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By G.J. Warnock

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Then there must be something besides (though including) the words, which the words are to be used to communicate about: call this a ‘world’. , to be found in the world. 12 Now this is clearly reminiscent of, and rather like, what Austin had to say (or, historically speaking, later said) about ‘Speech situation So’. There too we had ‘a stock of symbols’ on the one hand, and ‘a world’ on the other; and there too we had ‘two sets of conventions’, there called, not ‘descriptive’ and ‘demonstrative’ conventions, but ‘conventions of sense’ and ‘conventions of reference’.

But if we then do get there and do find water, surely I am not ‘predicting’ any longer, I could not be—it is an oasis, as we have now established. Of course conceivably the future may still throw me into speechless confusion—the ‘water’ may burst into flames, or turn pink, or the whole scene may vanish. But then that is what would happen—I would be thrown into speechless confusion, at a loss for words. It would not mean that, in saying it was an oasis, I was wrong before. The next section of Austin’s paper has attracted more attention than any other; and it is indeed interesting, though also, I believe, in this context really unprofitable and misguided.

How many sense-data crop up in, say, thirty seconds? Which sense are we talking about? All of them indifferently? (What is ‘a sense’? ) When we are not attempting to say simply how things are in the world, but in one way or another bring ourselves and our ‘experience’, or our ‘impressions’, into the picture, there is not just one sort of thing available to us to say. Our language is very rich in different words, different idioms, different turns of phrase; how much of it is supposed to constitute the ‘sense-datum language’?

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