Ludwig Wittgenstein's notion of language-games argues that there is no over-arching, single, fundamental ontology, but only a patchwork of overlapping interconnected ontologies ineluctably leading from one to another. For example, Wittgenstein discusses 'number' as technical vocabulary and in more general usage:

"“All right: the concept of 'number' is defined for you as the logical sum of these individual interrelated concepts: cardinal numbers, rational numbers, real numbers etc.;” ... — it need not be so. For I can give the concept 'number' rigid limits in this way, that is, use the word 'number' for a rigidly limited concept, but I can also use it so that the extension of the concept is not closed by a frontier. ...Can you give the boundary? No. You can draw one..."

—Ludwig Wittgenstein, excerpt from §68 in Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein suggests that it is not possible to identify a single concept underlying all versions of 'number', but that there are many interconnected meanings that transition one to another; vocabulary need not be restricted to technical meanings to be useful, and indeed technical meanings are 'exact' only within some proscribed context.

« Ontological pluralism »

A quote saved on Sept. 10, 2013.


Top related keywords - double-click to view: