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Linguistic Turns, 1890-1950Writing on Language as Social Theory$
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Ken Hirschkop

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198745778

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198745778.001.0001

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High Anxiety, Becalmed Language

High Anxiety, Becalmed Language

Ordinary Language Philosophy

(Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin)

(p.247) 8 High Anxiety, Becalmed Language
Linguistic Turns, 1890-1950

Ken Hirschkop

Oxford University Press

Chapter 8 looks at ‘linguistic philosophy’ in middle and late Wittgenstein and in J. L. Austin. In ordinary language philosophy, myth emerged not from charismatic demagogues but from the fervid minds of scientistic intellectuals. Wittgenstein and Austin share the conviction that ‘language as such’ is the antidote to the metaphysical entanglements that arise from this scientism. But this ordinary version of ‘language as such’ is not simply present to the naked eye and ear, but is only available as the end result of strategies of philosophical clarification, which make language a manifestation of life. The chapter therefore focuses on Wittgenstein’s idea of the perspicuous representation and Austin’s techniques of drawing out distinctions. It turns out that clarification is an ambiguous exercise: Wittgenstein’s belief that ‘language always works’ runs aground when he compares language to music, which, it turns out, doesn’t work, at least not in the twentieth century.

Keywords:   Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L Austin, ordinary language philosophy, analytic philosophy, myth, music, modernism

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