When Austin mentions poetry, he is discussing the fact that uttering a commitment-apt phrase is usually to perform the act of making a commitment. There are exceptions: when one is speaking ‘non-seriously’, for example. Austin calls poetry ‘non-serious’ to mark his belief that it is such an exception, that its uses of language are exempt from issues of commitment and responsibility. Poets and critics have been happy to endorse this. So there is no real ground to the apparent antipathy between philosophy and poetry. Austin’s levity at the expense of poets and the confused responses of poets and philosophers are relatively trivial matters. What matters is agreement about the fundamental and significant issues. Austin is acknowledging what poets want acknowledged. This makes reconciliation between poetry and the speech act approach in analytic philosophy possible.
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