, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 475-494

First online:

Whorf and Wittgenstein. Language, world view and argumentation

  • M. KienpointnerAffiliated withInst. für Klasische Philogie, Universität Innsbruck

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Whorf and Wittgenstein are perhaps the most famous names in linguistics and philosophy associated with the assumption that language plays a decisive role in shaping our view of reality. After a critical discussion of Whorf's linguistic relativity principle I conclude that it is not language as a system, but the use of language according to the rules of language games which connects language thought and world view, especially if some particular usage becomes the commonly accepted norm. This traditional norm also enters argumentative discourse in the form of background assumptions occuring in the premises of arguments. Thus, traditional points of view and prevailing ideologies in a society, even if challenged in discussions, can become reinforced and stabilized. This is illustrated with a critical analysis of the role and function of tautological utterances in argumentative discourse, which only apparently are compelling means of argumentation.

Key words

Ideology language game linguistic relativity principle norm system tautological argument tautology use of language Wittgenstein Whorf world view