[lit-ideas] Re: "p & p"

  • From: Robert.Paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Robert Paul)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: 28 Jun 2004 09:22:25 PDT

JL says he's not aware of any expression in colloquial, ordinary English of the
form, "p & p".

(He also says that because he is not aware of any, there must be none, an
argument, which I think needs just a bit more work.)

Formal logicians have never known what to do with conjunctions, even though as
the 'logical constants,' they are supposedly their bread and butter. It's a
scandal that ordinary propositional logic cannot deal with the temporal sense of
'and' in e.g. 'She went to bed and fell asleep,' or 'She tripped and fell.' I
suspect that the repetition of conjoined propositions to denote continuous
action is equally difficult for them.

In 'They thought and (they) thought,' the implication (maybe even the
implicature) is that they continued to think for a certain period of time, and
again, this is not captured by propositional logic. (As for this particular
case, my own experience with the folks at Joe's Garage is that they seldom use
'They thought,' all by itself.) Nor does 'They thought, and they thought again,'
do it. 'They  

My intuitions here seem the opposite of JL's, for where he sees e.g. 'She talks
and she talks' as rare, or problematic, I find 'She talks,' rarer still. Perhaps
a parent might say this proudly about a six-month-old child, or in a different
sense, a politician might say it to a crony about an aide, sotto voce: 'She
talks...let's step outside.' But 'She talks,' seem to carry with them various
tacit qualifiers: '...if you let her,' '...if she feels comfortable,' '...if she
has something to say.' 

It may be that conjoined sentences with verbs of action behave quite differently
from conjoined subject-predicate sentences; 'Gold is a heavy, yellow metal, and
gold is a heavy, yellow metal, and... I think this is so.

But I'm sure somebody has already worked this out and I don't want to run on and

Robert Paul
Reed College
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