Wittgenstein on Definition and Family Resemblance

Philosophy and Culture 26 (8):721-729 (1999)

Family resemblance concept is Wigan Stearns philosophy of the traditional view of the definition proposed by criticism. According to Vickers's view, the traditional philosophy of finding and determine the precise definition is based on the tendency of a word or a concept to tell us when it alleged, made ​​this sense, the logic when built on a metaphysics. The use of language, our common error that is to understand the meaning of the word, when we attribute to the concept of nature or have a complete understanding of how to define when to tell us things. Vickers pointed out that the meaning of the word comes from how it is used, the formation of a variety of different uses of a family, without any change to determine the significance. What is not so much in common, the meaning of the word has a family of similar nature; complex, overlapping, similar and dissimilar cross. Uncertain in view of the word usage of the various transformations, we can not find the concept of sense of what is determined, so the word is not defined. The notion of "family resemblance" is one of the ideas with which Wittgenstein criticizes the notion of definition in the traditional philosophies. The tendency to look for sharp and definit definition, according to Wittgenstein, is rooted on the idea that the meaning of a term or a concept is to tell us what the term refers to, hence, logic has its foundation on metaphysics. In using language, the illusion is that in order to understand a word we should have a comprehensive knowledge about the essence or properties of the concept in question. A defition tells how the thing is. Against such an attitude towards definition, Wittgenstein points out that the meaning of a word depends on how the word is used, and the various ways of using a word form a family, ie a word can be used without a fixed meaning, it has a family of meanings. Instead of having something in common, the meaning of a word has a family resemblance; a complicated network of similarities overlapping and crisscrossing, and dissimilarities as well. Due to the fluctuaing uses of the word, no determinacy may be found in the sense of concept, a fortiori a word is indefinable
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