The Simple Declarative: The House Style of Logical Positivism

By Soheil Ahmed.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 6, 2014 $US5.00

This paper investigates the historical connections between the mode of expression in writing called the simple declarative and the philosophical position called logical positivism. In doing so, the paper argues that the simple declarative is the house style of logical positivism. The pervasiveness of the simple declarative naturalises this mode of expression: the simple declarative becomes declarative knowledge. Crudely put, a thing is or is not; this is what the simple declarative helps convey. Although favoured mostly in the sciences, it is by no means endemic to them. Strunk’s iconic “Elements of Style” confirms that the simple declarative is equally valorised in the humanities, or in academic writing in general. By definition, truth must have existence, and so the simple declarative arguably confers ontological status on the truth being expressed and ties the speaker to it. As the lingua franca of academia, the theoretical implications of the simple declarative need to be teased out, a task this paper attempts through an exploration of seminal, but not necessarily connected, texts: Huddleston (1971); Huddleston, Pullum, Bauer et al (2002); Derrida (1979) (1991); Wittgenstein (1921) (1953); Strunk and White (1979) (2009); Gibaldi (2009); and Lanham (2007).

Keywords: Logical Positivism, Simple Declarative, Style, Ontology, Academic Writing

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 11, Issue 4, August 2014, pp.23-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 6, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 410.547KB)).

Dr. Soheil Ahmed

Learning Advisor, Teaching and Learning Development, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

I teach academic writing in the disciplines at James Cook University, Australia, where I am placed in the Teaching and Learning Development Office. Over the last five years I have developed and delivered academic writing workshops in the schools of business, social work, engineering, medicine, and occupational threrapy, and graduate research. I have worked in a similar position at the University of Queensland. Also, at the University of Queensland I have been a tutor in English in the past. Much earlier, I worked as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in English at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.