[lit-ideas] Re: Grice's Implicature

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2012 15:53:06 -0700

One is that here have yet another example where JLS mistakes what I have
written. (Perhaps this tendency is a kind of "implicature" run riot?)

[Interlude in which I agree with Donal]

JL had written

 >I agree with McEvoy that Witters is stuck with a narrow view on 'naming'>

To which Donal replied

JL nowhere says what this 'narrow view of naming,' is. If he thinks it's exhausted by what's said in §§ 403-10, his understanding of the Investigations is as fragile as my understanding of even the _attempted_
proofs of the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture.

Wittgenstein says this

'13. When we say: "Every word in language signifies something"
we have so far said nothing whatever; unless we have explained
exactly what distinction we wish to make. (It might be, of course, that
we wanted to distinguish the words of language (8) from words 'without meaning' such as occur in Lewis CarrolPs poems, or words like
"Lilliburlero" in songs.)

'14. Imagine someone's saying: "All tools serve to modify something. Thus the hammer modifies the position of the nail, the saw the
shape of the board, and so on."—And what is modified by the rule, the
glue-pot, the nails?—"Our knowledge of a thing's length, the temperature of the glue, and the solidity of the box."——Would anything be gained by this assimilation of expressions?—

'15. The word "to signify" is perhaps used in the most straightforward way when the object signified is marked with the sign. Suppose
that the tools A uses in building bear certain marks. When A shews his
assistant such a mark, he brings the tool that has that mark on it.
It is in this and more or less similar ways that a name means and is
given to a thing.—It will often prove useful in philosophy to say to
ourselves: naming something is like attaching a label to a thing.


'26. One thinks that learning language consists in giving names to
objects. Viz, to human beings, to shapes, to colours, to pains, to
moods, to numbers, etc. . To repeat—naming is something like
attaching a label to a thing. One can say that this is preparatory to the use of a word. But what is it a preparation _for_?

'27. "We name things and then we can talk about them: can refer
to them in talk."—As if what we did next were given with the mere
act of naming. As if there were only one thing called "talking about a
thing". Whereas in fact we do the most various things with our
sentences. Think of exclamations alone, with their completely different


'Are you inclined still to call these words "names of objects"?
In languages (2) and (8) there was no such thing as asking
something's name. This, with its correlate, ostensive definition, is, we
might say, a language-game on its own. That is really to say: we are
brought up, trained, to ask: "What is that called?"—upon which the
name is given. And there is also a language-game of inventing a name
for something, and hence of saying, "This is ... ." and then using the
new name. (Thus, for example, children give names to their dolls
and then talk about them and to them. Think in this connexion how
singular is the use of a person's name to call him!)

_But he does not merely say this_.


Part where I disagree with Donal. In his response to JL, he says

Far from suggesting W is stuck with such a narrow view, I simply
contended that name/naming as used in PI-410 is used in a narrower sense
than the sense in which we might treat most items of language as
different kinds of names (e.g. 'running' as the 'name' of an action); I
did not, partly because W does not, seek to say what this narrower view
amounts to: indeed part of my point is that W is not saying what
constitutes a 'name' or naming, or 'I' or 'person', and that this
reflects the 'key tenet' which holds it would be futile to try to say
any such thing.

It would seem that in the passages above, he is not talking about anything which might be called a 'broader or 'narrower' sense of names
or naming. He gives plenty of examples of naming things (for what that's
worth) and examines the concept of naming and the practice of naming,
beginning with an examination of, and notional expansion of, the 'language' of the Builders, who were introduced in §2, in §7. It would be safe to say that this is where his discussion of naming, naming simples, names in the Tractatus & so on, begins. It—the discussion_ runs from there to ca. §59.

[I don't follow what Donal says next, but I thank him for going to the trouble of writing it.]

And I suggested W, in discussing the Augustinian picture and what is
'wrong' with it, shows he is open-minded about whether name/naming is to
be understood in a narrower or wider way - for W does not suggest that
what is 'wrong' or misleading with that picture is that it treats verbs
as names. His point against such a picture is not that we cannot treat
an utterance such as 'Slab' as a kind of name - perhaps of an object,
perhaps also of an action such as fetching a particular object [the
Tractarian W might have made such an objection, but not the W of
Investigations]. W's point cuts deeper and is that, whatever sense is
given such an utterance, its sense is never 'contained in/said by' the
utterance but depends on much more - a much more that can only be shown
and not said.

Where in any of these passages is the sense of an utterance (or any other 'proposition') even mentioned.

This point does not mean Augustine's picture is false but
that it is misleading if we take such a picture as capturing - as in
saying - how language has a given sense.

His criticism of Augustine's view is not so much that it's misleading, but that it's incomplete. (See the book.) It is, in fact, the view of
language set out in the Tractatus, stripped down.

Robert Paul

(My mail has been set to block any messages containing the word 'Grice.')
To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: