[hist-analytic] The Force of Linguistic Rules

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Tue Feb 24 18:13:59 EST 2009


a little tribute to O. P. Wood and the Oxford polemic on  things, including 
Collingwood versus Richards, and more.
 
Thanks to S. R. Bayne for sharing his quote of Reichenbach:


In a  message dated 2/24/2009 5:15:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, 
baynesrb at yahoo.com  writes:

"The first is that a communicative function begins only when 
there are  certain rules established for the use of the  terms."

Reichenbach, Experience and Prediction.

written originally in English in Istanbul, 1933 -- published 1938.
 
The OED recognises a few other good ones from that one:
 
"conventionalism"

1938 H. REICHENBACH Exper. & Predict. §1, 
 
Within the frame of the modern philosophy of science there is a movement  
bearing the name of conventionalism; it tries to show that most of the  
epistemological questions contain no questions of truth-character but are to be  
settled by arbitrary decisions. 
 
"descriptum"
 
1938 H. REICHENBACH Exper. & Prediction §25. 220 
 
Existence is a quality not of individual things but of descripta.
 
I would think Reichenbach must be thinking of German "Das Regel" and  
ultimately Latin "regula":
 
 
"The first is that a communicative function begins only when 
there are  certain rules established for the use of the terms."

A very clear statement of what a lot of confusion some Oxonians saw in this  
is Oscar Wood -- I order that old volume of P. A. S. just for my  edification!
 
                   Oscar P. Wood,
                   'The Force of Linguistic Rules'
                         Aristotelian Society, vol. 51.
 
----
 
'rule' was, Grice tells us, a favourite talk at the playgroup's meetings  
(Reply to Richards). He was particular that his views were not taken as  
embracing any sort of 'conventionalism' (if that's the word). "I don't think  meaning 
has anything to do with convention" ('Meaning Revisited', words to that  
effect). But of course one could distinguish between 'linguistic' (in Wood's  
title) and _other_, and meaning proper. 
 
I enjoyed Bayne's description of 'emotional language' ("Ouch") and, as he  
has it, 
 
 
    He says this after disussing some  general
uses of language, emotional ("Ouch") and  communicative
(we all get this I guess).
 

Yes, we do. But there is a _transfer_, isn't it. Between 'emotional' and  
'communicative'. I always like to recall that Grice (1948) 'Meaning' can be seen  
as a response the 'causal' _emotionalism_ of Stevenson (who Grice quotes in a 
 footnote to that paper, now in Bayne's page). 
 
It _is_ admittedly hard to think of what "emotion" can be secured by the  
expression of "It is raining" or "the cat is on the mat". Emotion works better  
with things like 'ouch' and 'yuck!' 
 
But Collingwood (of Oxford) had it right when he criticised Richards (in  
"Idea of Language"): words to the effect: "Richards thinks he has it right: the  
two uses of language -- but I can _feel_ his emotions as he displays on the  
_scientific_ use of language -- there's emotion in science, too!"
 
The connection via Richards to Viola Welby and through Ogden to  Wittgenstein 
is _also_ interesting. Some of this nicely described in the online  PhD 
dissertation by R. Dale on Ogden/Richards and Grice (under Schiffer). 
 
Cheers,
 
JL
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