The Grice Club


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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Grice and the linguistic turn


RORTY, The linguistic turn. What a book!  Some comments on its various (cf. 'many and varied') contents:

It opens with Richard M. Rorty, "Metaphysical Difficulties of Linguistic Philosophy". Note the plural, 'metaphysical difficulties' -- as if a 'metaphysical difficulty' were not enough of a difficulty!

Part I is entitled, "Classic Statements of the Thesis That Philosophical Questions Are Questions of Language. Note the distinction between

-- questions of language

-- questions about language.

I think Grice would argue for the thesis that philosophical questions are questions about language. A question can be 'of language' yet not 'about language'. Indeed, how can a question NOT be 'of language'?

Perhaps translating that to Latin would help!?


Essay 1. Moritz Schlick, "The Future of Philosophy" -- Always impredictable, I'm sure Schlick is implicating. Or unpredictable if you mustn't.


Essay 2. Rudolf Carnap, "On the Character of Philosophical Problems" -- This should be discussed at the Carnap Corner. Note the plural, and at least, the absence of 'pseudo-' in philosophical problems as 'pseudo-problems'.


Essay 3. Gustav Bergmann, "Logical Positivism, Language, and the Reconstruction of Metaphysics (in 

art)" Grice loved Bergmann if only because when in Oxford, he (Bergmann) called him (Grice) an English futilitarian. I think Bergmann had somehow come across Virginia Woolf's father enormous book on the English Utilitarians (in three volumes).


Essay 4: Rudolf Carnap, "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology". Carnap again, at the Carnap Corner. Note the three keywords: nothing wrong with ontology, as opposed to metaphysics (usually ontology is considered a BRANCH of metaphysics), but here Carnap is thinking 'internal questions'; semantics is truth-conditions; and empiricism is basic, observation statements.


Essay 5. Gilbert Ryle, "Systematically Misleading Expressions". A geniality. He deals with definite expressions, and even proper names, such as Pickwick -- He finds the use of Pickwick Pickwickian.

Essay 6. John Wisdom, "Philosophical Perplexity". Wisdom is from Cambridge, and thus Rorty is extending the scope, including both Oxonian analysis and analysis from "the other place". What perplexed a Cambridge man may not perplex an Oxford man like Grice, though!


Essay 7. Norman Malcolm, "Moore and Ordinary Language". This is the essay that Grice dedicates to 'destroy' in his essay on "Moore and philosopher's paradoxes" in WoW. Grice would come to meet Malcolm at Cornell. Unfortunately, on Grice's arrival at Ithaca, he found out Malcolm was, for the whole of Grice's visit, on a sabbatical leave.


Part II: "Metaphilosophical Problems of Ideal-Language Philosophy". Note the interesting 'meta-philosophical' (I'm sure Marsoobian knows what it means). By 'ideal language', Grice prefers FORMALISM or MODERNISM, i.e. the heirs of Whitehead's and Russell's Principia Mathematica and perhaps the project of the Unified Science.


Essay 8a. Irving Copi, "Language Analysis and Metaphysical Inquiry". This is Copilowish, for long. An inquiry need not be an analysis!


Essay 8b: Gustav Bergmann, "Two Criteria for an Ideal Language": Criteria A is perhaps better than criteria B! Talk of futilitarianism!


Essay 8c. Irving Copi, "Reply to Bergmann". "I'm not a futilitarian!"


Essay 9. Max Black, "Russell's Philosophy of Language (in part)" Black was born in Baku, Russia, and his real surname was Tcherny. When he arrived in London, Tcherny's father, who was also surnamed Tcherny, decided to change his name into a more "English" thing. He looked up in a dictionary, and found that the equivalent for "Tcherny", which is Russian for 'black', was "Black". I'm sure if he had consulted the Roget Thesaurus, we would be speaking of Max the Obscure. Oddly, before settling in London, the Tchernys lived for a while in Paris. Had they liked the 'city of lights', as she is called, his name today would perhaps be "Max Noir". He wrote extensively on Grice in "Meaning and intention: on Grice's theory" for the New Literary History. Another Russian, Martinich, cared to write an essay on this: "Grice versus Black". I think Martinich's implicature is that Grice wins the match.


Essay 10a. Alice Ambrose, "Linguistic Approaches to Philosophical Problems". Ambrose is a beautiful name, and she would not use 'pseudo-' in problem. Not to be confused with Ambrose the leader of the danceband at the Mayfair that had Sam Browne as vocalist!


Essay 10b. Roderick Chisholm, "Comments on the "Proposal Theory" of Philosophy". A very intelligent man, Chisholm. He proposed a proposal theory.


Essay 11. James W. Cornman, "Language and Ontology". Cornman was possibly a friend of Rorty. Possibly Corn-ish in origin?


Essay 12. Willard v. O. Quine, "Semantic Ascent" (from Word and Object). The discussion of Grice in "Word and object" is restricted to "In defense of a dogma" that Grice and Strawson wrote as a tribute to Quine's visit to Oxford. He (Quine) never took it too seriously. But then he took Grice's contribution to "Words and ObjectIONS" even less seriously! Quine opposes a semantic ascent to a semantic descent (the implicature seems to be -- to hell).


Part III, Metaphilosophical Problems of Ordinary-Language Philosophy. Again 'meta-' as applied to philosophical. Marsoobian should know what this means. Here we are in Grice's terrain: ordinary language, that is HIS English -- perhaps NOT Rorty's English. I mean, there's ordinary Oxford English and ordinary New York English (Rorty was born in New York).


Essay 13. Roderick Chisholm, "Philosophers and Ordinary Language". Chisholm is a very intelligent man. Among the philosophers concerned with Oxford ordinary language I would have, first, Herbert Paul Grice. He famously debated with Austin on this, "I don't care a hoot what the dictionary says" (implicature: because I'm only into my own use of expressions). Austin, who was more of a conservative, instead of being offended, calmly irritated Grice by explicating, "And that's where you make your BIG mistake, Paul" -- only he never called him Paul -- always Grice (public school usage).


Essay 14. John Passmore, "Arguments to Meaninglessness: Excluded Opposites and Paradigm Cases" (from Philosophical Reasoning). Passmore refers to how ingenious Grice is in "A hundred years of philosophy" that also mentions Sartre. He takes Grice as an example of a philosopher like Socrates that wrote little but whose unwritten doctrines were more influential than other philosophers' written ones! The paradigm case argument was an invent of A. G. N. Flew, who had been a student of Grice at St. John's. Only neither Grice nor Flew would speak of meaninglessness. I think this form of extremism in the talk is due to Passmore coming from Australia where they are VERY DIRECT.


Essay 15a. Grover Maxwell and Herbert Feigl, "Why Ordinary Language Needs Reforming", "Feigl" is a difficult surname to pronounce for an Italian -- where all words have to end in a vowel. Note that the motto, "Why ordinary language needs reforming" merely IMPLICATES, rather than entails, that ordinary language needs reforming. "Needs" is ambiguous. It's best applied to men: Some men think that they need as if ordinary language is reformed. Ordinary language, not being a living organism cannot 'need'.


Essay 15b. Manley Thompson, "When Is Ordinary Language Reformed?" At five o'clock? The idea of 'when' here is odd. Perhaps it connects with Schlick, The future of philosophy, the implicature being: sometime in the future -- the more distant the better. By re-formed, the idea is not that it attains a new form, but that it is MODIFIED rather. The same form, only different.


Essay 16a. R. M. Hare, "Philosophical Discoveries". This is a genial author, and very Oxonian, like Ryle, only a younger generation. He was born in the West Country, England, and he would often pun on his surname: when criticising moral naturalism he said that surely he would rather be seen dead than running with the hounds, too! A 'discovery' in analysis is a gem!


Essay 16b. Paul Henle, "Do We Discover Our Uses of Words?" Henle is making a rhetorical question. The use of 'we' is majestic, as when the Prime Minister informed the Queen about the War in Crimea, and she implicated, "We are not amused", triggering the entailment that SHE wasn't. How can she speak on behalf of the Prime Minister who cared to report to her the state of affairs?


Essay 17. Peter Geach, "Ascriptivism". P. T. Geach had very few associations with Oxford, but he was brilliant. He is associated with Leeds, of course, like David Holdcroft, Timothy Potts, and others. His ascriptivism is a geniality. He is perhaps the most important logician in England _simpliciter_. Very original and never worried about bringing his own type of symbolism. He is concerned here with the neustic and the prastic and how when we ascribe 'good' we need not APPROVE of it!


Essay 18. James W. Cornman, "Uses of Language and Philosophical Problems". He was possibly Rorty's friend, and from Corn-wall. Back to problems not being pseudo-problems, at least.


Essay 19. J. O. Urmson, "J. L. Austin". James Opie Urmson lived in a lovely cottage in Oxford, and was Grice's best friend, almost. Grice worshipped Austin; Urmson worshipped Austin and became his literary executor!


Essay 20a. Stuart Hampshire, "J. L. Austin". S. N. Hampshire was upper class, and attended the Thursday seminars at All Souls organised by Austin and Ayer and some 12 more. Grice never did -- "I had been born, alas, on the wrong side of the tracks", and you know how Oxford is. Grice was stuck during his student days at 'The House', Corpus Christie, and All Souls was just the place he would NOT visit. Those seminars were dubbed by another Russian (like Max Black), who attended, Isaiah Berlin (later Sir, as the then wasn't), the 'origin' of ordinary language philosophy, which is odd, seeing that Ayer was there too!


Essay 20b. J. O. Urmson and G. Warnock, "J. L. Austin". Urmson is one of the literary executors of Austin, that Grice just worshipped. The other is G. J. (later Sir, as he then wasn't) Warnock, who ended up being the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. The literary execution is as follows. They both co-edited Austin's PHILOSOPHICAL PAPERS, but Warnock concentrated on editing SENSE AND SENSIBILIA while Urmson edited HOW TO DO THINGS WITH WORDS. Austin always referred to them as Urmson and Warnock. And they would attend most Saturday morning meetings, with Grice, too. When Austin died of cancer, the meetings were led and organised by Grice notably at the best room of his own college, St. John's, 'making us look like veritable businessmen', Warnock will later recollect in "Saturday mornings".


Essay 20c. Stanley Cavell, "Austin at Criticism". Cavell is an American, which is the point of Rorty: to make this known 'across the poound'.


Essay 21. Stuart Hampshire, "The Interpretation of Language; Words and Concepts". The upper-class gentleman. This comes from another compilation. Hampshire went by "S. N. Hampshire" (there is a famous quip about his surname, seeing that Stuart Hamphire borders with Tudor Devon). He later was knighted, and while he would dine regularly with Grice at Oxford he would rarely see him when Hampshire taught at Stanford and Grice was just 'across the bay'.


Part IV: Recapitulations, Reconsiderations, and Future Prospects. A nice intermission. Future prospects contrasts with past retrospects.


Essay 22. Dudley Shapere, "Philosophy and the Analysis of Language". This is Rorty's idea of making this known on the other side of the pond.


Essay 23. Stuart Hampshire, "Are All Philosophical Questions Questions of Language?". S. N. Hampshire is not making a rhetorical question even if it sounds as one. He uses 'question of', rather than 'question about'. But surely a question of language may not be a question ABOUT language. On the other hand a question has to be IN language!


Essay 24a. J. O. Urmson, "The History of Analysis". This is extracted from Urmson's book, but simplified for a French audience. Urmson was proud of his French, and Rorty re-translated it to some sort of English. Urmson's original book is "Philosophical Analysis: its development between the two wars" meaning the Great one and the one that Flanagan calls the 'phoney' one (just ironically -- it was hardly phony). He has some good examples in the book, like, when discussing truth-functionality of 'and': "He went to bed and took off his trousers" being equivalent to "He took off his trousers and went to bed" -- odd implicature, I know, but cancel it!


Essay 24b. Discussion of Urmson's "The History of Analysis" (by the participants in the 1961 Royaumont Colloquium). In French, but anglicised by Rorty for across the pond. Royaumont is famous for its castle.


Essay 25a. P. F. Strawson, "Analysis, Science, and Metaphysics". In French originally, retranslated by Rorty. Note the three crucial keywords.


Essay 25b. Discussion of Strawson's "Analysis, Science and Metaphysics" (by the  participants in the 1961 Royaumont Colloquium). In French originally. For a change, it was the English bunch who had 'the attitude'! Grice did not make it to Royamount, since he preferred to educate the masses in England, and he was lecturing for the third programme of the BBC on "The nature of metaphysics" (later made into a book edited by Pears).


Essay 26. Max Black, "Language and Reality". The Russian strikes back. Black was genial, and his "Models and metaphors" deals with metaphor NOT as a mere conversational implicature. Grice's views on metaphors (if not models) did change, and one of the key concepts of his 'philosophical eschatology' (the other branch of metaphysics, next to ontology) is metaphor -- the other is ANALOGY.


Essay 27. Jerrold J. Katz, "The Philosophical Relevance of Linguistic Theory". American. This is Rorty's idea of making this American. Katz, like Rorty, was a New Yorker. Note that the philosophical relevance of linguistic theory contrasts with the linguistic relevance of philosophical theory. Katz could have written about the latter, too! He liked to spell Gricean as 'Griceian', as he should!


Essay 28. Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, "A Pre-Requisite for Rational  Philosophical Discussion". Bar-Hillel was a teacher of Asha Kasher who became a Griceian after visiting Grice at UC/Berkeley. It was from both Bar-Hillel and Grice that Kasher became a rationalist. See his "Conversational maxims and rationality".


Two Retrospective Essays by Richard M. Rorty: "Ten Years After", "Twenty-five Years After"


Bibliography. It should include ALL GRICE: including


Grice, Way of Words, Harvard.

Grice, Conception of Value, Clarendon.

Grice, Aspects of reason.
plus all the rest!


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