[lit-ideas] Re: When Did You Last See Your Father?

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 17 May 2010 17:01:37 EDT

In a message dated 5/17/2010 3:40:46  P.M., molleo1@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
Thank you.  I find this response very  helpful.  Also, I have been thinking 
more about Kant.


This is an excellent thread, and I'm glad everyone should be re-reading  
Kant. As I say, Grice discussed the maxim, "Do not lie" in the Immanuel Kant  
Lectures, Stanford -- it was part of the "Hands Across the Bay Programme" 
(he  taught at Berkeley but the lah-di-dah students were on the other side of 
the  bay).

He delivered the third Kant lecture on a Thursday night.

Grice could not read German. "I will have to rely on Abbott".
Abbott's translation, Grice found "better than the original -- in more than 
 one way".
"The problem with 'lying'," is "that there is no specific German verb for  
it". Sometimes the German verb (whatever it is) gets translated as "sneak",  
"cheat", "mislead", or just "misinform". Never "lie".
Kant couldn't know about the Gestapo! That is an anachronism.
The phrase, "white lies" occurs in Hare. For R. M. Hare (who was a  
colleague of Grice at Oxford) the Kantian universalisabity criterion is best  
formulated as "what is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander". He found  
the idea of a 'white lie' to be an "Irish sense". I have discussed this  
The painting by Yardley is worth looking for, since it gives title to the  
----- There are serious online studies on Kant on lying which should be  
revised when considering why Grice thought that the 'scorn poured on him' has  
been not altogether fair.
Yardley was the painter of the "When did you last see your father?". It  
depicts a Roundhead questioning "the blue boy" -- it is a dramatic  painting.
Grice has:
"Do not lie"
as a conversational maxim. He posits three justification.
"First, a dull empiricist one: we have been taught not to lie, and it is  
easier to tell the truth than otherwise".
"But I am enough of a Kantian rationalist to want to find a REASON why we  
should not lie."
He concludes with the weak transcendental reason, Kantian, that if lying  
were universalisable, language would be constantly "out of order". "There 
would  be no language games we could play". 
----- (His Group was called "The Play Group" not for nothing).
---- In his Presidential Address for the American Philosophical Association 
 (he had become an American by then), he talks of 'rational creatures'  
formulating principles which are universalisable. "They will compile a sort of  
manual". "Not inappropriately, I propose to call such a manual the  
----- As we have discussed with Ritchie, there is an eschatological element 
 here. "Immanuel" was Kant's Christian name, but it was also the name of 
Jesus  Christ.
Grice found that the Kantian imperative was possibly something that Moses  
was given by God on Mount Sinai. Note that is one of the ten commandments.  
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Grice thought he would write a fourth book, which he entitled, "From  
Genesis to Revelations: New Discourse in Metaphysics". His third book was  
planned to be "Reflections on Kant", with his partenaire in crime, Judith 
--- He delivered most of this as talks in Reed. Baker would drive.
"Kant is possible one of the best philosophers, along with Aristotle. Grice 
 died alas in 1988. He never published a book in his lifetime. But the  
festschrift in his honour was reviewed by Bennett for the Times Literary  
Supplement, appropriately titled, "In the tradition of Kantotle".
For Grice, Kant needs to be "Aristotelised". For Kant, the means-end  
analysis of "do not lie" needs a protasis, "if you want to be happy". This is  
the 'telos' or end of Aristotle. Grice's moral theory is 
'teleo-deontological'.  "It combines the best of both approaches, and that's 
not a lie!"
J. L. Speranza
--- for the Grice Circle
----- Bordighera 
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