Speaking as Action

Speaking as Action

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

In the English-speaking world, philosophy has for the most part been dealing with language alone, and meaning, sign, and truth have become prime concerns; however, after the honeymoon period, more and more people in the world of professional philosophers began to think that there was an approach that was too narrow, prone to tumble into scholasticism.

While A. J. Ayer described J.L Austin’s work as bland, many of his colleagues agreed. Among today’s analytic philosophers there is also a vast array of issues that lie outside the confines of difficult analytical techniques, logic, and language—more precisely, problems of the more traditional kind, as well as a vast array of issues that philosophers rarely addressed in the past, including social politics in the area of ​​race and gender, music, and sexuality. There is an increasing trend towards implementation in the field.

However, this approach continues to analyze the modal utterance modes and concepts used in these fields today. It should not be unfair to Austin; It has given philosophy a very fruitful thought: speaking as action. According to Austin, when we say something, we also do something: we describe, deny, encourage, command, ask, suggest, explain, warn, etc. it’s almost impossible to talk without doing these things, and Austin claims that there can be thousands of different actions that people perform using words. He would usually begin his analysis by asking: “What could someone who says this be doing? And in what situations can the word be used?” If a situation cannot be imagined in which that expression could be used, the word has no meaning, according to Austin. One type of speech-act, which he called ‘demonstrative enunciation’, was particularly expressive of people’s imagination; Phrases such as “thank you”, “congratulations”, “I promise” and “I’m sorry” are expressions that perform the actions they describe.

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