Language Game (2)

  • Norman Malcolm


In his essay ′Wittgenstein′s Builders′1 Rush Rhees presents a deeply thoughtful criticism of some of Wittgenstein′s statements about Language Game (2) of the Philosophical Investigations. This ′language game′ or ′language′ is described by Wittgenstein as follows:

The language is meant to serve for communication between a builder A and an assistant B. A is building with building-stones: there are blocks, pillars, slabs and beams. B has to pass the stones, and that in the order in which A needs them. For this purpose they use a language consisting of the words ′block′, ′pillar′, ′slab′, ′beam′. A calls them out; — B brings the stone which he has learnt to bring at such-and-such a call.2


Language Game Building Stone Building Site Philosophical Investigation Dancing Movement 
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  1. 1.
    Rush Rhees, ′Wittgenstein′s Builders′, Discussions of Wittgenstein (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970) p. 76.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (hereafter PI) trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958) §2.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wittgenstein, The Brown Book (hereafter BB) (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958) p. 77.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rush Rhees, ′Wittgenstein′s Builders′, op. cit. (hereafter WB) p. 76.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wittgenstein, Zettel (hereafter Z) trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967) §99.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Z. Phillips and Peter Winch 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Malcolm

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