80. I say "There is a chair". What if I go up to it, meaning to fetch it, and it suddenly disappears from sight?—"So it wasn't a chair, but some kind of illusion".—But in a few moments we see it again and are able to touch it and so on.—"So the chair was there after all and its disappearance was some kind of illusion".—But suppose that after a time it disappears again—or seems to disappear. What are we to say now? Have you rules ready for such cases—rules saying whether one may use the word "chair" to include this kind of thing? But do we miss them when we use the word "chair"; and are we to say that we do not really attach any meaning to this word, because we are not equipped with rules for every possible application of it? [No!]


  1. We can use language successfully without having hard and fast rules for the use of words. In this respect, a word in common use does not have a circumscribed, bounded, meaning. There is no 'definition' of 'chair' to cover all eventualities. This makes it less likely that this 'meaning' is a thought in the privacy of our mind. The word 'chair' works well for us ordinarily; it does a useful job. But we can imagine altered circumstances - a form of life progressively different from our own - in which the lack of a boundary would be forced to our attention.
  2. To the rhetorical final question he answers: "No! We attach a perfectly good meaning, in the sense that we have perfectly good uses of the word".