Wittgenstein’s Picture Theory of Language and Self-Reference

Radek Schuster

Abstract



The main thesis of the paper is that self-reference is the fundamental principle
of language, which enables the expression of very general issues concerning the
essence of the world, in particular it enables naming, paradoxically, an
infinity by finitely many expressions. Any endeavor to dispose of self-reference
makes language lifeless. From this perspective any description of the essence of
language which tends to be sufficiently general must also encompass itself.
Wittgenstein’s Picture Theory motivated by the saying-showing distinction is
here treated as an example of such general description. But in a negative sense:
Wittgenstein’s attempt to determine and express the boundary between meaningful
expressions and senselessness is so general, i.e. self-referential, that it
becomes itself senseless.

Keywords


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; self-reference; picture theory; logico-semantic paradox; Yablo's paradox; infinity; senseless flexion; circulus vitiosus

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