Sunday Book-Thought 56

What I have really been discussing here is story’s capacity to create a special kind of ethical discourse. Emma and Mansfield Park are novels, not philosophy, but in them the representation of human actions and especially the evaluation of the worthiness or culpability of those actions is clearly based on an ethical theory that Austen forthrightly deploys as the touchstone for her judgments about her characters’ ethical agency. To see these judgments worked out, to participate in them as readers, and to recognize them as active principles of everyday conduct rather than as yes-or-no answers to Sunday school questions about “how to be good” is to receive the kind of practice at moral deliberation that all of us need if we are to be liberated from the clichés, prejudices, catchwords, and knee-jerk reactions of everyday society.
Marshall GregoryShaped by Stories: The Ethical Power of Narratives (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), pp. 189-190.


Sunday Book-Thought 49

So far in this chapter we have emphasized two main points:

  1. Meaning arises in listening to the commitment expressed in speech acts.
  2. The articulation of content – how we talk about the world – emerges in recurrent patterns of breakdown and the potential for discourse about grounding.

From these points, we are led to a more radical recognition about language and existence: Nothing exists except through language.
We must be careful in our understanding. We are not advocating a linguistic solipsism that denies our embedding in a world outside of our speaking. What is crucial is the nature of ‘existing.’ In saying that some ‘thing’ exists (or that it has some property), we have brought it into a domain of articulated objects and qualities that exists in language and through the structure of language, constrained by our potential for action in the world.
Terry Winograd and Fernando FloresUnderstanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design (Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2000 [first published Norwood, NJ: Ablex Corporation, 1986), pp. 68-69