ABSTRACT. Wittgenstein in his later posthumous writings investigates the meanings of names as a practical activity of rule-governed language game playing. Rules for language games, as for all games in Wittgenstein’s frequent analogies, are determined in turn by the “point” and “purpose” of the games. Wittgenstein also famously maintains that a game could not be invented without being played, or even having been played only once, in the absence of a cultural context embedded in a form of life in which games and the playing of games is already an established practice. This essay examines Wittgenstein’s general concept of the invention of games, their dependence on rules as part of his general later remarks concerning the nature of meaning, and proposes an interpretation by which it is not only intelligible but inevitable that on his approach it should be impossible for a game to be invented that is never played or played only once in lieu of a games-playing component to a prevailing form of life. The solution to the problem of understanding Wittgenstein on this topic derives from a further application of his concept of a criterion of correctness, generally thought to belong exclusively to his so-called private language argument. pp. 19–38

Keywords: Wittgenstein; rule; language game; invention; meaning

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University of Bern

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