A Philosophical Examination of Language

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A Philosophical Examination of Language "Philosophy is language idling." —Ludwig Wittgenstein Language and philosophy have an intimate connection to one another; without a philosophical examination of the meanings and structure of language, we cannot easily ascertain the objective truth of the statements we make, nor can we usefully discuss abstract concepts. The philosophy of language seeks to understand the concepts expressed by language and to find a system by which it can effectively and accurately do so. This is more difficult than it appears at first; philosophers are looking for a theory of language which avoids the minute errors of meaning and usage which occur in all discussions of abstract concepts and which tend to lead those discussions into complicated dead-ends. Since so much of philosophy is currently concerned with the linguistic representation of reality, the bond between the philosophical and the linguistic is growing stronger. Philosophers can only write syntax for the languages they want to use in expressing theory with some knowledge of linguistics; and linguists can use philosophical principles to solve problems of meaning and syntax (Moravcsik 89). This strong link can be exploited to the advantage of both sides. In recent history philosophers have struggled with the question of precision in language and have sought to construct a system under which meanings can be discussed without danger of falling into circular or metaphysical traps. Two major approaches to this question have arisen in scientific circles of the twentieth century. Logical empiricism, also known as logical positivism, seeks to produce a language which consists of symbols combined precisely in accordance with sp... ... middle of paper ... ...ohns Hopkins P, 1969. Katz, Jerrold J. The Philosophy of Language. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Malcolm, Norman. Nothing is Hidden: Wittgenstein's Criticism of his Early Thought. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986. Moravcsik, J.M.E. Understanding Language: A Study of Theories in Linguistics and in Philosophy. The Hague: Mouton, 1975. Qadir, C.A. Logical Positivism. Lahore: Ripon P, 1965. Quine, Willard van Orman. "Two Dogmas of Empiricism." Readings in the Philosophy of Language. Eds. Jay F. Rosenberg & Charles Travis. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1971. Rahim, Syed Ataur. Logical Positivism and Metaphysics. Hussainabad/Karachi: Rahim P, 1990. Sengupta, Kalyan Kumar. Language and Philosophy. Bombay: Allied P, 1969. Stevens, Allan. On Belief. [Online] Available http://www.duke.edu/~kellogg/Classes/Mentation/Issue1/stevens.htm, December 16, 1997.
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