The Plain-Speaking Philosophers

Thomas Nagel at the New Statesman:

Austin died in 1960, at the age of 48, and Krishnan sees this as the end of ordinary language philosophy. Metaphysical ambition – though still in the form of conceptual analysis – was exemplified by Strawson, who examined the basic structure of the human world, including our concept of persons, in Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics (1959). Questions about the relation between mind and body had not been put to rest by Ryle; they remain wide open to this day. And moral and political theory flourished from the 1970s.

Krishnan concludes by asking what, in the ordinary language tradition, is still living, and what is dead. What is dead, he says, is the project of “dissolving philosophical problems by the simple device of showing them to arise from the misuse of language” as well as the “paranoid preoccupation with the avoidance of nonsense, as defined according to strictures that disallowed far too much that patently did make sense”. Also lost is the distrust of “depth” as a philosophical virtue – no longer dismissed as an excuse for obscurity.

What survives, according to Krishnan, is a set of standards and a style of inquiry that is of permanent value.

more here.