[lit-ideas] Grice's Bridge, Dummett's Tarot

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2012 08:21:10 -0500 (EST)

They call it a card-playing machine, but it's not.
Bridge and Tarot: was: Grice and Dummet
Below some commentary on McEvoy, even...
Grice was a professional bridge player -- as the long obituary in "The  
(London) Times" testifies -- "Professional philosopher and amateur cricketer".  
There is a complex reference to bridge in WoW:v (via Stampe). Dummett liked 
 cards too:
_http://www.eprints.lse.ac.uk/552_ (http://www.eprints.lse.ac.uk/552) 

-- begin quoted text. Note Dummett's Sicilian name-dropping: a charm.
Q: We want to talk a little bit about a passion, or a  pleasure—your
interest in tarot cards.
Well, my interest in the first place was in the games -- it more  than
any other kind of card game -- the history of the cards is a tool to the  
history of the games. Well, you want to ask me why I’m interested. I don’t 
think  anyone should be interested in the subject who doesn’t enjoy playing 
cards,  because this is an enormous family of very interesting and often very 
intricate  games. I’ll give two examples. In Bologna, they play a game with 
the local form  of the Tarot pack. It’s for four fixed partners, as in 
Bridge, and the greater  part of the scores at the end of the hand comes from 
the multitude of different  combinations of cards that you and your partner 
have in the tricks that they’ve  won. So, it’s not like Bridge where you’re 
just concentrating on making so many  tricks. Two-thirds of the cards in the 
pack can contribute to these  combinations, and so you’re trying to win
such combinations, and prevent your  opponents from getting them. So, 
almost every single card matters. All right,  that’s one fascinating form of 
game. In Bologna, they play with 62 cards. In  Hungary, they play with only 
42. You have 22 fixed trumps and only 5 cards per  plain suit. Through very 
strict rules governing the
bidding, you can often  tell a great deal about what cards people have in 
their hands. And, the thing  is, you get a certain score. You have partners, 
but the partners are not fixed.  They’re determined by the declarer. The 
successful declarer calls a card, which  he doesn’t have in his hand, and the 
player who has that card becomes his  partner, but he doesn’t say so. And so, 
until that card is played, you don’t  know for sure who is whose partner. 
Besides the score you get for winning the  game, there are also scores for 
all sorts of feats you can get in play like  winning the last trick with the 
smallest trump, winning the two top trumps and  the bottom trump and so on. 
The most valuable is winning the second highest  trump with the highest 
trump. Now, sometimes it’s worth not winning the game in  order to make one of 
these feats. You’ll score more that way. So, again, when  you start,
it’s not certain what the objective of the declarer and his  unknown 
partner is going to be. Well, that’s another example of a really  fascinating 
game. I got interested in all this in a very odd way. We were on  holiday in 
France. We bought a tarot pack. There were rules of the game with the  pack. We 
started playing with our family. We thought it was a very good game.  When 
I was back in England, I came across an Austrian pack with rules and this  
was an obviously related, but a very different game. So, I wrote to various  
people asking if they could tell me how the game was played in other 
countries.  I wrote to experts on card games. None of them could tell me. So, I 
started  trying to find out for myself, and it gradually grew into a serious 
piece of  research. Trying to discover the history. I mean, there are written 
rules of  games from the seventeenth century onwards, but before that, there 
are just some  literary allusions. So, it really becomes a piece of serious 
detective work, and  that’s part of the fascination. I’ll give you an 
example of a puzzle. I know a  lot of people who are collectors of playing 
cards. In the 1930s—this is quite  a
short time ago -- there was a kind of tarot pack. My collector had the  
wrapping and it was written in French, "Tarot `a soixante treize cartes’, or  
possibly ‘septante trois cartes’. It was just like an ordinary Austrian 
pack, so  that the suits had 8 cards in each suit, but instead of 21 numbered 
trumps it  had 40 numbered trumps. Now, it’s still a total mystery, it’s 
mystery I’d love  to solve. In some French-speaking parts of Europe they played 
this game. I mean,  these packs have not been made since the 1930s. We wrote 
to the manufacturer and  they had a record of making these packs, but not 
where they were sold. So, I  still don’t know who played it or why. So there 
are all sorts of problems of  this kind. So, I enjoy playing. I enjoy 
meeting people who play. That’s a very  good way to meet people, and I’ve done 
lot of this in Sicily. In Sicily, the  game only survives in four scattered 
towns, in each of which it’s become a local  tradition . . .
Q: Which towns -- can I ask?
Oh, you know Sicily? Calatafimi, Mineo (do you know Mineo? It’s a small  
town south-west of Catania), Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto (near Messina) and  
Tortorici, inland. In about 1900 you could still play it all over the island.  
But now, if you ask anyone in Palermo, no one has heard of it. Just in these 
 four places. I mean, they play
differently but the substrate of the basic  rules are the same. And it’s 
different from any other tarot game played  elsewhere. So, I enjoy that part 
of it: going and meeting people who play, and  they teach me the game. So, it 
became a sort of passion. The fortune telling and  occult part of it has 
never been my principal interest, but I wrote a chapter,  in the first book l 
wrote on tarot, on the occult use of the tarot for  fortune-telling, taking 
it up to about 1920. I had to do some work for that. But  then I thought, it’
s a chapter which no one interested in that subject will ever  see, and no 
one interested in card games would take any notice of. 
So, I  thought of extracting it and finding someone to bring it up to date,
and  publish the result as a book. Then Donald Laycock, an Australian  
sent me an article that he’d written on modern occultist  tarot packs. So I 
wrote to him, suggesting he should collaborate with me and  bring the 
history down to the present. And he agreed. But while I was in  California I 
received a pathetic letter from him saying, 'I have contracted a  form of 
leukaemia and can no longer work'. Very soon after writing it, he died.  I 
obtained a new collaborator, Ronald Decker, and we enlisted a third, French,  
collaborator, Thierry Depaulis. It was going to be a single book bringing the  
history down to the present, but it turned into two, because it got too long.  
So, I went on with the second volume in collaboration with Ronald Decker, 
who  did the largest part of the work. And even then we only reached 1970.
Q: S,  the two books were, the first was A Wicked Pack Of Cards and  the 
was called?
"A History of the Occult Tarot 1870-1970." 1970 was when there was a great  
explosion. Before that people were content to choose just one occultist 
tarot  pack
out of the few that existed. Now all these different occultist packs  were 
being produced: witches’ tarot and feminist tarot, native American tarot,  
Basque tarot, Japanese tarot -- tarots from every culture that had never had  
anything to do with it, and people started collecting occultist tarots.
Q: And completed a third book.
"Ah, that is about the game of tarot! Or, rather the many games. The  
largest part of it consists of detailed rules of the different games, as played 
now or in the
past. This is essentially bringing up to date my The Game of  Tarot of 
1980; so much has been discovered, not only by me, since then. So this  new 
is just called A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack; it’s in  two 
volumes, because it’s an enormous family of games. It is historical as well  
as covering games played at the present day.
Q: Is it published?
M. Dummett: 
It was published, yes. I’m sorry I haven’t got a copy of it here.  Anyway,
only real enthusiasts would buy that book!
Q: I must say it’s extremely refreshing to hear that the former Wykeham  
of Logic and one of the foremost practitioners in philosophy of  
mathematics and
logic has actually been co-authoring with Ronald Decker, who  is, I think, 
curator of the
playing-card museum at the American Playing Card  Company in Cincinnati, 
Ohio. It’s
an absolutely fascinating part of your  life. Do you still play tarot?
Well, the trouble is, we used to have a little club in Oxford which  I
founded years ago. Now, it’s disintegrated. I mean: some of them left  
Oxford; some of them died. So, I don’t have that anymore. All I have is a  
computer programme for playing French tarot. Well, it’s not so much fun as  
playing with real people, of course. But I sometimes beat those three little 
in the computer!
end quoted text

Re: Dummetiana
In a message dated 1/14/2012 10:05:16 A.M. UTC-02,  
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes in "Turing, Grice, Wittgenstein --  

Here we are right back at the metaphysical question of whether we need,  in 
the human case, to account for the' processing' in terms of some World 2 
(in  P's terminology), whereas in the case of the computer the 'process' is 
entirely  to be understood in terms of some World 1. 
O. T. O. H., we may view Functionalism as attempting to provide a  
'reduction', as it were, of world 2 (psyche) to world 1 (sensory input,  
output). There _are_ problems with that. "He raised his arm", for  example, 
as Grice notes, echoing, somewhat Witters, is imbued with  'psychological' 
Grice considers various levels of psycho-physical correlations, since, as  
Palma suggested, there is a multiple realisability at stage: the world 1 is 
one:  the hardware; the world 2 is various: the software.
---- But allow me to bring back Dummett to the picture. In that interview I 
 was quoting from, there is a final (almost) segment about Materialism, 
which may  relate. It is quoted in the ps.
It starts with his views on religion, and proceeds to deal with 'identity'  
thesis in mind-body reduction, and brings in card-playing machines into the 
 picture. I have entitled this "Dummettiana", not to aggravate McEvoy, but  
because Dummett has become the centre, as it were. Feel free to bring back 
the  old title.
Q: I just wanted to hear from you this rather refreshingly different  pres
of your religion.
Well, I mean, there wasn’t a tension between my work against racism and  
philosophy, they’re both very much connected in my own feeling with my 
religion.  I think that it’s a duty to help the poor and oppressed if you can, 
that  springs very
much from, or I mean is a consequence of, a Christian view of  the world. 
But you’re not asking me about that so much as generally. In  philosophy, I 
think the duty of someone who has a religious belief as I have is  to seek 
the truth. I mean, I know that people say that people with a religious  belief 
adopt philosophical ideas because they think they know the answer already  
and it gives them grounds. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve never done any 
work in  philosophy with a view to supporting my religious beliefs. I think the 
duty of  the philosopher is simply to follow where the argument leads, if 
it appears to  lead in a direction against his beliefs, he just has to leave 
it there and say  ‘there must be an answer to this’ or ‘I must have gone 
wrong somewhere, I don’t  know where’. I agree that, particularly in America, 
it’s not just atheism, it’s  straightforward materialism that has become 
almost axiomatic among analytic  philosophers. That used not to be the case 
here. I remember years ago there was  a series of Wolfson lectures (lectures 
sponsored by Wolfson College); there were  six. Quine and Davidson were 
among the lecturers, so there are two
atheists  for you. As it happened, all the other four were Catholics. There 
were myself,  Peter Geach, Elizabeth Anscombe and Dagfinn Føllesdal (It’s 
not generally known  that he’s a Catholic, but he is). So, we had four 
Catholics and two  atheists."
It used not to be the case here that religious belief was so rare  among 
philosophers-- there are still one or two like myself -- but I don’t know  
whether that’s the increasing influence of American philosophy or just chance. 
I  do think that in philosophy -- well, I believe in metaphysics (I haven’t 
done  much work in metaphysics, and I think a great deal of metaphysics  is
basically the philosophy of physics), that metaphysics is concerned with  
clarifying our conception of the universe in which we live. Whereas a lot of  
other philosophy is concerned with clarifying theories about ourselves, 
about  intention, about emotion and so on. So, I think that philosophy needs to 
be  pursued by . . . I mean if you declare yourself as an atheist or a 
materialist,  you’re just as much giving the conclusion in advance, in fact 
rather more than  if you declare your adherence to a religious faith.
Q: It seems somehow that the mind-body distinction in philosophy of mind  
consciousness studies has been a sort of bogeyman. The reduction  programme 
to single
state materialism would leave no room for the spiritual  sphere, that’s on 
one side. There’s
also another tension, the explosion of  Marxism, again for different 
reasons, sending one
off on the atheistic path.  I wondered if you agree that neither of those 
two things really
touches the  concepts of metaphysics, philosophy of physics, philosophy of  
logic and the technicalities of the subject.
Well, I agree, they are irrelevant. I think all this concentration on  the
notion of consciousness is because it seems the last obstacle to oppose  to 
a materialist reduction of reality, I think that’s a kind of inheritance 
from  Cartesian dualism. Questions like, ‘What is consciousness for?', What is 
the  point of there being such a thing as consciousness?' -- I think those 
are  ridiculous questions. I think they are questions which come from a kind 
of  dualism in the first instance. They want everything. They want to 
arrive at  Monism, but they can’t quite get there.

Q: Do you still play tarot?
Well, the trouble is, we used to have a little club in Oxford which  I
founded years ago. Now, it’s disintegrated. I mean: some of them left  
Oxford; some of them died. So, I don’t have that anymore. All I have is a  
computer programme for playing French tarot. Well, it’s not so much fun as  
playing with real people, of course. But I sometimes beat those three little 
in the computer!

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  • » [lit-ideas] Grice's Bridge, Dummett's Tarot - Jlsperanza