[lit-ideas] Re: Geary's Philosophical Humour

  • From: jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2013 09:27:13 -0400 (EDT)

It's good that McEvoy cares to comment, philosophically, on two of the philosophical jokes provided by Geary: "entropy ain't what it used to be" -- a joke which 'ain't what it used to be' in McEvoy's words -- cfr. Higgs' fields -- and, the 'solipsistic' joke:

"Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?"

McEvoy wants to see this as a self-contradiction and thus trading on Grice's maxim of quality, "do not say what you believe to be false" (since we can agree an utterer recognises a self-contradiction as such).

McEvoy focuses on the second part of the question, "or is it just me?"

In McEvoy's rewrite, " ... or does solipsism hold?"

Since the first part reads, "Does solipsism hold?", the addition of the second part turns it into a self-contradictory question alla:

"Does Mary have a little lamb or doesn't she not?"

However, I will argue that it's _answers_ that are self-contradictory ("Mary has a little lamb, but then again she hasn't" -- cfr. "She had her cake and she had it not -- and the adage it prompts: "she can't have her cake and have it").

The logical form is the best way to approach this, with again the 'or' to be taken truth-functionally as 'vel' ("p v q?") with some range of quantifiers over both clauses.

And so on.





"'Solipsistic' could here "replace" many words besides 'hot' - e.g. 'cold'; and it is not really "meant to replace" any specific such word but simply replace such a word in the phrase. And that we can hold a conversation with ourselves does not mean the solipsistic question is "appropriate". ... More importantly JLS' commentary misses the joke: the joke is the play on the phrase "or is it just me" which is here played with in the sense in which it might denote 'solipsism' ['solipsism' = "there is just me"] and the sense of this phrase in the kind of question asked where it is usually anti-solipsistic in sense [as it involves an appeal to the possibility that "just me" is not the measure of all things, whereas "just me" is the measure of all things in solipsism]."

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