Language and Reality

According to Christianity, God spoke the world into existence – and in the Gospel of John we are told that in the beginning was the ‘Logos’ (translated as ‘word’, typically). Erasmus translated this as ‘In the beginning was the ‘conversation’ which I find to be quite interesting – this would mean that on the Christian view, reality is inherently  linguistic in its essence – a view that Aristotle would have agreed with, given is theory that language mirrors reality.

Being the good Wittgensteinian that I am, this leads me to wonder: if reality is in its essence linguistic, is reality then also subjective in its essence? But if this is true, if reality  is linguistic, can we speak of it in any meaningful way?

‎’Propositions can represent the whole reality, but they cannot represent what they must have in common with reality in order to be able to represent it — the logical form. To be able to represent the logical form, we should have to be able to put ourselves with the propositions outside logic, that is outside the world.

Propositions cannot represent the logical form: this mirrors itself in the propositions.

That which mirrors itself in language, language cannot represent.

That which expresses itself in language, we cannot express by language.

The propositions show the logical form of reality.

They exhibit it.

(Ludwig Wittgenstein, ‘Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus 4.12-4.121’)


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