[lit-ideas] It's a Griceian World

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2011 16:08:35 EDT

We are considering if Popper played the violin.

In a message dated  7/6/2011 2:59:17 P.M., donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
"Take a proposition  p such as "All swans are white", or any such 
proposition."
 
such as
 
"All swans are white".
 
(The use 'or any such proposition' seems confusing).
 
Oddly, this proposition was a favourite with J. L. Austin, who having never 
 been to Australia, disbelieved the existence of other-than-white swans 
(The fact  that the Aboriginal tribes of Australia were not aware of Linnaeus  
classification did not help).
 
McEvoy:
 
"If we speak it,
 
--- Speranza said that all swans are white.
 
"'it' is sounds, and it must be therefore  physical (some say). If we  
write it, it is encoded physically as script, and it must be therefore physical 
 
(some say). But all this shows is that the content of p may be physically  
embodied either as speech or writing."
 
Strictly,
 
Austin said that all swans are white.
 
He also said, famously, that France is hexagonal.
 
----
 
By uttering, "All swans are white", Austin intended an audience (or  
addressee -- say, Grice) to believe that he (i.e. Austin) believed that all  
swans 
are physical. 
 
Here, the verbal behaviour is evidence of a mental state by Austin. But we  
do not be mentalists, or dualists. There is no 'matter of fact', other than 
 Austin's displaying his utterance, "All swans are white" which constitutes 
 Austin's belief in that particular range of ornithological chromatism.
 
----
 
Note that if, alla Grice, we should challenge Austin, we should challenge,  
ultimately, his beliefs, not his utterances.
 
"What d'you mean, 'white': beak is red enough."
 
----
 
McEvoy:
 
"it does not show that the content is itself merely a physical object or  
property. And it is easy to indicate how and why it is not: if we speak 
softly  or loudly or use Italian rather than English, if we write in a smaller 
or 
larger  font, we may necessarily alter the physical embodiment of p without 
changing its  _content_ one iota."
 
The phrase, to change one iota, is particularly inapt, I think, in this  
context, when we are considering the _letters_. Oddly, "Italians", for 
example,  are said to derive from an Etruscan name, for 'Veal'. where the 'v' 
was 
the  'digamma'.
 
vitalians
 
was the original name. The 'v' was dropped. Mutatis mutandis, the dropping  
of a iota can make the Griceian world of difference.
 
---
 
"In a similar vein [metaphorically], p will stand in a logical relation of  
contradiction to non-p, but this is not a physical relation but a logical  
relation between mutually incompatible _content_ (clearly, both p and non-p 
can  be physically embodied, but nevertheless their _content_ cannot both be 
 true)."
 
Or alethic, as I prefer.
 
Talk of alethic conditions indeed simplifies things. But again, we are  
considering three spectra here:
 
the spectrum of verbal imagery: Austin said, in English, "All swans are  
white".
 
the spectrum of mental representation: "BEL (Austin, (x)Sx-->Wx))" --  
where "S" and "W" are mental predicates which Austin should be able to expand.  
"By 'white' I mean, ..."". Note that Austin could claim that "A swan is 
white"  is analytic. ("This is not a white raven; no such thing. An albino 
raven 
is an  abnormal raven" -- cfr. Reichenbach).
 
Finally, the spectrum of world 1 proper: the swans out in the lake which  
happen or happen not to be white.
 
McEvoy:
 
"This shows that there is a way of regarding content, even content that is  
perforce physically embodied such as speech or writing, that is independent 
of  the specific physics of its embodiment."
 
This sounds like a Q. E. D. of Duns Scotus, for which Tomasso d'Aquino can  
bring in his fifty six counterexamples.
 
Cheers,
 
Speranza
 
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