Monday, September 21, 2009

Ambiguous Illocutionary Force

Martin Bell, guided by the thesis that acts of questioning "are illocutionary acts belonging to the command genus," notes a difference between the question that is put and the question that is raised ("Questioning," Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 100, 1975, pp. 193-212; p. 206, p.209). In his view the raised question has no illocutionary force. "Here the question is, as it were, in quotation, and no illucutionary force attaches to it" (ibid.).

The question of the raised question, having been raised rather than put, is not powerless any more that is not simple. It is complex, containing within it myriad questions. What is the raised question? How does it operate? It is a question by whom? For whom? For what kind of existentiality is the question raised? The raising of the question gives us to think about the question itself and its powers, its dynamics. Can it transform a person? Is the question raised for transmogrifiables alone? For, paradoxically, autotranscendent entities? (At this point, in quotation as it were ("."), it is tempting to affix "questionable" to every noun, "questionably," to every verb and modifier, or to say that this or that is a question of this or that.) Does the raised question throw everything into question? Presumably it would leave some space for itself to exist as a raised question in contradistinction to a put question, but throwing the world into question may be the special province of the raised question. The world of whom? Just anybody's world, or the world in the inflection of the just anybody? The world suspended for the sake of the question?

The raised question, then, should not be quickly determined to be powerless. It gives us to stop and think. Communicatively any question signals "your turn to speak" but insofar as the raised question also gives us to stop and think it doesn't oblige us to immediately respond. The turn is held in abeyance. The turn and the communicative response may represent situationally contradictory or counteroperative demands. Thus inasmuch as the raised question presents us with a dilemma it gives us more than to stop and think; it issues a challenge. This challenge signifies its power, a dilemmatical power. A doubling of the raised question as the dilemma of either to go on speaking or to stop and think takes hold and gives itself to be questioned; a challenge is put without the raised question ceasing to be a raised question, a question of ambiguous illocutionary force.

The dilemmatical is an existential concrete at the same time it is an elaboration of the dilemmic; perhaps we routinely approach the dilemmic by way of the dilemmatical. The dilemmic of the raised question seems to be that it is to be distinguished from the put question only by being put in quotation, as it were. It is precisely its authority that signals its dilemmic. If the authority of the raised question can be read as inscribed in being put, its authority appears to be erased in being put into quotation. If in fact the authority of the question put into quotation doubles the authority of the putting into question, the raising of the question leaves that authority without a world. Do we stop and think in worldlessness? No doubt the raised question has horizons, but they more than any other are given to be put into question.

The raised question has ambiguous illocutionary power, but its power is to upset the world.

Labels: , , ,

posted by Fido the Yak at 4:19 AM.


Post a Comment

Fido the Yak front page