[hist-analytic] "Naturally": History and Analysis

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Apr 5 16:46:20 EDT 2009

In a message dated 4/5/2009 12:57:59 P.M.  Eastern Daylight Time, 
danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk writes:
Yet in future,  some of it may
become testable, like the theory that matter is composed of  atoms, which was
an ancient metaphysical theory which became a part of  science only
relatively recently.

She is, naturally, a good philosopher.
    Naturally, she is a good philosopher.
    She is a good philosopher, naturally.
    She, naturally, is a good philosopher*
    She is a good, naturally, philosopher.
(* -- even though she defends "Transnaturalism") 
In this post, if I may (the telephone may always _ring_; but don't be  
discouraged, this phrase of idiom means I have _planned_ the thing) I propose to  do 
a few things:
--- criticise D. Frederick's use of 'metaphysical'.
--- criticise D. Frederick's use of 'science'.

Well, by re-editing his dictum:
     the theory that matter is composed of atoms, 
    which was an ancient metaphysical theory which 
    became a part of science ...
I thought: "he meant, physics'", i.e.
    ... that matter is composed of atoms,  
which was an ancient metaphysical ... which  
became a part of [PHYSICS] ...

But then call me an adherent of Fowler, "Avoid hybrids". If we are speaking  
of 'metaphysical' (Greek root), we better stick to Greek formations 
('physics')  rather than anything else. Should we use 'scientia' (Gk. 'episteme' really) 
I  would have used 'trans-naturalia' in the previous:
    ... that matter is composed of atoms,  
which was an ancient [TRANSNATURALIA] ... which  
became a part of [SCIENTIA] ...
etc. but then recall Lucian, "The nature of things" poses a problem!
--- Anyway, there are zillions of theories as to what Aristotle meant by  
metaphysics. Oddly, the pirest who introduced me into the subject -- as a  
teenager myself -- was so cryptic and cynic that he thought (or wanted me to  think) 
that Aristotle only meant,
           '[dem books  lying next to the thick volumes of] physics.'
-- as he would spend half an hour explaining the intrusive 'ta' in "ta meta  
TA physika" and the fact that 'biblia' was understood tacitly. But then he 
_was_  a priest!
Anyway, now -- to make the long history of philosophy short, I'll pass to  
* Grice uses 'metaphysical' in various collocations. First with the latest. 
   -- S. Chapman notes that in the 13 cardboxes ('not necessarily  small') 
that Grice left in this world, there are a few notes on a book he did  publish 
in the future called, "Method of Metaphysics", or a new discourse in  
metaphysics -- 'from Genesis to Revelation'. As years went on, he thought more  and 
more of himself as Moses.
   -- 'transubstantion, metaphysic' -- I write it like that, as  to be 
included in a philosophical lexicon. For Grice, 'metaphysical  transubstantiation' 
is -- God knows what! One reads his papers in  philosophical psychology, or 
ethics, even, and one is transmogrified. It all  looks so _constructivist_. 
There's many _conceptions_ here. But Grice wants to  say that the 'conception' is 
in the 'conceiving' and that the 'construction'  delivers _entia_! To annoy the 
critical reader he explains that to cover the  'usages' he'll use 
'metaphysical' in that _sense_. (This actually parallels D.  Frederick's good policy of 
_not_ using 'justification' at all, if one does not  believe in it! -- The 
reverse: 'use metaphysical if you believe in it!').
  -- The early Grice, the middle Grice, the latest Grice.
     If Wittgensteinians had occasional field days  discovering the 
Wittgenstein No. 6 (alla Chanel), ditto Griceans. The early  Grice we know little of. 
The early Grice wrote a paper (well, with Strawson and  Pears) that I first 
found cited in
               P. Edwards, The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy  (entry, 
This paper is called, unimaginatively, 'Metaphysics', and is a chapter in a  
book unimaginatively titled by D. F. Pears, the editor, "The nature of  
metaphysics". It was the third-programme lecture at the BBC. I recall I called  the 
BBC, "I want a transcript in the Listener for the lecture that Grice gave".  
They told me, "Tomorrow". I was fortunate in finding a copy of the thin Pears  
volume in the private library of J. C. D'Alessio (who'd been a roommate with  
Dennett at All Souls), and read the Grice thing. Very illuminative, rather 
than  illuminating.
      The middle Grice would be the one concerned  with 'metaphysics' as in 
Russell's phrase, "Stone-Age metaphysics". I never knew  what that meant. 
Apparently, Newton dwelled in Caves for Russell. It's only what  Dennett calls 'the 
old lady of limerick -- in a relative way (*) that is  Bronze.
      The latest Grice ('never say never', 'latest  vs. late' vs. 'last'). In 
"Life and Opinions", he writes that, like a more  famous Pilgrim, he found 
himself in the path towards the Holly of Hollies, but  constantly being attacked 
by seven (I counted them) _betes noires_. One _is_  empiricism, another (a 
more fierce one, I hope) is "Naturalism". This destroyed  my panorama. In 
'Meaning Revisited', he is claiming that something like what as  early as 1948 
(notably as a joke on his reading Stevenson, I now realise) called  'natural' 
(meaning -- but 'meaning' is not important here) _backs_ rather than  is backed by 
'non-natural' meaning. (**). To provide consistency, I have to go  shopping 
with Grice.
---. The second part of his monumental "WOW" (Way of Words) is entitled,  
provocatively, "Studies in Semantics and Metaphysics". How many of the tennish  
articles are _about_ metaphysics. Notably _one_: "Metaphysics and Philosophical 
 Eschatology". Alas, his humour is not universal, and I _haven't_ seen a lot 
of  treatment of this delightful discipline, 'eschatologia philosophica' in 
places.  Matter of fact, I have, and I hope S. Chapman has reconsidered. She 
keeps  calling this 'scatological' (and now her book is undergoing the paperback  
edition). In that essay, written in 1987, Grice lists what he calls 'the  
shopping list' for metaphysics-cum-philosophical eschatology. It is a suggestion  
of some areas of research that concern 'metaphysics' not just now defined as 
a  substantive theory of 'nature' (Naturalism) but more like 'trans-naturalia' 
 proper. But not in the sense, 'beyond nature'. It's an in-the-works work.  
Metaphysics, as I think Grice saw it, had to do with constructive remarks on  
categorial systems as such. More importantly, it had to cover what Strawson 
both  called 'descriptive' and 'explanatory'. Metaphysics describes categorial 
schemes  and 'plays' with cross-categorial 'transubstantiations'. If a 
'physicist' (***)  says that nature _is_ atoms which have qualia, the metaphysicist 
will explore  what is meant by 'qualia' and what _loci_ in propositions 'qualium' 
can hold.  Grice also saw important notions like "Analogy" and "Metaphor" as 
being part of  the study of Eschatology, Philosophical.
It's a long way, babe, since Carnap criticised Heidegger's "Nothing noths"!  
J. L. Speranza
* There is this limerick, about this lady who is a firm adherent of  
relativity-theory. I should find it.
** What's natural and non-natural Grice thinks better epithets than what's  
natural vs. what's artificial. It boils down to 'factiveness'. "The recent  
budget means we'll have a hard year" he labels 'natural' and you'll grant  
there's little of 'natural' about it (but his criterion of factiveness  holds: If 
the recent budget means that we'll have a hard year we'll have a  hard year).
*** It may do to consider suffixes here: why is 'physicist' for the good  man 
Eddington but 'physician' for the bad man who invented Parkinson?
**** "Nichts nichted" -- as criticised by 'positivists' who didn't want  to  
have anything to do with 'metaphysical'. -- cfr. Popper's demarcations  and 
Ayer's subtle change from 'positivist' to 'logical empiricist'. It would be  as 
if he found 'positivism', like Duhem's largism was too French a thing to get  
digested in Oxon.!

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