[hist-analytic] quâ

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Feb 13 21:46:01 EST 2009



"qua is  possibly one of the most
            important  words, philosophically"
                                          J. L. S.  -- bathroom graffito. 
 
Qua and the subject locus
 
from the OED
 
qua: [< classical Latin "qua", 'in so far as', use as adverb of ablative  
singular feminine of "qui", 'who' (see WHO pron.).] 



I'm not too happy with the header, but Bayne is considering phrases with  
'qua' in subject-positions.
 
In a message dated 2/13/2009 8:34:50 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes in "Anscombe on 'Under the description d'": 

>In the mean time here are a couple of thoughts related to 
>my work on Anscombe's theory of Action. If Speranza 
>is out there, I would appreciate from him any reference he might  provide on 
THIS topic in Grice.

----- And now I'm confused. I hope you  mean on "THIS" as per "Anscombe". The 
ambiguity was that the passage was about  "THIS" about ~(p & ~p). So in case 
you wanted any reference on "~(p &  ~p)" let me know; meanwhile I'll be 
awaiting your reflections.
---- If the  'this' is on Anscombe, here my running comments: 

Bayne:

>I  have some criticisms to make of Anscombe on 'under a description'. 
>I will begin with how she responds to one objection to her use of 
>the expression in _Intention_. However, the text I am referring to 
>in this post is "Under a Description" Nous_ as well as 
>_Metaphysics_ pp. 208ff. There Anscombe identifies 
>'under the description d' with "quâ d". In addition in 
>'x under the description d', she says that the subject of the 
>sentence is 'x' not, ever, 'x under the description d'.
>If I  say, “I was allowed on stage under the description of ‘stage manager’”
? 
>This is ambiguous; this is the first claim I wish to make.
 
--- and a good claim it is too. Recall what Searle said about 'pragmatic  
ambiguity'! We want to be clear whether this is a distinction in _senses_ as I  
think it's not, or in scope, as I think it is. Grice allows to _use_ 
'ambiguity'  ('contextual ambiguity') in "Aristotle on the multiplicity of being" (final 
 sections) PPQ 1988. (His example, the ambiguity between 'You cannot apply: 
it's  a contest for best French poem' -- ambiguous between, 'poem supplied by a 
French  citizen' versus 'poem supplied by anyone _in French_). 
 
Bayne: 

>if “under the description of stage manager ” means 
>“being stage manager so-called,” that would be one reading 
>where I am, merely referred to as such, that is as stage manager. 
>I may not be the stage manager. In this case the sentence 
>means one thing: I was allowed on stage as the so-called sta[ge] 
>manager. But suppose I mean by “under the description of stage 
>manager,” rather “quâ  'stage manager'", ” that would be something 
>else. Then the sentence would mean that I was allowed 
>onstage because I was the stage manager. 
>One can imagine  circumstances where, even though I was not 
>the stage manager, I was allowed on stage only because I 
>was the so-called stage manager. It gets a bit clearer 
>if we take ‘authority’ instead of ‘manager’, 

----- Sorry about  this, but it may get _clearer_ if you choose another 
example. I was having in  mind what you say about Miss Anscombe on 'the subject' of 
the sentence, and  there the subject (logically speaking) is _them_, who are 
going to do some  'deeming' as Grice calls it, as to whether you are the stage 
manager, or  not!

----

Bayne: 

>so that our sentence becomes: “I was  allowed on stage because
> I was the so-called staging authority,” as opposed to 
>“I was allowed on stage quâ staging authority.” 

---- I  don't think I'd follow you regarding the so-called. This phrase, 
'so-called' is  hardly well used in English! In Italian it's even worse. Recall Pu
ccini's aria  in La Boheme:

"Mi  chiamano Mimi"     I am Mimi, so-called.   By  _who_!?   
I never read "Scenes de la vie en boheme" to check who she really  _is_!

---

Bayne: 

>In addition, one cannot construct cases where I am on stage qua  stage 
manager but I am not the stage manager. 

----

Grice uses  this in "Actions and Events" (PPQ, 1988 -- which I do not have to 
hand). What I  recall, frivolously, is that he uses the circumflex over the 
'a': qua
thus becomes "quâ"! 
---- 
 
Bayne continues:

>It may not even be the case that I am a so-called 
>stage manager; no one may have ever understood me 
>to be the stage manager.
 
 
Right. In "Vacuous Names" Grice plays a bit on Donnellan's 'descriptive'  
functors. If we remember them (a) vs. (b): 
 
    'attributive'
    'referential'
 
Grice is sceptical about the distinction, but he wants to keep a  
distinction. And he uses a 'technology' here as it were. The use of small print  capitals 
would mean 'referential'. The use of a description in quotes would mean  
'attributive'. Thus we distinguish: (a') vs. (b'): 
 
    I was allowed quâ STAGE MANAGER.
    I was allowed quâ  'stage manager'. 
 
One would want to say that if we use the scare quotes, one _is_ paying  
special attention to the words as used in the 'descriptor' -- "I was referred to  
as the 'stage manager'. If one uses the small capital print ("I was allowed  
quâ STAGE MANAGER") one is using the descriptor not attributively, but  
referentially, even rigidly so; and one is displaying a commitment to the  descriptor 
(or 'dossier' as Grice prefers) being _true_ of the descriptum. (Part  of this 
section was reprinted in _Definite Descriptions_ (MIT)). 
 
Bayne continues:

>It may have been the case that my being let on stage qua stage manager 
>implies that I was also called the stage manager, but to draw 
>the conclusion that the cases were the same, and that there is 
>no ambiguity, it would have to be added that one might in the very 
>same sense be both the stage manager and the so-called stage manager. 
>The reader will not experience the contrast unless the contrast between 
>being a stage manager and being a so-called stage manager or even 
>a stage manager so-called belongs among one's linguistic intuitions 
>(or part of one's idiolect, etc). So it would appear that there is a 
>difference between two possible readings of ‘under a description’. 
 
Very good approach to a veritable ambiguity!
 
Regarding a second point, Bayne writes about the 'subject' position:
 
>But now the important question: In the sense in which
> ‘under a description’ does *not* mean ‘qua’ is 
>‘x under the description d’ a subject term? If in 
 
            Bob  under the description ‘stage manager' V-ed.
 
>we have it that” “under the description ‘stage manager’” can be read  "as 
the so-called stage manager” then in 
 
            Bob as  the so-called stage manager fired Ruddy.
 
>the subject is not “Bob” but “Bob as the so-called 
>stage master.""
 
-----
 
I see your point. Perhaps Anscombe is wanting to say that 'under a  
description' is a mere _guise_ (alla Castaneda), i.e. under the guise, 'stage  
manager'. This would presuppose the variable 'x' to be able to be referred to  
_without any guise whatsoever_ (hence, precisely, the use of 'x').  Where  in symbols 
we would have something like: 
 
    (Ex) SMx  &  F(x, b)
 
i.e. There is an x such that x has the guise 'stage manager' and x did fire  
Ruddy.  Now someone may ask, under what description did Ruddy get fired,  
that's what I want to know! ---- More tomorrow, after a good night sleep!
 
Historically, it may do to relate Anscombe's considerations about 'subject'  
positions with the mediaeval views of her husband! I tried and tried to  
understand Geach's _Reference and Generality_ -- and I tried I tried to  understand 
Grice's 'disciple', Strawson's _Subject and predicate in logic and  grammar_, 
and in both cases, failed!
 
These issues of referentiality, attributiveness, and qua-ness pervade the  
subject 'locus' but extend beyond it. I am reminded of Strawson on topic/comment 
 and presupposition failure in:
 
       "the exhibition was visited by the  so-called King of France".
 
Strawson seems to have had the 'intuition' that the unique existence of  'the 
king of France' is not topical, and thus not crucial in the _understanding_  
of the utterance. I never shared _that_ intuition! It seems pretty ad-hoc!  
Surely there must be more to subject and predicate than choice of  ordering!
 
At school we loved to do parsing, and I was good at that. The qua clauses  
were used, sometimes, 'appositiones'. And knowing a bit of Greek grammar, it  
became _very_ tricky when we had 'predicative' phrases that could work just as  
well as part of the subject or the predicate:
 
        "Achilles saw them  unarmed"
 
object: them. Unarmed? qua in the object position?
Turn that into the passive and you don't know what to do with the  'unarmed'.
 
      They were seen, by Achilles, unarmed.
 
Or consider,
 
     Achilles, unarmed, marched towards the wall of  Troy.
 
----
 
Variants on Bayne's choice:
 
"I was allowed onto the stage -- qua stage manager".

There seems to be some intuition behind Anscombe's remark or  regimentation, 
in that it's the 'bare' referent who is either allowed or isn't.  It seems 
that to allow (to be repetitive) 'qua stage manager' to be in the  subject locus 
or position is taking all the ontological weight (in Quine's  parlance, even) 
out of the claim being made.
 
The extra problem, and Anscombe was aware of this, is the "first person",  or 
bare personal pronouns even. If one follows J. Perry following Grice (1941),  
on Personal Identity, it seems we _need_ to introduce *some* guise to 'you', 
'I'  and 'she'! Personally, 
 
"Steve R. Bayne was allowed onto the stage, qua stage manager" runs the  risk 
of a regressus ad infinitum:
 
"Steve R. Bayne, qua "Steve R. Bayne", so-called, was allowed onto the  
stage, but this happened not because "Steve R. Bayne" = "Steve R. Bayne" but  
because, rather, whoever did the allowing attributed to _him_ the property,  'being 
the stage manager'.
 
----
 
It seems to me that if we allow for symbols for "S" (subject) and "P"  
(predicate), then what we seem to be having is:
 
(I) S1-qua-S2 is P1.
 
But this may be a mere rewrite of the 'conjunction':
 
(II) 
    S1 is P1   (where S2 above becomes P1)
    
    &
 
    S1 is P2  (where P1 in (I) becomes 'P2' because  there's a new 'P1' being 
introduced in the rewrite)) (*)
 
 
And before the bed-qua-bed, the OED cites for 'qua'!
 
1647 N. WARD Simple Cobler Aggawam 56 

"Every man was as good a man as your Selfe, qua man. 
 
1649 A. ASCHAM Bounds Publique Obed. 21 
 
"The Apostle commands Wives to submit to their Husbands, 
surely quà Husbands, 
not quà men."
 
---- good example that. I'm sure the Apostle would never command Wives to  
submit to bachelors -- 'unmarried males' -- like _that_!
 
 
1776 Claim Roy Rada Churn 17/1 
 
A body corporate, 
quà corporate, 
cannot make an affidavit. 
 
1847 M. F. TUPPER in W. C. Armstrong Compl. Prose Wks. (1851) 490 
 
The man, quà man..
was nearer to his Creator, 
than the woman; who, quà woman, 
proceeded out of man. 
 
 
--- Problem there is that woman qua woman is wife-man, i.e. qua woman she  is 
a man!
 
 
1867 J. A. FROUDE Spinoza in Short Stud. (ed. 2) 232 
 
Because things modally distinguished do not 
quâ substance 
differ from one another there cannot be more than one substance of the same  
attribute. 
 
--- Which may be Anscombe's point: to contradict Froude!
 
Note the co-substantiality, almost, between talk of 'subject' (Greek,  
hupokheimenon) and 'substance'.     
 
1885 Manch. Examiner 4 Apr. 4/6 
 
Their censures are not directed 
against 
the Church quà Church, 
but against the Church quâ Establishment. 
 
 
--- This is also interesting, and Soames would like it, alla Kripke. For  any 
"a", feel free to allow the postulate, "a qua a = a qua a". By focusing on  
'church' qua 'establishment' are we promoting an 'essential' attribution, a  
'proper' attribution, or a mere 'accidental' one? I think the latter!
 
---
1965 G. GRANT Lament for Nation (1991) ii. 21 
 
This failure to recognize the rights of French Canadians, qua community, 
was inconsistent with the roots of Canadian nationalism. 
 
 
--- This is intersting in that there is no strict 'grammatical' number  
agreement, "French canadians" is plural, 'community' is singular! So you see  'qua' 
can be not just be otiose, but 'lousy'!
 
1993 Guardian 21 Aug. (Weekend Suppl.) 6/2 
 
Philip Larkin was unquestionably..better loved, qua poet, than John  
Betjeman, who was loved also for his charm.

---- I disagree! I don't think Philip Larkin was loved but by Barbara   Pym!
 
 
--- Cheers,
 
JL
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