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When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy

ISBN-13: 978-0674055223
ISBN-10: 0674055225
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Editorial Reviews


Austin, Wittgenstein and the so-called "ordinary language" tradition in philosophy are at risk of being lost. Not because they have fallen prey to clinching philosophical arguments, but because for over twenty-five years they have suffered from caricature, dogmatism, neglect, and all-too-facile dismissal by those who would pronounce their teachings dead for contemporary philosophy. Baz has written a courageous, lucid, trenchant, and provocative book, reopening the issue and developing a new outlook on the tradition's value and prospects. It is filled with questions about history, argumentation, and philosophical method that need answering. If I had to recommend one text showing how fundamental questions of philosophical method still lie at the heart of the analytic tradition, it would be this one. (Juliet Floyd, Boston University)

The effort of this book in defense of ordinary language philosophy will have a more positive effect on the field of philosophy than any other theoretical defense of the practice that I am aware of. This book has a chance to bring distinct new interest to some of the most interesting (and I hope permanently inspiring) moments of advance in philosophy over the course of the past six or seven decades. (Stanley Cavell, Harvard University)

This is a revolutionary book―certainly within the context of mainstream analytic philosophy. But its appeal should be wider than the admittedly narrow circle of professional philosophers. Indeed, it addresses a popular dissatisfaction with philosophy; namely, that philosophical arguments are often seen as beside the point, 'detached from life' and unsatisfying… Baz believes that philosophers tend to divorce their words from reality. His view is that we make sense only when we speak in virtue of such a connection… Baz is trying to build a persuasive case for a perspective in which philosophical 'difficulties lose their apparent force.' He has given us a radical, subtle and patient account of an alternative to how much of philosophy proceeds today. (Craig Fox Times Higher Education 2012-07-12)

A serious challenge to the prevailing but misguided assumption that linguistic and conceptual explorations can't tell us anything about the nature of things...It is exciting to see ordinary language philosophy being taken seriously again in these dark philosophical times. (Constantine Sandis Times Higher Education 2013-02-07)

About the Author

Avner Baz is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He has written about ethics, aesthetics, perception, judgment, and about the question of philosophical method in the works of Kant, Wittgenstein, Cavell, and John McDowell

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