McEvoy, who describes himself (or 'hisself,' if we must use Nottinghamshire
accent -- vide Alan Sillitoe, "My days in Nottingham") as a "mutant ninja",
notes in "Re: Witters & Sons -- does meaning equal use? This means?": "My
comment below on PI 43 begins an examination of the point of W[itters]'s
writing that suggests that W[itters]'s central point is how meaning is shown
and not expressed."
---- But is this figurative? How can meaning be shown. Suppose I oppose to the
use of the substantive "meaning", and ask you to reduce this substantive to
what people do (they "mean"). I can understand the idea that a man shows, that
a man means, and that a man intends. Also that a man expresses. But that
meaning is shown?
McEvoy: "Let's consider a few things W[itters] writes, and their likely
point. PI "43. For a large class of cases—though not for all—in which we employ
the word "meaning" it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in
the language. And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to
its bearer." This is a rather different 'thesis' (if it may be referred to as a
'thesis' at all) to saying 'meaning = usage'. And also different to 'meaning =
use' (if a distinction between 'use' and 'usage' were thought important in this
regard). In my view, once we see this saying-showing as fundamental we will see
how it resurfaces time and again throughout every aspect of [Philosophische
Untersuchungen] and is central to every aspect."
----- Strictly, Anscombe speaks of 'shews'. Is she being archaic? Apparently,
she spent months in Austria to brush up her Austrian, but she may have lost
current English in the process! I love her!
McEvoy: "It is the only interpretation that does proper justice to what
W[itters] writes in the Preface."
----- To a book that he rescinded from publication! This reminds me of Revd.
Smith (if you've heard of him, or even if you haven't): "I never read a book
before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so."
McEvoy: "For example: "After several unsuccessful attempts to weld my
results together into such a whole, I realized that I should never succeed. The
best that I could write would never be more than philosophical remarks; my
thoughts were soon crippled if I tried to force them on in any single direction
against their natural inclination. And this was, of course, connected with the
very nature of the investigation. For this compels us to travel over a wide
field of thought criss-cross in every direction. The philosophical remarks in
this book are, as it were, a number of sketches of landscapes which were made
in the course of these long and involved journeyings."
----- which is paraphernalia for the briefer, "These are lectures for which I
was payed while at Cambridge. Yes, as an "Austrian engineer," I was given a
full professorship at the second oldest English university. I would have
accepted a post at the world's oldest uni, Bologna, but I don't speak the
lingo. Sraffa does."
Witters goes on: "The same or almost the same points were always being
approached afresh from different directions, and new sketches made." McEvoy
notes: "the "same or almost the same points" are points showing the difference
between the meaning as shown and meaning as what seems expressed."
----- which brings us back to whether this is metaphorical. D. W. Stampe, a
Griceian, wrote extensively on the pragmatics of 'telling and showing,' or if
you must be pedagogical, 'show and tell'. The grammar of 'show' is VERY
complex. People show. If McEvoy's point is that an utterer, by uttering an
utterance x, shows that p, that is different. 'show' is usually factive. "She
showed me the way" entails that there was a way to be shown (cfr. the pub song,
"Show me the way to go home" -- implicature: I'm drunk). "Pythagoras showed
that his theorem was valid." entails that his theorem was valid. And so on.
McEvoy: "For W[itters], we fall into a trap of thinking the meaning is
expressed in the language used, but this 'picture' while harmless enough in
some ways, will lead us badly astray when we try to develop a 'theory of
meaning' from within this trap. The reason there cannot be a "single direction"
to his thoughts is because there is no single way meaning is shown."
----- In my more practical interpretation: Witters was never a very organised
'teacher,' if that is what Cambridge dons are described us. Therefore, it is
natural that he presented this, and he presented that, and the next week, he
forgot about what he had presented, and started anew. Lizzie kept good notes,
McEvoy: "W[itters] wants to show his point of view by way of wide survey
of a "wide field of thought criss-cross in every direction","
----- The fact that his classes had more than one student (Lizzie was NOT
_that_ fortunate_) is my practical way to understand this 'criss-cross in every
direction,' as anyone who has tried to teach in a diverse class may be well
McEvoy: "but again and again the survey will reveal how the meaning of
language 'is not contained within its expression' (whatever that might mean)
but is shown in various ways."
----- By utterers of expressions.
McEvoy: "Hence perhaps the 'meaning' of roadsigns in a society that uses
them to navigate when driving cars will be different to their 'meaning' in a
carless society after a nuclear war where they are treated as remnants of a
previous civilisation [as a kind of historical artifact] and different again to
their 'meaning' in a society with computer-driven cars that do not depend on
the roadsigns but where the roadsigns are kept for reasons of quaint nostalgia
(like keeping red phone boxes after no working phones are kept in them)."
------ Well, this reminds me of Grice's New Highway Code. He is trying to show
how meaning works. Surely, he says, we have to start with idio-syncratic
meaning. "Suppose I lay on my bath, and device a New Highway Code. Nobody uses
it; but that does not preclude me from meaning this and that by each rule and
regulation in the code." Grice is criticising Peirce who THOUGHT he knew that
'sign' meant, but didn't. "Roadsign" is a sign. A sign, for Peirce, can be
factive: 'Smoke means fire'. Smoke is a sign of fire -- since there cannot be
fire without sign, Peirce called this type of sign an 'index'. (Grice's
example: "The weathercock means that the wind is coming from the South."). A
roadsign is not an index in that we may have a roadsign that displays a deer
jumping, which (roadsign) has been transferred from, say, Connecticut, to the
Sahara desert, where there are no jumping deer. So one has to be careful.
McEvoy: "(Or something like that.) The 'meaning' of "e=mc2" as a meme in
popular culture [e.g. the song of that title by 'Big Audio Dynamite'] may be
very different from its 'meaning' in terms of a physics' paper drawing out its
---- Well, that's why Grice preferred the new precept to the old (the new
being, "Don't confuse meaning and use"; the old one being, "Confuse meaning and
use"). Surely the meaning of "e = mc2" as uttered by Einstein (Kripke says
that, due to rigidity, we must always trace back the original utterer) has only
ONE meaning: its truth-conditional meaning. It is an identity that holds
between energy (Einstein's "e") and the product of mass by the square of the
speed of light. In the song by "Big Audio Dynamite", that Einsteinian meaning
remains, but they add a conversational implicature, to the effect, 'bollocks.'