[lit-ideas] Re: Grice's Shaggy Dog Story

  • From: John Wager <john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2012 08:54:26 -0500

At the risk of sounding like a Tennessean, I just can't follow any of this thread, going back now for several weeks. I'm a paid philosophy teacher (if not a real philosopher), but I can't for the life of me see what the real issue is in "saying" or "showing" something, at least in the abstract. Can somebody give me a real example of how this makes some difference in our lives?

I have been trying to make sense of this discussion by thinking about the beginning of the Tao Teh Ching, where the thesis statement about Tao is that you can't put Tao into words. A book about something that can't be put into words. At least this makes for an interesting starting point in trying to read something, and it MIGHT be a way of starting a discussion of why nouns, which can always have opposites, can't be used about that which has no opposite, Tao. Maybe the book's trying to point to Tao? Maybe it's "showing" Tao without "saying" Tao?

Or am I on the wrong track entirely here?

Or should I just go back to watching the baby robins outside the window?

Donal McEvoy wrote:

*From:* "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx>
>I am expanding on McEvoy's claim that it's _sense_ that cannot be said for
Witters, but only _shown_. I concentrate on the  meaning of 'shaggy'.
"What is "shaggy""? "Hairy-coated".
So, the _sense_ of "shaggy" is 'hairy-coated'.
This enough should be a refutation  for McEvoy and Witters.>

Of course, it isn't enough. It is quite hopeless a "refutation". It may well be that "the _sense_ of "shaggy" is 'hairy-coated'". But that does not mean the words quoted say the(ir) sense.

So this example does not work as an example of "a statement that states its own sense", "signs that sign their own sense", "a 'what-is-said' that says its own sense" etc.

The claim that somehow in saying "shaggy" we have said that "shaggy" has the sense of "hairy-coated" is nowhere sustained in JLS' post.

Even if we (rightly) say that, "The _sense_ of "shaggy" is 'hairy-coated'", we have not thereby said the sense of 'what we have said' by saying this: the sense of 'what we have said' depends on more than 'what we have said'. If W were Irish he might have amplified this thus - "a feck of a lot more".

But this has been explained like a zillion-trillion times.

W's view was 'shown' in lengthyish posts on why, for example, stating the numbers '0, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.', or stating the instruction 'From n continually add 2', are not statements that state their own sense. [Perhaps JLS' rush-job "refutation" might have been slowed by properly considering these posts, which sought to explain what W seeks to show in PI by discussing teaching such a series or formula to another who did not understand their sense as we do].

Nor, for W, can their sense otherwise be stated: because any attempt to state their sense fails unless that attempt states its own sense, and this it cannot do.

(I admit: that last point has only be explained like a billion-million times.)

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