linguistic philosophy

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linguistic philosophy

The latter is more common.

Linguistic Philosophy


(philosophy of linguistic analysis, ordinary language philosophy), a school of analytic philosophy that originated in the 1930’s and developed in Great Britain (G. Ryle, J. Austin, J. Wisdom, M. MacDonald). It has influenced philosophers in the USA (M. Black, N. Malcolm), Australia, and the Scandinavian countries.

Being a Neopositivist school, linguistic philosophy denies that philosophy’s task is to present an integrated world view and regards traditional philosophical problems as pseudo-problems that arise as a result of the disorienting influence of language on thought. Unlike the adherents of the philosophy of logical analysis—another variety of analytic philosophy—the linguistic philosophers consider that the task of the philosopher-analyst is not to reform language in accordance with some logical norm but rather to provide a detailed analysis of the actual use of natural spoken language with the aim of eliminating the misunderstandings which arise as a result of the incorrect usage of language. In particular, according to linguistic philosophy, such an analysis leads to a clarification of the causes underlying the formulation of philosophical problems; these problems supposedly result from the incorrect extension of ordinary word usage.

Objecting to preoccupation with technicalities in philosophy, that is, a preoccupation with the use of a specialized conceptual apparatus, and upholding the “purity” of natural-language usage, linguistic philosophy resolutely opposes scientism in philosophy, especially the scientism of the logical positivists.

The ideas of linguistic philosophy were first expressed in the 1930’s by the Cambridge school of the followers of G. Moore and the later Wittgenstein. In the late 1940’s, the philosophers of the Oxford school (G. Ryle, J. Austin, P. Strawson) gained in influence; while opposing all tendencies toward the unification of language, they emphasized the diversity of linguistic phenomena and of the methods of using linguistic expressions.

In spite of the unsoundness of linguistic philosophy as a philosophical trend on the whole, the work of the linguistic philosophers has proved valuable in the analysis of the logical structure of ordinary language and the study of its semantic possibilities.


Gellner, E. Slova i veshchi. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)
Begiashvili, A. F. Sovremennaia angliiskaia lingvisticheskaia filosofiia. Tbilisi, 1965.
Hill, T. E. Sovremennye teorii poznaniia. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Black, M. Problems of Analysis. Ithaca, 1954.
The Revolution in Philosophy. Edited by G. Ryle. London, 1956.
Charlesworth, M. J. Philosophy and Linguistic Analysis. Pittsburgh, 1959.


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