Ordinary Language Philosophy and the Ethics of Care
This panel seeks papers that use Ordinary Language Philosophy (OLP) to analyze themes of ethics and care in both literature and philosophy. The attention this philosophy pays to language in its everyday use grounds it in community because the meaning of words is in their use. Individual speakers thus become relevant to the construction of meaning, which arises in use as a shared human practice. For J. L. Austin, this picture of meaning involves a sharpened awareness of words and therefore of reality. Cora Diamond calls this attention to reality, detail, and particularity in language Wittgenstein’s “realistic spirit.” Moreover, as Toril Moi explains, our words express and reveal us: the quality of our attention reveals something about our morality. The ethical dimension of OLP lies in this attention to and responsibility for words. Given its affinity with ethics, OLP has also recently been brought into dialogue with theories of care. Sandra Laugier maintains that the attention OLP pays to the human voice can extend to the most vulnerable and invisible. As a form of life, care is both biological and social, recognizing dependence and vulnerability as aspects of a common condition. By refocusing on ordinary language, Laugier asserts we regain our contact with individual experience and find a voice for its expression. Participants might consider the following questions. How does care emerge as a form of life in literature and/or philosophy? How do literary and philosophical works articulate the vocabulary of care? How does care involve an exploration of individual needs and an attention to the particular? Do investigations of such particular cases contest or confirm the principles of (abstract) moral systems? How does literature teach us by example, rather than by theory, to know care and project it into new contexts? Are literary studies a community of practice to which care is central?