30TH LACUS[Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States] July 29-August 2 2003 University of Victoria, Canada

LANGUAGE AS A MIRROR OF THE WORLD Reconciling picture theory and language games

Robin Allott.


Wittgenstein in the Tractatus focussed on a picture theory of language. He was clear that this meant that language mirrored reality, mirrored the world. The picture theory was an account in essence of the relation between a word and what it referred to in the external environment, or between a sentence, a proposition or sachverhalt and the event or situation to which it referred. The Tractatus was completed in 1919 and published in 1922. Within the space of 11 years after its publication Wittgenstein had abandoned the picture theory and, in the Blue Book and the Brown Book, sketched out a quite different account of language as a congeries of language games, and different languages as different sets of language games; words were given their meanings by use, by explanation, by training and essentially by social interaction. This changed account took its definitive form in the Philosophical Investigations, posthumously published in 1953. Wittgenstein did not wholly abandon the Tractatus and would have liked the Tractatus and his later writings to be published together, though this was never done before his early death (Hacker 1996). There is a problem how he could have presented two such different accounts of language with equal conviction. Can they be reconciled? The examination in much greater depth of both may solve the problem. Since the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations, there have been massive advances in different but equally relevant fields: in linguistics, in neurology, in philosophical discussion, in evolutionary theory, in psychology, in child development. Most recently and relevantly, there has been the discovery of mirror neurons (Rizzolatti & Arbib 1998), neurons which are excited by the perception of action and which seem to constitute the precursors of motor programs to reproduce the perceived action, that is, a plausible basis for imitation and communication. There has also been great progress in the study of the active brain in the production of speech, using fMRI, PET, ERP, MEG and there are new ideas on the motor basis of speech production and speech perception, on the relation of speech and gesture, on visual and auditory perception. The paper will suggest that in the light of all these developments Wittgenstein's two accounts of language can be reconciled within a larger framework, and the philosophy and science of language can profitably be linked with each other.


The first question the reader may ask is: Why this subject? Why a paper on Language as a Mirror of the World? One might say that talking about language as a mirror of the world is a traditional topic where not much progress has been made. Its history goes back a very long way indeed. The Stoics were the first to use the metaphor of the mirror for the functioning of language. They were followed by the scholastics of the Middle Ages who were interested in language as a tool for analysing the structure of reality. They attached the greatest importance to the question of meaning; the task of scientific or speculative grammar was to discover the principles by which the word, as a sign, was related on the one hand to the human intellect and on the other to the thing it represented. "Speculative" did not mean hypothetical. The word was from the Latin speculum meaning 'mirror'; they were looking upon grammar as mirroring reality.1

After this long history, are we likely to make any more progress nowadays in talking about language as a mirror of the world? The idea is out of fashion since the study of language has become so highly professionalised; certainly Chomsky's Universal Grammar proposes the biological innateness of grammatical aspects of language but this is a long way removed from of any idea of syntactic structures as mirroring the world. However, in linguistics more recently there has been in some ways a return from grammar to the lexicon, from syntax to a focus on the words from which syntactic formations are projected. In philosophy essentially the same debate about the relation of thought and language and the world continues in the discussion of 'internalism' and 'externalism'. On the internalist view, we impose the patterning on our experience, not derive the patterning from our experience, a matter Chomsky has discussed in a recent book.

Is starting from Wittgenstein likely to be a profitable approach to the subject of language as a mirror of the world? The popular understanding is that Wittgenstein arrived at one view of language in relation to truth and language, and then suddenly abandoned that and produced a totally different account of language which had nothing to do with his earlier views. The argument for starting from Wittgenstein is that the issue implicit in the conflict between the early and the later Wittgenstein is still alive; the division apparent between the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations still survives in philosophical discussion and indeed was directly tackled by Rorty in his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. In many different fields Wittgensteinian ideas still survive and flourish. Wittgenstein is not an irrelevant starting-point. The reason for considering this subject now and taking this route via Wittgenstein is that there have been important developments in other disciplines which can cast a new light on this ancient question, not only the elaboration of theories and research in linguistics but also extensive research into the acquisition of language by children. There has also been renewed discussion, by linguists and many others about the evolution of language; a considerable literature now exists where there was little or nothing a few decades ago. Finally, and most importantly, there has been rapid and remarkable progress in neuroscience, by literally looking into the brain, something which was not possible in the past but is now routinely done every day by researchers; there has been growing understanding of the way in which the brain organises itself to produce speech and language. The developments in neuroscience, along with developments in other areas, now make it possible to give a clearer account of how language can be viewed as a mirror of the world, how we can internalise our perception of the world and at the same time, through language, externalise the model of the world that is assembling itself in our brain.

Wittgenstein's work has been subject to commentary and interpretation by many authors with many different emphases and explanations. The usual approach has been that one must accept one or other of the two theories; there is a large literature to this effect. Really what matters is what Wittgenstein himself said; it matters very much to pick out his individual thought, his sudden illuminations, his sudden phrase. Von Wright compared Wittgenstein's method to Lichtenburg's, an accumulation of aphorisms.2 Rather than proceed by examining the views of others on Wittgenstein, the paper looks closely at the actual texts in the Tractatus and in the Philosophical Investigations (and other sources). It is often difficult to find in Wittgenstein's writings evidence for the interpretations put on his work by others; there has been a temptation to simplify and to make the contrasts starker, perhaps to pick on particular points and expand them unduly so that a distorted view of what Wittgenstein had in mind is created. This is another reason for looking closely at his own words.

The paper starts with the early work, not only the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)3 but also the Notebooks 1914-164. In the 1920s he abandoned philosophy and spent six years teaching elementary school peasant children in Austria. His return to Cambridge in 1929 was followed by the first accounts of his new approach to language in the Blue Book and Brown Book5 (dictated to his students in 1933 and 1934) and then by the completion or partial completion of the Philosophical Investigations6 in 1945 (published after his death in 1953). The paper looks at each of these in turn and considers how real the conflict is between the early and later theories. It then gives an account of developments in other fields which have a relevance for or can be related to Wittgenstein, in linguistics, in psychology and the study of child development, in the evolutionary study of language, in philosophical discussion, and finally, and most importantly, in neuroscience which has opened a new era in the study of language in the brain. The paper concludes by proposing that language can now be seen as essentially a motor activity integrated with the general control of all bodily movement, and that with the neural linking between perception and action, a new real meaning can be given to the idea of language as a mirror of the world.


The Tractatus was completed in 1919 and published in 1922. Much of the material was drawn from the Notebooks compiled during the war in 1914-1916, Some of the most essential ideas in the Notebooks are reproduced without alteration in the Tractatus. The other derivation of the Tractatus is from work which Wittgenstein had been doing with Russell pre-war on the foundations of logic, linked to Russell's work on the foundations of mathematics. The Tractatus went well beyond logic to the nature of language as such. Wittgenstein was preoccupied with factual language; the central question was: How is language possible, how can a man by uttering a sequence of sounds say something? Russell and Wittgenstein were looking for an abstract correspondence between language and the world. Whilst the Tractatus started from the previous work on logic, it moved towards a synthesis of a theory of truth-functions with language as a picture of reality, truth and meaning. At the beginning of the 20th century philosophers were perhaps only dimly aware of the central importance of language; the Tractatus initiated the 'linguistic turn', seen in the philosophy of language, in linguistic philosophy, and indeed in linguistics.

Though not an explicit and coherent theory, what emerged from the Tractatus (and the Notebooks) was the idea that language offers a picture of the world. By 'picture theory' (not a description in the Tractatus) Wittgenstein meant that language reflects reality, mirrors the world. The theory is an account of the relation between the individual word and what it refers to in the external environment, or between a sentence or a proposition and the event or situation to which it relates. Wittgenstein rejected the notion that names are meaningful because of their relationship with other names. What fixes sense is that names have anchors in reality. One name stands for one thing and another for another thing and they are connected together so that the whole, like a living picture, presents the atomic fact.

Von Wright, a close associate of Wittgenstein, records how Wittgenstein said he arrived at the picture theory. He was in a trench on the Eastern front in the Great War reading a magazine article about an automobile accident. There was a schematic picture showing the probable sequence of events. He suddenly saw that the picture served as a proposition, could have been replaced by an extended verbal description of the events. It occurred to him that the analogy could be reversed. The picture in the magazine had parts related to real world events. A proposition could be seen as a picture by virtue of a similar correspondence between its parts and the world. The proposition, or sentence, could be related to the real world by the names, the words, and the structure in which the names were placed.7

The following are the rather few extracts8 from the Tractatus and Notebooks which can be directly related to the picture theory and on which the standard view of the theory has been constructed:

In the proposition a world is, as it were, put together experimentally as in the presentation of a motor accident in Paris by dolls and so on.N7 The proposition constructs a world by means of a logical scaffolding.N16 The sense of the proposition is what it images.N19 The proposition is a model of reality. It images a situation by means of a tableau vivant.N26 Naming is like pointing.N100 A language which can express everything mirrors certain properties of the world.N107 The picture is a model of reality.T2.12 The picture is linked to reality, it reaches up to it.T2.1511 Every picture is also a logical picture. The logical picture can depict the world.T2.1812 The picture agrees with reality or not. It is right or wrong, true or false.T2.21 The name means the object, the object is its meaning.T3.203 To the configuration of the simple signs in the propositional sign corresponds the configuration of the objects in the state of affairs.T3.21 The name cannot be analysed further by any definition. It is a primitive sign.T3.26 The sign is the part of the symbol perceptible by the senses.T3.32 Man possesses the capacity of constructing languages in which every sense can be expressed without having any idea how and what each word means.T4.002 Logic is not a theory but a reflection of the world.T6.13

It is apparent how large a superstructure has been constructed by others on a rather narrow base.

The Tractatus was treated as revolutionary and profoundly influenced philosophy in England and the United States. Frege, however, on receiving a copy from Wittgenstein, said that he could make nothing of it. Even those who could not fully accept its significance still thought there was something striking in it. Elizabeth Anscombe's commented that "much of the Tractatus remains valuable and the book fascinates people like me who do not believe a lot of it"9. In the struggle for survival between the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations, the spirit of the Tractatus has survived better.10 Philosophical interest in the Tractatus is not yet exhausted.


In 1922 after the publication of the Tractatus Wittgenstein abandoned his interest in philosophy; logically since in the Tractatus he had said that there was nothing more that could be said. He became a teacher in an elementary school in Austria. Bartley11 gives a detailed account of this period. trying to get a better understanding of the development of Wittgenstein's thought by examining his life and times in the 'lost years' of the decade after the war. Wittgenstein spent six years teaching peasant children their native language. He adopted an inter-actional system for advancing the vocabulary and grammatical knowledge of his pupils by having them join with him in compiling a dictionary; the dictionary was eventually published as a textbook for elementary schools. Bartley's account seems relevant when one considers that much of the first part of Investigations deals with how children are brought to learn their first language. A harsh teacher, Wittgenstein left his career as a teacher under something of a cloud. He spent the remaining 'lost years' as a gardener in a monastery. He returned to Cambridge in 1929

Within the space of 11 years after the Tractatus, Wittgenstein abandoned the picture theory and in the Blue and Brown Books sketched out a quite different account of language as a congeries of language games with different languages as different sets of language games. On this new view words were given their meaning by use, by training and essentially by social interaction, not by any special relationship otherwise between words and external reality. The Blue and Brown Books were a preview for the Philosophical Investigations. In some respects they offer a more coherent account of his thinking than can be drawn from the Philosophical Investigations. It was through the Blue Book (dictated to his class in Cambridge in 1933) that the concept of the 'language-game', of criteria - roughly, logical good evidence - for the application of an expression, and of 'family resemblance' first entered circulation. The Brown Book (dictated to Skinner and Ambrose in 1934) consists of a rather exhausting set of illustrations of the language-game method, difficult to read because the point of imagining the various situations is unclear.

How did he come to the idea of language-games? There are various possibilities. One is that it stems from his teaching experiences in Austria; no doubt he used 'action examples' to explain the meanings of words to pupils. Another possibility is in an anecdote recorded by Freeman Dyson.12 Wittgenstein was passing a field where a football game was being played; the thought struck him that in language we play games with words. This could have been the genesis of the central idea in the new philosophy, the notion of the language-game. Wittgenstein had already given an account of how he became disillusioned with the picture theory: Sraffa, an Italian economist friend, made a Neapolitan gesture, brushing the underneath of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips of one hand. He asked Wittgenstein: "What is the grammar of that?" This, according to Wittgenstein, broke the hold on him of the conception that a proposition must literally be a picture of the reality it describes13.

In 1929 he described his new philosophical method as being the transition from the question of truth to the question of meaning. With this shift the linguistic turn which had begun with the Tractatus was completed. Instead of language mirroring the logical form of the universe, the apparent structure of reality now was merely the 'shadow of grammar'14. There must be human agreement of a certain sort for our language-games to work; from language as a device for construction of a model of the world, language is now seen as a system of communication used by men within the world, relying on certain features of their world and of their 'form of life' - Wittgenstein's term. At this point the frequently overworked metaphor of a language-game was introduced to convey the point, that language cannot be divorced from its wider human context; an utterance must be seen as a move in a game. The meaning of a word is no more and no less than the way it is used, in effect a symbolic convention within a particular group or community. Wittgenstein compared the grammar which determines how words are used in a sentence to the rules that determine how the pieces are used in the game of chess. A language-game is a linguistic thought-experiment, a philosophical tool for exploring language atomistically in the belief that it will reveal something about the simple nature of language.

How Wittgenstein approached his new theory is shown in the following extracts15: Language-games are the forms of language with which a child begins to make use of words.B17 The study of language-games is the study of the primitive forms of language or primitive languages.B17 Children are taught their native language by language-games.B81 A sentence I will call a complete sign in a language-game; the constituent signs are words.B82 The sentence is just such a picture which hasn't the slightest similarity with what it represents. Think of words as instruments characterized by their use.B67 Think of the use of a hammer, a chisel.P11 We are like people who think that the pieces of wood shaped more or less like chess-men or draught pieces and standing on a chess-board make a game, even if nothing has been said as to how they are to be used.B72 Let's not imagine the meaning as an occult connection the mind makes between a word and a thing, that this connection contains the whole usage of a word as the seed might be said to contain the tree.B73

Wittgenstein was struck by the difficulty of any direct link between words and their objects by the fact that there are not any ostensive definitions for words like 'one', 'number', or 'not'. He asks:

What is the meaning of a word? What does the explanation of a word look like?B1 If we had to name anything which is the life of a sign, we should have to say that it was its use.B4 The sign, the sentence, gets its significance from the system of signs, from the language to which it belongs.B5 I want you to remember that words have those meanings which we have given them and we give them meanings by explanations.B27 Let us not forget that a word hasn't got a meaning given to it as it were by a power independent of us. A word has a meaning someone has given to it.B28

The eventual product of Wittgenstein's time in Cambridge as professor of philosophy was the Philosophical Investigations. The Investigations is not a very satisfactory work, neither coherent nor orderly in presentation, disjointed and difficult to follow. Ayer, in his book on Wittgenstein, said that in the Investigations there is "much that I consider to be false". Bertrand Russell could see nothing in Wittgenstein's later writings: "I have not found in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations anything that seemed to me to be interesting and I do not understand why a whole school finds important wisdom in its pages". The circumstances of its preparation and publication may go some way to explain its failings. Wittgenstein himself said: "The book is really only an album". He said that he would have like to have produced a good book but this had not come about: "the time has passed when I could improve it".

He starts by saying that he had been forced to recognize that there were 'grave mistakes' in the Tractatus though he does not make clear exactly what these were; it is known that he did not wholly abandon the Tractatus; he would have liked to have the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations published together, though this was never done before his early death. On re-reading the Tractatus before he completed the Investigations he said: "It suddenly seemed to me that I should publish those old thoughts and the new ones together so that the latter could be seen in the right light only by contrast with and against the background of my old way of thinking" (PI Preface) "He once told me that he thought that in the Tractatus he had presented a perfected account of the view that is the only alternative to the viewpoint of his later work".16

Some verbatim extracts from the Investigations should help one to understand the new approach. Surprisingly, there is little which adds significantly to what was said in the Blue and Brown Books. He included a fuller discussion of St. Augustine's account of how children learn their language:

A child uses primitive forms when it learns to talk. Here the teaching of language is not explanation but training.P5 An important part of the training will consist in the teacher's pointing to the object and at the same uttering a word.P6 We can think of the whole process of using words as one of those games by which children learn their native language. I shall call the whole consisting of language and the actions into which it is woven a language-game.P7 The term language-game is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity or the life-form.P23 The meaning of a word is explained by the explanation of its meaning i.e. if you want to understand the use of the word 'meaning', look for what are called explanations of meaning.P560 Consider the proceedings we call games. I mean board-games, ball-games, Olympic Games, and so on.P66 What is common to them all? The result of the examination is that we see a complicated network of similarities and fdissimilarities overlapping and criss-crossing.P66 I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than 'family resemblances'.P67 The question what is a word really is analogous to what is a piece in chess.P108

Wittgenstein recognized that the idea of language-games was open to criticism. He said:

Someone might object against me: 'You take the easy way out. You talk about all sorts of language-games but have nowhere said what the essence of a language-game and hence of language is. What is common to all these activities, what makes them into language or parts of language'.P65

One can doubt whether refusing to define what is common to games and simply saying that games have a "family resemblance" takes one very much further.

A final assessment of the Investigations need not be as severe as Bertrand Russell's. There are unsatisfactory features in it; interpretation and commentaries have obscured the extent to which the ideas are not presented coherently and systematically. Monk comments in his biography of Wittgenstein that if the Philosophical Investigations is read in the spirit of wanting to know what Wittgenstein has to say, it very quickly will become boring, not because it is intellectually difficult but because it will be practically impossible to gather what Wittgenstein is saying; in truth, Monk continues, Wittgenstein is not saying anything, he is presenting a technique for the unravelling of confusions. Elizabeth Anscombe not long ago wrote: "I once heard someone ask Wittgenstein what it all came to, what, so to speak, was the upshot of the philosophy he was teaching in the 1930s. He did not answer. I am disposed to think that there was not an answer he could give, that namely he did not think out a total position as in writing his first book, that rather he was constantly enquiring. There were some things he was pretty sure of but much was in a state of enquiry. I deprecate attempts to expound Wittgenstein's thought as a finished thing".17

Despite the criticisms, the fact remains that the book has been widely influential, has provided a subject of intense study for many philosophy departments over the years. The slogans of 'language-games' and 'meaning as use' continue to appear in many different contexts. Books and articles have been written exploiting the notion that there must be different language-games for different disciplines: a language-game of morality, a language-game of the law, a language-game of almost any subject.


Superficially, there is a direct conflict between the early and the later Wittgenstein. One should distinguish Wittgenstein's own view of the conflict from the conflict as seen by commentators. Is there substantial conflict? There is a problem of how Wittgenstein could have presented two such different accounts of language with equal conviction. Can they be reconciled? The evidence from Wittgenstein himself is not clear-cut. If one looks closely at the wording Wittgenstein used in the Tractatus and in the later work, the sharpness of the distinction between the two approaches is diminished. There are elements of 'meaning as use' in the Tractatus; there are elements of language as a picturing of reality in the Philosophical Investigations.

'Meaning as use' in the Tractatus and the Notebooks:

The conventions of our language are extraordinarily complicated.N70 Colloquial language is a part of human organism and not less complicated than it.T4.002 The meanings of primitive signs can be explained by elucidations. Elucidations are propositions which contain the primitive signs. They can therefore only be understood when the meanings of these signs are known.T3.263 In order to recognize the symbol in the sign, we must consider the significant use.T3.326 The meanings of the simple signs, words, must be explained to us if we are to understand them.T4.026

'Picture theory' in the Investigations and the Blue and Brown Books:

The word falls, one is tempted to say, into a mould of my mind long prepared for it.B170 The meaning of a sign (roughly that which is of importance about the sign) is an image.B5 What is the relation between name and the thing named? This relation may consist among many other things in the fact that hearing the name calls before our mind the picture of what is named.P37 What really comes before our mind when we understand a word? Isn't it something like a picture? Can't it be a picture?P139 If we compare a proposition to a picture, we must think whether we are comparing it to a portrait or to a genre picture and both comparisons have point.P522 What is the content of the experience of imaging? The answer is a picture or a description.Pii149 But if a sentence can strike me like a painting in words, and the very individual word in a sentence as like a picture, then it is no such marvel that the word used in isolation and without purpose can seem to carry a particular meaning itself.Pii183

Wittgenstein seems to have confessed to a continuing puzzlement about the nature of words: Naming appears as a queer connection of a word with an object. We may indeed fancy naming to be some remarkable act of mind. as it were a baptism of an object.P38 We imagine that a feeling enables us to perceive as it were a connecting mechanism between the look of the word and the sound we utter. It's as if we could grasp the whole use of a word in a flash.P197 What is the primitive reaction with which the language game begins? How do people get to use these words? The primitive reaction may have been a glance or a gesture, but it may also have been a word. Pii185 If the formation of concepts can be explained by facts of nature, should we be interested not in grammar but rather in that in nature which is the basis of grammar.Pii195

In these last extracts Wittgenstein, without explicitly recognising it, was speculating about the evolutionary origin of language. There appeared some natural appropriateness of the word for its meaning, going beyond any view of language as totally conventional.

It seems right to conclude that, for Wittgenstein, the conflict between picture theory, meaning as use and language-games was not nearly as sharp as others have suggested. Authors presenting Wittgenstein's views have seemed to want to make the division between the early and the late Wittgenstein far more dramatic and final. "With the collapse of the metaphysics of logical atomism the picture theory of the proposition fell too and with it the thesis of isomorphism between language and reality. The whole conception of the proposition and of the relation between the proposition and what it describes was undermined"18 (Hacker). "Wittgenstein's new philosophy entailed the rejection of some of the fundamental thoughts of the Tractatus, the abandonment of the picture of language"19 (von Wright). Kenny has remarked that Wittgenstein will be shown to have over-estimated in later life the distance which separated the picture theory of meaning from the discussion of meaning in the Philosophical Investigations.20 Perhaps the author of the Investigations himself in the early sections did not fully understand the Tractatus; "what was offered there were almost 'straw men, certainly crude caricatures of the positions of the Tractatus"21 (Bartley).

This leaves the question where the idea of 'language-games' can be fitted in. What good reason is there to believe that language-games tell us anything about actual language? Wittgenstein himself made no very determined effort to analyse the idea; he said that he had wanted to show by means of language-games the vague way in which we use language and propositional sentences. If one looks more closely at Wittgenstein's usual examples: football and chess, the essence of the games is not that they are merely sets of arbitrary, abstract rules agreed between the players. The rules of the games have no meaning without the material base required for the game: in football, the ball, the goalposts, the marked-out pitch, the live players to kick the ball. In chess, the distinct pieces and the board are material things, the players are material things without which the game of chess cannot exist. The rules interact with, reflect the reality which forms the material base of the game. Maybe somewhat along these lines the early and the late philosophies could be reconciled. If Wittgenstein had had more time and the necessary philosophical energy, he might himself have arrived at a coherent total account. He might have been able, to rephrase his own words, eventually to produce a "good book".


Since the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations there have been major advances in different but relevant fields, in philosophical discussion, in evolutionary theory, in psychology and child development and most importantly in the neurosciences. Most recently there has been the discovery of mirror neurons, that is, neurons which are excited by the perception of action and which also seem to constitute the neural precursors of motor programs reproducing the perceived action, that is, providing a plausible basis for imitation and communication. There has also been progress in the study of the active brain in the production of speech, new ideas on the motor basis of speech and language, on the relation of speech and gesture and on the relation of visual and auditory perception. In this paper I propose to consider, necessarily briefly, some of the discussions and advances which appear to bear on the central theme, that is, the relation of language and reality - the underlying issue raised by Wittgenstein's work.


Hacker's study of Wittgenstein emphasizes as a central problem or cluster of problems associated with intentionality, whether and in what way language is connected with reality. The intentionality of thought and speech alike is puzzling; the temptation is to attempt to explain the intentionality of speech in terms of a semantic, that is, a meaning-endowing, connection between the signs of language and reality. Davidson suggests that language is anchored to reality by original conditioning; a word one has been conditioned to hold applicable in the presence of snakes will refer to snakes. Of course, he accepts that very many words are not learnt in this way but it is those which are which anchor language to the world. Hacker comments that original conditioning is training, not teaching; ostensive definitions do not connect language with reality. Rather a word is explained by reference to an optional sample; explanations of word-meaning, whether verbal or ostensive, remain within language. Neither conditioning nor explaining word-meaning anchors language to reality; language is not semantically anchored to reality at all. It is human practices that give words their meanings.22 Thus Hacker is fully committed to the later Wittgensteinian view of language where meaning is use. Kenny takes up the theme that instead of language mirroring the logical form of the universe, the apparent structure of reality is merely the shadow of grammar; the structure of language cannot be externally justified; any kind of explanation of language presupposes an already existing language. The isomorphism between the world and language survives in the Philosophical Investigations but with its pole reversed from the earlier philosophy: that is, the structure of language is still isomorphic with the structure of reality but this is not because language mirrors the logical form of the universe. Rather, grammar imposes its patterning on our view of reality23.

The most sustained attack on the idea of language as a mirror of the world was by Rorty in his 1979 book Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. He fully accepts the Wittgensteinian notion of language as a tool, rather than as a mirror; the picture which holds traditional philosophy captive is that of the mind as a great mirror containing various representations, some accurate, some not and capable of being studied by pure non-empirical methods. "It was such claims as these which Wittgenstein mocked in the Philosophical Investigations and it is by following Wittgenstein's lead that analytic philosophy has progressed towards the post-positivistic stance it presently occupies"24. To think of language as a picture of the world is, he says, not useful in explaining how language is learned or understood; one should hammer away at the holistic point that words take their meanings from other words rather than by their representative character. "We must get the visual, and in particular the mirroring, metaphors out of our speech altogether. We have to understand speech not only as not the externalizing of inner representations but as not a representation at all. The whole-hearted behaviorism,, naturalism, and physicalism I have been commending help us to avoid the self-deception of thinking that we possess a deep, hidden, metaphysically significant nature which makes us "irreducibly" different from inkwells or atoms. We should free ourselves from the notion that philosophy can explain what science leaves unexplained. Our post-Kantian sense that epistemology or some successor subject is at the centre of philosophy is a reflection of the fact the professional philosopher's self-image depends upon his professional preoccupation with the image of the mirror of nature"25.

Rorty's view, which is essentially the view of the later Wittgenstein, is that epistemology has to be abandoned as the central subject of philosophy. In fact, following the early Wittgenstein, there is nothing more to be said in traditional philosophy. If philosophy survives at all, it will only be as conversation between philosophers, not as a fundamental pursuit of truth or understanding of the world. This then is the very large consequence of adherence to the meaning as use theory of the later Wittgenstein. The question is: Is there reason why Rorty's view can not be valid? Do other developments, particularly in the study of language in the brain, make his philosophical conclusions untenable?


Until comparatively recently, language has been essentially a matter for linguists, with all the multitudinous complexities of the subject, the historical development of language, the theoretical developments in phonology, in syntax and semantics, in pragmatics and sociolinguistics, manifested in a plethora of grammars, syntactic theories, and semantic theories together with the overriding complexities deriving from the vast number of different actual languages to be studied, different lexicons, different grammatical systems. Nowadays there is concern with language in other disciplines. In linguistics proper, there has been the major development of syntactic theory associated with Chomsky, but also involving many other linguists. All these developments have in the process made linguistics an impenetrable jungle for non-linguists. In evolutionary biology there has been a widening study of language, given impetus by the New York Academy of Sciences conference on language origin in 1975. The view is emerging that the language capacity is the product of the evolution of the human brain; language is not a purely cultural and conventional construct. The study of language which for the last half-century had taken an abstract, purely linguistic approach has now been joined by the application of the increasingly powerful techniques of neuroscience to the functioning of language in the brain.

At the time when Wittgenstein's ideas were emerging, eventually to take form in the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations, linguistics was at the early modern stage. Saussure's Cours de linguistique générale, seen as the foundation of modern linguistics, was published in 1915 with its central thesis as the arbitrariness of the sign, language as convention, a socially constructed system. There is no evidence that Wittgenstein knew anything about Saussure; the Cours was not well known in English-speaking countries for years after 1915. Nor is there evidence that Wittgenstein knew much about current discussion in linguistics otherwise; he makes no mention of Saussure or of Bloomfield whose Language was published in 1933; in it Bloomfield also makes no mention of Saussure, though this is less surprising when one knows that the 1933 book was a revised issue of a book first published in 1913. There is an interesting parallelism between Saussure's Cours and the Philosophical Investigations. Both were compiled from students' notes and both were published posthumously, both undoubtedly incomplete and not fully systematic. In the Cours, as in the Philosophical Investigations, there are loose ends, not tied into a consistent, overall theory. For example, the Cours had little to say on the important topic of semantics. Whilst words are conventional, Saussure accepted that linguistic signs are realities with their seat in the brain: "If we could embrace the sum of word-images stored in the minds of all individuals, we could identify the social bond that constitutes language"26.

The most characteristic feature of modern linguistics is structuralism, that is, regarding language as a system of relations, or more precisely a set of inter-related systems, the elements of which, sounds, words etc. have no validity independently of their relations of equivalence and contrast which hold between them, essentially questions of syntax. The lack of a reasonably satisfactory theory of semantics remains. Chomsky's first impact on behavioural science was his notion that sentence-structure can be studied independently of meaning. The new linguistic science of sentence structure was to become more abstract, leaving behind meaning to study the pure laws of syntax. However, in a quite recent theoretical development, Chomsky has signalled a move back to the lexicon, to the importance of the role of the individual words. This not to say that syntax is any less important. The new theory, minimalism, is conceived as involving a fundamental re-orientation of grammatical theory with many differences between the minimalist programme and the theoretical insights of traditional brtransformational-generativism; the fundamental notions and constructs are different. The implication of the theory is that syntax is projected from the lexicon.27 28

This has understandably led to a new concern with philosophical aspects of language for linguistics. Chomsky outlined his account of the relation of language and philosophy in Language and Problems of Knowledge (1988) and most recently in New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind (2000). The 1988 book was based on lectures he gave in Managua; there he was asked about different theories of meaning and replied that there were no very good theories of meaning: "in fact most of the theory of meaning is called syntax"; but he recognised that there was a good deal more to the theory of meaning: for example, questions about the relation of meaning to use and to verification, about the way words come to refer to things and so on, "but about these topics I think there is very little to say of a constructive nature"29. In the recent book Chomsky tackles some of these philosophical questions at considerable length after acknowledging that the earliest formulation of generative grammar was influenced by Wittgenstein, Austin and others. On current debates in philosophy between externalism and internalism, he says: "we are asked to consider whether meanings are in the head or are externally determined. The conventional answer today is that they are externally determined by two kinds of factors, features of the real world and norms of communication. A standard externalist argument is that unless the external world determines the contents of the thought of an agent, it is an utter mystery how the agent's thoughts can be publicly available to another"30. Philosophers, he says, frequently claim that language is to represent reality but this is not the fundamental function. The key functions of language are to enable humans to form thoughts and communicate. Chomsky makes it clear that he thinks of himself as an internalist, which means restricting ourselves to studying the inner mechanisms which contribute to thought and expression; the approach is concerned with mental aspects of the world and includes the study of real objects in the natural world, specifically the brain, its states and functions. This moves the study of the mind towards eventual integration with biology and the natural sciences31, a more promising approach than philosophical explorations of language and mind. Linguistics is to be seen as the science of mind/brain. The boundary between linguistics and natural sciences will shift or disappear and in particular there will be a new relationship of linguistics and brain-science.


In psychology, speech and language have generated a large experimental literature, not surprisingly given the importance of language in the functioning of the human mind and in society. Most psychologists (and linguists) do not believe that, for children, learning a first language is anything like the controlled and directed process involved in acquiring a second language in adults or learning any other skill. Chomsky says that language acquisition proceeds on course even without any concern on the part of the human parents; the precision of phonetic detail a child acquires cannot possibly be the result of training; the speed and precision of vocabulary growth has to be explained by a biological endowment for language; the child somehow has the concepts available before experience with language and basically learns labels fro already existing concepts. For Jackendoff also, the effortlessness of vocabulary acquisition is a human adaptation, the capacity for vocabulary being independent of that for grammatical adaptation. Imitation seems to be involved in first language learning but it seems clear that imitation does not operate in any deliberate way through training children to acquire words, grammatical rules and speech sounds. At best it seems a matter of unconscious imitation but there remain many obscurities about how children extract from the stream of speech sound the 'right' words and the 'right' grammatical rules. It remains unclear how imitation makes possible the linking of word meaning and word sound or the acquisition of the complexities of the grammatical system.


At the time when Wittgenstein was putting together the material which went to form the Philosophical Investigations, important advances were already taking place in understanding the functioning of the brain in relation to language. Traditionally, information about language and the brain had come from lesion studies and the pathology of aphasia, the different forms which aphasia could take, differentiation between aphasias affecting grammar and aphasias affecting meaning; these were seen as correlated topographically with Broca's and Wernicke's areas in the cortex. At the same time Penfield33 was investigating the language function of the brain by direct electrical stimulation of the brain surface. Brain surgery for patients suffering from epilepsy was directed towards identifying and removing the epileptic focus; before any surgery took place it was necessary to mark which parts of the cortical surface were essential for language and this was done by noting where speech interruptions or distortions were caused when particular points were stimulated. Whilst this technique is still used and has thrown light on language function more generally, investigation of language in the brain has made immense strides with the development of non-invasive new technologies which make it possible to see directly what is happening in the brain of conscious, normal subjects when particular aspects of language are elicited. These new brain-scanning techniques - PET , fMRI, ERP, TMS, MEG34 - have been used to study which neuronal areas are excited by particular categories of words or types of sentence, exploring lexicon and syntax. Interestingly, Wittgenstein himself to an extent anticipated or at least saw the desirability of advance in investigation of the brain in relation to language: "What comes before our mind when we understand a word? Isn't it only because of our too slight acquaintance with what goes on in the brain and the nervous system. If we had a more accurate knowledge of these things, we should see what connections were established by the training and then we should be able to say when we looked into his brain: 'Now he has read this word. Now the reading connection has been set up.'"35

With the development of the new brain-scanning techniques, this is precisely what researchers are doing. The old concept of two language centres (Broca's and Wernicke's) processing all words alike has been replaced by a model according to which words are organised as discrete distributed neuron ensembles that differ in their cortical topographies. When humans process words of different kinds, the cortical areas which become active depend on differences in the meanings of the words. In the brain different categories of words, content words, function words, vision words, action words, concrete words, abstract words, animate words, inanimate words, are associated with topographically different patterns of excitation36. The brain appears to be categorizing words in ways similar to the standard analyses of the lexicon. There have been similar findings in relation to syntax. Fromkin summarized results of experimental work using ERPs; response to syntactically well-formed but semantically anomalous sentences produced patterns of brain activity distinct in time and in distribution from patterns elicited by syntactically deviant sentences; different types of syntactic deviance produced different ERP patterns. The advance of brain scanning techniques has meant that more and more is being learnt about the way in which the brain deals with meaning and grammar.

Beyond the use of brain-scanning to study response to words and sentences, brain-scanning is also of importance for studying cerebral motor action. It has been discovered that the execution of an action, a bodily movement, is preceded by a motor image, a pattern of brain excitation similar to that observed during the execution of the action; the same pattern is also observed when the action is mentally simulated - only imagined - and not executed. This must also be the case for the motor activity required to produce a speech utterance; there must be a motor image, a pattern of neural excitation prior to an utterance resembling the brain activity observed with the making, or imagining, of the utterance.

Mirror neurons37

The discovery in the last few years of mirror neurons has been an important event in neuroscience. The first mirror neurons to be found were visuomotor neurons which respond both when a particular action is performed by a subject and when the subject perceives the same action performed by another. In effect the visuomotor neurons respond both to the perception of an action and to the planning and execution of the action. It is suggested that the matching system represented by these mirror neurons could provide a neuronal basis for a process of action understanding, that is understanding the gestures of others. Other categories of mirror neurons have been discovered since. Perhaps the most interesting for language are the neurons which are seen to link tongue movement and heard speech. The listener understands the speaker when neural centres for his or her own articulatory gestures are activated. These mirror neurons seem to represent the link between sender and receiver Liberman postulated in his motor theory of speech perception38; for the first time it has been shown that listening produces activation for specific phonemes in speech motor centres. The phoneme recognition mechanism could be involved in phonetically understanding others' speech because the speaker and the listener share the same articulatory motor repertoire. Other research has shown that many object-related actions can be recognised by their sound through multifunctional mirror neurons in the premotor cortex which discharge when a specific action is performed, when the subject hears a sound associated with the action and also when it observes the action. The existence of these audiovisual neurons suggest how the meanings of actions could be linked to spoken language.

There has been a good deal of speculation about the larger significance of mirror neurons. It has been suggested that the discovery of mirror neurons may provide a neurobiological basis for the evolutionary emergence of language, assuming a continuity between original gesture and language. This was the proposal in Rizzolatti and Arbib's paper "Language within our grasp" (1998). They suggested that mirror neurons might be the foundation for the development of symbolic and linguistic processing. The notion that evolution could yield a language system on top of the action system, in their view, becomes much more probable. The human capacity to communicate beyond that of other primates would have depended on the progressive evolution of the mirror neuron system.

There remain questions about the plausibility of the link between mirror neurons and language origins. Much of the speculation is based on the finding of the mirror neurons in the monkey homolog of Broca's area, in humans for a long time supposed to be the language centre with the confirmation that mirror neurons also are found in the human Broca's area. However, there are divergent views about the role of Broca's area in language; it is now generally thought that it has no exclusive role in the processing of language39. The other main argument against the large significance of mirror neurons is that advanced by Hurford in a counter-paper entitled "Language beyond our grasp: What mirror neurons can, and cannot, do for language evolution". He says that whilst mirror neurons have important implications for the evolution of language, suggesting pre-existing brain structure which could provide the basis for language, mirror neurons cannot by their very nature provide a basis for the central structural relation of human language, the arbitrary Saussurean sign. In the representation of a sound sequence for 'apple' or 'tree',the relation between the word and the meaning is arbitrary; there is nothing in the pronunciation of the word which in any way resembles the denoted concept.

Motor control and the Motor theory of language

The previous sections have described two important areas of neuroscience research with direct relevance for the functioning of language in the brain. To these have to be added research on the central field of brain research, the planning and execution of action, the cerebral motor control system. Here an outline is emerging of the way in which the brain plans and controls the execution of all types of bodily action. Speech is an eminently motor activity and the potential relevance of advances in motor control research is obvious; speech and language, like all forms of skilled action, depend upon interaction and co-ordination between motor activity and perceptual activity. The development of new technology allowing direct inspection of brain functioning, coupled with mirror neurons as providing a link between perception and action and with the deeper understanding of the brain systems for motor control mean that neurology is becoming able to give a much more concrete content to its concern with language. It is the contention that these advances in neuroscience validate the motor theory of speech and language (well beyond the earlier motor theory of speech perception).

The motor theory of language40 is that there is a direct relation between the functioning of speech and motor control generally, with language depending on pre-existing motor primitives together with the operation of motor equivalence. The structures of language (phonological, lexical and syntactic) were derived from and modelled on the pre-existing complex neural systems which had evolved for the control of body movement, Motor control at the neural level requires pre-set elementary units of action (motor primitives) which can be integrated into more extended patterns of bodily action - neural motor programs. Speech is essentially a motor activity (a stream of articulatory gestures). Language made use of the elementary pre-set units of motor action to produce equivalent phonological units (phonemic categories). The neural programs for individual words were constructed from the elementary units in the same way as motor programs for bodily action. The syntactic processes and structures of language were modelled on the 'motor syntax'. With the advance in neurological research, it becomes possible to integrate the motor theory of language with neurological research on motor control, particularly drawing on recent research on motor programs, motor imagery, motor primitives and motor equivalence.

Along with the concept of motor primitives functioning in the production of speech sounds, motor equivalence41 is of central importance in the motor theory of language. Research into motor equivalence demonstrates that the structure of a motor program for a given action using one set of muscles and joints for its execution can be transferred for execution by a quite different set of muscles and joints. The simplest illustration of this is that a signature can be executed equally well by the right hand or the left hand, even by the foot. Brain scanning has shown that the same cortical neurons function to produce the action in which subjects were asked to write their names first with their hand and then with their toe. Motor equivalence can operate from gesture to speech or speech to gesture. It also seems likely that it can operate between other modalities - or precisely between motor programs for other modalities and motor programs for speech. Motor equivalence is demonstrated most remarkably in the relation between speech and gesture. Speech and gesture arise as interacting elements of a single system. Every articulatory gesture can be redirected (through motor equivalence) to produce an equivalent movement (equivalent gesture) of the hand and arm. Every gesture structured by a perceived object or action can be redirected to produce an equivalent articulatory gesture - a sequence of speech sounds forming a word. Motor equivalence can function between speech and visual perception and between visual perception and motor action because visual perception is also a motor activity, with motor programs and motor primitives for vision; vision is a highly motoric activity. The practical realisation of the motor theory of language and speech in the light of these recent advances in neuroscience is that: Elementary speech sounds are the motor equivalents of motor primitives for bodily movement Individual speech sounds are motor primitives Elementary movements of the arm (in gesture or action) are the motor equivalents of speech sounds Words formed from the primitive speech-sound elements are motor programs Action-words are the motor equivalents of the actions Vision-words are the motor equivalents of perceived objects Before we produce a sentence there is a motor image of the sentence A sentence is a high-level motor program or action plan.


How does this bear on "Language as a Mirror or of the World'? What really is the proposition underlying the phrase? What was the real problem the Stoics, the scholastics, and the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus were wrestling with? How could language mirror the world? How could words and the arrangements into which they are placed "mirror the world? What is the world to be mirrored? What is mirroring? What a mirror does is reflect. 'There' is the mirror and over against it is the perceptible, touchable reality. The mirror does not duplicate this reality - it throws back a pattern of light which is patterned by the reality in front of the mirror. There is a matching of shape between the visible shape of the reality and the visible shape of the pattern of light thrown back from the mirror.

How then can language, speech, the collection of words and their ordering reflect in this sense, match the patterning of the external perceptible reality which language confronts? It can only be by the patterning of the words, and the patterning of the ordering of the words. But what is this patterning? Words in an utterance are strings of sounds; words arranged in sequence are extended strings of sounds. Or if there is a written expression, the words are strings of letters, of visual shapes which are taken to represent successions of speech sounds. If language is to mirror the world, it must be in the sequences of speech sounds forming the words, in the structures of the words placed in confrontation with particulate aspects of the perceived external non-linguistic reality and in the ordering of the sequences of words, the ways in which the words are combined to reflect events and situations.

Perhaps this is what Wittgenstein was really struggling with. He asked at one point how we get the words, how we come to use them, how we get to acquire them, where do they come from? The proposition to which the presentation in this paper leads is that we can get the words through a mirroring process (perhaps involving but not exclusively mirror neurons) where the structure of what we see can generate the structure of the sounds we make, where the thing or the action can generate a word adequate to the meaning, to the structure of the thing or action, the structure of the action or the motor structure of the visible or audible or tangible object. The possibility of this mirroring taking place comes from the intermediation of the cerebral motor system. Everything in the functioning brain eventually links to and derives from the motor system, from the motor programs, the assemblies of neurons which constitute the motor programs and can be converted from motor to sensory or sensory to motor. The common underlying structuring of the brain is in the motor patterns, the motor programs that are created and externalized, the reflection from perception to action or back from action to perception of which the isomorphism between gesture and utterance is a prime example.

What Wittgenstein and all the others were wrestling with, unknowingly seeking to combat, was the orthodoxy that language is totally arbitrary, has no actual relationship with our actions, our perceptions or our feelings, that language is a totally chance product which has, as Wittgenstein put it, a "mysterious" connection with what it refers to. The real struggle, though Wittgenstein never put it in this way, is against the Saussurean idea of the sign as at best a conventional structure, something humans find themselves with, something they agree to use to mean "this or that". There's no reason for the word; it just happens to be here; we just happen to use this or that word for this or that thing or action or feeling.

The proposition then to which this paper has led is that the capacity of language to mirror reality, to reflect the perceived world in which we find ourselves, derives from the structuring of the human brain and specifically from the way in which the human brain plans and executes action, the total motor control system. By way of the motor system, the words mirror the objects or actions which they refer to. The actions we make or perceive, the objects we perceive or handle, the feelings we observe in others or in ourselves generate words appropriate to them. Primitive language, or rather primitive words, were generated by all forms of perception; the syntax we use was modelled on the syntax of our action and of the action of others that we observe.

And how and why did humans, and only humans, acquire this remarkable power to mirror reality through the sounds the human makes? That is the question of the origin of language in human evolution which Wittgenstein in effect touches on at one point. Why can other primates not speak? The answer is: because human brains are different; the wiring is different; the tongue and the articulatory organs are connected to the central motor system in a different way from other animals, there has been 'cerebral reorganization' (Jan Wind's42 phrase) to make language possible. Why it occurred is a matter for speculation. Plausibly it might have been associated in some way with the change in the human mode of life, the shift to bipedalism and upright posture, a redistribution of neuronal connections to the tongue and larynx made possible by the ending of the grasping function of the foot with a balancing increase in the neural connections of the hand.


1 Lyons 1968 14-15
2 von Wright in Malcolm 1958 15
3 The Tractatus was published in 1922 in a version with the German and English texts printed on facing pages. Bertrand Russell's Introduction (which Wittgenstein did not much like) said: "Mr. Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, whether or not it prove to give the ultimate truth on the matters with which it deals, certainly deserves, by its breadth and scope and profundity, to be considered an important event in the philosophical world". This contrasts sharply with Russell's dismissive comments much later on the Philosophical Investigations.
4 The manuscript Notebooks were first published, in 1961, long after the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations. The notebooks for the years 1914-16 were accidentally saved from the destruction of other early writings. The translation of the German text is by Elizabeth Anscombe and the editing by her and von Wright.
5 Wittgenstein dictated the "Blue Book" (though he did not call it that) to his class in Cambridge during the session 1933-34. The "Brown Book" was dictated to Francis Skinner and Alice Ambrose during 1934-5. He sent a copy of the duplicated notes in the Blue Book to Bertrand Russell with a letter saying: "if you don't read them it doesn't matter at all". When the Blue and Brown Books were published in 1960, with an introduction by Rush Rhees, the title page read "Preliminary Studies for the 'Philosophical Investigations' generally known as The Blue and Brown Books".
6 Part I of the Philosophical Investigations was complete by 1945; part II was written between 1947 and 1949. In the published version (1953, 3rd edition 2001) the editors, Anscombe and Rhees, say that if Wittgenstein had published the work himself, he would have suppressed a good deal of the latter pages of Part I.
7 von Wright in Malcolm 1958 7-8
8 extracts as e.g., N7, p. 7 of the English version of the Notebooks, or T2.12, item 2.12 of the English version of the Tractatus..
9 Anscombe 1995 402
10 Hacker 1996 1
11 Bartley 1985 [1973]
12 Freeman Dyson in Malcolm 65
13 von Wright 15-16 Monk 260-261
14 Vesey Foreword xv
15 extracts as e.g.: B17 Blue and Brown Books p.17 : P5 para.5 in Philosophical Investigations Part I section 5 : Pii195 Philosophical Investigations Part II p.195
16 Malcolm 69
17 Anscombe 406
18 Hacker 79
19 von Wright in Malcolm 14
20 Kenny in Vesey ed. 4
21 Bartley 16
22 See Hacker's discussion of Davidson's views in Philosophy 1998 73:286 539-552
23 Kenny in Vesey ed. 12
24 Rorty 12
25 Rorty 392-3
26 Saussure 1966 15
27 Hornstein: "A central aim of the Minimalist program is to show that the grammatical levels DS [Deep Structure] and SS [Surface Structure] do not exist" (62-3), "if Minimalism is roughly correct, then the earlier GB analyses will have to be abandoned and radically rethought" (200); "the core idea is that lexical elements are extracted from the lexicon and packaged into phrase markers already laden with their morphological features" (69)
28 Hale and Keyser eds. 1993: "the implications of the theory that syntax is projected from the lexicon" (53); Chomsky 2000 Foreword by Neil Smith "the Minimalist Program ... a radical attempt to rethink the foundations of the discipline ... abandoning much of the descriptive machinery of earlier versions of generative grammar ... a search for new explanations" (xi)
29 Chomsky 1988 p.192-3; Chomsky 2000 10 " The minimalist program seeks to show that everything that has been accounted for in terms of these levels [Deep Structure and Surface Structure] has been misdescribed"
30 Chomsky 2000 132, 148
31 Chomsky 2000 6
32 For general background Raichle 1994
33 Penfield & Roberts Speech and Brain Mechanisms 1959 OUP
34 PET positron emission tomography fMRI functional magnetic resonance imaging ERPs event related potentials MEG magnetoencephalography TMS trans-cranial magnetic stimulation
35 Wittgenstein P158
36 Pulvermüller 1999; Pulvermüller et al. 1999
37 Extensive research by Rizzolatti and colleagues at the University of Parma: Kohler et al. 2002; Rizzolatti and Arbib 1998; Fadiga et al. 2002
38 Liberman et al. 1967 Theory revised Liberman & Mattingly 1985
39 Deacon The Symbolic Species 342 "Language areas [Broca, Wernicke] are simply not the repositories of linguistic skill and knowledge they were once thought to be ... do not support any simple localisation of language function"
40 Allott 1992; Motor theory of Language 1989
41 Berthoz Le Sens du Mouvement "Motor equivalence refers to a simple and remarkable property of the brain that enables the same movement to be made using very different effectors. For example, I can write the letter A with my hand, or my foot, or my mouth. I can even draw a letter A while walking on the beach. This property ... is considered to be proof that the brain encodes a motor structure (morphokinesis) very generally which then enables it to express the structure or to execute it using very different combinations of muscles."(pp.226-7 in English translation The Brain's Sense of Movement 2000 Harvard UP). Subjects wrote their signature with their dominant index finger and ipsilateral big toe. fMRI showed that movement parameters for this movement are stored in secondary sensorimotor cortices of the dominant hand. These areas can be accessed by the foot and are therefore functionally independent from the primary representation of the effector. (Rijnties et al. 1999)
42 Jan Wind's view(Harnad et al. eds. 1976:628) that cerebral reorganisation was decisive for the origin of speech-like communication with the ability to form cross-modal associations and increased memory


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