[lit-ideas] Re: The Three Grices -- or Grice's Adventures in Popperland

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:12:53 +0000 (GMT)

An error in cutting and pasting and general fiddling-faddling meant the 
following paragraph was missing from the end of the post just before the final 

But even the poet and the copywriter should beware taking
this research as having important implications for them [I take it they are
both already well aware that language has “emotional meanings”]. Indicating the
potentially complex of interplay of W1-W2-W3 in explaining the “emotional
meaning” of sounds, also indicates that the authors are being naïve in writing:
“The findings suggest that strings of phonemes (the sounds that comprise words)
have an emotional quality of their own, quite separate from any word meaning or
the tone or volume of an utterance. This emotional meaning is conveyed purely
by the acoustic properties of the word as the sound frequencies change from one
phoneme to the next.” Even if we accept phonemes have an “emotional quality” 
from [their] word meaning or
the tone or volume of [their]
utterance”, that would not mean the explanation for that “emotional quality”
was a purely W1 level of explanation [“conveyed purely by…sound frequencies”]:
where a ‘nail-scraping sound’ is merely a W1 entity, it does not follow that
the “emotional meaning” of that sound is also merely a W1 entity – it may
depend on W2 and W3 factors. It would not mean that the “emotional quality” was
“of their own” in the sense
that it was inherent or intrinsic to that W1 entity qua merely that W1 entity – 
rather than as an
entity with W2 and W3 ‘effects and affects’, where those ‘effects and affects’
may not be explained purely in terms of W1. 


On Tuesday, 29 October 2013, 15:05, "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> 
The root of Popper's misunderstanding -- or the transfiguration of a  
Gricean commonplace. 

In a message dated 10/29/2013 10:43:03 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
"Here this post gives me an opportunity to  correct something important, 
where my previous post was not sufficiently  qualified. 
Previously I wrote:-
“We might also emphasize that when we  speak we make physical sound – but 
the physics of sound does not constitute the  meaningful content of what we 

McEvoy is responding to a post by Phatic.

But what he says about distinguishing between physical, etc. applies of  
course to Grice.

The best way is to start with Austin.

When invited to Harvard, Austin talked of 'how to do things with words'.  
The earlier lectures, now indexed by Nidditch (an Oxford philosopher) and  
deposited, properly, at the Bodleian, contain some useful terminology.

Austin distinguishes between the 'phonic'.

The 'phonic' has to be distinguished from the 'phatic'.

And, surely, the 'phatic' in turn needs to be contrasted with the  'rhetic'.

This is Austin's trichotomy.

The three monickers have properly Greek roots (or 'Graeco-Roman',  

Note that you can do something with words by writing a check (or 'cheque',  
as I prefer), so obviously, to echo Helm, we need to be tolerant as to the 
use  of 'phonic' here.

But 'phone' was Greek for 'voice', and sure the -ic is the Greek,  'ikos'.

The phatic is also Greek. The phatic contrasts with the phonic.

One may say "Gavagai", and utter a string of phones (or phonemes).

But one may not have said anything. To say anything, you have to indulge in 
a 'phatic' act.

Finally, since for the Romans the 'verb' was everything (cfr. St. Paul),  
the 'rhetic' Austin coins from a Greek word for 'verb' (it 'flows' like a 
river  -- cfr. logoRHEA).

If "Gavagai" translates as 'there's a patch of a rabbit in the field', then 
the utterer may be said to have SAID or expressed the proposition THAT 
there is  a patch of a rabbit in the field.

"That'-clauses invite rhetic acts.

---- Grice saw this utterly complicated, and preferred the terminology of  
his other Oxonian colleague: R. M. Hare.

Hare, again used Graeco-Roman terminology. In his thesis for Oxford (yes,  
you need one sometimes) he offered an analysis of Frege's ethics, and comes 
up  with the distinction between the

'dictum' -- "Thou shalt not kill"

and the 

'dictor' -- "Thou...", or the mere sign, "!"

Hare wants to say that 'propositional content' (Popper's W3) belongs to the 
dictum -- as in magister dixit. Emotional content, to use Stevenson's 
aptly  phrase (that Grice quotes, "Language and ethics!") belongs to the  

Hare's example:

The door is closed, yes.
The door is closed, please -- i.e. Close the door!

In a festschrift for Urmson (another colleague of Grice at Oxford) Hare  
goes on to provide Greek correlatives to his inventions.

The dictum becomes the phrastic.
The dictor becomes the neustic.

And he comes up with the tropic and the clistic (into the bargain).

Grice would say that what we need is an equivocation into Witters' lectures 
on chemistry. Witters noted that in chemistry we do speak of a 'radix' or  
radical. It's something strong.

Grice borrows (but never returns) the idea of a root or radical from  
Witters' chemical analogy. The root of

"Close the door!" 

IS the proposition, 'the door is closed'.

But there is another element that is best signalled by something like  
Frege's double stroke (or assertion sign /-, or the imperative sign, !, or the  
question sign, ?).

The door is closed.
Close the door!
Is the door closed?

So, while there is a propositional content that belongs in W3 -- the door  
is closed -- (the root), there is another element that indicates the 
utterer's  attitude to it -- or not.

Grice's elements may be traced to Collingwood's lectures on Language where  
he makes fun of Leavis and Ogden and Richards in failing to recognise this. 
There is no such thing as properly objective 'propositional content'. Even 
the  teacher who writes on the board,

"The door is closed"

is EXPRESSING, emotionally, his or her desire to 'communicate' this, in  
some way or other.

On top of that, Grice used the symbol


which is happy.

I.e., the propositional content must be obviously made to refer to a  
'radix' (devoid of the emotional import as provided by an utterer which is  
obviously something in W1 and W2). Hence, in an act of genius, Grice combines  
the chemical use of 'radix' with the mathematical use of 'radix' as first used 
by Wallis. Or not.



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