[lit-ideas] Re: White's Implicature
- From: "Donal McEvoy" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "donalmcevoyuk" for DMARC)
- To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2017 08:02:33 +0000 (UTC)
Popper distinguishes between the use of “!” and thenon-use of “!”. Thus,
White’s (i), “Please don’t come” contrasts with vi. Please
don’t come! which is VERY RUDE and I’m not surprised White don’tuse it.>
(1) Where exactly is it that "Popper distinguishes between the use of “!” and
thenon-use of “!”"? My guess is nowhere.
(2) What is the point of larding posts with specious and spurious claims about
what Popper said? (I've raised this question before, several times.)
(3) "Thus, White’s (i), “Please don’t come” contrasts with vi.
Please don’t come!" which is VERY RUDE and I’m not surprised White don’tuse it."
The 'sense' is surely more complicated a matter to resolve than this suggests.
The exclamation mark is not the v-sign. Exclamation marks are often used as a
kind of emoji - and may denote a sense of fun or playfulness in what is being
said. As such, ex-marks can reduce the 'seriousness' with which their user
intends to be taken. To make this clear: ex-marks can reduce the 'seriousness'
with which their user intends to be taken! And yes that sentence appears clumsy
(but is it?)!
Robert Paul was fond of saying context is everything. Certainly overall
considerations set the context within which a particular use of language may
get its 'sense' (or perhaps more accurately, 'aspects of its sense'). Thus
White's "Please don't come" gets some of its full 'sense' from his other
remarks: as these other remarks may be taken as self-deprecatory, so the
"Please don't come" may be read as not rude - perhaps more pleading. And this
may not be much affected by the presence or absence of an exclamation mark.
We can of course pursue the analysis of 'sense' to the 'nth' degree: and so try
to differentiate a sense of "Please don't come" from "Please don't come!". But
the point that the ex-mark is not a v-sign indicates that, whatever difference
the ex-mark may make, that difference has no categorical direction in terms of,
say, rudeness. In other words, it is just as arguable that (in context) "Please
don't come!" is less rude than "Please don't come" than it is arguable that it
is more rude - but, as indicated, whether it is rude at all depends on many
other things. One of those things is whether culturally it is rude to put
someone off from turning up on your doorstep - and this is the kind of thing
that varies according to 'time and place', so it might very rude for an Ancient
Roman to write this to a fellow senator but not for Bob Dylan to write it to
some stranger who says they'd like to turn up some day and see his Dome.
From: "dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, 7 September 2017, 3:01
Subject: [lit-ideas] White's Implicature
L. Helm was wondering if D. Ritchie was influenced byWhite. That’s E. B. White.
(For the record, I was influenced by the philosopherA. R. White – but only
because of G. J. Warnock – vide ps1 below). L. Helm quotes a delightful letter
– ps2 -- that White(that’s E. B., not A. R.) wrote to Ferguson. It includes an
utterance that maybe ripe for Popperian (I mean Griceian, since everything
reminds McEvoy ofPopper): i. Please don’t come. The context
is in the ps (2). As such (i), contrasts with (ii): ii. Don’t
come! Popper and Grice would say that (i) is more polite andone of Grice’s
conversational maxims that generate implicatures is indeed, ‘bepolite’. Why do
we say that (i) is more polite? Well, because, it features thepleasing lexical
item, ‘please’. Consider the negation of (ii), to wit: iii.
Come! And compare (iii) with (iv) iv. Please come! The
Ashberyian implicature of (iv) is v. May it please you to
come. Mutatis mutandis, the implicature of (ii) is White’sutterance, with which
we started, (i) Please don’t come. Popper distinguishes between the use of “!”
and thenon-use of “!”. Thus, White’s (i), “Please don’t come” contrasts with
vi. Please don’t come! which is VERY RUDE and I’m not surprised
White don’tuse it. Now, the Griceian question is whether one what thedenotatum
of “it” is in “May it please you NOT to come.” If it’snon-referential, Grice
would be pleased. The opposite is: May it NOT please youNOT to come” which
starts to carry what we may call an Ashberyian obscurity. “May” is not “can” –
so White does NOT mean, “Can itplease you NOT to come”. He is being
extra-polite by implicating the ‘may’rather than the rougher ‘can’. And it is
obvious that Ferguson got the implicaturealright, since, well, for short, he
did not come, and for long: it *was* thecase that _it_ did please Ferguson not
to come. Cheers,
Speranza ps. 1. Grice, H. P. and White, A. R. “The causaltheory of perception”,
in Warnock, The philosophy of perception, Oxfordreadings in philosophy. A[lan]
R.[ichard] holds a PhD from The University of London(thesis advisor: A. J.
Ayer.). He is the Ferens Professor of Philosophy at theUniversity of Hull in
Yorkshire. He is The Secretary of the Mind Association andThe President of the
Aristotelian Society. With J. L. Austin, H. P. Grice, G.Ryle, J. O. Urmson, and
P. F. Strawson, is a leading figure in post World WarII ‘ordinary language
philosophy’, a movement so named for its emphasis onpaying careful attention to
everyday linguistic usage as a means of makingphilosophical progress – Popper
despised it (“English futilitarians!”) ps.2. Andrew Ferguson kept a
correspondence with E. B. White (“White had graciously answered a fan letter
Ihad sent him, and his warm response established a special intimacy between
us.”The letter in point that yielded the interesting implicature, Ferguson
receivednot long after their previous exchange. The letter was in response to
“a line”Ferguson dropped his friend White “letting White know I was planning to
come[to] see him in Maine.” “Within four days,” Fergusonrecalls, “an envelope
was in my mail-box, with elegant pale blue letteringshowing the return address
in the upper left-hand corner. The content of theletter yielding the
implicature under analysis read [more or less]: “Dear Mr. Ferguson, Thank you
for your letter about the possibilityof a visit. It does not find me in exactly
the best of shapes, alas. For one,my eyesight seems to be “failing,” as they
say – but not so that I cannot readyour letter, dear. In any case, to make a
short story long: Here I am, one eyegone, and you want to come [visit]. Figure
it out. Bottomline, if I may use aneconomical metaphor: Please don’t come.
Sincerely, E. B. White.”
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