Ordinary language philosophy, also known as OLP philosophy, is a philosophical methodology that makes use of traditional philosophical problems rooted in misunderstandings that philosophers develop by forgetting or distorting how words are generally used to convey meaning in non-philosophical contexts. Such philosophical uses of language create the very philosophical problems they are employed to solve.
The OLP approach involves eschewing philosophical concepts that are in favor of close attention to the details of the use of everyday ordinary language. The earliest forms of OLP are associated with the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein as well as a number of mid-20th century philosophers who can be split into two main groups. Neither of these groups can be described as an organized school of thought. In its earlier stages, contemporaries of Wittgenstein at Cambridge University like Alice Ambrose, Norman Malcolm, Friedrich Waismann, Morris Lazerowitz, and Oets Kolk Bouwsma started developing ideas recognizable as ordinary language philosophy. These ideas were elaborated from the year 1945 onwards through the work of Oxford philosophers that was initially led by Gilbert Ryle, then followed by J. L. Austin and Paul Grice. The close association between these later thinkers and ordinary language philosophy has led to it sometimes being referred to as Oxford philosophy. The publication of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations in 1953 posthumously further solidified the notion of ordinary language philosophy.
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