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Title: Disenchanting philosophy : Wittgenstein, Austin, and the appeal to ordinary language
Author: Egan, David William
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the appeal to ordinary language as a distinctive methodological feature in the later philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the work of J. L. Austin. This appeal situates our language and concepts within the broader forms of life in which we use them, and seeks to ‘disenchant’ idealizations that extract our language and concepts from this broader context. A disenchanted philosophy recognizes our forms of life as manifestations of attunement: a shared common ground of understanding and behaviour that cannot itself be further explained or justified. By working through the consequences of seeing our forms of life as ultimately ungrounded in this way, the thesis illuminates the underlying importance of play to shared practices like language. The first two chapters consider the appeal to ordinary language as it features in the work of Austin and Wittgenstein, respectively. By placing each author in turn in dialogue with Jacques Derrida, the thesis draws out the importance of seeing our attunement as ungrounded, and the difficulty of doing so. Austin’s appeal to a ‘total context’ betrays the sort of idealization Austin himself opposes, whereas Wittgenstein and Derrida must remain self-reflexively vigilant in order to avoid the same pitfall. Chapter Three explores connections between the appeal to ordinary language and Martin Heidegger’s analysis of ‘average everydayness’ in Being and Time. Heidegger takes average everydayness to be a mark of inauthenticity. However, in acknowledging the ungroundedness of attunement, the appeal to ordinary language manifests a turn similar to Heidegger’s appeal to authenticity. Furthermore, Wittgenstein’s use of conceptual ‘pictures’ also allows him to avoid some of the confusions in Heidegger’s work. Chapter Four considers the nature of our ungrounded attunement, and argues that we both discover and create this attunement through play, which is unregulated activity that itself gives rise to regularity.
Supervisor: Mulhall, Stephen Sponsor: Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada ; Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy ; Specific philosophical schools ; Wittgenstein ; Austin ; Derrida ; Heidegger ; Cavell ; ordinary language ; play ; attunement