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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 05 | volume I | October-November, 1998



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 05October-November, 1998

The Limits of Language, Limits of the World?

p. 1
Ana Dimiškovska - Trajanoska

In the sentence 5.6 of the logico-positivist “Holly Writing”, Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico – Philosophicus, we can find the following statement: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”[1]. (In German original: Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.[2]) This short essay is an attempt to develop some consequences implied by this famous Wittgenstein's dictum, which sometimes go far beyond the limits imposed by the severe architectonics of his Tractatus.
    One of the most stimulating points, which stem from this idea, is focusing the attention onto the transcendental dimension of language. The locus classics regarding the definition of the concept of the transcendental, as well as its introduction into the substantial body of subsequent philosophical theories, is found in Kanto's Critique of Pure Reason (Introduction, VII): “I apply the term transcendental to all knowledge which is not so much occupied with objects as with the mode of our cognition of these objects, so far as this mode of cognition is possible a priori.”[3] Besides the a priori character – its independence from the concrete empirical objects of knowledge – transcendental forms posses another very important capacity: they make possible the totality of human experience, by systematic linking and organizing the empirical material into an ordered, meaningful cognitive whole, called “world”. Kant's analysis is centered on the space and time as pure forms of sensibility (intuition), and the categories (of quantity, quality, relation and modality) as forms (“pure conceptions”) of understanding. According to Kant, “all sensuous intuitions are subject to categories, as conditions under which alone the manifold content of them can be united in one consciousness”[4]. He also pays special attention to the judgment, whose logical function is precisely “to bring manifold content of given representations under one apperception”[5].
    But as soon as we shift the original epistemological context of Kant's formulation of the problem of the transcendental, and extrapolate it to the level of language as complete symbolic system, the intellectual potential of his ideas starts to unfold itself in an unexpected way. In fact, the terms “categories”, as well as “judgments” (“statements”, “propositions”) have already been elaborated as key elements of the fundamental logico-linguistic conceptual inventory, from the very beginnings of its development, initiated in Aristotle's logical works [6]. Without any intention to enter into the controversy about the ultimate nature of the categories – whether it is mental, or purely linguistic, or both, we can,


1. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958, p.149.
2. ibid., p.148.
3. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, transl. By J.M.D. Meiklejohn, Londob, G.Bell and sons, 1924, p.16.
4. ibid., p. 88.
5. ibid., p. 88.
6. At this point, see the footnote on p. 65 of Meiklejohn's translation, (in fact, a quotation from Hamilton's Essays and Discussions) that treatises of the difference between Aristotle's and Kant's conception of the categories.

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