Austin, J(ohn) L(angshaw)

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Austin, J(ohn) L(angshaw)

biographical name

(born March 28, 1911, Lancaster, Lancashire, Eng.—died Feb. 8, 1960, Oxford) British philosopher. He taught at Oxford from 1945 until his death. He was a leading member of the “ordinary language,” or “Oxford,” movement of analytic philosophy, which was characterized by its belief that philosophical problems frequently arise through inattention to or misunderstandings of ordinary uses of language; accordingly, such problems can be resolved through consideration of the ordinary uses of the terms by which the relevant philosophical concepts are expressed. Ordinary-language analyses by Austin and his followers frequently took the form of asking “what one would say” in various concrete situations. Austin was also the inventor of speech act theory, through which he attempted to account for the various “performative” aspects of conveyed linguistic meaning. Several of his essays and lectures were published posthumously in Philosophical Papers (1961), Sense and Sensibilia (1962), and How to Do Things with Words (1962). See also analytic philosophy.

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