1946 GMP C. K. Ogden

1946 GMP

GOLD MEDAL OF PHILOLOGY 1946



Charles Kay Ogden (1 June 1889 – 20 March 1957) was an English linguist, philosopher, and writer. Described as a polymath but also an eccentric and outsider, he took part in many ventures related to literature, politics, the arts and philosophy, having a broad effect particularly as an editor, translator, and activist on behalf of a reformed version of the English language. He is typically defined as a linguistic psychologist, and is now mostly remembered as the inventor and propagator of Basic English.

Ogden helped with the English translation of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In fact the translation itself was the work of F. P. Ramsey; Ogden as a commissioning editor assigned the task of translation to Ramsey, supposedly on earlier experience of Ramsey's insight into another German text, of Ernst Mach. The Latinate title now given to the work in English, with its nod to Baruch Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, is attributed to G. E. Moore, and was adopted by Ogden. In 1973 Georg Henrik von Wright edited Wittgenstein's Letters to C.K. Ogden with Comments on the English Translation of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, including correspondence with Ramsey.

His most durable work is his monograph (with I. A. Richards) titled The Meaning of Meaning (1923), which went into many editions. This book, which straddled the boundaries among linguistics, literary analysis, and philosophy, drew attention to the significs of Victoria Lady Welby (whose disciple Ogden was) and the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce. A major step in the "linguistic turn" of 20th century British philosophy, The Meaning of Meaning set out principles for understanding the function of language and described the so-called semantic triangle. It included the inimitable phrase "The gostak distims the doshes."

Although neither a trained philosopher nor an academic, Ogden had a material effect on British academic philosophy. The Meaning of Meaning enunciated a theory of emotivism. Ogden went on to edit as Bentham's Theory of Fictions (1932) a work of Jeremy Bentham, and had already translated in 1911 as The Philosophy of ‘As If’ a work of Hans Vaihinger, both of which are regarded as precursors of the modern theory of fictionalism.