Philosophy of Language


Philosophy of language deals with questions that arise from our ordinary, everyday conception of language. (Philosophy of linguistics, in contrast, follows up questions that arise from the scientific study of language.) But saying this does not yet give a clear idea of the sorts of questions that belong distinctively in philosophy of language. Wittgenstein said (1953, §119), ‘The results of philosophy are the uncovering of one or another piece of plain nonsense and of bumps that the understanding has got by running its head up against the limits of language.’ On this conception, philosophy is about the ways in which we understand and misunderstand language, about how we come to mistake plain nonsense for something that is intelligible, and about what cannot be expressed in language. So, on this view, virtually all of philosophy is concerned with questions about language. It is, indeed, true that language has loomed large in the philosophy of the last hundred years or so. But there is still a specific, recognizable area of the discipline that is philosophy of language. It begins from one absolutely basic fact about language, namely, that expressions of a language have meaning, and can be used to talk about objects and events in the world. For philosophy of language, the central phenomenon to be studied is linguistic meaning. This chapter introduces some of the ways in which that study proceeds. Readers might also like to look at the closely related chapters on PHILOSOPHY..



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 79,702

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.


Added to PP

33 (#368,197)

6 months

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

Convention.Michael Rescorla - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Pragmatics.Kepa Korta & John Perry - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
What's the Point of Elucidation?Phil Hutchinson - 2007 - Metaphilosophy 38 (5):691-713.
Natural pragmatics and natural codes.Tim Wharton - 2003 - Mind and Language 18 (5):447–477.
What's the point of elucidation?Anthony Philip A. Hutchinson - 2007 - Metaphilosophy 38 (5):691-713.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references