The Grice Club


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Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Trick Or Treat?": The Implicatures -- Notes Towards A Griceian Halloween


The Italian (I always trust the Italians to speak about things they don't really know about) entry for "Halloween" in Wikipedia has this mysterious statement which cannot be but Griceian (cfr. his "Tim's spots did not mean anything to mean, but they really meant measles to the doctor, when he came."):
i. "Dolcetto o scherzetto" in realtà significa "sacrificio o maledizione".
-- which I will translate as:
ii. For all Frazer has studied this, he missed the implicature.
or more strictly "to the letter"
iii. "Trick or treat?" -- which is NOT a rhetoric question -- "in REALITY", or really, MEANS 'sacrifice or curse?'.
The Griceian problem is how to get to this 'implicatum'. D. Ritchie was wondering some time ago whether to use 'implicate' as a verb, or his neologism, "I implicature". In this case, it may well be a chorus utterance, or choral utterance. A group of utterers uttering:
iii. Trick or treat?
Geary WILL agree that it means, really, 'sacrificio o maledizione'.

I mean, one wouldn't go door to door to the houses of strangers for nothing of less momentum than _that_. The 'really', in the Italian entry, poses Austin's problem in "Sense and Sensibilia"
iv. That's not a real duck: it's a decoy.
So we will ignore it.
The implicature is theological, or as Geary prefers, 'eschatological' -- ("Not scatological, stupid," he adds). For 'sacrificio or maledizione' uses the inclusive disjunction. Thus:
v. Both.
is a perfect answer. One can be cursed and yet sacrifice oneself -- a neighbour's friend told me he knew one spouse who felt like that).
So the issue is tricky if not treaty.
Apparently, Halloween originates in Ireland, and it was due to the Irish 'immigration' (or 'emigration', as the Irish prefer) to the USA that this 'rhetorical eschatological inclusive disjunctive implicature-triggering question' travelled 'across the non-pacific pond' (i.e. the atlantic ocean).
"The concept of 'sacrifice' is an obscure one," Geary notes. "And so is that of 'curse'". "This puts Halloween as one of American most serious celebrations. The fact that today it is also celebrated in Tokyo says much about the Irish," he adds.
If in southern Italy there are similar celebrations that's a SOUTHERN Italian problem ("and northern Italian scholars need not get concerned.")
If the Romans celebrated POMONA (as in Pomona College -- vide Atlas), that's on the other hand a "classicist" problem.
Geary notes: "There are no inscriptions in the Roman forum of anything like the question, 'trick or treat?', but this may well be due to the lack of punctuation marks."
He goes on:
"The question mark ( ? ), also known as the interrogation point, query, or, as I prefer, "eroteme", is a punctuation mark that indicates an interrogative clause, or phrase in many languages. The question mark is not used for indirect questions -- which "sacrifice or curse" may well end up being --. The question mark glyph is also often used in place of missing or unknown data. In Unicode, it is encoded at U+003F ? question mark."
"And we can't expect the Ancient Romans to use Unicode, can we?"



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