[lit-ideas] Re: Donleavyiana, Princess Dianaiana
- From: "Donal McEvoy" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "donalmcevoyuk" for DMARC)
- To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2017 16:26:22 +0000 (UTC)
So what does Donleavyimplicate. That’s the Popperian question,>
No, it's not (the wrong information is being given out by the Gricean Prince,
as Donleavy might say).
Popper's question, or questions, go to whether this kind of analysis gets us
anywhere worthwhile. His position here is nuanced and complicated but might be
summed up in two main theses (1) 'conceptual analysis' is a hoax, in that there
is no worthwhile substantive knowledge to be gained by analysis of concepts (2)
(a) there may be worthwhile, substantive knowledge as to, say, metaphysical
issues and (b) it is possible that such knowledge can be extracted from
something presented as a 'conceptual analysis'.
For a CA-ist these two theses may appear difficult to reconcile, if not
contradictory. Within Popper's philosophy they are not. In respect of (1)
Popper maintains that either a claim is 'non-substantive
definitional/conceptual' or it is 'substantive non-definitional/non-conceptual'
i.e. there is no such thing as a claim that's both substantive/synthetic (where
it may be false given the facts) and simultaneously true merely by definition
of terms (or conceptually).
Re (2)(b) Popper claims its be worthwhile sometimes to recast an argument
presented as true definitionally/conceptually so it is regarded instead as a
substantive /synthetic claim, and assessed as such.
In “Studiesin the Way of Words,” Grice notes that ‘false information’ is no
This is not Popper's view. For Popper, Newton's physics is information - indeed
has extremely high 'informative content' (perhaps the highest of any human
"information" at the point Newton published his _Principia_) - though that
physics is false. Similarly, "knowledge", for Popper, includes false
Popper thinks it pointless to try to treat any dispute here as a 'conceptual'
one:- it is of course possible to 'conceive' "information" and "knowledge" so
that, for example, a proposition can only constitute "information" or
"knowledge" if it is true, but _it is purely a matter of words and how we use
them_ whether we restrict "information" and "knowledge" to what is "true". This
matter of words leaves the important substantive issues untouched - for example
the substantive role of false propositions in the growth of knowledge (where
Popper would say any serious thinker should admit false propositions have
played a most significant role in the growth of knowledge).
Popper might well say that what underpins Grice's claim that 'false info is no
info' is Grice's adherence to 'JTB-theory' (as it might be termed i.e. the
theory that "knowledge is JTB"). If knowledge = JTB, then it follows that what
is untrue cannot be "knowledge". It is clear that Popper's "Objective Knowledge
- An Evolutionary Approach" is, inter alia, a many-sided attack on JTB-theory.
It is on substantive issues, of 'knowledge as JTB' versus 'knowledge as
evolutionary product of life', that Popper would mark his opposition to Grice
(who, compared to Popper, is not an important theorist of knowledge at all).
What Popper is not interested in is "Objective Knowledge - A Definitional
Approach' - equally his interest in JTB-theory is not 'conceptual' but only
because of the substantive theory of knowledge with which 'JTB-theory' is tied.
It goes much further than this e.g. Popper argues that trees and plants have
"knowledge". If someone denies this, by defining "knowledge" so this is
impossible, Popper would say it is a deadend to think this denial advances
anything but also a deadend to think one definition can be proved against the
other. Rather we can go one of two ways and both substantively get us to the
same place: either we can accept it is definitionally impossible for
"knowledge" to be false, and then move to the substantive question whether what
is 'false' nevertheless plays a role in the evolution of knowledge; or we can
accept false knowledge is definitionally possible, and then move to the
substantive question false knowledge plays a role in the evolution of knowledge
(vis-a-vis certain aims, such as increased truth-likeness or truthfulness). The
either/or debate is a pointless one here. The substantive questions remain the
same whatever definitional dogmas we adopt.
From: "dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, 17 September 2017, 16:45
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Donleavyiana
Perhapsthe best Griceian approach to Donleavy is via the conversational
implicaturesof his (that's Donleavy's, not Grice's) novels as set for the
stage. Or not. Consider Grice onmetaphor. He gives just one example i. You're
the cream inmy coffee. The implicature: You'remy pride and joy. Now consider
Donleavy's ii. All I want is abreak which is not my neck. This should remind
aGriceian of Griceian analyses of metaphors like iii. No man is anisland. if
a metaphor that is.Since it starts with “No,” it seems to be the _negation_ of
a metaphor. Nowconsider Donleavy’s Griceian humour. One bad thing about
analysing theimplicatures of Griceian jokes is that you spoil them – in that
they ceasebeing jokes. The ‘want’ in (ii) is interesting. Originally, it means
‘lack,’rather than ‘will’. As such (ii) contrasts with iv. All I desire is
abreak which is not my neck. which just doesn’t flow.So Donleavy does mean
‘lack’. Is (ii) a metaphor. Or a zeugma? That is thePopperian question! We are
assuming, withGrice, a bit naively, that ‘break’ can only have ONE sense, a
literal one. AndDonleavy is STATING (or explicating) that a neck break (i.e. a
break of hisneck) is not what he _lacks_. Does this implicate that his neck is
broken_already_? In any case, consider the truncated version of the zeugma: v.
All I want is abreak. Grice considered oncethe implicatures of “between”. vi.
Jones is betweenSmith and Brown. Grice says that this canbe read _literally_,
i.e. that Jones is physically between Smith and Brown. Orit can be read
_figuratively_, as it were --, in Jones being between Smith andBrown in some
moral order, or scale, as it were. Grice adds: “This does notmean that
‘between’ has two senses.” Ditto with ‘break’. vii. Give me a break. can
hardly (onlyUN-hardly) mean viii. Give me a break ofmy neck. In any case
Donleavyimplicates that he has it. Since he cannot have his neck broken and yet
_utter_(ii), Donleavy is being, on top, ironic. Or not. Cheers, Speranza
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