[hist-analytic] The Many and the Wise

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Mon Feb 16 12:34:17 EST 2009


S. R. Bayne is considering the 'scope' of 'qua' mentioned by Anscombe in  her 
expansion of 'under a description', in particular in terms of subject or  
predicate scope in terms of Aristotle's syllogistics in Analytica Priora, 49a. 
 
A not so irrelevant excursus, I hope. 
 
One point of agreement or overlap between what Grice calls "Oxonian  
dialectics" and "Athenian dialectics" -- in his 'Valediction' in WOW -- concerns  the 
distinction, often made between i and ii
 
     i. the many   (hoi polloi)
   ii.  the wise
 
Ordinary-language philosophers are not, Grice seems to be stating,  
necessarily concerned _only_ with 'the many', or more specifically with 'ta  legomena' 
(the sayings, what is being said' of or by the Many. The purpose of  the 
activity should be an elucidation of the 'legomenon' -- at least one, let's  say -- 
of the 'wise'!
 
In this respect, in "Life and Opinions of [myself]", Grice notes that  Austin 
was sometimes not fully _consistent_: philosophically, he was into the  
legomena of the many, as it were -- which you need to be armed with the right  type 
of patience, as R. B. Jones testify. On the other hand,  meta-philosoph
ically, or _methodologically_, Austin was known to include the  technical (i.e. not 
a legomenon by hoi polloi) term every now and then (witness  his 
'per-locution', 'il-locution', 'phatic' act, etc. Nothing extra-ordinary,  but perhaps 
_so_. (Incidentally, I once came across reading Cicero, in the Loeb  for the Latin 
for 'extra-ordinary' versus, say, _ordinary_ language -- what has  _order_ to 
do with anything?).
 
The same, Grice seems to be saying, ditto for Aristotle. The problem is  that 
perhaps we shouldn't be wasting our time on a technical legomenon when  there 
are so many 'ordinary' ones that provide so much more pleasure. And I  refer 
to the 'qua' of Aristotle!
 
For what is worth, Allan Back -- as summarised his views in formalontology  
web pages -- seem to go with Anscombe:
 
Baeck writes:
 
         I offer truth conditions  for 
         [qua] propositions in  Aristotle. 
         I show that in general  Aristotle 
         views expressions of the  form "qua S" in i or ii
 
        S qua S is P 
        S is P qua S
 
        as making a claim not about the  subject "S", 
        but about the *predication* of  "P" of "S". 
        I develop necessary and  sufficient truth 
        conditions for propositions  of the form "S qua S is P". 
 
                A. Bäck in Idealization: Historical Studies on Abstraction 
and Idealization. Ed.  F. Coniglione et al. 
               Amsterdam: Rodopi 2004. pp. 37-58 
 
But of course we are not just interested in the somewhat vacuous
 
         S qua S
 
but in 
 
         A qua B
 
--- I was thinking indeed in Porphyry's tree. For an Aristotelian, there is  
indeed a chain of being. For 'man' there are not so many infinite things we 
can  say, 'man qua rational', 'man qua animal', man qua 'being', etc. 
 
Aquinas apparently does use 'qua' but also 'in quantum' ('ens inquantum  ens' 
say). The idea being indeed, perhaps that it's a _formal_ examination, not  a 
_material_ one.
 
But my point remains: 
 
i. if it _is_ a turn of phrase coined by Aristotle, that no ordinary Greek  
speaker need to have recourse to,
ii. Can it be _basic_ philosophically speaking?
iii. Or we would need to trust Aristotle and the other wise, that here we  
have a case where it's not what the many say or fail to say, but what the wise  
are trying to teach them!
 
Cheers,
 
JL
   Refs:
   Code, Alan. Aristotle, in PGRICE
   Grice, Multiplicity of being in Aristotle, PPQ 1989
   Owen, The snares of ontology (reviewed by Grice above)
 
 
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