[hist-analytic] Grice, Lectures on Intention and Trying (Brandeis)
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Jul 12 12:10:44 EDT 2009
In a message dated 7/12/2009 9:53:31 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes:
>This book is going to press soon, so I've
>got to get the citations and credits down exactly right. So I'll go back
And recall, it's NOT definitive! Some of my quotes refer to 'conversations'
or 'unpublished' work so you shouldn't worry. You have done more than your
share! Just a _mention_ of Grice would have interested readers heading in
the right direction. You don't have to supply _every_ step in *that*
direction! And recall that people will be reading _you_! It's what _you_ say or
write that matters! --
>I thought I'd enter one comment here. You mention Grice on "trying";
Yes. I'm not sure, but I think the reference, which you SHOULDN'T Have in
your references section would be:
Grice, "Lectures on Trying". Princeton, 1961.
--- They are cited in "The unpublications of H. P. Grice" in Grandy/Warner,
PGRICE. Oxford: Clarendon. I _SEEM_ to remember a discussion of an example
'try' seems indeed a very different 'animal'
'trying to jump the wall', is I think Grice's example.
--- AND it's again discussed in "Prolegomena" in WoW (1967), vis a vis, I
think to remember, H. L. A. Hart -- will check this 'Prolegomena' reference.
the implicature that
"He tried to do it"
but did not succeed
WRONG: It may be otiose (but still true) to say, "He tried to do it, and
--- I'll try to get the Nowell-Smith reference correct. He is a genius,
Nowell-Smith, and he himself edited a little list of his publications, and he
has WONDERS scattered here and there: some in the philosophy of action, on
'choosing' and 'doing'.
And then, I was thinking, this leads us to the LIBERTARIAN problem posed by
"I resent that p"
(Freedom and Resentment that Grice adored -- and quotes in a footnote in
"Conception of Value"). The way I read Strawson (read in the past, that is --
note the morpheme) was in terms of ascription of 'freedom' (not just
freedom from observation) but freedom simpliciter. I cannot resent that it
rained all day yesterday. I can only resent that Strawson did not tell me there
was a party at the swimming-pool, or something.
I recall I discussed this at length with my thesis advisor in Buenos Aires,
Eduardo Rabossi. I had to complete a doctoral seminar with Beatriz
Lavandera, and she died. I said to Rabossi (before she had died, but when nobody
had explained to me why the seminar had been cancelled), "I resent what she
did -- abandon the course in the middle of it". He said, "You are an idiot"
(or words to that effect). "Surely you cannot resent anything that she
does. She is a sick woman" (meaning healthwise --). I felt so awkward after
that meeting with my tutor. Tutees can be so idiotically selfish!
So Lavandera did NOT abandon her students; she was 'forced' to do it. Since
she was not FREE to do it, it is UNGRAMMATICAL to resent what she did; we
can only pity her.
And may she rest in peace.
Back to 'try':
>this is a very interesting verb. In fact,
>in fact in my book I argue that it is one of an entire class of mental
>verbs of a very special sort.
Oddly, Rabossi (may he rest in peace) I always thought I found very
difficult to discuss with; but then I blame Ryle. The man (Rabossi) found time
between his football matches and his cookouts in his ranch to translate (for
the masses) Ryle, "The concept of mind" -- el concepto de lo mental. I WOULD
Rabossi was obsessed with verbs of action. Knowing that I was in the
audience for a public 'tutorial', we played with referring to Grice 'intend' as
INTENDER -- and this I have used PUBLICLY and in a publication too -- cited
in Habermas, The pragmatics of communication, MIT -- "Speranza" is the name
"Intender" will NOT do, for in Spanish, the 'int-' became 'ent-'.
"Entender" (French entendre) means to 'understand', although it is cognate with
We do have in Spanish, "intentar", which is a doublet, I think they are
called, i.e. a Latinate term of a later date, vis a vis 'entender'.
----- end of Rabossiana.
Back to 'try':
>Suppose I'm doing my morning "thing"
>feeding my two birds. I've reached over the same shelf to get the
>"avi-cakes" for years. One day, I reach and, and suddenly, my
>arm freezes up (or gets thrown out of the sockets, whateva). I let
>go with a brief "yipe" and someone comes in and ask: "What
>happened?" I reply "I was trying to get the avi-cakes and my arm
>came out of its socket." Here is what to notice: Had someone
>come in as I was reaching, just before the arm came out of its
>socket, and asked: "What are you doing?" I would NOT have
>said "I'm trying to get the avi-cakes."
You would _not_; Maybe _I_ would. People ask too many questions. :).
>It is only if I FAIL that I say "I was trying..." Now this has been
>noticed with respect to individual verbs but no one has noticed
>that this is a class.
Interesting point, as it relates to a point I was going to make (but
forgot) regarding Grice's little sympathy for the 'special episode' account of
-- and here the idea of 'concept' is interesting because it boils down for
Grice to the role of these concepts in a (folksy) psychological theory,
complete with 'proper' generalisations).
His argument -- as expanded in Chapman -- is that
special episode special episode special episode
trying to sing trying to dance trying to sing and dance
i.e. Surely, it is as if Grice is wanting to say, we need some
'transparency' here! And recall that Quine has 'propositional attitude' verbs as
"The alternative (to the dispositional account) is to consider that such
statements as describing 'special episodes', in other words to concede
that they can be understood as
--- and here I make a note on keeping a diet, and observing yourself
heading for the plate of ravioli -- etc. which Chapman/Grice have denied.
And cfr. the title of Pears' lecture, "Predicting and deciding". It seems
'predicting' _IS_ descriptive? and isn't 'introspection' a sort of
observable experience, etc.
"they can be understood as descriptive, only
of PRIVATE sensations,"
--- and I see that 'private language' in the OED credits Anscombe --
"directed simply at the INDIVIDUAL [not generic] CONCEPT
in question. These sensations takae the form of a
SPECIAL and highly SPECIFIC psychological ENTITIES, such as
[or 'trying-feelings. JLS].
But then, Chapman notes,
"Every case of wanting [or 'trying' -- to honour Grice and Bayne -- JLS],
for instance, must create
A SEPARATE PSYCHOLOGICAL *EPISODE*."
"The system of explanation quickly becomes UNWIELDY;
wanting an apple [or trying to reach for the bird food -- JLS]
"for instance, must be a DISCRETE phenomenon, different from
wanting an orange [or trying to reach for a beer -- JLS]
"or a pear or a banana"
>It is a condition of use that I am thwarted
>or that there is a special circumstance. Ryle's use of 'voluntary'
>is like this; but the same sort of thing is, I suspect, in play
>in the case of Grice's 'looks' and, here I'm alluding to his
>doubt or denial condition. This can be extended to "My intention
>was..." Notice, also, the tense connection.
---- Yes, you are very correct.
I would think Grice would generalise the point here in what he calls
"A-philosophers". Where I _THINK_ "A" stands for 'appropriateness' (in WoW
For he wants to say that an 'appropriateness' condition
-- the special circumstance where you are thwarted
cfr. Ryle 'voluntary'
that Grice credits in WoW, i.
or Austin, 'No modification without aberration'
HIS target of attack -- vis a vis Searle's defense
in "Modifications and Aberrations",
British Analytic Philosophy
or indeed "The pillar box SEEMS red to me"
or Hart on 'trying', etc. --
is NEITHER a necessary nor a sufficient condition, but only an
The notion of 'implicature' he "coins" in WoW, ii -- so we have to wait for
a week -- I assume the lectures were once a week, I don't know. I couldn't
have slept in the interim. (at least a day).
So he would say that
means whatever it means but the 'and I'm thwarted' is an implicature
arising from expectations of optimal informativeness:
Why bother to say, "I tried" -- when you _also_ know that you succeeded and
when you think that that is in the interest in your audience?
What are _you_ doing?
I'm trying to get the avi-cakes.
Okay. Sorry. Allow me to let you succeed.
Danny Frederick. What are you doing?
JL. Nothing really. I was trying to get myself an immersion
bath with foam in the tub
Danny Frederick. I suppose I'm calling in a bad time.
I _am_ interrupting.
JL. Not really. I'm only TRYING to get myself
a nice immersion bath. But I never do (get it)!
Just _trying_ makes me feel _so_ good.
Danny Frederick. Have you been reading Grice lately.
Danny Frederick. OK. I'll see if I can try AND call you
back when you are in a less, er, philosophical
JL. There's no harm in _trying_.
I've checked it's Brandeis, not Princeton -- and Harman expands on the
Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories, Ends - Google
Books Result by Richard E. Grandy, Richard Warner, H. Paul Grice - 1988 -
Philosophy - 512 pages
This shows that no attitude involved in trying to defeat the plant's
security ... 9 I owe these examples to Grice's lectures on intention and trying
The cricket batter tries to throw the ball OVER the pitcher's head
expecting the ball to arrive waist high
having been told that otherwise the throw will fall short.
The security officer tries to defeat an atomic power plant's security
as a way of testing
HOPING he will not be able to succeed
The athlete tries to push over a wall
in order to build up his muscles
("I owe these examples to Grice's lectures on intention and trying at
Brandeis University in the early sixties." (p. 370).
In "Prolegomena" Grice's example is
He tries to turn off the light
implicature or appropriateness condition:
"It IS or might have been a matter of SOME difficulty
for me to turn off the light."
Studies in the way of words - Google Books Result by Paul Grice - 1989 -
Philosophy - 394 pages
Prolegomena There is a familiar and, to many, very natural maneuver which
is of frequent occurrence in conceptual inquiries, whether of a
philosophical or ...
I recheck and indeed it's pp. 6-7 of WoW where he expands on 'trying' --
thus titled the subsection. It's NOT Ascribed to Hart (he ascribes
'carefully' to Hart).
Chapman notes, and I add this as a final note for this post, that in
"Intention and Uncertainty" Grice indeed wants to reformulate an earlier view of
'intention' in terms of trying that he held. And this helps Chapman to
propose that Grice's career has been mainly a development of his own
philosophical self. He was somewhat obsessed with the views he held and kept good
record of them; he certainly saw life as a 'philosophical' development. Which
I always found inspirational. I.e. as if philosophy is a long conversation
(or short as in the case of Ramsey say) with one self -- or with, to put it
vaguely with one's former self (vide. Grice, "Personal Identity").
(Although I prefer to converse with my future self on occasions -- his use of
slang leaves me cold -- 'cool').
J. L. Speranza
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