[hist-analytic] I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri May 29 22:00:21 EDT 2009

Just a little ps.

I realise the "I just  do" of the title refers to "I just LOVE you", _not_
"I just know".

Surely  it is _very_ conceivable to know that p, but not to know why p.

Although  surely there is also some ambiguity in the 'why'. I recall M.
Dascal's example  in "Conversational Relevance" (Journal of Pragmatics)

PRIEST:  Why did you rob the bank, my son
PRISONER:  Because that's where the dough is.


In any  case, the song -- which I actually first heard via my friend M. E.
Rowntree, of  London, getting for me the Ambrose and his orchestra version
with the great Sam  Browne as 'crooner' --

touches on topics of inocorrigibility and  privileged access -- of
Wittgensteinian fame, but also dealt with by Grice, in  "From the banal to the
bizarre". Grice wants to formalise this in terms of  iteration of operators:

KNOW that I love you
KNOW that I know that I  love you.

Etc. things considered by Hintikka in his epistemic/doxastic  logic.

"I have nothing to explain" (in the lyrics, where 'explain',  nicely,
rhymes with 'again' -- _contra_ most Tin Pan Alley that have 'THEN'  rhyme with

It's like a _reason_ for love is uncalled for. This  may sound Pascalian:
'reason of the heart', which I never actually  bought.

Anyway, just the note to consider the logic of interrogatives  including
'why' then.

It strikes me (slightly) that other phrases with  'know'

-- know who did it.
--  know what colour the flag is.

etc. are _imcomplete_ -- they are  x-questions, as it were, in indirect 

He doesn't know WHO did  it.
He doesn't know WHAT colour the flag is.

-- In the case  of

He doesn't know WHY

since the answer would require a _final_ or  'causative'  clause

p _because_ q

the logical form does not seem to correspond exactly to  the 'know _what_',
or 'know _who_'.

It's also perhaps odd that  while

"I don't know why  I love you (like I do)"

is not odd at all, replacing 'know' by a _weaker_  verb (entailed by
'know') doesn't seem to have the right  effect:

I don't  believe why I love you like I  do

(But then,  'believe who', and 'believe what' _are_ also ungrammatical).

The reason  seems to be that the correct way to say this  is:

"I don't THINK I  _know_ why I love you like I do"

(Grice considers the weakening of  factives on that obvious type in "WOW",

It may also be argued that  the "~" of the 'DON'T KNOW' is external and
thus able to cancel the whole  'implicature':

A: I  didn't know you were  pregnant.
B: You still  don't.    (example by Harnish, Logical Form and  Implicature

In this case, as Harnish notes, we require something like the
square-bracket device. While it's usually the third clause in Gettier's analysis  that
gets cancelled (on the face of the first two clauses being 'common ground'
and thus _beyond_ doubt) B's reply challenges the very first clause ("B is

In the case of the song, the speaker may end up  saying:

"You know _what_? Now that you ask (for nth time):

"I  don't know why I love you like I do. Because I don't!" But that is
_not_ Ambrose  for ya!


J. L. S.

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