Apparently, Popper commits a mistake, if I am taking McEvoy alright, in
thinking that if William James is wrong, James Joyce is wrong. “Stream of
consciousness,” if I take McEvoy alright, may be a bad philosophical thesis –
the epitome of a naïve empiricism –and Grice quotes from James in “Personal
Identity”) but a good literary technique.
It all relates, for philosophers, the ‘thought-language' and 'language of
thought,’ alleged, of course.
So I was revising the very last paragraph that Grice utterered it at Harvard,
Emerson Hall, back in April 1967.
The hand-written notes (now WoW:142) read (But you have to _imagine_ the man,
"The solution to this SEEMINGLY _knotty_ problem may, perhaps, lie, in the idea
that the psychological attitudes which, in line with my theory [never
'analysis] of meaning, attend the word FLOWS [cfr. James's 'stream of
consciousness'] of thought do so as CAUSES and effects of the [EXTERNAL] word
flows in question, but not as natural [italics Grice's. Speranza] causes and
effects and so NOT as states that are manifested in psychological
episodes or thoughts which are _numerically distinct_ form [the external] word
flows which set them off or arise from them."
"These psychological attitudes are due or proper antecedents or consequentces
of the [EXTERNAL] word flows
in question and AS SUCH are legitimately DEEMED to be present in those roles."
"THIS IS PART of one's authority AS A RATIONAL THINKER to assign acceptable
interpretations to one's INTERNAL [emphasis mine -- Speranza] word flows." (By
1975 Grice would become a functionalist and would be less ready to accept this
But back in 1967, Grice concluded the William James lectures -- in honour of
the man who coined the phrase, 'stream of consciousness':
"What they may be DEEMED to generate [as causes -- Speranza] or arise from [as
effects -- Speranza] is ipso facto something which they DO generate or arise
"The interpreation, therefore, of ONE'S OWN VERBALLY formulated thoughts is
PART of the privilege of a thinking being."
"The association of our word flows and our psychological attitudes is FIXED BY
US as an OUTFLOW [super-emphasis -- Speranza] from our having learned to use
our language [English, say] for descriptive purposes TO DESCRIBE THE WORLD [to
others, mainly. Speranza]."
"SO, the psychological attitudes which, when speaking spontaneously [as Joyce's
characters seem to do; they even THINK spontaneously] and yet non-arbitrarily,
we assign as causes and effects of our [external] word flows
have to be accepted as properly occupying that position."
This shows the itinerary of Grice's flow of thought, as it were.
For soon enough, Schiffer and many others were already finding 'solutions' as
to how to interpret those "inflows" (never mind Grice's "outflows") in good
In this respect, it is, ironically, the 'Introduction' (a long one) to
Schiffer's second edition of his _Meaning_ which I have found most
illuminating, as he revises different approaches to the 'language of thought'
hypothesis along Griceian lines.
The best exegetical material will, however, and unsurprisingly, come from Grice
himself in works that were later reprinted in "Conception of Value" (notably
his "Method in philosophical psychology" -- as this relates to 'stages' of
'content-internalisation' by pirots.
While talk of pirots (pirot talk) scares a few, it actually should be the other
It’s Grice's way to go back to his beloved symbolisms, and work, stage by
stage, with the symbols of classical logic (a disjunction like "p v q") and how
this can "project" into 'dubitative' thinking as it were. Etc. To challenge,
Grice calls this “Humeian projection”!
In this respect, Donald Davidson’s Griceian account of a solecism-report seems
like an interesting one.
If an utterer uses 'theirselves' in his OUTflow, it is of course natural that
he’ll use “theirselves” it in his INflow.
The connection Grice is making between both 'flows' vis-à-vis the 'deeming' bit
of our use of the "external" (and only, to some) language to *express* our
(psychological, never propositional) attitudes is, as from Grice, a charm. And
it may rehabilitate James’s ‘stream of consciousness,’ by providing a bit of a
conceptual analysis for the metaphor James found himself to be so fond of!
(Never mind Joyce!)