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?

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Grice and Strawson on "Introduction to Logical Theory"


But of course Grice was lying! He knew much more logic than he accepted in the footnote to "Vacuous Names".

Indeed, his claim to fame, back in the 1940s at St. John's, on St. Giles, was that of an expert in logic, rather than philosophy.

It was logic that Grice taught to his favourite tuttee: P. F. Strawson.

Strawson was grateful and kind enough in crediting this in the Preface to "Introduction to Logical Theory". Dedicated to "H. P. Grice" ("Mr. H. P. Grice" if you must -- since nobody took a DPhil at Oxford in those days -- it would sound presumptuous and overqualified) "from whom I have never ceased to learn about logic".

So it may do to revise what Strawson has to say about " = " in "Introduction to Logical Theory". Or not!

Myro's System G


In PGRICE, Myro presents Grice with a system G.

Grice was meant to provide individual responses to each of the contributions to the festschrift, but he had things to do (other than that).

Myro echoes Grice.

In "Words and Objections", Grice had introduced a system Q, to allow for things like the self-identity of

Pegasus = Pegasus

"Vacuous Names".

Myro, in "Time and Identity", in PGRICE, provides his System G ("in gratitude to Paul Grice"). In this system


becomes relativised to time.

The idea is to formalise the Hobbes paradox of the ship, and Aristotle's examples of the statue.

The result is too complex that does not fail to show Myro's expertise in logic that Grice had recognised in a footnote to "Vacuous Names". "I owe", Grice says -- paraphrasing him, "all I'm writing in formal logical terms here to Mates's "Logic" (Clarendon Press) and to George Myro".

Grice's izzing and hazzing in the "Pacific Philosophical Quarterly" (vol. 69) essay


Interestingly, Grice ended up publishing the 1977 Victoria, Canada, notes on izzing and hazzing.

As a matter of fact, the thing came out in 1988, as edited posthumously by B. F. Loar.

It contains the logic of izzing and hazzing, and has an interesting update -- including a footnote where Grice refers to the Code paper in PGRICE.

Grice's izzind and hazzing -- as treated by Code


Alan Dodds Code met Grice at Berkeley and he was soon fascinated.

In Code's contribution to Grandy's and Warner's festschrift for Grice, PGRICE, or Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories, Ends, Code proposes some formalisation of Grice's logic of izzing and hazzing.

The details have been discussed elsewhere by R. B. Jones.

Grice on izzing and self-identity


The keywords should be identity and self-identity.

But as early as 1977, in Victoria, Canada, Grice was presenting material in his exegesis of Aristotle. Grice comes up with I and H.

Two dyadic predicates.

Some of Grice's formulae include


i.e. as Grice has it, identity is reflexive.

As opposed to "H"

Grice reads "I" as izzing and "H" as hazzing.

Grice, Russell, and Leibniz on self-identity and identity


Grice speaks of 'predicate calculus with identity' in "Reply to Richards". In such a calculus, alla Russell, 'identity', symbolised by " = " becomes DEFINED in terms of Leibniz's law.

Wikipedia should have the complete definition!

Grice himself -- Grice his self


Of course, when we speak of self-identity we should be reminded of B. A. O. Williams, sometime Oxonian philosopher, and his "Problems of the Self".

Grice's first published essay was indeed on "Personal identity", which is an analysis of "self" or "I" sentences:

"He hit the head with the cricket bat"
"He fell from the stairs"
"He is thinking of joining the army".

Grice comes up with a neo-Lockean theory based on mnemonic states, which, years later, will fascinate Perry, who will re-edit the essay (originally in "Mind" in 1941) with my favourite publishing house after Oxford's Clarendon Pres: University of California Press at Berkeley! (and paperback too!)

Grice, Wiggins, Geach


Geach of course has no Oxford association, unlike Wiggins. Yet, when Myro and Grice started to develop what came to be called the Grice-Myro theory of relative identity, the source seems to have been Geach's seminal essays in the area.

Grice and Wiggins on identity and self-identity


I would like to think that a historical interest on Grice's part was to examine what D. Wiggins was up to in his monumental study on "Sameness and substance".

Grice had left Oxford by then, but was quite in touch with developments. Especially since Wiggins would end up as Wykeham professor of Logic.

Grice dedicated a whole seminar -- co-taught by George Myro, to Wiggins's book.

Grice: identity, self-identity, and beyond


There was an interesting commentary on self-identity in PHILOS-L recently.

It may do to revise what Grice may have to say on the topic.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Grice's Trousers


Oddly, there is an entry in the German wikipedia entitled


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--- which is a word used by Grice in "Conception of Value".

The German entry reads:
"Als trouser-word wird in der Sprachphilosophie John Langshaw Austins ein Begriff bezeichnet, der nicht selbst inhaltlich definiert ist sondern nur durch den Kontrast zu seiner Negation eine Bedeutung erhält."

"Nach Austin sind Begriffe üblicherweise durch eigene Kriterien definiert. Um zu wissen, was es bedeutet, dass etwas X ist (oder ein X ist), muss man die Kriterien dafür kennen. Erst mit diesem Wissen kann man sagen, wann etwas nicht X (oder kein X) ist. Bei trouser-words verhält es sich genau umgekehrt: Etwas ist dann Y, wenn es keines der Kriterien erfüllt, nicht Y zu sein. Typische Beispiele sind für Austin real und directly. Ohne z. B. zu wissen, was es bedeuten soll, dass etwas keine echte Ente ist, gibt es auch keinen inhaltlichen Unterschied zwischen den Bezeichnungen eine Ente und eine echte Ente. Erst im Kontext z. B. einer Spielzeugente oder eines Bildes einer Ente ergibt das Prädikat echt eine Bedeutung, wobei diese je nach der kontextabhängigen Definition einer unechten Ente unterschiedlich ist."


  • John Langshaw Austin: Sense and Sensibilia, Oxford 1962
Von „“

The Real Grice


We are discussing metaphysics and real metaphysics.

Jones confides: "I did have a qualm when I wrote "really metaphysics"! I think the distinction is a part of chosing languages and methods, something which Carnap was engrossed in, which he held should be done on pragmatic grounds. To much to say to fit here I think."

Well, I would think that, even if not strictly Anglo-Saxon (and what's the good of an item of vocabulary, qua part of ordinary language, if it does not have an old Anglo-Saxon pedigree), 'real' is a keyword in metaphysics.

I always enjoyed Austin's treatment of the word 'real' as the word that 'wears the trousers', a sexism that Grice (in his book, "Conception of Value") finds 'typically artless' while characteristically Oxonian, if I recall correctly.

I'll try to retrace Austin's commentary on 'real' -- as per 'real duck'.

Palæolithic Implicatures


The term "Palæolithic" was coined by archaeologist John Lubbock in 1865. It derives from Greek: παλαιός, palaios, "old"; and λίθος, lithos, "stone", literally meaning "old age of the stone" or "Old Stone Age."

It refers to the Grice/Russell polemic: is it stone-age physics or stone-age metaphysics we are dealing with.

This from

Schaffer, Jonathan, "The Metaphysics of Causation", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =
may help clarify:
"The main argument for eliminativism is that science has no need of causation. The notion of causation is seen as a scientifically retrograde relic of Stone Age metaphysics. As Russell claims, “In the motions of mutually gravitating bodies, there is nothing that can be called a cause, and nothing that can be called an effect; there is merely a formula.” (1992, p. 202, see also Quine 1966) The differential equations of sophisticated physics are said to leave no room for causes, or at least to have no need of them."
Grice disagrees.
He spends quite a few paragraphs in his seminal "Actions and Events" (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 1986) in discussing 'cause' as per the Greek 'aitia'.
A rebel without a cause
being his favourite idiom.
A rebel without a cause seems like a contradiction in terms. A cause, for the Greek, was a reason for acting. This may correspond to what Russell (who never studied palaeolithic implicatures too seriously) would dismiss as "out-dated" by a few millennia. Or not!

The Griceian Caveman


The phrase in Russell seems to involve "the metaphysics of the stone age to which common sense is due", which Grice reformulates as "the PHYSICS OF THE STONE AGE to which common sense" (and English, for that matter) is due. Or something.

The Cave Man as Griceian


We are discussing, with R. B. Jones, the claims of metaphysics, and Grice's repartee to Russell re: Russellian "stone-age metaphysics" (versus a metaphysics that should accomodate what Russell calls "twentieth-century physics") is best understood, for Grice, as "stone-age physics".

Jones notes:

"It would be interesting to know something about why Grice made this remark, it might illuminate Grice's ideas about what is or is not metaphysics."

I think Russell is fighting with Strawson. Strawson had published, for Oxford (almost) his "Individuals", an essay in, as we know, descriptive (or is it revisionary?) metaphysics, according to which the world is composed of substances (or individuals) having this or that attribute.

I'm never sure what Russell had in mind when he spoke of 'stone-age metaphysics', but he certainly didn't like it!

Grice's response deals with the fact that, whatever the physics of the twentieth-century (and underlying metaphysics, a process-metaphysics alla Whitehead), the fact remains that subject-predicate structures permeate ordinary languages such as English -- The original English speakers were, as it were, cave men.

This leads Grice to distinguish between categories which are merely linguistic (subject-predicate) or ontological (substance-attribute) and wonder what the role of the philosopher (qua metaphysician) may be. Grice finds some value in even approaching the categories of subject and predicate as valid in an attempt to describe the 'ontological commitments' of this or that language.

It's a short passage or two in "Reply to Richards".

Russell was nowhere to respond, so Grice's correction of Russell's misguided idiom was perhaps itself misguided, or not.

How to misunderstand Grice


In a note to the post on 'pervasiveness' of misunderstanding (as per the infamous quote in Popper's "Unended quest" -- remember people WILL misunderstand you -- freely paraphrased), R. B. Jones provides an interesting commentary.

Jones writes:

"The point about modalities preventing cancellation of negatives may be illustrated by reference to "Always remember that it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always be some who misunderstand you." To ensure the first clause one does not need the full strength of the second, it suffices that there will always be some who could misunderstand, an actual misunderstanding is not necessary."

Very good point.

"However, when we relate this to Grice's maxim about avoiding ambiguity, I think the conflict is only apparent, for I agree with both. Different standards are involved. At least in my assent to the Popper dictum I am thinking of some kind of absolute unambiguity, whereas in assenting to Grice I am taking unambiguity in a more ordinary pragmatic sense in which it can be realised with care."

Good point. For the record, Grice's example was, if I recall correctly, Blake's lines:

INTERLUDE from Wikipedia:

Never pain to tell the love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.
I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart;
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears,
Ah! she doth depart.
Soon as she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly;
Oh was no deny.

Wikipedia in fact provides the manuscript, which looks even more ambiguous:

File:Blake manuscript - Never pain to tell thy love.jpg

Wikipedia comments: "This was first published in 1863 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his edition of Blake's poems, which formed the second volume of Alexander Gilchrist's posthumous Life of William Blake. It was edited from a notebook in Rossetti's possession, now known as the Rossetti MS., containing a great number of sketches, draft poems, polemical prose, and miscellaneous writings, which Blake kept by him for many years.
As the only textual authority for many of these poems is a foul draft, some of them are partly editorial reconstructions. In the notebook the first stanza of "Never pain to tell thy love" has been marked for deletion. Two variant readings are sometimes found in published versions of the poem. In the first line "seek" was deleted by Blake and replaced by "pain", and the final line replaced the deleted version "He took her with a sigh"".

END OF INTERLUDE of Grice on Blake on 'intentional' or designed ambiguity projecting this or that implicature -- i.e. a 'flouting' of the maxim, 'avoid ambiguity' falling within the conversational category of "MODUS" --

Jones goes on:

"In the absolute sense Carnap's formal languages are not immune, because their semantics is given in a natural language and hence lacks absolute unambiguity (or if given in a formal language, we have a regress or circularity to deal with, either way giving sceptical grounds for doubting that absolute precision is attainable)."

I see. We should still consider Grice's main mentor: Chomsky. Oddly, Chomsky was, by a decade or two or more, Grice's junior, yet in "Reply to Richards", Grice counts as his mentors Quine (Grice's senior) and Chomsky. And Chomsky misquotes Grice (as "A. P. Grice") in the index to "Theory of Syntax". Yet, Chomsky is famous for wanting to deal with 'ideal' speaker/hearer (or utterer-addressee in Griceian parlance). In fact, William Labov founded his own revolution in linguistics by attacking Chomsky on that: Aristotelianly speaking, there's no such thing as an ideal utterer/addressee. I will try to retrack Chomsky's infamous quote.

What is interesting is to provide a Griceian context. For Austin (J. L. Austin) was a fan of Chomsky, and would analyse "Syntactic Structures" (which bored Grice) in almost every Saturday morning for a whole term or so.

In a Wikipedia entry for "Linguistic competence" we have Chomsky's infamous predicament:

"Linguistic theory is concerned primarily with an IDEAL speaker-listener, in a completely homogeneous speech-community, who knows its (the speech community's) language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors (random or characteristic) in applying his knowledge of this language in actual performance." ~Chomsky,1965


"memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors (random or characteristic)" -- under which latter falls misunderstanding _contra_ Popper (or not!)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grice, "Lectures on Aristotle"


Jones comments on a post on Grice, Carnap and Aristotle:

"I would have thought it the rule rather than the exception that a lecturer pays no attention to what was on be board from the previous lecture (but then I did my best to avoid
attending lectures when I was a student)."


I think Grice over-uses (or abuses if you prefer) the word 'lecture'. William James lectures on logic and conversation.

I think the alternate Oxonian label is 'read'.

"He is a reader in mental philosophy". "He is indeed the Wilde reader in mental philosophy".

"He lectured us on metaphysics".

Officially, Grice's post with the Universit of Oxford was indeed University Lecturer, so that's what he was expected to do.

Note that to lecture is not to teach, either!

Carnap and Grice: semantics and ontology -- and anti-empiricism?


We should recall that one of the bêtes noires that Pilgrim Grice meets on his way to the City of Eternal Truth is indeed EMPIRICISM (while he regarded as 'enough of a rationalist' to engage in transcendental or metaphysical arguments).

Jones comments on a post on Carnap/Grice on Aristotle:

"I think one can reasonably say that Carnap's "Empiricism Semantics and Ontology" was primarily intended to explain how one can do semantics without engaging in metaphysics."

Good point.

"However, I don't attach much importance to Carnap mentioning Aristotle here."

Indeed. It seems like a gratuituous appeal, as the one Tarski makes, too -- On the other hand, more or less in those days, Jan Łukasiewicz seems to have been engaged in a more serious study of Aristotle: primarily his logic but I suppose the metaphysical background for his logic too?

(I am reminded of the title to Dummett's William James lectures: the logical basis of metaphyiscs -- but he is concerned with INTUITIONISM and the rejection of the "Tertium non datur").

Jones goes on:

"Carnap is not examining Aristotle here; he is simply using him in much the way I did when I earlier connected Carnap with Aristotle, just because Aristotle is the first and greatest philosopher with whom we associate the term "metaphysics" (if only because the term was not coined before Aristotle). I still press the case that there is an interesting enquiry and debate about whether or how much of Aristotle's metaphysics (and also about how much of Grice's Aristotelian studies) must be construed as the kind of metaphysics which Carnap eschewed."

Indeed, and those points were excellent.

For one, Aristotle's "Metaphysics" is concerned with 'physical' claims by the pre-socratics. Unfortunately, physicists never take the history of their discipline as seriously as philosophers do!

Also, much of what Aristotle says about 'being' is best understood as logical, rather than metaphysical -- as per the analytic commentary by Grice -- regarding izzing and hazzing.

This leaves us with the idea that Carnap's target of attack is OTHER: theoreticians who are into 'transcendental truths' of this or that sort: Heidegger, and perhaps before him Bradley, who, rather than an empiricist, was an 'idealist' (or as I prefer, a Hegelian).

Jones goes on:

"Carnap doesn't so far as I know get into these kinds of question (is that bit of so-called metaphysics really metaphysics); it's just a quirk of mine, partly for the purposes of fantasising about a Carnap/Grice conversation."


And the point about 'metaphysics ' and 'really metaphysics' sounds METAPHYSICAL! :)


Perhaps the answer is in the philosophy of physics. For instrumentalism, and the many other doctrines that inform this field of study do not PERTAIN to physics, and so have a claim to belong to, er, metaphysics...

Or not!

Metaphysics alla Carnap and alla Grice -- and alla Bradley (as cited by Grice in Way of Words, "Prolegomena").


To speak of "metaphysics" alla Carnap seems elusive, since we are concerned, rather, with the basis for his rejection of the alleged philosophical discipline as such.

Jones commented on "Aristotle: Carnap and Grice on the metaphysics".

Jones writes:

"There seem to me lots of issues with the page there that I read. So often people writing about Carnap attribute to him view that don't seem to me correct. For example here, talk about Carnap not accepting the meta-language "point of view" till late, when we know that it was an important element of his inspiration for Logical Syntax which occurred at the time of Godel's incompleteness result, 1931. But it does look like we find Carnap taking Aristotelian metaphysics at face value (i.e. as metaphysics in his own sense) whereas I am frequently arguing that things which typically are called metaphysics don't actually qualify as such relative to Carnap's conception. There is here some gap between the conclusions I draw from Carnap's (stated) position and the conclusions he himself drew."

Which is interesting and possibly VERY valid!

For we have to distinguish between 'metaphysics' as the pre-socratics felt it: they seem to be engaged in 'physics'.

Aristotle's commentary on these physical claims by the pre-socratics.

Aristotle's theory of being as belonging to 'logic' rather.

Grice's exegesis of Aristotle as analytic in character.

We are left with something very different as being Carnap's target of attack: metaphysicians engaged in transcendent truths.

While I mentioned Russell's doctrine of Aristotelianism (substance-attribute ontology) as 'stone-age metaphysics' (where it should read 'stone-age physics') perhaps, within the Griceian context, the author to consider as metaphysician is BRADLEY, adored by so many Oxonians!

The following are excerpts from the "Metaphysics" section in the Bradley entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, online at

Candlish, Stewart and Basile, Pierfrancesco, "Francis Herbert Bradley", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

I append it as a ps for consideration.

And I'm reminded of C. L. Dodgson's "Hunting of the Snark" which has often been read as a critique, avant la lettre, of Bradleyianism. "For the Snark was a Boojum, you see".




Candlish, Stewart and Basile, Pierfrancesco, "Francis Herbert Bradley", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

"After the completion of The Principles of Logic, Bradley turned to the task of giving a full account of his metaphysics. The result was Appearance and Reality (1893). But Bradley was philosophically active for a further thirty years thereafter, continuing to elucidate, defend and refine his views, and engaging with critics and rivals (notably, and revealingly for both sides, with Russell). Concentration upon Appearance and Reality alone, therefore, risks placing undue weight upon what turn out to be temporary features of thought or expression, and this has in fact contributed to the distorted impressions of his thinking so often to be found in the textbooks of analytic philosophy."

"Appearance and Reality is divided into two books."

"The first, ‘Appearance’, is brief, and its aim destructive, arguing that ‘the ideas by which we try to understand the universe’ all bring us ultimately to contradictions when we try to think out their implications. Some of these ideas belong especially to philosophy, such as the view that only the primary qualities are real and the Kantian notion of a thing-in-itself; others, for instance the notions of cause, motion, self, space, thing and time, are deployed in everyday life. The second book, ‘Reality’, is long; its aim is to provide a positive account of the Absolute — the ultimate, unconditioned reality as it is in itself, not distorted by projection through the conceptual mechanisms of thought. A large proportion of his discussion is devoted to consideration of natural objections to this positive account."

"Much of Book I involves presentation of familiar suggestions which make only part of Bradley's case: he alleges, for example, that motion involves paradoxes, and that primary qualities alone cannot give us reality, for they are inconceivable without secondary qualities, and that the notion of the thing-in-itself is self-contradictory, for if we really know nothing about it, then not even that it exists. But Chapters II and III — respectively entitled ‘Substantive and Adjective’ and ‘Relation and Quality’, are uniquely Bradleian, alarming in the breadth of their implications, and have caused intermittent controversy ever since. In generalized form, Bradley's contention is that relations (such as greater than) are unintelligible either with or without terms, and, likewise, terms unintelligible either with or without relations. Bradley himself says of the arguments he wields in support of this contention (p. 29)."

Bradley writes:

"The reader who has followed and has grasped the principle of this chapter, will have little need to spend his time on those which succeed it. He will have seen that our experience, where relational, is not true; and he will have condemned, almost without a hearing, the great mass of phenomena."


The entry goes on:

"It is clear that his views on relations are both highly controversial and central to his thought. In view of this, it would appear a serious tactical error on Bradley's part to present his arguments so sketchily and unconvincingly that even sympathetic commentators have not found it easy to defend him, while C.D. Broad was able to say later, ‘Charity bids us avert our eyes from the pitiable spectacle of a great philosopher using an argument which would disgrace a child or a savage’ (Examination, p. 85)."

"In spite of Bradley's laconic style, however, the exegetical errors of his critics are hard to justify. The impression that Bradley's crucial metaphysical arguments are negligible arises in part from reading them as designed to prove the doctrine of the internality of all relations — that is, either (1) their reducibility to qualities, or (2) their holding necessarily, depending on the sense of ‘internal’, Russell having interpreted the doctrine in the former way, Moore in the latter. Whichever sense we take, this is a misreading — and an impossible one, if we take ‘internal’ in Russell's sense, because of Bradley's rejection of the subject/predicate account of judgment as ‘erroneous’. If, however, we use Moore's sense of ‘internal’, the reading is understandable, albeit still inexcusable: in Chapter III Bradley confusingly applies this word to relations in a metaphysically innocent way which has no connection with the doctrine of internality as this is understood by Moore, while in other parts of Appearance and Reality he openly flirts with the doctrine of internality, repudiating it clearly only in later works less often read, such as the important essay ‘Relations’ left incomplete at his death and published in his Collected Essays of 1935. Further, Bradley does uniformly reject the reality of external relations, and it is easy, though not logically inevitable, to interpret this as a commitment to the doctrine of internality."

"Bradley's treatment of relations originates in Chapter II with a discussion of the problem of what makes the unity of an individual thing. How can we make sense of the fact that a single thing, such as, say, a lump of sugar, is capable of holding a plurality of different properties into a unity, such as its sweetness, whiteness and hardness? We cannot postulate the existence of an underlying substance distinct from its qualities, for this would commit us to the existence of a naked, bare particular, the absurd conception of a something devoid of all qualities. Moreover, the original difficulty as to the unity of the thing is left unsolved by this move, since it becomes possible to ask what it is that binds the qualities to their substance. The alternative is to conceive the thing as a collection of qualities, yet what is the nature of the ontological tie that binds them into the unity of the thing? We are left with an aggregate of independent, substance-like qualities, rather than with an individual thing. At this point, the problem of relations emerges in its full ontological significance, for it now looks as if only a relation could provide the required nexus."

"Bradley's considered view in Chapter III is that neither external nor internal relations possess unifying power and must therefore be rejected as unreal. This is the proper conclusion of a set of condensed arguments which he deploys as a team, systematically excluding the possible positions available to those who would disagree. One crucial consideration is based upon the insight that a relation is the ‘ground’ of its terms as well as ‘founded’ upon them. ‘So far as I can see’, he says, ‘relations must depend upon terms, just as much as terms upon relations’ (Appearance, p. 26). The relation is said to ‘depend’ upon its terms, because it requires at least two terms in order to exist; and terms ‘depend’ upon relations, because they are partly constituted by the relationships in which they stand to one another (albeit Bradley provides no illustration, this can be made plausible by considering two different shades of colour: blue would not be blue, if it were not darker than yellow). Once this is recognized, Bradley goes on to argue, one sees that a related term A is really made up of two parts, one functioning as the foundation of the relation, A1, and the other determined by it, A2. Thus, each related term turns out to be a relational complex, in this specific case, A turning out to be the complex R(A1,A2). This launches a regress, for by the same logic A1 and A2 will have to be made up of two distinct parts, and so on without end."

"The member of Bradley's team of arguments which has attracted the greatest polemical attention, however, is the one which alleges that if a relation were a further kind of real thing along with its terms (as, e.g., Russell later assumed in his multiple relation theory of judgment), then a further relation would be required to relate it to its terms, and so on ad infinitum. It is clear from this argument (which is an obvious descendant of The Principles of Logic's attack on the traditional analysis of judgment), as well as from his own explanation, that for him ‘real’ is a technical term: to be real is to be an individual substance (in the sense commonly found in Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza). On this understanding, to deny the reality of relations is to deny that they are independent existents. It is this argument which explains reactions like Broad's: in common with others, he took Bradley to be assuming that relations are a kind of object, when what Bradley was doing was arguing by a kind of reductio against that very assumption."

"These remarks make it clear that Bradley is using the term ‘appearance’ in an ontological sense, as referring to what lacks full individuality, rather than in an epistemological sense, as referring to what is present to a subject. And indeed, he does not wish to deny the obvious fact that we experience a rich diversity of things; relations and plurality in some sense exist, and therefore belong to reality. The denial of the reality of relations does not imply their absolute non-existence; rather, his conclusion is that relations and terms should be conceived as aspects within an all-embracing whole. Instead of ascribing to Bradley the doctrine of internality, it would therefore be better to see him as advocating a ‘holistic’ theory of relations. As against Russell, Bradley was wholly explicit on this fundamental point."

Bradley writes:

"This is the doctrine for which I have now for so many years contended. Relations exists only in and through a whole which can not [sic] in the end be resolved into relations and terms. ‘And’, ‘together’ and ‘between’, are all in the end senseless apart from such a whole. The opposite view is maintained (as I understand) by Mr. Russell... But for myself, I am unable to find that Mr. Russell has ever really faced the question. (Principles, 2nd edn, Ch. II, additional note 50)."

"Interestingly, one philosopher who faced Bradley's question squarely was Russell's pupil, Wittgenstein. In his Tractatus he tried to avoid Bradley's regresses by getting rid of relations. His simple objects do enter into the formation of unified facts, yet no extraneous connecting principle is required:‘In the atomic fact objects hang one in another, like the links of a chain.’ (2.03). The metaphor of a chain, however, provides no real answer to the problem raised by Bradley, especially so in light of the fact that it is all but clear that Wittgenstein's logico-ontological atoms can be said to possess a form; surely, they differ from Democritean atoms in that they lack material properties (cf. 2.0331 and 2.0232). Moreover, Bradley could still argue that the very idea of two distinct but unrelated objects makes little sense."

"The implications of Bradley's treatment of relations are not solely metaphysical."

"They are also epistemological."

"Some have thought that the denial of the reality of relations amounts to the assertion that all relational judgments are false, so that it is, for example, not true that 7 is greater than 3 or that hydrogen is lighter than oxygen. Such an interpretation is made credible by Bradley's account of truth, for on that account no ordinary judgment is ever perfectly true; in consequence, to one who reads him under the influence of the later but anachronistic assumption that truth is two-valued, his claim appears to be that relational judgments are all false. On Bradley's account of truth, however, while for ordinary purposes it is true that 7 is greater than 3 and false that oxygen is lighter than hydrogen, once we try to meet the more exacting demands of metaphysics we are forced to recognize that truth admits degrees and that, while the former is undoubtedly more true than the latter, it is not fully true. The imperfection of even the more true of these judgments, though, is nothing to do with the its being relational rather than predicative. For, as was observed above in the section on Logic, Bradley thought all judgments to be defective in that representation can proceed only on the basis of separating in thought what is not separate in reality: when, for example, we say ‘These apples are hard and sour’, we not only implicitly abstract the apples from their container but detach the hardness and sourness from each other and abstract them from the apples themselves. A perfect truth, one completely faithful to reality, would thus have to be one which did not abstract from reality at all; and this means that it would have to be identical with the whole of reality and accordingly no longer even a judgment. The final truth about reality is, on Bradley's view, quite literally and in principle inexpressible. Eventually, it is this mystical conclusion which explains his forceful rejection of Hegel's panlogism; contrary to Hegel's view in the Science of Logic, Reality is not a system of interrelated logical categories, but transcends thought altogether."

"It is, however, possible to give an outline."

"The impression of reality's consisting of a multiplicity of related objects is a result of the separations imposed by thought; in fact ‘the Absolute is not many; there are no independent reals.’ (All quotations from here on are from Appearance and Reality, Ch. XIV.) Reality is one — but one what? Experience, he says, in a wide sense of the term: ‘Feeling, thought and volition (any groups under which we class psychological phenomena) are all the material of existence, and there is no other material, actual or even possible.’ The immediate argument he gives for this unintuitive doctrine is brief to the point of offhandedness, merely challenging the reader to think otherwise without self-contradiction; his greater concern is to make it quite clear that this experience does not belong to any individual mind, and his doctrine not a form of solipsism. But he is not quite as offhand as he appears, for he soon makes clear that he thinks the whole book to be a best-explanation argument for this objective (or absolute) idealism: ‘This conclusion will, I trust, at the end of my work bring more conviction to the reader; for we shall find that it is the one view which will harmonize all facts.’
So ‘the Absolute is one system, and ... its contents are nothing but sentient experience. It will hence be a single and all-inclusive experience, which embraces every partial diversity in concord. For it cannot be less than appearance, and hence no feeling or thought, of any kind, can fall outside its limits.’ But how can we understand this diversity to be possible, when it cannot be accounted for through terms and relations? Bradley's answer is that we cannot understand this in detail, but can get some grasp on what he means by considering a pre-conceptual state of immediate experience in which there are differences but no separations, a state from which our familiar, cognitive, adult human consciousness arises by imposing conceptual distinctions upon the differences. Reality is like this primitive state, but not exactly like, for it transcends thought rather than falls short of it, and everything, even conceptual thought itself, is included in one comprehensive and harmonious whole. Appearances thus contribute to Reality in a fashion analogous to the ways in which segments of a painting contribute to the whole work of art: detached from their background, they would lose their significance and might in isolation even be ugly; in context, they can themselves be beautiful and make an essential contribution to the beauty and integrity of the whole."

"Such limited comparisons are all the help we can get in understanding the Absolute and its relation to its appearances: Bradley rejects as impossible the demand for detailed explanations of how phenomena like error and evil belong to the Absolute, instead trying to shift the burden of proof to critics who express confidence in their incompatibility. His general answer is that anything that exists, even the worst of evils, is somehow real: the Absolute must comprehend both evil and good. But, just as truth admits of degrees, a judgment being less true the further it is from comprehending the whole of reality, so (consistent with ‘the identity of truth knowledge and reality’) reality itself admits of degrees, a phenomenon being the less real the more it is just a fragmentary aspect of the whole. The Absolute is in such a way further from evil than from good, but is itself neither, transcending them both as it transcends even religion — it is in a sense a Supreme Being, but not a personal God. The proper object of a complete system of metaphysics should be that of adjudicating the relative degree of reality of any fragmentary existent, yet as some critics objected, it is difficult to see how this could be carried out even in principle, given Bradley's contention that the Absolute is, strictly speaking, unknowable."

"Bradley also devotes some time to a consideration of issues that arise in the philosophy of nature; albeit it is evident that he feels the attraction of panpsychism, this is a view he never explicitly endorses. As T.S. Eliot recognized, a Leibnizian strand pervades Bradley's philosophy, one which finds expression in his doctrine of finite centres of experience. On this view, the Absolute articulates itself in a plurality of lesser sentient wholes, unified psychical individuals of the nature of the human soul. Bradley thus comes close to holding something very like a theory of monads, yet this is incorporated within the general framework of his monistic metaphysics. Interestingly, the doctrine of the Absolute can be seen as a solution to the problem of monadic interaction; like Leibniz's monads, Bradley's finite centres are incapable of a direct sharing of content (e.g., they are said to be ‘not directly pervious to each other’; Appearance, p. 464) and of causal interaction; however, they are coordinated to one another in that they are all partial manifestations of the same overarching Reality. A similar attempt at reconciling Absolute Idealism and monadism had been made by Lotze, and in both cases it remains an open question whether this is not pre-established harmony in disguise. What is clear but usually overlooked is that Bradley himself saw Leibnizian monadism as the greatest challenge to his own brand of idealism: ‘Monadism’, he says, ‘on the whole will increase and will add to the difficulties which already exist’ (Appearance, p. 102). He was surely right in this, as later British metaphysicians — such as James Ward, J.M.E. McTaggart, Herbert Wildon Carr, and Alfred North Whitehead — preferred Leibniz over Kant and Hegel as their main source of inspiration.
In Bradley's often rhapsodic descriptions of the Absolute, a conception of the world based both on his sceptical scrutiny of the inadequacies of philosophers' accounts of judgment — and, it is clear, on a kind of personal experience of a higher unity which in another context might have made him one of the world's revered religious mystics —, we can see why, at the start of this article, his metaphysics was described as ‘a striking combination of the rational and the mystical’. The very idiosyncrasy of this combination has meant that few subsequent philosophers have been convinced by it. Nevertheless, in its bold and direct confrontation of what he called ‘the great problem of the relation between Thought and Reality’, it stands in Western philosophy as a permanent and unsettling challenge to the capacity of discursive thought to display the world without distortion; unsettling because it arises, not from the imposition of an external standard which could be rejected as arbitrary or inappropriate, but from the demand that our mechanisms of representation meet the standards they themselves implicitly set."

The Griceian Companion to Grice


Roger Bishop Jones commented on "The Cambridge Companion to Grice", which was my fanciful way to refer to this "Cambridge Companion to Carnap".

Jones notes:

"Ah, well, they must have found reference to Aristotle in Carnap. It would be surprising if there were none at all."

Indeed. It is still a different issue whether, say, Aristotelian scholars would requote that quote! But then I have noticed that they hardly requote what Grice has to say about Aristotle for the Pacific Philosophical Quarterly ("Aristotle on the multiplicity of being").

Aristotle: between Carnap and Grice -- "stone-age physics", not "metaphysics"


Jones comment on a post on Grice, Carnap and Aristotle.

Jones writes:

"Considering Carnap's attitude towards Grice's work on Aristotle, both the status of Aristotle's metaphysics and that of Grice's analysis are relevant. Considering the former, the question is naturally whether Aristotle in his metaphysics is dealing with what Carnap would call external or internal questions. It may seem natural to think of these "big" questions as "external" and hence as nonesense to Carnap, but I am not convinced it is the case. Aristotle's metaphysics is a successor to the presocratic "metaphysicians", and his "Metaphysics" is an important source of our knowledge of those philosophers. But arguably the questions they addressed (about what substance the world is made of) is just part of physics, and quite meaningful. Aristotle's metaphysics, with its focus on "being qua being", might today be thought to belong to logic, and again to be meaningful. Grice's study of Aristotle quite possibly is purely analytic. So it is possible that there is nothing here in Aristotle or in Grice's treatment which Carnap might not find a meaningful enterprise. I'm not saying that is the case, but just that the question is not an easy one. The kinds of metaphysics which Carnap definitely repudiates are post-empiricism, and are known to be metaphysics because their originators make claims of rational knowledge into transcendent truth, and I don't know whether we see this in the ancient philosophers."

Excellent commentary.

Indeed, it is best to regard the pre-socratics as making PHYSICAL claims, and thus meaningful.

The best quote I can think of about this is Grice requoting Russell.

Russell said words to the effect that Aristotelian metaphysics is stone-age metaphysics.

Grice replied: "Stone-age physics" at best!

So we may throw Russell into the bargain!

Or not!

Carnap, Popper, and Grice on the pervasiveness of misunderstanding


We are considering a quote by Sir Karl Raimund Popper in "Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography" (1976). On p. 29, he writes:

"Always remember that it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always be some who misunderstand you."
In "Re: To err Griceian?", R. B. Jones comments:

"I am inclined to agree with Popper."

-- i.e. It is impossible to speak in such
a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there
will always be some who misunderstand you.

Jones notes:

"The complaint of double negatives is mitigated by the modalities involved which make simplifying cancellations unsound."

Good point.

"As to whether it is strictly impossible or just extremely difficult or "practically impossible" I'm not sure."

Neither am I. Seeing the further context, I'm slightly irritated that Popper prefaces it with "always remember".

This seems like a gratuituous preface if what is to follow is a philosophical tautology.

"Always remember that either it is raining or it isn't."

"Always remember" seems to implicate "... since you may well forget".

---- The paraphrase that follows the dictum:

"there will always be some who misunderstand you"

seems to me too personal to be true.

Jones goes on:

"If one is allowed much liberty then the "double negatives" might be thought to have been unravelled in the following paraphrase, "It's impossibly difficult to be perfectly unambiguous"".

Which is good.

We should be reminded that indeed one of Grice's maxims (as he loved to call them JUST to 'echo' Kant) is:

-- avoid ambiguity.

And while this became ultra-famous in the 1967 William James lectures, the Oxford 1965 provide similar counterparts -- desiderata of candour and clarity, etc. -- The Oxford "Logic and Conversation" lectures now deposited in the "Grice Notes" at the UC/Berkeley library, the Bancroft.

The maxim, 'avoid ambiguity' seems to clash, somehow with the

"It's impossibly difficult to be perfectly unambiguous."

I was reminded elsewhere of Biblical hermeneutics and the thought occurred to me that alleged tautologies, like "I will what I will be" seem a good area of analysis.

The 'ambiguity' seems to lie at the level of the implicature.

This led me to reconsider Grice's account of tautology vis–à–vis implicature.

Grice's examples of tautology are two:

i. War is war.
ii. Women are women.

Grice uses a very 'narrow' (or is it 'broad'? I think it's broad) account of 'say' (I prefer 'explicate'). So that we have to allow that an utterer who utters either (i) or (ii) is literally NOT SAYING anything -- only implicating.

Yet it seems counterintuitive. It seems that an utterer of (i) or (ii) _is_ saying something, viz. that war is war or that women are women.

How this relates to 'ambiguity' is yet a different animal.

Grice's multiple examples of 'ambiguity' exploitation remain brilliant, such as the lines from the poem by William Blake -- is the 'ambiguity' designed as such. Cf. Empson, "Seven types of ambiguity".

And so on.

Thanks to R. B. Jones for his remarks.

I have just added Carnap for the record. It would seem that in an ideal language (such as the ones Carnap in some writings considers) ambiguity should NOT occur, and neither should misunderstanding. This relates to Chomsky and Grice.

Chomsky has been rightly criticised for having focuses on the 'ideal' communicators. Yet in those very Oxonian early Griceian lectures on "Logic and Conversation", Grice notes that it's best, from a philosophical point of view, to deal with 'idealised' cases -- cfr. the ideal theory of gases, say.

Or something.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

To err is Griceian?


Popper wrote:

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood."

I try to relate this to the writings of H. P. Grice -- and his symbolism, informal as it is -- in "Studies in the Way of Words". I try to evoke Strawson, too, who first saw 'understanding' in Griceian terms (in "Theoria").

I propose to use

for -- respectively -- "it is necessary that...", "it is possible that", 
"there exists at least one...", and "every".

Also: "U" for utterer, "A" for "addressee", and suggested that 
'misunderstand' be understood as 'failing to grasp Utterer's intention".

One feels that Popper's dictum carries,  as my aunt Matilda would say, "one negative too many" -- or not -- and let us recall that, as double  negatives cancel each other out -- one may still use, as Grice does, "~" to refer to "not" (as in "_im_possible", used by Popper))

And of course, we may need to apply predicate logic, with

"x  understands y"

as a dyadic predicate -- abbreviated as "UND(x, y)", where 'x' and 
'y' will range over, respectively, addressee and utterer -- and where "UNDE" is correlative to "MEAN".

And so on.

Only then we may inquire as to the _reasons_ that Popper may have for saying what he says.

We may also recall Biblical Scriptures -- or for that matter, Witters's 'Slab!'

"The language is meant to serve for communication between a builder A and
an assistant B. A is building with building-stones: there are blocks,
pillars,  slabs and beams. B has to pass the stones, in the order in which A
needs them.  For this purpose they use a language consisting of the words
"block", "pillar"  "slab", "beam". A calls them out; — B brings the stone which
he has learnt to  bring at such-and-such a call. Conceive this as a complete
primitive language"  (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations 2.)

-- and imagine scenarios when it is not possible to _misunderstand_ "Slab!" -- or for that matter, given, say, Papal Infallibility, the idea, that the Pope got, from somewhere, that there is only one body in heaven. Or not!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Carnap and Grice on Aristotle's metaphysics


The collocation here is "Aristotle's metaphysics", rather than "Aristotelian metaphysics", mind!

But I love Gardner!

And in any case, another case of a negative: "Carnap never looked at these diagrams".

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
Rudolf Carnap, ‎Martin Gardner - 1995 - ‎Science
This often left the blackboard covered with diagrams explaining some aspect of Plato's or Aristotle's metaphysics. Carnap never looked at these diagrams while ...

Aristotle: between Carnap and Grice


Another connection:

How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy of Science: To the Icy ...
George A. Reisch - 2005 - ‎History
Carnap responded that his conception of semantic truth had nothing to do with an Aristotelian metaphysics of things and properties:
Grice discusses briefly Tarski's conception of truth in Way of Words, and he is amusing, as often (if not always).
Grice is worried that Tarski's conception needs a tweak to discuss things like:

"What the policeman said, 'that monkeys can talk', is true".

"What the policeman said was true".

Aristotle: Carnap and Grice on the metaphysics


Another cite seems to be:

Otto Neurath and the Unity of Science - Page 71 - Google Books Result
John Symons, ‎Olga Pombo, ‎Juan Manuel Torres - 2010 - ‎Electronic books
His attempts to convince Carnap or the mathematician Hans Hahn on the value ... Aristotelian metaphysics, “certain differences” between him and Carnap were ...
And so on!

The Cambridge Companion to Grice


--- does not exist! The man went to Oxford!

Yet, in

The Cambridge Companion to Carnap
Richard Creath, ‎Michael Friedman - 2007 - ‎Philosophy
we do find an Aristotelian reference in connection with the master of Carnap Corner (which has R. B. Jones as custodian).

On p. 27
In his ongoing debate with Neurath about truth and semantics, Carnap stressed that the semantic conception did not commit him to Aristotelian metaphysics.
which is just as well!

Carnap and Grice on Aristotle on Metaphysics


I once compiled a file for authors "cited by Grice", "that Grice cites". A big percentage of the file contained information such as "not cited by Grice", "does not cite Grice".

This may apply to our case in point.

Jones left a commentary to my "On first looking into Aristotle's metaphysics".

It reads:

"I've not come across any reference to Aristotle in Carnaps writings."

---- So, in my filing system, this comes out as:

Aristole -- NOT cited by Carnap.

Of course, we can not expect Aristotle to cite Carnap, either.

Jones goes on:

"If you Google for "Aristotle Carnap", one of my long forgotten abortive starts comes up, a page I started when thinking of Grice and Carnap."

OK. So in the filing system this comes out as:

Jones -- vide 'start'.

This can be fascinating. There is no connection between H. P. Grice and J. D. Salinger (I recently saw his documentary -- he wrote "Catcher in the Rye". But I soon can create one:

Salinger says that he writes for 'himself' (or 'his-self' -- he was an aristocrat). This is anti-Gricean on the surface of it. Or anti-Griceian as I prefer. For, for Grice, to mean is to communicate.

Yet, Grice of course can allow for the fact that a writer, such as Salinger, can write for 'his self' -- and MEAN it!

There you have: A Salinger-Grice connection.

Salinger -- not really, but a connection can be made, vis-a-vis Grice's 7th William James Lecture, where he speaks of 'meaning' and 'thinking'.

Oddly, Salinger's genius lies in his ability to reconstruct implicature-full conversations, notably by my hero, Holden Caulfield (with friends, etc.).

Jones goes on:

That start, Jones writes, "was intended to be "a presentation of a conception of metaphysics written as if to explain to Carnap why some useful purpose might be served by looking at Aristotle's Metaphysics", but I wrote down an action plan and never actually completed (or even started) any of the actions."

Well, but of course the connection is there, for as Jones was pointing out: there are various ways to regard this:

---- Aristotle's, Carnap's, and Grice's use of words such as 'real'. For Aristotle, the 'real' is the combination of 'matter and form'. A 'substance' is 'real', as it were. The first substance is the only real thing, actually, for Aristotle. Carnap dismisses the use of 'real' as nonsensical (or 'metaphysical'). And Grice is pretty tolerant when it comes to things that are real ('if it works, it exists' -- his Ontological Marxism goes).

---- Aristotle, Carnap, and Grice may allow for bigger questions ("out of the box" questions, as I call them) -- but Carnap is doubtful and thinks that bigger questions are nonsensical. So he would allow for an 'inner-question' about 'substance', and 'matter' and 'form'. For Aristotle, all questions are 'big', in that logic was not yet developed for a language-metalanguage discussion or for the idea of a calculus or system within questions can be meaningfully posed. Grice discusses the rationale, and architecture for building this or that 'system' in which 'inner' questions can be posited.

Or something like that.


If Carnap does not discuss Aristotle, perhaps the 'missing' like there is Heidegger. I.e. to examine in what respect Heidegger is thinking himself of improving on Aristotle's metaphysics and come up with why Carnap thought of Heidegger as a 'master of nonsense'.

The phrase 'master of nonsense' I find interesting -- and 'delightful', if I may say -- if only when I read it in connection with Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll (born C. L. Dodgson)!


Or something like that!

Thanks to R. B. Jones for the commentary.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On First Looking Into Aristotle's Metaphysics -- First Carnap, Then Grice


We know Grice learned Aristotle from Hardie at Corpus Christi.

What about Carnap?

-- and the title is meant as an echo on first looking into Chapman's Homer.

Wikipedia reads:

"Carnap's father had risen from the status of a poor ribbon-weaver to become the owner of a ribbon-making factory."


"His mother [on the other hand\ came from academic stock."

"Her father was an educational reformer and her oldest brother was the archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld."

GREEK CONNECTION -- or Grecian connection as I prefer -- cfr. my "Ode on a Griceian urn".

"As a ten-year old, Carnap accompanied his uncle on an expedition to Greece.[1]"

So we expect he read about 'philosophy' being one of the creations of that 'miracle' that Greece was, as books promote it.

Wikipedia continues:

"Carnap began his formal education at the Barmen Gymnasium."

I would assume that at the gym, Carnap read Greek.

Recall that Grice had attended Clifton were Greek was mandatory in the sixth form. I would suspect that at the gym or public school level, it would be poetical Greek, rather than philosophical Greek that would be promoted. At most, Plato. But HARDLY Aristotle, which school masters denigrate as not writing 'proper Greek' at all.

Wikipedia continues:

"From 1910 to 1914, Carnap attended the University of Jena, intending to write a thesis in physics. But he also studied carefully Kant's Critique of Pure Reason during a course taught by Bruno Bauch, and was one of very few students to attend Gottlob Frege's courses in mathematical logic. While Carnap held moral and political opposition to World War I, he felt obligated to serve in the German army."

I don't think I'm too familiar with the curriculum offered by Jena between 1910 and 1914, and perhaps I should continue reading Wikipedia to recheck when Carnap makes an early reference to Aristotle -- the metaphysician.

Interestingly, Kant was an interest of Carnap, as was of Grice who would rank "Kantotle" as his favourite philosopher ("Ariskant" being the second).

Etymythology and Metaphysics


L. R. Horn once lectured (if that's the word since the club is a delight of informality) on 'etymythology' at the Elizabethan Club, and the name stuck with me!

Anyway, this from wiki, as we discuss and explore with R. B. Jones the extent to which Carnap and Grice can be reconciled in such an abtuse field of study as metaphysics appears to be (and while we recall that one Grice Note in the Grice Collection reads, "a new discourse in metaphysics" -- "From Genesis to Revelations").

Wiki reads (slightly adapted)

"The word "metaphysics" derives from the Greek words μετά (metá) ("beyond", "upon" or "after") and φυσικά (physiká) ("physics")".

"The word "metaphysics" first used, in Greek, as the title for several of Aristotle's works."

"And it was thus used because these works were usually anthologized after the works on physics in complete editions."

So it's like the novelist wrote the novel but failed to name it. Cfr. "The Catcher in the Rye" mistitled after R. Burns, or "Sideways": "I'm writing a novel". "What is it called?" "The day after yesterday". "That's today, no?".

Wiki continues:

"The prefix meta- ("beyond") indicates that these works come "after" the chapters on physics."


I.e. it would be a bibliographical prefix, as it were, as used by boring people such as librarians -- even if I run the Swimming-Pool Library...


Wiki continues:

"However, Aristotle himself did NOT [emphasis Speranza -- one of his Grice Notes] call the subject of these books "Metaphysics"."

"Rather, Aristotle referred to the subject of these books as "first philosophy.""


"prote philosophia"

philosophia prima


"The editor of Aristotle's works, Andronicus of Rhodes, is thought to have placed the books on first philosophy right after another work, Physics, and called them τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικὰ βιβλία (ta meta ta physika biblia) or "the books that come after the [books on] physics"."

Perhaps he thought that titling it "First Philosophy" would NOT sell?

--- (And to think this was all burned up in Alessandria depresses me).

Wiki continues:

"This [manoevure by Andronicus of Rhodes] was misread [read: MISUNDERSTOOD -- Speranza] by Latin scholiasts, who thought it meant

"the science of what is beyond the physical"".

Oxford followed suit. And they had two professors: the professor of physical philosophy, and the Waynflete professor of meta-physical philosophy (Strawson was one).

Wikipedia continues:

"However, once the name was given, the commentators sought to find intrinsic reasons for its appropriateness."

This reminds me of U. Eco and "The name of the rose". Why should be an intrinsic reason for a 'rose' to be called 'rose'?

Wikipedia continues:

"For instance, ["metaphysics" -- or trans-naturalia, in neo-Latin] was understood to mean "the science of the world beyond nature" (physis in Greek), that is, the science of the immaterial."

-- ghostly subject!

Wrong, when one knows that Aristotle was a hyle-morphist, rather; i.e. one who believed that 'shape' (morphe) ALWAYS comes attached with 'matter' -- And so, one who would DENY the immaterial per se.

Wikipedia continues:

"Again, it was understood to refer to the chronological or pedagogical order among our philosophical studies, so that the "metaphysical sciences" would mean "those that we study after having mastered the sciences that deal with the physical world" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "In Lib, Boeth. de Trin.", V, 1)".

Aquinas was TOO scholastic to my taste!

Note that this is not his Summa, but a rather 'early'? commentary on Boethius -- and thus perhaps not to be treated too seriously.

Wiki concludes the etymythological note on 'metaphysics':

"There is a widespread use of the term in current popular literature which replicates this error, i.e. that metaphysical means spiritual non-physical: thus, "metaphysical healing" means healing by means of remedies that are not physical.[8]"

Well, blame it on Andronicus -- of Rhodes (of all places!).

Heidegger possibly uses 'metaphysical' even differently. For one, I agree with his explication of the etymythology of philo-sophy.

Heidegger argues that 'philo-sophy' should NOT be read as the 'love' of wisdom, but the wisdom of love!

Unanswerable Questions?


There seems to be something repetitive in the TITLE to my post, "Unanaswerable questions? Carnap and Grice on metaphysics -- and falsifiability of internal metaphysical claims in the vernacular -- or other!" -- THIS CLUB.

Yet, R. B. Jones politely comments.

Here my commentary on his commentary.

Jones writes:

"Thank you also Speranza for your commentary, as always interesting and entertaining (I feel as if I must have written that many times)."


He adds:

"Of course I cannot follow up on much of it for fear of becoming completely distracted, but I am interested in this question of who we should consider the principal targets of Carnap's metaphysical zeal, Aristotle or Heidegger."


I would think Carnap HEIDEGGER naturally, even if he never understood him. Carnap's contact with Aristotle seems more indirect.

A GRICE note: Grice's contact with Aristotle was directly from the Greek, when a student at Corpus Christi, under Hardie, at Oxford. Only later, when Grice moved to the United States of America, would he complain that students (his students) were unable to read Aristotle in GREEK!

---- I don't think Grice ever read Heidegger in German or English. YET: it is a fashionable gesture of his to write (or say) in "Prolegomena" to "Logic and conversation" -- who knows, in an attempt to provoke or amuse the Carnapians in the audience -- "Heidegger is the greatest living philosopher". (Heidegger was indeed a living philosopher then).


Jones goes on:

"In fact I didn't offer Aristotle as being one of Carnap's targets, so much as the source of the kind of philosophising which Carnap abjured, since his "Metaphysics" is the first volume in which (or rather, of which) that term is used."

But _does_ Aristotle *use* "metaphysical" in the object-language. It seems to me it's like a meta-linguistic description for him. He would prefer to refer to this or that alleged discipline as "first philosophy" rather. In which case, Carnap's attack would be against philosophy (first and foremost) rather than the special branch of metaphysics. I should recheck Wikipedia about this!

Jones goes on:

"Undoubtedly Heidegger was a better loved (hated?) target, but it was an extreme, and we might get a better sense of Carnap's opposition by considering Carnap's less exotic examples, one source of which is his recollections of student life."

Alright. I should re-check that, too. Grice went from a very classics-oriented college (as Corpus Christi was, based on the close study of Aristotle's work in Greek) to become a more 'general' philosopher at St. John's (also Oxford) where classics wasn't so strong.

Note too that Grice would associate Aristotle WITH Kant, and speak of "Kantotle". In doing so we are witnessing a more mature Grice that is expanding the scope of philosophy (as understood within the curriculum of "Literae Humaniores" that Grice followed) to include not just the classics like Aristotle, but the 'mods', like Kant.

--- never mind the contemporaries like Heidegger.

"I don't think it makes sense to go into more detail here, but I think this will come up again, in connection with Grice of course."

I'll recheck then:

-- Aristotle's use of 'metaphysical' qua adjective and his names for the field that metaphysics now comprises: first philosophy, and ontology?

-- Carnap's student days and his grasp of Aristotle as source of metaphysical external unanswerable questions.

Or not?


Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Grice Note: Etymythology of Sparrow Grass


From today's Quinion's World Wide Words

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion 2013.

"The name of [the] delightful vegetable [that asparagus is] has swung from classical Latin to rustic reinvention and back during its history in English."

"It first appears in English around 1000. Its name was taken from medieval Latin sparagus but by the sixteenth century it had come sperach or sperage. It might well have stayed like that had it not been for herbalists, who knew the classical Latin name was asparagus, itself borrowed from the Greek. Their influence meant that that name became quite widely known during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries alongside the older names. Nicholas Culpeper, for example, headed an entry in his herbal of 1653 as “Asparagus, Sparagus, or Sperage”, thus covering all bases."

"Non-scholars had trouble with asparagus and did what the medieval Latin writers had done — leave off the unstressed initial vowel, so making it sparagus again. But they went one step further, converting it by folk etymology into forms that seemed to make more sense, either sparagrass or sparrowgrass. The latter form became common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."

So home, and having brought home with me from Fenchurch Street a hundred of sparrowgrass, cost 18d.
Diary, by Samuel Pepys, 20 April 1667.

"In the eighteenth century sparrowgrass was so much the standard and polite term that John Walker commented in his Critical Pronouncing Dictionary in 1791: “‘Sparrow-grass’ is so general that ‘asparagus’ has an air of stiffness and pedantry”. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it was also called Battersea grass, from the name of the London suburb alongside the Thames in whose market gardens it was grown."

"During the nineteenth century the wheel turned yet again, in part because of pedagogical opposition to a form considered to be no more than an ignorant mistake, bringing asparagus to the fore and relegating sparrowgrass to what the New English Dictionary rather loftily described in 1885 as “dialect or vulgar” status. This is supported by examples in fiction which attempt to render the voices of lower-class characters."

I remember my lars’ customer, the very lars’ customer that ever I ’ad. He was a Mr. Moses Gluckstein, a city gent and very pleasant and fond of sparrowgrass and chokes.
The War in the Air, by H G Wells, 1908. Chokes are artichokes.

Slavey came in while I was eating it, and caught me picking it up with my fingers. Next morning she says to my missis, so missis told me, “’Ow does master eat ’is sparrowgrass when ’e’s out with company, mum?” says she.
Lord Raingo, by Arnold Bennett, 1926. A slavey was a hard-worked live-in maidservant.

"Sparrowgrass is still around, though in print only as a historical reference, and the vegetable is still sometimes called grass in the greengrocery trade."
The Griceian point concerns more generally the pragmatics of malaprops and what Horn calls 'etymythology'.
"By uttering 'sparrow grass', he meant-nn asparagus and intentionally made a mistaken reference to 'sparrow' and 'grass' -- or not." But no implicature intended. So please disimplicate.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Grice Notes


Of course, "Grice notes" may be read, ambiguously, as "Grice" (the person) performs the act of noting. So, 'the' is preferable as a preface to disambiguate. It has the disadvantage of pretentiousness, since 'the' Grice notes are never 'the' -- in the sense of 'finished'.

On the other hand, "Some Grice Notes" sounds otiose -- if not silly.

Grice Notes


And the plural of "Grice note" is "Grice notes" -- many (or -- as Grice would say, "at least more than one") Grice notes.


Does this hold?

It may be argued that

"Elephants are pinks"

does NOT entail (but merely implicates) that we are referring to "at least more than one" elephant.

G. J. Warnock discusses this in "Metaphysics in Logic", and P. F. Strawson makes a similar point somewhere in one of his "Grice notes" in the rather pretentiously entitled, "Introduction to Logical Theory".

Note that musically, 'grace notes' should be distinguished from a singular 'grace note' -- or not.

A Grice Note


Wikipedia reads:

"A grace note is a kind of music notation used to denote several kinds of musical ornaments, usually printed smaller to indicate that it is melodically and harmonically nonessential. When occurring by itself, a single grace note normally indicates the intention of either an appoggiatura or an acciaccatura. When they occur in groups, grace notes can be interpreted to indicate any of several different classes of ornamentation, depending on interpretation."

On the other hand, a Grice note is a note by Grice or on Grice or under Grice -- perhaps even behind Grice.

The notation is similar.

Note that Grice was the main author of Grice notes. When his third "William James" lecture was prepared for publication -- never by himself! -- it came out as entitled:

"Further [Grice, that is] Notes on Logic and Conversation".


A Grice Note


"A Grice Note" is obviously a pun on 'grace note'.

It may do to use it as a kind of "Ob.Grice", when we are discussing, er, Grice.

Grice Note


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Unanaswerable questions? Carnap and Grice on metaphysics -- and falsifiability of internal metaphysical claims in the vernacular -- or other!


In his interesting "Pervasive metaphysics and other Grice/Carnap tensions", THIS CLUB, R. B. Jones writes:

"I don't know why I should have been surprised when Speranza pointed out the pervasiveness of metaphysics in Grice's philosophy, for surely every aspect of our language engages with its own special kinds of entity and thus involves some special metaphysics."

Well, but it's ALWAYS _nice_ to be surprised. In Greek, 'surprise' was spelt (or spelled') 'wonder', and note that anglophones nicley abuse this word, "I wonder who's kissing her now", the title of an old song goes. So, it's nice to wonder, i.e. it's nice to be surprised -- and there are, as these, 'meta-surprises, as when Jones wondered why he wondered ... (and so ad infinitum).

Jones continues:

"Naturally I ask the question whether this deals a serious blow to the prospects for our Grice/Carnap dialogue."


"The simple answer is: "not at all!", for surely this is what Carnap's principle of tolerance is all about, freedom to use languages irrespective of whatever ontology they presuppose (though I don't think that way of putting it is Carnap's), subject only to pragmatic questions (does it serve any purpose?), not the meaningless metaphysical "external questions"".

Indeed. I think Carnap's principle of Tolerance is a brilliant one, and Griceian in parts. Note that 'tolerance' was after all, the favourite (if not pet) word of Grice's favourite philosopher, John Locke.

"A Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke was originally published in 1689. Its initial publication was in Latin, though it was immediately translated into other languages. Locke's work appeared amidst a fear that Catholicism might be taking over England, and responds to the problem of religion and government by proposing religious toleration as the answer. This "letter" is addressed to an anonymous "Honored Sir": this was actually Locke's close friend Philipp van Limborch, who published it without Locke's knowledge."


Now, it may be a good exercise in Carnapian/Griceian linguistic botany to look for fine (if not nice) distinctions between 'tolerance' and 'toleration'!

Jones goes on:

"This kind of response, however, leaves us with a puzzle.  If Carnap's positivism is so very accomodating, what is left of his rejection of metaphysics?  Is this something which just melted away?  On the other hand, can we be sure that the pervasive metaphysics in Grice is entirely concerned with questions which Carnap would recognise as "internal", as we might suppose by considering Grice's methods."

Good questions.

I would even go on and apply the universal quantifier and talk of Grice's

all-pervasive metaphysics!

Oxonian interlude:


(also all-pervading)


  • occurring or having an effect through or into every part of something:the all-pervasive excitement
--- end of Oxonian interlude.
Jones goes on:

"I revisited some of the milestones in Carnap's writings on Metaphysics to clarify my thinking on the first of those puzzles, and it is interesting to see that this very question (about what is left of Carnap's proscription of metaphysics after "Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology") is answered in the statement of his position on metaphysics in the Schilpp volume.
Evidently other people had wondered, after "Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology" whether Carnap's objections to Metaphysics had not just dwindled into nothingness (Carnap is responding to Beth)."
Let's Wiki Beth for the record. Carnap, unlike Grice, was fortunate ('lucky' is perhaps too informal an epithet) that Schilpp was able to have him in his "Library of Living Philosophers". As things are, while Strawson (Grice's junior) also made it -- and Strawson's is my favourite "library-of-living-philosophers" volume -- Grice didn't, but then, there is the ever expanding Library of Dead Philosophers.
"The book of dead philosophers"
by Simon Critchley

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, February 2009: For professor Simon Critchely, how we die is possibly more important than how we lived.
In The Book of Dead Philosophers, Critchley presents a lineup of nearly 200 famous (and not so famous) philosophers and explores how, through their deaths, one might be inspired to lead a richer life. From a few words to a few pages, each great thinker's death is examined in an enlightening and entertaining manner as the author waxes on the often brutal (and odd) ways they left this mortal coil. And along with natural causes, murders, and suicides, you'll discover what dark departures from suffocating in cow dung, indigestion, and lethal insect stings have to do with how we live today. At times the "sobering power of the philosophical death" might seem more like a morbidly ironic punchline to the life each philosopher led, but Critchley writes, "My hope is that, if read from beginning to end, a cumulative series of themes will emerge that will add up to a specific argument about how philosophy might teach one how to die, and by implication, how to live." --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

According to Cicero, to philosophize is to learn how to die. Critchley (Infinitely Demanding) illustrates this claim in his portraits of the deaths of more than 190 philosophers from the ancients to the analytics of the mid–20th century. A primer on just about every notable philosophical figure in history, this book challenges readers to learn from the philosophers' conduct in life and the circumstances of their deaths. Confucius believed that mourning underscored the value of life; accordingly, his followers grieved his death for at least three years. Thoreau, Emerson and John Stuart Mill died of ordinary ailments while relishing the natural world. Aquinas found serenity contemplating the bough of a tree, fitting consolation for the philosopher who preached the interconnectedness of nature and the soul. Dionysius spent the second half of his life rejecting Stoicism and embracing hedonism yet committed a protracted suicide by voluntary starvation. David Hume proved that atheists could die happy. The book offers an interpretation of death's potential as a final artistic and intellectual endeavor; it is a witty and generous gift that will leave readers perhaps a little less afraid of death and more appreciative of life. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Dismayed by the devolution of philosophy into a dry academic specialty, Critchley reconnects his discipline with the most universal of human concerns. For it is in pondering death that serious thinkers have discovered the wellsprings of wisdom. Seneca is thus voicing a persistent philosophical motif when he insists, “He will live badly who does not know how to die well.” However, because death refuses to shrink into a tidy intellectual construct, Critchley scrutinizes not only what prominent philosophers have thought about the subject but also how they have actually died. Readers thus contemplate the dying Augustine reading the Hebrew psalms in tears; the doomed Nietzsche rushing into the street to embrace a horse, so signaling a final descent into syphilitic madness; the heroic Bergson contracting his fatal illness by voluntarily joining fellow Jews forced into the bitter cold of midwinter to register with Nazi authorities. Scholars may complain about the scrapbook style of (dis)organization, as the deaths and death thoughts of almost 200 philosophers pass in quick review. But most readers will recognize the aptness of the rapid-fire summary, each entry a piquant reminder of the brevity of life and a forceful rejection of the illusions of intellectual progress. A work that makes philosophy matter again. --Bryce Christensen


“A provocative and engrossing invitation to think about the human condition and what philosophy can and can't do to illuminate it.”
The Financial Times
“Rigorous, profound and frequently hilarious. . . . Critchley is an engaging, deadpan guide to the metaphysical necropolis. . . . At a time when much popular philosophy is either frivolous, dull or complacent, his is a bracingly serious and properly comic presence.”
The Daily Telegraph (UK)

About the Author

Simon Critchly is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. He is the author of many books, most recently, On Heidegger's Being and Time and Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance. The Book of Dead Philosophers was written on a hill overlooking Los Angeles, where he was a scholar at the Getty Research Institute. He lives in Brooklyn.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Pre-Socratics, Physiologists, Sages and Sophists

Philosophical thought emerged in the Greek-speaking world two and a half millennia ago. First we encounter the various sages and so- called “physiologists,” like Thales and Anaxagoras, who attempted to explain the origins of the universe and the causes of nature. We will then turn to the sometimes shadowy figures, like Pythagoras, Heracleitus and Empedocles, who define the world of thought prior to the birth of Socrates and the struggle between philosophy and sophistry in Athens during the Classical period of the fifth and fourth centuries bc.

Of course, one might with some justice claim that the Sphinx was the first philosopher and Oedipus the second. This would also have the merit of making philosophy begin with a woman and continuing with an incestuous parricide. The Sphinx asks her visitors a question, which is also a riddle, and perhaps even a joke: what goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening? If they get the answer wrong, she kills them. Furthermore, when Oedipus guesses the right answer to the riddle—man crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult and with a cane in old age—the Sphinx commits philosophical suicide by throwing herself to the ground from her high rock.


(flourished in the sixth century bc)

Thales came from the once mighty port of Miletus, close to the present Turkish coast, whose harbour long ago dried up thanks to the unending attention of silt.

Thales was the possible originator of the saying “know thyself,” who famously predicted the solar eclipse of May 585 bc. He believed that water was the universal substance and once fell into a ditch when he was taken outdoors by a Thracian girl to look at the stars. On hearing his cry, she said, “How can you expect to know about all the heavens, Thales, when you cannot even see what is just beneath your feet?” Some feel—perhaps rightly—that this is a charge that philosophy never entirely escaped in the following two and a half millennia.

Thales died at an advanced age of heat, thirst and weakness while watching an athletic contest. This inspired Diogenes Laertius to the following execrable verse:

As Thales watched the games one festal day The fierce sun smote him and he passed away.


(630–560 bc)

Solon was a famed Athenian legislator who repealed the bloody laws of Dracon (although it was Dracon whose name was turned into an adjective). Plutarch remarks that Solon suggested that brides should nibble a quince before getting into bed. The reason for this is unclear. When Solon was asked why he had not framed a law against parricide, he replied that he hoped it was unnecessary. He died in Cyprus at the age of eighty.


(flourished in the sixth century bc)

A Spartan to whom the saying “know thyself” is also sometimes attributed. He died after congratulating his son on an Olympic victory in boxing.


(628–588 bc)

Like Thales, Solon and Chilon, Periander of Corinth was considered one of the Seven Sages of Greece. To others, like Aristotle, he was simply a tyrant. However, there is a bizarre story about the lengths to which Periander went in order to conceal his place of burial: he instructed two young men to meet a third man at a predetermined place and kill and bury him. Then he arranged for four men to pursue the first two and kill and bury them. Then he arranged for a larger group of men to hunt down the four. Having made all these preparations, he went out to meet the two young men for he, Periander, was the third man.


(possibly flourished in the sixth century,

possibly a mythical figure)

A native of Crete, the setting for Epimenides’ famous paradox. Epimenides’ original statement was “Cretans, always liars.” He appears to have intended this literally, as the great Cretan lie is the belief that Zeus is mortal, whereas every sensible person knows that he is really immortal. However, in logic, this paradox takes on a more acute form. Consider the sentence “This statement is not true.” Now, is this statement true? If it is, then it is not; if it is not, then it is. This is a perfect example of a paradox. That is, it is a proposition whose truth leads to a contradiction and the denial of its truth also leads to a contradiction.

Legend has it that Epimenides was sent into the countryside by his father to look after some sheep. But instead of tending to the sheep, he fell asleep in a cave for fifty-seven years. Upon waking, he went in search of the sheep, believing that he had only taken a short nap. When he returned home, everything (unsurprisingly) had changed and a new owner had taken possession of his father’s farm. Eventually, he found his younger brother, by now an elderly man, and learnt the truth.

Epimenides’ fame spread and it was believed thereafter that he possessed the gift of prophecy. Diogenes tells of how the Athenians sent for him when the city was suffering from the plague. He again took some sheep and went to the Areopagus, the high rock in the centre of Athens. He commanded that a sacrifice be made at each spot where a sheep decided to lie down. In this way, apparently, Athens was freed from the plague.

According to Phlegon in his work On Longevity, Epimenides lived to be 157 years old. This makes him a centurion, excluding his long nap in the cave. The Cretans claim that he lived to be 259 years old. But, as we all know, Cretans are always liars.


(610–546/545 bc)

Anaximander somewhat obscurely claimed that the Unlimited or that which is without boundaries (apeiron) is the original material of all existing things. He discovered his own limit at the age of sixty-four.


(580–500 bc)

Sadly, it is now almost universally assumed by classical scholars that Pythagoras never existed. It seems that there was a group of people in southern Italy called Pythagoreans who invented a “Founder” for their beliefs who, accordingly, lived and died in a manner consistent with those beliefs. But let’s not allow Pythagoras’ mere non-existence to deter us, as the stories that surround him are so compelling. They are also illustrative of the wider point that disciples of a thinker will often simply invent stories and anecdotes that illustrate the life of the master in whom they want to believe. Perhaps we should be suspicious of this desire for a master.

Be that as it may, Pythagorean doctrines were bound by an oath of secrecy, so we know very little prior to the version of them that appears in Plato. These include a belief in the immortality and transmigration of the soul and the view that the ultimate reality of the universe consists in number. Pythagoreans regarded even numbers as female and odd numbers as male. The number 5 was called “marriage” because it was the product of the first even (2) and odd (3) numbers (the ancient Greeks considered the number 1 a unit and not a proper number, which had to express a multiplicity). Pythagoreans also believed that their master had established the ratios that underlie music. This had huge influence in the notion of musica universalis or music of the spheres, where the entire cosmos was the expression of a musical harmony whose key was given in mathematics.

However, the Pythagoreans also observed a number of other, more worldly doctrines, involving food in particular. They abstained from meat and fish. For some reason red mullet is singled out for especial prohibition, and Plutarch notes that they considered the egg taboo, too. Pythagoras and his followers also inherited from the Egyptians a strong revulsion to beans, because of their apparent resemblance to the genitalia. Apparently, “bean” may have been a slang term for “testicle.” But there are many other possible reasons for this dislike of beans.

There are some fascinating remarks in the Philosophumena [Philosophizings] or the Refutation of All Heresies by the Christian Bishop Hippolytus written around ad 220. According to him, if beans are chewed and left in the sun, they emit the smell of semen. Even worse, if one takes the bean in flower and buries it in the earth and in a few days digs it up, then, “We shall see it at first having the form of a woman’s pudenda and afterwards on close examination a child’s head growing with it.” Of course, as many of us know to our cost, beans should be avoided as they produce terrible flatulence. Oddly, it was because of beans that Pythagoras is alleged to have met his end. But I am getting ahead of myself.

So the legend goes, Pythagoras left his native Samos, an island off the Ionian coast, because of a dislike of the policies of the tyrant Polycrates. He fled with his followers to Croton in southern Italy and extended considerable influence and power in the region of present-day Calabria. Porphyry, in his Life of Pythagoras, relates how a certain Cylo, a rich and powerful local figure, felt slighted by the haughtiness with which Pythagoras treated him. As a consequence, Cylo and his retinue burnt down the house in which Pythagoras and his followers were gathered. The master only escaped because his followers bridged the fire with their own bodies. He got as far as a field of beans, where he stopped and declared that he would rather be killed than cross it. This enabled his pursuers to catch up with him and cut his throat.

Yet, there is another story, related by Hermippus, that when the cities of Agrigentum and Syracuse were at war, the Pythagoreans sided with the Agrigentines. Unbelievably, Pythagoras was killed by the Syracusans as he was trying to avoid a beanfield. Thirty-five of his followers were subsequently burnt at the stake for treachery.
------ END OF LONG INTERLUDE, and add "Grice" to Critchley's book of dead philosophers.
Jones goes on about Carnap's reply to Beth which reminds me that I should wiki Beth:
Evert Willem Beth (7 July 1908 – 12 April 1964) was a Dutch philosopher and logician, whose work principally concerned the foundations of mathematics.


Beth was born in Almelo, a small town in the eastern Netherlands. His father had studied mathematics and physics at the University of Amsterdam, where he had been awarded a Ph.D. Evert Beth studied the same subjects at Utrecht University, but then also studied philosophy and psychology. His 1935 Ph.D. was in philosophy.
In 1946, he became professor of logic and the foundations of mathematics in Amsterdam. Apart from two brief interruptions – a stint in 1951 as a research assistant to Alfred Tarski, and in 1957 as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University – he held the post in Amsterdam continuously until his death in 1964. His was the first academic post in his country in logic and the foundations of mathematics, and during this time he contributed actively to international cooperation in establishing logic as an academic discipline.
He died in Amsterdam.

Contributions to logic

Definition theorem]

The definition theorem states that a predicate (or function or constant) is implicitly definable if and only if it is explicitly definable.

Semantic tableaux

Semantic tableaux are a proof method for formal systems. Cf. Gentzen's natural deduction and sequent calculus, or even J. Alan Robinson's resolution and Hilbert's axiomatic systems. It is considered by many to be intuitively simple, particularly for students not acquainted with the study of logic (Wilfrid Hodges for example presents semantic tableaux in his introductory textbook, Logic, and Melvin Fitting does the same in his presentation of first-order logic for computer scientists, First-order logic and automated theorem proving).
One starts out with the intention of proving that a certain set  \Gamma \, of formulae imply another formula  \varphi\, , given a set of rules determined by the semantics of the formulae's connectives (and quantifiers, in first-order logic). The method is to assume the concurrent truth of every member of  \Gamma \, and of  \neg \varphi (the negation of  \varphi\, ), and then to apply the rules to branch this list into a tree-like structure of (simpler) formulae until every possible branch contains a contradiction. At this point it will have been established that  \Gamma \cup \{ \neg \varphi \} is inconsistent, and thus that the formulae of  \Gamma\, together imply  \varphi \,.

Beth models

These are a class of relational models for non-classical logic (cf. Kripke semantics).

See also


  • Evert W. Beth, The foundations of mathematics. A study in the philosophy of science. XXVΊ + 722 pp. Amsterdam, North-Holland 1959.
  • Evert W. Beth, Epistemologie mathematique et psychologie (with J. Piaget). 352 pp. Paris P.U.F. 1961.
  • Evert W. Beth, Formal Methods: An introduction to symbolic logic and to the study of effective operations in arithmetic and logic. D. Reidel Publishing Company / Dordecht-Holland, 1970. ISBN 90-277-0069-9.


  • Francella, Miriam (1999). "Evert Willem Beth's Scientific Philosophy". Grazer Philosophische Studien 57: 221–236. doi:10.5840/gps19995712. 
  • Heyting, Alan (1966). "In memoriam: Evert Willem Beth (1909–1964).". Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 7 (4): 289–295. 
  • Mooij, J J A. "Beth, Evert Willem (1908–1964)". Biographical Dictionary of the Netherlands: 1880–2000. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 

External links[edit source | editbeta]


"Carnap's answer there is interesting because it presents a new aspect of what he had introduced as the internal/external distinction."

"In relation to Grice's metaphysics it is easy to imagine that as an ordinary language philosopher all his metaphysics is based on the analysis of ordinary language, and that the ontological and conceptual analyses thus obtained are all "internal" in Carnap's terms and hence unobjectionable to Carnap."
"Of course, Carnap might have preferred the topics be addressed in formal languages, and then yield necessary conclusions, and would have considered the study of ordinary language to belong to pragmatics (though I myself think him mistaken to exclude the possibility of a semantic study of natural languages, even though the results would be synthetic)."
Good points. We can also add the point that Grice (qua ENGLISH speaker) is studying English (qua ordinary language) and thus using ENGLISH as a meta-language, too.
----- But, as Jones is well aware, Grice did play with the possibilities of a formal calculus, or system, that he called Q (after Quine -- anathema to Carnap!) -- and Myro retitled G, and Speranza calls it System GHP.
Jones goes on:

"However, the distinction between internal and external questions is particularly difficult when it comes to natural languages, for all Carnap's examples of external questions are couched in natural l.nguages."
Indeed, while he does tend to focus on a formal approach to the internal answers to the internal questions.
-- I focus on the 'answer', seems it seems it's an expression hardly used by Carnap -- or Witters for that matters -- Philosophy as concerned with 'questions' rather than their potential answers. To this, Carnap would have been fascinated by that Symposium -- Aristotelian Society -- by Rush Rhees eet al, on
"Unanswerable questions"!
Jones goes on:
"Natural languages are often their own metalanguage and the distinction between internal and external is muddied."
Indeed. In Davidson's contribution to Grandy/Warner, "PRGIRCE" ("A nice derangement of epitaphs"), Davidson denies there is such a thing as a 'language', and I agree. Grice speaks of Deutero-Esperanto (once) for the kind of thing he sometimes felt like speaking -- as while laying in the tub of his bathroom --. Grice technically prefers to speak of 'idiolect', where the root is 'idio-', which, while having the same root as English 'idiot', means 'particular', rather. So, Grice speaks Griceish, rather, or Griceian, if you mustn't -- rather than a 'natural' language (which would be an abstraction) as "English" is supposed to be.
"X [may be current] only for utterer U. It is only U's practice to utter X 
in such-and-such circumstances. In this case, U WILL have a readiness to
utter X  in such-and-such circumstances."

There is also the scenario "in which X is NOT current at all, but the 
utterance of X in such-and-such circumstances is part of SOME SYSTEM OF 
COMMUNICATION which U has devised but which has never been put into operation 
(like the highway code which I invent one day while lying in my bath). In that 
case, U HAS a procedure for X in the _attenuated_ sense that he has
envisaged a  possible system of practices which WOULD involve a READINESS to
utter X
in  such-and-such circimstances."
---- Studies in the Way of Words, WOW, p. 128.
--- END OF INTERLUDE on Grice's DEUTERO-ESPERANTO (from WoW -- Way of Words)
Example by Grice that does NOT involve a 'convention' in this 'usage':

"I can INVENT a language,

call it Deutero-Esperanto,

which nobody every speaks."

"That makes me the AUTHORITY,"

--- cfr. 'arkhe': authority, government (in plural), "authorities".

"and I can lay down"

--- while lying in the tub, no doubt --

"what is PROPER".
Jones continues:
"External questions are often put using the word "real" or "really"".
Excellent point. A word that Austin and Grice would say is the one that 'often wears the trousers'. (Grice refers to Austin's 'artless sexism' here).
Jones goes on:

"Do these kinds of entity "really" exist? (Carnap often exemplifies external question using talk of "reality")."
Very good points.
And I think 'real' is an excellent word for linguistic botany -- as prescribed by Austin. Grice once responded -- was it a bad day for him? -- to Austin:

"I actually don't give a hoot what the dictionary says".

Later, Grice would recall his mistake by bringing up Austin's rebuke, "And that's where you make your BIG mistake".
The Romans are said to have invented 'reality', qua term --. I think the Greeks -- or Grecians, as I prefer -- lacked the notion.
Jones goes on:
"This works fine when we are talking about the ontology of a formal language and the talk of "reality" is confined to the metalanguage.  But in a natural language, talk of "reality" is internal and all those external questions are internalised."
Good point.
"Real" and "reality" needs some fine linguistic botany. Austin deals with these in his brilliant -- that some -- including Grice! -- found boring -- lectures on "Sense and Sensibilia". "real duck" versus 'duck', for example.
Jones goes on:

"So it's helpful that in the Schilpp volume Carnap gives us an alternative vocabulary for talking about what he means by "metaphysics" and which he still rejects."
OK. Good for Beth inspiring Carnap thus.
Jones goes on:

"As it happens this has been my preferred way of thinking of this for some time.  The alternative account distinguishes between ontological claims which are relative to some language, and those which purport to be absolute, and on this account Carnap's rejection of metaphysics becomes a rejection of absolute ontological claims.  Relative (aka internal) claims (relative to some language) are to be settled by the "rules" of the language, yielding answers only for specific languages which may disagree among themselves (between different languages)."
Well, here we have two fascinating dichotomies, then:
internal/external -- and its variants: 'unanswerable internal questions' vs. 'answerable external', say.
-- and
Grice spends QUITE SOME TIME on this distintion in his "Conception of Value". He is concerned with the absolute value of things -- in formal terms -- like
and especially the imperative form:
(p --> q)!
i.e. he is trying to follow Kant as to what makes the 'categorical imperative' one of 'absolute' value. As it happens, Grice fails, and his account is now described as merely 'constructivist', i.e. as proposing a CONSTRUCTIVIST approach to 'the absolute' (value).
-- Incidentally, my favourite Absolute should be served with 'greens', i.e. T. H. Green, the philosopher, and it's the Snark, by Carroll:
"'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right: Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens,. And it's handy for striking a light."

In his "Annotated Snark", M. Gardner -- an interesting philosopher, mathematical philosopher, even -- thinks, with other authors he quotes, that 'greens' there is a coded reference to the Hegelian philosopher of the "Absolute", Thomas Hill Green.


Thomas Hill Green (7 April 1836 – 15 March 1882) was an English philosopher, political radical and temperance reformer, and a member of the British idealism movement. Like all the British idealists, Green was influenced by the metaphysical historicism of G.W.F. Hegel. He was one of the thinkers behind the philosophy of social liberalism.


Jones goes on:

"With this clarification in mind we may ask again how Grice's work might have appeared in Canap's eyes.  The question then becomes, is Grice's interest in metaphysics exclusively relative to some language (presumably English), or does he get into more absolute questions? That's a question for JL perhaps, but I shall speculate a little myself. It seems to me that Grice's species of ordinary language philosophy is not so exclusively concerned with the analysis of language as would be needed for there not to be an issue here.  For Grice "ordinary language" is not an exclusive subject matter, but rather an ubiquitous source of insight.  In at least some of his metaphysical enterprises the object of his studies does not seem to be language."

Indeed, and my caveats here would be:

Grice's 'idio-' "lectal" practices
-- his "deutero-Esperanto".

For a time, it was unfashionable in Oxford to speak of Grice as a philosopher of language. He was rather, merely concerned with 'mean' and 'meaning'. I think it was


the first (as I like to think) who started to take the questions of 'language' seriously. Notably in a colloquium organised by Evans and McDowell. M. K. Davies later followed suit, as did B. F. Loar and others. Even Schiffer.

But there is a gap between Grice's analysis of what an Utterer means (what he is interested at elucidating, and which occupies most of the pages of his WoW -- Way of Words) and what an expression in a Language (for a Population P) means.

For the more or less explicit and formal definitions of 'meaning in a language for a population' then I refer to Peacocke, who incidentally, succeeded Strawson as Oxford's Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy (as he should! -- for this is ALL metaphysics we are talking about!). I'll try to re-trace some of Peacocke's most formal definitions.

Add to that the Grice-oriented type of scepticism as to what a language is (or isn't) as per Davidson's "Nice Derangement". This paper, unfortunately, was published by Davidson separately (what's the use of providing an essay for a festschrift if you're going to publish it elsewhere) but it merited an intertesting reply by Hacking, and (of all people) Dummett -- and they all more or less shared Davidson's sceptical approach to this abstraction that Ferdinand de Saussure called 'Language' -- even "natural".

Jones goes on:

"In some cases the point might be exegetical, [Grice] might be excavating the metaphysics of philosophers (Aristotle perhaps).  This would not fit Carnap's narrow conception of philosophy, but at least it would not be the proscribed metaphysics."

Indeed. Grice can get to be over-exegetical, as in "Aristotle on the multiplicity of 'being'" (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, published posthumously in 1988) which is Grice's reply to Owen's rather rude remark that, in Aristotle, 'being' is polysemous!  ("einai" in Greek -- The Griceian result is the outcome well known to Jones of distinguishing izzing from hazzing)
Jones goes on:

"I think however, that even when considering, say, some aspect of Aristotelian metaphysics, Grice is not purely, or even primarily. exegetical, rather he seeks to take up and progress some aspect of the problem which Aristotle was addressing."

-- while criticising Owen.

For 80% of Grice's pleasure derived from providing arguments to his seniors. Owen ended up writing the obituary of Gilbert Ryle, and he says words to this effect: "I am often asked: what group exercised the bigger mysticism? Ryle's group, or Austin's group, later led by Grice. And I would say Austin's and Grice's -- Their 'Play Group' acquired a cult status that the group that Ryle led and to which I belonged never did".

Owen's essay is nicely entitled, "The snares of ontology", for he thinks that Aristotle is precisely trapped in 'external' questions to the Greek language (of which he only spoke a 'lower' dialect, some say!).

Jones goes on:

"Aristotle is of course one of the early sources of just those metaphysical "pseudo-problems" which Carnap criticised, and so it seems likely that Grice may well in this way find himself crossing Carnap's line."

Good. I would think Carnap's IMMEDIATE target of attack was Heidegger with his things like, "Nothing noths", but it's true that Aristotle could go over the top, and invent a 'category' when he couldn't find it!

Jones wonders:

"Why should we care whether Carnap would have found the problems which Grice addressed genuine?  What was the point of fantasising about a conversation between these two philosophers. There is more than one, but in this domain it seems to me that what is happening is that we are stripping away those kinds of metaphysics to which it is easy to give meaning (say, descriptive metaphysics, or the exegesis of Aristotelian metaphyics) and which for that reason do not fall foul of Carnap's critique, and when focussed down on the real metaphysics (perhaps what Strawson called "revisionary" metaphysics, perhaps only a part of that), we can imagine Carnap challenging Grice to give meaning to the enterprise.  To the extent that Grice succeeds in doing so, the scope of Carnap's critique would be narrowed."

Excellently put.

Jones goes on:

"There is interplay here between method and meaning.  Carnap wants to see a definite meaning for a metaphysical claim, because in default of that we can have no idea how it can be verified (using that term loosely)."

And cfr. the 'entrance' of Popper with his talk on falsifiability.

INTERLUDE ON "FALSIFIABILITY" and internal metaphysical claims in the vernacular

Falsifiability or refutability is the trait of a statement, hypothesis, or theory whereby it could be shown to be false if some conceivable observation were true. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning not "to commit fraud" but "show to be false". Science must be falsifiable. The scientific method can not be implemented without the theoretical possibilities of both disproof and verification.
By the problem of induction, no number of confirming observations can verify a universal generalization, such as All swans are white, yet it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single black swan. Thus, the term falsifiability is sometimes synonym to testability. Some statements, such as It will be raining here in one million years, are falsifiable in principle, but not in practice.[1]
The concern with falsifiability gained attention by way of philosopher of science Karl Popper's scientific epistemology "falsificationism". Popper stresses the problem of demarcation—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience.
In falsificationism, an unfalsifiable and thus unscientific theory is not necessarily intrinsically false or inappropriate, since metaphysical theories might be true or contain truth, but one cannot know for sure. Simply, to be scientific, a theory must entail at least one observation, which may or may not be the case. (Falsificationism is not a general epistemology, then, which for Popper is critical rationalism, aimed to be the first epistemology fully based on criticism and discarding quest for justification.)


Jones goes on and concludes with what he calls two 'concessions'.

The first concession:

"Conversely, if we could say in what way such claims could be verified or refuted then those methods would suffice to give meaning to the claims. The effect of the dialogue is to extract from Grice more detail about meanings and methods, and from Carnap consequent narrowing of the scope of critique.
Further effects might be hoped for.  From Carnap it seems to me one might hope for two further kinds of concession.  The first is in the use of the term "metaphysics", which for Carnap is used exclusively in a perjorative, proscriptive way.  We could reasonably hope that he might be persuaded to accept a wider use ot the term which embraced questions which he does not consider meaningless, e.g. to encompass descriptive metaphysics.  We might suggest perhaps in the first instance that Carnap reserve the term "absolute metaphysics" for the external questions which he regards as meaningless and allow that internal ontological questions (especially ones internal to natural languages) be spoken of as a kind of meaningful metaphysics."

---- A related point would be to add 'ontological' to the vocabulary, as per Quine (yes, we know, a big critique of Carnap) alla "On what there is".

The term 'metaphysical' surely shouldn't be taken so seriously, seeing that it's merely an accidental Greek idiom for what Aristotle felt fell 'beyond the physical' books' -- or something.

"Ontological", rather, makes it explicit that what we are into is the use of 'copulative' expressions of this or that type.

The second concession Jones expresses as follows:

"A second concession which might be easy to extract is the acknowledgement that meaningfulness is not discrete, that it is the business of philosophers and particularly of metaphysicians to probe into just those areas where meaning is hard to grasp, and that one should perhaps in metaphysics accept more a more tenuous grasp on meaning that one might hope for in say, arithmetic. The concessions here, in relation to metaphysics, seem all on Carnap's side, Grice's part, clarification of meanings and methods seemingly just more of what he is ordinarily engaged in.   It is in the dogmas that we seek concessions, and we have been talking here about Carnap's anti-metaphysical dogma.
The place for Grice's concessions is in his own dogmas, which is what I am here calling his Betes Noire, the various aspects of "minimalism". There is a symmetry here, for the dogmas of Carnap and those of Grice are both anti-dogmatic."

Indeed. Grice in particular, would rather be seen, to use Grandy's pun, defending the under-dogma anyday.

Jones concludes:

"Carnap rejects external questions as criteria for the acceptability of languages, because he wants to be tolerant about language forms.  Grice rejects minimalism for similar reasons.  He construes minimalism as a set of nominalistic dogmas and he doesn't like being deprived of any of the ontology implicit in our language.  Carnap's minimalism is however a pragmatic rather than a dogmatic enterprise.  Our conversation will progress more fruitfully if Grice(*) would recognise that not all minimalism is abhorrent."

Indeed. And it isn't!

Thanks for a most enlightening post!