§25. It is sometimes said that animals do not talk because they lack the mental capacity. And this means: "they do not think, and that is why they do not talk." But—they simply do not talk. Or to put it better: they do not use language—[correcting himself] if we except the most primitive forms of language.—Commanding, questioning, recounting, chatting, are as much a part of our natural history as walking, eating, drinking, playing.



  1. 'Language' does not refer to stuff in the world which has a characterising essence. So W. corrects himself. Going 'Woof', communicating to another dog that there are several interesting bones behind this tree, has something in common with what I am doing as I type this sentence; but it has a lot that is not in common. In terms of family resemblance, it is my wife's second cousin's uncle's step-daughter - related to me, but distantly.
  2. The interlocutor suggests an essence: Thought, he proposes, is essential to language. W. dismisses the suggestion. (His remark is assertion rather than argument; he is displaying corollaries of his view.)
  3. The question of whether animals use language or not has been academically debated. W. is warning us that this may be a pseudo-problem: Animals do what they do; we do what we do. There are no Natural categories here, and therefore no intellectual structure to be built.