By G.J. Warnock
This publication is out there both separately, or as a part of the specially-priced Arguments of the Philosphers assortment.
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Extra info for Austin
It is not merely avowing my belief, or even my full conviction—still less professing something more than full conviction, for there is nothing more ‘in that scale’. ’ If I take this special plunge, if I promise, I can’t fail—meaning, of course, not that nonperformance is impossible, but that I am committed to performance; you are entitled to expect, rely on, and indeed demand that: if I say ‘I know’, I can’t be wrong—meaning, not that my pronouncements are infallibly correct, but that I am specifically committed to the proposition that S is P, and that you are entitled to rely on that and indeed to say, on my authority, that you know it too.
Nevertheless, it would obviously be wrong to suggest that it can be true (or not) that pigs can fly, only if someone or other has stated that they can (or not). Austin then turns to the question, what are the conditions necessary for there ‘to be communication of the sort that we achieve by language at all’. First, he says, there must be ‘a stock of symbols of some kind’ which a ‘speaker’ can produce and an ‘audience’ observe. We may call these ‘words’, though of course it is a contingent matter that our ‘stock’ consists of the sort of complex sounds and inscriptions that are ordinarily so called.
21 Of course, as he sensibly observes, quite often the answer will be that I can’t tell and don’t know; but there is no reason to be distressed by, or to boggle at, that; for no one supposes that we always do know ‘what is in another person’s mind’, or even that we could find out. There are kinds of people—‘royalty, for example, or fakirs or bushmen or Wykehamists or simple eccentrics’22—whose feelings may be very hard or impossible for us to divine. Even more than in the case of the gold-finch, we may need, and may actually lack, some prior experience of both this kind of individual and probably this particular individual.
Austin by G.J. Warnock