[hist-analytic] Pirotologica

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Jun 11 20:49:26 EDT 2009

In a message dated 6/11/2009 4:25:04 P.M.  Eastern Daylight Time, 
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
The problem then with fishy  necessity, is not
in the relativisation of necessity, but in  the
uncertainty about what constitutes the relevant
body of fishy  theory.


Excellent commentary. And before I go to bed, I should provide some  
background which should prove amusing.
I belong to this Classics Discussion List, and a member, out of the blue,  
said -- it's all publicly displayed somewhere --:
    "I'm looking for a word for the study of weasels.
     Should I say 'galeology' or 'studia  mustelina'?"
A fastidious fellow classicist -- from England -- commented:
     "galeAlogy: it's feminine in the Greek"
So I said, "This is getting a bit too much. Surely zoology should be  
enough. Consider Grice on ichtyology."
And then the owner of the list replied, jocularly as usual:
         "Ichthyology not  necessary? Why not give the big
          anthropocentric jump  and say that _anthropology_
          is all you  need?"
I haven't yet replied to his incisive criticism, but it was checking with  
the Grice quote that I thought: I should drop this in hist-analytic too, for 
 good measure.
In any case, the remark about 'anthropology' got me thinking. Of course  
there is a logical fallacy here:
      zoology    -----    ichthyology
(and Grice is not considering 'zoology' at all).
The scheme would be:
-- Oddly, I'm a birder, and cannot think of any specific -logy I would love 
 over another. I even love the archaeopteryx. It seems otiose to coin a 
word for  the study of, all all beasts, weasels -- and the querier has not 
specified why  he wanted it for in the first place.
I titled my post to Classics-L, "Geleologica", I think. And I similarly  
shared views elsewhere on "Ichtyologica". But for my favourite, hist-analytic, 
I  thought I could do better, hence the
--- In _one_ section of Grice, "Method in philosophical psychology" he  
mentions, 'pirotology' -- i.e. the science of 'pirots'. 
I once checked with the OED about 'pirot'. A sort of fish, it read. 
But that's _not_ the meaning postulate for Grice. S. R. Chapman in her bio  
of the man mentions how irritable Grice became when pressed to use a word  
processor ("whose spell checker did not recognise either 'sticky wicket' or  
The 'pirot' Grice is thinking about -- Chapman muses and I agree -- is yet  
another pun of Grice on Locke and Carnap.
In "Essay" -- in R. B. Jones's page -- there is an amusing account by Locke 
 on Prince Maurice's parrot. A "very intelligent" animal. Yet, _not_ a very 
 intelligent _man_ (It's in the section of "Personal Identity"). 
Locke describes it as "a very intelligent parrot", as I recall. (Indeed, he 
 could speak languages). 
O. T. O. H., Carnap uses 'pirot' in _Introduction to Semantics_  (1942)
  "Syntax is all we need. After all, pirots karulize  elatically".
-- and I would disagree, but I'll leave that for a longer day on Strawson  
not giving a good account of metaphysics -- It's a fascinating topic how  
metaphysics-obsessed Strawson was, although surely not in "Intro" --. 
"Pirots karulise elatically" may not say much but it does. 
It's like The Jabberwocky of Alice. Recall her reply,
        "Well, at least someone has done  something to something".
In this case, it is the nature of a pirot that the pirot karulises in an  
elatic mode. Perhaps not the essential nature, though. It is a fact that 
pirots  do karulise in an elatic fashion.
So Grice _loved_ the pirot, and in his ideal-observer theory he uses them  
in "Metaphysical Transubstantiation". In "Reply to Richards", he needs to  
           the  man             ------>       the person
        the human
I'm not sure if he uses 'pirot' in "Reply" but he does mention the  
'Genitorial Project', of seeing yourself as _god_.
So, I was joking on the idea that when it comes to _pirotology_ we _are_  
justified in using the -logy form. There _would_ be a kind of pirotological  
The level of generality attained here is 'metaphysical' and  
'eschatological'. For we would like to say that some generalities that apply to  us as 
_humans_ do not apply to us as _persons_ or vice versa.
And thanks for the thoughts.
J. L. Speranza
   ps. I'm just *fascinated* by R. B. Jones's post on 'Vacuity'.  I felt 
bad burdening him -- such a nice pdf document, and to see that he has  updated 
to include the 5 odd syllogisms by Sir Peter moves me! I too loved his  
reply to S. Bayne. Indeed R. B. Jones has grasped Sir Peter's metaphysics  
perfectly. Surely there may be a reason to posit, say, 'truth-value gaps'  -- 
that's the ticket -- but I loved R. B. Jones when in such a Gricean  unashamed 
fashion, goes on, "But there are possibly more consistent reasons to  
affirm that presuppositions are vacuous and that presupposition-free statements  
are _false_" (or words to that effect, I recite from memory as they say!) -- 
my  bible here has been Grice, "Presupposition (as) [&] Conversational  
Implicature", in WOW -- a blatant way of a tutor to criticise his tutee for  
'metaphysical excrescences' like truth-value gaps and that!
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