Interdependence of linguistics and philosophy

Philosophy as a discipline is essentially based on language. A lot of effort has been put in by mankind to seek the essence of the relationship between these two from a long time. The supporters of each discipline invariably got influenced by the other. It is generally very hard to distinguish between a philosopher and a linguist. “Linguistic Turn” was indeed an emphatic turning point in this relationship between philosophy and language and their followers.


People started realizing the value that language has in the field of philosophy from the earlier parts of the 20th century. It was more than just a way to express oneself and thus a way to express philosophical ideas. Philosophy of language, which included almost the entire discipline, was totally depended on the term ‘language’. This was the time period when people started valuing the role linguistic played in philosophy as a discipline and was termed as the ‘Linguistic Turn’. This was the time that philosophers finally accepted that human perception can be expressed with the help of language only. Thus their aim became to understand language itself at first.

Frege,  Austin and Russel  and Wittengstein were some of the philosophers who supported this movement. They took the initiative to understand language and stop treating it as unimportant. Questions asked by philosophers got modified with time due to this. Philosophers begun to pay attention to the language they use to answer philosophical questions.

This period managed to greatly influence the field of discipline. Philosophical concepts begun to be expressed more directly unlike before when it used to be vague and abstract. This helped the ordinary people to relate to the subject. Supporters of this ‘Linguistic Turn’ promoted philosophy as a means to analyze philosophy.


Philosophy played a huge role in the field of linguistics.  Linguistics relies heavily on the search of meaning and understanding it. This dual role is often played by semanticists. After the much spoken about ‘Linguistic turn’ linguists begun to take interest in philosophy and it’s subdivisions. This lead to the elements of meaning being treated as sets of objects.

There were more modified and scientific versions of the traditional forms of logic. Extensional logic could not easily explain the issues and topics which involved natural languages. So Robert Montague proposed the use of intentional logic to be used for this purpose in 1974. Rudolf Carnap was the one to introduce the concept of ‘possible-word’ in 1957. It was later explained explicitly by Saul Kripke much later in 1963.

A lot of debates have followed since the introduction of possible word. The linguistics and semanticists have been debating this issue ever since. They have even gone to the extent of postulating laws of metaphysics.


Semantics and metaphysics, as has been observed are not much different from each other. This further proves that their parent subjects, linguistic and philosophy are inter related and inter dependent. One discipline using the principles, ideas or concepts of the other one is a common sight these days. This might lead to some confusion again.  Still in the end both tend to retain their unique characteristics.