Professor J. L. Austin published only reluctantly during his life time so that we are getting much of his major work after his death. I think this an enormous pity as there would be much to be learned from his answers to the criticisms which have already been given to his books by critical reviewers. I differ from many of the reviewers in that I think How To Do Things With Words is one of the most important books, if not (...) the most important, to come out since Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Like the Investigations, to a superficial glance it exists in isolation. That is, in it there is little discussion of current or traditional philosophical problems and the application of what is said to these problems is a matter, in large part, for the reader. The book itself consists in a set of relatively simple sentences, almost all of them about some aspect of the English language; it therefore represents not so much a problem of interpretation as the problem of which way up we shall look at it. The obvious way to look at it, the way Austin explicitly offers us, is as the Pursuit of the Performative. For reasons I shall give later, I do not think this is the best way to look at it but it is the way with which I shall start. (shrink)
I am going to take the statement: “Value judgements are simply expressions of emotion”, as the kernel of the Emotive Theory and any variant of the Emotive Theory not covered by this statement is left untouched by what I have to say.