[lit-ideas] Re: As Far As I Know (Not Far)

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 1 May 2013 16:44:48 -0400 (EDT)

Or Knowledge Disimplicated.

In a message dated 5/1/2013 11:29:37  A.M. UTC-02, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
"Only  someone with a  philosophical axe to grind, would object to "Smith 
KNEW that his wife would use  the car to go shopping later that afternoon" 
because it is "correct" to say  "Smith THOUGHT he knew that his wife would use 
the car to go shopping later that  afternoon.""

Mm. Not Grice. In fact, he coined 'disimplicature' to allow for this.  
"Disimplicature happens," he would say.
His favourite example is Shakespeare saying,
"Banquo saw Macbeth".
"Only a stickler for good usage would object to Shakespeare's misuse of  
'see' there."
"If we all KNOW that Macbeth hallucinated,
we can QUITE SAFELY say that he saw
Banquo -- even though, if I may, Banquo was 
quite not there _to be seen_."
"We should NOT conclude from this"
as McEvoy mutatis mutandis is re: 'know'
Grice goes on,
"that an 'implication'
of the existence of the object said 
to be seen"
(or mutatis mutandis the truth of the proposition
said to be known)
"is NOT
part of the conventional
meaning of the word 'see', nor
even, as some have done"
--- as Popper does re: 'know' --
"that there is one sense of the word
'see' that LACKS this implication."
cfr. "Thales knew that the earth was flat."
Other examples of disimplicature mentioned by Grice are:
A dean of the faculty uttering,
"I shall ruin the Philosophy Department, but maybe I won't."
"The apparent counter-examples (for that is what they are)
can be explained in terms of disimplicature."
"In effect, context means that normal entailments
are suspended."
"If we say that Hamlet saw his father on the ramparts
at Elsinore, in a context"
again Shakespearean
"that it is generally KNOWN 
that Hamlet's father is dead,
and consequently not there to
be seen by normal eyes,
then we are NOT committed,
strictly, to the usual entailment
that Hamlet's father was REALLY
or ACTUALLY on the ramparts."
"For, in such a context, I will say that
the utterer 'disimplicates' that Hamlet's
father was on the ramparts."
-- as McEvoy disimplicates that Smith's wife would use the car.
--- begin quoted text.
"there are many cases where I do not offend against standard usage by using 
 'know' in relation to false belief. "Why did Mr. Smith, now on trial for  
attempted murder of his wife, cut the brake wires on his car? Because he 
knew  that his wife would use the car to go shopping later that afternoon. How 
did he  know this? Because it was her usual habit on a Saturday. But he also 
knew it  because he checked with her and she confirmed she was going 
shopping later. Of  course, we now know that the police had got wind of his 
and intervened  before his wife took her usual trip in the car. In fact, his 
wife knew of the  plot before she confirmed to Mr. Smith that she would be 
making her usual  shopping trip." Here what Mr. Smith 'knows' turns out to be 
false and is known  to be false when we speak of it, yet speaking of what 
Smith 'knows' here is  neither ironic nor does it offend against standard 
usage in English. In case it  is not obvious, this is an example where the use 
of the verb 'know' is in  connection with 'knowledge' that is simultaneously 
posited as untrue (albeit its  untrue character is not known to the 

-- end quoted text.
Grice goes on:
re: 'intend' and 'shall vs. will'.
"Similarly, when context makes it quite
apparent that there may be forces that
will prevent us from fulfilling an intention,
we are not committed to the usual 
entailment that we believe we WILL
fulfil it. Thus, an utterer who utters,
"Bill intends to climb Mt. Everest next week"
'disimplicates' that Bill is sure 
he will climb Mt. Everest, just because
everyone KNOWS of the

possible prohibitive difficulties
A similar example is 
"You're the cream in my coffee".
"Absolute metaphor is the worst disimplicature 
of all."
"With "You are the cream in my coffee"
we have a specimen of total disimplicature. 
 "In a context which 
makes the whole of "WHAT IS SAID", in
my favoured use of this expression, 
UNTENABLE, or false if you will -- 
that the addressee is made of the aforementioned
substance of cream --, it is best to add the
mitigater "as" -- you are AS the cream 
in my coffee."
"We don't want to ascribe to the
utterer of "You're the cream of my
coffee" a belief in the categorial 
falsity involved."
"Granted, the contradictory of
what the utterer has made AS IF TO SAY,
to wit -- "you are NOT the cream
in my coffee" will, strictly speaking, be
a truism -- and so this cannot be
taken as ironic."
"It certainly cannot be THAT that
such an utterer is trying to get 
"The most likely supposition is,
rather, that the utterer is attributing
to his addressee some feature (or
features) in respect of which the addressee
_resembles_ (hence the proper use of
'as' -- "You are as the cream in my coffee")
the indicated substance [of 'cream']."
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