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Lecture: Ordinary Language Philosophy

May 14 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Ordinary Language Philosophy: a meta-philosophical critique of the language of philosophy, taught by Bryan Berry, PhD.

In the 20th century, philosophy in the English-speaking world underwent what is now referred to as the ‘linguistic turn,’ wherein meta-philosophical concerns surrounding the language of philosophy gained new stakes. Beyond being merely one subject among others for philosophy, language increasingly became entwined with the whole philosophical enterprise, since, after all, language is the medium of philosophy. The linguistic turn has its roots in logical positivism and developments in formal logic in the late 19th/early 20th century. The trend was to take the mathematical purity of formal logic as a model for language more generally, with the hope that this ideal language would clarify philosophical problems of its own accord.

In response to this trend that makes formal logic its ideal, ordinary language philosophy attempts to bring philosophy back into its human context, insisting that language is intimately tied to human life, to how we use our words and concepts. This post-positivistic gesture is in a way related to earlier forms of pragmatism, but the ground has shifted. Ordinary language stands in contrast both to metaphysical language (skepticism) and to formal logic (ideal language).

This lecture will focus on J.L. Austin and the later Wittgenstein, particularly as read by Stanley Cavell in his book Must We Mean What We Say? There will also be a tie-in from my previous lecture on Kant, since Cavell argues that the claims made by Austin and Wittgenstein about ordinary language are similar to what Kant says about judgments of value: they are claims to subjective universality.


May 14
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


ENSO Winery
1416 Southeast Stark Street
Portland, US
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