w3 and sense -- Grice vs. Popper
I think it is David Holdcroft in his "Words and deeds: problems in the theory
of speech acts", who has this section, "Weak or strong?" referring to the way
philosophers metaphorically use this perfectly ordinary lexemes into jargon.
Omar K. thinks that the use of "Grice" increases google hits. Problem with this
is that there's Grice and Grice. The most googled Grice happens to be Barbara
Grice, a novelist. On the other hand, I have been using "Griceian", instead of
the more googled "Gricean" just to tease Google, can you believe it?
In "W3 and sense," McEvoy -- our resident Popperian -- observes wisely:
"In Popper's view, on my understanding, our acquisition of language (and
therefore of its sense) is largely a matter of accessing..."
But does Language has ONE sense?
I use 'sense' with small letters. A word, like 'dog,' has a sense, to wit:
_dog_. Language itself (provided there is one -- Davidson's claim to fame is:
There is no such thing as language -- "A nice derangement of epitaphs", in
PGRICE, Philosophical Grounds of Rationality").
"accessing..." McEvoy goes on:
"different kinds and levels of W3-content throught the medium of language. For
Popper, to grasp that 'names name' is to grasp W3-content linking word and
object - to grasp an abstract W3 relation.
For Grice, rather
i. Names name.
is analytic a priori, and therefore uninformative at a conversational level (as
"War is war," and "Women are women"). Geary once argued that verbs are prior to
nouns. So "naming" seems more basic than 'name'. Consider Tom:
ii. Tom named his tortoise Jack.
We have acts of naming. The proper spelling of (ii) is
iii. Tom named his tortoise "Jack."
Ryle found this SO AMUSING that he came up, in a famous compilation ed. by Mace
iv. The "Fido"-Fido theory of meaning.
i.e. the wrong idea that naming is, as Witters apparently thought, so CENTRAL
to language. Carroll would agree with Ryle. Since a question was recently posed
about object-language and meta-language (as McEvoy rightly has the distinction
as being), this passage by Carroll may obscure the issue in witty ways. It's
Alice's conversation with the White Knight.
The name of the song is called "Haddocks' Eyes".'
'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested.
'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's
what the name is called. The name really is "The Aged Aged Man".'
---- Here the White Knight is being metalinguistic. We have a song, the name of
the song, and what the name is called.
'Then I ought to have said "That's what the song is called"?' Alice corrected
'No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The song is called "Ways and
Means": but that's only what it's called, you know!' --- Carroll does not
expand on 'called by who'.
'Well, what is the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely
'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really is "A-sitting On a
Martin Gardner in his "Annotated Alice" notes that Carroll commits, for once, a
fallacy. "The proper way for the White Knight to proceed is just SING the song.
Instead, he gives it another name. Very deceptive!"
"This W3 explains many things - such as why a certain work that seemed
impenetrable at a certain stage in our lives might seem crystal clear in its
'sense' at another stage, or why something we thought 'deep' at one point might
strike us later as shallow, or why we might extract very different levels of
sense from a work (eg. book, string quartet) as our W3-framework alters in
relation to grasping it etc. It is not that the W1 physics of the act of
grasping have changed, and not even that the brain has changed much in
W1-terms, and not even that there is much change in many W2-aspects aside W3 -
these radical shifts in understanding (including grasping the sense of
Again, provided 'sense' can be ascribed to something as abstract as say, "One
of the languages spoken on the British Isles" -- rather than to philosophical
jargon items like Frege's "Hesperus" and "Phosphorus".
" are because the impact of W3 is very different between the earlier and later
act of understanding."
"Impact" seems metaphorical. I suppose this is just Popper's explanation, not
how things necessarily work. E.g. Beethoven's "Fidelio" (now playing in New
York) was always considered a boring opera (hence Berry, "Roll over, Beethoven,
and tell Tchaikovsky the news"). If Tommasini, a musical critical of the NYT,
finds "Fidelio" boring ten years ago, this is because of Tommasini's brain. If
Tommassini changes his 'mind', his brain has changed. Obviously, "Fidelio"
cannot change. So there.
'It is why Rudy cannot grasp why it is funny when he says, after I have put my
coffee aside saying 'It's not very strong", "Someone made you that coffee" -
which he offers in stern tones as befits an adult telling a child, who has
pushed away their barely consumed dinner plate, "Some one worked hard to make
you that dinner." He doesn't get how his language is a transparent imitation of
adult rebuke to him when he is being ungrateful, and funny for that; in fact he
gets greatly offended when the adults can't help laughing at what he thinks is
a very serious point seriously expressed. Not only can Rudy not grasp why it is
funny but it can't be explained to him why he can't grasp it - because Rudy
does not have an adult W3 perspective on Rudy's developing use of language
(which is what makes it funny for the adults). I suspect that the very idea of
W3 could not be explained to him in a way that would give him much genuine
understanding of how it might explain things."
Mmm. Rudy may have a different implicature in mind:
McEvoy: This coffee is not very strong.
Rudy: Someone made you that coffee.
Rudy is perfectly aware that, had McEvoy made the coffee, "This coffee is not
very strong -- in fact, wishy-washy" woud be, for Witters, lacking in depth
grammar. For it lacks the self-apology, "Amazing how I never learn to make a
proper pot of properly strong coffee."
By diverging the topic to the coffee-maker ("It wasn't a machine, but SOMEONE,
i.e. human -- who made that coffee.") Rudy may be implicating that McEvoy
should be addressed to the human ("someone") coffee maker, alla
"Margaret, this coffee is not very strong, dear."
In which case, Rudy would not have needed to add the 'someone', seeing that
McEvoy is mention the someone "Margaret".
A further implicature may be that Rudy thinks that strong coffee is overrated
and that if someone thought that McEvoy could learn to enjoy a cup of 'not THAT
strong coffee" that would not necessarily be a bad thing. Unless of course it
Thanks for the clarifications!