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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Friday, July 24, 2015

How Grice met his wife

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very
chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate.
I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her
standing alone in a corner.  She was a descript person, a woman in a
state of total array.  Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and
she moved in a gainly way.
I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I'd have to make bones
about it since I was travelling cognito.  Beknownst to me, the
hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so
it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened.  And even
though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn't be
peccable.  Only toward and heard-of behavior would do.
Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause
was evitable.  There were two ways about it, but the chances that
someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata
or a sung hero were slim.  I was, after all, something to sneeze at,
someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused
bridled passion.
So I decided not to risk it.  But then, all at once, for some apparent
reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could
make heads and tails of.
I was plussed.  It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and
it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen.
Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt
capacitated---as if this were something I was great shakes at---and
forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number
of times.  So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall
and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings.
Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to
prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous.  Wanting to make only
called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d'oeuvres, trying
to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a
few myths about myself.
She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory
character who was up to some good.  She told me who she was.  "What a
perfect nomer," I said, advertently.  The conversation became more and
more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail.  But I was
defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour.  I asked if she wanted
to come with me.  To my delight, she was committal.  We left the party
together and have been together ever since.  I have given her my
love, and she has requited it.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

(c) Grice/Baker


Back in the early 1980s, when Grandy and Warner (Richard and Richard, or Richards, as Grice said) were compiling Grice's list of UNpublications, they came with what they called 'book-length' ones! And a few would be (c) Grice/Baker! 
There is the VERY publication, their contribution to the Davidson festschrift, on weakness of the will (ed. by Hintikka and Vermazen).
Most of the collaboration (c) Grice/Baker came from the fact that Grice and Baker taught MORAL philosophy seminars for graduate students at UC/Berkeley (Grice never dealt with undergrads!) hence Grice's increasing interest in taking Kant seriously, since Baker has been contributing to "Kant Studies" -- more than she did to Aristotle studies!

I would think it was via Baker's more 'academic' interest in Kant that Grice got to read Kant in the vernacular, that is the Koenigsberg dialect on which Kant (or "Cant" as I prefer to spell his name) wrote. Of course, the "Metaphysics of Morals" being mandatory (even Kantianly mandatory) reading for those seminars!

Oddly, Hacking (who calls Baker "Jude", as in "Hey Jude") manages to quote from Grice in his "Why does language matter to philosophy"! -- and a good reference to him it is too, as Hacking compares him to Hobbes!

Someone SHOULD compile a list of all the (c) Grice/Baker, just for the record!  

One of the things that especially FASCINATED me about the (c) Grice/Baker is formalistic. Suppose we want to formalise that agent A has a goal G towards the fulfilment of the proposition "p" -- e.g.

i. Grice does not smoke.

I.e. Grice's goal is to stop smoking.



Now, there may be another goal -- to fulfil that goal: in symbols:


It seems to have been Baker's idea (which she shared with Grice) -- "Must our motives be pure?" -- that this should proceed ad infinitum. Only if 


proceeds indefinitely should we arrive at Grice's motto: 'obligation cashes out in desire'! No more, no less!

When Baker was writing her PhD dissertation, Grice took the problems of such dissertation SO SERIOUSLY that he had problems sleeping!

Ah, those were the philosophers that were!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LOADS of unpublications (c) Grice & Baker


Some at the Grice Collection, UC/Berkeley; others at Glendon.

How Grice met Baker


Via her being his graduate student.

"Jude" – as her husband Ian Hacking was prone to call her – was no doubt more obscure than she deserved to be, given the brilliance of her thought.

But she was – from her profuse work with H. P. Grice (who loved her) through to her late work with Philip Clark – a quintessentially collaborative philosopher. 

But then so was Grice. He would joke that his conversations with Sir Peter Strawson were so minimal than nobody ELSE understood them!

Clark presented some of their joint work at the annual meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association.

One can glimpse something of the character of Baker’s mind in her frequently cited “Trust and Rationality” for Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 1987 -- the same publication that had Grice airing his views on "Actions and Events" and "Aristotle and the multiplicity of being".  

But it was in interpersonal dialogue that Baker's brilliance shone through.

Baker was a marvelous interlocutor, always willing to consider another’s work on its own terms.

Interestingly, she learned that from Grice! She admired Grice for putting in Baker's shoes (metaphorically) when writing her dissertation. And it was Baker who awoke in Grice a new view of MORAL philosophy alla Kantotle.

A sharp but sympathetic critic Baker was, and an imaginative source of vivid and realistic examples (which, according to Grice, as we say, enlivened his own interest in ethics in his later years). 

Baker was above all an amazing friend, one who never failed to ask attentively after the troubles of those who visited her bedside.  

Such virtues are difficult to quantify and but should never be overlooked. 

But we should take care not to overlook these who would not – not even on their death beds – let others be overlooked.



Loads of them -- some at the Grice Collection, Bancroft, UC/Berkeley.



A very complex essay!