[hist-analytic] Clarity Is Not Enough

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Feb 13 12:33:18 EST 2009

In Reply To: R. B. Jones's post, "Re: Clarity Is Not  Enough"

[sorry until I get a proper mailer, this will not  show as sub-thread]

In a message dated 2/13/2009 12:04:38 P.M. Eastern  Standard Time, 
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
I will happily coexist with people of  different talents and
temper. so long as they do not get in my way.
Austin  does.  His book "Sense and Sensibilia" seems to me to be
a sustained  attempt to deny philosophers that flexibility in
the use of language which is  normal in any specialised undertaking.


That was sort of sad  to read!


Again, I'm in a rush. But allow me some positive  comments on that book that 
you may, or make not, take in!

The thing was  'unpublished' manuscript -- note that the subtitle is "from 
the manuscript notes  of ...". I always found it charming that Austin (or "J. 
Austin" as he was known)  advertised his  seminar:

J. Austin

Sense and  Sensibilia

I can imagine a colloquial language between  undergraduates, "We're doing 
Austin's Sense and Sensibilia". "You mean,  'sensibility'". Etc.

---- I found the book double in that: the commentary  on Ayer is a bit cold 
(the book was done and passed by, as it were). But Warnock  was someone Austin 
was seeing _every Saturday_ (morning)! True it's not a  serious book by 
Warnock, just his bio of Berkeley! But still! I found some of  Austin's examples 
pretty good, clear, and reminiscent of the pre-socratics. I  recall this 
pre-socratic philosopher who said,

"Surely the sun is smaller than my finger" (as he compared both relative  

-- For he was _saving_ phenomena. I tend to think that part of  the problem 
with the English (language) is that _seems_ hardly translates 'to  appear' 
(root of phenomenon) in Greek. In Italian I'm sure it's never as  negative as in 
English -- cpr. the aria, "M'appari tutt'amor" -- it seemed to me  that all my 
love; sounds negativistic, but if read, "all the love _appeared_,  shone to 
me", does not.

Similarly, Austin is considering "That speck in  the horizon is a star", etc. 
He is not trying to regiment, I would think, but to  play a bit on the 
different idioms that pertain to describe 'sense-data'.  

As for, is the analysis of ordinary language enough? Perhaps we  shouldn't 
dichotomise things like that. After all, it's the same _brain_ who  speaks a 
natural language and speaks a formal language. It's not like both are  totally 
_dissociate_. Mind, some never master a _formal_ language (whether the  reverse 
may be harder to prove). In terms of 'cognitive content', there's not  much in 
which they differ. 

Consider 'if'. Okay, there's a lot of  metaphysical excrescences there. Does 
Grice get in the way? He did for me. He  notes that if you _want_ to use the 
metaphysical excrescence, add 'then' before  the apodosis, "If p, _then_ q". If 
not, drop the 'then', and get along with  Philo's paradoxes -- and I do!

But you are very right that it's personal  and one shouldn't let a 
supervenient or subservient purpose to overwhelm others.  One may want to 'slow down' a 
bit (bring back things, bring them down --  'reduce' -- 'clarificatory 
philosophy' in H. H. Price's word). But we _also_  have, they say, the _obligation_ 
to 'move on'!

Do not _let_ Austin get in your way!
It may remind one of Grice's not letting Dummett get in his way. His  student 
Michael Wrigley, of UC/Berkeley was asking Grice for advice on  
interpretation of Frege:
    Wrigley: I hope, Professor Grice, you are familiar
                  with the arguments in Dummett's Frege: Philosophy of 
     Grice: I have never read that book -- and I hope I  *won't*!
**************Nothing says I love you like flowers! Find a florist near you 
now. (http://yellowpages.aol.com/search?query=florist&ncid=emlcntusyelp00000002)

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