Private Language

4 April 2015
Philosophical analysis of nature, possibility & personal & social significance of language with meaning only for speaker, as explored in ideas of Locke & Wittgenstein.

The concept of a private language has been approached in different ways by different theorists and researchers. Numerous philosophers in the last half of this century have asked whether there can be human languages that are private. John Locke held in 1660 that private languages are possible and indeed necessary. He held in fact that every language is necessarily private and that the meaning or signification of words having a meaning is necessarily an idea in the mind of the speaker. For Locke, a word cannot signify something in the mind of the speaker and in the mind of the listener as well. If that were true, then the world would both immediately signify either something in someone else’s mind or a physical object, meaning that the speaker would mean by his or her words something of which he or she had no knowledge. Locke says that language has as its immediate purpose..

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