Gilbert Ryle: Everyday Language and Logic

Gilbert Ryle: Everyday Language and Logic

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Ryle argues that philosophy should focus on everyday language, and in this context, he is an everyday language philosopher. On the other hand, the statements that philosophers are expected to examine may contain highly technical aspects, depending on the subject they are interested in.

When we think that a philosopher is interested in the philosophy of mathematics, law or biology, the details awaiting the philosopher in each of them appear more clearly. If we use everyday language in its non-technical sense, we have to admit that some philosophers do philosophy based on everyday language, but another group of philosophers must philosophize in a non-literary way. Philosophers, on the other hand, must be able to speak in a more general and non-specialist language about their field of interest, without losing themselves in a specialized and technical language. Comparing different theories in a technical field, showing their relations and even associating a field with other technical fields necessitates the use of such a language.

Everyday language-based philosophy makes the language in question by focusing on the use of words in general rather than the meaning of technical terms themselves. According to Ryle, philosophers focus on how words work.

In Ryle’s eyes, philosophers focus on the informal logic of their use of expressions. Philosophers trying to create formal languages ​​such as Principia Mathematica think that arguments can be resolved, according to Ryle, by moving them from the area in which they originally arose into a formalized language. However, according to Ryle, the expressions in everyday language and the sciences, and the expressions in the languages ​​they created cannot be adequately represented in formal languages ​​with proper complete idioms. Therefore, thinking that a solution to philosophical problems can be found in a formal language is nothing but a “formalists’ dream”.

This does not mean that formal notations are completely unnecessary. Formal languages ​​can help philosophers, just as chess helps generals. However, formal language can never replace discourse that does not contain formal notation. “Back to the everyday language!” The slogan states that we must wake up from formalist dreams (“Ordinary Language”, p.316).

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