therefore, a conference on Wittgenstein will provide an opportunity to participants to learn a technique of philosophizing.  

Following kind of Questions could be addressed in the conference: 1. Are there two Wittgenstein’s, viz. Earlier and Later, or not? 2. Which theory of meaning is holistic: Picture theory or Use theory? 3. What is basic feature of Wittgenstein’s view on Ethics? 4. How form of life and language-game coalesce with each other? 5. What is Wittgenstein’s ‘Notes on Logic’? 9. What, according to Wittgenstein, is logical form? 10. Why Wittgenstein’s life is like an Indian saint? 11. How could Wittgenstein’s notion of life resemble to Indian notion of life? 12. What is Wittgenstein’s view about Buddhism 13. What, according to Wittgenstein, is death? 14. What is a meaningful life? 15. Why should we live? 16. How does Wittgenstein question Moore’s notion of certainty? 17. What is Wittgenstein’s notion of Philosophy? 18. How could philosophy be a liberating force? 19. Why did Wittgenstein say that philosophical problems arise due to bewitchment of intelligence because of misunderstanding grammar of language? 20. Why did Wittgenstein accept mystical experience?