Berkeley Philosophy Reading Group Message Board › J. L. Austin centenary party in Berkeley, Sat., March 26, at 7 pm

J. L. Austin centenary party in Berkeley, Sat., March 26, at 7 pm

user 5618101
Group Organizer
Berkeley, CA
Announcing a meetup of the Berkeley Philosophy Reading Group­

When: Saturday, March 26, 2011 7:00 PM

Where: La Mediterranee
2936 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705

Today is the centenary of the birth of the English philosopher J. L. Austin (1911-1960).

Our group will be celebrating Austin's life and work over dinner at 7:00 p.m. at La Méditerranée, 2936 College Ave. The menu is available online. This is the same restaurant where we celebrated the A.J. Ayer centenary last October.

As a professor at Oxford, John Langshaw Austin was the central figure in the school of Ordinary Language Philosophy.


  • ­"A Plea for Excuses" (1956)
    In this essay, Austin analyzes the everyday concept of making excuses.  It's a good example of Austin's methodology, going into detail in the use of language, and even into what it means to do something.  Come prepared to discuss this essay, so that you won't have to give excuses for not having read it.
  • "Language as performance", a 1-page summary of Austin's work on performatives, and­
    an excerpt from
    How to Do Things with Words (1961), Austin's posthumously published book about speech acts. Performatives are linguistic utterances that do not merely describe but actually accomplish a transformation in the social world.  Some examples in Austin's fivefold taxonomy:
    Verdictive:  (to fellow diners) "I judge that the Mediterranean Meza plate will be the best choice on the menu for me."
    Exercitive:  (to the waiter) "I order the Mediterranean Meza plate."
    Commissive:  (to fellow diners) "I pledge to eat the Mediterranean Meza plate after it arrives."
    Behabitive:  (to the waiter) "I thank you for bringing the Mediterranean Meza plate."
    Expositive:  (to fellow diners) "I affirm that the Mediterranean Meza plate was a good choice."
    In each of the five cases, I am doing something (judging, ordering, pledging, thanking, or affirming) by saying some appropriate words determined by social convention.
Since I am making a reservation (an exercitive), your "count me in" (a commissive) means that we'll be saving a chair for you.

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