|now THIS is an academic paragraph||ColnagoFE|
Sep 8, 2003 7:58 AM
|from an essay by someone named Robin Allott on Language and Evolution:
...If logical atomism and logical positivism had proved unconvincing as methods of using language for philosophic purposes, the next step was overtly less ambitious but potentially more fruitful, that is, the development of the 'ordinary language' school (chiefly in Oxford). This was based on two main ideas: first, that ordinary language is more subtle and less confused than the earlier linguistic philosophers had supposed and something could be learnt from the study of use in ordinary language of key terms in philosophy. Austin was the principal exponent of this method and indeed went so far as to believe that philosophy was on the point of giving birth to a new science of language, through a systematic study of the functioning of colloquial language. The second main idea was that many of the problems of philosophers derive from their own misuse of ordinary terms in language; in particular, Ryle's position was that if one corrected the misuse of words like 'know' and 'mind', charted the logical geography of 'believe', 'doubt', 'infer' and so on, misconstructions and absurd theories would be revealed and many so-called philosophical problems would disappear, taking with them the 'ghost in the machine' which philosophers had constructed for themselves from the use of the word 'mind'(5). Beside the optimistic view of the 'ordinary language' approach to philosophy, there was also a pessimistic view, espoused by the later Wittgenstein, after he had rejected the earlier certainties of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; he saw the main problem in philosophy as being to escape from the 'bewitchment' of philosophy by language and at the same time the need to disabuse philosophers of their belief that philosophy could in reality achieve any substantial results. The insignificance of language for philosophy he explained through developing his view of 'language games', that the meaning of a word is no more and no less than the way it is used (in effect a symbolic convention within a particular group or community). Philosophy, according to the later Wittgenstein, is not a theory (or a system of theories) but just one kind of activity; its object is simply to help to clarify one's thoughts; it has no application to reality and it is meaningless to enquire whether one's conceptual scheme mirrors reality correctly or not(6). At best, on this pessimistic view, linguistic analysis is a therapy to correct disordered thought and to recover from the intellectual malaise which an addiction to philosophy constitutes. But in the end Wittgenstein was uncertain whether even this pessimistic conclusion was correct; in his last work, published posthumously under the title 'On Certainty' (and largely concerned with the nature of 'knowing'), amongst a variety of scattered thoughts he included: "If you tried to doubt everything you would not get as far as doubting anything. The game of doubting presupposes certainty" and "Our knowledge forms an enormous system. And only within this system has a particular bit the value we give it"(7) - which seems to imply a final reconversion to the significance of philosophy as the enterprise in the sense of seeking to understand the world.
|A Philosopher with a sense of humour.||Jon Billheimer|
Sep 8, 2003 9:56 AM
|I love Wittgenstein's notion of linguistic analysis as a remedy for disordered thought. Priceless! That philosophy has no application to reality is also the perfect rebuttal to the Cartesian notion that if you think hard enough you can actually figure things out:)-|
|Boil it all down and what he's really trying to say is...||rwbadley|
Sep 8, 2003 10:16 AM
|Would you like fries with that?
Oct 3, 2003 8:10 AM