Archive for the ‘Language and Reality’ Category

Example 1: After God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning, God made Adam give the creatures their respective names. Whatever Adam called each living creature became its name. That is, when Adam called a beautiful flower a rose, its name became rose. Here we can ask some questions; does its name really signify the reality of rose, or an unconscious, tacit agreement between the descendents since the first man Adam? When Adam named the rose, he would not have named in English but in Hebrew. It might be translated into ‘rose’ in English and I, as a Korean, call it ‘장미(Jangmi).’ So, rose, here, at least, can be expressed in three different languages. If so, how can we know the same object through each different language? What is the rose we perceive? Is it a reality to which language indicates? Do we perceive a rose as imitation for Ur-rose like Plato, as individual rose in front of us, or as agreement in words?

Example 2: One day I went to an Office Max store in order to buy labels, but I forgot the name in English temporarily. I explained to a clerk that I was looking for an object used to divide pages in books, but she asked me in Korean, “한국분이세요 (Are you a Korean)?” She was Korean, so I explained in Korean that I was looking for the “견출지” (Kyunchulji). She said, “Oh, ‘Label,’ it is in the 11th lane.” This made me think: How do “견출지”(Kyunchulji) and “label” relate to the $1.99 label which really was there?
If I would say it in terms of Aristotle, names “견출지” (Kyunchulji) and “label” were secondary substances and the $1.99 label which was really there was the primary substance. The secondary substance, “label,” refers to primary substance, an individual label. In this case, how can the name God in English and 하나님 (Hananim) in Korean refer to real God? With regard to this question, Marion provides us with an insightful argument.

Example 3: When we say a rose, “This rose is beautiful,” or “This rose smells good,” it means that the subject (this rose) does not change, but only the predication (beautiful, smells good) changes. In this case, why can we say, “This is a rose?” If it is rose because the reason is ‘beautiful’, can a scene of a lake with rising morning fog become a rose? If it is a rose because of its ‘good smell’, can Air Freshener also become a rose? Is there any universal essence when we name a rose a rose?

Wittgenstein answers “No” because there is no reality in itself. That is, the meaning of a name and what it signifies and applies to (its bearers) are quite different and cannot be identified with one another. In Philosophical Investigation, Wittgenstein criticizes his previous conception of “meaning as analysis” and accepts “meaning as use.” We do not seek our metaphysical reality in ordinary life, but to practice our everyday use. By the same token, religious meanings in Wittgenstein are not exception in this language games.


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