[hist-analytic] Philosophical 'Solecisms': Hypercategorial?

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Tue Jul 14 08:34:47 EDT 2009

In a message dated 7/14/2009 6:59:06 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk writes:
any comments are welcome, especially  critical ones.

---- I would make two briefs observations, seeing that you are busy with  
other things:
-- Note the title, "philosophical solecism" -- meant to be jocular, but  
with a twist. It always struck me that Thales of Mileto, the founder of our  
project ('philosophy') was a 'solecist'. Apparently, 'solecism' comes from  
"Soloi" -- this not being far from Mileto, in Asia Minor -- the point  about 
'philosophy' having an _Asian_ origin via phoenician trade  and other has 
always irritated some classicists. 
    Now Thales was 'first-class' though, I understand.  His 'solecism' is a 
pedigreed one. For his 'dialect' was that of an  Athenian 'colonist'. 
Having lived in Buenos Aires among MANY colonials  of various types (notably 
expat Brits) I can share the feeling!
   For example, the Anglo-Argentines pride themselves (or  'theirselves' as 
I solecistically prefer) to speak better than the English --  you know the 
  So since you _do_ mention 'solecism', just a background that we  are 
speaking, originally, of a _DIA-_lect (or idiolect if you wish) that has  some 
degree of respectability. It's not "philosophical CREOLE",  or "philosophical 
PIDGIN" if you know what I mean.
   Indeed, if I were to see a paper by Grice called  "Philosophical 
Solecisms", I would expect it to be all about G. E. Moore's  Hegelian. -- vide his 
essays on Moore and common sense in WoW. For the things  Moore HEARD from 
the Hegelians like Bradley ('the thisness of the red is  causated by the no-no 
of the beingness of the thatness") was enough to have  him repeat, in a 
louder voice, "And I have _Two_ Hands!".
   -- Moore's programme is more serious than it sounds, as Grice  allows. 
The Man -- and recall Austin, "Some like Witters, but Moore's my  man" -- was 
defending COMMON-SENSE expressions as Kantianly metaphysically  justified 
via transcendental argumentation. The programme that Grice's tutee,  
Strawson, later undertood in _Individuals: an essay in descriptive metaphysics_. 
     (For example, while you rather conversationally  speak of the basic 
ontology of 'objects and properties', I would say 'THINGS  and properties' -- 
maybe. The word 'object' to a Romance speaker -- sounds  VERY German, and we 
prefer a more ontologically-oriented term.)
* My second observation is in the tag, 'hypercategorial?' -- this is meant  
as a gesture for Grice, 'supra-categorial' epithets -- one essay, the last  
one, in WoW is all about 'he is a just man' as being supracategorial for  
Trasymachus and Socrates in _different_ conceptual schemes: Trasymachus 
working  with a conceptual scheme where the legal 'just' is PRIOR (ontological) 
to moral  'just', while Socrates is working with a conceptual scheme where it 
is  prior (epistemological) only.
So I would remind the "C" in PGRICE, the categories. I would NOT think  
that Strawson would have written the "Individuals" book just to prove Kant  
right (he did that in "Bounds of Sense" with a vengeance). Rather it was 
because  of the common concern with Grice in matters of Aristotelian ontology -- 
as per  _Categories_ (Loeb Classical Library -- edited with Peri Hermeneias).
   For, what _is_ a 'category'?
Surely Grice wants to say -- notably in his "The Life and Opinions of Paul  
Grice" -- that it is a very _basic_ notion. Forget Frege: I think Grice was 
 mainly into Russell's comments on the stone-age metaphysics and grammar 
being a  'pretty good guide' to logical form. The point, basic as it is, being 
        category  epistemological
---- It's only because a 'category' is ONTOLOGICAL (e.g. 'things and  
properties' rather than Einsteinian 'empty' tables in the Pagetian 'petits  
enfants' -- if they are infants, they shouldn't be _heard_ -- only seen) that it  
can claim to become EPISTEMOLOGICAL.
Surely the passage is CONDITIONED, and 'epistemological' is a bit of a  
mouthful, for what is mainly a reflex response consolidated by our sense-organ  
structure. Kant's "a priori" and 'trascendental subject' and the 
'apperception  of the ego' --. And the problems he would have in having to adapt the 
Newtonian  metaphysics of common sense to the Einsteinian one of wavicles.
And THEN, and only THEN, is the 'linguistic'. Strawson's "Subject and  
Predicate in logic and grammar" being basic, here. I would think. For 'subject'  
and 'predicate' (or even the more basic, SYNTACTICAL 'categories' rather 
than  'functional ones -- 'noun' and 'verb') seem just the ordinary things a 
pirot  would develop to _understand_ the world around him.
   The study of 'categories' as parts of speech is an old one. My  very 
first philosophical paper was, appropriately, on Plato's Kratyl, for which  I 
revised some of the linguistics literature. Robins, for example in his one 
and  only History of Linguistics credits Plato not just with his ramblings on  
etymology, but for having distinguished for the first time in Western  
civilisation between the ONOMA and the RHEMA. It is just _fascinating_ that a  
few generations later, via Aristotle (De Cat.) we have Dionysios providing us 
 with what is the _classical_ "table of categories" (8, not 10, like 
Aristotle  thought).
     Chapman has elaborated on how serious was Grice,  for example in using 
'category' in even a FURTHER 'sense': informativeness, etc.  For surely 
your example about 'the elephant eating all the peanuts' is exactly  like 
Kroch's early paper on the invited inference of "He ate an apple" (all of  it? or 
the edible bit of it?).
     Grice humorously then refers to the MORE  ECONOMICAL "Table of 
Categories" in Kant -- to rephrase them in 'metaphorical'  terms to apply to things 
like 'quantity' of information, 'quality' of  information (truth-value), 
relation (relevance) and 'manner' or modus.
Chapman writes: "In _Categories_, Aristotle describes not just CATEGORIES  
of lexical MEANING, but also the types of relationships holding between 
In his Oxford lectures, Chapman notes, Grice starts to consider these,  
"appear in more or less their final form under the FOUR CATEGORIES of
Quantity, Quality, Relation, and Manner (or, sometimes, Mode)."
"In arranging things in this way, Grice had the semi-serious motive of  
the use of CATEGORIES in such orthodox philosophies as those of 
Aristotle and Kant" (Kantotle).
""And more importantly, to draw on THEIR (Aristotle, Kant) ideas   of
"Grice's collaborative work with Strawson had been concerned
with Aristotle's division of EXPERIENCE into 'categories' of  substances.
Aristotle's original formulation of the list of such properties allows  that
they can take the form of 'either substance or quantity or  qualification
or a relative or where or when or being-in-a-position or having  or
doing or being-affected'"
"Aristotle concentrates mainly on the first FOUR, and these received
the most attention in subsequent developments of his work."
"The were the starting point for KANT's use of CATEGORIES to
describe types of HUMAN [Russians included -- JLS] experience,
and his argument that these form the basis of ALL POSSIBLE
HUMAN  knowledge. In the Kritik der Reiner Vernunft, Kant proposes
to divide the pure concepts of understanding into four main
divisions: 'Following Aristotle we will call these concepts
CATEGORIES, for our aim is basically identical with his
although very distinct from it in execution.""
"These are categories 'Of Quantity', 'Of Quality', 'Of Relation' and
'Of Modality', with various --
indeed 3 -- the most symmetrical table ever, as every tutor
in modern philosophy will comment. JLS --
subdivisions ascribed to each."
"Kant's claims for the both the fundamentaal AND the EXHAUSTIVE
nature of these categories are explicit: "The division is
systematically generated from a common principle, namely the
faculty of JUDGING (which is the same as the faculty of thinking),
and has not
a HAPHAZARD search
for pure concepts, of the completeness of which one could never be  
"Kant goes so far as to suggest that his TABLE of CATEGORIES,  containing
all the basic concepts of understanding, could provide the basis for
"These, therefore, offered Grice divisions of experience with a sound
pedigree and an estalbished claim to be universals of human
cognition" (Chapman, p. 100)
J. L. Speranza
   The Grice Club, etc.
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