Sunday, February 18, 2007

Postmodernism and Ordinary Language Philosophy

Has anyone written a comparison of Ordinary Lanuage Philosophy, the justly forgotten garden of micro language games, with Postmodernism, the soon to be forgotten garden of micro language games? Both owed something to taking Wittgenstein's paradigm of language games much too seriously, thus ignoring the blatant class bias of the theory of language games trotted out for review in the Blue and Brown Books. If W. wrote these as memos to himself, it did no one else any good to take them as philosophy.

By writing off philosophical systems, Ordinary Language Philosophy tossed off any discourse which had not proven its utility in everyday situations. It would not be a distortion to say that Ordinary Language Philosophy put paid to metanarratives in order to stick with the ordinary uses of language close at hand. And this was the rub: what is ordinary? And why should ordinary be good, especially when ordinary for the Oxford philosophers responsible for spreading Ordinary Language Philosophy entailed economic security, personal servants, and deferential publics?

Nowadays, academic postmodernists find themselves embarassed by the ordinary, local narratives that justify clitorectomy, creationism, etc. What do they use to clobber such barbarism? By turning their backs on the real locus of power, the physical world, and trying to aggrandize their own influence on history by dramatizing "texts" as a source of power, the postmoderns have ended up as parochial conservatives alongside their (thank God) deceased predecessors from Ordinary Language Philosophy.


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