[hist-analytic] Anscombe's Use of 'Direct Object' and the "Trick"

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 20 17:07:31 EST 2009

In her "The Analysis of Sensation: A Grammatical Feature: 
(Collected Papers II, p. 8) Anscombe says of 'direct object'

_It_ can name neither a piece of language, nor
anything that the piece of language names or 
otherwise relates to...(p.8)..."ideas and impressions
...will be rightly regarded as grammatical notions. 
(p. 9).

She is wrestling with what 'x' is in 'S thought x' and how
this relates to action like 'S did x', by analogy. This is 
simplifying matters for clarity. Suppose we invoke
the "under a description" trick. Suppose we say this:
'direct book is the direct object under the description
'what John gave Mary'. If we do this one problem we
solve will be the vagueness problem, which I haven't
described but which is there in the essay for all
interested. Now how about 'a book' is an idea under
the description 'What John is thinking about'. Am
I serious? Yes. But I'm being deliberately vague
about what I am serious about. Later I'll explain.
But the larger point is that 'under a description' 
really is beginning to look like a tricky notion. If so
does this trickiness extend to propositional attitudes?

STeve Bayne

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