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stanley fish - how to do things with austin and searle

stanley fish - how to do things with austin and searle

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How to do Things with Austin and Searle: Speech Act Theory and Literary CriticismAuthor(s): Stanley E. FishSource:
MLN,
Vol. 91, No. 5, Centennial Issue: Responsibilities of the Critic (Oct., 1976), pp.983-1025Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 30/09/2010 10:03
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H
1 OWTODOTHINGSWITHAUS-
TINANDSEARLE:SPEECHACTTHEORYANDLITERARYCRITICISM*`BYSTAN-LEYE.FISHe
I.IBanishYou!
Inthesecond sceneofthesecond actof
Coriolanus,
the tribunesBrutusandSiciniusdecidethat inordertobring about thehero'sdownfalltheyneedonlyleave himto his own(verbal) devices.Theyknowthat hecannot benamedconsul untilhe asks the citizensfortheirvotes andthey aresure thatfaced withthissituationhe willperformbadly. "Hewill,"saysSicinius,"requirethem,/Asifhedidcontemn what herequestedshouldbeinthemtogive"
(157-9).'
This isnotonly anaccuratepredictionof whatCoriolanus doesinfact do(and notdo);it isalso anastonishinganticipationoftheformulationinSpeechActtheoryof thepreparatoryconditionsonrequesting. HereisJohnSearle'sanalysis of thatact(whereS=Speaker,H
=
Hearer,andA=Act):
RequestTypesPropositionalFutureactA ofHContentofPreparatory1. Hisable todo A.SbelievesHRuleisableto doA.2. Itis not obviousto bothSand HthatHwilldoA inthenormalcourse ofeventsofhis ownaccord.SinceritySwantsHto do AEssentialCounts asanattempttogetHto doA.(SpeechActs,Cambridge,1969, p.66)
*1gratefullyacknowledge theadviceandcriticismof RobCummins,FrankHub-bard,WalterMichaels, andDavid Sachs who willfindhere not onlysomeoftheirideasbutsome oftheirsentences.'ThroughoutIhaveused theeditionedited forSignetbyReubenBrower(NewYork,1966).laAlthoughIdeploy thevocabularyofSearle'sversionofSpeechActtheory,Iamnotcommittedtoitspreciseformulations.MLN 91(1976) 983-1025Copyright01976 byTheJohnsHopkinsUniversityPressAllrightsofreproductionin anyformreserved.
 
984
STANLEYE. FISH
Accordingto Searle,therules governingthe makingof arequest(andof anyotherillocutionaryact)are notregulativebutconstitu-tive:thatis,theydonotregulatean antecedentlyexistingbehavior,but definethe conditionsunderwhich thatbehaviorcan besaidtooccur;ifthoseconditionsare unfulfilled,thatbehavior iseitherdefectiveor void (someconditionsaremorecentrallyconstitutivethanothers);the speakerwillhavedonesomething(onecannothelp but dothingswithwords),but hewillnothave performedtheactinquestion.Thiswould betrue evenifthename ofthe actwerepartofthe utterance."Ipromiseto flunk you,"is not innormalcircumstancesapromisebecause"apromiseis defectiveifthethingpromisedis somethingthe promiseedoesnot wantdone"(Searle,p. 58).WhatSiciniuspredicts(correctly)isthatCoriolanuswillvoidhisrequest bymakingit in such awayasto indicatethathedoesnotaccept theconditionsonits successfulperformance.He does not,forexample,believe thatH(thehearerorrequestee)is abletodo A(renderajudgmentbyvoting).Indeed,inhis veryfirstappearanceonthestage,heattacksthecitizensonjustthispoint."You!"he tellsthem,"are nosurer,no,/Than isthe coaloffireuponthe ice." Notonlyare youfickle ("Witheveryminuteyoudochangeamind,/And callhim noble that wasnowyourhate"),but yourjudgmentsaretruereadingsofvalueonlyiftheyare reversed:Whodeservesgreatness
Deservesyourhate;andyouraffectionsareAsickman'sappetite,whodesiresmostthatWhichwould increasehis evil.He thatdependsUponyourfavorswims withfinsof lead.(Ii,177-81)
Thus Coriolanusjudgesthose to whosejudgmentheissupposedtosubmit,findingthem incapableof playingtheir partin the cere-monyenjoinedby custom.Insofinding,however,hesets asidetheconditionsgoverningthatceremonyandsubstitutesfor them con-ditionsofquiteanotherkind.Theabilityofthecitizensto bestowtheirvotes cannotlegitimatelybean issuebecauseitis stipulatedbytherulesof the game,that is, bythe conventionsthat define (orconstitute)the workingsofthe state.In the contextofthoserulesthecitizensaretheonly oneswho"are ableto do A"; andtheyhavethatabilitybyvirtueof theirposition,andnotbecausetheyhavebeen certifiedbysometest outsidethesystemofrules.Onecancomplainabouttheir performance,butone cannotchallengetheir

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