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    j. l. austin Quotes

    I feel ruefully sure, also, that one must be at least one sort of fool to rush in over ground so well trodden by the angels.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: angel  fools 
     
    Are cans constitutionally iffy? Whenever, that is, we say that we can do something, or could do something, or could have done something, is there an if in the offing-suppressed, it may be, but due nevertheless to appear when we set out our sentence in full or when we give an explanation of its meaning?
    — J. L. Austin
    I begin, then, with some remarks about 'the meaning of a word.' I think many persons now see all or part of what I shall say: but not all do, and there is a tendency to forget, or to get it slightly wrong. In so far as I am merely flogging the converted, I apologize to them.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: meaning  wrong 
     
    You are more than entitled not to know what the word 'performative' means. It is a new word and an ugly word, and perhaps it doesnot mean anything very much. But at any rate there is one thing in its favor, it is not a profound word.
    — J. L. Austin
    Ordinary language embodies the metaphysics of the Stone Age.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: language  age 
     
    It should be quite clear, then, that there are no criteria to be laid down in general for distinguishing the real from the not real.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: real 
     
    Next, 'real' is what we may call a trouser-word. It is usually thought, and I dare say usually rightly thought, that what one might call the affirmative use of a term is basic-that, to understand 'x,' we need to know what it is to be x, or to be an x, and that knowing this apprises us of what it is not to be x, not to be an x. But with 'real' (as we briefly noted earlier) it is the negative use that wears the trousers.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: thoughts  knowing  real 
     
    There is no one kind of thing that we 'perceive' but many different kinds, the number being reducible if at all by scientific investigation and not by philosophy: pens are in many ways though not in all ways unlike rainbows, which are in many ways though not in all ways unlike after-images, which in turn are in many ways but not in all ways unlike pictures on the cinema-screen-and so on.
    — J. L. Austin
    But I owe it to the subject to say, that it has long afforded me what philosophy is so often thought, and made, barren of - the fun of discovery, the pleasures of co-operation, and the satisfaction of reaching agreement.
    — J. L. Austin
    Let us distinguish between acting intentionally and acting deliberately or on purpose, as far as this can be done by attending to what language can teach us.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: language 
     
    But surely, speaking carefully, we do not sense 'red' and 'blue' any more than 'resemblance' (or 'qualities' any more than 'relations'): we sense something of which we might say, if we wished to talk about it, that 'this is red.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: quality 
     
    The trouble is that the expression 'material thing' is functioning already, from the very beginning, simply as a foil for 'sense-datum'; it is not here given, and is never given, any other role to play, and apart from this consideration it would surely never have occurred to anybody to try to represent as some single kind of things the things which the ordinary man says that he 'perceives.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: men 
     
    Usually it is uses of words, not words in themselves, that are properly called vague.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: vague 
     
    However well equipped our language, it can never be forearmed against all possible cases that may arise and call for description: fact is richer than diction.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: language  facts 
     
    Why should it not be the whole function of a word to denote many things?
    — J. L. Austin
    Going back into the history of a word, very often into Latin, we come back pretty commonly to pictures or models of how things happen or are done. These models may be fairly sophisticated and recent, as is perhaps the case with 'motive' or 'impulse', but one of the commonest and most primitive types of model is one which is apt to baffle us through its very naturalness and simplicity.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: simplicity 
     
    Infelicity is an ill to which all acts are heir which have the general character of ritual or ceremonial, all conventional acts.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: character 
     
    A sentence is made up of words, a statement is made in words.... Statements are made, words or sentences are used.
    — J. L. Austin
    After all we speak of people 'taking refuge' in vagueness -the more precise you are, in general the more likely you are to be wrong, whereas you stand a good chance of not being wrong if you make it vague enough.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: chance  people  wrong  precise  vague 
     
    The beginning of sense, not to say wisdom, is to realize that 'doing an action,' as used in philosophy, is a highly abstract expression-it is a stand-in used in the place of any (or almost any?) verb with a personal subject, in the same sort of way that 'thing' is a stand-in for anynoun substantive, and 'quality' a stand-in for the adjective.
    — J. L. Austin
    Certainly ordinary language has no claim to be the last word, if there is such a thing. It embodies, indeed, something better thanthe metaphysics of the Stone Age, namely, as was said, the inherited experience and acumen of many generations of men.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: men  experience  language  age 
     
    In the one defense, briefly, we accept responsibility but deny that it was bad: in the other, we admit that it was bad but don't accept full, or even any, responsibility.
    — J. L. Austin
    Words are not (except in their own little corner) facts or things: we need therefore to prise them off the world, to hold them apart from and against it, so that we can realize their inadequacies and arbitrariness, and can relook at the world without blinkers.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: world  facts 
     
    Like 'real', 'free' is only used to rule out the suggestion of some or all of its recognized antitheses. As 'truth' is not a name of a characteristic of assertions, so 'freedom' is not a name for a characteristic of actions, but the name of a dimension in which actions are assessed.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: truth  freedom  action  real  rules 
     
    We become obsessed with 'truth' when discussing statements, just as we become obsessed with 'freedom' when discussing conduct...Like freedom, truth is a bare minimum or an illusory ideal.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: truth  freedom 
     
    But suppose we take the noun 'truth': here is a case where the disagreements between different theorists have largely turned on whether they interpreted this as a name of a substance, of a quality, or of a relation.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: quality 
     
    Faced with the nonsense question 'What is the meaning of a word?' and perhaps dimly recognizing it to be nonsense, we are nevertheless not inclined to give it up.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: meaning  questions 
     
    In one sense 'there are' both universals and material objects, in another sense there is no such thing as either: statements about each can usually be analysed, but not always, nor always without remainder.
    — J. L. Austin
    There are more ways of killing a cat than drowning it in butter; but this is the sort of thing (as the proverb indicates) we overlook: there are more ways of outraging speech than contradiction merely.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: speech  cat 
     
    Is it true or false that Belfast is north of London? That the galaxy is the shape of a fried egg? That Beethoven was a drunkard? That Wellington won the battle of Waterloo? There are various degrees and dimensions of success in making statements: the statements fit the facts always more or less loosely, in different ways on different occasions for different intents and purposes.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: true  occasion  facts  battle  success 
     
    The theory of truth is a series of truisms.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: truth 
     
    Sentences are not as such either true or false.
    — J. L. Austin
    tags: true 
     
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