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This essay is a critical study of Ludwig Wittgenstein Language theory. Before we give a through explanation of the entire “essay,” an introduction is being made where the language is going to be linked to philosophy, and not just philosophy, but how also it concerns the linguistic value of our everyday conception of ideas.

In introducing the topic we start by giving an overview of the language, that is philosophy of language, thereafter there will be a cross section of the main topic, that is Ludwig Wittgenstein conception of language. Whereby his language theories would be broken into pieces bit by bit, where we can now talk of his first, and his second theory of language, which he termed the “picture theory of language” and the “language game theory,”respectively. This conception of his two theories is analytic in the sense that his first theory which was the “picture theory” was criticized by his own second theory which he termed ‘the language game theory.’

In the preceding chapters, the connection of his two theories of language to the word at large would be examined and explained since his language theory was as an avenue to answer the metaphysical questions and also questions regarding linguistics. In the concluding chapters, where we must have gotten a full or a vivid insight on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s language theory, thee would be an evaluation of his theories, critically, through the process of analyzing his whole language theory.


Title Page





Table of Contents 


1.1Background of Study 

1.2Statement of Problem 

1.3 Scope of Study

1.4 Significance of the Theories

1.5Purpose of Study 

1.6 Methodology

1.7 Literature Review



2.1 Concept of Language and Meaning In Frege and as Background of Wittgenstein 

2.2 Language and Meaning in Frege’s Philosophy

2.3Tractatus- logico- Philosophicus. “{picture theory}

2.4 Sense and Nonsense

Facts and Value

Interpretative Problem

Critique of Wittgenstein as a Prelude to the Philosophical Investigation




3.1 Transition from Meaning as Reference to Use

3.2 Philosophical Investigation 3.3 Language – Game

3.4 Family Resemblance

3.5 Language and Rule Following

3.6 Private Language Argument 

3.7 Conclusion

End Note


4.1Critique of Wittgenstein(Evaluation)

4.2Autocritique Of Wittgenstein Critique Of Philosophy

4.3 Continuation Of Philosophy Of Language Wittgenstein

4.4Significance Of Wittgenstein Language theory




Background of Study 

Two important questions in 20th century analytic philosophy have been asked are” How we are able tom say or mean anything with signs, symbols and sounds?” What exactly is the meaning of these signs, symbols and sounds?.

But why in the word would philosophies become so focused on language and meaning? One reason perhaps is that an enormous range of issues are touched by looking at language and important philosophical insights can be won by doing this. Another reasons is the immense influence a number of philosophers who were interested in language and on everyone else doing philosophy especially in Britain and America1.

Language plays an enormously important role in our interactions with other people and with the world. We employ various words and concepts to talk about objects ( tables and flowers), properties ( colour and shapes) and relations ( the flower is on the table, the pain is in my aim). We express Feelings ask questions, give commands, tells jokes tell stories, song and so on. How is that we re able to do all of these things with language? . How is it that certain signs, symbols and sounds are meaningful and what exactly is their meaning? Is the world “cat” meaningful and what exactly is their meaning? Is the world “cat” meaningful because of what it refers to namely those furry, meowing fleabags some of us have as pets? Further, does the world determine what our concept are to be? That is with language do we simply try to mirror the various kinds of objects, properties, and relations that exists or is he word “gen” to different ways of conceptualizing it? 

Such questions as these vexed Wittgenstein. He tried to answer them in his first work, “the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus” he later came to see a number of shortcoming in that work” answer. He expressed his changing ideas in a variety of note books and unfinished manuscripts which were eventually published in the decades after his death. The best known is the philosophical investigation, a book he was preparing for publications at the time of his death in 1951.

The Crux of Wittgenstein argument is that language pictures reality and that the limit of his language is the limit of his world and that most philosophical problems rest on misunderstanding engendered by language.

This project is therefore an attempt to have an insight into Wittgenstein theories of language. This is with a view to separating sense and Nonsense. It is against this background that this project is being carried out.

1.2Statement of Problem 

For the analytic philosophies , language issue is always a problematic one, and there are quite some good dose of them here.

In the first place, we shall grapple with the problem of Wittgenstein’s understanding of language . Wittgenstein’s claims that the limit of his language is the limit of his world can not picture reality holistically because reality encompasses language. It is not true that there is one to one correspondence with reality.

Secondly it is very contentious to say that all philosophical problem are linguistic in nature. The inability of analytic philosophers to eliminate metaphysic and ethical problem one and for all shows how problematic this issue is.

Thirdly, it is difficult to test the soundness of Wittgenstein’s case because he does not argued in the conventional sense. He does not set out to defend a thesis, but to reduce our confusion through the clarification of language that is to show the fly the way out of the fly bottle,2 but as Iroegbu Argues , clarification is not the function of philosophy . philosophizing involves analysis , synthesis, clarification, interpretation, comparism, historicism etc to analyse and clarification of language is of great disservice to man.

Finally , wittgenstein’s observation as we are going to see soon, leave a strong sense of doubt that a private language is possible , useful or even conceivable. This runs counter to our everyday experience that one can establish a connection between a word or sign and sensation . one problem that arises from the private nature of his definition is that it is impossible to tell whether one has remembered the connection correctly 3

1.3 Scope of Study

This work in scope, shall be limited to an insight into Wittgenstein’s two language theories and their over all meaning in resolving philosophical puzzles . however insights into other theories of language in their clarification nature shall also be treated or discussed here. This I think shall enable me evaluable objectively Wittgenstein theories.

1.4 Significance of the Theories

This work is significant because it would create an avenue for easy grasping of the concept of language. During the course of study , issues related to language and its usefulness would be treated. It would enable us to understand the fact that every language has its meaning within its own context. Ludwig Wittgenstein in his later philosophy, no longer that meaning of language is fixed as his earlier conception portrays it to be, he now conceived language as part of human life and activity as such, should be examined in that setting with all its complexities of forms and function.4

It would also be of great advantages to the metaphysics, linguistics philosophy and logicians for language has been an unsolvable puzzle before the time of the analytic philosophers.

1.5Purpose of Study 

The study of Wittgenstein’s language theory deals with the nature of language and its relations to the world.

The purpose of this study with the help of sources is aimed at achieving thus:

To carry out a careful analysis of Wittgenstein tractatus and also the brain behind his later theory” philosophical investigation : languages. During the study, Wittgenstein’s double theory of language would be analysed, critically his first theory picture entails a state of affairs in relating to language, his later theory “ Language games shortly followed after because it was his own antique to the tractatus because acceding to him the tractatus was unrealistic. In this aspect the purpose of this study is to analytically explore Wittgenstein’s language theory Secondly the purpose of these study is to give an answer to those questions regarding language. “what is meaning “ the objectivity of meaning” the usage of signs and symbols. And also to make a uniform conception of the idea of language, Wittgenstein language critically analysis language in relation to philosophy basically metaphysical language to break down the complexity of metaphysics cum which has been regarded as non sense by logical positions claiming that what cannot be verified it therefore invalid.

These points above has given a brief insight on the purpose of this study , so it would be advisable if the purpose of this study so I would be advisable if the method in which is going to be used for this study is known.

1.6 Methodology

This work adopts the methodology of a conceptual analysis and archival research. The use of conceptual analysis involves a simplification and clarification of Wittgenstein ideas in the tractatus and the philosophical investigation . this method is aimed at breaking down philosophy (Wittgenstein ‘s theory ) into it basic part, to the smallest for easy grasping and explanation each parts in the clearest possible way.

The second method is the archival method, which involves the review of related literature in the library and other visible sauces.

By using these methods, the study seeks t provide a comprehensive understanding of Wittgenstein’s language a philosophy / theory in the light of linguistics analysis.

1.7 Literature Review

The first book to be reviewed is the tractatus logic philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein published in 1979, London, pengun Books by M. Brochhauson {trans] with this book, Wittgenstein gave a new meaning to language, according to this early Wittgenstein meaning of language must picture something in reality for him for a thing to be meaningful it must correspond to an object in reality and this assertion is seen in his pictorial theory of meaning. The Tranctatus reduce the whole of reality of to verifiable object of reality.

The second book to be reviewed 

Philosophical investigation by Ludwing Wittgenstein (tracs) G.E.M Anscombe published by oxford : Blackwell publishers Ltd. 195. In this book Wittgenstein takes a practical position on the matter. He propose that language will not longer be seen in the fixed sense of being a representation of reality but in a much more flexible sense and this is precisely . in term of the way it is used by people to carry out different social activities. Consequently , Wittgenstein place the meaning of words in the usage which he claims varies.5

The third book to be reviewed is Gottleb Frege” sense and Non sense” (Translation from the philosophical writing): Peter teach max Black, published in 1966; Oxford. This book, frege explained and gave a brief insight on sense and reference, frege explained how signs and meaning are correlated in relation to language an meaning .

Frege tries to reconsider the two words, meaning and reference according to him, signs and meaning are the basis of language.

The fourth book to reviewed is A simplified History of Western philosophy , Authored by Prof. J.I Omoregbe published by Joja educational research and publishers Ltd. Lagos 1991: in chapter eight of this book he shows us that Wittgenstein has two works and these works contains two different theories of language by Wittgenstein. The first book THE TRACTATUS contains a pictorial reality, but in his second theory, the Philosophical investigation Wittgenstein antiqued and rejected his first theory and proposed another one, this second theory is the “ language game” theory in which each language is seen as a game with its own distinctive rules governing how it is played.6 

The fifth book is authored by Pantalom Osundu Ireogbu, titled: Metaphysical; the kpim of philosophy published by international universities press Ltd, Owerri, 1995.

Towards the ending chapters of part II of this book, analytical philosophers dwelt on the concept of meaningful and meaningfulness of a language and other metaphysical concept through verification. Aj ayer spoke on verification of language, his validity of language depends on the fact that it can be verified; if not; then that language is meaningfulness. Wittgenstein alter came into play through his two theories of languages, he was capable to give a clearer understanding of the concept of language. 

The sixth book is edited A. Kenny titled the Oxford History of Western Philosophy by Oxford University Press, Oxford 1994: Kenny in chapter 5 of his book made a clear distinction between first or early philosophy of Wittgenstein and the second or later Wittgenstein. He says that Wittgenstein ins a philosopher is philosopher and his writings can hardly be understood by anyone without the previous acquaintance with the book of his predecessors and contemporaries. His first book the tractaus logico philsophicus is a critique of language designed to reveal the essential structure of thought which is expressed in language and to discuss the structure, the limits of thought. The tractatus started from ideas of frege and russel. Wittgenstein gave up philosophy after the publication of the tratatus,thinking that he had solved all philosophical problems. When the took it up it was in 1929, before he now came up with a different philosophy “Philosophical investigation” in which we have the language game theory. 


G. Wrisley; “Rules Language and Reality” in philosophy. (A magazine of ideas issues) Nov./ Dec. 2006, p. 15.

l.wittgenstein; Tractatus Logico – philosophicus, (trans, by m. Brochausein, London: Pengiun books),1970 p.521. 

G.wrisley; Op. cit., p. 19.

M.Mcginn; Routledge Philosophy guide book: to Wittgenstein and the philosophical investigation; (Routledge philosophy book London, first published new fetter london) 1997, p. 30.

L.Wittgenstein; Philosophical Investigation; (trans G.e.m Anscombe, Oxford Press: Blackwell Publishes ltd), 1953.p.94.

J. Omoregbe; A simplified history of Western Philosophy (Lagos Joju educational research and publication Ltd, 1991) p. 116. 

A Kenny; The oxford History of Western philosophy, (oxford: Walton, press), 1994 p. 257

G.Frege; Sense and Nonsense; in philosophical writing (Edited by Peterheach, Max black, Oxford Publishers) in 1966.

P.Ireogbu; “Metaphysic the kpim of philosophy” (published by international universities press Ltd. Owerri), in 1995. 

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