[hist-analytic] A Scientist's Landscape

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Jul 18 06:26:34 EDT 2009

In a message dated 7/18/2009 3:44:11 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
"As far as Aristotle is concerned I'm still a novice,  and the notion of a 
categorial concept has not yet come up. We have these two  kinds of 
predication (essential and accidental) which involve "terms", which, if  Aristotle's 
syllogistic logic is to be sound cannot be empty. However  syllogistic 
reasoning is not sound (it seems) for accidental (or inter  categorial) 
predication anyway so its not clear how much weight one can place on  Aristotle's 
logic when considering his metaphysics. [...] There is only one  category of 
substance. Do the others exist out there (rather than merely being  
instantiated out there)? [...] But the individuals include individual attributes  
(e.g. whiteness). If you don't want whiteness to be "out there" then you have 
to  stick to particulars (individual substances)."
Excellent commentary, R. B. Jones. Indeed, "Particulars exists". I have to  
refine my _finesse_! And we want the Greek terms here! 'tode ti' seems -- I 
 think Code (who cares perhaps slighlty more than Grice -- in published 
views --  on the equivalent Greek terms as used by Aristotle) seems to hit the 
mar, the  individual man, as it were. The particular individual man, that 
Socrates -- a  'spatio-continuant temporal' sometime in the past IZZ, or more 
properly, WAZZ.  --.
What Grice and Strawson were somehow obsessed -- I guess one _gets_bored of 
 a landscape (?) and needs to move around? -- with two notions: it's the  
substantiation. I think Strawson calls it in "Subject and Predicate in Logic 
and  Grammar" -- 'Her particular paleness filled the room as Marilyn Monroe 
entered  the room'. I know Grice, more eschatological, called it 
'transsubstantiation' --  'metaphysical', he adds -- as opposed to 'physical', I 
expect, which was the old  philosopher's stone -- alchemy. And his examples are 
subtler: a 'human', for  example, transsubstantiates into a 'person' ("We are 
not hanging a human", the  Sheriff addressed the crowds gathering around the 
tree, "we're hanging a  _person_ -- and a bad'un at that!" -- Crowds cheer).
When Strawson wrote, "A logician's landscape" (PQ -- review of Quine, From  
a logical point of view, really -- and which I don't think has been 
reprinted,  as it should -- because it contains some observations not found in the 
otherwise  large corpus of Strawson's writings) he was being _serious_, not 
just  metaphorical. We hope. I realise of the seriousness of the enterprise 
when  reading "Prejudices and predilections -- which become life and opions" 
by  you-know-who (in Grandy/Warner, PGRICE). After a long discussion of why 
we  _have_ to speak ordinary English (when talking with the ordinarily 
English)  Grice adds, words to the effect -- they are not expecting as to 
pegasise  constantly, or to treat propositional attitudes as monadic predicates. 
The landscape that Quine expected the logician to _paint_ was _not_ 'just'  
a fine one of desert and empty plains. It was one that had been 
_impoverished_:  desert and plains when there are roses in bloom, I think.
R. B. Jones who hails from the Heart of England, as H. P. Grice did (Grice  
born in the 'affluent suburb', Chapman has it, of Harborne, Warwickshire) 
may be  warmed by the focus on the landscape. I LOVE landscapes (or rather 
engravings)  of the Heart-of-England little village landscape. Those lanes and 
stone walls,  and the cottage gardens, and the thatched trees, and the 
clouds, and the  haywain, and the church steeple, and the sheep, and the 
occasional human to add  a touch of 'transcendental' category to the picture 
(although cottage and  haywain may do for the imaginative ones). _That_'s the 
landscape we were grown  into. (I know Grice 'is' being metaphoric -- so don't 
satirise me!) That's the  landscape our eyes are prepred to see. That's the 
landscape we want to _talk_  about. That's the landscape people will ask us 
questions about. That's the  landscape we have ("This England!" forever!) to 
The scientist's landscape "is alright as a hobby", as Aunt Agatha said to  
John Lennon, "but you'll never make a job off it". (I was told, for example, 
 that Einstein never _taught_ -- just did _science_. So the dialogue of  
scientists and their landscapes is something they sometimes _feel_ they _have_ 
 to keep for theirselves (sic). Unless you _ask_. But again, I think the 
eyes are  important. Microscopes allow us to see things in the landscape we 
would  otherwise not detect. As Hare said, if I say, "There is an animal in 
the back of  the garden", I don't expect you to treat me with a bacteria (or 
my Aunt  Matilda). With 'atoms' and 'quanta' is even trickier in that as 
Heisenberg's  indeterminacy principle shows (first quote by Eddington, in the 
OED),  'Eddington's table' (as Grice qualifies it) keeps changing as you 
observe it,  turning the 'observational' vs. 'theoretical' distinction Ramsified 
at  least!
When Grice wrote 'The Causal Theory of Perception' he gathered his amount  
of criticism when he is describing
          man          retina                        light  waves        
(and the essay is kept by Bayne in his pages). Grice is merely interested  
in the disimplicatures of
   The pillar box is red
   The pillar box seems red
-- the 'causal causal causal' (scientific) story is nice as a story but the 
 philosopher is free to _leave_ a blank here, he says (since perception is 
pretty  well understood anyway, and see if you can catch an Oxford 
philosopher uttering  an _empirical_ claim!)
Ditto, in his more polemic last section on "From the banal to the bizarre", 
 with comments by Myro, he lectures us on "the devil of Scientism" that 
would  have us think that since we don't know that we know, we better appeal to 
the  scientist -- the 'neurophysiologist' in this case -- for help about 
our willings  and judgings!
The topic that D. Frederick and B. Aune are emphasising: the fallibilism  
and corregibility of categorial schemes is nice, -- And the Oxonians may have 
 been a bit stern here (and appeal to Aristotle with a more provocative 
intent  than needed) but is it _mandatory_ to *be* Patricia Churchland? :)

J. L. Speranza
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