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

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2014 21:27:25 -0400 (EDT)

Grice thought or said that Heidegger was the greatest living  philosopher.
Heidegger dedicates a few passages of his views on language to the 'turns  
of conversation' that should have appealed Grice. Or not.
O. T. O. H., there's this essay by Marrone, at 

Losing the Forest for The Trees:
The Parallel Aims of Heidegger and Ordinary Language Philosophy
Marrone writes:
"In a world where the wounds of two world wars lay fresh and unhealed,  
philosophy, like nearly every aspect of life in the Western world at the midway 
 point of the 20th century, took aninteresting and transformative turn."
"With J.L Austin, G.E. Moore, Gilbert Ryle, [H. P. Grice] and the  like, a 
decisive shift occurred in the treatment of philosophical questions  towards 
what we know as ordinary language philosophy (OLP)."
-- which for Grice was encapsulated in the idea of 'implicature' ("that  
Witters ignored blatantly.")
Marrone goes on:
"Though they are many and varied in their particular view-points and areas  
of study, the distinctive mark of an ordinary language philosopher is a  
fundamental trust and confidence in ordinary language as a guiding torch 
towards  solving the problems of philosophy."
"This tradition of philosophy in light of ordinary language is born  
primarily out of, and as a response to the traditional speculative metaphysical 
philosophy of the previous generations" -- notably Heidegger.
Marrone concludes his interesting essay:
"For both Ordinary Language Philosophy"
of the type Grice practised
"and Heidegger, there is something restricting the analysis of   
philosophers in the past."
"In the case of Ordinary Language Philosophy, the story reads that  
philosophers are mislead by their use of ambiguous language to believe in  
fictional entities, empty metaphysical phrases, and confusing  terminology."
"This deluding inevitably leads to an inability to see the motivating  
problems behind philosophical issues, leaving incomplete answers and surface  
level entirely misguided systems of philosophical though."
"For Heidegger, philosopher's are in the grip of the misleading apparatus  
of Descartes' representationalist view of the world."
"Thus, our answer to the sceptic is that both Ordinary  language 
like Grice
"and Heidegger concede that every philosopher aims at getting to the heart  
of their philosophy inquiry, it is just that there are structural road 
blocks  that prevent them from doing so."
"On the one hand, ordinary language philosophy points to the imprecise  
meaning of words, and on the other, Heidegger points to the misguided influence 
 of Descartes's legacy."
Or not.
Heidegger was born in rural Messkirch, Germany. 
On the other hand, Herbert Paul Grice was born in the affluent part of  
'Birmingham' -- when it was part of Warwickshire and Staffordshire. 
Raised a Roman Catholic, Martin Heidegger was the son of the  sexton of the 
village church, Friedrich Heidegger, and his wife Johanna, née  Kempf. 
On the other hand, raised an Anglican, Herbert Paul Grice was the son of  
the non-conformist cello player Herbert Grice ('a dreadful businessman, but a 
 fine musician') and his wife Mabel Fenton, who ran the family business as 
she  performed as head mistress of the main academy ('prep') in that 
affluent suburb  of 'Brum'. 
In their faith, Heidegger's parents adhered to the First Vatican  Council 
of 1870, which was observed mainly by the poorer class of Messkirch. 
In her faith, Grice's mother, on the other hand, who was a High Anglican,  
adhered to the 39 Articles, which were observed mainly by the upper class of 
The religious controversy between the wealthy Altkatholiken and the working 
 class led to the temporary use of a converted barn for the Roman Catholics 
At  the festive reunion of the congregation in 1895, the Old Catholic 
sexton handed  the key to six-year-old Martin.
On the other hand, Grice witnessed almost every night the fights of a  
theological nature between his nonconformist father, his High Anglican mother,  
and a resident aunt, who, granted, was a Catholic (like Heidegger). 
Heidegger's family could not afford to send him to university.
Similarly, Grice's family could not afford him to send him to a good  
prestigious prep. But since his mother was running one, he joined his mother's  
school -- along with his brother Derek. They ended up being Mrs. Grice's  
favourite students (and sons).
Heidegger entered a Jesuit seminary, though he was turned away within  
weeks because of the health requirement and what the director and doctor of the 
seminary described as a psychosomatic heart condition.
On the other hand, after prep, Grice's parents made an effort and he was  
sent to Clifton, in Somerset -- "possibly England's best public school", in 
the  words of a few Old Cliftonians.
Heidegger later left Catholicism, describing it as incompatible with his  
On the other hand, Grice keeps referring to the 39 Articles for the rest of 
 his life. He mentions them in "Studies in the Way of Words" when analysing 
the  word 'commit'. I can commit myself to the 39 Articles without having 
an idea  what they mean or read.
After studying theology at the University of Freiburg from 1909 to  1911, 
Heidegger switched to philosophy, in part again because of his heart  
On the other hand, after studying Greek (or classics -- 'except that I  
couldn't care less for Latin'), Grice switched to philosophy, which was however 
 still taught under the general rubric of Lit. Hum. in Oxford.
Heidegger completed his doctoral thesis on psychologism in 1914 influenced  
by Neo-Thomism and Neo-Kantianism, and in 1916 finished his venia legendi 
with a  thesis on Duns Scotus influenced by Heinrich Rickert and Edmund 
On the other hand, Oxford scholars were NEVER required to attain a  
doctorate ('we don't want to look overqualified). So Grice just obtained a BA  
MA from Oxford as student at Corpus. He later obtained a scholarship at  
Merton and was appointed fellow of St. John's not long after.
"St. John's" being the best Oxford college, in the words of some scholars  
who have St. John's as their alma mater.
In the two years following, Heidegger worked first as an unsalaried  
Privatdozent, then served as a soldier during the final year of the Great War,  
working behind a desk and never leaving Germany.
On the other hand, Grice joined the Navy during the 'Second World War' --  
and was soon transferred to Admiralty. He retired as Captain, and was 
involved  briefly in action in the North Atlantic theatre of operations, as it 
called  -- against the Germans!
If Heidegger worked as a privatedozent, Grice was for a year classics  
teacher at Rossall, in Lancashire -- but hated it! 
After the Greaet War, Heidegger served as a salaried senior assistant  to 
Edmund Husserl at the University of Freiburg in the Black Forest from 1919  
until 1923.
O. T. O. H., once Grice became a Fellow of the richest college in Oxford,  
St. John's, he could dedicate to implicature, cricket, bridge, chess, and 
music  (he played the piano). He was also chair of the Oxford film club (his 
favourite  actress was Norma Shearer).

In 1923, Heidegger was elected to an extraordinary Professorship in  
Philosophy at the University of Marburg. 
In 1967, Grice was elected Professor of Philosophy at UC/Berkeley. On that  
same day, he said:
"Heidegger is the greatest living philosopher".
And he _knew_!
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