Referential Zero Point

Matjaž Potrč, Miško Šuvaković


Perhaps the most important controversy in which ordinary language philosophy was involved is that of definite descriptions, presenting referential act as a community-involving communication-intention endeavor, thereby opposing the direct acquaintance-based and logical proper names inspired reference aimed at securing truth conditions of referential expression. The problem of reference is that of obtaining access to the matters in the world. This access may be forthcoming through the senses, or through descriptions. A review of how the problem of reference is handled shows though that one main practice is to indulge in relations of acquaintance supporting logical proper names, demonstratives, indexicals and causal or historical chains. This testifies that the problem of reference involves the zero point, and with it phenomenology of intentionality. Communication-intention is but one dimension of rich phenomenology that constitutes an agent’s experiential space, his experiential world. Zero point is another constitutive aspect of phenomenology involved in the referential relation. Realizing that the problem of reference is phenomenology based opens a new perspective upon the contribution of analytical philosophy in this area, reconciling it with continental approach, and demonstrating variations of the impossibility related to the real. Chromatic illumination from the cognitive background empowers the referential act, in the best tradition of ordinary language philosophy.


reference, zero point, ordinary language philosophy, phenomenology, the real as impossible, chromatic illumination

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