What is linguistic philosophy?
Linguistics is the scientific study of language – the structure, meaning, development, how humans process and interpret language. Philosophy is the academic discipline that applies logic and reason to answer questions about human nature, life, ethics and knowledge. Linguistic Philosophy in simple terms is the application of the philosophy of science to linguistics. Popular especially in the mid-20th century among British and American philosophers, this discipline believes that it is important to concentrate on language as the very method and matter core of the discipline of philosophy.
Linguistic philosophy has two main schools of thoughts – ordinary language philosophy and ideal language philosophy (also called analytic philosophy or logical positivism). Both schools view philosophical problems as essentially being linguistic problems and “linguistic analysis” as the way to resolve them. When it comes to the point of “what is the method of analysis to be used” and “what is the aim of carrying out the method”, the two schools diverge apart. Ordinary language philosophy adopts that principle that philosophical problems arise due to misinterpretation or words and sentences used in everyday language and therefore the problems can be resolved by studying everyday “ordinary” language. Ideal language philosophy does away with grand sweeping studies, instead focusing on the details and emphasizing on its following a thorough analysis of the problem. Ideal language philosophy applies the principle of reforming and changing language itself, while ordinary language philosophy takes the language and studies it further for greater understanding.
This discipline puts emphasis on the meaning and structure of language and has relevance to a number of subjects such as the following:
• Philosophy of language – meaning, truth, reference, description, inclusions, presupposition, implications and speech acts
• Traditional areas of linguistics – semantic interpretation to the structure of syntax, lexical semantics and semantic change.
• Psycholinguistic theories of semantic interpretation, processing and learning natural language, relationship between semantics and other cognitive disciplines.
• Computational linguistics – section of artificial intelligence concerned with the logical and mathematical composition and properties of natural language
• Relationship of philosophy and the science of linguistics – linguistics methodology, linguistics theories, etc.
• Interdisciplinary nature of linguistics and the philosophical problems that arise from it – language and perception, language and social skills, etc.
Linguistic philosophy has two main aspects / topics – general and specific topics.
1. General Topics – These look into methodology and interpretation of the subject matter. This could be something like studying the physics-chemistry relationship in the philosophy of chemistry. General topics of study would include:
a. What is the subject matter
b. What are the goals of the theoretical study
c. What form should theories deduced take
d. What should be considered data.
2. Specific Topics – These look into actually processing and learning languages, changes in the various forms of language, the difference between competence and actual performance and linguistic theories
Linguistic philosophy looks to answering relating to speech, the language of thought, semantics of the human mind, language in its various forms as slang, abbreviation, etc. The study of linguistic philosophy can be applied in disciplines like maths, physics or even psychology for further understanding and find out what the true meaning and essence of the subject is. This avoids over-simplification or incorrect information about the subject.