McEvoy is poking scorn on Grice.
In a message dated 1/16/2016 7:15:40 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
This is one of the easy ones. The essence of language is that it is
This is an obvious parody of Grice's example in "In defense of a dogma":
"The essence of a bachelor (unmarried male) is bachelorness."
Grice was playing with Aquinas (he distrusted Italians after he fought
against them during what Chamberlain called the 'phoney' war), who said, "never
define definition in terms of 'to define'".
McEvoy goes on on the same playful mode:
"That's if it has an essence. If we are an adherent of CA we may even claim
that it is a conceptual truth that the essence of language is that it is
linguistic. That's if there is such a thing as a conceptual truth."
The abuse of conditionals here ("if it has an essence," "if we are an
adherent", "if there is such a thing") is an obvious parody of Grice's mistrust
of Strawson's use of 'if' in Grice's "Indicative conditionals" (now repr.
in WoW, Studies in the Way of Words).
One might well argue that for any proposition, some condition is all ways
implicated, "p, if q". McEvoy is playing on this. The further implicature is
that if not-p (or ~q) 'p' may be rejected or become 'otiose'.
"Of course, none of this really advances any worthwhile solution to any
worthwhile problem. That's the problem with it."
This is what Grice calls a 'meta-problem'. I.e. there are problems and
there are meta-problems. If thesis T advances no solution to any worthwhile
problem, there's a meta-problem there. McEvoy fails to qualify the second use
of 'problem' with the prefix 'meta-', which Grice symbolises with
"None of this solves no problem-1, there's a problem-2 there."
I'm not sure language is linguistic, incidentally -- Note that the alleged
analytic a priori claim by McEvoy is untranslatable into German. Sir Alan
Gardiner used to distinguish between Grand Language
i. Language is linguistic.
and mere English vernacular regional 'speech'. And
ii. Speech ain't linguistic.
Gardiner, "The theory of language and speech" (*)
Ryle, on Gardiner, in Parkinson, "Theories of meaning", in Warnock, Oxford
readings in philosophy.
* Gardiner's essay is actually entitled, 'the theory of speech and
language' since his theory is infamously that speech comes first, but surely if
Russell and Whitehead wrote "Principia Mathematica" it is also true (if
slightly misleading and otiose) to say that Whitehead and Russell wrote
"Principia Mathematica": i.e. 'and' is commutative.
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