Sunday, December 11, 2005

Companion to J.L. Austin, Part IV: Truth

J.L. Austin, "Truth”

p.117: ‘What is truth?’ said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer: When Pilate questioned Jesus before his crucifixion, Jesus proclaimed that "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37). To this, Pilate replied "What is truth?" and left Jesus to address those who wanted him crucified (v. 38). Austin’s quote comes from Francis Bacon’s essay "On Truth": "'What is truth?' said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer." (I cribbed this from here.)

p. 118: A pied de la lettre: Literally (‘the foot of the letter’)

p. 126: Air-mosaic: ?? Since Austin worked in Allied intelligence during the war, I assume that this refers to something like a patchwork arrangement of reconnaissance photographs of an area.

p. 126n1: There will not be books in the running brooks until the dawn of hydro-semantics: Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II. Scene I:

The Forest of Arden. 

Enter DUKE Senior, AMIENS, and other Lords, like Foresters.
Duke S: Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile, 
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet 
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods 
More free from peril than the envious court? 
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam, 
The seasons' difference; as, the icy fang 
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind, 
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body, 
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say 
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors 
That feelingly persuade me what I am.' 
Sweet are the uses of adversity, 
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous, 
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; 
And this our life exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing. 
I would not change it.

p.128n1: onomatolatry: idolatry, worship of words

p.130: get a gamma: a gamma is a low mark on the British grading scale (alpha, beta gamma), the equivalent of a C or D.

p. 130: The Primavera: Greek spring festival of renewal.

Links to other posts on Austin: How to Do Things With Words, Chapters 1-6, "Performative Utterances", and "Other Minds".

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