[lit-ideas] Re: Rortyana

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  • Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2015 07:53:46 -0500

RORTY, The linguistic turn. What a book!  Some comments on its various  
It opens with Richard M. Rorty, "Metaphysical Difficulties of Linguistic  
Philosophy". Note the plural, 'metaphysical difficulties' -- as if a  
'metaphysical difficulty' were not enough of a difficulty!
Part I is entitled, "Classic Statements of the Thesis That Philosophical  
Questions Are Questions of Language. Note the distinction between
-- questions of language
-- questions about language.
I think Grice would argue for the thesis that philosophical questions are  
questions about language. A question can be 'of language' yet not 'about  
language'. Indeed, how can a question NOT be 'of language'?
Perhaps translating that to Latin would help!?
Essay 1. Moritz Schlick, "The Future of Philosophy" -- Always  
impredictable, I'm sure Schlick is implicating. Or unpredictable if you  
Essay 2. Rudolf Carnap, "On the Character of Philosophical Problems" --  
This should be discussed at the Carnap Corner. Note the plural, and at least,  
the absence of 'pseudo-' in philosophical problems as 'pseudo-problems'. 
Essay 3. Gustav Bergmann, "Logical Positivism, Language, and the  
Reconstruction of Metaphysics (in  
art)" Grice loved Bergmann if only because when in Oxford, he (Bergmann)  
called him (Grice) an English futilitarian. I think Bergmann had somehow come 
 across Virginia Woolf's father enormous book on the English Utilitarians 
(in  three volumes).

Essay 4: Rudolf Carnap, "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology". Carnap  
again, at the Carnap Corner. Note the three keywords: nothing wrong with  
ontology, as opposed to metaphysics (usually ontology is considered a BRANCH of 
metaphysics), but here Carnap is thinking 'internal questions'; semantics is  
truth-conditions; and empiricism is basic, observation statements.
Essay 5. Gilbert Ryle, "Systematically Misleading Expressions". A  
geniality. He deals with definite expressions, and even proper names, such as  
Pickwick -- He finds the use of Pickwick Pickwickian.

Essay 6. John Wisdom, "Philosophical Perplexity". Wisdom is from  
Cambridge, and thus Rorty is extending the scope, including both Oxonian  
and analysis from "the other place". What perplexed a Cambridge man may  not 
perplex an Oxford man like Grice, though!
Essay 7. Norman Malcolm, "Moore and Ordinary Language". This is the essay  
that Grice dedicates to 'destroy' in his essay on "Moore and philosopher's  
paradoxes" in WoW. Grice would come to meet Malcolm at Cornell. 
Unfortunately,  on Grice's arrival at Ithaca, he found out Malcolm was, for the 
whole of 
Grice's  visit, on a sabbatical leave.
Part II: "Metaphilosophical Problems of Ideal-Language Philosophy". Note  
the interesting 'meta-philosophical' (I'm sure Marsoobian knows what it 
means).  By 'ideal language', Grice prefers FORMALISM or MODERNISM, i.e. the 
heirs of  Whitehead's and Russell's Principia Mathematica and perhaps the 
project of the  Unified Science.
Essay 8a. Irving Copi, "Language Analysis and Metaphysical Inquiry". This  
is Copilowish, for long. An inquiry need not be an analysis!
Essay 8b: Gustav Bergmann, "Two Criteria for an Ideal Language": Criteria A 
 is perhaps better than criteria B! Talk of futilitarianism!
Essay 8c. Irving Copi, "Reply to Bergmann". "I'm not a futilitarian!"
Essay 9. Max Black, "Russell's Philosophy of Language (in part)" Black was  
born in Baku, Russia, and his real surname was Tcherny. When he arrived in  
London, Tcherny's father, who was also surnamed Tcherny, decided to change 
his  name into a more "English" thing. He looked up in a dictionary, and 
found that  the equivalent for "Tcherny", which is Russian for 'black', was 
"Black". I'm  sure if he had consulted the Roget Thesaurus, we would be 
speaking of Max the  Obscure. Oddly, before settling in London, the Tchernys 
for a while in  Paris. Had they liked the 'city of lights', as she is 
called, his name today  would perhaps be "Max Noir". He wrote extensively on 
in "Meaning and  intention: on Grice's theory" for the New Literary 
History. Another Russian,  Martinich, cared to write an essay on this: "Grice 
versus Black". I think  Martinich's implicature is that Grice wins the match. 
Essay 10a. Alice Ambrose, "Linguistic Approaches to Philosophical  
Problems". Ambrose is a beautiful name, and she would not use 'pseudo-' in  
Not to be confused with Ambrose the leader of the danceband at the  Mayfair 
that had Sam Browne as vocalist!
Essay 10b. Roderick Chisholm, "Comments on the "Proposal Theory" of  
Philosophy". A very intelligent man, Chisholm. He proposed a proposal theory. 
Essay 11. James W. Cornman, "Language and Ontology". Cornman was possibly a 
 friend of Rorty. Possibly Corn-ish in origin?
Essay 12. Willard v. O. Quine, "Semantic Ascent" (from Word and Object).  
The discussion of Grice in "Word and object" is restricted to "In defense of 
a  dogma" that Grice and Strawson wrote as a tribute to Quine's visit to 
Oxford. He  (Quine) never took it too seriously. But then he took Grice's 
contribution to  "Words and ObjectIONS" even less seriously! Quine opposes a 
semantic ascent to a  semantic descent (the implicature seems to be -- to 
Part III, Metaphilosophical Problems of Ordinary-Language Philosophy. Again 
 'meta-' as applied to philosophical. Marsoobian should know what this 
means.  Here we are in Grice's terrain: ordinary language, that is HIS English 
--  perhaps NOT Rorty's English. I mean, there's ordinary Oxford English and  
ordinary New York English (Rorty was born in New York).
Essay 13. Roderick Chisholm, "Philosophers and Ordinary Language". Chisholm 
 is a very intelligent man. Among the philosophers concerned with Oxford 
ordinary  language I would have, first, Herbert Paul Grice. He famously 
debated with  Austin on this, "I don't care a hoot what the dictionary says" 
(implicature:  because I'm only into my own use of expressions). Austin, who 
more of a  conservative, instead of being offended, calmly irritated Grice 
by explicating,  "And that's where you make your BIG mistake, Paul" -- only 
he never called him  Paul -- always Grice (public school usage).
Essay 14. John Passmore, "Arguments to Meaninglessness: Excluded Opposites  
and Paradigm Cases" (from Philosophical Reasoning). Passmore refers to how  
ingenious Grice is in "A hundred years of philosophy" that also mentions 
Sartre.  He takes Grice as an example of a philosopher like Socrates that 
wrote little  but whose unwritten doctrines were more influential than other 
philosophers'  written ones! The paradigm case argument was an invent of A. G. 
N. Flew, who had  been a student of Grice at St. John's. Only neither Grice 
nor Flew would speak  of meaninglessness. I think this form of extremism in 
the talk is due to  Passmore coming from Australia where they are VERY 
Essay 15a. Grover Maxwell and Herbert Feigl, "Why Ordinary Language Needs  
Reforming", "Feigl" is a difficult surname to pronounce for an Italian -- 
where  all words have to end in a vowel. Note that the motto, "Why ordinary 
language  needs reforming" merely IMPLICATES, rather than entails, that 
ordinary language  needs reforming. "Needs" is ambiguous. It's best applied to 
men: Some men think  that they need as if ordinary language is reformed. 
Ordinary language, not being  a living organism cannot 'need'.
Essay 15b. Manley Thompson, "When Is Ordinary Language Reformed?" At five  
o'clock? The idea of 'when' here is odd. Perhaps it connects with Schlick, 
The  future of philosophy, the implicature being: sometime in the future -- 
the more  distant the better. By re-formed, the idea is not that it attains a 
new form,  but that it is MODIFIED rather. The same form, only different. 
Essay 16a. R. M. Hare, "Philosophical Discoveries". This is a genial  
author, and very Oxonian, like Ryle, only a younger generation. He was born in  
the West Country, England, and he would often pun on his surname: when  
criticising moral naturalism he said that surely he would rather be seen dead  
than running with the hounds, too! A 'discovery' in analysis is a gem!
Essay 16b. Paul Henle, "Do We Discover Our Uses of Words?" Henle is making  
a rhetorical question. The use of 'we' is majestic, as when the Prime 
Minister  informed the Queen about the War in Crimea, and she implicated, "We 
not  amused", triggering the entailment that SHE wasn't. How can she speak 
on behalf  of the Prime Minister who cared to report to her the state of 
Essay 17. Peter Geach, "Ascriptivism". P. T. Geach had very few  
associations with Oxford, but he was brilliant. He is associated with Leeds, of 
course, like David Holdcroft, Timothy Potts, and others. His ascriptivism is a  
geniality. He is perhaps the most important logician in England 
_simpliciter_.  Very original and never worried about bringing his own type of 
He is  concerned here with the neustic and the prastic and how when we 
ascribe 'good'  we need not APPROVE of it!
Essay 18. James W. Cornman, "Uses of Language and Philosophical Problems".  
He was possibly Rorty's friend, and from Corn-wall. Back to problems not 
being  pseudo-problems, at least.
Essay 19. J. O. Urmson, "J. L. Austin". James Opie Urmson lived in a lovely 
 cottage in Oxford, and was Grice's best friend, almost. Grice worshipped 
Austin;  Urmson worshipped Austin and became his literary executor!
Essay 20a. Stuart Hampshire, "J. L. Austin". S. N. Hampshire was upper  
class, and attended the Thursday seminars at All Souls organised by Austin and  
Ayer and some 12 more. Grice never did -- "I had been born, alas, on the 
wrong  side of the tracks", and you know how Oxford is. Grice was stuck during 
his  student days at 'The House', Corpus Christie, and All Souls was just 
the place  he would NOT visit. Those seminars were dubbed by another Russian 
(like Max  Black), who attended, Isaiah Berlin (later Sir, as the then 
wasn't), the  'origin' of ordinary language philosophy, which is odd, seeing 
Ayer was  there too!
Essay 20b. J. O. Urmson and G. Warnock, "J. L. Austin". Urmson is one of  
the literary executors of Austin, that Grice just worshipped. The other is G. 
J.  (later Sir, as he then wasn't) Warnock, who ended up being the 
Vice-Chancellor  of Oxford. The literary execution is as follows. They both 
co-edited Austin's  PHILOSOPHICAL PAPERS, but Warnock concentrated on editing 
always referred to them  as Urmson and Warnock. And they would attend most 
Saturday morning meetings,  with Grice, too. When Austin died of cancer, the 
meetings were led and organised  by Grice notably at the best room of his own 
college, St. John's, 'making us  look like veritable businessmen', Warnock 
will later recollect in "Saturday  mornings". 
Essay 20c. Stanley Cavell, "Austin at Criticism". Cavell is an American,  
which is the point of Rorty: to make this known 'across the poound'. 
Essay 21. Stuart Hampshire, "The Interpretation of Language; Words and  
Concepts". The upper-class gentleman. This comes from another compilation.  
Hampshire went by "S. N. Hampshire" (there is a famous quip about his surname,  
seeing that Stuart Hamphire borders with Tudor Devon). He later was 
knighted,  and while he would dine regularly with Grice at Oxford he would 
see him  when Hampshire taught at Stanford and Grice was just 'across the 
Part IV: Recapitulations, Reconsiderations, and Future Prospects. A nice  
intermission. Future prospects contrasts with past retrospects.
Essay 22. Dudley Shapere, "Philosophy and the Analysis of Language". This  
is Rorty's idea of making this known on the other side of the pond. 
Essay 23. Stuart Hampshire, "Are All Philosophical Questions Questions of  
Language?". S. N. Hampshire is not making a rhetorical question even if it  
sounds as one. He uses 'question of', rather than 'question about'. But 
surely a  question of language may not be a question ABOUT language. On the 
other hand a  question has to be IN language!
Essay 24a. J. O. Urmson, "The History of Analysis". This is extracted from  
Urmson's book, but simplified for a French audience. Urmson was proud of 
his  French, and Rorty re-translated it to some sort of English. Urmson's 
original  book is "Philosophical Analysis: its development between the two 
meaning  the Great one and the one that Flanagan calls the 'phoney' one 
(just ironically  -- it was hardly phony). He has some good examples in the 
book, like, when  discussing truth-functionality of 'and': "He went to bed and 
took off his  trousers" being equivalent to "He took off his trousers and 
went to bed" -- odd  implicature, I know, but cancel it!
Essay 24b. Discussion of Urmson's "The History of Analysis" (by the  
participants in the 1961 Royaumont Colloquium). In French, but anglicised by  
Rorty for across the pond. Royaumont is famous for its castle.
Essay 25a. P. F. Strawson, "Analysis, Science, and Metaphysics". In French  
originally, retranslated by Rorty. Note the three crucial keywords.
Essay 25b. Discussion of Strawson's "Analysis, Science and Metaphysics" (by 
 the  participants in the 1961 Royaumont Colloquium). In French originally. 
 For a change, it was the English bunch who had 'the attitude'! Grice did 
not  make it to Royamount, since he preferred to educate the masses in 
England, and  he was lecturing for the third programme of the BBC on "The 
of  metaphysics" (later made into a book edited by Pears).
Essay 26. Max Black, "Language and Reality". The Russian strikes back.  
Black was genial, and his "Models and metaphors" deals with metaphor NOT as a  
mere conversational implicature. Grice's views on metaphors (if not models) 
did  change, and one of the key concepts of his 'philosophical eschatology' 
(the  other branch of metaphysics, next to ontology) is metaphor -- the 
other is  ANALOGY. 
Essay 27. Jerrold J. Katz, "The Philosophical Relevance of Linguistic  
Theory". American. This is Rorty's idea of making this American. Katz, like  
Rorty, was a New Yorker. Note that the philosophical relevance of linguistic  
theory contrasts with the linguistic relevance of philosophical theory. Katz  
could have written about the latter, too! He liked to spell Gricean as  
'Griceian', as he should!
Essay 28. Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, "A Pre-Requisite for Rational   
Philosophical Discussion". Bar-Hillel was a teacher of Asha Kasher who became a 
Griceian after visiting Grice at UC/Berkeley. It was from both Bar-Hillel and  
Grice that Kasher became a rationalist. See his "Conversational maxims and  
Two Retrospective Essays by Richard M. Rorty: "Ten Years After",  
"Twenty-five Years After"
Bibliography. It should include ALL GRICE: including the ps. plus all the  

Grice, Way of Words, Harvard.
Grice, Conception of Value, Clarendon.
Grice, Aspects of reason.
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