Wittgenstein’s conceptual identification of society’s creation of various “language games” is indicative of a relativistic approach to truth and reality. For, Wittgenstein rejected the classical tradition of the correspondence theory of truth, where language corresponds to events in the “objective” physical realm, and in the course of such correspondence, arrives at a notion of objective truth. Instead, the world of language is an artificial creation within the consciousness of societies, and is tantamount to board games which we play.
In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often interesting and instructive to view the entire bureaucratic process as a kind of “language game” which one must master and engage in. Indeed, encounters with how one’s own agency views the game, then how OPM views the game, can be quite shocking.
The fact that it is not a “game” per se, for the Federal or Postal employee who is depending upon the Federal Disability Retirement annuity for his or her livelihood for the short-term, does not undermine the fact that agencies and OPM act as if it is just another board game — say, for instance, chess, in the the manner in which various strategic moves and counter-moves are made to try and corner the Federal or Postal employee; or the classical game of go, in which territories are asserted and surrounded in order to “defeat” the opponent.
Language is meant to convey meaning and to communicate human value, worth, emotions and factual occurrences as reflected in the physical world; it is only us humans who create a universe of artifice in which we sequester ourselves in order to torment the weaker members of such participants. But because language is the only game within the realm of human living, we must contend with the language games played by Federal agencies, and especially the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire