Ashton Rd, Shrewsbury SY3 7BA, United Kingdom
Shrewsbury School where John Langshaw Austin studied.
Oxford OX1 3BJ, United Kingdom
Balliol College where John Langshaw Austin studied.
The Officer Of Order British Empire that John Langshaw Austin received.
The Croix de Guerre that John Langshaw Austin received.
The Officer of the Legion of Merit that John Langshaw Austin received.
(John L. Austin was one of the leading philosophers of the...)
John L. Austin was one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century. The William James Lectures presented Austin’s conclusions in the field to which he directed his main efforts on a wide variety of philosophical problems. These talks became the classic How to Do Things with Words.
John Langshaw Austin was educated at Shrewsbury School in 1924, earning a scholarship in Classics. In 1929, he entered Balliol College where he received a First in Literae Humaniores (Classics and Philosophy) as well as first-class honors in his finals.
John Austin started his career as a tutor at Magdalen College in 1935. He held this post until 1952. During World War II Austin served in the British Intelligence Corps. He left the army with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1952, Austin became White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford where he worked until his death. He also visited Harvard and Berkeley where he delivered the William James Lectures and offered a seminar on excuses.
John Austin published his first book The Foundations of Arithmetic: A logico-mathematical enquiry into the concept of number in 1950. Later he wrote such books as Philosophical Papers, and Sense and Sensibilia. Austin also wrote articles for different books on philosophy.
John Austin thought that there was no way to understand philosophical puzzles about the nature of action, freedom, and responsibility other than to examine in detail particular aspects of our talk about action, and the articles are characterized by an extraordinary sensitivity to the distinctions that we ordinarily make when we talk about action. Austin believed that linguistic analysis could provide many solutions to philosophical riddles, but he disapproved of the language of formal logic, believing it contrived and inadequate and often not as complex and subtle as ordinary language.
Austin thought that 'our common stock of words embodies all the distinctions worth drawing, and the connexions worth marking, in the lifetimes of many generations: these surely are likely to be more numerous, more sound, since they have stood up to the long test of survival of the fittest, and more subtle, at least in all ordinary and reasonably practical matters, than any that you or I are likely to think up.'
"Sentences are not as such either true or false".
"Infelicity is an ill to which all acts are heir which have the general character of ritual or ceremonial, all conventional acts."
"Certainly ordinary language has no claim to be the last word if there is such a thing."
"There are more ways of outraging speech than contradiction merely."
John Austin was a member and president of the Aristotelian Society.
Quotes from others about the person
Guy Longworth: "John Langshaw Austin made a number of contributions in various areas of philosophy, including important work on knowledge, perception, action, freedom, truth, language, and the use of language in speech acts. Distinctions that Austin draws in his work on speech acts – in particular his distinction between locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts – have assumed something like canonical status in more recent work. His work on knowledge and perception places him in a broad tradition of "Oxford Realism", running from Cook Wilson and Harold Arthur Prichard through to J. M. Hinton, M. G. F. Martin, John McDowell, Paul Snowdon, Charles Travis, and Timothy Williamson. His work on truth has played an important role in recent discussions of the extent to which sentence meaning can be accounted for in terms of truth-conditions."
John Langshaw Austin married Jean Courts Austin in 1941. The marriage produced four children.