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Encyclopedia > J. L. Austin
Western Philosophy
20th-century philosophy

Name It has been suggested that Contemporary philosophy be merged into this article or section. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ...

John Langshaw Austin

Birth

March 28, 1911 is the 87th day of the year (88th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1911 (MCMXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ...

Death

February 8, 1960 (aged 48) is the 39th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

School/tradition

Linguistic philosophy, Analytic philosophy Ordinary language philosophy is less a philosophical doctrine or school than it is a loose network of approaches to traditional philosophical problems. ... Analytic philosophy (sometimes, analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. ...

Main interests

Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind, Ethics, Ordinary language philosophy Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. ... A phrenological mapping of the brain. ... For other uses, see Ethics (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

Notable ideas

Speech acts, Intentionality A speech act is an action performed by means of language, such as describing something (), asking a question (Is it snowing?), making a request or order (Could you pass the salt?, Drop your weapon or Ill shoot you!), or making a promise () For much of the history of linguistics... Intentionality, originally a concept from scholastic philosophy, was reintroduced in contemporary philosophy by the philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano in his work Psychologie vom Empirischen Standpunkte. ...

Influences

Moore, Russell, Ryle George Edward Moore George Edward Moore, also known as G.E. Moore, (November 4, 1873 - October 24, 1958) was a distinguished and hugely influential English philosopher who was educated and taught at the University of Cambridge. ... Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, and pacifist. ... Gilbert Ryle (born August 19, 1900 in Brighton, died October 6, 1976 in Oxford), was a philosopher, and a representative of the generation of British ordinary language philosophers influenced by Wittgensteins insights into language, and is principally known for his critique of Cartesian dualism, for which he coined the...

Influenced

Searle, Hare, Butler, Lyotard, Habermas, Cavell John Rogers Searle (born July 31, 1932 in Denver, Colorado) is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and is noted for contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and consciousness, on the characteristics of socially constructed versus physical realities, and on practical reason. ... R.M. Hare Richard Mervyn Hare (March 21, 1919 – January 29, 2002) was an English moral philosopher, who held the post of Whites Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford from 1966 until 1983. ... Image:J Butler. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Jürgen Habermas (IPA: ; born June 18, 1929) is a German philosopher and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory and American pragmatism. ... Stanley Cavell (born September 1, 1926) of Brookline, Massachusetts is an American philosopher. ...

John Langshaw Austin (March 28, 1911February 8, 1960) was a British philosopher of language, born in Lancaster and educated at Balliol College, Oxford University. Austin is widely associated with the concept of the speech act and the idea that speech is itself a form of action. His work in the 1950s provided the early underpinnings for the modern theory of speech acts developed subsequently by the Oxford-educated American philosopher John R. Searle. French philosopher Jacques Derrida also developed a theory of speech acts based on Austin's work. is the 87th day of the year (88th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1911 (MCMXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... is the 39th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. ... Lancaster is a city within Lancashire, in North West England. ... and of the Balliol College College name Balliol College Named after John de Balliol Established 1263 Sister college St Johns College, Cambridge Master Andrew Graham JCR President Helen Lochead Undergraduates 403 MCR President Chelsea Payne Graduates 228 Location of Balliol College within central Oxford , Homepage Boatclub Balliol College (pronounced... The notion speech act is a technical term in linguistics and the philosophy of language. ... John Searle is a philosopher at UC Berkeley. ... Jacques Derrida (IPA: in French [1], in English ) (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French philosopher, known as the founder of deconstruction. ...


After serving in MI6 during World War II, Austin became White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford. He occupies a place in philosophy of language alongside Wittgenstein in staunchly advocating the examination of the way words are used in order to elucidate meaning. Unlike many ordinary language philosophers, however, Austin disavowed any overt indebtedness to Wittgenstein's later philosophy.[1] His main influence, he said, was the exact and exacting common-sense philosophy of G. E. Moore. The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), more commonly known as MI6 (originally Military Intelligence Section 6), or the Secret Service, is the United Kingdom external security agency. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Endowed in 1621 by Thomas White (c. ... The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University), located in the city of Oxford, England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (IPA: ) (April 26, 1889 in Vienna, Austria – April 29, 1951 in Cambridge, England) was an Austrian philosopher who contributed several ground-breaking ideas to philosophy, primarily in the foundations of logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind. ... In linguistics, meaning is the content carried by the words or signs exchanged by people when communicating through language. ... George Edward Moore George Edward Moore, also known as G.E. Moore, (November 4, 1873 - October 24, 1958) was a distinguished and hugely influential English philosopher who was educated and taught at the University of Cambridge. ...


He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1956 to 1957. The Aristotelian Society for the Systematic Study of Philosophy (more generally known as the Aristotelian Society) was founded at a meeting on 19 April 1880[1] which resolved to constitute a society of about twenty and to include ladies; the society to meet fortnightly, on Mondays at 8 oclock...

Contents

How to Do Things With Words

How to Do Things With Words is perhaps Austin's most influential work. In it he attacks what was at his time a predominant account in philosophy, namely, the view that the chief business of sentences is to state facts, and thus to be true or false based on the truth or falsity of those facts. In contrast to this common view, he argues, truth-evaluable sentences form only a small part of the range of utterances. After introducing several kinds of sentences which he assumes are indeed not truth-evaluable, he turns in particular to one of these kinds of sentences, which he deems performative utterances. These he characterises by two features: In linguistics, a sentence is a unit of language, characterized in most languages by the presence of a finite verb. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Performative. ...

  • First, to utter one of these sentences is not just to "say" something, but rather to perform a certain kind of action.
  • Second, these sentences are not true or false; rather, when something goes wrong in connection with the utterance then the utterance is, as he puts it, "infelicitous", or "unhappy."

The action which performative sentences 'perform' when they are uttered belongs to what Austin later calls a speech act (more particularly, the kind of action Austin has in mind is what he subsequently terms the illocutionary act). For example, if you say “I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth," and the circumstances are appropriate in certain ways, then you will have done something special, namely, you will have performed the act of naming the ship. Other examples include: "I take this man as my lawfully wedded husband," used in the course of a marriage ceremony, or "I bequeath this watch to my brother," as occurring in a will. In all three cases the sentence is not being used to describe or state what one is 'doing', but being used to actually 'do' it. The notion speech act is a technical term in linguistics and the philosophy of language. ... Illocutionary act is a technical term introduced by John L. Austin in investigations concerning what he calls performative and constative utterances. According to Austins original exposition in How to Do Things With Words, an illocutionary act is an act (1) for the performance of which I must make it...


After numerous attempts to find more characteristics of performatives, and after having met with many difficulties, Austin makes what he calls a "fresh start", in which he considers "more generally the senses in which to say something may be to do something, or in saying something we do something".


For example: John Smith turns to Sue Snub and says ‘Is Jeff’s shirt red?’, to which Sue replies ‘Yes’. John has produced a series of bodily movements which result in the production of a certain sound. Austin called such a performance a phonetic act, and called the act a phone. John’s utterance also conforms to the lexical and grammatical conventions of English – that is, John has produced an English sentence. Austin called this a phatic act, and labels such utterances phemes. John also referred to Jeff’s shirt, and to the colour red. To use a pheme with a more or less definite sense and reference is to utter a rheme, and to perform a rhetic act. Note that rhemes are a sub-class of phemes, which in turn are a sub-class of phones. One cannot perform a rheme without also performing a pheme and a phone. The performance of these three acts is the performance of a locution – it is the act of saying something. In linguistics, a phatic expression is one whose only function is to perform a social task. ... In Greek mythology, Pheme (Φημη) (Roman equivalent: Fama) was the personification of fame and renown, her favour being fame, her wrath being scandalous rumors. ... Rheme may refer to: Relative term, a concept in logic. ...


John has therefore performed a locutionary act. He has also done at least two other things. He has asked a question, and he has elicited an answer from Sue.


Asking a question is an example of what Austin called an illocutionary act. Other examples would be making an assertion, giving an order, and promising to do something. To perform an illocutionary act is to use a locution with a certain force. It is an act performed in saying something, in contrast with a locution, the act of saying something. Illocutionary act is a technical term introduced by John L. Austin in investigations concerning what he calls performative and constative utterances. According to Austins original exposition in How to Do Things With Words, an illocutionary act is an act (1) for the performance of which I must make it...


Eliciting an answer is an example of what Austin calls a perlocutionary act, an act performed by saying something. Notice that if one successfully performs a perlocution, one also succeeds in performing both an illocution and a locution. A perlocutionary act is any speech act that amounts to persuading, convincing, scaring, enlightening, inspiring, or otherwise getting someone to do or realize something. ...


In the theory of speech acts, attention has especially focused on the illocutionary act, much less on the locutionary and perlocutionary act, and only rarely on the subdivision of the locution into phone, pheme and rheme.


Sense and Sensibilia

In the posthumously published Sense and sensibilia -- the title is an allusion to the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen -- Austin criticises sense-data theories of perception, particularly that of Alfred Jules Ayer in The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge. Austin argues that Ayer fails to understand the proper function of words such as "illusion", "hallucination", "looks", "appears" and "seems". He argues that these words allow us to express reservations about our commitment to the truth of what we are saying, and that the introduction of sense-data adds nothing to our understanding of or ability to talk about what we see. Ayer responded to this critique in the essay "Has Austin refuted the sense-data theory?". For other uses, see Sense and Sensibility (disambiguation). ... 1870 engraving of Jane Austen, based on a portrait commissioned by her nephew for his 1870 Memoir of Jane Austen Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. ... The concept of sense data (singular: sense datum) is very influential and widely used in the philosophy of perception. ... Alfred Jules Ayer (October 29, 1910 _ June 27, 1989), better known as simply A. J. Ayer (and called Freddie by friends), was a philosopher who helped popularise logical positivism in English-speaking countries in his books Language, Truth and Logic (1936) and The Problem of Knowledge (1956). ...

Foreword -- Having taken a course from Austin on this topic at Oxford in 1947, Sir Geoffrey Warnock (1923-95) says he put Austin's fragmentary lecture notes into sentence form, with the help of class notes from later students of the course, and claims to relate faithfully Austin's "argument" though not his exact wording.
Chapter 1 -- Austin intends to debunk a theory of sense perception that dates back thousands of years and picks recent expressions of it by Ayer, Price, and Warnock, because they express it fairly clearly. The theory states that we never see or directly perceive material objects but only sense-data or sense perceptions. Rather than start with the varied things we see -- say, pens, rainbows, and after-images -- philosophers tend to ask facilely for a general kind of thing and wind up unfair to the facts and to language while using "a certain special, happy style of blinkering philosophical English," Austin says.

Philosophical Papers

Austin's papers were collected and published posthumously as Philosophical Papers by J. O. Urmson and Geoffrey Warnock. The book originally contained ten papers, two more being added in the second edition and one in the third. Sir Geoffrey Warnock was a philosopher and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. ...


Are there A Priori Concepts?

This early paper contains a broad criticism of Idealism. The question set dealing with the existence of a priori concepts is treated only indirectly, by dismissing the concept of concept that underpins it. This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedias quality standards. ... The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish between two different types of propositional knowledge. ...


The first part of this paper takes the form of a reply to an argument for the existence of Universals: from observing that we do use words such as "grey" or "circular" and that we use a single term in each case, it follows that there must be a something that is named by such terms - a universal. Furthermore, since each case of "grey" or "circular" is different, it follows that universals themselves cannot be sensed. Universals (used as a noun) are either properties, relations, or types, but not classes. ...


Austin carefully dismantles this argument, and in the process other transcendental arguments. He points out first that universals are not "something we stumble across", and that that they are defined by their relation to particulars. He continues by pointing out that, from the observation that we use "grey" and "circular" as if they were the names of things, it simply does not follow that there is something that is named. In the process he dismisses the notion that "words are essentially proper names", asking "...why, if 'one identical' word is used, must there be 'one identical object' present which it denotes". Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. ...


In the second part of the article, he generalises this argument against universals to address concepts as a whole. He points out that it is "facile" to treat concepts as if they were "an article of property". Such questions as "Do we possess such-and-such a concept" and "how do we come to possess such-and-such a concept" are meaningless, because concepts are not the sort of thing that one possesses. For other uses, see Concept (disambiguation). ...


In the final part of the paper, Austin further extends the discussion to relations, presenting a series of arguments to reject the idea that there is some thing that is a relation.


The Meaning of a Word

His paper The Meaning of a Word is a polemic against doing philosophy by attempting to pin down the meaning of the words used; for 'there is no simple and handy appendage of a word called "the meaning of the word (x)"'. Austin warns us to take care when removing words from their ordinary usage, giving numerous examples of how this can lead to error. For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ...


A Plea For Excuses

A Plea For Excuses is both a demonstration by example, and a defense of, linguistic philosophy:

...our common stock of words embodies all the distinctions men have found worth drawing, and the connections they have found worth marking, in the lifetime of many generations: these surely are likely to be more numerous, more sound, since they have stood up to the long test of survival of the fittest, and more subtle, at least in all ordinary and reasonable practical matters, than any that you or I are likely to think up in our armchair of an afternoon – the most favorite alternative method.[2]

Austin proposes some curious philosophical tools. For instance, he uses a sort of word game for developing an understanding of a key concept. This involves taking up a dictionary and finding a selection of terms relating to the key concept, then looking up each of the words in the explanation of their meaning. This process is iterated until the list of words begins to repeat, closing in a “family circle” of words relating to the key concept.


References

Books

  • Sense and sensibilia. 1959. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1964.
  • Philosophical Papers. Ed. J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1961, 1979.
  • How to do things with Words: The William James Lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1955. Ed. J. O. Urmson. Oxford: Clarendon, 1962. ISBN 0674411528

Sense and Sensibilia is a landmark 1950s work of ordinary language philosophy by J. L. Austin, Oxford Professor of Philosophy. ...

Papers

  • "How to Talk: Some Simple Ways", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol.53, (1953), pp.227-246.
  • "Other Minds". In Austin, J.L. (Urmson, J.O. & Warnock, G.J. eds.) Philosophical Papers, Oxford University Press, (Oxford), 1961 [Originally published in 1946].
  • Performative Utterances In Austin, Philosophical Papers. Ed. J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock. Oxford, 1961.
  • "A Plea for Excuses". In Austin, Philosophical Papers. Ed. J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock. Oxford, 1961.
  • Performative-Constative. In The Philosophy of Language. Ed. John R. Searle. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1971. 13-22.
  • "Three Ways of Spilling Ink", The Philosophical Review, Vol.75, No.4, (October 1966), pp.427-440.

In translation

  • Otras mentes. In Austin, Ensayos filosóficos. Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1975. 87-117.
  • Un alegato en pro de las excusas. In Austin, Ensayos filosóficos. Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1975. 169-92.
  • Quand dire c'est faire Éditions du Seuil, Paris. Traduction française de "How to do things with words" par Gilles Lane, 1970.
  • Palabras y acciones: Cómo hacer cosas con palabras. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1971.
  • Cómo hacer cosas con palabras.: Palabras y acciones. Barcelona: Paidós, 1982.
  • Performativo-Constativo. In Gli atti linguistici. Aspetti e problemi di filosofia del linguagio. Milano: Feltrinelli, 1978. 49-60.
  • Ensayos filosóficos. Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1975.

See also

For the journal, see Linguistics (journal). ... Pragmatics is the study of the ability of natural language speakers to communicate more than that which is explicitly stated. ... John Rogers Searle (born July 31, 1932 in Denver, Colorado) is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and is noted for contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and consciousness, on the characteristics of socially constructed versus physical realities, and on practical reason. ... Adolf Bernhard Philipp Reinach (December 23, 1883, Mainz, Germany - November 16, 1917, Diksmuide, Belgium), German philosopher, phenomenologist (from the Munich phenomenology current) and law theorist. ...

Notes

  1. ^ The Wittgenstein scholar A. C. Grayling (Wittgenstein, Oxford University Press, (Oxford), 1988, p.114) is certain that, despite the fact that Wittgenstein’s work might have possibly played some "second or third-hand [part in the promotion of] the philosophical concern for language which was dominant in the mid-century", neither Gilbert Ryle nor any of those in the so-called "Ordinary language philosophy" school that is chiefly associated with J. L. Austin (and, according to Grayling, G. E. Moore, C. D. Broad, Bertrand Russell and A. J. Ayer) were Wittgensteinians. More significantly, Grayling asserts that "most of them were largely unaffected by Wittgenstein’s later ideas, and some were actively hostile to them".
  2. ^ A Plea for excuses, in Austin, J. L., Philosophical Papers, p. 182

Anthony Clifford Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSA (born 3 April 1949) is a British philosopher and author. ... Gilbert Ryle (born August 19, 1900 in Brighton, died October 6, 1976 in Oxford), was a philosopher, and a representative of the generation of British ordinary language philosophers influenced by Wittgensteins insights into language, and is principally known for his critique of Cartesian dualism, for which he coined the... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... George Edward Moore George Edward Moore, also known as G.E. Moore, (November 4, 1873 - October 24, 1958) was a distinguished and hugely influential English philosopher who was educated and taught at the University of Cambridge. ... Charlie Dunbar Broad (known as C. D. Broad) (30 December 1887 - 11 March 1971) was an English philosopher known for his thorough and objective analysis in works such as Scientific Thought (1930) and Examination of McTaggarts Philosophy (1933). ... Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, and pacifist. ... Alfred Jules Ayer (October 29, 1910 - June 27, 1989), better known as simply A. J. Ayer (and called Freddie by friends), was a British philosopher. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
J. L. Austin

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Related reading

  • Kirkham, Richard (Reprint edition: March 2, 1995). Theories of Truth. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-61108-2. Originally published 1992. Chapter 4 contains a detailed discussion of Austin's theory of truth.
  • Fann, K.T. ed. Symposium on J.L. Austin. New York: Routledge, 1969.
Persondata
NAME Austin, John Langshaw
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Austin, J. L.
SHORT DESCRIPTION English philosopher
DATE OF BIRTH March 28, 1911
PLACE OF BIRTH Lancaster
DATE OF DEATH February 8, 1960
PLACE OF DEATH

  Results from FactBites:
 
J. L. Austin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (800 words)
John Langshaw Austin (March 28, 1911 – February 8, 1960) was a philosopher of language, who developed much of the current theory of speech acts.
Austin warns us to take care when removing words from their ordinary usage, giving numerous examples of how this can lead one down a philosophical garden path.
Austin points out that philosophers of language gave most of their attention to those sentences which state some fact, but that these form only a small part of the range of tasks that can be performed by saying something.
John Langshaw Austin - Wikipedia (800 words)
Austin warf den Philosophen vor, sie hätten sich nur mit dem logischen Apekt von Äußerungen befasst und dabei übersehen, dass eine Äußerung immer zugleich eine Handlung darstellt.
Austin nimmt sich auch Russels berühmtes Beispiel "Der gegenwärtige König von Frankreich ist kahlköpfig" vor.
Austin widerlegt Russel indem er sagt, dieser versoße gegen die Vorbedingung oder Eingangsbedingung dieser Äußerung, indem er über etwas eine Aussage tätigt, das nicht existiert.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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