Grice was never too serious about his use of 'fact'. He should have consulted a dictionary. That was his colleague J. L. Austin's advice.
"I don't give a hoot what the dictionary says," was Grice's response.
"And that's where you make your big mistake," Austin calmly reparteed.
In fact, 'fact' is a borrowing from the Latin, never returned. By 1530, 'fact' was used to mean "action, anything done," especially "evil deed," from Latin factum "an
event, occurrence, deed, achievement," in Medieval Latin also "state, condition,
circumstance," literally "thing done" (source also of Old French fait, Spanish
hecho, Italian fatto), noun use of neuter of factus, past participle of facere
"to do" (see factitious). Main modern sense of "thing known to be true" is from
1630s, from notion of "something that has actually occurred."
feat, which is an earlier adoption of the same word via French. Facts "real
state of things (as distinguished from a statement of belief)" is from 1630s. In
fact "in reality" is from 1707. Facts of life "harsh realities" is from 1854;
euphemistic sense of "human sexual functions" first recorded 1913. Alliterative
pairing of facts and figures is from 1727.
Facts and Figures are the most
stubborn Evidences; they neither yield to the most persuasive Eloquence, nor
bend to the most imperious Authority. [Abel Boyer, "The Political State of Great
But the root is obscure.
'factum' is the past participle adjective from 'facere', "to make, do; perform; bring about;
endure, suffer; behave; suit, be of service" (source of French faire, Spanish
But 'facere' is from a proto-Indo-European root *dhe-:
"to put, to set, to do".
The root has cognates.
In Sanskrit: dadhati
In Avestan dadaiti "he puts;"
In Old Persian ada "he made;"
dai- "to place;"
In Greek tithenai "to put, set, place;"
In Lithuanian deti "to put;"
In Polish dziać się "to be happening;"
In Russian delat' "to do;"
In Old High German
tuon, German tun, Old Saxon, Old English don "to do;"
In Old Frisian dua,
Swedish duon, Gothic gadeths "a doing;"
In Old Norse dalidun "they did".
"Let me assume (and hope) that it is possible
to construct a theory which
as primarily a property of utterances. To
confusion, I shall use, to name such
a property, not 'true'
----- "Let me also assume that it
will be a
consequence of such a theory that there will
be a class K of
utterances (utterances of
affirmative subject-predicate sentences)
that every member of K (1) DESIGNATES some
item and INDICATES some
class, and (2) tis
if the item belongs to
the class. Let me finally
assume that there can be a method of
a form of expression ['true'] and linking
it with the notion
of 'factually satisfaotry',
a consequence of which will be that to
["'the S is P' is true", Smith is tactful,
Fido is shaggy] will be
equivalent to saying
that any utterance of class K which
and indicates the class of
['tactful'] people is FACTUALLY
(that is, any utterance which assigns Smith
to the class of
[happy] people is factually
satisfactory". WoW: 56
(Grice has Smith as
'happy' in WoW:II but as tactful in WoW:VI, and I prefer having Smith as tactful
in that this allows Grice to play with utterances in tropics other than the
usual neustic one: "Smith, be tactful!"). And so on.
K. M. J. who teaches
Linguistics at Cambridge has recently applied Grice's notion of 'acceptability'
to an account of the semantics of some deontic modals. Which is good.
"Aspects of Reason" then, Grice allows for 'satisfactoriness' to be other than
'alethic'. And not only that, but allows the philosopher to be concerned with
the GENERAL patterns of rationality.
Grice played with this:
is our man in ethics".
Grice found that insulting. How can someone be
"our man in ethics". Philosophy, like virtue, is _Entire_. Grice says. So, since
he saw himself (or hisself, as I prefer) as a philosopher, he knew that there
was a general paradigm that Hare failed to practice but he (Grice) didn't!