"An excellent book presenting many of the major issues of ordinary language philosophy--very readable."--Mark Hamilton, Ashland University"The clarity, the wit, and the patience of the writing are liable to deceive the reader on only one point, namely the amount of hard work that lies behind these thoughts....This book is the one to put into the hands of those who have...
|Title||:||Sense and Sensibilia: Reconstructed from the Manuscript Notes by C.J. Warnock|
Sense and Sensibilia: Reconstructed from the Manuscript Notes by C.J. Warnock Reviews
People who hate this book really don't see what's at stake in doing philosophy.
Some people hate this book. But they're mistaken.
This book presents Austin's lectures on the strange idea of 'sense data' put together after his death by G.J. Warnock from Austin's notes of talks that Austin had given at Oxford and the University of California in the late nineteen forties and fifties. The book is a thorough dismantling of Ayer's The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge and, to a lesser extent, of Price's Perception and Warnock's book on Berkeley. He sets up his target as follows: "The general doctrine, generally stated, goes
This book presents Austin's lectures on the strange idea of 'sense data' put together after his death by G.J. Warnock from Austin's notes of talks that Austin had given at Oxford and the University of California in the late nineteen forties and fifties. The book is a thorough dismantling of Ayer's The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge and, to a lesser extent, of Price's Perception and Warnock's book on Berkeley. He sets up his target as follows: "The general doctrine, generally stated, goes like this: we never see or otherwise perceive (or 'sense'), or anyhow we never directly perceive or sense, material objects (or material things), but only sense-data (or our own ideas, impressions, sensa, sense-perceptions, percepts, &c.)."
He tells us right off what he thinks of this theory, "My general opinion about this doctrine is that it is a typically scholastic view, attributable, first, to an obsession with a few particular words, the uses of which are over-simplified, not really understood or carefully studied or correctly described; and second, to an obsession with a few (and nearly always the same) half-studied 'facts'." Pow!
My favorite bit from this little gem of a book is this one: "One of the most important things to grasp is that these two terms, 'sense-data' and 'material things', live by taking in each other's washing - what is spurious is not the one term of the pair, but the antithesis itself." In the rest of the book he takes apart Ayer's arguments one by one, first of all the 'argument from illusion'. "There is no simple way of doing this-partly because, as we shall see, there is is no simple 'argument'. It is a matter of unpicking, one by one, a mass of seductive (mainly verbal) fallacies, of exposing a wide variety of concealed motives - an operation which leaves us, in a sense, just where we began." The technique is the archetype of the ordinary language argument by the master of the style.
Ayer meekly responded to Austin's fusillade in a paper, "Has Austin Refuted the Sense-datum Theory?", reprinted in his book Metaphysics & Common Sense. He goes through all seventeen of Austin's arguments. Unfortunately, this exercise just gets Ayer more deeply into the mire. Poor Freddy.
This book is far more fun than you think it is going to be. Well worth a read.
Cleverest title/author combo ever. A thousand little assaults on skepticism.
A beautifully written critique of Ayer and Price on sense-data and scepticism that taught me as much about how to write an argument clearly and persuasively as it did to teach me about the philosophy of perception and knowledge. If only Austin himself was alive long enough to write and publish this work himself.
Interesting book on Austin's conception of perception and critiquing Ayer's "sense-datum" conception of perception.
After a semester reading the works of the analytic and continental philosophers was relieved to read this one. While I loved the reevaluation of our epistemological approaches by the other philosophers, I was depressed to see them explain away most of what we think we are certain of. Austin reestablishes common sense as a valid approach and finds fault with the idea that our minds are deceiving us.
Having just read Ayer, I had to read the great anti-Ayer. Not quite as good, but almost as combatative, and it makes some good points. Unfortunately, it was cobbled together from the Austin's notes by someone else, so it doesn't cohere as well as it ought, and sometimes the counter-arguments seem to miss the point of the arguments.
I'm going to try to read this after Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception. I think they would have gotten along well.