[hist-analytic] Metaphysics: Grice, Carnap, Aristotle

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri May 8 22:11:28 EDT 2009

Congratulations to R. B. Jones on his efforts, enthusiasm, and vivacity in
the progress of analytic philosophy.

In a message dated 5/2/2009 6:58:14 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
rbj at rbjones.com writes:

>I was interested to see Speranza getting into Gricean Metaphysics a  little
>while ago, and would have been interested to hear more about  it.

I would need to google to find what I did was getting _into_  if not *at*!


>Unfortunately my notes on WOW don't cover  the metaphysics, and I
>don't actually posess a copy or have convenient  access even to
>a library which contains it.

Isn't it available as a 'google book'? I hope so.


>I did google for Grice's metaphysics and didn't find  much,
>but the Stanford Encyclopaedia had a nice quote on  ontology,
>from which:
>    My taste is for keeping  open house for all sorts
>    of conditions of entities,  just so long as
>    when they come in they help with the  housework.
>    Provided that I can see them work, and  provided that
>    they are not detected in illicit logical  behaviour
>    (within which I do not include a certain  degree of indeterminacy,
>    not even of numerical  indeterminacy), I do not find them queer
>    or mysterious  at all….
>    To fangle a new ontological Marxism, they  work therefore they exist,
>    even though only some,  perhaps those who come on the recommendation
>    of some  form of transcendental argument, may qualify for
>    the  specially favoured status of entia realissima.
>    To  exclude honest working entities seems to me like  metaphysical
>    snobbery, a reluctance to be seen in the  company of any but
>    the best objects (1975,  30-31).

>Which is [very] liberal [...]


>"Metaphysical Positivism"
>at RBJones.com.


Thanks, as always, for the update. Looks like an interesting project.

>In WOW there does not seem to be a lot of metaphysics, and it  is
>coupled with semantics.

Yes. Section II, or Part II, to be strict, is titled, "Explorations", as I
recall, "in semantics and metaphysics". I take that as a slight insult on
people  like the IPrA people (the International Pragmatics Association, if
you can  believe that such a metaphysical entity subsists!) for it takes _two_
to  understand Grice's preference (which I share) of 'semantics' _over_ 
'pragmatics'. I would think he felt justified to use 'metaphysics' because of
the (1987) essay,
"Metaphysics, Philosophical Eschatology, and Plato's Republic", which I 
think was a slight insult (or slap on the face) to people who think that
philosophy is all about the latest (fad). There is a 74-year-old man, with a
first in Greats from Oxford from the late 1930s still finding Plato
_exciting_.  A lesson to us all!


>The identification of analyticity and
>necessity is one way of  making such a coupling (for at least
>some kinds of metaphysics) quite  definite, for the key to this
>identification is in understanding that a  full truth conditional
>semantics incorporates, because the domain of the  truth conditions
>is the collection of possible worlds, metaphysical  presuppositions
>embedded into the language.

Well, Grice elaborates on the tricks behind this in his "Life and Opinions"
 (of H. P. Grice). (google books, too, I believe). He discusses at some
length  the Russell motto of the

              stone-age metaphysics

(I think is the phrase)

and the 'riposte' of 'logical form' (whatever _that_ is) being a 'pretty
good guide to grammar. (Actually, the riposte is inverse, but I find that
philosophers are _amazed_ at grammar, while they find 'logical form' pretty

This would be in the context of


Grice does _not_ use "English". He uses, instead, the more pretentious
'natural language', but I never met one, or one who spoke one! (People speak
English, French, German, but hardly _a natural language_. Sometimes he uses
'ordinary language', by which I hope he means (again)


--- Why he does not use "English" is understandable. Oxonian philosophers
had been criticised all too often about their parochialism, and it's good
that  Grice at least tries _a wider horizon_. A parochial-parochial vis a vis
his  master in this respect is Strawson. Two anecdotes 'paint' him pretty

(a) One recounted by C. W. Mundle in "A critique of linguistic philosophy"
(A book I found in a second-hand bookshop in Buenos Aires, of all places).
Strawson is quoted as saying words to the effect,

            "And  this, is not something which we can _logically_ say"

            "In  English, you mean, Professor Strawson"

            "Yes, in  English, and any other language to which it is

(His point, that what is _nonsense_ in English is nonsense in 'any other
language to which the nonsensical expression is translated'. But of course
I'm  not sure; but then I do think a couple of English idioms are nonsensical
per se,  "it's raining cats and dogs" (?), "Don't want no more beers from
this pub", "I  could care less" "I couldn't care less", "I _have_ a headache",

(b) In his "Intellectual Autobiograpy" in _The philosophy of P. F.
Strawson_ (Library of Living Philosophers -- by the way, I'm looking for a
co-editor for a forthcoming series I deviced, "Library of Dying Philosophers"
contact me offlist):

                "And ordinary language says that".

                 "But professor Strawson, that leads you to the perfect
                 position of a petit burgeois".

                 "And that's what I am: a petit burgeois".


R. B. Jones continues:

>the point of this message was
>... to say that one of the side  effects of Speranza's
>message (believe it or not!) was to provoke me into  knocking
>up a new hypertext edition of Aristotle's  Metaphysics.
>This is based on the Ross translation which I got from  the
>internet classics archive and its main merit (if it has  any)
>is that like my Organon it is more finely chopped, and  has
>part indexes which give you the first line of every  paragraph.
>Also, the intention is that every book and part has a  helpful
>title (supplied by me), though unfortunately I never  completed
>this task for the Organon and have so far only done (titles  for)
>the first five books of the Metaphysics.
>The Metaphysics can  be found  at:

That is _so_ excellent to learn.
I do have (somewhere, at my Swimming-Pool Library, I expect) the two volume
 edition of the Loeb Classical Library (if two volumes it is), quite
dreary. I  don't think it's the Ross translation. HUP has a good site for all Loeb
 classics, and must say I more than often find saying to myself, "All you
need is  Loeb". The Ross has the better 'ad schol' as in discussion with M.
Chase I found  out (He put me to task once, to no avail).

In _Grice_ by Chapman (Macmillan, Palgrave -- I bought the book which I 
must have somewhere -- so expensive! It's now on paperback, I understand), she
 recounts a sort of delightful anecdote by Mrs. Grice: Words to the effect:

Grice is teaching metaphysics (Aristotle's) at UC/Berkeley. He has managed
to deal only with grad students, if you can believe that. He has Code, and
other  geniuses there, but mainly Code in metaphysical Aristotelian matters.
They  together device a pretty good approach to matters Aristotelian (but
be careful  there, or else you end up echoing Hobbes, "That's not philosophy;
that's  Aristotelity!"). Notably 'the izz and the hazz' -- which Grice
first 'coined' in  1977.

Anyway, having taught mainly Cat. and De Interpr. at Oxford, Grice is
finding himself teaching, seriously, metaphysics. His classes or seminars were I
 think catalogued by UC/Berkeley as "Philosophical Problems", though. And
the  question is ...

               what edition of Aristotle?

--- Mrs. Grice confesses to Chapman that she was surprised Grice could _do_
 with English-translations only for the text. His response,

                "Why, there are quite a few _excellent_ translations out

--- I think I wrote in the margin to my book, "esp. the one by your tutee,
J. L. Ackrill". I'm not familiar with _All_ the translations to Aristotle's
 metaphysics, and come to think of it, I think R. Hall is reading it now,

"Metaphysics" in Oxford is quite funny to think about. The Waynflete Prof.
of "Metaphysical Philosophy" was at one time Strawson (appointed 1968). I
would  think that when the Chair was instituted, it was to confront it to
"Natural  Philosophy" (since after all, 'metaphysical' _is_ 'transnaturalia').
I'm glad  there's no current Oxford professor of Natural Philosophy.

I too loved the 'ontological marxims' and the _entia realissima_. In "Reply
 to Richards" -- after the "The Life and Opinions of H. P. Grice" section
--, in  a section repr. by J. Baker in her edition of 1991 of _The Conception
of Value_  -- along with "Method in philosophical psychology" -- Grice
plays with the idea  or expression of

               rationes essendi

which is just as delightful. It seems he is complaining that philosophers
are too much into evidential matters ('rationes cognoscendi', 'rationes 
credendi') but that _metaphysical_ arguments (as he preferred to call
'transcendental arguments') should aim at explaining why the tiger tigerises (to
use his example in _Conception_): final causes for 'entia' (realissima or not)
 that constitute the metier of _this_ or _that_ thing.

Necessity and analyticity, I'm never sure if they are equipolent. But when
it comes to _metaphysical_ necessity, a good argument I enjoy hearing is:

               F is a feature which is an essential feature of
                       the  individual i if and only if
               should i be deprived of F i would _cease_ to *exist*.

(I wouldn't use 'property', for isn't 'proper' for Aristotle applied best
to _non-essential_ features; and similarly 'accidental property' is also

I'll check with R. B. Jones's new project and report back, hopefully.

Among the list of 'unpublications' that Chapman quotes is one "From Genesis
 to Revelation: a new discourse on metaphysics". I just love the cover of
that  book, and I do judge a book by it!

Grice liked Carnap more than I thought he did. I once looked in the OED for
 'pirot' and it says, "a sort of exotic fish". I wrote to the OED and said,
 "Surely you have to include Carnap, "Pirots karulize elatically", from
Intro to  Semantics. Grice found the noun delightful for various reasons, not a
minor one  being that it sounds like Locke's _parrot_. But Grice went one
step further in  linguistic innovation and creativity when you read in
"Method" a whole section  dedicated to "explorations in pirotology".

L. Horn once wrote a paper on Aristotle which he called "Greek Grice". I
congratulated him, and indeed, trying to follow him, wrote one (on
Kemmerling)  which I called "German Grice". Later Horn told me that _my_ pun is a
weaker one:  "Greek Grice" (which was delivered in Chicago) was meant, too, as a
jeux de  mots on Greek _rice_, a local specialty. (In later papers, Horn
was able to play  on "Gricean" versus "Grecian", too -- indeed most
spell-checkers avoid 'Gricean'  and turn that into 'Gricean': the ultimate tribute to
a man who saw Oxonian  Dialectics as "a mere branch" of the _Athenian_ one!


J. L. Speranza

     Refs: "Metaphysics", in P. Edwards, Encyclopaedia  of Philosophy,
citing under
           'further  references', Grice, H. P., Strawson, P. F., and Pears,
D. F.,
           'Metaphysics'  in D. F. Pears, _The Nature of Metaphysics_.
             Macmillan.  -- and obscure Grice tryptic piece that gives you
some  savour
            of his  thinking*

            Grice,  The Tapes. Chapman notes that Grice left a few tapes
that he
            hoped  the secretary of UC/Berkeley would one day transcribe.
Many deal
            with  metaphysical questions (and answers).

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