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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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Herbert Paul Peirce and Charles Sanders Grice


Herbert Paul Grice’s work on pragmatics was significantly influenced by Charles Sanders Peirce’s theory of signs and communication as well as his
pragmatistic notion of logic and philosophy.

But of course, Grice added his genius, since most find Peirce (compared to Grice) boring -- in terms of his prose. No British humour about it!

The evidence was based on a number of counts in
which Grice’s explanations for the central notions of his "theory" (or rather, conceptual analysis, if one must) was argued to find their close

correlates in Peirce’s theory.
For example, conversational implicatures and the cooperative

principle, defined in “Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions”(1967), were explicated by Peirce in

Issues of Pragmaticism(published in the Monist, 1905) in terms of the characters of speaker meaning

consisting in the intention to fix the implications and non-implications of assertions

together with the belief that the utterer may have succeeded in doing so.
Peirce and Grice both

agreed that the utterers and interpreters have the shared purpose and that the interpreter is

expected to recognize that the utterer is present both in the utterance and as a deliverer of it.

They also agreed that there must be a common ground between the two, constituted by common
"knowledge", in working out particular conversational implicatures.
Grice’s iconic, associative and

conventional modes of correlation match Peirce’s icon-index-symbol trichotomy, and Grice even

once uses the term ‘interpretant’. Finally, pragmatics is for both grounded on normative and nonpsychological

Yet Grice never referred to Peirce IN HIS PUBLICATIONS. Only his UNpublications, which "by far exceed my publications", as he was wont of saying.

The Grice archives indeed contain a set of lecture notes concerning a course he gave at Oxford in 1947.
The title was – “Peirce’s General Theory of Signs”. We expose to view the basic topics Grice

covered in the course and show how they were manifested in his later work.
We even have the list of the students who enrolled for it!
For example, he
presented a translation manual how to present Peirce correctly in ordinary English -- remember he is considered as a member of the 'ordinary language' school of philosophy, so typically Oxford. Peirce, o. t. o. h., couldn't be more krypto-technical (even if he wanted to).
being a sign

ofas means’; interpretantas implicature, and so on.

Grice, H. Paul (1947). “Lectures on Peirce, Theory of Signs, The Bancroft Grice Collection,

University of California, Berkeley.
“Grice in the Wake of Peirce”.

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