[hist-analytic] Aristotle's Metaphysics: The Izz and the Hazz

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri May 22 13:45:52 EDT 2009


R. B. Jones on post of 19/5:
 
>I am trying an exposition, for a hypothetical
>audience  consisting of Carnap, of why a positivist
>should take metaphysics a bit  more seriously and
>what point there might be in looking at  Aristotle's
>metaphysics.
>I am an extensionalist in this respect,  that I believe
>that an extensional set theory suffices for  abstract
>semantics, even for non-extensional languages.
>For  example, the semantics for modal logics can 
>be given using an  extensional language.
>I'm playing with ProofPower HOL which is a  polymorphic w-order logic.
>Thus, in most treatments "izz" and "hazz" will  be predicates
>(in some modern sense) though of course they are not  predicates
>in Aristotle's sense. 

------
 
I love the idea of the ProofPower HOL and you are perfectly right about the 
 other points. I'm not sure what Grice meant by "Extensionalism". A 
consideration  of his 'Retrospective Epilogue' (WOW, 1989), 'Strand 5' (I think) 
may be in  order. He himself has not used, as far as I know, _modal_ 
formalisms ('nec' and  'poss'). His talk of 'intensional' dates back, as I can see, 
to his 6th William  James Lecture on 'word-meaning'. When concluding what a 
definition of '... means  ...' in terms of '... believes ...' (or at least 
'... displays psychological  attitude ...') he makes a point that the audience 
(which included, if not  Carnap, Quine) would have to _bear_ (if that's the 
word) with, e.g. 'the use of  quantification in intensional contexts' 
("utterer believes that there is no  inference element such that ..."). I believe 
in his more formal 'Vacuous Names'  (in the Quine festschrift, "Words and 
Objections [sic!]", he has a final section  on '... believes ...' predicates 
per se, and how a semantics of 'vacuous' names  should account for some 
'intensional'/'extensional' ambiguity (of the simple  type, "There is an honest 
man such that Diogenes is looking for" -- also  discussed in Grice's 
colleague, J. O. Urmson, in "Criteria of Intensionality",  Proceedings of the 
Aristotelian Society). 
 
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society: I just _love_ that title!
 
----

But back to the history of analytic philosophy.
 
While Grice indeed seems to be treating izzing and hazzing as predicates,  
one wonders. At one point R. B. Jones mentions the 'grasp[ing] of [the 
problem]  with ' = '. At that point, I was referring to what I think rather loose 
use of '  = ' by, of all people, linguists:
 
         'cat' = 'chat'
 
         'Gavagai' = ????
 
If Grice has things like 
 
a)
 
     I(x, y) & I(y, z) ---->  x = y
 
(I think)
 
One may like to compare that with the usual definition of " = " as per  
Leibniz's Law of the identity of indiscernibles:

b)
 
(x)(y) Fx <----> Fy ---->  x = y
 
What I do like about (b) is its _formal_ abstract general 'aspect': it does 
 not mention _which_ property (for which F stands for): _any_ property. In 
this  case, Grice's (or Aristotle's) (a) seems, rather, to mention a 
specific (albeit  pretty abstract) predicate: "I". I would think that when 
interpreting any formal  system is best to deal with "uninterpreted" predicates in 
ways which "I" is  _not_.
 
I think there is a good hope of providing a ProofPower HOL for Aristotle's  
basics. After all, all that can be said in Aristotle's metaphysics, one 
hopes,  is retrievable (if that's the word) alla Venn -- if not 
algorithmically, at  least in some way procedurally (if that's the word).
 
The izz and the hazz are perhaps best seen, alas, as 'didactical' tools for 
 the expression of Aristotle's thought.

But back to the Dialogue with Carnap!
 
Perhaps we should try a little fancification (if that's the word) of what  
the dialogue or conversation should look like (or flow like).
 
I would fix the setting (to reprimand good ol' Grice for his 'redneck'  
stuff about the Viennese) in:   Vienna.
 
People present:
 
C:  standing for Carnap.
Q: standing for Quine.
A: standing for Ayer.
 
It's sad there was no 'would-be' Oxonian in the group. Ayer perhaps is the  
closest. After all, if he was in Vienna, it was because, of all people, 
Gilbert  Ryle. And Grice does mention, in "Life and Opinions" how Ayer was 
indeed thought  as the 'enfant terrible' of Oxford at the time.
 
S. R. Chapman has noted the affinities (albeit vague) between Ayer and  
Grice in some respects. The connection has to be made via J. L. Austin, who  
perhaps provided the link. Ayer and Austin did meet in Oxford in the 1930s 
(with  Ayer back from Vienna and his book for Gollancz -- "Language, Truth, and 
 Logic" published -- he wrote it in 3 weeks, I think).
 
Grice did not (meet with them regularly), but Chapman quotes from  
unpublished views by Grice on, of all topics, 'negation', 'intention', besides  his 
'Personal Identity' and suggests that they should be seen as  
'post-verificationist' attempts to _provide_ some sense for notions the  verificationists 
failed to provide.
 
In the case of Grice: pretty basic ideas like "I", 'I want to go to  
London', and 'My wallet is _not_ empty'. 
 
Consider "I" (as in "I am J. L. Speranza). I try and try and try but I'm  
not happy with either
 
             J.  L. Speranza IZZ J. L. Speranza
             J.  L. Speranza HAZZ J. L. Speranza
 
Not because of Kripkean considerations ("I could have been named, "Yoko  
Ono""), or even duncier ones (after Duns Scotus, the 'haecceity' of J. L.  
Speranza). But more because I feel like I _want_ to 'conjugate' the  predicate!
 
               I AM J. L. Speranza
 
---- Obviously, logicians ignore that, but J. R. Perry does not (vide his  
"Identity" papers in his own University of California Press edited book and 
the  PGRICE festschrift). 
 
----- We know Aristotle could not grasp the problems of the 'predications'  
of J. L. Speranza, but he's constantly speaking of _Socrates_ who, to me, 
is  less existent than _me_
 
-----
 
I would think that the Carnap would start with an account of the "Unity of  
Science": so there would (as Grice would say) the 'devil of scientism' 
lurking  large! I would imagine that 'predicates' accepted in the calculus would 
be  'observational', and the rest is the basic logic.
 
One idea that has Carnapian resonances here is Grice's idea (and rejection) 
 of 
 
         'metaphysical  excrescence(s)'
 
I never saw one. But I think he means, primarily, Strawson's problem with  
'if'. For Strawson, 'if' cannot be just _extensional_ or truth-functional. 
There  is a 'metaphysical excrescence' attached to it (Grice, WOW, ii). 

Both the formalists (like the heirs of Principia Mathematica) and the  
neotraditionalists of Aristotelian vintage, like Strawson, would have to deal  
with the _excrescence_: the formalists by rejecting its relevance in the  
regimentation of the language; the neotraditionalists by tweaking the logic so  
as to include it -- e.g. with ideas like 'truth-value gaps' and other.
 
But one would think that if Grice discovered a 'common mistake' (I think  
it's the phrase he uses, WOW, ii) in both formalists and neo-traditionalists, 
he  grew more and more incomfortable with the _limitations_ of this or that 
 regimentation.
 
In the "Unity of Science" approach, there are then predicates for  
'observational' (and here the problem of 'dispositions' arises -- the  
counterfactual account of 'breakable' or 'fragile' for example?). Then comes the  baggage 
of 'psychological' predicates. Not genuine for the verificationist. Why?  
Not observational.
 
Grice experimented here (at a later stage, granted) with the _metaphysics_  
of psychological properties (the "Ontological Marxism" with which R. B. 
Jones  started this thread). This is in connection with his "Functionalism" 
(alla Ned  Block). So a psychological property is defined functionalistically 
as a 'link'  (alla Turing) between TWO observational predicates:
 
          sensorial   ------->  (( BLACK BOX     ------>   behavioural
           input                       psychological               output
                                        'property' PSI ))
 
 
Now, so far so good. But I think Grice points to the problem of  
'irreductibility' of 'psychological' laws. A _phsyicalist_ explanation of the  
'relevant' "observational" predicates attached to a simple psychological  
explanation, alla practical syllogism:
 
          I want to go to  London
          This limousine leads  me to London
          -------------------
          I hire the  limousine
                (sorry, I distrust the underground)
 
---- may leave me _cold_. Especially as it relates to 'allegedly'  
observational predicates _inside_ my cranium [the identity theory of Smart],  which 
only counterfactually could be open with me being still alive!
 
--- And then, there's the moral predicates. Hardly observational, and  
perhaps with Blackburn, hardly 'real'! But in need of some explanation, too  
(Recall that for Ayer 'should' amounts to "!", "Ouch!"):
 
            There  is a protest against the war in London
            I  should support it
             --------------
            I'm  hiring a limo to Trafalgar Square
 
where the moral is the 'should', say.
 
To conjugate all these complexities, Grice borrowed from Carnap ("Thank  
you, sir"):
 
          'pirot''s the  word.
 
A pirot is a creature (like a human, maybe -- Carnap only says that a pirot 
 karulises elatically), who is:
 
      1. a spatio-temporal continuant
                   (i.e. an occupant in the scheme of things
                    that a physical theory need to 'explain'
                    or account for, 'describe' perhaps)
 
     2. agent of psychological predicates
           like '...  believes that ...' which have to
           be given some  consideration.
 
                  (Grice grew so comfy with his account that he started to 
ascribe psychological  states to all sorts of 'creatures' like squarrels -- 
something like a squirrel,  but _smaller_).
 
     3. self-entrenched, self-justifying
         attitudes
                
                 A  world with just '... believes that ...' but no " ... 
thinks he _should_ ..."  is,
                  to echo S. Bayne, "less interesting" than a world with 
"... thinks 
                  he should ..."
 
---- (Here would come Grice's notions of 'value' -- the big absent in  
positivistic metaphysics, and in general his interest in showing how 'morality'  
may be said to 'cash out' in a favoured notion of 'interest' -- e.g. J. 
Baker in  PGRICE). 
 
"We should be alert of the devil of scienticism that will have you believe  
that you don't know, but know you don't" -- or something like that, Grice  
concludes his Presidential Address which J. F. Bennett qualified as 
"mandatory  to be learned by heart by all philosophers".

But I guess he didn't!
 
As Strawson would have said, "Hey: Waynflete thought it relevant to  
institute a chair in Oxford of "Metaphysical Philosophy": isn't that a good  
enough reason to _suspect_ there
is something to it?"
 
Sometimes I do feel that back in Vienna in the early 30s (when Ayer  
arrived), the Viennese were really into "Continental" matters -- their target  
seems to have been the 'idiocies' that Heidegger was saying -- "Nichts 
nichtet",  'Nothing noths' -- and note that Ryle, who had sent Ayer to Vienna, had  
published a favourable review of Heidegger in Mind for 1929!). But the way  
things impacted in Oxford certainly woke up a few of the 'dreaming'  
spires...
 
Cheers,
 
J. L. Speranza
 
    Refs:
 
     Ayer, A. J. Language, truth and logic.  Gollancz
     Bennett, J. F. In the tradition of Kantotle:  review of PGRICE. TLS
     Grice, H. P. "Aristotle on the multiplicity of  being"
         PPQ
     Grice, H. P. "Actions and Events", PPQ
     Grice, H. P., and P. F. Strawson and D. F.  Pears,
          'Metaphysics', in D.  F. Pears, "The nature of 
           metaphysics".  London: Macmillan.
     Grice, H. P. 'Reply to Richards', in PGRICE.
     Grice, H. P. The Conception of Value.
     Strawson, P. F. "Entity and Identity" and  other
           essays.
     Strawson, P. F. "Individuals: An essay in
           descriptive  metaphysics". London: Methuen
 
 
 
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