[lit-ideas] Re: In Grice's Name

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2012 12:31:22 +0100 (BST)

As a layperson rather than expert, and on a serious note, on reviewing the 
passages below I do not see how 410 adds to what precedes it: for example, if 
410 were omitted I do not see that we would find something important missing 
from the passages preceding it, something that on reading 410 we might go 
'A-ha! That explains it'. Which is to say, I don't see how 410 much clarifies 
or develops what precedes it. At least it is unclear how 410 does this - and 
you would need some commentary to form a bridge between 410 and what precedes 
it: but if that commentary must go beyond 410, then 410 might seem inadequate 
as it stands. On the face of it, 410 simply recapitulates in more general terms 
what has been said previously: "For the main point is: I did not say that 
such-and such a person was in 
pain, but "I am  . . . . . " Now in saying this I don't name any person." 

If we try to put aside the semantics of 'name' by admitting that naming/name is 
used 410 in a sense more restrictive than when all words might be regarded as 
kinds of names [when 'running' might be viewed as the name of a certain action 
(as W seems to allow it might when discussing the Augustine picture of 
language), and the connective 'and' might name a certain relation between other 
items of language etc.]: then there is clear enough sense in which 'I' is not 
straightforwardly a name. Nor does it seem to me "jejeune" in an objectionable 
way to say this sense is reflected in the fact it would appear wrong to say "My 
name is I".But so? And how does this connect with the foregoing in PI?

What we may perhaps agree is that it would be a mistake to view these passages 
as propounding a thesis [perhaps to be extracted by analysis], at least that is 
not their purpose. Their purpose is to help us not be carried away with certain 
turns of thought that our language may make tempting, by reflecting on what may 
be said with sense and what may not be said with sense (so that the possibility 
that seems contained in the latter forms of expression is seen as a mirage). 
That is, these passages are intended as therapeutic for certain kinds of 
philosophical flights of thought.

Permit me to tie this in with the ubiquitous 'key tenet': for at the back of 
this therapy is the view that we can only try to show what can be said with 
sense and what cannot. W is not interested in trying to say what constitutes 
'I' or 'naming' or 'sense' or 'pain' or 'person' etc. To try to say anything of 
this character would conflict with the 'key tenet', and so it is an implicit 
consequence of the 'key tenet' that W nowhere seeks to say any such thing. W 
rather takes such terms and, without saying anything of this character, seeks 
to show what may be said with sense and what may not (using certain 
thought-experiments to bring this out). 

For example, I would suggest that 410 should be viewed consistent with W being 
open to the possibility that we could construct a language-game where 'I' did 
name a person: but W would then seek to show that, if we did so, this would not 
get us anywhere in terms of some philosophical argument that an 'I' is [or is 
not] a 'person'. So when W claims something like '"I" is not the name of a 
person, nor "here" of a place, and "this" is not a name.', he should not be 
taken as setting down some grammatical remarks that hold for any possible 
language-game but as drawing his remarks from looking at how we actually and 
typically use these items of language.

Yet I do not see any greater importance in 410, in terms of developing W's POV, 
than my "jejeune" post indicates. It seems more a recapitulation.


 From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Sent: Tuesday, 26 June 2012, 22:29
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: In Grice's Name
Donal wrote

>> Unfortunately Robert's quotation is not given any commentary so that we
>> might be enlightened as to whether W means more than merely the
>> following:
>> 'I' does not name a person: hence we do not say 'My name is I' etc.
>> 'I' may refer to a person: e.g. 'I am a person not a machine, Mr.
>> Turing'.
>> If something more profound or interesting is afoot we should perhaps be
>> told. In particular, if W is denying that 'I' may refer to a person just
>> as 'there' may refer to a place (on the face of it W doesn't deny they
>> may so refer).


This short section (§ 410) comes at the end of a discussion that begins at (§ 
403). You, as a scholar of Wittgenstein might have seen that it has nothing to 
do with your jejeune questions—or at least to have done some work yourself, by 
turning to the passage in question. I sent the post which contains it as a 
comment on something JL said, and I grant
that without a setting it might seem to a layperson to lack any real
point. However, in discussions of Wittgenstein, that isn't how you
present yourself.

403. If I were to reserve the word "pain" solely for what I had
hitherto called "my pain", and others "L.W.'s pain", I should do
other people no injustice, so long as a notation were provided in which
the loss of the word "pain" in other connexions were somehow
supplied. Other people would still be pitied, treated by doctors and
so on. It would, of course, be no objection to this mode of expression
to say: "But look here, other people have just the same as you!"
But what should I gain from this new kind of account? Nothing.
But after all neither does the solipsist want any practical advantage
when he advances his view!

404. "When I say 'I am in pain', I do not point to a person who is
in pain, since in a certain sense I have no idea who is." And this can be given 
a justification. For the main point is: I did not say that such-and such a 
person was in pain, but "I am  . . . . . " Now in saying this I don't name any 
person. Just as I don't name anyone when I groan with pain. Though someone else 
sees who is in pain from the
groaning. What does it mean to know who is in pain? It means, for example, to 
know which man in this room is in pain: for instance, that it is the one who is 
sitting over there, or the one who is standing in that corner, the tall one 
over there with the fair hair, and so on.—What am I getting at? At the fact 
that there is a great variety of criteria for personal 'identity'''.Now which 
of them determines my saying that '/' am in pain? None.

405. "But at any rate when you say 'I am in pain', you want to
draw the attention of others to a particular person."—The answer
might be: No, I want to draw their attention to myself.—

406. "But surely what you want to do with the words 'I  am. . . .'
is to distinguish between yourself and other people."—Can this be said
in every case? Even when I merely groan? And even if I do 'want
to distinguish' between myself and other people—do I want to distinguish 
between the person L.W. and the person N.N.?

407. It would be possible to imagine someone groaning out:
"Someone is in pain—I don't know who!"—and our then hurrying
to help him, the one who groaned. "Someone is in pain—I don't know who!"—and 
our then hurrying to help him, the one who groaned.

408. "But you aren't in doubt whether it is you or someone else
who has the pain!"—The proposition "I don't know whether I
or someone else is in pain" would be a logical product, and one of its
factors would be: "I don't know whether I am in pain or not"—
and that is not a significant proposition.

409. Imagine several people standing in a ring, and me among them.
One of us, sometimes this one, sometimes that, is connected to the
poles of an electrical machine without our being able to see this. I
observe the faces of the others and try to see which of us has just been
electrified.—Then I say: "Now I know who it is; for it's myself."
In this sense I could also say: "Now I know who is getting the shocks;
it is myself." This would be a rather queer way of speaking.—But if I
make the supposition that I can feel the shock even when someone
else is electrified, then the expression "Now I know who . . . ."
becomes quite unsuitable. It does not belong to this game.

410. "I" is not the name of a person, nor "here" of a place, and
"this" is not a name. But they are connected with names. Names are
explained by means of them. It is also true that it is characteristic of
physics not to use these words.

The material taken from the online version of Anscombe's translation of
the PI, may not wrap correctly, but I'm not able to do anything about
it. Sorry.

Robert Paul

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