Profile and Aims. The course is a kind of high level introduction in the Anglo-American linguistic philosophy and especially in the post-WWII ordinary language philosophy. The course starts with few lectures and seminars centred around the three main figures – the founding fathers - of the post-analytic turn: Ludwig Wittgenstein in Cambridge, John L. Austin in Oxford and Willard Van Orman Quine in Harvard. The course continues with two excurses showing some different readings of this legacy: it brings into focus the quarrew between Searle and Derrida about the speech act theory and the radicalization of neo-pragmatism in the line of Davidson and Rorty. Finally, the course using ordinary language resources stresses onto three general problems: What does “the truth” mean? How do metaphors work? How are the slips of the tongue possible?

Exams. This is a lecture course with ongoing discussions, yet it does not rule out occasional presentations by students, if the students would like to make them. The final exam consists in writing an essay of 1,500-2,000 words on a subject discussed during the course or another topic approved by the instructor.

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American and British Studies. Comparative Approaches.


Prof. Dimitar Vatsov, PhD

Course Description:


Students who complete this course:

1) will know:

• the origins of the contemporary ordinary language philosophy.

• Its further developments.

• Its main concepts and problems.

2) will be able to:

• make ordinary language analysis


Full-time Programmes

Types of Courses:

Language of teaching:


  1. 1 The linguistic turn in philosophy (the end of 19th century). The first analytic philosophy (Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russel, Ludwig Wittgenstein). Logical analysis. Logical atomism. Ideal language and symbolic logic. Analytic and synthetic statements. Logical positivism (Vienna circle). Lecture
  2. 2 Second internal turn from analytic to post-analytic philosophy (before and after WWII). The three centers of ordinary-language philosophy and neo-pragmatism: Cambridge (Ludwig Wittgenstein, late years), Oxford (J. L. Austin) and Harvard (W. V. O. Quine). Lecture
  3. 3 The ordinary-language philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein: Language games. Rule-following paradox. Grammatical remarks. Seeing aspects. Lecture
  4. 4 Seminar: Selected pages from Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and The Blue Book. Discussion
  5. 5 The ordinary-language philosophy of John Austin: Performatives and constatives. Felicity conditions. Illocutionary force and meaning. Locutions, illocutions and perlocutions. Lecture
  6. 6 Seminar: J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words, ch. 1 and 2. Discussion
  7. 7 The theory of speech acts: developments and critiques. John Searle’s taxonomy of speech acts. Jacques Derrida: from performative to performance. Lecture
  8. 8 Seminar: Selected pages from the direct exchange between Searle and Derrida (Derrida, Limited Inc.). Discussion
  9. 9 The neo-pragmatist turn in USA (W. V. O. Quine, Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, Robert Brandom and others). Quine: “The two dogmas of empiricism”. Gavagai. Indeterminacy of meaning and reference. Radical translation. Davidson: “the third dogma”. Radical interpretation. Lecture
  10. 10 The problem of truth. Deflationist theories. J. L. Austin and P. F. Strawson on truth. W. V. O. Quine and D. Davidson on truth. New readings. Lecture
  11. 11 Seminar: Selected pages from the direct exchange between J. L. Austin and P. F. Strawson. Discussion
  12. 12 The debate on the metaphor. The metaphor appears to be neither a substitution (based on likeness) nor an elliptical simile. Nietzsche: the metaphor is a comparison of the incomparables. Davidson: the metaphor cannot be paraphrased hence it has no meaning at all. Rorty: every literal meaning is a dead metaphor killed by the repetition of some paraphrase. Lecture
  13. 13 Seminar: Donald Davidson, How Metaphors Mean. Discussion
  14. 14 Seminar: Donald Davidson, A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs. Discussion
  15. 15 Final remarks: Richard Rorty’s and Stanley Cavell’s attempts at a synthesis of the post-analytic philosophy. The ordinary-language philosophy as a radical contextualism. Lecture


(The list that follows is only descriptive and indicative. It does not present literature that will be required for the course.)

Austin, J. L., “Truth”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, The Virtual Issue No. 1, 2013 [originally published in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume XXIV (1950)].

Austin, J. L., How to Do Things with Words, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Cavell, Stanley, The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy (second edition), New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Cavell, Stanley, Must We Mean What We Say? (eighth edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Davidson, Donald, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (Second Edition). CLARENDON PRESS · OXFORD 2001.



• Discussion

• Presentation

Final exams

• Term paper