[lit-ideas] Re: Cardinals and the Legacy of H. P. Grice

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 14 Jun 2009 12:55:29 -0700

JL provides some interesting facts about his anatomy in order to discuss implicature.

I have two balls (testicles).
If I say, "My ball itches".

Is the 'implication' (for R. Paul will deny 'implicature' unless he won't) that "I only have one ball"?

Caution leads me to say that it may or may not. The underlying assumption apparently is that JL's genitals fall within some statistical norm—i.e., most (but not all) human males have two, so that a reference to one does not entail that it has no twin, or cousin, as the case may be.

If van Gogh had said, post-operatively—'my ear itches,' the person who believed that there was a further question, viz., 'which ear?' would have been mistaken. It is only where some series of events has a cardinality such that e+n has a greater cardinality than e, and e+n+m has a greater cardinality than e+n, that we can say that if some member of the series now has the cardinality n+n+m, that it must have have (at an earlier time, or at an earlier point in the series) the cardinality n, and we can say e.g., that if Henry VIII had six wives, he must at some point have had two—unless he somehow married all six in a single ceremony.

Now to the point. Which I repeat: 'had' does not mean 'is.' There is no implication from 'Jane is 72,' to 'Jane IS 20.' Someone who said 'Jane is 20' (where Jane is 72) would be saying something false. One could wish that 'Aristotle is 40,' were true, but alas it is not.

Robert Paul
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