[hist-analytic] Clarity Is Not Enough

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Fri Feb 13 11:29:04 EST 2009

Whether clarity is enough must surely be a very personal matter.

This is analogous to the question whether pure mathematicians
should care about the applicability of their work, the not
caring having been vigorously defended by Hardy in his
"A Mathematician's Apology".

I have no problem with philosophers or mathematicians who
are happy to pursue pure research without consideration of
its applicability, but I am not among them.

I am afflicted by various disabilities (quite a lot
of them) which include needing to have a sense of the
purpose of any work which I am doing, and not thinking that
the analysis of ordinary language is for me sufficient purpose.

For those of us with this problem, Austin's suggestion that
we need only consider greater purposes once we have achieved
clarity in some matters, is of little help.
One thing which seems to me clear is that most worthwhile
purposes depend upon secondary objectives which if conducted
thoroughly on their own account will consume many lifetimes
without finding an end, and which therefore, if they are not
to completely divert attention from ones true purpose, must
be conducted to the minimum extent sufficient for that purpose.

I will happily coexist with people of different talents and
temper. so long as they do not get in my way.
Austin does.  His book "Sense and Sensibilia" seems to me to be
a sustained attempt to deny philosophers that flexibility in
the use of language which is normal in any specialised undertaking.

Roger Jones

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