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Why We Need Ordinary Language Philosophy

Now in paperback, Sandra Laugier's reconsideration of analytic philosophy and ordinary language.

Sandra Laugier has long been a key liaison between American and European philosophical thought, responsible for bringing American philosophers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Stanley Cavell to French readers—but until now her books have never been published in English. Why We Need Ordinary Language Philosophy rights that wrong with a topic perfect for English-language readers: the idea of analytic philosophy.
Focused on clarity and logical argument, analytic philosophy has dominated the discipline in the United States, Australia, and Britain over the past one hundred years, and it is often seen as a unified, coherent, and inevitable advancement. Laugier questions this assumption, rethinking the very grounds that drove analytic philosophy to develop and uncovering its inherent tensions and confusions. Drawing on J. L. Austin and the later works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, she argues for the solution provided by ordinary language philosophy—a philosophy that trusts and utilizes the everyday use of language and the clarity of meaning it provides—and in doing so offers a major contribution to the philosophy of language and twentieth- and twenty-first-century philosophy as a whole.

168 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Language and Linguistics: Philosophy of Language

Philosophy: General Philosophy, Logic and Philosophy of Language


“Sandra Laugier’s book is already quite influential in France and Italy, and it has drawn a renewed interest in language conceived not only as a cognitive capacity but also as used, and meant, as part of our form of life. This translation is very welcome, even indispensable, and could change the perspective on philosophy of language as well as on the analytic-continental divide.”

Stanley Cavell, Harvard University

“Sandra Laugier’s brilliant book provides a concise history of the philosophy of language after Quine and Wittgenstein. But Laugier does more than that: she shows why Wittgenstein, Austin, and Cavell’s claim that to speak about language is to speak about the world is an antimetaphysical revolution in philosophy, a revolution that transforms our understanding of epistemology and ethics. Anyone who wishes to understand what ‘ordinary language philosophy’ means today should read this book.”

Toril Moi, Duke University.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1. From Empiricism to Realism
CHAPTER 2. Relativity, Conceptual Schemes, and Theories
CHAPTER 3. Truth, Language, and Immanence
CHAPTER 4. Language, Facts, and Experience
CHAPTER 5. Empiricism Again
CHAPTER 6. Language as Given: Words, Differences, Agreements
CHAPTER 7. The Ordinary as Heritage: Natural and Conventional
CHAPTER 8. The Myth of Inexpressiveness
CHAPTER 9. To Speak, To Say Nothing, To Mean to Say


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