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The Limits of My World:

Philosophy's linguistic turn

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This Debate

Hilary Lawson, Michael Potter, John Searle. Robert Rowland-Smith hosts.

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.

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
Join the conversation

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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 louissberger.weebly.com

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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