Epub How to Do Things with Words
Book ↠ How to Do Things with Words Ë 168 pages Ù John L Austin was one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century The William James Lectures presented Austin's conclusions in the field to which he directed his main efforts on a wide variety of philosophical problems These talks became the classic How to Do ThinJohn L Austin was one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century The William James Lectures presented Austin's conclusions in the field to which he directed his main efforts on a wide variety of philosophical problems These talks beca Early 20th century Anglo American philosophy is a bit of an oddity in the history of ideas It was marked by two diametrically opposed approaches yet both could be traced back to the work of a single figure namely the Austrian logician Ludwig Wittgenstein The first of these was logical positivism which was inspired by Wittgenstein's 1919 Tractatus Logico Philosophicus Originally founded in Vienna logical positivism made its way to the English speaking world by way of AJ Ayer's seminal Language Truth and Logic in 1936 What followed was a veritable revolution in Anglo American philosophy Wittgenstein's doctrine razed the edifice of philosophical orthodoxy with its verificationist criterion of meaning a proposition is meaningful only if it can be verified by observation Having thus reduced meaningful language to the utterances of the natural sciences Wittgenstein banished metaphysics ethics aesthetics and theology – those venerated objects of speculation – to the netherworld of senselessness They were not even wrong as we say in the vernacularHaving ostensibly solved philosophy once and for all Wittgenstein did the only honest thing left to do he uit After a decade of working odd jobs as a schoolteacher and gardener however doubts began to grow in his mind So he returned to Cambridge where over the course of the 1930s and 1940s he began to develop his new philosophy culminating in his posthumous Philosophical Investigations 1953 The verificationist criterion of meaning was replaced by the doctrine of meaning as use an utterance has meaning if it plays some function in a linguistic transaction Gone was the crystalline isomorphism of thought and world that characterized the Tractatus leaving in its place the incommensurability of different language games and forms of life Like Tractatus before it the Investigation gave rise to its own following of disciples this time in the ordinary language philosophers of the Oxford school Gilbert Ryle HLA Hart Peter Strawson RM Hare and of course JL Austin Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is without a doubt the most important work of ordinary language philosophy both in terms of influence and scope However JL Austin's How to Do Things With Words might well be a close second Ordinary language philosophy was and often still is dismissed as pedantic terminological nitpicking and reading Austin’s superficially might seem to confirm that assessment The book contains a series of lectures that he delivered over his career pieced back together from his own sometimes fragmentary notes and from students’ transcriptions The lecture series format as well as the author’s own hairsplitting approach has the effect of stretching material that could easily have been fit into a 20 page article over a 160 page book rife with lists examples and minor adjustments that might well leave the reader wondering what the fuss is aboutWell the fuss really isn't about much – just the concept of truth itself With their verificationist criterion the logical positivists had reduced to mere babble any utterance that did not purport to describe the natural world Only these could purport to be true or false at all This is Austin’s starting point in the first lecture For he claims to have discovered a class of utterances that are not descriptive in nature yet that do not contain any words lacking an empirical reference He calls these performative utterances or performatives for short They are statements the uttering of which is to do something “I do” uttered during a wedding ceremony “I hereby sentence you” uttered by a judge and “Out” uttered by an umpire These Austin points out presuppose that certain conditions are in place notably that they correspond to some institutional practice and that they are being performed by the right people in the right circumstances These make up the utterance's “felicity conditions” or “acceptability conditions”; they are what must be in place for a performative utterance to be recognized by an interlocutorHaving identified this class of performative utterances Austin proceeds to trying to demarcate them from ordinary descriptive utterances The uestion is in what sense exactly saying something might amount to doing something To make any linguistic utterance he points out is always to do three things First it is to perform a locutionary act That is it is to make certain sounds which correspond to words in a vocabulary with a certain sense and reference Second it is to perform an illocutionary act ie to use these with a certain conventionally established force And third it is to perform a perlocutionary act This means an act bringing about certain intentional or unintentional effects Together these three components constitute what Austin calls a speech act a category under which he subsumes such varied actions as promising apologizing threatening predicting betting appraising marrying and pronouncingThese distinctions provide the foundation for Austin's greatest philosophical conjuring trick For it turns out that the descriptive statements held up by the logical positivists as the form of all language use are in fact but one variety of speech act namely describing or stating They are but one of the multiple linguistic activities that we perform in everyday life Most importantly they do not possess any conceptual priority over others From this point of view truth is but one form of felicity condition namely that which belongs to descriptive utterance But in fact Austin goes further Not only is truth but one form of a condition of acceptability but most utterances made in everyday life are not descriptive in the philosophical sense at all Many apparently descriptive uses of language operate with very different acceptability conditions Consider the claim that Italy is shaped like a boot Is it true? Is it false? Continental thinkers like to complain that Anglo American philosophy is ahistorical One of the things they mean by this is that philosophers in the analytic tradition are often insufficiently aware of the history of their own discipline Wasn't it Wittgenstein who used to brag about never having read Aristotle? The joke is on them though because analytic philosophy is by now old enough to have its own history and Austin's How to Do Things With Words no doubt belongs in the Parthenon of its great works Admittedly Austin's argument is needlessly convoluted and could easily have been made straightforwardly in 20 pages or so However confusion in form by no means entails confusion in content Although later revisions of speech act theory – notably by John Searle and Jürgen Habermas – are sometimes convincing there can be no doubt while reading Austin that something of crucial importance is happening And therein lies the irony of the accusation of ahistoricity Far from simply ignoring the traditional concerns of philosophy figures like Austin uite consciously revised reinterpreted and reinvented them with a creativity that has seldom been paralleled in the history of ideas
J.L. Austin Á How to Do Things with Words Ebook
Me the classic How to Do Things with WordsFor this second edition the editors have returned to Austin's original lecture notes amending the printed text where it seemed necessary Students will find the new text clearer and at the same time fait Just finished reading this again for the nth time for class tomorrow I love this book but it really could be 40 pages long September 3 2010Rereading this I was most struck by 1 how absurdly funny and delightful Austin's prose is a specialist in the sui generis; we can insincerely promise to give a donkey a carrot we may seem to have armed ourselves with two shiny new concepts with which to crack the crib of Reality etc etc and yet2 how weirdly legalistic most of this book is And I'm left really wishing that Austin would have given an example illustrating how the truth or falsity of a statement depends not merely on the meanings of words but on what act you were performing in what circumstances Obviously the truth of a statement depends on the circumstances but how does the truth of a statement depend on what act you were performing? Moreover he says a statement IS a kind of illocutionary act so how could the truth of an act depend on what act you were performing with it?
Pdf · How to Do Things with Words Á J.L. Austin
How to Do Things with WordsHful to the actual lectures An appendix contains literal transcriptions of a number of marginal notes made by Austin but not included in the text Comparison of the text with these annotations provides new dimensions to the study of Austin's wor Austin has been critisized by many philosophers for not being philosophical enough and as much as I can see their point I have to defend Austin At the point that Austin gave these lectures anglo american philosophy was full of so much nonsense largely due to Frege's bizarre vocabulary or possibly bad translations and Russell ridiculous mathematical approach to things that just don't fit into euationsI don't think that this book is of a very high philosophical content but I think that philosophy has benefited with the help of Searle from Austin's theoretically linguistic approachAlso this is one of the enjoyable reads in the world of modern philosophy if a bit pedantic