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The Limits of My World:

Philosophy's linguistic turn

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  • The Debate

    The Limits of My World

    Language has been the focus of philosophical enquiry for the last century. But was the 'linguistic turn' a wrong turn, leading to a barren discipline without 'real world' influence? Is it time for a fresh approach to the big issues, or would this be a capitulation to intellectual fantasy?

    The Panel

    One of the world's most influential analytic philosophers, John Searle, live from Berkeley, joins post-postmodernist Hilary Lawson and Cambridge logician Michael Potter to wage the ultimate war of words.

  • Find out more about speakers

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Michael Potter
    The Pitch
    The linguistic turn revealed the self referential paradox of language
  • Hilary Lawson
    The Pitch
    Many problems in philosophy can be solved through language
  • John Searle
    The Pitch
    We are in danger of overstressing the importance of language
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    What is the meaning of meaning?
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    Perception and language
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    The future of philosophy
Want to learn more about our speakers?
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Giuseppe Cerruti on 01/04/2016 10:40am

We make words a little bit after we have felt what we are doing; as the language is conventional production of sounds and/or signs, we can only speak about what we do. More about that, on demand. Thanks

Giuseppe Cerruti on 31/03/2016 7:55pm

We make words a little bit after we have felt what we are doing; as the language is conventional produktion of sounds and/or signs, we can only speak about what we do. More about that all, on demand. Thanks

Charles Cawley on 07/12/2015 1:42pm

We have a shared physiology that predetermines language. That is why human languages can be translated from one to the other. Our physiology of how we perceive is something Wittgenstein did not account for.

Thus, we get over the paradox of the arrow with movement words.. 'movement' is one such. We only see intermittently and cannot, strictly, perceive movement in its totality. This is the same for all people. Fundamentals of logic applied to the recognition of unity are, likewise, shared between all of us.

That people still take "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" (Tractatus 7), or the later remark: "What we can't say we can't say, and we can't whistle it either." seriously beggars belief.

It is long over due that the mountain of academics like so many medieval scholars with their angels dancing on pin heads, were taken to task and revealed as at best the deluded and at worst frauds intent, more, on impressing one another than doing anything of use to the outside world.

We desperately need a modern philosophy of society and they give us nothing except the bill for their tenures.

lewmay on 19/12/2014 6:00pm

We have an alphabet. Each member of that alphabet is an abstraction. We place one abstraction next to another abstraction to produce a meaning. This meaning is unique. There is an order within this collection. If that order is not arranged to match the meaning it fails. The debate involves the gymnastics of thought using all forms of order gathered with some unknown intention. The debate reminds me of one who is tangled up in his or her underware, at best.

Mathias Herrmann on 23/08/2014 3:59pm

Language is an instrument. When you express something, you often give it a form that it didn't have before. It's not that you express "language itself". End of turn.

Louis Berger on 10/04/2014 4:43pm

PS: Its successor will be published later this year by Palgrave Macmillan. Updates will be posted on

Louis Berger on 10/04/2014 4:41pm

I suggest you have a look at my "Language and the Ineffable" (Lexington Books, 2011); description is on Amazon, and also on by FaceBook group "language and psychotherapy".

Sea Monkey on 03/04/2014 3:51pm

John Seale is such a philosophical powerhouse! Even if you don't agree with all of his philosophy you must at least concede that speaks with a great deal of clarity of thought.

The most interesting thing I think about this debate is how close the three speakers views actually are. Lawson tries to go a step further than Searle or Potter, but ultimately does he? Searle concedes that he cannot give an ultimate description of reality, but that this doesn't mean that science cannot tell us in some very serious sense how the world is. Hurrah for sensible scepticism!

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