[hist-analytic] Clarity Is Not Enough
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Feb 15 19:53:19 EST 2009
Indeed, R. B. Jones's files _very_ impressive, and I'm 'in the train of', as
the French say, see if I can get a mailer which allows me to sub-thread
things. This in reply to Bayne in reply to Jones:
In a message dated 2/15/2009 6:43:45 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes:
in saying that
this sort of activity, to which one's mortal life approximates, has this
application: to bring about happiness.
It should also pay to revisit what H. H. Price was _meaning_ when he said,
"Clarity is not enough". Lewis used that as title of his compilation, whose
contents I have not been able to see. Apparently, it has Price's reprinted. The
quote by J. L. Austin I found elsewhere.
Compilers to the Lewis book include:
H H Price, C. D. Broad, B. Blanshard, W. V.Quine, William Calvert Keale,
A.C.Ewing, Max Black, Peter Heath, E.Harris, ...
The Price piece is "Joint Session" Mind/Aristotelian Society, for 1945 --
just when the dons were coming from the trenches!
And Austin's quote is from "A plea for excuses" (Aristotelian, 1956) --
after ten fruitful years, some say, of linguistic botanising...
In his online notes on "Plea for Excuses" Jones writes:
"In particular, since I doubt there is any limit to how long one can
continue this kind of investigation, I would be looking for some clues about how
much is enough, and when and how we reap the rewards. Austin shows no signs of
caring. He seems so fascinated by this kind of investigation that I doubt he
would ever stop to ask whether there is any benefit beyond the discovery of
further subtleties in language."
I love Jones's concerns about the 'enough'.
As my aunt would say, "More than enough is too much". And surely some say
the Austinians overdid it a bit!
"Enough" is a concept that needs pleonetetic (I think it's the word Geach
coined) treatment. We need a 'standard', or 'measure'. So 'clarity is enough'
_is_ problematic, but so is 'clarity is _not_ enough'.
Before I review Jones's considerations, I was thinking that perhaps Price
would be annoyed by someone going:
A: Do you believe in the immortality of the soul? Is there a life after life?
B: Define your terms! That's hardly clear!
A: It _is_ pretty clear. Do you believe that the mind is immortal?
B: You said soul!
A: mind, say. Do you believe that when your body rots, there's a soul
that --- oops --- goes above and joins the featherly choir?
B: Don't be disrespectful
-- A discussion like that may be a matter of 'clarity', but it seems that
the philosopher who is only an 'elucidator' may try to 'wash his hands' from
this one, and keep on focusing on clearing off the ground as a way to _avoid_
giving the philosophical answer: (i) Yes, the soul is immortal, or (ii) the
soul is not immortal.
Grice had a student at Oxford, called 'Shropshire". Shropshire claimed to
have proved the immortality of the soul (Grice retells in "Aspects of
Reasoning") by means of a syllogistic:
"if you cut off a chicken's head, the chicken will run round the yard for a
quarter of an hour before dropping".
As Grice notes, there are various appeals for clarity here:
1. soul-dependency on the body.
2. soul-dependency on the _part_ of the body in which soul is 'located'.
3. Assumption -- false? that the soul is located in the 'head'.
4. assumption that the soul is 'destroyed' if head rendered inoperative by
removal from the rest of the body.
5. What if the soul is _not_ located in the 'head'?
6. In fact, the fact that the chicken 'runs round the yard' _means_ the
chicken is 'animated' by an 'anima', soul.
There are further problems that need some further 'clarification':
7. Why assume that the chicken's soul is _immortal_ though, just because it
is not located in the body?
8. Why assume that what's good for the chicken applies to _humans_ too?
Grice notes that Shropshire was a 'drop-out' from Oxford. And I wouldn't be
surprised if it was people like H. H. Price who dropped him!
Back to Jones:
"In particular, since I doubt there is
any limit to how long one can continue this kind of investigation, ..."
I fear to state this, because I do not be on Roger's _way_, but one anecdote
that fascinated from reading Warnock's "Saturday Mornings" (these dons
smoked so much during those mornings -- Warnock died of lung cancer, and Grice of
emphysema). Warnock recalls, "Yes, it was a matter of temperament; we could
be _hours_ to no end doing the linguistic botanising; these were informal
meetings. Meeting with Austin for a _serious_ seminar was an altogether 'harder'
-- but there is also the idea of 'personal loyalty about yourself'. Grice
did change, but Warnock remained the linguistic botaniser to his latest!
"I would be looking for some clues about how much is enough"
More than enough is too much. So much I can tell.
In _my_ case, I'm never tired, because this is conducted in some sort of
English! Would find it pretty boring in my vernacular!
"and when and how we reap the rewards. Austin shows no signs of caring. He
seems so fascinated by this kind of investigation that I doubt he would ever
stop to ask whether there is any benefit beyond the discovery of further
subtleties in language."
----- Well, behind that facade, there was a suffering man! He too died of
cancer! And he would not any other _don_ know about it. It really _was_ a shock
to them all.
But apparently, Austin dreamed of a 'science of language' (as fragments of
"Plea" testifies). Recall this is _ages_ ago! It was a parochial attitude.
We should also recall that Austin was "White's professor of moral
Philosophy", so perhaps he thought that _that_ office (the higher ever held by a member
of the playgroup) was more than 'enough', and that he could dedicate the
rest of his time to enjoyable linguistic botanising.
I'm not familiar as to how Chairs Work in Oxford. Apparently, you don't have
to _attend_ them! But I would think he was enough of a 'bureaucrat' to see
himself as just that! The papers for the magazines (if magazines they can be
called) were more for the _fun_ of it.
Grice was not a professor at Oxford, just a 'university lecturer', and
whatever they thought was _enough_ or not enough could vary with each student or
tutee they had. I could imagine they having some 'thick' ones who could do
with some 'clarity' in sufficient quantities!
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