I just stumbled across the following passage from Moritz Schlick’s “Form and Content” (1932):
I might use a chair in my room, for instance, as a means of saying anything I like. All I need to do is to select a number of different positions of the chair in the room and agree that each one shall correspond to a letter of the alphabet. By this agreement I shall have constructed a new language which will consist in changing the position of the chair; and by moving it about in the room I shall be able to express all the plays of Shakespeare with the same perfection as the best of the printed editions. (p. 288)
It is quite amusing to picture Schlick wildly moving his chair around his office to “read”, say, a passage from Macbeth. I wonder whether Carnap would have stayed and “listened”. On a more serious note, though, Schlick seems to be quite wrong when he says that he has created a new language. But what has he done? In a way, I guess, he has created, not a new language, but merely a new set of letters. His chair’s standing in the relevant position stands to the letter A as, e.g., “A”, “A” and “A” stand to it.
Posted by Miguel.