CHAPTER V
OF KNOWLEDGE

1. THE CIRCLE OF KNOWLEDGE

LINGUISTIC PHILOSOPHY HAS no theory of knowledge, but only, as indicated, a theory of why the theory of knowledge is redundant and impossible. It really amounts to saying that we know what we normally think we know, and that no radical criticism or re-evaluation of the nature and limits of human cognition* is possible. Just as in ethics, Linguistic Philosophy tends in effect to underwrite the norms that happen to be built into current usage, so in epistemology it underwrites the criteria of intellectual adequacy that underlie current practices. (Linguistic Philosophy is an impossible position in as far as current practices are not mutually consistent in either of these fields, but, in practice, individual linguistic philosophers simply select for their exegesis just those current practices which suit them.)

Thus Linguistic Philosophy can be seen as a claim to have overcome, in a radical manner, the problems of knowledge which were at the core of past philosophies.

It is worth indicating how the new way of looking at these problems is related to the old. "Informal logic" replaces "epistemology": the quest for the rules and conditions of invoking a kind of sentence--the specification of the situations which must be the case if the sentence expressing a claim to knowledge is to be permissible--replaces the search for some para-psychological processes which were once supposed to precede cognition.

The quasi-logical way of seeing the matter was not introduced by Linguistic Philosophy, but was already well established when Linguistic Philosophy emerged and came to work out some of its possible corollaries. Analytic philosophy in general, under the impact both of the emergence of symbolic logic and

____________________
*
Such as has in fact occurred, for instance, in consequence of the secularisation of the Western world--but in the a-historical atmosphere of Linguistic Philosophy, little note is taken of that.

-120-

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Words and Things
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgements 7
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 13
  • Chapter I - Of Linguistic Philosophy 17
  • Chapter II - Of Language 27
  • Chapter III - Of Philosophy 57
  • Chapter IV - Of the World 99
  • Chapter V - Of Knowledge 120
  • Chapter VI - Structure and Strategy 159
  • Chapter VII - Assessment 193
  • Chapter VIII - Implications 220
  • Chapter IX - Sociology 229
  • Chapter X - Conclusion 263
  • Index 267
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