[lit-ideas] Grice, Sraffa, and Geary: "What is the logical form of *that*?"

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:05:03 -0500

L. Helm was quoting from Borges's prejudice against the Spaniards (he
wasn't one!), to paraphrase, "They use one interjection too many."

This was one problem for Witters, not for Grice. For Grice, the verb 'say'
is too narrow. He prefers 'utters'. Thus, a dog utters, and by uttering
'wow', the dog means that he is hungry. This does not mean that 'wow' is true
iff wow -- a condition for Witters.

And then there's Geary, who loves Sraffa. Why? Well, let's hear Geary in
his own words:

In a message dated 11/24/2015 2:28:47 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx writes: "Very interesting, this Sraffa fellow.
Love
his eyebrows. You can always tell an intelligent man by his eyebrows.
Like Oliver Wendell Holmes was Sraffa, all bushy wooshy. Totally
uncontrollable, a man without a country, without prejudice, without much
money. Like
me."

N. Ma.colm, who taught with Grice at Cornell, recalls one particular
incident that relates to the subject line of this post, "What is the logical
form of _that_?". Geary has been complaining that many philosophers cannot
think outside their 'algebraic box'. That was Sraffa's main criticism to
Witters. As Malcolm recalls:

"Witt[ers] was insisting that a proposition and
that which it describes must have the same
'logical form', the same 'logical multiplicity'.
Sraffa made a gesture, familiar to Neapolitans
as meaning something like disgust or
contempt, of brushing the underneath
of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips
of one hand. And he asked: 'What is
the logical form of that?'"

The sad thing is that Witters never replied*.

Cheers,

Speranza

* Unless, with McEvoy, we interpret the whole of "Philosophical
Investigations" as an answer to the IMPLICATURE behind Sraffa's non-rhetorical
question!
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