31. When one shows someone the king in chess and says: "This is the king",
this does not tell him the use of this piece—unless he already knows the rules
of the game up to this last point: the shape of the king. You could imagine his
having learnt the rules of the game without ever having been shown an actual
piece. The shape of the chessman corresponds here to the sound or shape of a
One can also imagine someone's having learnt the game without ever learning or formulating rules. He might have learnt quite simple board-games first, by watching, and have progressed to more and more complicated ones. He too might be given the explanation "This is the king",—if, for instance, he were being shown chessmen of a shape he was not used to. This explanation again only tells him the use of the piece because, as we might say, the place for it was already prepared. Or even: we shall only say that it tells him the use, if the place is already prepared. And in this case it is so, not because the person to whom we give the explanation already knows rules, but because in another sense he is already master of a game.
Consider this further case: I am explaining chess to someone; and I begin by pointing to a chessman and saying: "This is the king; it can move like this,.... and so on."—In this case we shall say: the words "This is the king" (or "This is called the 'king'") are a definition only if the learner already 'knows what a piece in a game is'. That is, if he has already played other games, or has watched other people playing 'and understood'—and similar things. Further, only under these conditions will he be able to ask relevantly in the course of learning the game: "What do you call this?"—that is, this piece in a game.
We may say: only someone who already knows how to do something with it can significantly ask a name.
And we can imagine the person who is asked replying: "Settle the name yourself"—and now the one who asked would have to manage everything for himself.