The reaches of words

Authors
Avner Baz
Tufts University
Abstract
This paper compares and contrasts two ways of going on from Wittgenstein and, to a lesser extent, Austin. The first is Charles Travis'. The second is Stanley Cavell's. Focusing on our concept of propositional knowledge ('knowing that such and such'), I argue that Travis' tendency to think of language and its concepts as essentially in the business of enabling us to represent (describe, think of) things as being one way or another and his consequent neglect of the question of what, in the Austinian sense, is being done with the words have led him to give an inaccurate account of the context sensitivity of 'knowing that'. By contrast, Cavell's treatment of the concept - while fully hospitable to Travis' 'occasion sensitivity' - is attentive to the limitations of the representationalist conception, and takes the question of what is being done with the words, as it relates to the question of the intelligibility of the speaker, as primary. This fundamental difference between Travis and Cavell, I finally suggest, explains the stark contrast between the ways in which each has responded to what he calls 'scepticism'
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DOI 10.1080/09672550701809396
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Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.R. Rorty - 1979 - Princeton University Press.
Elusive Knowledge.David Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.

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