The Philosophical Significance of Secondary Uses of Language in Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy


  • Marco Marchesin University of East Anglia (UEA)



Wittgenstein, Secondary Sense, Meaning, Rules


This paper aims to provide an account of Wittgenstein’s employment of the distinction between primary and secondary use of words. Against views that circumscribe its relevance to aesthetics and ethics, the paper demonstrates that there are many instances of secondary uses in Wittgenstein’s work that are not reducible to those limited applications. Additionally, as secondary uses are often interpreted as having an expressive function, the paper argues that we cannot reduce secondariness to a single unifying principle, because the distinction is philosophical, as it works as a powerful device to tackle different, often unrelated, philosophical issues.