Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement


How to do Other Things with Words

Daniel C. Dennett

John Austin's masterpiece, How to Do Things with Words, was not just a contribution to philosophy; it has proven to be a major contribution to linguistics, one of the founding documents o pragmatics, the investigation of how we use words to accomplish various ends in the social world. Strangely, not much attention has been paid by philosophers — or by psychologists and linguists — to how we use words in private, you might say, to think. As Wittgenstein (1967, p. 17e) once noted, ‘It is very noteworthy that what goes on in thinking practically never interests us.’

Daniel C. Dennett is the Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University