So in this post I alluded to a Wittgenstein paper that I have to write. Here’s my intro so far:
In Section 19 of “Philosophical Investigations,” Ludwig Wittgenstein says that to imagine a language “is to imagine a form of life (Lebensform)”. By “form of life” I understand him to mean the sum of all daily activities and enterprises that are customary for a particular community – a way of life, perhaps. As such, languages resemble something like games, in that they may appear to have much in common with other languages, but not with all of them (PI, 19). What defines the character of these “language-games” is the nature of the forms of life in which they are uttered; more specifically, what sorts of things the languages are used for. This is one of Wittgenstein’s main theses in “Philosophical Investigations,” and if it is true we should expect to find that linguistic practices vary according to what sort of activities and conventions a particular community engages in. In this essay I will examine American football and the language-game(s) therein as a case study, paying special attention to the use of gesture. I will then go on to critically evaluate the extent to which some fairly common movements in American football, such as head-fakes, might count as linguistic practice, or whether they might be better understood as non-lingustic indicators of action. I will argue that such movements are best understood as “instruments” or “elements” of language, but that the context in which they are performed is framed by non-linguistic indication or inference.
I usually have a lot of anxiety about introductions, so any opinions are worthwhile (?)