The Grice Club


The Grice Club

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Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kaarlo Jaakko Juhani Hintikka and Herbert Paul Grice: Implicature as a Game


Hintikka has written a delightful 'intellectual autobiography' for the 
Schilpp volume series.

Was he (Hintikka, not Schilpp) jealous of his  wife's previous lovers?

He doesn't think so. The thing was remote. But  interesting from a
philosophical point of view:

Jane Merrill Bristow (she  later dropped the "Jane") was studying
philosophy and considered herself a  "follower of Sartre’s thoughts".

When an influential Senator from  Massachusetts, New England, visited
Bristow's college, he took part in a  discussion with students. Jane Merrill
Bristow was selected.

During the  conversation, Bristow took the Massachusetts senator by
surprise with  her knowledge of the notorious trade union Teamsters.

Afterwards the senator's press secretary, invites Jane to a one-on-one 
meeting with the senator.

At first, Bristow thought that the senator wanted to hear more about 
Teamsters but he had other things in mind.

As a (not logical) consequence, the pair became what Americans call 

Bristow kept the affair a secret, only telling Hintikka some time later 
(when she had chosen the name "Merrill Hintikka").

Merrill Hintikka told Hintikka: He [the senator] cried almost every time 
after we had made love."

(Recall they were what Americans call 'lovers', and "lovers make love" is 
analytic a priori).

Hintikka was frequently asked of his feelings on being  compared with such
a well-known ladies’ man as the senator for Massachussets  was.

Hintikka held a distinct belief: "Their affair was in the distant past  by
that time. So there was no jealousy on my part but of course you had to 
wonder if you were found wanting in that contest. But this is something I 
touched upon in my book."

The book was selected by the Helsinki book club which meets weekly.

Grice was married once, and at one point he discusses the 'evidence' for a 
belief versus the 'acceptance' for a belief. Grice holds that certain
beliefs  (or other attitudes) are accepted notably NOT on the basis of their
evidence (in  this he may contrast with Popper but most notably with the
Inductivists). He  gives just one example: the belief in one's fideltity to one's

The case with Hintikka's first wife -- not Merrill Hintikka -- was an 
interesting one to discuss in this respect since as Hintikka suggests in  his
"Intellectual Autobiography", there is evidence for belief and acceptance of 
belief other than based on evidence.

When Hintikka met for a second time Merrill Provence (Jane Merrill Bristow 
the "Jane" and married Provence) at the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York,
she  "was going through a divorce", while Hintikka himself was married to
Soili  Hintikka -- "happily as far as [he knew]."

A conversation with Merrill Provence ended in Hintikka’s room at the Hilton
"and finally in his bed where Hintikka and Provence make love "tenderly,
albeit  clumsily"".

It may be interesting to study the scenarios in terms of what Dennett calls

hintikka, n. A measure of belief, the smallest logically discernible 
difference between beliefs. "He argued with me all night, but did not alter my 
beliefs one hintikka."

Hintikka's third wife wrote her dissertation on what she calls a formal 
theory of the will; so we have to broaden Dennett's definition to cover the 
measure of ANY PROPOSITIONAL ATTITUDE [and not those only accepted on their 
basis of their evidence], to wit: "the smallest logically discernible
difference  between" propositional attitudes.

Witters thought that some attitudes were not propositional, and not merely 
Italian! [Witters was insisting that a proposition and that which it describes must
have the same 'logical form', the same 'logical multiplicity'. Sraffa [the
Torino son of Angelo Sraffa and Irma Sraffa (née Tivoli), a wealthy 
couple] made a gesture, familiar to Neapolitans [although Sraffa was from 
Torino] as meaning something like disgust or contempt, of brushing the  underneath
of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips of one hand. And  he
asked: 'What is the logical form of that?' The implicature was that some 
attitudes are not propositional _in nature_.]

Dennett's example: "He argued with me all night, but did not alter my 
beliefs one hintikka". This sort of scenario led to a development in epistemics,
doxastics, boulemaics, and denotics based on the idea of CHANGE in one's
tableau  of such attitudes.

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