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(Sektion 50: Philosophische Untersuchungen von Ludwig Wittgenstein).

This is the famous standard metre section in which Wittgenstein introduces the standard metre in Paris, which is, we might say, the measure of what is one metre long. But then does it make any sense to say that the standard metre itself is one metre long? An analogous cause is that of a color sample hermetically sealed, the color of which defines the spectrum of a particular color "Sepia"--would it make any sense of this sealed sample to say that it is sepia in color?


50. What does it mean to say of the elements that we can attribute neither being nor non-being to them?--One can say: if everything that we name "being" and "non-being" consists in the existence and nonexistence of combinations between elements, than it makes no sense to speak of the being (or non-being) of elements; just as if everything that we call "destruction" consists in the seperation of elements, it makes no sense to refer to an element's destruction.

But one would like to say: one cannot attribute being to an element, for then if it did not exist one could not even name it and therefore could say nothing of it.--Let us consider an analogous case! There is one thing that one can say neither that it is one meter long nor that it is not one meter long, and that is the standard meter in Paris.--But with this we have naturally not ascribed any extraordinary property to it, but only marked its singular role in the game of measuring with meter sticks.--Let us think in a way similar as we do for the standard meter about color samples that are also preserved in Paris. We define: "Sepia" means the color of the standard sepia that is hermetically sealed there. Then it will make no sense to say of this sample that it has this color or that it does not have it.

We can put it like this: this sample is an instrument of the language with which we make color-statements. In this game it is not represented, but a means of representation.--And even this goes of the element in language-game (48) if we name it by speaking the word "R": with this we have given this thing a role in our language-game; it is now a means of representation. And to say "If it did not exist it could not have a name" is only to so as much and as little as: if this thing did not exist, we could not use it in our language-game.--What seems as if it must exist is part of the language. In our game it is a paradigm; something with which comparisons are made. And to establish this can mean establishing something important; but it is nonetheless an establishment concerning our language game--our way of representing.

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