[hist-analytic] How is fastidium to be avoided?

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed Feb 11 19:34:57 EST 2009


-- "magisterial, fastidious" 
 
Hey, this is not _me_; but keep in mind this quote from Mrs. Ward: 
 
 
1885 MRS. H. WARD tr. Amiel's Jrnl. (1889) 277 
"How is fastidium to be  avoided?"
                       (translating Amiel's Journal, 1885 -- (1889, p. 277).
 
First, the source:

I was once discussing with L. M. Tapper on a choice of words by S. W.  
Blackburn (sometime of Pembroke, Oxford). It's the online blurb, as it were, for  
Grice's _WOW_:
 
    "Grice was a miniaturist who changed the way other 
    people paint big canvases. The question of correct scale 
    is ultimately one of intellectual judgment, and in  this his 
    magisterial, fastidious prose rebukes those of us who 
    want to move faster."
                              Times Literary Supplement
 
---- I want to consider the 'fastidium' vis a vis the history of analytic  
philosophy, but first a few etymological remarks. The OED does not really define 
 the term, but it gives, I think, a good paraphrase:
 
           "over-niceness"
 
-- As Mrs. Ward uses it, it's indeed Latin neuter, 'fastidium', which the  
OED has as 'loathing' and cognate with Fr. 'fastidieux'; although Ward is  
possibly translating Amiel's ennui. 
 
A few quotes in the OED, in no chronological order, seem to illustrate the  
concept well:
 
* 1744 YOUNG Night Thoughts VI. 551 
 
"Proud youth! fastidious of the lower world."
 
--- I like that at least it's ascribed of a _youth_ and not your average  
Father William!
 
* 1691 RAY Creation Pref. (1704) 7 
 
"Fastidious Readers." 
 
--- This above is interesting; as it would require some fastidious Gricean  
analysis to make sense: "A reader is fastidious iff..." 
 
* 1624 GATAKER Transubst. 42 
 
"Fastidiously and childishly..full of Logicke rules." 
 
--- Well, perhaps a sin of much of analytic philosophy. Rephrasing Occam's  
Razor, as modified by Grice, I would have: "Do not multiply logicke rules 
beyond  fastidious necessity". 
 
1784 J. BARRY Lect. Art vi. (1848) 207 
 
"Fastidiousness, and a useless and too critical nicety, may be expected to  
increase."
 
-- which relates the idea to 'over-niceness'. 
 
-----------------
 
I recall when I was introduced to "Epistemology" via Chisholm, and my tutor  
commenting, "Beware, it's in the analytic vein; so don't expect other than  
necessary and sufficient conditions, and it will be an altogether dry thing".  
(Ezequiel de Olaso my tutor was, and we did survive the Chisholm). 
 
----
 
Let's revise the Blackburn:
 
    "in this [in what? deictic here? JLS] 
    his magisterial [derogative, too, if you wish --  cf. 'ex cathedra'] 
    fastidious 
    prose [but I'll generalize to 'style'. JLS] 
    rebukes those of us who want to move  faster."

I'm not sure I understand 'rebuke' but I'll take it as 'scold'. 
 
'magisterial' reminds me of W. P. Robinson, the social psychologist. He is  
examining the scope of "Grice's maxims" ('avoid ambiguity', 'be relevant') as  
they apply to different societies, and makes a point that one should not 
expect  considerations like these to be true _regardless_ and *ex cathedra*. 
 
----
 
But the positive (for there _has_ to be something positive here, if  
amazon.com chose it to _advertise_ WOW) seems to be in the context of the place  of 
some style of analytic philosophy over other ways of doing philosophy.
 
I would think that this 'fastidiousness' _is_ the kernel of 'analytic'  
philosophy; but only: because the analytic philosopher is in the first place  
"fastidiated" [yes, it _is_ a verb] by ... what???
 
Different things:
 
I would think B. Russell was fastidiated by, say, Bradley.
Grice was fastidiated by ... Stevenson ("Ethics and Language")? 
Austin was fastidiated by ... Ayer, Warnock.
 
---- I may be using the word wrong, but I would think that an analytic  
philosopher may be triggered to _do_ philosophy because he comes across a view  
that he finds 'sloppy' --. This may apply to some _other_ analytic philosopher  
(e.g. when Austin criticises Warnock in _Sense and Sensibilia_). It would be as 
 if the 'move faster' of Blackburn is indeed the analytic philosopher, "Not 
so  fast!". 
 
I would think that 'fastidium' then may be one of the keywords to analyse  
'analytic philosophy' in its proper historical context: as a reaction to  
'sloppy' style by previous styles of philosophising ('grand philosophy' -- cfr.  
'grand opera'), and as something that eventually will 'fastidiate' the  
post-analytics!
 
To answer Amiel's question, "How is fastidium to be avoided?". Get a break.  
Ain't that what Witters did?!
 
Cheers,
 
JL
 
 
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