[lit-ideas] The Implicatures of Death

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2010 14:35:37 EDT

"He fell on his sword"
In a message dated 8/29/2010 1:57:33 P.M., donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx  
"The expression "fell on his sword" has a strange personal impact as  it 
was once long ago suggested to me that a client was being invited to fall on  
his sword by the judges [I think correctly suggested, given their comments] 
but  I immediately thought he was therefore being asked to prostrate himself 
rapidly  on his penis. I agree it's not funny."
Oddly, Grice wrote on this:
He used the example to prove Donald Davidson wrong (in "The  logical form 
of action sentences"). Grice writes:

"One Roman soldier fell on his sword because he lost his legion and  could 
not face the disgrace which, to his mind, attended  his responsibility for 
the deaths of so many people; another Roman  soldier lost his legion because 
he fell on his sword, tripping on it in the  dark and as a result knocking 
himself out, so that when he regained  consciousness, the legion had moved on 
and he was unable to find it."
--- Davidson proposed two different 'logical' forms for the above. For  
Grice it only has one.
"In general," Grice writes, "the implicatures of death have to be  
His other example is:
"push up the daisies". 

He contrasts this 'rather vulgar idiom' with 'fertilising the  daffodils', 
which he favoured:
"If I shall then be fertilising the daffodils, I shall have no time  for 
Grice analyses the implicatures of the dictum.
"On one reading, it seems obvious that the task of fertilising the  
daffodils is a hard one -- so who can read in the proceedings."
He compares it with:

"If I shall then be HELPING the GRASS to grow, I shall have no time  for 
--- "In this case, the ambiguity -- that I may be assisting marijuana to  
mature -- seems immaterial. Unless it isn't".
Speranza -- Bordighera

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