[lit-ideas] Re: Persuasion Redux

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 18:39:25 EST

I would like to make a few more comments on McEvoy's points about the  
distinction or lack thereof between 'convince' and 'persuade'.
I am personally inclining to believe that, of the two words, 'convince' is  
_nobler_. I mean, I wouldn't mind if people *stopped* using 'persuade' and its  
derivatives, but _not_ using 'convince' seems a pity (if not a downright  
I am thinking of winning affection.
If my theory is right, that translates as 'vincing love'.
Now, McEvoy would perhaps say that
    "My inlaws made me _love_ her"
makes sense. If we define,
   "I love my wife"
as "I enjoy the possession of my wife" (* I'm distinguishing here between  
'love' as 'desire' (eros) and 'love as possession' (see Augustine, Loeb, 
 Dei contra paganos). 
It is pretty conceivable that one's inlaws make "Hubby Loves Wife"  true.
I thought of the more redundant:
"My Wife Made Me Love Her".
but that's ambiguous in that it may not have been _her_ intention. Ditto  for 
inlaws, but at least it does not sound _as_ pathetic.
Translate the 'make [A] do X' by 'convince' and you get:
My inlaws vinced me to love my wife.
My inlaws suaded to love my wife.
which makes good sense to me.
Why do I say that 'suading' and persuading are redundant? Basically,  because 
I want to provoke McCreery who calls himself a 'professional persuader'  (and 
so is perhaps McEvoy _qua_ bar-person  -- 'barristicaller'). 
It does not seem to me that 'suade' or 'persuade' is a factive. While  
'vince' or 'convince' possibly is.
My factive I mean that they pass the G. E. Moore paradox test:
(M) "It is raining but I don't believe it"
Moore saw that that was not a Whitehead-Russellian logical contradiction  
(McCreery asks for the meaning of 'logic' but surely Quine had nothing to do  
with it. All he did was keep quoting Whitehead and Russell (1913), who only  
seldom use 'logic' -- they prefer 'mathematic'?).
Moore meant, it's perfectly possible to be raining and Moore not believing  
Yet, (M) _sounds_ paradoxical. 
Kiparsky and Kiparsky and later Grice started to use 'factive' (as per  1968) 
to define that class of verbs like 'know', and I suggest,  'convince'.
Thus, one cannot logically say:

I am convinced I love my wife, but I  don't.
McEvoy would insist we make a distinction between 'am' and 'have':
I have been convinced to love my wife, but I don't.
Still sounds illogical to me.
I grant that the self-reflective,
I convince myself to love my wife 
silly as it sounds, does not survive the Moore proof either, and thus shows  
the factivity of 'convince' all over.
Grice noted the weakening of factivity by the inclusion of 'thought' or  
Jones thought that he regretted the death of his father.
This, Grice says, 'implicates' but not _entails_ that Jones's father is  
(He adds, "Or perhaps it does entail it too. And I wonder if someone should  
care" WOW, 322).
In my re-version:

I convince myself to love my wife, but I  fail.
does not make sense. It has to be interpreted as:
"I keep convincing myself to 'try' to love my wife, but I fail attaining  
that goal -- but surely not 'trying'."
With persuasion, I must say, the idea of factivity seems similarly  rooted:
"I persuade myself she is beautiful, but she ain't"
Does this make sense? I don't think so.
Either this involves what I call a 'scare quote' use (for it _does_ scare  me 
to hear loose speakers like that) (i.e. "I 'persuade' myself she is  
beautiful, but she ain't"), or Geary 
       (i.e. or it involves Geary showing the  opposite). (W. C. O. does his 
best not to cite me, so why should I him?)
There is a further implicature (or rather, an implicature -- because if I'm  
right, factivity comes in as entailment) with 'convince', and I'm saddened to  
see that a self-confirmed Popperian like McEvoy incidentally shows us that he 
is  not a Popperian at heart.

For surely Popper wrote, "Conjectures and Refutations", and he thought  
knowledge can be wrong! ('scare-quote' knowledge). That's the world for Popper: 
world of relativism and dissilusionment -- he was a Jewish emigre, etc. 
But the idea of 'convince' has to do with
(i) Ayer's idea of 'certainty' which has been proved NOT to be a criterion  
for 'knowledge' for all that Ayer tried.
    Thus, "I'm certain I love my wife" is more or less  equivalent to
    "I am convinced I love my wife"
    Today I was reading the obit. of Jerry Falwell, "a man  of strong 
convictions", it read. I.e. a man who had 'certainties' (even moral  ones)
    even if he failed being a professional persuader -- or  he cared.
(ii) The idea of a change-of-attitude. This has been elaborated by the  
Argentine philosopher H. Arlo-Costa. Like "learn" (i.e. get to know), 
should be used mainly with the implicature that you are _won_ over  something:
       "I was convinced to go"
means, or implicates that the utterer did not really wanted to go till this  
'snap!' happened.
Perhaps L. K. Helm can say,
    "I have always been convinced that one should fight for  the honor of 
one's country"
and it would be difficult to see what change-of-mind occurred there, if  any. 
So I would have to take provisions for that. If I say that the suggestion  is 
merely an 'implicature' then we can take an utterance like that above as true 
 -- with the usual implicature attached to 'convince' being _cancelled_ on  
We should now consider McCreery.

In Buenos Aires, we use the expression,
                      "Clink! Caja!"
-- everybody will understand that. Literally it means, "Clink! Cashier!" 
and the implication is that money makes the world go round (Word  Works?)
So a professional persuader is one who rather _wins_ over the persuadee's  
desires and changes them, if necessary, so that the monetary outcome is a  
reality. That's why the post starting this thread was all about 'the winner',  
the 'leftist' (or 'populist') who made it in 1967.
Now, the message M will _win_ (i.e. vince, i.e. convince) the addressee to  
make the monetary outcome a reality.
Some Messages are 'derived'. They break the balls of _children_ for  example, 
so finally the dad agrees to give the money so that the 'kids' are shut  up. 
So a "desire" to have product P (advertised by message M) is mediated in  
terms of somebody who the addressee is involved with.
If there is a winner, there is possibly a loser, and so perhaps we _should_  
extradite (if that's the word) 'convince' out of our vocabulary, because it  
means we lost:
"I'm vinced it will rain tomorrow"
implicature: (i) I thought it would actually _not_
                   (ii) I was _wrong_, a loser, but now can see.
Persuasion is doubly 'sinful' (I'm using Geary's term) in that when it  comes 
to sub-liminal publicity we are bordering the realm of 'ethics'. The same  
with politics, if you think of it (Lycargus echoes here). It's easy to say,  
Customer is always free to turn off the television (and avoid, say, Hilary  
Clinton's campaign -- or Giuliani's for that matter -- sorry Eric, but you 
think  a 
Gothamite can _rule_ the [pretty non-Gothamite] land?) and avoid having to  
hear about eels and saba noodles and the rest of it.
But one's children may _not_!
J. L. Speranza
    The Swimming Pool Library
         Calle 58, No. 611
            La Plata  B1900BPY
                Buenos Aires, Argentina.
                           -- who now understands why he isn't a lawyer or a 
professional persuader.

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