Monday, February 11, 2008

Philosophical Imitations

Stanley Cavell, in "Austin at Criticism", writes:

" would be something of an irony if it turned out that Wittgenstein's manner were easier to imitate than Austin's; in its way, something of a triumph for the implacable professor" (114).

There are two well-known humorous imitations of Wittgenstein's manner, that might be taken to confirm Cavell's irony: Michael Frayn's "Fog-Like Sensations" and Jerry Fodor's Further Meteorological Addenda to PI. And, of course, there is Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein movie.

But Austin's manner has not completely avoided humorous imitation. There is a Beyond the Fringe sketch performed by Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller in the 1960s that parodies the style of ordinary language philosophy:

(Bennett and Miller engaging in Ordinary Language Philosophy)

A short excerpt:

Bennett: Other people have jobs to do, don't they? Um, what do people do these days... um, well, they...

Miller: Grow lawns, I believe.

Bennett: They do. They drive buses, or they sell ice cream. Or they play games.

Miller: Ah. More important.

Bennett: That's more important. Yes. We also games, you see. But we, as philosophers, we play language games. We play games with language. Language games...When you and I go onto the cricket pitch, we do so secure in the knowledge that a game of cricket's in the offing, isn't it? It's not in progress, it's in the offing. But when we play language games, we do so rather to find out what game it is we're playing!

Miller: Ah, yes.

No comments: