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Fireworks and a Theory of Language

Wittgenstein: "Hey Russell, i just got some fireworks, you want to set them off with me? "
Russell: "Obviously, Wittgenstein. "

Russell: "Whoa, whoa, Wittgenstein, what are you doing? It says “not for indoor” use."
Wittgenstein: "Exactly, which means it's fine."
Russell: "What?! No, it means it's not fine, hence the word “not”."

Russell: "See, this is a denotative statement about a state of affairs in the world. Namely, that these fireworks are unsafe to use indoors."

Wittgenstein: "No, no, no. Language doesn't work that way. Each speech act takes place in the context of a given social understanding."

Wittgenstein: "They know people will only use fireworks indoors that are actually safe indoors, so they put the label on so they don't get sued. Thus, the label actually means the firework is safe for indoor use."

Wittgenstein: "See, look at this firework. It doesn't have the warning, despite clearly being less safe. "

Wittgenstein: "Understand the particular language game that you are situated in, not grasping the meaning of words, is the key to successfully understanding language and navigating through the complex social fabric of our lives."
Russell: "Alright, i guess that makes sense, sort of..."

"ten minutes later..."

Wittgenstein, looking at the house, which as burned down: "Okay, but I still think the general theory is correct..."
Look, the way science works in practice is that theories are based on the entire body of knowledge within a community, no one result can disprove...

Based on Bob Mortimer's observation that warning labels saying 'not for indoor use' mean that its fine, in his story on how he burnt his house down.

Based on Bob Mortimer's observation that warning labels saying 'not for indoor use' mean that its fine, in his story on how he burnt his house down.

Philosophers in this comic: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell
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