[hist-analytic] Deliberation and Grammar

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sun Jul 12 12:47:59 EDT 2009

This is something I haven't thought out as carefully as I hope to. 
In addition to the Anscombe book I have about 250 more pages 
of a book I'm doing on the history of the theory of action where 
I will be dealing in the later chapters with contemporary matters, 
such as those related to mental causation and causation by 
entrainment. But let me touch on what you've mentioned here 
since it is, I think,an important move with respect to this second 
perhaps overly ambitious project. 

I'm not sure what you mean exactly by "pseudo-deliberations": 
I think I have some idea but I'm going to remain cautious and 
say something that may not address your question. 

Uttering is like a sequence of "basic actions" (in the sense of 
Danto et al). It is not to be described in terms of acoustics, but 
rather "articulatory gestures." (Liberman/Mattingly phonetics). 
These gestures are like basic actions in fulfilling an intention. 
Now move to Aristotle, briefly. One can think of a practical 
syllogism as relating a want and a choice (a desire and an 
intention). The "logic" is what relates them. Similarly, deliberation 
as to what to utter begins with wanting to *say* something (convey 
a thought); that is an utterance follows deliberation as to *how* to 
say what want to express the thought; something like basic 
actions following deliberation about how to achieve a goal. 
Now if the goal of utterance is like the goal (I use 'goal' in a 
familiar way) of a basic action, then constraints on the 
possibility of action constrain deliberating about what to do, 
since, as Aristotle noted, we deliberate only on those things 
within our power. 

Just as physical possibility limits our intentions; since these 
are choices and we arrive at these by deliberation, our intentions 
are limited by physical possibility. Grammar is like physical 
reality: some things are possible, other are not. So grammar 
constrains our linguistic intentions just as what is possible 
constrains our non-linguistic intentions: physics as the "grammar" 
of the universe, so to speak. My intrigue is over this similarity. 
Recall my comment on Feinberg? Some intentions are 
concerns about doings; some of my linguistic intentions are 
concerns about explanations; but there is a third category, one 
I think, Grice may have identified. Here intentions are concerned 
with doings but not making things happen in any obvious way. 
Instead intentions are linguistic having to to with "evocations" such 
as the belief that I uttered such and such with the intention that 
my audience know....etc. This is not a making; it is bringing into 
being a belief by means of language. But the rules are like 
productions etc. in that the deliberation leading up consummation 
of the linguistic act is circumscribed by *conventions*. What Popper 
might have called "institutional facts." Much more to be said here. 
I haven't thought it all through. It occurred to me a week or so 
ago. It may be a "wind egg." 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jlsperanza at aol.com 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk 
Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:40:51 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific 
Subject: Re: Deliberation and Grammar 

In a message dated 7/12/2009 9:53:04 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes: 
Apologies to JLS at this point for not getting to his posts first, but 
you contribute less frequently, I think he'll understand. 


I do! 

What I'd love is if you could expand on the three last sentences or so of 
your original post, where you mention the parallelism (rough?) between this 
point about the grammar (or lack of grammar) and Aristotle on the 
deliberation about the means! 

It seems your critics (friendly speaking: Aune and Frederick) have focused 
on the first part of your thing -- second actually, "... and Grammar" -- 
rather than on the first,""Deliberation and ..." 

I wonder if we can combine the two things and speak of ungrammatical 
correlatives of 'pseudo-deliberations' (about the means)? 



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