A Priori Concepts and Meanings of WordsJune 27, 2021
Austin’s “Are there A Priori Concepts?” His work, entitled, contains a critique of idealism in general. Austin’s strategy here does not directly target a priori concepts. First of all, it deals with the concept of “concept” and draws attention to the problems related to this concept itself.
The article discusses some proofs of universals. One argument used by those who advocate the existence of universals is as follows: Since we use words such as “gray” or “circular” when we encounter different grays and different shapes, the single word in question must have something to indicate. Also, since we encounter different things in different situations in which we use words such as gray and circular, the universals to which these words refer should not themselves be felt.
Austin argues that first of all, universals are defined in terms of their relation to particulars. He then argues that the mere fact that we use the words “gray” and “circular” as if they were naming things is not enough to show that something named exists. He criticizes the treatment of words essentially as proper nouns. He argues that just because the word used is one and the same does not necessitate that the thing referred to be one and identical.
In the second part of his work, Austin expands his critique of universals to include concepts. “Do we have such a concept?” or “How do we have that concept?” It states that questions like these are meaningless, because concepts are not “possessed” things.
In the final part of his work, Austin expands the discussion to include relations. He puts forward arguments in which he criticizes views that there is such a thing as correlation.
In his article titled “The Meaning of a Word,” Austin opposes approaches that associate philosophy with trying to determine the meaning of words. There is no simple and easy way to identify a word as the “meaning of word X”. Austin draws particular attention to the errors caused by pulling words out of context in their everyday usage.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook