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Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 1:00 AM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Griceian Liquidation
Geary was praising the Latin language: the liquid consonants, /l, r, m, n/ in
particular, as being 'slippery' (to the tongue, I assume) when a second item in
a consonant cluster. My argument was that Thrax, who was rudely translated to
the Latin by the Latins, was thinking 'moist' (hygros) as applied to these
sounds, because of their 'slippery effect'. To that effect, I noted that in
general, we say things like
i. Water is liquid.
To say that
ii. R is liquid.
is, to put it Griceianly, a conversational implicature. For Grice, metaphors
are conversational implicatures -- his example:
iii. You're the cream in my coffee.
when it is obvious that if this were true, and the Grice's addressee was
literally _cream_, *she* would know that already. So this flouts the standard
Now, McEvoy argued against the _character_ of (i). McEvoy implicates that (i)
is not analytic.
For Kripke, which is possibly the best philosopher in this area, propositions
a. necessary vs. contingent.
b. analytic vs. synthetic.
c. etc.: e.g. a priori vs. a posteriori
McEvoy seems to be suggesting (or 'implicating,' as he would put it -- "put
what?" as one of Geary's students would ask) that (i) is SYNTHETIC A POSTERIORI.
McEvoy refers to 'definitional issues' (if I recall his wording alright) to the
effect that they lead nowhere (if I recall his words alright). In this case,
the polemic was that
iii. H20 = water
iv. XYZ = twater
v. If water is liquid, and if ice is water, ice is liquid.
Popper used to say: "Logic can only lead you from A to B; imagination leads you
anywhere." McEvoy is assuming that ice is frozen water. Grice, being an
ordinary language philosopher would be offended if he were to ask the bartender:
vi. Whiskie on the rocks, please
and be questioned back:
viii. Rocks of ice?
In general, English speakers use 'ice' to mean things they don't mean when they
utter 'water'. Similarly, to use the other extreme of the continuum McEvoy
refers to, English speakers refer to 'gas' for things other than water.
Grice would further argue that he would be offended if the bartender offered
him Scotch whisky on the rocks, since he did say, clearly, 'whiskey', which is
Irish, and not 'whisky' ("although I grant that the bartender possibly cannot
read what I say.")
If we follow McEvoy's argument, it would seem that
can attain at least three forms or states -- and in one of these -- the liquid
state, we call it 'water'. His example of the arctic explorer who wants a glass
of water as he wanders on ice is thus oxymoronic for ordinary language
philosophers like Grice.
What is that makes water -- in its liquid state (this tautologous) -- liquid?
Why is ice not liquid? Why is _gas_ not liquid?
If McEvoy is right that the answer is that 'Water is liquid' is synthetic a
posteriori', Kant is right. If not, he isn't.
Thrax could have used _another_ tautology, favoured by Putnam:
ix. Water is wet.
'Wet' better translates liquid. Note that not only water can be liquid. All
liquids are liquid. This is tautological, or analytic a priori. To argue that
'All liquids are liquid' is synthetic a posteriori seems to be what I call an
arctic piece of reasoning.