§41. In §15 we introduced proper names into language (8). Now suppose that the
tool with the name "N" is broken. Not knowing this, A gives B the sign "N". Has
this sign meaning now or not?—What is B to do when he is given it?—We have not
settled anything about this. One might ask (1): what will he do? Well, perhaps he
will stand there at a loss, or show A the pieces. Here one might say (2): "N" has
become meaningless; and this expression would mean that the sign "N" no longer
had a use in our language-game (unless we gave it a new one). "N" might also
become meaningless because, for whatever reason, the tool was given another name
and the sign "N" no longer used in the language-game.—But we could also imagine
a convention (3) whereby B has to shake his head in reply if A gives him the sign
belonging to a tool that is broken.—In this way the command "N" might be said to
be given a place in the language-game even when the tool no longer exists, and
the sign "N" to have meaning even when its bearer ceases to exist.
- This 'might' has the sense of 'might well', or
'might instead', or 'might in continuation'.
- This 'might' is different from
the previous one; it has the sense of 'might, amongst other possibilities'.
- We could, in ordinary language, equally call
this a 'rule'. It is a summary of a way that some people behave.
- The fact that 'N' can continue in use, loosely defined, when the object
it labelled has been broken or destroyed, is being used to encourage us to
see what is ordinarily called 'naming' as nothing special or mysterious - a
metaphysical link between the word and the thing - but just part of the
various ways that language can work for us. It is "The metaphysical link
between the word and the object, called 'naming', once set up, gives the
word its meaning", that is being criticised as a misuse of language.
- 'Meaning', and 'naming', are themselves ordinary words, in ordinary use.
There is no other refined philosophical use. It is foolish to seek for what
meaning or naming really involve. We should just note the cluster of various
ways that 'meaning' and 'naming' are used in ordinary life -