[lit-ideas] Re: Beyond signalling lies nothing

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 16 Jul 2011 22:54:15 -0500

Here's my philosophy:  We were born to die, but we never know when.  So we
spend 75 post-uterine years (on average) guessing why any of this.  Then
the nothing.  I'm 8 years unto average.  So what the hell, let's drink.
Drink, drink, drink to the eyes that are bright as the moon happy night!

Mike Geary
don't know, don't want to know, don't even know if I can know and don't care
in Memphis

On Sat, Jul 16, 2011 at 1:26 PM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

> JLS wrote:-
> >Grice claims that there is NOTHING *over* and *above* what McEvoy
> ironically  refers to this 'acute partial grasp' of such excellent thing as
> the 'signalling' function is.
> There is nothing to language (or lingo, as I prefer) but signalling.>
> This claim surely needs some defending. Popper adopts Karl Buehler's
> _Sprachtheorie_ which distinguishes the expressive, signalling and
> descriptive functions [there are others, like the 'performative', but these
> may be set aside here; and to Buehler's hierarchy of functions, Popper
> proposes that above the descriptive level there is the argumentative
> function]. A key assumption is that the higher functions presuppose the
> lower: not merely in the sense that they emerge later and subsequent to the
> lower but they cannot be present without all the lower functions also
> simultaneously being present. In other words, it is impossible to describe
> without at the same time signalling (or involving the signalling function),
> and likewise any such signalling must also involve the expressive function.
> This means that to show there is no higher function than signalling, it is
> not enough to point out how a description can be interpreted as a form of
> signalling - for this is accepted even on a _Sprachtheorie_ like Buehler's.
> It is necessary to show that whatever in a description that might seem to
> involve something beyond mere signalling - for example, the question of the
> truth or falsity of the description - can be reduced, without distortion, to
> a mere act of signalling. To take an example, if I were to say to my
> neighbour that their house is on fire, there is no issue of whether this is
> true or false but merely an issue as to whether my signalling causes in them
> the intended reaction [say, of panic].
> Is it the case that Grice denies there is any such issue of truth over and
> above the efficacy of the signal? How is this to be defended?
> Bearing in mind that the following kind of argument, which merely shows the
> presence of signalling and not that there are no irreducibly 'higher
> reaches', is not perhaps adequate a defence:
> >Grice discovered this when he philosophised on verbs like
> 'segnare' (or Latin, 'signare')
> or Latin, 'significare'.
> Those spots signify measles
> was his example. But spots, while they signal, only signal in front of a
> human being. Hence, language trades on this signalling function of
> iconicity and  transplants it to higher reaches -- e.g. implicature.>
> This is also flawed because, unlike the dance of a bee or the warning
> sounds of birds, the spot is not engaged in a programme of action that
> involves signalling and where its effectiveness in signalling can be judged:
> to say a 'spot' is a sign of measles is not to say the spot 'signals' or can
> be seen as engaged in 'signalling' that there are measles.
> Donal
> London
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