[lit-ideas] Re: Grice's Bootstraps and Popper's

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 17:46:57 +0100 (BST)




----- Original Message -----

>Witters's point, if valid, is an important one:

Is  'what-is-said' contained in what?>

My suggestion is that both earlier and later W offer versions of the view that 
the sense of 'what is said' is not said in 'what is said'.

In a sense, this means the question -  'In what is 'what-is-said' _contained_?' 
- is misconceived: 'what is said' is _said_, and does not depend for its being 
said on being "contained" in something outside 'what-is-said'. The question, 
for W, is how 'what-is-said' has - or is given - sense. Both earlier and later 
W offer versions of the view that however it has or is given sense (and there 
may, for the later W, be many ways it has or is given sense) the sense of 
'what-is-said' can only be shown. 

So the question put is not W's question nor one that obviously arises if W's 
POV is valid. 

>Do we need a hierarchy of languages,  as Russell, systematic as he was, 
thought? 

So that, to speak of  what-is-said we need to introduce a higher language?>

This is not the route W takes in TLP, nor is it the route he suggests in PI. 
And I think we can understand why W rejects a 'meta-linguistic' solution, 
though I shan't stop here to explain. Popper does take the meta-L solution a la 
Tarski.
 
<snip>

>Grice refers to this as the important "bootstrap principle": "try to pull 
yourself up by your  own bootstraps; in other words, do not make your 
metalanguage stronger than your  object-language".>

It is unclear to me what "stronger" means but if it means "richer" (so that 
everything expressible in the object-L can be expressed in the meta-L and the 
meta-L can also express more than the object-L), then surely 
(a) all meta-Ls must be "stronger" than the object-L to perform their function 
of resolving the sense of a p whose sense in the object-L cannot be  
determined?;
(b) the "stronger" the better? 

So it is unclear to me what advantage or importance attaches to the "bootstrap 
principle" as Grice sees it.

Popper btw also argues in favour of a "bootstrap principle" but one that is 
consistent with a 'yes' to (a) and (b) - the bootstrap, for P, is that we do 
not have to go outside language to resolve problems with the sense of language 
[but we may have to go to a different logical level within language - a meta-L 
- to resolve problems in any given object-L]. Also btw, it was one of P's proud 
claims that he was among the first to see the significance of Tarski's work [a 
greater significance than perhaps Tarski himself saw] and first to introduce 
this work to British philosophy.


>---- D. McEvoy may not want to care to translate all the  exegesis of 
Witters along Griceian lines, but I would (i.e. care, etc.). And so  on.>

It not that I don't care to so much as I don't know enough of Grice to attempt 
such a translation (if I did I might not care to). I might say that as an 
undergraduate at Oxford I was given Grice to read on the 'causal theory of 
perception' and was v unimpressed (infuriated might be more like it, his 
_argument_ seemed woeful and the CTP did not seem to solve anything important: 
but Grice was nirvana compared to some professor there on the so-called 
'philosophy of action', where the _argument_ was even more woeful and where the 
whole subject seemed to me a misconceived attempt to circumvent the 
complexities of the mind-body problem). I would be curious to revisit the CTP 
to see if I see more in Grice now than I did then. Perhaps there is an on-line 
copy so I need not shift my bag of bones to a suitable library?

D
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