Words, Deeds, Bodies: L. Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, M. Merleau-Ponty and M. Polanyi


Words, Deeds, Bodies by Jerry H. Gill concentrates on the interrelationships between speech, accomplishing tasks, and human embodiment. Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Michael Polanyi have all highlighted these relationships. This book examines the, as yet, unexplored connections between these authors’ philosophies of language. It focuses on the relationships between their respective key ideas: Wittgenstein’s notion of “language game,” Austin’s concept of “performative utterances,” Merleau-Ponty’s idea of “slackening the threads,” and Polanyi's understanding of “tacit knowing,” noting the similarities and differences between and amongst them.

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Biographical Note

Jerry H. Gill, Ph.D., Duke University (1966), is Professor of Philosophy at Pima Community College in Tucson AZ. He is also Professor Emeritus from The College of St. Rose in Albany NY, and has published more than 30 books in the fields of philosophy and religion and over 150 articles in scholarly journals.

Review Quotes

“In this admirably clear, concise, and eminently readable book, Gill explores many of the ways our language arises within our profoundly embodied and socially embedded practices of meaning-making. He artfully weaves together Wittgenstein’s conception of language games, Austin’s focus on the social conditions for speech acts, Merleau-Ponty’s emphasis on language as embodied, and Polanyi’s articulation of the tacit bodily dimensions of human knowing. The result is a rich appreciation of the embodied, enactive, and socially mediated processes of meaning and thought.” — Mark Johnson, Philip H. Knight Professor Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon

“In Words, Deeds, and Bodies, Professor Gill summons four of the profoundest thinkers of the last century. Guiding us through the application of their insights, he brings into focus key connections among language, social behavior, and embodiment. Gill illuminatingly explains that it is part of the nature of things that meaning, arising through the activity of embodied, linguistic agents, will always be grounded in an unarticulated and unexplained residuum.” — Dr. Brendan Lalor, Professor of Philosophy, Castleton State College, Vermont

Anyone interested in philosophy of language and/or epistemology. Each of these four thinkers, L. Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, M. Merleau-Ponty and M. Polanyi, is well-known for his work in the philosophy of language and epistemology. Never before have their respective thought been directly compared and contrasted.
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