[lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2015 07:21:41 -0400

I have changed the subject line as I seem to get back to them [sic]
atoms... (and opt for 'corpuscules' instead) -- (but cfr. "Patsy is a patsy" --
variant of Ritchie's dialogue).

In a message dated 9/15/2015 12:37:41 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx writes in Re: Senses should not be multiplied beyond

Well, lets see...splitting an atom could devastate a mid-sized city like
Hiroshima.Splitting an atomic fact could not do that, as far as I know.

I see that Palma has responded to this, but I will try my own before I read
his contribution.

Here we seem to have two items which differ, rather. The propositions

i. Splitting an atom could devastate a mid-sized city (like Hiroshima).

ii. Splitting an atomic fact could devastate a mid-sized city (like

In (ii) we're using 'atomic', which derives from 'atom' as per (i).

D. F. Pears makes this clear. He notes that Russell uses 'logical atom' and
Russell is clear as what to mean. He does not seem to have a problem with
the razor of not multiplying senses, because as long as you qualify
Russell's 'atoms' as "logical atom", you know you are not talking of the real
which is the "physical atom".

Russell was also aware at the time that the atom, against its etymology,
WAS divisible. If he couldn't find a better term, it was his fault. He says
he uses 'atomistic' to oppose 'monistic'. The irony of it all, as Pears
notes, is that Russell's lectures found no place for publication other than
"The Monist" (but McEvoy would say that "Divisibility Bi-Weekly" was a thing
to come). (So for Russell, the distinction is between adverbs,
"atomistically" versus "monistically", but using 'atom' loosely, as per the
new theory
that was then being developed that is best seen as corpuscularism in that
the atoms are made divisible, and composed of a nucleus with electrons --
cfr. the analogous used by Witters of 'radix' or 'radical' which is chemical
or 'physical' in origin in its only LITERAL sense -- and of which Russell
was aware -- Max Black deals with these radicals in his "Companion" to
Witters that illuminates Witters's view in way Russell's prose doesn't -- and
which may be ONE BIG reason why D. F. Pears, a Wittengensteianian at heart
(although he disagreed with Witters on the crucial idea that reasons ARE
causes of behaviour), thought of writing a clarifying intro to Russell's
ultimately intro to Witters.

For that reason, it's best to rename Russell's philosophy the philosophy of

Now, if Russell were to say,

iii. The world is made of corpuscules.

It may still be argued that 'corpuscule' is monosemous, rather than

Kilgariff, in "I don't believe in word senses", goes further than Grice --
for whom, ceteris paribus, ALL words are monosemous --. Kilgariff worked
for some time for the Longman Dictionary, which may explain his post-trauma

His example was when he reviewed an old English dictionary that read:

"horse", 1. quadruped mammal. 2. Representation of this quadruped mammal,
as per the infamous paintings by Stubbs.

This was some confused lexicologist, but Kilgariff took this lexicologist
as a starting point, and to conclude that a 'sense' is a statistical
phenomenon out of ALL the uses a lexical item can be put to.

Grice's razor is introduced in William James Lecture III, in connection
with 'of' and 'or', and he blushes to say that he will be concerned with
'senses' of stuff that few would even considering as having them! ("the meaning

of "of""; "the sense of "or"").

In the case of the sense of "or", he is not even involved with the spurious
inclusive-exclusive disjunction, but with an epistemic or doxastic one he
had dealt with in his lectures on the causal theory of perception:

A: Where's your wife?
B: In the garden or the kitchen.

Suppose the cottage where Grice lived was structured as this

----------------------- ----------------------

garden door to the kitchen

Grice's wife
lying in beteween
head up to waist in the garden, legs in the kitchen.

Surely you can add "or both". So it's not the inclusive-exclusive
distinction he deals with. Rather he is focused on 'or' being STRONGER when
used as
if to implicate that the utterer DOES NOT KNOW where one's wife is.

It was some years later (for his PhD at Reading) that Gerald Gazdar ended
up formalising Grice's point here using Hintikka's epistemic logic.

In earlier lectures, Grice had focused on the meaning or sense of 'not'
being monosemous too ("Lectures on Negation").

His other choices, other than so-called 'particles' of logic, would be
lexemes philosophers use. Benjamin was saying that


has two senses, one for propositions which are true ("I remember that
Churchill was prime minister") and one for propositions which are false ("I
remember that Navarro was prime minister").

And if you read the essays being published at the time Grice was mentioning
the razor you do see lots of philosophers speaking of the multiplicity of
senses -- or even "we seem to have a different sense here" -- rather than
trying to explain any alleged second sense in terms of an implicature out of
the former -- and thus turning the proposition with the item having a
second alleged sense NOT a logical implication or entailment, but a stuff that
can be totally cancelled in context.



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