I don’t understand a word. Like, how the heck are “fuzziness” and “family resemblance” associated with linguistics (or semantics to be exact)??? I need help from a Linguist! Or an English teacher (who actually finished Education major in English)!!! I’m currently drowning on my own pool of blood. Gaaaaah. Why complicate a simple word like chair?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!
ANYWAY, I think I have to pay a visit to the National Library tomorrow. But I don’t want to go alone! Especially that my mom told me that there are ghosts and all those spooky stuff there!!!! ASDFGHJKL.
Isn’t fuzziness all to do with the fact ‘chair’ isn’t a simple word? Ye Olde Platonic idealism would hold that there is one ideal chair in mental space - a wooden thing with four legs, say - and all other chairs are just bastardizations of this perfect meaning of chair.
But the concept chair refers to whole cornucopia of objects. There are wooden chairs, one-legged computer chairs, high-back office chairs, three-legged stools, armchairs, poufes, sofas, seats on a bus, seats in a car, benches, rocking chairs, beanbags, garden chairs, swinging chairs, school desk chairs, pews, thrones, wheelchairs, etc etc
These things all resemble each other but in different ways. It’s easy to see wooden chairs and office chairs as reflections of the same concept, but thrones and wheelchairs?
Some of the objects we don’t know if we can call them chairs e.g. beanbags, or pews. But they share many properties with wooden chairs and armchairs as stationary seats, if not with wheelchairs and rocking chairs…
This fuziness inherent in our conceptual ideas is best expressed by Witgenstein when he asked what is a game? Cricket, charades, chess, command & conquer are all games. As are solitaire, world of warcraft, truth or dare, hide and seek. Many of these things are seemingly unrelated. Not all of them are competitive, not all are social, not all are points based. The only property they all share is the aim of enjoying onself but how is that helpful in defining game - it could refer to any kind of entertainment. Indeed, many games it could be argued like pro-soccer aren’t about enjoying yourself, but winning, so tehres the one universal property gone.
What Fodor and Wittgenstein are saying is that our concepts aren’t based on ideal objects inside our heads, but stem willy-nilly from the huge variety of objects out there in the world. Any definition of a concepy must hence always be fuzzy.