Sense and Sensibilia and the significance of linguistic phenomenology

In Brian Garvey (ed.), J. L. Austin on Language. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 141–158 (2014)
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Abstract
This paper aims to elucidate the significance of Austin’s method of linguistic phenomenology. I will do that by showing how this method operates in Sense and Sensibilia, where, as perception is at issue, the notion of phenomenology seems particularly pertinent. I will argue, against what has been often claimed, that Austin’s method is not merely therapeutical or polemical. In Austin’s view, a careful analysis of ordinary language can sharpen our perception of the world and reveal aspects of the reality itself. If the linguistic analysis aims to get rid of the conceptual distortions entrenched in the philosophical tradition, his appeal to ordinary language is neither quietistic nor resolutive. Ordinary language gives access to a sort of non-introspective intersubjective phenomenology, which may be the foundation of sensible philosophical interrogations and a genuine progress in knowledge. The linguistic analysis held in Sense and Sensibilia illuminates not only the way we talk about experiences, but also the nature and the epistemology of experience itself. These remarks suggest an original way of defending and conceiving naïve realism, whose main elements are a radical externalism, a refusal of the semantization of perception and a dissolution of the skeptical threat. I will suggest that the application of these suggestions, together with the method of linguistic phenomenology, to the current debate on experience, may dissolve the dilemmas which haunt the opposition between conjunctivism and disjunctivism and provide a satisfying account of experience.
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Archival date: 2014-07-16
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