[hist-analytic] The Proof of the Pudding: Analytic Philosophy, the Success of a Method

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed Aug 12 16:22:49 EDT 2009

S. Bayne is challening R. Jones for an example of a 'solved 
philosophical puzzle' apres Carnapian methods. Ah, should the same 
challenge be asked about Grice (who, to echo Bayne, should be Gricean). 
Consider his analysis of 'meaning'. It was the "Postwar Oxford 
Philosophy" that Grice delivered at Wellesey. His later thing in 
methodology was "Conceptual analysis and the province of philosophy", 
in Way of Words. It is pretty narrow. From reading it, I understood a 
lot of his attitude towards the counterexamples provided to his 

Unlike, say, Carnap, or perhaps Ayer, but not Austin, Grice's analysis 
are, he says, not reductionist. They are reductive. They hail from an 
attempt to analyse (or deconstruct, if you are Derridean) a concept in 
your mental baggage. It would be ridiculous to aspire to the 
ELIMINATION of a given concept. That would be semantic impoverishment, 
as it were.

The item 'mean' is VERY English. Andreas Kemmerling, who knew Grice and 
studied this, confessed to never feeling the verb, "meinen", in German, 
to be in need of analysis. And he blatantly notes that what Grice 
analyses is the English lexeme "mean", not even its Germanic 
counterpart. For Romance speakers, it's even more dramatic, since, 
ment-, for example, the root that gives English 'mean' (cognate with 
'mind') can derive polysemically into mentAre, to mean, or mentIre, to 

The typical analysis is in terms of necessary and sufficient 
conditions. This is the paradox of analysis with a vengeance. For the 
philosopher is willing to provide a statement that is no more but no 
less informative than the original analysandum, "He means that the cat 
is on the mat". Grice proceeds in terms of 'intends', 'intends the 
addressee to believe', etc. The idea is that many of these notions are 
circularly connected. One may just as well provide an analysis of 
'intend' in terms of 'mean'?

I don't think so. Analysis can be asymmetrical, as I hope Grice was 
into. Mean and intend are on a different level. It's different with 
believe and intend, which are, qua verbs of propositional attitudes, on 
a same level. So there is some item of priority at hand. Conceptual 
priority. The serious analytic philosopher wants to analyse concepts 
into their prior constituents.

Idiosyncrasy. Grice delivered the lecture "Meaning" at the Oxford 
Philosophical Society. This was a routine encounter, and had not been 
for Strawson who elaborated the essay into the published version in 
Philosophical Review, no Gricean programme! But Grice may be seen as 
not really recommending an analysis for the wider philosophical 
community or audience. And in "Postwar Oxford philosophy" he is very 
explicit, cannot say serious since he never was, bless his soul, that 
what COUNTS as a satisfactory analysis for him (i.e. one that HE 
promoted to discuss a puzzle he found philosophical) will do for 
others. He even goes on to suggest that he is game to help OTHERS in 
analysing concepts --. By which he means that he is collaborative 
enough to work with someone else (a tutee, or colleague springs to 
mind) in producing conditions that will just fit the analysandum at 

Carnap, I wouldn't know! I fail to see how Mrs. Carnap could have 
evidence that Popper was not fit to teach in an American college. 
Chapman notes re Grice that he would (sometimes) never upload the 
grades for their students, and I can SEE that that may be disturbing 
--, so there are degrees in what counts as 'fit for an American 
college'. If the point was the religious extraction (the Jewishness of 
Popper) I would also be surprised, since by then American colleges were 
pretty tolerant and diverse?

An analytic philosopher need NOT be doing philosophical analysis ALL 
The time. In fact, it's a scattered page in Grice's opus that actually 
works alla prongs of sufficiency and necessity. There's also the 
pleasure of the activity of philosophy itself, or the necessity of it. 
As someone said, To live is not necessary, to sail is. Mutatis mutandi 


J. L. Speranza

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