15 June 2015

Rambling on Wittgenstein, cricket, chairs and terminology

On 12 June, the Guardian published a piece by James Gingell entitled Did Wittgenstein use silly points to make profound ones? The Browser summarised it as follows:

Cricketing talk is a “dense quilt of gorgeous words”. A batsman who hits a six may be said to have mowed, launched, heaved, smacked, mashed, smashed, bashed, slashed, pinged, driven, crunched, munched, battered, creamed, smoked, biffed, blasted, bunted, slogged, slapped or hoicked the ball. Perhaps Wittgenstein, who loved cricket, found here his argument that language is “socially constructed and socially agreed by the participants” (1,000 words)

It's an interesting thought.

It also reminded me of one of a passage from my notes for a short teaching module on terminology. I used the cartoon below to illustrate an aspect of the language instinct that is common to all cultures. Psychologists study the phenomenon under two main headings, namely ‘concept formation’ and ‘the psychology of categorisation’ which are powerfully summarised, along with other relevant topics on pages 200 to 215 of Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate. Once the brain has identified a category, the concept is given a name, the starting point for terminology.

Pinker gave a TED Talk in 2003 entitled: Human nature and the blank slate.

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Full circle

After completing a BSc in physics and maths in Australia and extended travels in Africa I found a job in Paris that left me with considerab...