What is philosophy about and what are its methods? _Philosophy and Ordinary Language_ is a defence of the view that philosophy is largely about questions of language, which to a large extent means _ordinary_ language. Some people argue that if philosophy is about ordinary language, then it is necessarily less deep and difficult than it is usually taken to be but Oswald Hanfling shows us that this isn't true. Hanfling, a leading expert in the development of analytic philosophy, covers a (...) wide range of topics, including scepticism and the definition of knowledge, free will, empiricism, folk psychology, ordinary versus artificial logic, and philosophy versus science. Drawing on philosophers such as Austin, Wittgenstein, and Quine, this book explores the nature of ordinary language in philosophy. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's later writings generate a great deal of controversy and debate, as do the implications of his ideas for such topics as consciousness, knowledge, language and the arts. Oswald Hanfling addresses a widespeard tendency to ascribe to Wittgenstein views that go beyond those he actually held. Separate chapters deal with important topics such as the private language argument, rule-following, the problem of other minds, and the ascription of scepticism to Wittgenstein. Describing Wittgenstein as a 'humanist' thinker, he contrasts his views (...) on language, art humanity and philosophy itself with those of scientifically minded philosophers. He argues that 'the human form of life' calls for a kind of understanding that cfannot be achieved by the methods of emirical science; that consiousness, for example, cannot properly be regarded as a property of the bran; and that the resulting 'problem of consoiusness is an illusion. Wittgenstein and the Human Form of Life is essential reading for anyone interested in Wittgenstein's approach to what it means to be human. It will be invaluable to all Wittgenstein scholars, and all who are interested in the philosophy of mind, language and aesthetics. (shrink)
This book is a compact, accessible treatment of the main ideas advanced by the positivists, including Schlick, Carnap, Ayer, and the early Wittgenstein. Oswald Hanfling discusses such ideas as the 'verification principle' ('the meaning of this statement is the method of its verification') and the 'elimination of metaphysics, ' an attempt to show that metaphysical statements, for example about God, are unverifiable and therefore meaningless.
Life and Meaning surveys a variety of Philosophical answers to the question, 'What makes life worth living?' By collecting readings from a wide range of philosophical history it gives the various perspectives on the value and meaning of life. Aspects of life which appear to make it meaningless 9death, suffering, randomness) are seen in the light of their long and varied history in philosophical literature and are subjected to careful scrutiny. The texts chosen here pose these and related issues and (...) offer various responses. By careful selection and helpful editorial introduction Life and Meaning gives essential texts which provide the background to contemporary enquiries. Is self-realization a coherent ideal? Does it mean being true to our original nature (Rousseau) or to our potential as 'rational animals' (Aristotle)? Should we live according to our desires and in pursuit of happiness (Mill)? Should we appeal to a nature or 'essence' be rejected as bad faith? (shrink)
Asked about Wittgenstein's contribution to aesthetics, one might think first of all of his discussion of ‘family resemblance’ concepts, in which he argued that the various instances of games, for example, need not have any feature or set of features in common, in virtue of which they are all called games; the concept of a game can function perfectly well without any such set of conditions. This insight was soon applied to the much debated quest for a definition of the (...) word ‘art’, and it was claimed that here too the various instances of art were related by way of family resemblance, so that it was futile to look for a condition or set of conditions, which works of art, and only works of art, had in common. Wittgenstein himself did not extend his argument to the concept of art. Although he was deeply interested in the arts, especially music, he wrote very little on aesthetics, his most sustained treatment of the topic being available for us only in the form of notes taken of a set of his lectures on aesthetics. (shrink)
The difference between right and wrong is not something that is taught; it is, necessarily, picked up by a child in the course of learning its native language, and parents have no choice about this. In learning the meaning of ‘steal’, for example, the child learns that such actions are wrong. It also develops, through a kind of conditioning, the appropriate feelings and attitudes. The very concept of a reason has a moral content; so that, in acquiring this concept, the (...) child learns what counts as a good reason; and this includes altruistic and other moral reasons, no less than reasons of self-interest. (shrink)
The biblical injunction to love one's neighbour has long been regarded as a central pillar of morality. It is taken to be an ideal which gives direction to our moral aspirations, even though most of us find it difficult to live up to, owing to our selfish natures. But the difficulties I wish to raise are of a logical kind, as distinct from those depending on personal character. They fall under three headings: the first concerns the scope of ‘my neighbour’, (...) the second the injunction to love, and the third the idea of loving oneself. The first will probably be the most familiar. (shrink)
The concept of knowledge, more than any other, has invited truth-functional analysis. In saying of a person that he knows that p, we are, according to many philosophers, saying no more and no less than three or four distinct things. In spite of setbacks suffered by the “traditional” analysis, the belief remains strong that there is a definitive answer to the question “What is knowledge?” in truth-functional terms. Yet the word ‘know’, like most others having to do with human beings, (...) is used for a variety of purposes in a variety of situations. It would be surprising if all these uses could be captured in a single formula. (shrink)
How is the possibility of promising to be explained without circularity? Appeal is made to the role of natural inclinations in linguistic behaviour, which presupposes truth telling and promise keeping, and also to the social functions of human language which go beyond signalling and transmitting information and which are prior to any explicit conventions. Although promises are broken and lies told, we all have the right to feel resentment when these things happen.
According to kripke, Wittgenstein denied certain beliefs about meaning and other minds. But who holds these beliefs? we do "not" believe that "all future applications" of a word are "determined"; nor that "i give directions to myself"; nor that something has to "constitute" meaning. Such beliefs are distortions by realist philosophers; it needs no sceptic to deny them. Wittgenstein's "sympathy with the solipsist" is an illusion, Due to misreadings (and mistranslations) of the text. Wittgenstein's position is clear and does not (...) need kripke's revision. (shrink)
A feature that contributes to the charm of much poetry is its obscurity and indirectness. We want to grasp what the poet is saying and yet, it appears, to do so only with difficulty. How is this preference to be explained? (1) It contributes to promoting an ‘aesthetic attitude’. (2) It conforms to certain general features of human psychology, including (a) a general preference for indirectness and indeterminacy and (b) the pleasure of working things out. Distance, in the relevant sense, (...) may be regarded as an important positive quality of works of art; yet (1) this quality may continue to charm even after the difficulties have been overcome, and (2) its presence, in the case of unusual language, may be largely a matter of accident, depending on how long ago the work was written, and so on. (shrink)
It is well known that Wittgenstein's reading of the philosophical classics was patchy. He left unread a large part of the literature which most philosophers would regard as essential to a knowledge of their subject. Wittgenstein gave an interesting reason for his non-reading of Hume. He said that he could not sit down and read Hume, because he knew far too much about the subject of Hume's writings to find this anything but a torture. In a recent commentary, Peter Hacker (...) has taken this to show that ‘Wittgenstein seems to have despised Hume’. Hume, he adds, ‘made almost every epistemological and metaphysical mistake Wittgenstein could think of. (shrink)
When, in 1979, A. J. Ayer was asked for an evaluation of his youthful Language, Truth and Logic (LTL), he replied: ‘I suppose the most important of the defects was that nearly all of it was false’. Like many of the claims in the book itself, this verdict is open to question. What was wrong with LTL was not so much that what it said was false, but that it presented philosophical issues in an excessively simple and aggressive way. Yet (...) it was just this quality that put the book and its author on the philosophical map, ensuring for them an important place in the history of twentieth-century philosophy. LTL presented a challenge to traditional ways of doing philosophy, the reverberations of which are still evident today. (shrink)
Philosophy is one of the most intimidating and difficult of disciplines, as any of its students can attest. This book is an important entry in a distinctive new series from Routledge: The Great Philosophers . Breaking down obstacles to understanding the ideas of history's greatest thinkers, these brief, accessible, and affordable volumes offer essential introductions to the great philosophers of the Western tradition from Plato to Wittgenstein. In just 64 pages, each author, a specialist on his subject, places the philosopher (...) and his ideas into historical perspective. Each volume explains, in simple terms, the basic concepts, enriching the narrative through the effective use of biographical detail. And instead of attempting to explain the philosopher's entire intellectual history, which can be daunting, this series takes one central theme in each philosopher's work, using it to unfold the philosopher's thoughts. (shrink)
Life and Meaning surveys a variety of Philosophical answers to the question, 'What makes life worth living?' By collecting readings from a wide range of philosophical history it gives the various perspectives on the value and meaning of life. Aspects of life which appear to make it meaningless 9death, suffering, randomness) are seen in the light of their long and varied history in philosophical literature and are subjected to careful scrutiny. The texts chosen here pose these and related issues and (...) offer various responses. By careful selection and helpful editorial introduction Life and Meaning gives essential texts which provide the background to contemporary enquiries. Is self-realization a coherent ideal? Does it mean being true to our original nature or to our potential as 'rational animals'? Should we live according to our desires and in pursuit of happiness? Should we appeal to a nature or 'essence' be rejected as bad faith? (shrink)
You have a rich inner life of conscious experiences. For example, you have pains and other sensations. And you have sensory experiences, such as that produced by chewing on something bitter. Scientists are currently puzzling over how to explain this inner life in scientific terms. Can we, for example, consciousness by appealing to certain facts about our brains?
The subject of this symposium is sometimes introduced by asking whether machines could think. This way of introducing it may be misleading, for it may seem as if it were merely about a particular activity, called ‘thinking’. The question would then seem to have the same character as ‘Can machines make a noise?’. But thinking is not something that can be treated in isolation from other personal qualities. What we need to consider is whether, or to what extent, a machine (...) could participate in the whole complex of qualities, activities, attitudes, thoughts, feelings and moral relationships that we regard as essential to being a person—whether, in this sense, machines could be persons. (shrink)
I consider and reject two kinds of solution of the problem of feelings about fictional objects: that the relevant beliefs are not really different as between fiction and fact; and that the relevant feelings are not 'really the same'. The problem should be seen in the context of different phases in acquiring the relevant feeling-concepts and I distinguish three such phases. The first is necessarily 'presentational': the child is presented with suitable objects or pictures and responds with appropriate feelings, without (...) distinguishing fact from fiction. This presentational phase remains part of the concept and our responses to fictional objects should be understood accordingly. (shrink)
Applying a broadly Wittgensteinian view of knowledge and its relation to the conditions in which the word “know” is ordinarily used, the paper defends the claim that there can be knowledge in moral matters and rejects the idea that a cross‐culturally homogeneous moral language is a necessary condition for this. However, the fact that moral knowledge is available sometimes does not imply that it is available always. Taking issue in particular with Ronald Dworkin, the paper also argues that where moral (...) questions are a matter of judgement, there may well be no right answer to them and, further, that this is a feature by no means unique to moral discourse. (shrink)
The following beliefs can be ascribed to Hume on the basis of his writings: There is no more to our idea of cause and effect than constant conjunction and a resulting habit of mind. There is more to it than that, namely the interaction of bodies. Behind the constant conjunctions, including the interactions of bodies, there are ‘secret’ causes, not knowable by man. The principle of causality is true. Our belief in the principle arises from experience. There is no justification (...) for believing in the principle. It is obvious that there are inconsistencies between these beliefs. is contradicted by and , and appears to contradict . and are consistent, but cannot be asserted consistently together with . There is apparently a contradiction between and , although the question arises whether ‘arising from experience’ is to be regarded as a justification. In the next section I shall offer support for ascribing these beliefs to Hume and in sections III-V I shall try to say why Hume wanted to hold all of them in one way or another and how they fit together in the context of his philosophy. What I shall say will I be broadly in line with Passmore's views about the diversity of Hume's intentions and Kemp Smith's thesis about Hume's primary interest in ethics. (shrink)
The concept of rights, as has often been noted, became prominent at a particular time in our history. It is associated especially with seventeenth and eighteenth century political ideas about the rights of individuals versus those of governments, and with such notable events as the American Declaration of Independence. It was at this time, too, that debates about rights of property and liberty became prominent. What was the role of this concept in earlier times? Has it always existed? Does it (...) have a permanent place in our moral thinking? According to H.L.A. Hart. (shrink)