[hist-analytic] The problem with Molyneux
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Feb 19 21:04:24 EST 2009
-- is that he was French, like Descartes (just joking!) -- and he was Irish,
Or some remarks about the senses. "if a man born blind can feel the
differences between shapes such as spheres and cubes, could he similarly distinguish
those objects by sight if given the ability to see?"
cited by Grice, Some remarks about the senses.
The Smell of Onions: Some Historical References in the Philosophy
Literature. Have you noticed that onions do not smell the way they used to?
In a message dated 2/19/2009 8:05:29 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes in "Re: A Dry Martini"
Look at the paper by Anscombe on sensations.
Oh my God! Actually, not the paper, but some online notes I found on pdf. by
someone who took the trouble to copy out each example by Anscombe replying
this person criticising her _Intention_.
Anscombe focuses on 'legs crossed'. I hardly cross my legs. I think it's a
feminine thing. Have you noticed how _unfeminine_ females look when they
I enjoyed Anscombe's discussion of 'sensation of X'. This predates Grice,
"Some remarks about the senses" -- it was, as Bayne notes, Analysis 1961 --.
But Grice kept ringing in my brain.
In "Some remarks about the senses" he has some examples which I found of
interest. The Molineaux problem is one of them. Indeed, most of our talk about
_sensing_ this or that is *biased*. I enjoyed it (what's the sensation of
_it_?) when I learned that his "Causal Theory of Perception" for example was
reprinted in Schwartz, "Sensing" philosophy compilation. For some reason, I love
that verb, _to sense_. It *is* intense.
Yes, Anscombe must be having in mind the language-problem argument. She does
mention 'pain' (if _not_ 'pain in the neck'). And she does say that a fact
(of the matter, as Bayne would expand) needs to be _shareable_ (unlike my pain
in the neck, I would say).
The online notes I was reading were pretty inconclusive, alas.
Yes, I think Descartes was to blame. Witters may not have quoted him, but he
does quote Augustine, no? Same thing! (just joking). I think it was via
McGinn (in his contribution to Andrew Woodfield, on representation, Oxford
University Press) that I learned of 'methodological solipsism' --. I _have_ read
Augustine's passage (that Wittgenstein cites in Philosophical Investigations)
and in Latin too, but I forget if Augustine is being a mentalist, a Cartesian
_avant la lettre_, or what!
I was revising a bibl. list recently and came across a nice motto with
Cartesian resonances -- if only that:
"I think; therefore I err"!
-- talk of _akrasia_ in the theoretical realm!
Grice does have a pretty specific "Descartes on clear and distinct
perception", but I don't think he was too serious (Grice) about him, as he should.
Grice is primarily concerned with the fact that we _do_ use 'certain' (or more
commonly, 'Certainly!' -- said _smugly_) even when we don't _know_!
I enjoyed Anscombe's description of what it feels to be in a vat, er, ...
no. Rather: what it feels to go down an elevator. She says, 'your stomach goes
up'. _This_ she says is the 'internal' description. "Going down an elevator"
does not really _describe_ anything; it's the trick of thinking of it 'under
a description' only. Funny, I would never described the sensation of
_vertigo_ as I call it as having to do with my stomach. For one, I think _my_
sensation of vertigo is located (or placed) slightly _higher_ than my stomach.
In this same bibl. list I came across another essay with a nice title:
-- the subtitle: empathy and the knowledge of other minds. The problem is
that here we seem to be discussing other people's _stomachs_ rather than minds.
Anscombe discusses 'the sky is blue' -- the blue patch of the sensation, and
the sensum. I don't _do_ colours. I find them _very_ complicated
*philosophically*. My philosophical world is complex enough in black and white!
-- but my antipathy for colour problems may have been triggered by having
heard Barry Stroud dedicate three hours of my time talking about them! (and
On the other hand, in one second, Grice dismisses the problem. In 'Logic and
Conversation', ii, or iii, he recalls an example discussed with G. J.
A: I want to buy a blue tie for Richard.
B: This looks like a nice blue tie.
A: Blue? That's _green_!
--- Grice says (words to the effect): it _is_ okay (and not just sloppy) to
say that the tie is green under this light but blue under this other light --
"when there is no question of a real change of colour".
Anscombe does go quite a bit on linguistic botanising. I wouldn't say, she
says, say "I believed that", but rather, "I would have thought that
perhaps...", etc. She notes that 'the sensation of flying' is not realistic, and that
the 'sensation of being told a fairy tale' is _otiose_.
This reminds me that Warnock was so _happy_ when _he_ thought (Chapman tells
us) that, with Grice, they had found a lexical gap in the English language.
The gap was filled with a word they brought back from the Latin:
This connects with Anscombe.
Anscombe speaks of the 'smell of onions' (but what if onions lose their
smell -- surely the description is otiose and never as necessary as 'bitter').
And what about the 'visum'. Grice and Warnock thought that if we can say that
we smell the smell of onions, surely we can say that we see the visum of
onions. Ultimately, Grice and Warnock thought that what they thought was a
discovery was a _red_ herring!
The smell of onions, the visum of a cow, -- and, it's back to a bitter, dry
("try to describe the aroma of coffee") ... martini.
No need to reply to this, S. R. -- relax, and continue with your book. I can
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