Of Words, Meaning, and Hermeneutics: J.L. Austin and Paul Ricoeur on the Art of Making Sense of Things


This paper is an attempt to bring together the convergent elements in J.L. Austin’s and Paul Ricoeur’s philosophies of language. Though a number of studies have already claimed that Ricoeur has in some ways been influenced by Austin, to date, not a single study has been made that exclusively focuses on the interrelatedness between Austin’s and Ricoeur’s philosophies of language. Thus, in this paper, I will start with a general exposition of the philosophical connection between Austin and Ricoeur. I will then show how Austin and Ricoeur define and also understand the nature of words, the central component of every language. I will next explore the interplay of meaning and hermeneutics through a detailed discussion of the Speech Acts Theory (Austin) and the Hermeneutics of Symbols (Ricoeur). Afterward, I will argue that in Austin and Ricoeur, words, meaning, and hermeneutics constitute the art of making sense of things and of interpreting certain aspects and features of language.

Keywords: Austin, Ricoeur, words, meaning, hermeneutics, speech act

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