[hist-analytic] Hypercategorial

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Mon Jul 13 11:29:24 EDT 2009

I would add the 'hypercategorial' (Grice  
'supercategorial'/trans-categorial' epithets, WoW, xix) and 'metacategorial' (as  per, I see, 'metacategorial 
Grice and Strawson were _obsessed_ with the so Ariskantian notion of  
'category': the "C" in "P.G.R.I.C.E": philosophical grounds of rationality:  
intentions, categories, ends.
I prefer 'hypercategorial' to Grice's supracategorial in that it seems less 
 of a hybrid?
I wonder what D. Frederick thinks of all this!
(In that WoW essay, Grice explicitly compares hypercategories with metaphor 
 and analogy -- that Danny was mentioning vis a vis 'conceptual schemes' 
alla  Davidson).
The theta thing sounds VERY interesting.

J. L. Speranza
In a message dated 7/13/2009 9:29:08 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
A lot has been said about conceptual schemes.  Some good; some
not so good. But as long as we are talking about the relation  of
conceptual schemes to grammar, then we are talking about  something
slightly different than what people like Davidson and Rorty and  Aune
have talked about. 

Although I don't know its current status - I  haven't worked in this area
in a good number of years - there have been  theories relating grammar
and "conceptual schemes." Here I have in mind what  linguists (Gruber,
Jackendoff et al) have called "theta theory." Theta theory  is based on
the idea of "theta role" such as "agent" and "patient" etc A noun  e.g.
can me "marked" in the sense that it has a theta role. The  grammatical
connection comes in by using theta roles to formula conditions  for
case assignment.

Up until about 1980 Chomsky did nothing with case  marking; he relied
on "transformation rules" to make structure explicit. But  later with the
introduction of arguments for studying case this changed.  People like
Tim Stowell and others constructed elegant theories of case  assignment
based on the "theta criterion." So "concepts" in the form of theta  roles
become connected to case assignment and case assignment  determined
much as to word order ("case assignment under  ajacency").

This theory is probably old fashioned now. Don't know but it  is great
illustration of the interface of syntax and semantics if you  consider
these roles semantical. Now if you look, carefully, at the origin of  
theta theory you will find that it, contrary to what some linguists  think,
goes back to Davidson's logical form of action sentences. Later I  think
it was Charles Parsons who applied it to modeling action. I did some  
work on the interaction of theta roles and constructions involving
what  were (are?) called GO PPs, that is prepositions indicating motion,
e.g.  'under the rug' as in 'it rolled under the rug' as opposed to 'it
lies under  the rug'. This conception is owing to Jackendoff (Semantic
Structure, MIT,  1990). I bring it up to illustrate how grammar and 
"conceptual structures"  interrelate. 

Now as to the discussions of late about concptual  structure, I haven't
looked at it in a while, and at least with respect to  cononical languages
I think it is a waste of time, but I'd want to reserve  final judgment until
I've looked more carefully. Aune has a good paper on  this as I recall,
although owing to my recent work I have been unable to give  it a close
look. Check the hist-analytic site if you are  interested.

I've largely lost interest in a lot of this. If you go to a  good 
library, MIT for example (if the books haven't as yet all  been stolen)
has rows and rows of journals like "Linguistics and Philosophy".  Much of
this is very good, very good. But it is of little consequence to  "general
philosophy" which is my main interest. Clever algebraists who  know
seventeen languages have a shot at excellence, but like most of  the
articles contained in these journals not much more than tenure  comes
out of them.

**************An Excellent Credit Score is 750. See Yours in Just 2 Easy 

More information about the hist-analytic mailing list