Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The notion of performative utterances was introduced by language philosopher J. L. Austin. According to his original conception, it is a sentence which is not true or false but instead 'happy' or 'unhappy', and which is uttered in the performance of an illocutionary act, rather than used to state something (Austin originally assumed that stating something and performing an illocutionary act are mutually exclusive).  Other writers (Eve Sedgwick, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler) use the term, too, but in quite different ways. Contents: 1. Origin of the term 2. Austin's definition 3. Distinguishing performatives from other utterances 4. Are performatives truth-evaluable? 5. Sedgwick's account of performatives 6. Examples (mainly of explicit performative utterances) 7. Performative writing 8. References 9. See also 1. Origin of the term Although Austin had already used the term in his 1946 paper "Other minds", today's usage goes back to his later, remarkedly different exposition of the notion in the 1955 William James lecture series, subsequently published as How to Do Things with Words. The starting point of the lectures is Austin's doubt against a widespread philosophical prejudice, namely, the implicit presumption that utterances always "describe" or "constate" something and are thus always true or false. After mentioning several examples of sentences which are not so used, and not truth-evaluable (among them non-sensical sentences, interrogatives, directives and "ethical" propositions), he introduces "performative" sentences as another instance. 2. Austin's definition In order to define performatives, Austin refers to those sentences which conform to the old prejudice in that they are used to describe or constate something, and which thus are true or false; and he calls such sentences "constatives". In contrast to them, Austin defines "performatives" as follows: (1) Performative utterances are not true or false, that is, not truth-evaluable; instead when something is wrong with them then they are "happy" or "unhappy". (2) The uttering of a performative is, or is part of, the doing of a certain kind of action (Austin later deals with them under the name illocutionary acts), the performance of which, again, would not normally be described as just "saying" or "describing" something (cf. Austin 1962, 5). For example, when Peter says "I promise to do the dishes" in an appropriate context then he thereby does not just say something, and in particular he does not just describe what he is doing; rather, in making the utterance he performs the promise; since promising is an illocutionary act, the utterance is thus a performative utterance. If Peter utters the sentence without the intention to keep the promise, or if eventually he does not keep it, then although something is not in order with the utterance, the problem is not that the sentence is false: it is rather "unhappy", or "infelicitous", as Austin also says in his discussion of so-called felicity conditions. In the absence of any such flaw, on the other hand, the utterance is to be assessed as "happy" or "felicitous", rather than as "true".How To Juggle: the traffic light"
When the change accurred.accrued (it acrured HERE). Ref to the Traffic Light....pink hyperobjects, withdrawing, and object Balls (which arn't THE object), I couldn't resist the OOOvertones and the semantic polyvocalism of this trick. As an oject in itself (there is withdrawness to me); but as I peruse my consciousness space where I am looking is at my own balls! (surely this reaches into the heart of worthy new metaphors that might replace Navel (Oooorange) gazing (Maz Planck telescope notwithstanding) the object can lead to silent complaints. (Hence my oject). However Metzinger makes his point, his qwuestion from the western perspectival consciousness (which as delanda shows is design oriented) and as Spengler hinted, is spatially consituted (could S[engler not have gone far enough) leaves (fall from trees) the great ecological divide (that essay on Two Cultures) the way non linear space opens up, and time. Ah time. Makes me think Metzinger, and conclude it wont hurt to read the book, but my routes blocked temporaily. What did I write in my journalle cette matin? Comme, avec le temps, ilya seulement l'enspace; ilya seulement le conception du spatiel qui est la moment quand l'object jamais disparu. To Oject, of course, to Buddhists, is self referentialized; however, as TM says, now withdrawn. The shoes I have bought months ago are not the same shoes i wear now. The event of shoe buying, then, amidst dear flip flops, ladies in waiting and the sweet smell of socks was nothing tantamount to anything; what was real then in the shop were the previously withdrawn objects I was then wearing--those other shoes--which now i am not wearing; either way, the object was the event, not the shoes. A case, I am sure, that will be made again and again as the Buddha noted, best not to be too attached to those objects you see. And now to embed another object (this you tube video) "a rose embedded object video" where the ideal next trick i shall perform may or may not be the traffic light model with or without its signifiers as to when to stop and go... (we all slide across the red sometimes, and we all take a left without signalling. Same with seat belts) but as we're all perfectly capable of driving. ...(actually the driving metaphor is one made good use of in Juggler's Circles (3 ball cascade is the driving)...to the movies, alas perhaps another time. Meanwhile, the traffic lights I am thinking of, sea encrusted and toned with Victorian panache (down the bottom of London Road) where Kings Cross meets latent Imperialism and the new affect is made Cosmopolitan by a sunshine state, you can find me juggling there