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Revolution of the OrdinaryLiterary Studies after Wittgenstein, Austin, and Cavell$
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Toril Moi

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226464305

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226464589.001.0001

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Our Lives in Language

Our Lives in Language

Language-Games, Grammar, Forms of Life

Chapter:
(p.44) 2 Our Lives in Language
Source:
Revolution of the Ordinary
Author(s):

Toril Moi

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226464589.003.0003

The chapter shows that, taken together, the three terms of art “language-games”, “grammar”, and “forms of life” are necessary to convey the depth and range of Wittgenstein’s concept of use. They all bring out the intertwinement language and practice and show why language cannot be reduced to “representation.” When we are confused about meaning, we need to undertake a “grammatical investigation,” to produce a clear overview (“surveyable representation”). This will free us from the picture holding us captive, To understand grammar is to understand, quite concretely, how use is interwoven with the lives of the people who speak the language. Forms of life can’t be reduced to “social convention.” The concept cuts across the nature/culture divide, but it does not exclude social or historical change. The Pirahā tribe’s relationship to number words exemplifies the concept. Use arises from a shared form of life, which ensures a specific kind of attunement, which Wittgenstein calls agreement in judgment (but not in opinion). Ordinary language philosophy offers a new kind of realism, a realistic spirit based on attention to use, a commitment to the ordinary and to the particular case.

Keywords:   language-games, grammar, forms of life, agreement in judgment, attunement, representation, picture, realistic spirit, the ordinary, attention

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