Bewitching Oxymorons and Illusions of Harmony
Wittgenstein’s account of how language bewitches one’s intelligence is a singular achievement in the phenomenology of language. In section 426 of Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein famously claims that the meaning of a word is to be found in the “actual use” of it, and he contrasts this understanding with the projection of a picture:
A picture is conjured up which seems to fix the sense unambiguously. The actual use, compared with that suggested by the picture, seems like something muddied. ... [T]he form of expression we use seems to have been designed for a god, who knows what we cannot know; he sees the whole of each of those infinite series and he sees into human consciousness. (Wittgenstein, 1953, section 426)
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