Sunday, April 3, 2011

Remarks 5 & 6


In Remark 5, W considers what he describes as the "fog" surrounding the concept of "meaning" and suggests that it will help to disperse that fog if we start by considering "primitive" (ie, basic) use of language in which the role of each word is relatively clear. He also introduces a theme that will recur in subsequent Remarks - that teaching such primitive uses of language is more like "training" then "explaining", the latter presumably requiring that the student - eg, a young child - grasp concepts for which the student is not yet ready.

Ostension, the Builder

In Remark 6, W considers the process of teaching the primitive language of Remark 2 to children, emphasizing the ostensive teaching technique which - in the manner described by Augustine - associates a word (or from the child's point of view, merely a sound) with an object to which the teacher directs the child's attention, typically by pointing at the object. W then considers what the nature of this "association" might be, what making such an association might "mean". One possibility is that at subsequent hearings of the word, a "picture of the object comes before the mind of the child" - ie, before the so-called "mind's eye". But W resurrects the theme introduced in Remark 1, that meaning often involves use, ie, overt action. This suggests that understanding the meaning of a word might involve responding in some way; eg, in response to the word "slab" bringing to the person uttering the word an object associated with the word - a slab. And W notes that to impart that understanding of a word's meaning requires more than just establishing an association between word and object, which is all ostensive teaching does.

No comments:

Post a Comment