Ordinary Language Philosophy; A Tool for Understanding Human Society..by Gbenga Fasiku (2008)
One of the peculiar and essential features that distinguish human beings from other species of beings that exist in the universe is language. ‘Language is the product of a well-engineered biological instinct’. It is through it that human beings ‘can shape events in each other’s brain with exquisite precision…simply by making ‘noises’ with our mouths, we can reliably cause precise new combinations of ideas to arise in each other’s mind’.Different kinds of people, with different languages, cause their speakers to construe reality in different ways.
Hence, as many as there are different kinds of human beings, there are different kinds of languages through which reality is being construed. It is in this respect that language, as a tool in the formation of metaphysical and epistemological ideas, developing social and moral consciousness of a people, becomes important.
However, given the nature of language as ‘a complex, specialized skill, which develops in the child spontaneously, without conscious effort or formal instruction, (and) is deployed without awareness of its underlying logic, is qualitatively the same in every individual, and is distinct from more general abilities to process information or behave intelligently’.it follows that for language to serve as a pathway to understanding a people, its underlying logic must be made explicit. This is possible when the language is well understood, analyzed, and interpreted using the rules, logic and principles peculiar to the language itself. Through this analysis, some hidden facts about the people would be revealed.
Moreover, analysis takes the language to higher-level; which stretches the reach of the language beyond its commonsensical boundary, thereby making it a technical, a formalized and a specialized enterprise. The effect of this enterprise is that the conception of reality, knowledge, social and moral principles that guide a people would be different. In most cases, the agents of this technical, formal and special enterprise are alien to a language. In fact, the enterprise is, in most of the time, resisted, yet despite this resistance, it naturally takes place.
African Philosophy and the Method of Ordinary Language Philosophy
The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.2, no.3, March 2008