Wittgenstein and Cognitive Theory

  • Martin Schiralli


This paper represents an exploratory sketch of the implications that the later work of Wittgenstein on language and meaning holds for cognitive theory. In his Philosophical Investigations may be found Wittgenstein’s attack on a conception of human language which he himself had set out in his earlier Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. For the early Wittgenstein, the essential structure of human language was directly anchored in the structure of the world itself. In Wittgenstein’s “picture” theory of meaning, the constitutive “simples” of the world were seen to be related one to another as “facts” which we picture to ourselves as thoughts. We express these pictured facts or thoughts in turn as propositions. Hence, through the “logico-pictorial” form of thought, and the isomorphism existing between it and the world or propositions, linguistic meaning is thoroughly grounded in the world.


Cognitive Theory Human Language Philosophical Investigation Linguistic Meaning Empirical Construct 


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  1. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical investigations (3rd ed. New York: Macmillan, 1969) p. 48.Google Scholar
  2. Ibid., p. 21.Google Scholar
  3. Ibid., p. 161.Google Scholar
  4. Ibid., p. 132.Google Scholar
  5. Ibid., p. 32Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Schiralli
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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