Avner Baz, "When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy" (Harvard UP, 2012)


In When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 2012), Avner Baz sets out to make a case for the reconsideration of Ordinary Language Philosophy, or OLP, in mainstream academic philosophy. I personally found Baz's work in it interesting due to the fact that my familiarity with OLP comes solely from a literary perspective and both Baz, as a trained philosopher, and his argumentation present an interesting glimpse into the deep resistance towards OLP that can be found in mainstream philosophy. In fact, after reading When Words Are Called For, and even more so, after speaking with Dr. Baz, it became apparent just how differently philosophers and literary academics view, value, and understand OLP and what it has to offer the critics and the curious. For those readers who have either a deep affinity for OLP or who come at it from a literary, non-analytical philosophical perspective much of When Words Are Called For will seem spot on but ultimately unnecessary in the best sense of that word in that Baz spends a great deal of his time making a case for the legitimacy of a philosophical perspective that many who are familiar with it from a literary perspective will simply find a given. This is truly the result of a difference in disciplinary perspective more than anything else. Where When Words Are Called For does shine is in the epilogue, "Ordinary Language Philosophy, Kant, and the Roots of Antinomial Thinking," where Baz offers some fascinating insights into the connections between Kant and OLP. Admittedly, When Words Are Called For is best for the skeptical philosopher, but it also serves a great purpose in illustrating the extreme differences in how two humanist disciplines can approach and come to understand a way of thinking about the world and conceptualizing the language that unites it.

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