[lit-ideas] Re: Heidegger: the greatest living philosopher

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:11:45 -0400 (EDT)

From: palmaadriano@xxxxxxxxx
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Sent: 3/28/2014  5:47:27 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: [lit-ideas] just in case heidgeger  the greatest living philosopher
1. there is him (false)
2. that he  is living (false)
3. that he is a philosopher (debatable)
the sentences by  grice are of the form
santa claus is the most generous immortal human with  sleds  

We have to recall that Grice uttered,
"Heidegger is the greatest living philosopher"
in Spring Term (Harvard, 1967). At that time, 
ii. Heidegger is living.
is true.
I'm somewhat (but only somewhat) puzzled by 'great'. We have another great  
philosopher, Grosseteste, or Greathead, as he was called in Oxford.
Robert Grosseteste (/ˈɡroʊstɛst/ grohs-test) or Grossetete (/ˈɡroʊsteɪ
t/  grohs-tayt; c. 1175 – 9 October 1253) was an English statesman, 
scholastic  philosopher, theologian, scientist and Bishop of Lincoln. He was 
born of 
humble  parents at Stradbroke in Suffolk. A.C. Crombie calls him "the real 
founder of  the tradition of scientific thought in medieval Oxford, and in 
some ways, of the  modern English intellectual tradition".
It may be argued that, in his day, Grosseteste was also the greatest living 
Note that in this case, 'great' is 'ambiguous' (never polysemous). 'Great'  
may apply to his head or that of his antecessor (in the family). With 
Heidegger is the greatest living philosopher.
the adjective 'greatest' need be compared with the more colloquial version  
of this:
Heidegger is the biggest living philosopher.
Note that in German, 'grossest' would be used, triggering yet further  
implicatures -- or not.
Grice died in 1988. His Studies in the Way of Words was published in 1989.  
The utterance, "Heidegger is the greatest living philosopher" occurs on p. 
18 of  the book. A point was made by Harvard University Press about 
footnoting the  point: "Grice is writing this when Heidegger is (still) alive", 
it was "best  left to be understood (as implicated). It was argued that 
working the point  could unintentionally trigger disimplicatures about the 
meaning of [sic] "great"  and "life". 
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