People ask: "Who am I" or "What is a matter" but:

Is it possible that those questions arise because of confusions in our language?

The questions seem intangible and hugely based on the luxuries that our language can provide us. Or maybe not luxuries, but confusions in the way we use it.

If you could answer and explain how that would be possible and what philosophers have thought about this, it would be highly appreciated.

  • 6
    Sure, it's possible. Wittgenstein made a legend of himself out of saying so. But I don't know what you want in this context as an answer to such a broad question. Jul 26, 2019 at 16:35
  • I'm going to pass on doing your homework for you. But the main clue about the answer your professor wants is: Wittgenstein. Jul 26, 2019 at 19:13
  • @DevinBurke I'm not studying philosophy. I don't have a professor. I am 15 years old, I'm just really curious about this. But, thanks!
    – John F101
    Jul 26, 2019 at 21:35
  • A fascinating line of reasoning: Let me arbitrarially answer the question either "yes" or "no." Does my answer partially define what "confusions in our language" mean? Could either answer be valid depending on how confused we might be about what "confusion in our language" means?
    – Cort Ammon
    Jul 27, 2019 at 5:46
  • 1
    The fault is not in our languages, but in our selves.
    – Scott Rowe
    Mar 12 at 10:23

1 Answer 1


There are broadly two styles or paradigms to answer this. One assumes that all languages are the same and that differences are minor and superficial. The other assumes no such thing and is open to the possibility that worldview can be shaped by language. These two views are respectively called cloak-vs-mold

If you are drawn to the first you will prefer

If you are more drawn to the second you may find the following interesting.

(Where the terms are widely discussed I've not put a link – let google be your guide!)

All the above can be treated as detailed exegesis on Wittgenstein's :

The limits of my language are the limits of my world

Or the always oblique and punchy Nietzsche

You say you don't believe in God yet you believe in grammar?!

Also here's a decent summary of the divergence of the two camps.

And an answer of mine illustrating how a seemingly philosophical problem is really a linguistic one.

In closing I'd like to point out that the reason Sapir-Whorf/Linguistic Relativity is fraught is that it's not a small problem in philosophy. At its limit it's no less than an existential threat to philosophy itself!

Note: Your statement

What is a matter

seems ungrammatical to me.

Whereas as a rule I almost never quibble about other people's grammar, in this case it is sufficiently ambiguous that I need to point out that its three alternative corrections are really far apart.

  1. What is matter?
  2. What (exactly is this lump of) matter?
  3. What is the matter?

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