The meaning of words, according to Wittgenstein, is grounded in their use – in the ways they are used. This does not mean only that in order to know the meaning of a word we should look at its use; it is not only a practical recommendation for the linguist or the learner. It is rather a philosophical thesis about the very notion of meaning, according to which use is what constitutes meaning, and about what the very ascription of meaning to a word amounts to. This position calls for a deep investigation of the notion of use – an investigation that preoccupied Wittgenstein throughout his career: What is the notion of use involved here and in what concepts should it be conceived? What are its constituents and what is its extension? How is a word connected with a particular kind of use that constitutes its meaning? What is the nature of the knowledge and the human capacity that are involved in understanding a word and knowing its use?
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