[lit-ideas] Re: Grice and Geach on "A Bit of English Grammar"

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2014 10:50:54 -0800 (PST)

"I know to ski off the side" is sayable in Serbian, at least informally.  O.K.

On Monday, January 6, 2014 7:13 PM, Walter C. Okshevsky <wokshevs@xxxxxx> wrote:
A very interesting post from Jl, at least that part I think I understood. A few

"Learning-that" and "teaching-that" are not epistemically conditioned
locutions/uses; they are sensible/intelligible even if what is being taught or
learnt is false or incorrect. I.e.: "I was taught that Sadam had WMDs"; "I
learnt that Bucharest is the capital of Serbia." Even if P is false, you were
still taught and you still learnt that P. Anyone who has ever gone to high
school or college, knows well that we learn an awful lot of crap in the

"Learning-how" and "teaching-how", on the other hand, would seem to be
epistemically conditioned in that there is a right and wrong way to chop wood,
right and wrong ways of making love, a right and wrong way perform a forehand
smash or return a backhand slice in table tennis where
all this "rightness" and "wrongness" is open to justification on various
technical, prudential, moral and strategic criteria. 

"Learning-to-be/become" and "teaching-for" (as in teaching for dispositions of
critical thinking, autonomy, democratic engagement, erotic sensibility) are
also uses that seem to require epistemic correctness. "Learning to become
brave," for example, involves participation in pedagogical strategies and
techniques which really do foster a justified sense of "bravery" in
differentiation from recklessness and cowardice. (Aristotle's NE, bk 3 & 8) 

While I can learn that the earth is the center of the universe, I cannot learn
to be virtuous if the conception of virtue governing and guiding the learning
outcomes is false/immoral/etc.. Similarly with "teaching for:" teaching for
democratic deliberative competence must be differentiable from indoctrination.

Not "or not."

Walter O

Quoting Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx:

> In a message dated 1/5/2014 4:53:19 P.M. Eastern  Standard Time, 
> wokshevs@xxxxxx writes:
> While "knowledge" permits a  propositional (k-that) and a
> procedural (k-how) sense, there is no such thing  as "knowing to." So one 
> can
> learn how to tie one's shoes and learn that  Wolfau is in Austria through 
> the
> acquisition of one kind of knowledge or  another.  But one can't learn to be
> courageous, just or kind simply  through the acquisition of a form of 
> knowledge.  
> This is a good point.
> However, it brought to mind the words of the late professor emeritus of  
> logic at Leeds, Peter Thomas Geach (he died December last year). On p. 47 of 
> "Reason and argument", which he published with Blackwell, he talks, alla 
> Grice,  of 'bits of grammar'. 
> The logic professor (and Grice, too, is described as a "British logician"  
> by Bartlett) warns the philosophy student (or student simpliciter; his book 
> is  meant as an intro to undergrads who WON'T proceed with logic in the 
> curriculum)  to distinguish between
> logical form
> and
> implicature or worse, what Geach calls
> 'bits of grammar'.
> So the same may apply to W. O.'s point about there not being in English  a 
> phrase to the effect that one knows TO.
> Geach is discussing the copula:
> "S is P"
> Or "Every S is P" (he finds "All S is P" as being non-English).
> And he writes (brilliantly, as was his wont):
> "The word 'is' is a mere concession to English grammar and 
> plays no essential logical role (cf. Russian "John clever", "John
> rascal" [*It is not surprising that Geach should quote from  a
> Slavonian language, since his mother was Polish]"
> and later on the same page:
> "Every F is G" will be interpreted as "Every(body) who 
> is luckier than Elsie, Elsie envies". The '-body' part 
> of 'everybody' expresses the choice of Universe; and
> 'who is' is just a bit of English grammar -- these words
> could be left out in another language (say Latin)."
> Loved it.
> In another context, he goes on to discuss the subjunctive in Latin and adds 
>  the note, to the effect that "this will mean nothing to the student who 
> doesn't  speak the language". (Is Geach contradicting his self here; don't 
> think so).  After all, HE did, as well as Grice, since both had made the
> right 
> choices  during his student years at Oxford (at Balliol and Corpus 
> respetively) when  following the Lit. Hum. course -- 'classics' today, rather
> than 
> the Oxford later  combo of PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics -- cfr. 
> "Philosophy, Culinary,  and Demographics"). 
> So, I would suggest that we examine the logical form.
> W. O. makes a good point that 
> 'to believe how to bake a cake' 
> makes little sense. This is what Walter calls the 'procedural' sense (I  
> prefer 'use') of 'belief'. But we could still express that the agent has a 
> WRONG  procedure. He is not _certain_ about it, and it may lead to failure.
> So 
> there IS  a way to express a 'procedural' way of something like the absent 
> 'procedural  'use'' of 'believe'.
> Grice discusses 'mean', 'mean-that', and 'mean-to' (as in "He meant to go  
> to London") ("Meaning"), and concludes that 'to mean to go to London" is 
> like  the 'mean' in "Smoke means smoked salmon": what he calls a 'natural'
> use 
> of  'mean' (I may disagree).
> "Know to" may be a similar 'natural 'use''. Walter O. is concerned with "He 
>  learned to be brave", with 'factive' "learn". As in "He learned that the 
> earth  was flat". Someone 'wrongly?' taught him that the earth was flat, and
> he  believed it. Some purists disqualify this use of 'learn' (I do): you can
> only  learn WELL; there's no such thing as 'mislearn': this is just a bit 
> of English  grammar, to be merely implicated or disimplicated on occasion.
> Seeing that 'learn to' (be brave, etc.) is correct grammar, it seems THIS  
> is the expression for a 'to' use of 'know' that W. O. is looking for. Or 
> not, of  course. (Donal may agree with this, seeing that he allows, alla 
> Popper, for uses  of 'know' that are hardly factive: 'Ptolemy knew that the
> sun 
> rotated around the  earth', or "Newton knew things that were later falsified
> by Eddington" -- vide  Popper, "The source of [our] ignorance."
> 'To' uses of 'know' that are not factive ("He mislearned to be brave") are  
> then what Popper would call ignorance. At the beginning of this British 
> Academy  lecture he grants of the oddness of speaking of the source for 
> something that is  not there (ignorance) but he goes on with the title as, to
> echo 
> Geach's initial  quote, 'a concession to English grammar' -- or German in 
> this case, initially,  one may think?
> Cheers,
> Speranza
> Cheers,
> Speranza
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