§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.
- '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.
- 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.)
- 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.