RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso ner's

Robin Faichney (
Thu, 24 Apr 1997 14:59:00 +0100

James wrote:
>Robin wrote:
>>What's outside the game, on the Wittgensteinian view, is not
>>objective reality but a meta-game.<
>It can lead in several other directions at once as well:
> a) It's not a game, really; Wittgenstein could be using language to
>describe itself, and uses a "game" metaphor to avoid endless recursion;
> b) It's a game, and referring to itself is a part of the game, sort of a
>refutation of David's assertion above;
> c) David may have the polarity reversed; the "game of meaning" and
>"theories of meaning" could well exist *inside* the "domain of language"
>instead of outside it. As I said, I haven't read Wittgenstein either, but
>his original post did not seem to rule out this possibility.

Meaning isn't a game. Language is used in games, and
meaning is an aspect of language. I'm not sure LW would
recognise your dichotomy of inside/outside the "domain of

Here's a quote from something I wrote earlier:

We use language to describe, report, inform, affirm, deny,
speculate, give orders, ask questions, tell stories, play-act,
sing, guess riddles, make jokes, solve problems, translate,
request, thank, greet, curse, pray, warn, reminisce, express
emotions, and much else besides...
[end subquote]

Wittgenstein used the word ``game'' to emphasise the diversity of the
situations in which language may be used.
There are board games, card games, ball games, Highland games, war
role-playing games and video games, for instance; these do not
necessarily have one thing in common that distinguishes them from all
non-games; rather, they have a ``family resemblance''---like the
physical features of a family, there is set of characteristics that
they broadly share, but each will have a slightly different subset of
[end quote]
Subquote from p 71 of
TITLE = "Wittgenstein",
AUTHOR = "A.C.~Grayling",
PUBLISHER = "Oxford University Press",
ADDRESS = "Oxford",
YEAR = 1988

I don't think we can read any more than context-dependence
and this connotation of diversity of contexts into the use of the
word "game".

I don't recall directly from Wittgenstein, but I do know that very
many theorists heavily influenced by him would use the concept
of the meta-game, where language games are what's being
discussed. It's still a language game (in LW's sense), but a
different one.

I think we could usefully view language games as micro
memespheres. In fact I'd guess a memetic account
(translation?) of LW's views could be quite fascinating!
(Likewise one of their propagation.)

> d) Richard brings up the possibility that it is a paradox, and
>Do paradox and inherent contradiction denote the existence of a Godel fault
>in a language system at a given statement (given paradox)?

A paradox certainly indicates a problem but I don't think we
can generalise about where that problem will lie. (Boring!)