[lit-ideas] What Wittgenstein Showed and Grice Said

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2012 19:50:55 -0400 (EDT)

In his reply to J. Wager 

In a message  dated 6/24/2012 12:39:57 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx  writes:
If we maintain that A and C are correct we may need to explain why  'The 
grass is green' may have a different sense when given as a description of  the 
colour of grass in a particular field, a description of the usual colour of 
 grass in a particular country in a particular season, an instruction for 
someone  painting by numbers, or a coded phrase used in wartime: it would 
appear to be  the same 'form of words', yet how can these same 'form of words' 
have different  senses if their sense if said in their being said? For what 
is said is the same.  This is enough to show (perhaps even for the life of 
me) that the view that "a  'form of words' says its own sense" is at least 

Of course this disagrees with Grice's dictum (which he called his "Modified 
 Occam's Razor"):
Senses should not be multiplied beyond necessity.


Grass is green (the 'the' is otiose).
surely has ONE sense.
For various specifications of 'mean' vide Grice, WoW.
He considers:
If I am then helping the grass to grow, I shall have no time for  reading.
And considers the 'meaning' of
"to help the grass to grow". Grice takes this to be an 'idiom' alla  
"fertilising the daffodils" or "pushing up the daisies". "The 'sense' would be, 
"If I am then dead"".
He considers that strictly,
'to help the grass to grow' can be analysed componentially as in
"help" -- to assist.
"the grass" 1. lawn material.
---------------- 2. marijuana.
He notes that while 'grass' may, on occasion, mean "MARIJUANA", the _sense_ 
 of 'grass' is 'lawn material' rather. It's ony figuratively, due to  
drug-dealers's jargon that 'grass' can come to "mean" "marijuana". This is not 
multiplication of senses.
In the same vein,
'deer' in English, means a special mammal, but in Old English it meant  
plain "animal" -- witness German or Dutch. The narrowing of 'sense' is due to  
implicature, so it's best NOT to think of a change of sense. What 'deer' 
means  IS animal (its sense); it's by implicature that it means a special 
animal that  since Henry VIII's time was considered the epitome of the animal.
---- Now, what Witters is saying is polemical. As Russell noted in his  
foreword to the TLP: Witters managed to say a lot about what cannot be said.  
Russell, like Grice, respects the ability of lingo to 'multiply' in levels.  
Russell speaks of the 
object-language --- Grice prefers L1
and the 
meta-language: Grice prefers L2, L3, ... Ln.
So, surely, when we say,
"shaggy" means 'hairy-coated'.
we are in L2.
In L1 the most we can do is:
"This dog is shaggy" 
Only in L2 can we specify the 'sense' of "shaggy". It's the use-mention  
distinction, almost type-token.
Witters was against all this, and it's only natural that he would come up  
with false dictums like: "What is not worth saying, SHOW".
And so on.
J. Wager is right that a book can be written about what cannot be said. For 
 surely "what cannot be said" needs an expansion. What cannot be said by 
Witters  (or won't be said by Witters --he repressed a lot of the things he 
suffered, so  it's natural he wouldn't want to _say_ them) may well be said by 
someone  else.
Note that Witters gives too much relevance to 'show' -- Because if x could  
only be shown, but not said -- even THIS could NOT be shown (which is a  
reductio ad absurdum of Witters' absurd claim).
And so on.
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