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Philosophy of language is the study of philosophical issues that arise due to the language based nature of discourse and argument. It is dominated by philosophical analysis, the branch of philosophy that occupies itself with what the structures of language tell us about the concepts we deploy in communicating. Philosophical analysis dates back to the Pre-Socratics , and was first made systematic in Aristotle's Organon, but it was with the revolutionary new developments in mathematical logic inaugurated by Frege that philosophical analysis assumed the central importance in philosophy that it does today.

Analytical philosophy is the school of philosophy which ascribes most importance to the philosophy of language, and it is in analytical philosophy that the so-called `linguistic turn' took place: this is the idea that long standing controversies in philosophy about the nature of the world and of knowledge can be settled by attention to the use of the relevant concepts in language. But even outside analytical philosophy, philosophy of language is important: linguistic issues take centre stage in the philosophical hermeneutics of Heidegger and Gadamer and in Derrida's Deconstruction, in phenomenology issues about privacy best formulated in linguistic terms are of crucial importance, whilst in cognitive science the debate about the nature of concepts revolves about matters of content that originated in the philosophy of language.


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