Linguistic Philosophy

Discipline: Philosophy

Also called ordinary language philosophy.

A philosophical movement arising after World War II and lasting until the early 1960s (not to be confused with the philosophical subject called philosophy of language).

A leading exponent was John Langshaw Austin (1911-1960).

Partly as a reaction against the constraints of logical positivism, and influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein's (1889-1951) slogan 'meaning is use', it insisted that philosophy should confine itself to analyzing concepts, words, and ways of speaking (conceptual analysis) and should not, like logical positivism, dictate the limits of meaningfulness.

It should study actual linguistic practice in subjects like metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, religion, and so on, non-censoriously, taking them at their own valuation and not pronouncing on substantive issues in these subjects.

It should, for example, ask what 'right' and 'wrong' mean, but not what things are right and wrong.

Though permissive towards non-philosophers where logical positivism had been constrictive, it was accused of being constrictive in its own activities, refusing to enter the arena and encouraging an 'anything goes' attitude, especially in ethics.

Source:
J L Austin, Collected Papers (1961)

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