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How to Do Things with Words

How to Do Things with Words

Second Edition

J. L. Austin

Edited by J. O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà

ISBN 9780674411524

Publication date: 04/15/1975

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John L. Austin was one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century. The William James Lectures presented Austin’s conclusions in the field to which he directed his main efforts on a wide variety of philosophical problems. These talks became the classic How to Do Things with Words.

For this second edition, the editors have returned to Austin’s original lecture notes, amending the printed text where it seemed necessary. Students will find the new text clearer, and, at the same time, more faithful to the actual lectures. An appendix contains literal transcriptions of a number of marginal notes made by Austin but not included in the text. Comparison of the text with these annotations provides new dimensions to the study of Austin’s work.


  • Immensely worth reading…What is made available here is a choice work by one of the most acute and original minds that England has produced in our time…The myth that Oxford philosophers in general, and Austin in particular, do nothing but examine the details of ordinary linguistic usage should be exploded once and for all by this new book.

    —Times Literary Supplement


  • J. L. Austin was a British philosopher of language.

Book Details

  • 192 pages
  • 5 x 7-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press