[hist-analytic] Clarity Is Not Enough

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Mon Feb 16 17:17:51 EST 2009


On Sunday 15 February 2009 23:41:54 steve bayne wrote:
> I agree with much of what you say, Roger. But I would mention this:
> that since Aristotle, more or less, the idea among philosophers is
> that philosophy, like "the good," is to be pursued for its own sake.

Actually, when it comes to "clarity is enough" I would be happy
to accept "applications" in philosophy.

I would add however, that making language precise is something
which is most often done with some purpose in mind (i.e. the
purpose of the language in question), that purpose usually
being the advancement of our knowledge of the matters which
the language enables us to talk about.
The evolution of language goes hand in hand with advances
in knowledge.

In this process however, the increase in clarity and precision
does not consist in a better understanding of how the relevant
language works.  It consists in the evolution of language so
that the kinds of thing which one needs to talk about in the
present day research dialogue can be clearly expressed.

It is the exception rather than the rule, that there is merit
in clarification of old rather than of some preferred new usage.

This seems to me to undermine the value of the attitude towards
language which Austin presents.
To understand perception, we need extra-ordinary language.
Austin seemed to me to be standing against such developments
in language for philosophical purposes (at least sofar as
"Sense and Sensibilia" testifies, though Austin did pay
lip service to a more liberal viewpoint elsewhere).

> Where you might agree with these same people is that the supreme
> "application" is in how we live our lives.

This I agree with, but I'm not so sure that the enunciation
of a "philosophical way of life" is the way to go.
I'm also inclined to aknowledge that philosophical contributions
to "how we live" mostly come from philosophical ideas which
don't strictly belong to "analytic" philosophy.


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