The Grice Club


The Grice Club

The club for all those whose members have no (other) club.

Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

Search This Blog

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grice's Ratios

--- J. L. S.

I AM SEEING IF I CAN COMMENT FURTHER or generalise on Kramer's 'anthropological theory' regarding



I'll consider in the body of this post the Italian for 'mercy', "misericordia".

But there's also

"to be at somebody's mercy": "essere alla mercé" (where 'merce' is shorter than 'misericordia')


- misericordia - pietà

To be at the mercy of: "essere alla mercé di"

It goes the whole hog with

"mercy seat", "sedia della misericordia"


Kramer proposes in "Comment" to "Riddles of the Sphynx" an 'anthropological theory':

"The kindness of a society can be measured by the ratio of the lengths of its words
for "mercy" and "misery."

In symbols,




"[T'he Italians, with their "misery-fixing" (or whatever "cordia" means) seem not have had to say the word often enough to have shortened it."

But they do use "merce", which sounds pretty Spanish (perhaps Neapolitan. There are of course 'synonyms' as it were (I hate that word: 'were'): 'clemenzia', 'grazia', 'pieta', etc.

In fact, one may need to know what the Anglo-Saxons said before they were able to say 'mercy' OR 'misery'.


"Or maybe [the Italians] were sadistic enough
to make those who needed mercy [misericordia]
really work for it, or make requesting mercy
[misericordia] take so long, that one could
deliver the coup de grace before one knew
it was being asked."

Perhaps we can extend the word for 'misery': that would change the ratio, right? Oddly, they seem to mean the same thing, right? (Latin misereor).

Maxim of the Day: "Be Brief" (The Tonga)

---- By J. L. S.

KRAMER has propounded in a number of posts and comments to this Club that language indeed does NOT move in necessarily mysterious ways. Why, if there's selfishness and survival economy at the sub-personal level (the gene), and at the personal level, surely there could well be at the supra-personal level: lingo.

Consider his speculations on the etymology ("a mouthful" he says) of "misericordia":

He proposes an 'anthropological' theory to fit Grice's PERE (principle of economy of rational effort).

"The kindness of a society
can be measured by the ratio
of the lengths of its words
for "mercy" and "misery."


in symbols.

"English stacks up pretty well, but the romantics, with their "misery-fixing" (or whatever "cordia" means) seem not have had to say the word often enough to have shortened it."

"Or maybe they were sadistic enough to make those who needed mercy really work for it, or make requesting mercy take so long, that one could deliver the coup de grace before one knew it was being asked.

Don't know. Would need further crosslinguistic data. But it does seem an intereseting hypothesis. And true, too!

holi ma kitti lucu chi chi chi (Was: The Saga of Jenny)

---- By J. L. S., for the Grice Club.


In "Comment" to "Riddles of the Sphynx" Kramer and I are analyising Marilyn vos Savant ("the most intelligent woman on earth") and her account of fallacies; in particular, 'to the mercyful heart', or, as she prefers, 'ad misericordiam'. This, she says, is usually a very good fallacy: it provides very good samples of very good _bad_ arguments.

Consider a missionary in Tonga. In general, Anglican missionaries are _allowed_ to marry (or date) the natives, etc. This one (missionary) spots a maiden, with whom he'll gladly make a date. By the time the maiden can provide what, in Gricean parlance, we would have as "her conversational move" (it may be a countermove), the missionary may confide, "it is usually too late"

Jenny's problem was, incidentally, the inverse:

Jenny made her mind up when she was twelve
That into furrin languages she would delve.
But at seventeen to Vassar, it was quite a blow,
That in twenty-four languages she couldn't say "no".



Ref. A Tongan Dictionary:

holi ma kitti lucu chi chi chi, adv. yes.

Coup de Grîce

----- By J. L. S.

----------- I OWE TO KRAMER this reminder of that beautiful French idiom, as he used it in his "Riddles of the Sphynx" (comment) and which I'm here using, slighly modified, as header.

coup de grâce [kudəɡʁas].
A death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature.

Cfr. coup de grîce [kudəɡʁis].
A death blow m-intended to end the suffering of a pirot.

Gricean/Grecian Thoughts On Apis melliferera -- (nn)

--- By JLS

i.e. the infamous dance (so-called in the 1940s) by von Frisch!

From online sources:

The first recorded reference to this is in Aristotle’s
Historia Animalium.

Grice would know about that!

Kak, of Baton Rouge, writes, online:

"Aristotle appears to suggest

that the recruited bees follow

the forager to the food source.

... Nothing very striking about this

dance, since it serves only to

attract the attention of the other

bees to the foraging bee who

leads the recruits to the source of


"And it is clear that bees and other

animals do have the capacity to

associate and remember visual maps."

Kak concludes:

"The process described by Aristotle

does not constitute a language."

---- True! One is suprised that Aristotle thought that things like _Persian_ constitute a language!


Kak goes on to quotes from Rosin (1988).

‘There are numerous contradictory versions of the ‘dance language’ hypothesis that concur only in the belief that somewhere, somehow, some honey bees use ‘dance language’ information."

Kak, writing for "Mankind Quarterly":

"It appears that the controversy is partly

of a semantic nature. What does language mean?"


and perhaps more importantly, what does 'mean' mean?


--- The Holloway-Hart-Grice controversy:


"The evidence garnered by Wenner and
associates appears to establish that
the dance does NOT represent a
language to the bees"

Holloway, "Language and intelligence"
Hart, review
Grice, Meaning 1948.

KAK -- 'grey matter in the bee':

"It is possible, therefore, that a dance may carry cues strongly correlated with certain aspects of the find of the food source that may be correctly interpreted by the bee’s cognitive apparatus."

"On the other hand, processing of odor information is easily understood by neurophysiological models."


Krogh 1948 welcomes the anti-Gricean anti-Grecian von Frisch hypothesis:

"The series of experiments constitutes

a most beautiful example of what the

human mind can accomplish by tireless effort on a very high level of intelligence. But I would ask you to give some thought also to

the mind of the bees.

"I have no doubt that some will
attempt to explain the performances
of the bees as the result of reflexes
and instincts"

--- and that's L. J. Kramer, and J. L. Speranza, and Aristotle, and H. P. Grice, and anyone willing to join in! (Who did he think he was, von Frisch?)


"for my part I find it difficult to assume

that such perfection and flexibility in behavior can be reached without

some kind of mental processes

going on in the small heads of the bees."

--- small is as small does! What pains me is the penis of the drone! So utterly unteologically cut like that! "Screw the screw!"

"Language in humans is based on
the most complex representational
system of which we are aware and
is primarily neocortically based."

And it's back to Gricean Dennettian antisphexishness. (I'm proud to have hosted Dennett when lecturing abroad!)

"free will (Kak 1986, Kak 1987). Physics,
which ultimately lies at the basis of
chemistry and biology, does not allow free
will, but no person would deny the
reality of his free choices. The system
of language, and its use to
represent [pirotic assumptions], validates
this belief in the reality of
free will. Somehow the postulate that
only humans have linguistic capability
appears to make the determinism/free will
paradox less threatening."

Frisch, K. von.
1947: The dances of the honey bee, Bulletin of Animal Behaviour, 5, 1-32.

Gould, J.
1974: Honey bee communication, Nature, 252, 300-301.

Seeley, T.
1991: Bee warned, Nature, 349, 114.

Wells, PH. and Wenner, AM.
1973: Do bees have a language? Nature, 241, 171-174.

L. E. Chadwick and H. P. Grice

--- By J. L. S.


If it doesn't ring a bell:

(a) Grice is an Oxford philosopher.

(b) the other one is the translator of "The dance language and orientation of bees" -- a case study usually referred to (e.g. by blogger Wharton, THIS BLOG) in his CUP book, "Pragmatics and nonverbal behaviour", CUP, 2009.



Grice; or the Drone's Applicational Inertia

--- By J. L. S.

SORRY FOR clumsy header, but I may improve it! In any case, just to reconsider briefly Grice's THREE criteria that a guideline may have (as it may apply to a 'very intelligent, rational' parot -- oops, pirot -- as the bee (drone) is not.


--- For Grice guidelines go by Three Criteria:
applicational: a guideline applies to ALL specimens


While Grice allows that physiological instantiables of behavioural traits may vary from time to time in a specimen of a species, one wonders, then. I would postulate, along with Grice, 'applicational' universalisability as pretty basic.

Note that Grice is strict here that this relates to 'universalisability'. The type of pigeon-holing that bee-hiving (sorry for ugly metaphors, but it _is_ late) seems to entail seem to be explicitly rejected in our (at least Grice's and mine) thinking on these issues?

Riddles of the Sphynx

--- By JLS

Being a Gricean Analysis of Marilyn
vos Savant's "Art of Reasoning"

in three easy reverse steps -- and back.

(accessed today, as I write this).

"Capital punishment is the
source of many an argument, both
good and bad."

Oddly, I wrote to CHORA-L recently PLE-AA-ZEE asking this onliner to drop using 'argument' for BAD things! It generalises a mis-use so! Grice is clear: "Bad argument" is NO argument!

"Following are some bad ones."

"Abortion is also the source of many bad arguments.
The following contain irrelevant conclusions, too.
This form uses an appeal to pity
(argumentum ad misericordium)."

Pity Cicero!

It's of course with an 'a', since it's accusative of feminine noun.


"This form maintains that because a
premise is not known to be untrue, it
may indeed be true (argumentum ad
ignorantium): “No one has ever
disproved the existence of
the Tooth Fairy.""

--- but many have disproved
the cacophony of the 'u'.

Again, it's accusative of a feminine noun. I suppose the Missouri, Washington-philosophy major (failed?) accent wouldn't care? :) (Love you, Marilyn!)

Not a pedant
but fastidious enough NOT to be
bother when Blackburn calls _Grice_
'fastidious' in his review of
Grice's WoW for _Mind_.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Implicatures of Questions

---- By J. L. S


that bit by Grice on xy-questions ("When and where was the murder commited?")

vis a vis Kramer's 'brain-teaser' apres M. v. Savant.

This is more general. But may do with th logical form of questions (e.g. "What width is the lake?")

For Grice there are two types of implicatural questions.

Some questions are



Utterer wills that

Addressee wills

that Utterer judges P

But then there's



Utterer wills that

Addressee wills that

Utterer WILLS p.

Grice notes:

"The distinction between judicative and volitive [cfr. 'conative', ugly. JLS]interrogatives correspond with the difference

between cases in which

a questioner is indicated

as being, in one way or another,

concerned to obtain information

("Is he at home?"

[What width is the lake?. JLS]).

"and cases in which the

questioner is indicated

as being concerned to settle

a problem about what he is to DO

("Am I to leave the door open?",

"Is the prisoner to be released?",

"Shall I go on reading?", [surviving, whatever. JLS]).

Grice concludes this little note:

"This difference is well represented in

English grammar, and

much better

represented in the grammars of
some other languages."


such as his Deutero-Esperanto.

Grice on the interrogative "mode"

---- By J. L. S.

RETRIEVING POSTS from elsewhere to the Club I append here some OED quotes for 'interrogative'. This is NOT formal, for surely we can just do with

xy-question (i.e. two variable question: when and where did he do it?

and using "?" for question and its inverse symbol for "answer".

Grice was pedantic enough (I love him!) to follow Moravscik in preferring "mode" to "mood" -- he was not in the mood to use mood any more.

The 'interrogative' is not really a mode -- it seems to be a variant of the imperative mode. Oddly, for grammarians, it's more of a variant of the 'indicative' mode:

Is he dead?

would be in the indicative mode of 'be': 'is'.

(Cfr. Grice on 'indicative' vis a vis Moore's paradox in WoW:iii)

But I would take ? as a variant of ! in that a question is like what Hare calls a neustic.

the door is closed. yes.

the door is closed, please. --- I.e. Close the door!

the door is closed. Answer Is the door closed?

--- i.e. the sign "?" signals "I want you to provide a claim that fulfils the gap in my mind," or something.


From the OED.

Interrogative -- from the Latin "interrogativus", from interrogate v. and -ive. No
collocation with "mood" except, of course, in Dummett and Grice!

Quotes in Eng. Lang.:

1711 J. Greenwood

"The substantive comes before

the verb except in

an Interrogative sentence."

"Is he dead?"

1532 Du Wes Introd. Fr. in Palsgr. 994

"The conjugation interrogative, as, Am I? suis je?"

1845 Stoddart

The..interrogative form of the verb.


My favourite use of the interrogative mode has to be from Dickens:

"Sk. Boz iv,

He is a tall, thin, bony man, with an interrogative nose".



Grice on Apis mellifera

===== By J. L. S.

================== WE ARE DISCUSSING drones with Kramer, "Grice on adaptiveness", this blog. Don't miss it!

Grice's Erotetics

---- By J. L. S.

------ IN REVISING MY NOTES ON EROTETICS, I find the actual formulation of this 10th conversational maxim proposed by Grice:

He writes in Gr89 -- but trust linguists to just go by his Gr75:

"I would be inclined to

suggest that we

add [or aggregate, as Kramer and I may prefer. JLS]

"to the maxims of Manner [or Modus, as JLS prefers. JLS]

which I originally propounded

some maxim which would be,

as it should, vague:

"Frame whatever you say

in the form

most suitable

for any REPLY [emphasis JLS's. JLS]

that would be regarded as appropriate",

He real [sic. JLS] WAS into EROTETICS, no?

Grice on ? and ¿ -- Notes and Queries (Erotetics)

--- By J. L. S.

Let's start by appending this gem by I. A. Richards. I am glad that Richards is now quoting Grice thanks to me! (There was this query elsewhere as to the Richards/Grice connection. I provide the relevant one, and the editor of Richards, "Meaning of Meaning" has Grice credited all along!)

Richards wrote "Queries"

"May I call what I'm going to offer you, 'theory of querying' and ask first, 'What is a query?'? And then go on to contrast with it, 'What is a theory?'? Will you forgive me, incidentally, for not putting this all into rime? Theory ... query - not to promising a start maybe? Why do I take queries first? Wouldn't it be more natural to start with a *definition* of a theory (or proposition, or rtatement), or at least some sort of indication of what a theory is, and thenfrom that go on to describe or define a query? We'll agree, I take it, that *is* the usual plan? That, as a rule questions are taken to be in some way derivative from or dependent upon statements? That questioning is a special attitude we may or may not take up toward statements? But why should we make queries, thus parasitic upon theories? Doesn't the coverse really make better sense? Don't questions really come before answers, phylogenetically, ontogenetically, psychologically, logically, historically, and even
philosophically? If so, wouldn't it be better to try to give an account of questioning first and then see if we can't describe an *assertion*, *statement* (even the mere *entertainment of a proposition*) in terms of the querying activity? As for example, a sort of precipitate from it: a deposit, a sediment, an opaque
substance, in brief, a MUD, thrown down by the clear translucent lucid fluid medium of thinking? Do some of you, or all of you, alredy detect something BIASS'D? - and, ergo, to be suspected? - in the way I am putting these queries? Have I made any statement yet? They are all queries, aren't they? Might it not be a mistake in strategy from the outset to develop an inquiry into querying through anything but queries? If there is a bias in the attitude to queries I'm displaying isn't that as it should be? In an incomplete provisional inquiry - and all but God's are such I take it? - isn't 'bias' necessary? Isn't calling this 'bias' just a pejorative turn, suggesting that some other direction would be more to our taste? Does a question have to have a direction? Can't we go all ways at once? Doesn't a question have to have a direction? Can it go all ways at once? What will you make of the differences between these two ways of asking? Does the frankness of the metaphor distress you? Is it more distressing than the other uses of the same sort of metaphor which depict propositions as the starting-out points, or terms, or goals, etc. of questioning? And is calling a query a *motion* (or *process*, or *vector*), is that strictly a 'metaphor'? But to come back- does it make any important difference whether we take questioning or asserting to be primordial, and the other derivative? Well, what sorts of difference would we regard as important? If the switch over let us or made us see traditional doctrines and data from a new angle would that be important? If it gave us different ways of formulating - ought I to say *them*, or call them their 'query-analogues'? Would that be important? If it suggested new questions, would that be important? Or have we more than enough questions already? On a humbler level, if the switch were stimulating (ghastly word, isn't it?) what *that* be important? Penultimately, have we any means of inquiry, with any hope of valid results, into the questioning process? Where, in the formulation of any question, comes the whatever-it-is which formulates and propounds and asks it? And what would valid results be? Other queries? Finally what has philosophy to show but queries -- What is being? What is thought? What is a proposition? What is logic? What is philosophy itself? What is man? What is god? -- as the outcomes of its agelong endeavours?

-------------- I A Richards, b. Sandbach, Ches.


"'Erotetic' is that branch of logic that deals with
questions and answers, right?"
JL Speranza.

It may seem at first sight that you can't answer

Q: What's the capital of Wales?


A: I have a train to catch.

But cfr. I A Richards on "Queries" above and reach the right conclusion.

Perhaps one should not limit ourselves onto thinking that it's only STATEMENTS that can answer a question. It's true, too, that ANY statement, provided the right conversational complex context may probably count as as an answer to _any_ question. Granted, such an answer may count as an underinformative, IRRELEVANT, WRONG, EVASIVE, STOOPID, etc. -- i.e. not always the SNAPPY answer you're looking for -- but it should look, on occasion, as an "answer" nonetheless.

"Beware those who know the answer before they understand the question" -- C. M. Manasco

Erotetics: Grice on ? and ¿

----- By J. L. S.

----------------- KRAMER'S POST, "A brain-teaser", this blog, motivates me to remind the clubbers about erotetics -- seats yet available!

Have you ever, serious and honest, studied EROTETICS?

i.e. the logic of question and answers? Or ? and ¿ if you must! Take it as a straight application of Grice's Kantian quartette for Strings (Qual, Quan, R, and M).

It's fascinating!

First, we may consider assertoric and imperative here, But let's just narrow on 'assertoric' questions.

Not every statement (or assertoric conversational move) can be an answer to a question.


(1) The cat miaows.

What can THAT be the answer for? Well, a few things:

(2) A: What miaows?
B: the cat miaows (shortened to 'the cat').

But also:

(3) A: What does the cat do?
B: The cat miaows (shortened to: she miaows).

And also, e.g.

(4) A: What's that noise in the garden?


Now, another (perhaps more interesting) alternative is to consider the question and imagine the answers.

There are two types of question,

Type 1.

yes/no questions

Type 2.



It is often wrongly assumed that "yes/no"

questions have to be replied with a yes or

a no (or a hey nonny no).

But surely you can ALWAYS deny the

presupposition of the question, and

do neither (hey nonny no).


(5) A: Are you gay?
B: I don't believe in "labelling"
people, you see.

(6) A (to gene): Are you selfish?
B: mmpf.

(7) A: Have you stopped beating your husband?
B: I'm single.

As for x-questions, _their_ problem is that the level of informativeness can be
so contextual... it hurts:

(8) A: Where were you born?
B: In England.
In the West Midlands.
In Staffordshire
In Harborne

This allows for some monotonic reasoning:

B: Stafforshire?
A: Yes, in Staffordshire, but not in Hanley.


Incidentally, an x-question can _also_ be 'answered', or challenged, rather, by questioning the presupposition.

(9) A: Where were you born?
B: I haven't been born yet.
I only believe in the afterlife.


A Brain-Teaser

Lawrence J. Kramer, for the Grice Club.

I wonder if there isn’t some grist for Grice in my favorite time and distance problem. It’s more challenging than difficult, i.e., it seems to rely on some misdirection rather than complexity for its fun. But see what you think. The riddle is credited to Marilyn vos Savant.

Two boats cross a lake leaving from opposite sides. They move at constant speed, pass each other and continue to the opposite shore. They reverse and pass each other again and continue until each has completed a round trip. Make the usual friction-free assumptions about instantaneous acceleration and deceleration and the boats being able to pass through each other as they follow the same course.

When the boats first meet, they are 900 meters from the eastern shore. When they next meet, they are 600 meters from the western shore. How wide is the lake?

I will put the solution in a comment.

Grice, Farewell To All That

-------- By J. L. Speranza.
--------------- For the Grice Club.

-------------- ONLY he'll say "Goodbye". Anyway, it's very sad, I find, that a philosopher should use the word 'valedictory'. Yet he did. His 'valediction' is a gem of a piece (WoW:RE), where he comments on various things. I will excerpt here some comments on his views on 'rationality'.

GRICE has become the philosopher of rationality. Every Anglo-American philosopher worth the name is bound to feel he has to mention Grice, at least his Aspects of Reason(Gr01). Earlier exegesis of his work (e.g. Grandy/Warner) would quote in extenso from his views on 'rationality' as a faculty -- a rather outmoded term turned moded by Grice -- that 'operates' (hence the 'fac-') on pre-rational states: the sphexish states, as it were.

WHY do we need the 'pre-rational'? Well, to turn the thing into a 'commodity': rationality is supposed to 'solve', or at least is supposed to aim at solving, some issue or two. In the broader perspective, it's Grice's "faith" that pirots will behave rationally as they go one rung higher in the stairs of the 'chain of being'.

Grice has elaborated on the general 'form' of 'reason'. It's "to reason", with Grice: a verb. And utterers reason. Reason goes hand in hand with 'talking' pirots. A 'reasoner'.

A reasoner reasons, simply, from a premise to a conclusion. So don't expect a lot of krypo-technicisms here. Krypto-technicisms, Grice says, fail to address the proper questions, 'and raise the improper ones'!

But here then for his more technical bits as it connects with the corporal punished (that one may feel) constraints as they spring from the Cooperative Principle (CP) and such. Grice writes:

"Strand Six [of his "Valedictory Essay"] deals with the Conversational Maxims"(Gr89:368). He is detecting some undercurrents in his whole opus, and eight of them. Note he uses the capitals in "C" and "M" in conversational maxim: this had become indeed a krypto-technicism for him, although not one he was wedded to. The maxims are 'conversational' because they generate 'conversational' implicatures (or the other way round). One has to be slighly careful here because, as per Gr89:ii, some implicatures that everyone WOULD regard as 'conversational' he dubs, somewhat pedantically (or 'fastidiously,' as Blackburn prefers in his review of WoW) "nonconventional, nonconversational". It's the alleged GOAL that conversation is supposed to serve that turns a set of maxims (never mind the Cooperative Principle) as 'conversational'. And this goal is

mutually influencing.

i.e. pirots want to influence each other by the exchange of information about their willings and judgings (Kramer has an analogue talk for these two terms). And these willings and judgings better be true or trustworthy. It's the chance of survival of pirots. Because sense-data, as Grice has it, do not threaten or nourish: objects do.

So, this is cooperative 'submarine-hunting' in a way (vide wiki, 'evolution of cooperation'). Pirots interact with a common view to a common survival strategy. They are 'prisoners' of their environment and they have to dodge a horn or two of an alleged dilemma. Grice looks back:

"In my extended [almost apologetically, to Kant, e.g.] discussion of the properties of conversational practice [the charmer here is his earlier 1964 lectures. This discussion is particularly 'extended' to Grice in particular. He knew he had lectured one lecture too many on those things] I distinguished a number of maxims or principles [sic], observance of which I regarded as providing


--- where we are not sure he is concerned with the etymology of 'standard' -- cfr. "Standard English" -- banner, originally. Cfr. "stand to reason" (as per OED, elsewhere). Grice goes on:

"While the conversational maxims have on the whole been quite well received,"

Indeed, by the rather pretentious "Gricean maxim" in keywords of a few articles!

"the same cannot, I think, be said about my invocation of a supreme principle of
conversational cooperation"

He _IS_ thinking, but wouldn't say, Kasher! So he wants to 'retrospect' what he was after, as it were. He felt that

"[I]t is ONLY certain [i.e. some, or one] aspects [or aspect] of our conversational practice which are candidates for EVALUATION,"

He is careful not to go the way against, say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" -- "A beautiful conversationalist," say.

"namely those which are _crucial_ to its RATIONALITY"

Cfr. Pirot P reasons from premise p to conclusion c"

"rather than to whatever other merits or demerits it may possess. So; nothing which I sai[d] should be regarded as bearing upon the SUITABILITY or unsuitability of particular issues of conversational exploration."

E.g. the dialogues of Joyce, or Pinter, etc.

"[I]t is the RATIONALITY (or irrationality)of conversational conduct which I have been concerned to track down."

This is a bit scary, vis a vis Foucault. Everytime a philosopher merely mentions 'irrationality', I get scared: because it means they have BEEN there. I.e. it takes a 'sharp' eye to try to set the boundaries between the asylum and what's outside!

"rather than any more general characterisation"

But of less philosophical import, he means -- he is after all "in the tradition of Kantotle" as Bennett's review of PGRICE for the TLS supplement went.

"of conversational adequacy."

'Adequacy' is a good one. Consider:
A: Did Charles see "Star Trek" yesterday?
B: No.
vs. "He was in Boston, darling!"
"Adequate?". Perhaps not. Rational? Perhaps yes.

"So," Grice adds, "we may expect principles (sic in plural) of CONVERSATIONAL RATIONALITY"

cfr Sp --

"to _abstract_from the special"

i.e. specific -- Gk eidos.

"character of conversational interests."

Whatever they are: we shouldn't care, qua philosophers, he says about himself. But there is a _second_ point (He does use 'second'):

"I have taken it as a working assumption"

Cfr. his reference to 'frictionless solids'

"that, whether a particular enterprise aims at a SPECIFICALLY conversational result or outcome,"

his goal-directed view.

"and so perhaps is a specifically conversational practice, or whether its central character is more generally conceived as having no special connection with communication, the same principles will determine the rationality of its conduct."

This is a special pet with Grice. It's the aequi-vocality, as he calls it (sic italic in part) of 'reason'. (Do not multiply 'reason' beyond necessity: there is only ONE reason -- a corollary of his modified Ockham razor. (I use the "ck" spelling as a reminder of Surrey). Grice goes on, in the same passage:

"It is i-rrational to bite off more than you can chew whether the object of your pursuit is hamburgers or the Truth."

Horn indeed entitled "Hamburgers and Truth" his talk in Berkeley in memory of Grice (ed. K. Hall, "Legacy of Grice", Berkeley Linguistics Society, vol. 69). I'm not sure -- about truth. It may be a bit of an evaluative principle to aim at biting off MORE than _she_ can chew.) (Never mind hamburgers -- I've seen some pirots! It's like they think they won't survive elsehow). Grice goes on:

"Within the dimention of voluntary exchanges (which are [or should. JLS]
be all that concern us)" we are into the topic of "COLLABORATION in achieving exchange of information or the institution of DECISIONS"

This is the goal that conversation is 'served' to adapt. So that flouts are 'ex-aptive,' rather, and thus _fun_. Grice goes on to confess he is NOT the cold rationalist his scheme may have you think he is: he refers to the "over-the-garden-wall chatter in which MOST OF US from time to time engage". Grice goes on with a 'refurbished' (valedictory) account of Gr67:

"A list is presented of conversational maxims (or 'conversational imperatives')"

The topic is important vis a vis Gr01, for maxims (or counsels of prudence, really in Kant -- vide the German for this, Prudenz) _are_ hypothetical imperatives, not categorial. To think what Kant may have thought of 'say the truth' as hypothetical is mind-boggling Kant Kant engage in, but should, perhaps). (And this was why he gathered so much scorn from British philosophers, Grice goes on to note, Gr89 -- the famous attic-example, as discussed e.g. by Hampshire contra Hare). Grice goes on:

"These 'conversational' IMPERATIVES, are such that, in paradigmatic cases"

'Conversational conversation', in his favoured use: _not_ cross-examination, over-the-garden-wall chatter, etc.

"their observance PROMOTES"

Or maximises, more technically, for we need a criterion here for even postulating them qua them rather than qua any other set you may think of.

"and their violation"

But not FLOUT.

"dispromotes conversational rationality".

He goes on: "Somewhat LIKE moral commandments"

But in the more fastidious talk of Gr67:89:ii, these are NOT 'moral' in character --

"these maxims" (are)[conjoining the four conversational categories, which he makes the point of quoting in full on p. 370:

"Quantity, Quality, Relation, and Modus" -- in that order. "An initial class of actual talk-exchanges MANIFESTS rationality", and it does so "by its conformity to the maxims."

Here he uses the verb, "to rationalize", to good effect, in somewhat the use of Anne Freud. Utterers _rationalise_ each other's behaviour, and they rationalise each other by relating the conversational moves to such maxims, or 'violations' (sic in quotes: "seeming, not real") in 'letter', but not 'spirit' (distinction Grice's, p. 370, sic with specific terms). Grice goes on:

"The convesational maxims are thus 'specific' (i.e. they spring from something like, 'be rational') yet they are "still highly general".

Indeed, 'hopelessly vague,' some critics have said, and will continue to say. Elsewhere I have attempted a more general, indeed, quasi-evolutionary (but I'm no Dawkins! No Axelrod, either) format, along what Grice calls elsehwere the manual or immanuel, rather -- the pun on Kant. This is the Grice I enjoy. The punny, rather than the fastidiously 'grand' that some of the Griceans or anti-Griceans even, want!In Gr75 he suggests that immanuels spring from the pirots' necessities to survive. They are adaptable -- indeed so adaptable that some of the adaptations are best seen as ex-aptations! But the conversational maxims can be seen, very cleverly -- as I do elsewhere, SpTAF -- to be instanstiables of a more general pattern of formula. This formula, or formulae, will display three considerations of 'generality': (a) conceptual; (b) applicational, and (c). formal.

For each conversational maxim under each of the four categories, indeed, we look for (remember they are four of them, i.e. FOUR conversational categories) (I call them a decalogue, elsewhere, just to play on Grice, -- "Moses must have brought something else from Sinai than the ten commandments" --, written overleaf a statement of account of Peoples Bank).

First, CONCEPTUAL generality: informativeness (QUAN), trustworthiness (QUAL), relation (R), and modus (M). These are _very_ basic requirements which need to be formulated in philosophically appropriate terms, i.e. _general_ terms. The concepts should be "psychological": information, say, or 'strength' better, for pirots. Trustworthiness in terms of the 'factiveness' of what a pirot displays. "It's raining!", therefore displaying his belief, "honestly", that it _is_ raining. Relatio: "What time is it? Four o'clock." "Four o'clock understood as the answer to the question." "Four o'clock, you said?! It's eleven o'clock." "Sorry, I wasn't answering your question. I did not have a watch to hand; and I was commenting to you on the average time when Brits have tea". Modus: "Quel heur est-il? "eleven forty-nine". I mean, one has to be clear.

Second, APPLICATIONAL generality. This is the evolution of the Golden Rule (wiki, 'evolution of cooperation), as per St. Matthew. The pirots want the maxims instituted, if they want them instituted at all, on condition that _all_ pirots will abide by them. Indeed, if this is almost sphexishly part of what counts as being an 'intelligent, indeed rational' pirot (I have to doublecheck if Grice uses the comma there -- but he is only citing Locke, who I think does not. Vide Jones) there's not much of a choice we have. "A pirot will karulise elatically", i.e. will converse, but rationally (talk). But if he doesn't, i.e. if he does not do it _rationally_ he's just not pirotising! A rational animal who ceases to be rational cannot be said to keep 'humanising'. For each pirot, at each stage of development, there is a _metier_ or raison d'etre (ratio essendi). Tigers tigerise (Grice's example in Gr91), cabbages cabbagise (his example appres "Of Kings and Cabbages" -- 'cabbage' as a value-oriented, or teleo-functional word). Here Grice is being a strict essentialist: the detachment of the essential property to a given pirot just EXTERMINATES the pirot. (Pirots in asyla don't count, then, under this rather eugenic view of things -- but I have to revise his wording to this effect. Surely his wording is softer and more in line with Aristotle's weaker requirements as to what makes a 'man', say, 'rational' (Cfr. Hobbes, "Mann is the onlie beaste reasonable".

Third, and finally, there's FORMAL generality. This has to do with features of discourse. The layout is such structured that we have some sort of gadget to ... play, etc. But will delay discussion of this for a longer day.

Grice on antisphexishness

---- By J. L. S.

---------------- NOTHING, really. But I thank L. J. Kramer for his comment in "Selfish Memes?", THIS BLOG. He writes about Sphex ichneumoneus, brilliantly, and just on time

He writes:

"[I]t's probably time to bring out
Gödel, Escher, Bach. Hofstader has
a lot there about
[Sphex ichneumoneus], which acts
in a genetically fixed way". ...
"Hofstader coined the term "sfexish"
for that sort of behavior."

Beautiful. I see it's in his Metamagic Themata, repr. his (1982), and was taken up by once Oxonian philosopher D. Dennett.

"you must either read GEB or
explain why you haven't mentioned it yet!"

Egsactly. Perhaps I spent too much time, looking, rather than reading, the first bits of Bennett's Linguistic Behaviour -- a bore in comparison! (I love Bennett!). Bennett, like Grice, seems to be mainly onto

creatures to which we can ascribe a 'goal'.

In what Grice calls his "Grand Plan" for the William James lectures, which I have excerpted elsewhere, he indeed writes to the effect that he'll be interested in precisely those

"creatures where it makes _sense_
to say they aim at a goal"

or something. I was amused by this, because this was pre-1967, and while goal-oriented simulations were common by then, one may not expect an Oxford philosophy don to care much about them.

Bennett makes the important point that this is where rationality sort of starts. Bennett, who was also Oxford-educated had a previous book on Rationality _simpliciter_. Grice always respected Bennett (intellectually and personally) and credits him in Foreword of 1989, for example.

---- So back to Escher.

The locus classicus for 'sphexishness' is then

Hofstadter, D. R. (1982).
Can creativity be mechanized?
Scientific American, 247, 20-29.


Hofstadter is then playing with the Genus sphex.

As he cleverly notes, instead of the scholastic notion of 'liber arbitrium', beloved of William James, he prefers, "a perhaps more vexish mouthful of a word,": anti-sphexishness.

This is not your average free-will but your escape from infinite regresses (of the type I have analysed elsewhere as mise-en-abyme):

An online dictionary thus defines:

antisphexishness: Not sphexish;
capable, as the higher animals are,
of monitoring one's own thought processes
and avoiding pitfalls such as
infinite loops.
(that the digger wasp will not).

I like Hofstadter's idea of the "highest possible degree" to refer to this sort of anti-mise-en-abyme iterated propositional attitude:

I believe that p, I believe that I believe that p, I believe that I believe that I believe that p, etc.


"I propose to call the quality here portrayed sphexishness, and its opposite antisphexishness, ... and then I propose that consciousness is

simply the possession of antisphexishness
to the highest possible degree."


Consciousness is such a trick, that I guess any way of elucidating or attempt at elucidating the problem should be welcome.


Since Grice enjoyed ethology (watching squarrels (sic) hobble nuts), here is the Woodridge descript of the digger wasp that inspired Hofstadter and Dennett:

"When the time comes for egg laying,

the wasp Sphex builds a burrow for

the purpose."

"Then, the wasp will seek out a cricket.

She stings the cricket in such a way as to

paralyze but not kill it."

"She then drags the cricket into the


"She then lays her eggs alongside."

"She then closes the burrow."

"She then flies away, never to return."


"In due course, the eggs hatch and

the wasp grubs feed off the paralyzed

cricket, which has not decayed, having

been kept in the wasp equivalent of deep



"IF the cricket is moved a few inches

away while the wasp is inside making

her preliminary inspection, the wasp,

on emerging from the burrow, will

bring the cricket back to the threshold,

but not inside, and will then repeat the

preparatory procedure of entering the

burrow to see that everything is all right."

"If, again, the cricket is removed a few

inches while the wasp is inside, once

AGAIN she will move the cricket up to

the threshold and re-enter the burrow

for a check."


"On one occasion this procedure was


40 times."

(Woodridge, 1963, p. 82) -- the thing has also been analyzed by ... Dawkins!


What one learns from wiki:


The wicked human!


For there is a wicked experimenter behind. These people, usually granted by state-run universities, don't seem to have anything more serious to do (e.g. join the Grice Circle) but move crickets out of wasps's nests. In-blooming-credible!

From the wiki, 'digger wasp':

"During the wasp's inspection of the nest

an experimenter"

--- usually called "Jack" --

"can move the prey a few inches away

from the opening of the nest. When the

Sphex emerges from the nest ready

to drag in the cricket, it finds it missing."

"The Sphex quickly locates the moved cricket,

but now its behavioural "programme" has been reset."

--- And Jack gets a renewal for his grant.

"After dragging the cricket back to the

opening of the nest, once again the Sphex

is compelled to inspect the nest, so

the cricket is again dropped and left

outside during another inspection of the


"This iteration can be repeated again and again,"

--- Until the officer of scholarship and state-governed research finds out, and Jack is found redundant.

"with the Sphex never seeming to notice what

is going on"

--- or the general public. (Because Jack wears dark glasses).

"never able to escape from its programmed sequence of behaviours."

Well, yes.

As J. Kennedy notes, "the logical structuring of a research paper".

It's sphexishness of the scholar! Leave the ethos alone!

It's totally UNFAIR to provide theory-laden observation like THAT!

It's like Heisenberg's indeterminacy principle!

the poor



little waspie!

Friday, February 26, 2010

"Irreverent Rationalism"

--- By JLS

------------ PERHAPS the best description of Grice´s philosophy is in his first footnote in his "Prejudices and Predilections, which becomes the life and opinions of Paul Grice," by Paul Grice. It goes to define Grice´s self as that of an


So let´s revise. But first let´s try to memorise, of sorts,





This is like "green big fresh tasty apple". What order for adjectives? The scope is easy. Follow the yellow brick road. So it´s in reverse:




dissenting rationalism.




conservative, dissenting rationalism

FIND That that is "stodgy"? Add "irreverent"



The Why of the Why.

Should be obvious enough. But here it goes:

"Rationalism". It´s dissenting because in British philosophy you HAVE to be an empiricist. Think of the Fate of Bradley. The laughing stock of Oxford! And he wasn´t even a rationalist! England never HAD rationalists, till Grice! (I mean, they populated CANTAB. but that´s a whole ´nother world: Cudworth as ally to Descartes in his tirade for innatism, versus Locke´s tabula rasa.

Mind that this IS NOT "Cartesian" Grice. It´s more, much much much more along KANTIAN rationalism only. Aristotle at most, when he defines man as a rational animal, etc.

DISSENTING. This is Grice´s non-conformism coming from his father, and from his tutor at Oxford, Hardie. Hardie taught Grice to ARGUE. He learned from him "what you cannot teach yourself", I think he has it. They would spend hours (strictly, the tutorial hour -- then they would go play golf) arguing. Hardie was a good one at that. Grice recalls how a fellow undergrad was complaining because after a 5 minute silence, Hardie came up with,

"And what did you mean by, "of"?"

--- But surely this is hot topic: Cfr. The love of God. "of"? The fear of the enemies. "of"? Certainly a misuse of "of" can lead to a fallacy (or two). These were the days of the Lit. Hum, not the PPE types that thrived in Oxon years later.

CONSERVATIVE. Well, this is vernacular and misleading. By "classic" he means "modern". This WILL irritate people who enrol, as I sort of did, but without choice, in a course in logic. The Classic is Whitehead/Russell, 1913 (second edition) PM, Principia Mathematica. That is an acronym I could use, on Thursdays. So Grice is merely being orthodox by sticking to the "conservative" views of the "classics". It doesn´t seem to be anything more serious than that. The Later Grice did wax rhetorical and wanted to fascinate audiences with unbridled defenses of objective value and rationes essendi, but if we trace a long-standing line of conservativism is the idea that "linguistic analysis" of the "botanising type" cannot "refute" the logical form for which "grammar" is "a pretty good guide".

IRREVERENT. This is important in Bergsonian terms. Grice believed in the power of laughter. This was NOT a character trait. This WAS in the genes. It´s a "talent that Nature gave me", he says "Prejudices and Predilections". He laughed. He didn´t want to say he laughed AT philosophy. He laughed WITH philosophy. His was a convivial approach. "Philosophy has to be fun". He chose this as his closing lecture as prof. of Seattle, back in 1982. It´s a bit like Bud Flanagan, "It´s greatest of ALL epitaphs, when they say you did it, Just for laughs".

Grice Is As Grice Does

---- By J. L. S.

------------ ONE DAY I was at an old library and caught a copy of Passmore, "A hundred years of philosophy". Obviously, I went directly to name index. "Grice, H. P." featured alright. "This ingenious fellow has written a few ingenious things." He writes (or words).

..... ONE MAY SAY That the most important thing, to some, that Grice contributed to philosophy was his "Causal Theory of Perception". Why?

Well, because he makes a wonderful presentation, in a section, that, undestandably enough, he omitted when he reprinted the thing in his posthumous Way of Words (since it was too repetitive, he says, vis a vis the William James Lectures), of


--- So, since this was mainstream British at the time where British philosophers were only quoting other British philosophers, Grice made the rounds. This was 1961. So the next couple of years we see a sprinkling of references to Grice 1961 PAS (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, the distinguished acronym goes) in works by mainstreat, cutting-edge philosophers (I hate that phrase, but there you are): Hare, Hare, Hare, Hare, and Hare.


What about his "Meaning"? Well, yes, this was seminal, but the history behind it is so dark, that one wonders. Grice never meant to publish this very early piece 1948, and was submitted by his student (some student!) Strawson.


When, thanks to the offices of Rogers Albritton, Grice got invited to give the William James bi-annual lectures (one year Psychology, the other Philosophy; he gave, of course, the philosophy series) he expanded on both topics:

-- implication. For which he used now his "neologism" "implicature" which he had
used in MS that we have (The Grice Collection, rather), dated 1964.

-- meaning.

So these were the two topics for Grice. He was always a "methodologist". His interest was NOT in this or that area of philosophy, but philosophy method as such. HE KNEW he was good at that and exploited that. Nobody wanted to hear Grice speak about a PARTICULAR. They rejoiced in his grasp of "method".

He would lecture on various topics in the coming years: intention, for the British Academy (1971), philosophical psychology (as president of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division, 1975), reasoning (Kant Lectures, Stanford, 1977), value (Paul Carus lectures, 1982) and then he died.


The Early Grice Catches the Worm

--- By J. L. S.

------------ KRAMER used "CP" and Kennedy objected. "I hope you don´t mean, corporal punishment."

When Grice wrote, in his 20s, "Personal Identity", he used a few abbreviations. Notably

t t s

total temporary state

Those are things that define _you_ as a person, Grice holds, so beware!

His examples are:

(1) Yesterday, I fell from the stairs.
(2) The cricket ball hit me.
(3) I shall be fighting soon.

(This was vintage 1941). He notes that "I" and "me" are best analysed in terms of total temporary states. The analysis turns to be pretty complex. He foresees an objection.

"People may object that my analysis is a case of obscurus per obscurius." So what?

Rules, Maxims, Conventions -- Whatever

--- By J. L. S.

------------- ANOTHER hot topic, or the hot bed of ordinary language philosophy, as Grice says (he was a gardener at heart) was the topic of things like

"You say the truth!"

Are they _conventions_?

Surely not! That was Urmson´s old view in "Probability". "We abide by conventions, such as the one that enjoins we say the truth".

"We need conventions not to burp in table; not to tell the truth" Grice would complain. "Maxims specify the sort of things any decent chap would do" Grice writes.

So, whenever you are in doubt, and

1. you are a chap

2. you are a DECENT one, at that.

3. You feel like.

4. Drop your maxim!

And they are NOT rules. "Rules are cricket rules". "Chess rules". "College rules". Grice says. "Certainly not moral absolutisms like, Say the Truth!".

The Implicature and the Presupposition

By J. L. S.

---- IF YOU WANT TO GET FAMILIAR with the topics that were hot in the Play Group (or Austin´s kindergartens) you need to be ready to examine, sort of carefully, the distinction.

Have you stopped beating your wife?
(i) No
(ii) Yes.
(iii) Truth-value gap.

(Jones may want to tell me how to make the survey in this club look like it has three options. At present people are only able to vote for "Truth-value Gap" but I mean that they may have a choice -- "Was Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?", THIS BLOG. Opening Page. Vote today).

If we say,


-- For Strawson,

The U presupposes that he has stopped beating his wife?

NO! The utterer has said something that "Entails" he has BEEN beating his wife.

On the other hand,

If U says "No."

For Strawson,

The utterer PRESUPPOSES that he has been beating his wife.


So, Strawson suggests, it´s safer to say,

"The question does not arise."


Grice did not like, would not have, this compromise. Hence the idea of "imply", not "presuppose", that has been gaining adherents since Grice robbed Peter to pay Paul.

In Grice´s scheme, the only options are

(Y) Yes


(N) No.

If the U says "yes", the scenario is as in Strawson. If he says "No." the scenario changes _slightly_.

The speaker may be an idiot, and a criminal. In which case he HAD been beating his wife, etc. We shouldn´t be concerned with THOSE types.

But if you never beat your wife, you can say, safely, "No."

---- As the guards lead you to prison you may add, "Perhaps I forgot to disimplicate".

At the End of the Morning

---- By J. L. S.

-------------- ONE of the most terrific (not in Liza Minnelli´s sense, but meaning "terrifying") idioms of the last decade or so has been, they say, "at the end of the day". You turn on the television and everybody is saying it!

--- I find myself proposing (to Kramer, etc.) the semi-equivalent,

"at the end of the morning"

The reference being, of course, to those famous "Saturday mornings" held from 1945 to 1967 at Oxford.

There were two main periods:

Austin alive
Austin dead

--- Austin alive: 1945 to 1960.

--- Austin dead: 1960 to 1967 (when Grice left for Harvard, etc. -- and that was it: the strange death of ordinary language philosophy as we knew it!

The Saturday mornings, or "Sat. mngs", for short, have been pretty carefully studied by philosophers. The main reference has to be that very academic article, by Sir Geoffrey Warnock (once Vice-Chancelor of Oxford -- this is the TOP: The Chancelor is Queen Elizabeth, dear!), called "Saturday Mornings".

--- These were helds about tenish to noonish. Austin, particularly, lived in the suburbia of suburbia, and he drove a Morris minor. Grice lived closer, and could walk.

--- They were held mainly at Grice´s St. John´s, a special room that had Austin brimming with joy at the sight of a scruple of Griceans sharing a table.

Students who were allowed in the later meetings organised by Grice would recall that they felt the thing pretty unorganised. Especially, the lack of a board did not help.


These were NOT official meetings, of course.

Austin was particular as to age, and rightly so. Everyone had to be his junior. Since he was born in 1911, that was pretty easy, since the creme de la creme of Brit. philosophers then was younger than that.

Ryle lamented, "I´m afraid I never could participate in those charmers. But then I´m 1900 vintage."

--- The Saturday Morningers held various views. If they all agreed on something, e.g. that Popper was exaggerating when he said that "All swans are black" had been refuted, Austin would say, "Well, if a whole scruple of Griceans agree on something, there must be something to it."

Grice recalls, "Since he seldom explicited the reference of "it" some of us were held in the dark."

One one occasion someone went with the robin to Grice. Austin had been heard complaining that HE had heard people complain at his leadership. "Well, they have to be LED by someone. And if it´s not ME, who?"

Oddly, when he passed away (died) of cancer in his 50s, in 1960.

Let me check

- 1911

(No, in his late forties).

the leadership went naturally to our clubee.

The Late Pinter, The Early Grice

--- By J. L. S.

-------- THIS is the unabridged play by Pinter analysed by D. Burton in her book on Gricean analysis of Pinter and Ionesco. Enjoy!


A. You was a bit busier earlier

B. Ah

A. Round about ten.

B. Ten was it?

A. About then. I passed by here about then.

B. You did

A. I noticed you were doing a bit o'trade

B. Yeah. Trade was quite brisk about ten

A. Noticed, yes.

I sold my last about then. About nine forty five.

B. you did.

A. Yes. Evening News it was. Twenty to ten. Went about.

B. Evening News it was.

A. Yes. It's the Star sometimes the last to go. O

B. Ah

A. Or the whatsisname

B Standard.

A That's it.

B. But Evening News it was today was it

A. That's it.

B. You didn't have any left then did you

A. Not after I sold that one.

B. It was after that you must have come by here then.

A. That's it. After I packed up

B. But you didn't stop here

A. When

B. I mean have a cup of tea here did you

A. About ten?

B. Yeah

A. No. I went up to Victoria

B. I thought I didn't see you.

A. I had to go to Victoria.

B. Trade very brisky about ten

A. Went to see if I could get hold of George.

B. who?

A. George.

B. George who.

A. George whatsisname.

B. oh. Did you get hold of him

A. Nay.

B. Not much about he is, is he

A. When you last saw him?

B. Oh, for years I haven't

A. Nor me

B. Arthritis used to suffer very bad.

A. Arthritis?

B. Yes

A. He never suffered from no arthritis.

B. And very bad too

A. Not when I knew him.

B. Must have left the area (PAUSE)

A. Evening news was the last to go

B. Not always the last though is it though

A. No. Sometimes it's the News.

Other times is one of them others.

No way of telling beforehand.

Until you've got your last one left, of course.

Then you can tell which one it's going to be.

B. Yes.

A. Oh yes. (PAUSE)

Must have left the area.

Gricean Dialogue in Joyce

--- By J. L. S.

I should supply here the famous dialogue in Finnegans Wake, as analysed along Gricean lines by a scholar or two.

Jute: Greetings, Jute!

Mutt: My pleasure.

Jute: Are you deaf?

Mutt: A little hard of hearing.

Jute: But not deaf-mute?

Mutt: Nono, but I stutter.

Jute: What? What’s the matter with you?

Mutt: I have a st-stammer.

Jute: What a ho-ho-horrible thing. How did it happen?

Mutt: At the battle, Sir.

Jute: Whose battle? Where?

Mutt: The inns of Clontarf, where He used to be.

Jute: On that side, your voice is almost inaudible. Come closer so I can see you.

Mutt: I’m hesitant. Up Boru! Boru, usurp! I tremble from wrath in my mind when I remember him!

Jute: One moment. Business is business. Let me for your hesitancy give you a little something. Here’s a silver coin and a piece of oak.

Mutt: It’s him on the coin! How I know the great cloak of Cedric Silkyshag. Old grisly, growler! He was dispatched on that identical spot. Here...where the liberties took place, at the monolith. There where the misses mooned and urinated in the bushes.

Jute: Dispatched, simply because, as Tacitus tells it, he dumped a pile of rubbish onto the soil here.

Mutt: All that rock (that built the city) he dumped by the river.

Jute: Lord almighty! What a babble of noise it must have made?

Mutt: Similar to a bull in the field. Or rooks roaring over the king’s tomb. (He sings) I could talk to him /of the spumy horn/ with the woolly side in/ by the neck of Sutton/did Brian O’Linn.

Jute: Pour boiled oil and raw honey on me if I believe a word from start to finish of your utter damned rot! It’s unheard of and obscene! Good afternoon! I’ll see you damned!

Mutt: I quite agree. But wait a second. Walk a bit round this isle and you shall see the old plain of my ancestors, homefree and ours, where one hears the wail and whimper of the peewee over the salt marshes. There is a city made by the law of this man, where by right of his written decree all was his, from ‘In the beginning’ to the fullstop of our finish. Let Ireland remember, that we are a merging of two races, light and dark, and a little red dog too. Each pushed eastwards in insurgencies and then fell back. Countless lives were lost at this place, they fell like snowflakes, litters of them from aloft, in a western blizzard of a whirlwind. Now they are entombed in the mound, ashes to ashes, earth to earth. Pride, O pride! This is your prize.

Jute: What a stench there must have been!

Mutt: As it was, so let it be. Hereunder they lie. Large by the small, the well-known with the stranger, the babe alone, in the great grand hotel of the mound, a house if you like, forming a mountain on top of Earwicker, all drowned by the ages. All are equal in this mound cemetery that we love.

Jute: All that death!

Mutt: Melded together! From the fierce ocean they came, singing despondently. And into the ancestors’ mound they were swallowed. The earth is nothing but bricks and the remains of human beings. He who understands, can read its story down on all fours. [He sings a spell] One castle, two castle, three castles crumbling/ tell me true the way into Dublin/Hum-bloody-fair. …But say it softly, and be very quiet!

Jute: Why quietly?

Mutt: Because of the giant Earwicker with his wife Anna the fair.

Jute: In the mound?

Mutt: See, this is his Viking grave!

Jute: What?

Mutt: Are you astonished, are you?

Jute: Aye, I am thunderstruck. I’m going mad!

(c) Joyce.


Grice´s Free Fall

--- By J. L. S.

In "Reply to Richards", Grice makes a reference to this novel by Golding. The thing, "Reply to Richards", available online -- but alas, it seems, the particular reference missing. Shall provide in due time, I hope.

Grice and Sarah Bernhardt

---- By J. L. S.

---- JASON! Sorry about the intrusive 't': the worst thing about an intrusive 't' is when it's final. So, now you should be motivated to post a post on this blog with Thomas properly-spelled surnamed. Etc.

I'll continue to read your post now.

Sarah Bernhardt I don't think was Austrian.

---- Consider "ACTING".

Grice has an example from music:

"Miss Buttie's rendition of "Sweet, Sweet Home"
corresponded pretty closely with the score"


He wants to say the critic (in this magazine at Roedin, of course) is

"She sucked"

i.e. in Grice's parlance: There is some 'hideous' thing being covered here.

--- Now transpose that to Sarah Bernardt.

I love the woman because she gave "Tosca" to Puccini. Sarah was playing "Tosca" in Firenze, which gave Puccini the idea for this over-the-top Italianata thing.


But Grice's example invites the question:

What _is_ music?

What _is_ a peformance act?

Surely "Sweet, Sweet Home" (The phrase "Home Sweet Home" never occurs in score) is more than a score, and Miss Buttie did her best. I'm sure Grice is trading on that. I wrote elsewhere on Grice's and his friend's performance of Raschmaninof (the worn-out piece as played by Grice's friend) and Ravel's Pavane -- back in Clifton of the day (1930). So I _know_! :)

Think of Scribe (?), "Tosca", the play.

We have Sarah Bernhardt doing the lines. That's the MOST we can hope her. The role "Tosca Floria", was possibly created for _her_, and she created, most likely the role, and the role possibly died with her, to boot.

So what kind of 'correspondence' (to score, to script, to play, ...) are we talking aobut?

They belong in different Ontologies. The play qua Platonic thing, the Song Qua Platonic Thing, is one thing, the performance of the thing is another. And surely there should be allowance for some _variant_.

In a way, midi destroyed all that. You hear automated, cybernetic, renditions of sheet music and that's exactly as played as per sheet-music.

When are we creating midi for "sung" things or 'acted' Tosca?

My literature prof's prof wrote a thing on this, in a book on "Drama"

"The best plays are meant to go _unrepresented_."

He claims, possibly citing someone authoritatively. He means "Faust" by Goethe. Apparently, it _is_ a play. But surely one may enjoy it better as a _read_? Don't know. I'm too operatic to allow for that, but I get their drift.

Implicature in the Novel

--- by J. L. S.

In my "The Pratt and the Grice" I make a passing ref. to Leech/Short, "Implicature in the novel". This is a rather brief treatment but under that specific rubric, as I recall, in their manual on literary stylistics. From what I recall (I must have the relevant photocopies somewhere, but I'm doing less and less photocopies at the Swimming-Pool Library), they deal basically with that rather bore of an authoress (hey, I'm no chick-flick fan), "Jane Austen" (Give John Austin, Sense and Sensibilia, anyday).

Kramer is right that if a novel character is "CLUMSY" (Kramer's charm of a word) in the way 'they' (i.e. he or she or it -- you never know with novels), surely that's a reflection on 'their' flatness (We follow Forster on there being only two types of character: round and flat).

Leech and Short follow Kramer's suit here. The problem with Austen is that she never distances far enough from her characters. She is, in a way, better than the Bruntys. As we know (or 'know' if you wish) they (the Brunty novels) were written by Branwell. And he could NOT distance far enough!

Grice on Adaptiveness

--- By J. L. S.

Some crucial passages, I hope -- well, nothing is crucial, as Jesus Christ often reminds us -- from Grice as they relate to "Pirotologica". He (Jesus Grice Almighty, that is) notes the credits to Aristotle. He REJECTS simplistic PHYSIOLOGICAL (mechanical) explanations. The foundation for the rejection: ADAPTIVENESS.

Grice writes:

"[T]he adaptiveness of organisms

may well be such as to make it very much

in the cards that

different specimens

of the

same species even may,

under different environmental pressures,
develop different sub-systems

-- even different sub-systems
at different times --

as the physiological under-lay

of the same set of

psychological instantiables,

and that a given physiological property

may be the correlate in one sub-system
of a particular psychological

while in another it is correlated

a different psychological instantiable, or
with none at all."

This relates to Kramer, "How should _we_ know" -- (vide his "Selfish Memes?")(If I understood he alright).

Grice continues:

"Such a possibility would mean
that a


property which was, for a
particular specimen at a particular time
correlated with a particular psychological
instantiable, would be

neither a NECESSARY

nor a

sufficient condition for that


To sum up:

A living thing is an operant thing (Socrates is thus, an ex-operant, but cfr. this post in this blog on 'death' and the 'immortality of the soul').

Grice defines indeed, 'operate' (cfr. looser uses of 'behave' -- and note that even here 'operate' applies to the specimen-level of a specific (sic) organism, or pirot):

"An operant may be for present purposes to

be taken to be an organism [or pirot] for which

there is a certain set of operations

requiring expenditure of energy

stored in the operant, a sufficient

frequency of each operation in the set

being necessary to maintain the operant

in a condition to perform any in the

set (i.e. to avoid becoming an ex-operant)."

-- or 'die', in the vernacular (one use of 'die', in fact).

Grice continues:

"Specific differences within such sets will determine
different types of operant [vis a vis] their
survival (continued operancy)."

"If a specimen
is not survival-oriented, there is no basis for
supposing it to exist at all."

--- and this is 1975, before Dawkins had written anything of publicity importance! :)

(Grice, p. 37)

Grice continues:

"Some operants, because the sources are

not CONSTANTLY ABUNDANT, have to locate

those sources -- and probably a good deal later in the

sequence we'll have

OPERANTS which are MAXIMALLY equipped

to COPE with an INDEFINITE variety of

physiologically TOLERABLE environments."

(p. 38).

It's here that Grice cares to quote from Aristotle on the 'developing series' for which I have not been able to find the Greek. (I will be flabergasted if Aritotle knew the Greek for 'dawkins').

For Aristotle it was an alternative to definition per genus et differentia specifica.

The 'soul', Aristotle said, is VEGETAL-ANIMAL-HUMAN -- where each
refers to a 'developing series' as per natural numbers -- and NOT as species of
the same genus.

On p. 39 he notes that what philosophers mean by

TELEOLOGICAL (final cause)

could very well ("in a more positivistic vein", he says) be called


(Kramer WILL HAVE to like that!)

Then he deals with what the Camus conflict -- only Camus said it in French:

"Why go on surviving?"

Grice notes, optimistically, that the 'pirots' which are operants like

"will see themselves with a view to their own survival"

-- not just in a merely perhaps Dawkinsian selfish way, but then meme the meme --

"In virtue of the operant's rational
capacities and dispositions
each specimen of the species
will have both the capacity
and the desire to raise the
further question,

'Why go on surviving?'

"and (I hope) will be able to
JUSTIFY his continued existence
by endorsing (in virtue of the
afore-mentioned rational
capacities and dispositions) a set
of criteria for evaluating ends."

"Such ends will not be


restricted to concerns for himself."

--- For Grice, the balance should not worry much:

It's 50% -- self-love


50% -- benevolence

-- vide "Self-Love and Benevolence" by yours truly, in S. R. Bayne's Hist-anal.

(His was at the time a 'dualist' model -- he turned monistically rationalistic at a later stage: couple years afterwards and only to impress the Harvardites).

Grice continues:

"The justification
of the pursuit of some system of ends
would, in its turn, provide
a justification for his continued existence."

He does mention 'reproduction' at one point, and not just perhaps metaphorically,

"If an operant is not survival-oriented, there
is no basis for supposing it to exist al all.
If operants are to have the staying power
(and other endowments) required for
specimen (re)production, the specimen being
of the same type, must be given the same
attributes, some provision for the continuation
of the type is implicit."

-- in google.books ("Conception of Value").

Regarding communication, Grice goes on:

"It would be advantageous to pirots if they

could have judgings and willings which

relate to the judgings or willings of other pirots".

"To minimise the waste of effort ..."

they will have privileged access to their


"There will be room for counter-examples: in
self deception, for example".

He reaches the 'talking pirot' on p. 48 (cfr. the chattering classes!) But he is VERY CONCERNED with pirot-physiology, which is the topic of the ENGINEER. Indeed, he has a polemic between the ENGINEER and the GENITOR (or designer) -- who'd better keep an eye on the real world -- who wants his designs to be futile, he says. But the ENGINEER may think he is _God_, and criticise the Genitor:

The Genitor Delusion -- No Such!

"You are the last gasp of Primitive Animism: the attempted

perpetuation of the myth that animals are animate!"

Grice considers plants -- living things indeed, but no psychology needed.
Just physiology. This don't move. Then we have pirots who adopt 'postures' (some 'plants') indeed, then movable pirots, etc. In her notes, Chapman (Grice, Macmillan 2005) notes that Grice was obsessed with physiological processes, or rather the point of them:

"breathe -- why?", "excretion"

(I'm pleased he didn't write, 'why?' -- I mean, there ARE limits for philosophical wonderment).

--- he wrote on a little card while travelling from London (coming from
the British Academy Lecture) back to his house in the Bay Area (Berkeley).

So next: the adaptiveness of the toilet.

Accommodation and Implicature

* * * * * * * By J. L. Speranza
* * * * * * * * * * * for the Grice Club.

* * * * * I WOULD LIKE to share with the Club some quotes on the verb, 'accommodate'. I did hear it first in a Gricean context from my favourite cybernaut, R. Thomason, and the technical use vis a vis "implicature", but the thing can be used, as it should, more broadly, and, perhaps, as a thesauric variant of 'adapt'. Thus we read in J. M. Baldwin, Mental Development (1895: 217) (by courtesy of the OED):

Accommodation as it is best
to call it in psychology,
adaptation in biology.

So you see what a little change of a little word (or two) can do: marvels. Consider this later quote, from R. M. Maciver's Society (1937:106) (again courtesy of the OED):

To his complex changeful world
man can achieve only a partial
adjustment, a compound of conflict
and accommodation
(by the latter term we mean the
process in which the person
or the group comes to fit
into a given situation and to
feel ‘at home’ within it)

Home is where the heart is, as it were. Not really too different from 'adapt' but perhaps more 'polite'. As Kai von Fintel wonderfully quotes online, in his excelent study, from Beaver and Zeevat's study on accommodation:

The prominence of _desire_ makes
it a favourite term in the
tourism industry.

Now, for Thomason. Richmond Thomason -- who shared with Grice the famous stage at Performadillo, back in Texas in 1973, and where Thomason presented some of his key ideas that he would later develop in further studies -- applied the idea of 'accommodation' to the 'pirotic' stage of Gricean communicators.

So it is a bit of a more technical term, with Thomason. Grice apparently denies -- or has gone on record as denying -- see his reply to the editors of his festschrift PGRICE -- that what he calls 'language-destitute' creatures can "m-intend" (where 'm' is a sort of circular way to refer to his views on 'meaning'). But surely most Griceians abide by some appeal to a 'gradual series' of an Aristotelian nature.

The ultimate stage in this pirotic evolution is full-blown communication between talking pirots, as it were.

How is this communication achieved?

At the pragmatic level, through co-operation (and minimisation of conflict). Thus it is assumed that the intersection between the desires of A and the desires of B (in a context where they are mutually interested in the exchange of information about what they mean) should NOT be null. 'Conversation' is _not_ a zero-sum game, but a plus-sum one. It is this scenario that inspires Thomason, indeed following David Kellogg Lewis -- another good ol' Gricean -- vide his (1979) -- and cfr. Heilm (1982), Thomason (1987), Hobbs (1987)) to popularise the term 'accommodate'.

"To accommodate". What does the word suggest? Well, it's Latin alright. From cum, 'with', and modus, mode, measure. As Kai von Fintel, again in that wonderful study online, notes as he quotes from Beaver and Zeevat in their study on accomodaton, in

the everyday use of 'accommodate',
the 'direct object' is the person
for whom we are making ADAPTATIONS,
not the adaptations themselves

But Thomason, and this is a minor change of usage, of course, would speak, briefly, of 'accommodate' as taking as its direct object information itself. Accommodation is thus defined as the adaptation made to enhance communicational success.

It is interesting that while 'accommodation' was brought to the forum by philosophers of language dealing with special cases of communication (such as
'implicature') it may have a broader application then as a description of those stages of 'pirotological' development _where_ communication takes place simpliciter. Thomason is aware of this, and his work on the area magisterially combines the best of Grice's work on both areas then: not just "Implying" but its genus: Meaning.

(My gratitude to Kai von Fintel for thoughts on this).


Beaver, David and Henk Zeevat (2007). 'Accommodation', in G. Ramchand and C. Reiss. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces, pp. 533–538.

The Pirot Who Wouldn't Karulise Elatically

---- By J. L. S.

----------- a tribute to Peter Pan!


So we are discussing Grice on 'adaptiveness' of pirots. As Kramer notes, and D. Hoft. notes, etc. it's best to be 'variable-adaptiveness'. Grice was very strict witht his. Take a cactus.

--- You take a cactus out of Mexico and you wonder. Is it _necessary_? Surely for the cactus, the cactus is necessary. But in less arid climates, you don't know. The Sahara beats them all: the landscape has self-adapted perfectly to the total otiosity of vegetables (and vegetals). Etc.

--- Naturally wild, that is.

--- We don't know what Carnap had in mind when he said,

All pirots karulise elatically,

but we want to suggest he was perhaps being slightly dogmatic! (:)). So the idea is that for a pirot to adapt, it's not necessarily that he does it 'elatically'. Surely if he does it some other way (non-elatically), we may be reluctant to say he has adapted. Perhaps he has _ex-apted_.

Consider some quotes for these words, for it's via use we get to the meaning:

1903 F. W. H. MYERS Human Pers. I. 216

"Typical of life is its self-adaptive power."

Or "Idiotic of life", for this is a 'proprium' (idion) for Aristotle. And I'll go with Dawkins that the important (indeed ONLY) (important) sense of 'evolve' and 'adapt' is BIOLOGICAL, or biotic, as I prefer. It involves the serious morphological change of the 'form' or organ to adapt to the 'function'. But perhaps other uses are important too, if not more so.

Consider an older quote. I don't see why Dennett (who I respect) thought this harmless enough quote 'dangerous' enough to merit a title of the book, and wouldn't I join Dawkins in the celebrations of that Salop genius that Chaz was?

1859 DARWIN in Jrnl. Linn. Soc. Zool. III. 50

"The most vigorous and healthy males, implying perfect adaptation,
must generally gain the victory in their contests [for the females]."

This above always irritated me: it seems so ANTI-MACHIST to think that those big machos are ONLY doing it for the ladies. Where's narcissism?

1875 Encycl. Brit. I. 145/2

" usually imply such
modifications as arise during the life of an individual,
when an external change directly generates some change of function and

So Lord Berners adapted to his new life in London when he found he was too
old to stay in the stately country home without opera at 'hand'.

Idiotic: he NEVER adapted -- even if his wife would use the

1897 H. F. OSBORN in Science 15 Oct.,

"Ontogenetic adaptation..enables animals and plants to survive very
critical changes in their environment."

The fish off Co. Mayo may do ditto?

1904 H. E. CRAMPTON in Biometrika III. 114

"A rigid..organization, incapable..of structural alterations as
the result of ‘functional adaptation’."

This is the usage, above, that can IRRITATE a conservative like Grice, but maybe not.

1923 J. S. HUXLEY Ess. of Biologist i. 13

"If the degree of adaptation has not increased during evolution, then it
is clear that progress does not consist in increase in adaptation."

Very good. Typical negativistic Huxley. And note this is NOT Aldous!

1824 COLERIDGE Aids to Refl. (1848) 193

"This higher species of adaptive power we call Instinct."

Good quote: it's "Drive" in German. I don't have non-Gricean instincts, though -- so cannot share the feeling. (ha)

1854 WOODWARD Mollusca 56

"Modifications relating only to peculiar habits are called adaptive."

When they adapt, and non-adaptive or dysfunctional otherwise. Do we have interesting dysfunctional mollusca out there?

1866 ARGYLL Reign of Law iv. (ed. 4) 185

"Adaptive colouring as a means of concealment is never applied to any
animal whose habits do not expose it to special danger."

In the old days, the country gentleman had NO DANGERS. He _had_ to adapt when dangers started to arise in the horizon. First the railways, that destroyed the peace of his acres. Then his son, who liked Jazz. Then the in-laws, which were commoner. And then the bobby box.

1875 EMERSON Lett. & Soc. Aims iv. 114

"Ah! what a plastic he is! so shifty, so adaptive!"

Oddly, if you call Joan Rivers a 'plastic' she may not feel offended.

1902 H. F. OSBORN in Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. XVI. 92

"They represent an adaptive radiation for different local habitat,
different modes of feeding, fighting, locomotion, etc."

1902 in Amer. Naturalist May 353

"One of the essential features of divergent evolution..has been termed by
the writer ‘adaptive radiation’. This term seems to express most clearly
the idea of differentiation of habit in several directions from a primitive

I think I like the idea of radiation: I hope it's not harmful (as I get out of my swimming-pool library villa and travel overseas). I'd prefer to have 'radiative' as adj. 'radiatively adapt', though.

1927 HALDANE & HUXLEY Animal Biol. xi. 240

"This adaptation to different modes of life, while..we call it
specialization when we are thinking only of one species of animal, is called adaptive radiation when we are thinking of the group as a whole."

I see: then forget about it! First a pirot, then a gaggle of pirots.

1958 IRE Trans. Automatic Control Dec. 102 (title)

"A survey of *adaptive control systems. Ibid. 108/1 In answers to these
questions may lie the fundamental principles of adaptive control."

These quotes sort of start the MECHANIST conception that some philosophers
won't feel does justice to the vagaries of human experience (e.g. OAKESHOTT). And Grice does have Mechanism as one of his betes noires.

1968 Brit. Med. Bull. XXIV. 251/1

A self-optimizing (also called ‘adaptive control’) system is one that
operates by continuously maximizing an overall performance index by adjusting
the characteristics of the system.

Homeostasis: and the things we are NOT valued for, for they are AUTOMATIC, or as Kramer may prefer, cybernetic. But of course we SHOULD be valued for, for there is a designer behind them, and not always blind (blind ref. to Dawkins's happy phrase, 'the blind watchman'). (When did he boringly turn to a _professional_ atheist that will bore us, L. J.?)

1984 J. F. LAMB et al. Essent. Physiol. (ed. 2) i. 13

"Adaptive control systems are those which change to meet changing needs."

And even smarter systems are those which do NOT assume changing needs. But then they die in their smartness.

1879 LUBBOCK Scient. Lect. ii. 42

"The modifications which insect larvæ undergo may be divided into two
kinds -- developmental..and adaptational or adaptive; those which tend to suit
them to their own mode of life."

Again, larvae should not always leave us cold. A foetus should be able to adapt to what they are doing to it in the second trimester and strike back! THAT would be
adaptation to the murderers alright.

1985 A. ROSENBERG Struct. Biol. Sci. viii. 243

"Adaptationalism must be compatible with the possibility, indeed the
actuality, that many evolved structures have a present function, but were ‘not
built by natural selection for their current roles’".

Yes. As a philosopher I feel like that on occasion. I feel that 'philosopher' was 'a role' in Classical Athens -- but whatcha gonna do?!

1988 Amer. Zoologist XXVIII. 200/2

"They go on to allege that all sorts of problems with evolutionary theory,
including a blind adherence to adaptationalism..can be laid at the door of

Yes, there is that danger that "ADAPT" _is_ to reduce the freedom (to choose versus just 'reflex') of the human experience.

1983 Acta Biotheoretica XXXII. 217

"The conceptual analysis in the present paper has a preliminary character.
It is meant primarily as a basis for criticizing various arguments against

And I ALWAYS welcome 'conceptual analysis' for I think 'evolve' and 'adapt' may NEED them, even if Kramer would join Grice in "We don't care a hoot what the dictionary says!" -- or "Change the idiom if it bothers you". :). C'm on: these things bore me too, but they may not bore our occasional reader, ha!

1988 Times Lit. Suppl. 19 Aug. 911/4

"He enlists the somewhat dubious help of biological ‘adaptationism’ to
make the point that assigning a purpose to a biological trait doesn't require
knowledge of how the trait fulfils that purpose."

I buy that. We, as philosophers, don't NEED to know the 'link' -- or actual hard-ware processing of a soft-ware qualia. (cfr. Kramer on physical vs. logical devices).

1991 Nature 11 July 117/3

"In the English scientific context,..the complexities of conventional
adaptationism may be underestimated by Gould."

adaptive is "of, pertaining to, or holding a view of the evolution of
morphological features which stresses adaptation by NATURAL selection", where 'natural' should better read 'biotic'? I find 'Nature' too
metaphysical a notion to be used so freely? Perhaps not. (I don't want to regiment discourse! -- even if that's what Grice may be seen as doing on occasion!)

1978 Sci. Amer. Sept. 161/1

"Their work is informed by the adaptationist program, and their aim is to
explain particular anatomical features by showing that they are well suited
to the function they perform."

Employees ALWAYS find that they are well suited to the function they perform. Yet Murphy (of the infamous law) warns us: they are UNDER-qualified. For each employee you can see that it's well suited to perform a LOWER function that she won't!

1983 Man XVIII. 786/2

"La Fontaine may well choose not to identify with the adaptationist
paradigm..but this should not lead her to characterise the biological approach as
in any sense pitted against cultural explanations."

Good: I can't think what 'cultural' he's talking since he wrote about _animals_, mainly, right?

1987 Nature 9 July 121/2

"Foley's approach to evolution is strictly neo-darwinian and (despite his
protestations) equally strictly adaptationist."

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

1988 J. GLEICK Chaos 201

"So an adaptationist explanation for the shape of an organism or the
function of an organ always looks to its cause, not its physical cause but its
final cause."

THIS IS GOOD, for it relates to TELEOLOGY (Finitism? The twin bete noire to Mechanism). No adaptation talk without teleology. And 'cause', some say, IS 'final' simpliciter (e.g. "I have a cause to go to war. My brother was killed by The Germans")

The OED defines the type, "one who stresses the role of adaptation in evolution, esp. one who holds that every morphological feature of an organism is the result of adaptation for a specific purpose."

1982 R. DAWKINS Extended Phenotype iii. 31

"History seems to be on the side of the adaptationists, in the sense that in particular instances they have confounded the scoffers again and again."

I suppose that is good but the meaning escapes me. Exegesis welcome. But I do love his idea of the extended phenotype. It sounds oxymoronic enough! (cfr. "etended Griceanism" -- extended memotype). (I also love the root, 'phen-' as in phenotype).

1982 New Scientist 6 May 360/2

"The cladist uses his method to construct a taxonomy; the comparative adaptationist inverts the technique."

1983 THORNHILL & ALCOCK Evolution Insect Mating Syst. i. 11

"An extreme adaptationist would interpret this behavior in the following

In "Ecology", the OED notes it's "one who believes that human beings will
adapt their behaviour to accommodate changing climatic conditions. Chiefly
N. Amer." and Ireland (see Lucy Weir Bingham-McAndrew).

1991 Washington Post 22 Sept. C1/2

"A temperature rise of two or three or four degrees spread out over 50 or
60 years? No big deal, say these adaptationists."

Just joking. Lucy is not one of THOSE adaptationists.

1991 Gazette (Montreal) 16 Oct. B2/5

"The point of view of the so-called ‘adaptationist’ is not only
shortsighted but also stupid."

I told'ya! But is Jeremy Bowman, of CHORA, one?

1992 Washington Times 19 June F2/5

"Stephen Schneider was one of the first ‘adaptationists’ (i.e.,
moderates) in the global warming debate."

One of the first? I think he WAS *the* first! (or perhaps he wasn't)

1881 Harper's Mag. Apr. 645

"He possessed plenty of that Yankee adaptativeness."

But he wouln't wear the Little Lord Fountleroy costume -- even in Halloween.

The poets use "adaptedness"

1842 MRS. BROWNING Grk. Chr. Poets 129

"A hedge-thorn catches sheep's wool by position and approximation rather
than adaptitude."

1852 BROWNING Ess. on Shelley (1881) 16

"A profound sensibility and adaptitude for act."

1863 J. C. JEAFFRESON Everard's Dau. xiii. 221

"The man had..a subtle adaptiveness as well as sincere desire to please."

This is more like what the philosopher R. Thomason calles 'accomodation'.

1878 C. STANFORD Symb. Christ vi. 172

"The Saviour's words have minutely particular adaptiveness to every moment
of the soul's history."

1879 CARPENTER Ment. Physiol. I. ii. §70. 74

"The adaptiveness of the movements is no proof of the existence of

Indeed. But then, nothing may be said to be proof of the existence of consciousness. Especially after he underwent the coma that led to his death.

1917 A. DUANE Fuchs's Textbk. Ophthalm. (ed. 5) ii. 127

"A better instrument than Förster's is the adaptometer of Nagel."

Only it's more otiose, i.e. more expensive.

1928 R. J. E. SCOTT Gould's Med. Dict. (ed. 2) 31/2

"Adaptometer, an instrument for measuring the time taken in retinal

Especially necessary when reading Deutero-Chinese poetry (in the original), if you don't practice the language often enough.

1934 H. C. WARREN Dict. Psychol. 6/1

"Adaptometer, any device for measuring the course or degree of sensory
adaptation, in terms of fall or rise of threshold or sensitivity."

Good for squintessential rainbow-watchers.

1942 Brit. Jrnl. Psychol. July 4

"Certain hysterical and pathological eye conditions undoubtedly affect
adaptometer results."

On the contrary, I'd say that, if anyone, Dalton needs one.

OK: I still haven't found the relevant Gricean quotes on adaptiveness but I will.