[hist-analytic] Grice's Frown

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Jul 12 14:53:07 EDT 2009

In a message dated 7/12/2009 12:48:13 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:

>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).

Right. For the record, I think it's a bit of a Gricean joke to use 'utter'  
as he did in "Meaning". Etymologically, to utter is 'to out' -- which seems 
to  lead to the 'ghost-in-the-machine' picture of the world.
So I do think he just meant it as 'doing this or doing that'.
>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. 
Excellent point. And indeed, if Grice is right in "Aspects of Reason" the  
'logic' underlying 'theoretical' syllogisms and 'practical' ones is one and 
the  same.
>Similarly, deliberation
>as to what to utter begins with wanting  to *say* something (convey
>a thought); 
Point taken. And this actually reminds me of that Genius, Zeno  Vendler.
     Surely we can say,
              "That's what you've been saying all day long yesterday"
But it seems incorrect (ungrammatical) to say
              "That's  what you've been MEANING all day long yesterday"
It seems that 'mean', like 'know' is not a process verb:
        "Yesterday I spent the day  knowing that
                 2 + 2 = 4"
        "You mean you're not _knowing_  it now?"
>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.

Excellent. And the 'dispositional' struck back with a vengeance in Grice. I 
 recall in a seminar with Rabossi (where we were discussing Chomsky, Rules 
and  Representations) I presented an essay, "Grice's Aunt Matilda". For 
Grice's Aunt  Matilda 
      knows that by uttering 'runt' -- she'll be  taken to mean, 
'undersized person' (metaphorically)
Yet, 'she has no intention or willingness or in the least a disposition to  
utter 'runt' -- yet she knows what that means, and so we can say that she 
has a  procedure in her repertoire to utter 'runt' to mean 'under-sized 
person' even if  she'd rather be seen dead than using that word herself." (WoW, 
>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. 

In a way this connects with a PRACTICAL application on the  
belief-constraint upon intention that Grice plays with. In more than one  occasion (I 
counted 5 -- and shared them all with STAMPE, as I recall! -- and  Martinich and 
Biro) Grice speaks uses 'intend' SERIOUSLY to mean, 'think it is  possible 
or feasible'. 
It would not be within Humpty Dumpty's POWER for example to utter
to mean 
          "let's change the  topic"
for Humpty Dumpty recognises himself (or itself, it's a wind-egg), "You  
don't know till I tell you".
---- So he cannot _mean_ that. I actually wrote a paper for the Lewis  
Carroll Society which I entitled, "Humpty Dumpty's Impenetrability". 

>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. 
And thus "a pretty good guide" to echo Russell to logical form.
>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; 
I see your point. Indeed, I'm always fascinated by the distinction, very  
subtle, between 'making' and 'doing' (and 'baking')
       Since I knew you were coming I baken  you a cake.
                                                      did a cake (no!)
                                                      made a cake (yes)
Romance speakers confound those, -- but it's augere (to do -- hence  
'action') and 'facere' -- to make, hence 'fact', etymologically.
>it is bringing into
>being a belief by means of language. 
Excellent. And it's always a BELIEF only, for 'protreptic' utterances, as  
Grice called them, "Trespassers Will be Prosecuted" have to be 'digested' 
first  as 'exhibitions' of the _utterer's_ intentions. (cfr. "Thou shalt not 
>But the rules are like 
>productions etc. in that the  deliberation leading up consummation
>of the linguistic act is  circumscribed by *conventions*. 
Well, there Humpty Dumpty and I would disagree -- and perhaps Grice when he 
 says (WoW, Meaning Revisited), "I don't think that meaning is essentially 
linked  with 'convention' at all!". But this required a longer post. I take 
'convention'  to mean, at least, alla Lewis's book (Convention) 'arbitrary' 
procedure. But a  lot of our 'utterances' spring from 'natural' outbursts of 
this and that -- a  yawn, a frown, etcetera. These are 'meaningful' 
utterances and yet not really  'conventional'. 
>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."

Well, this is actually also an Anscombian distinction, right? institutional 
 vs. brute. I think it's original Rawlsian, vis a vis regulative and 
constitutive  and overused by Searle?
I never liked Searle's 'regulative rules' (since I found it  pleonastic).
But indeed, a 'brute fact' would be a, say, burp. Now that's gross and  
uninvited (at least in Western societies, I am told it's good manners in Japan, 
 or, for all I know, some areas of Provence -- just teasing). But some 
people  (and actually, children, pride on this) can "imitate" a natural burp. 
Yet this  would be 'institutionalised'. 
This actually may relate to this example by Grice -- cited by  Chapman.
You yawn when you are bored.
Then you can also say, "I'm bored"
Or you can say, "There's a play being played"
Chapman writes:

"Grice argues that the difference between speech and other forms of  
behaviour is much greater than Ryle allows. In particular, while it is possible  
to 'sham' behaviour, such as yawning without being false, a 'shammed' 
      "I feel bored"
will be simply false. A statement of boredom is not of the same order  as a 
yawn when it comes to offering INFORMATION precisely because, as Ryle  
acknoweldges, it is UTTERED voluntarily and DELIBERATELY."
"Grice adds another possible indicator of boredom into the  comparison."
"When listening to a political speech, we might give an indication that we  
feel bored by saying,
      "I feel bored",
by yawning, or indeed by making a remark such as
       "There is a good play coming on next  week".
"This last remark [this may relate to my previous example of 'implicature'  
of "You're the cream in my coffee" _meaning_ you are my pride and joy. JLS] 
is  ALSO voluntary and DELIBERATE, but it does NOT offer anything like the 
same  STRENGTH of EVIDENCE of our state of boredom as the alleged 'AVOWAL', 
precisely  because it is not directly concerned with our state of mind."
"Only 'I am bored' is a way of TELLING someone that you are bored."
This is the physics of toughts, as Bayne explains.
"Furthermore, although it MIGHT be possible to some extent to sustain a  
theory of AVOWALS or other behaviour as offering INFORMATION about the state 
of  mind of others, it will HARDLY DO FOR ONE'S *OWN* STATE OF MIND. A man 
does not  need to wwait to observe himself heading for the plate of fruit on 
the table  before he is in a position to know that he wants pineapple." 
(Chapman, p.  68).
'Actually he does if dieting' I added in the marginal note. Recall those  
photos of fat people people put on refrigerators, as reminders of  
'objective' impressions of how silly people do look when, like salivating  Pavlovian 
dogs, they head for a plate of ravioli (if not, of course, the  over-refined 
M. Green, online, has explored this in his Grice's Frown -- I have  
corresponded with him, and want to say that I hope some of my views were not  
totally non-naturally intended by me to have had an effect on him. _HIS_ views  
made a good effect on me!
M. Green choses the 'frown' mentioned by Grice as the passage from  
'spontaneous' to rationally-controlled intention behaviour which we should ONLY  
call 'meaning' -- our view is that 'mean' as in 'The thermostat 'means' that 
the  temperature in the room is high' is METAPHORICAL and 'anthropomorphic' 
in the  worst sense of the terms! cfr. Searle on 'computers' meaning this or 
that alla  Grice, 'I ordered the computer to 'print' the document'. and 
Haugeland/Grice's  thoughts on this). 
J. L. Speranza

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