Philosophical Investigations

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Volume 37 Issue 4 (October 2014), Pages 289-395

Meaning, Use and Ostensive Definition in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations (pages 350-362)


In this paper, I argue that the restricted claim in §43a of the Philosophical Investigations is that, for a large class of cases of word meanings, the meaning of a word is its use in the language. Although Wittgenstein does not provide any example of words having uses but no meaning as exceptions to the claim, he does hint at exceptions, which are names being defined, or explained, ostensively by pointing to their bearers, in §43b. Names in ostensive definitions, or explanations, are meaningful, but not being used, and are therefore exceptions to the claim that meaning is use.

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