[lit-ideas] Re: Every dogma has its day

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 19:32:53 EDT

With pleasure

In a message dated 7/12/2011 6:43:48  P.M. , donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx 

It's odd that McEvoy fails to add that the name of the reviewer, from the  
"Guardian", of all papers, is "Fox".
Continuing with his pun on 'dog', 'dogma' -- cfr. title of the book under  
review, "In defense of a dog", and Grice, "In defense of a dogma". "Count to 
me  rally to the defense of the underdogma", Grice would say.
McEvoy adds without mentioning that
"Every dog has its day; and mine has been a fine one -- so far" is by  
Borrow, "Lavengro".

"And the day of the dogma that dogs seek alpha or dominant status, or  the 
dogma that they have complex emotions like guilt, may be slowly  passing:-
_http://www.guardianbookshop.co.uk/_ (http://www.guardianbookshop.co.uk/) 

"A  Guardian review there begins."
My comments on Fox's sly way with words:
"If you were a dog just over 100 years ago,"
This is possibly otiose. Journalists should NOT be allowed (red: forbidden) 
 to use words like 'you'. Scott is learning the game. His latest review for 
 "Horrible bosses" with Jennifer Aniston goes, "Language: Rude enough to 
get you  (at least me) into trouble".
I am not a dog. Perhaps Fox thinks he can be.
"life would have been simple."
Oddly, 'simple' is cognate with "implicature".
"implicature" -- from Latin, 'in--', emphatic. "plicature". 
"sim-ple" -- from Latin, sim-plicature.
cfr. Simplicity and implicity.
or complexature and implicature, if you mustn't.
As Geary notes, 
"Happy?" ("cfr. simple life"). "Pigs are happy."
"You would likely have been gainfully employed perhaps hunting, herding or  
guarding and provided you did your job, your owners would have accepted 
that you  were sometimes messy, loud or unpredictable."

Helm knows about this. He indeed claims that evolution in homo sapiens  
sapiens (he sometimes drops the necessary second 'sapiens') is co-variant with  
'canis familiaris'. But surely before canis familiaris was, if not the fox  
(whose place in evolution is rather otiose) -- the wolf. Note that a common 
 element in European (if not Japanese) mythology is the werewolf. A dog 
trained  outside captivity becomes a wolf.
If people say, "the cats", the wild cats, etc. to refer to such disparate  
things as tiger, lion, panther, we should allow people to say 'the wild 
dogs' to  refer to hyaenas, and wolfes, and foxes, of course (_pace_ Fox).
Fox continues:
"Most dogs today are never expected to work, even though they are often  
still tuned into functions their breed has fulfilled for thousands of  years."
This is plenoastic. What function is the Yorkie supposed to perform. Catch  
mice? What when mice are ALL eaten? Some breeds are more functional than 
others.  Fox terriers, for example, have a connection to _terra_; setters set, 
and the  Italian grey hound catches hares (only, in Italian) -- hence his 
blue colour.  Grice's example, in "Conception of value" is
The old English sheepdog.
He gives this example as 'relative value'. The very name, 'sheepdog'  
supposes (or implicates) a submission of the breed to a _task_ that a human  
values, only. He pets his dog for his sheepherding ability. Fox's sly  point.
"Instead, they are expected to behave like small children, yet be as  
independent as adults."
------ I should rewrite that.
"To make things worse, our culture is awash with myths that prevent dogs  
being properly understood,"
McEvoy is right in making a point about the use of 'understand' in this  
context. Oddly, in slang, 'understanding' is LEG. "She has beautiful  
understandings". So one has to be careful. "Limb", for "leg" is a Victorianism  
does not translate to Finnish.
"in particular, the enduring idea that they harbour a powerful desire to  
dominate their family pack. Put simply: dogs are on the brink of a crisis. 
And  as we have put them there, it is our responsibility to help them.""
Fox should consider animal right. I agree there is a co-responsibility. But 
 I'm sure the issue is so complicated that it does not belong in  
Now, for McEvoy's commentary:

"What the various research means for a 'doggie World 3', or even canine  
grasp of human World 3 products [like human language], is arguably"
---- I'm not sure what McEvoy means by 'research'. He is of course a  
Popperian (while I'm a Gricean, so I can't care less (or more) for 'research'). 
I can't see what research has to do with _stuff_.
"that there is no canine equivalent of World 3"
By the same token, dogs are not important because there is no canine  
equivalent of 'conversational implicature'. The zoology should not be refuted 
it fails to match the conception of a philosopher, I say.
"and they do not grasp the abstract content of human language higher than  
its expressive and signalling functions [of which they have a sometimes 
acute if  partial grasp]."
By the same token, many small children and independent adults don't either. 
 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.
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.
"dogs do not grasp the power of human language to describe or to argue, and 
 their own 'language' lacks these functions. And if they do, they should 
describe  what they were feeling when they made mess and argue the case for 
it, and not  just skulk crypto-guilty. Discuss."
Indeed, the point of BUYING (let alone owning) a book, "In defense of my  
dog" is otiose.
Oddly, 'dog' is not QUITE English. It should be 'hound' (as in German,  
'hund') which describes what the dog does best. Note that female hund (Old  
English bicc) has acquired such circumstantial implicatures to make of the  
epithet one of the most otiose ones in American speech.
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