When we think that "can" always describes a state of the person concerned, we are probably thinking of cases like those found in games forty-six to forty- nine. These language games provide us with concrete states—whether past deeds, physical attributes, or something else—that we can definitely attach to the word "can." Wittgenstein shows, however, that this is just a small (and peculiar) group of uses for the word "can." From games fifty-seven to sixty-one, people make similar conjectures with only subtle reference to particular states, or with no references at all. In game fifty-nine, bettors at a wrestling match give reasons for placing their bets; in game fifty-eight they do not. Our temptation is to say that in game fifty-nine, the bettors give reasons based on the state or past deeds of the wrestlers, and though at fifty- eight they give no such reasons, these reasons must be guiding their bets implicitly.

We have no more reason to say of the bettors in game fifty-eight that they must have reasons for placing their bets as we do to say of the bettors in game fifty-nine that they must have reasons for giving the reasons that they do. For instance, if one of the bettors in fifty-nine explains that he bet as he did because of a wrestler's large biceps, we could press him for a reason as to why large biceps should be a deciding factor. If he were give us a reason—for instance, that large biceps help a wrestler win grapples—we could press him for a further reason as to why winning grapples should be a deciding factor, and so on. Perhaps all these further reasons do in some way inform the bettor's conjecture, but we can hardly say that these further reasons are somehow implicit in the reason he gives. Similarly, it is not certain that the bettors of game fifty-eight had implicit reasons for betting as they did. Near the end of game fifty-eight, Wittgenstein notes that we might posit causes that lead to certain bets, but this is different from the bettors themselves having reasons.

This idea that "can" must describe a certain state of affairs leads Wittgenstein to an interesting digression on the nature of time. Because, as we saw in game forty-nine, we can use "can" to say that somebody has done something in the past, we may be tempted to think of such past events as "things" that somehow exist in the present, even if they exist only in ghostlike form. Language games fifty to fifty-six are meant to show us that we need not have a concept of the past or the future in order to talk about time. Again, we might be tempted to think that concepts of time are implicit in these language games. For instance, in game fifty-five, we might say that when A says, "slab!" and points at five o'clock, he must have some concept of time or of the future in order to give such an order. Wittgenstein says that this is not necessary. The language game works perfectly well if we do not assume that A has a concept of time.

The point in these passages, and through much of Wittgenstein's later philosophy, is that when we think in terms of "must," we are often held captive by a certain form of expression. Our talk about "the past" and "the future" as things is a certain form of expression we can use when talking about time, and we unthinkingly apply that expression to all language games that involve time. We have no reason for thinking that A must have some concept of "the future" in giving his order. We assume that he does because we believe that all references to time must involve such concepts. If they are not explicitly present, we assume they must be present implicitly, and we try to find these concepts working behind the words being used.