[lit-ideas] Re: Feline Implicature

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2011 13:54:11 -0700

JL writes
This to contradict Wittgenstein who asks:

Was ist der natürliche Ausdruck einer Absicht?
[What is the natural expression of  an intention?]
Wittgenstein does not answer the question directly but by way of

Sieh eine Katze an, wenn sie sich an einen Vogel heranschleicht;

oder ein Tser, wenn es entfliehen will.
[---look at a cat when it stalks a bird; or a beast when it wants to escape.]
So, the idea, for us who know German, is that

a cat, when stalking ('heranschleichen')
a bird ('fowl', strictly -- 'vogel')

constitutes a 'natural expression' of an 'intention'.
{This is a bit unwieldy. The /cat/ does not 'constitute' the natural expression; it's what the cat /does/ that
is an unadorned expression of it. And /Vogel/ means bird.}
I would not think 'Absicht' translates "intention" directly  --. There are
possibly alternate translations at play here, by Anscombe,  the original,
and by P. M. S. Hacker...
{'Intention' seems to me a perfectly good translation of /Absicht/. I'm not sure what's meant by saying it doesn't do so 'directly.' The Hacket-Schulte rendering of this passage is the same as Anscombe's}
--- But it _is_ getting there. Thanks to R. Paul for the quote.

If Geary and Stone are right, the cat stalks the bird but the cat is not a
killer. So, how do we analyse the 'natural expression' of the intention. It
has  been said that a pet cat who kills a mouse, since she is not hungry,
only does  it _for play_ ('a form of life', a 'language game').
{One might, I suppose, call it either a /Lebensform/ or a /Sprachspiel/, but I think it would be misleading to do so. Still ... It seems clear that Wittgenstein meant his cat to be stalking seriously and not in play.}
A beast trying to escape is perhaps an easier scenario. The problem is that
they seldom know where to go, as my darling goldfish in the bowl.
---- I'm not sure if the Wittgensteinan word for 'beast' translates,
cognately, to English, or other languages (Indo-European).
{The word Tier---not an especially 'Wittgensteinian word---can mean 'beast,' just as it can mean 'animal.' I doubt much would have been changed had the translators used that word instead.'

'Beast' is Middle English, from Old French /beste/, from Latin /bestia/. I don't know the etymology of /Tier/.}

I wish that Richard Henninge would straighten all this out.

Robert Paul,
watching his dog stalk a new filing cabinet
and hoping that Wittgenstein's cat someday
meets Schrödinger's

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