[hist-analytic] "Red and Green All Over" (Was: Synthetic A Priori, Grice's Informants

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Wed Nov 4 09:38:28 EST 2009

I think Grice was closest to being right about meaning in natural language than anyone 

else. Nothing here on neurology etc. His work on personal identity AND perception 

distinguishes him signficantly from people like J. L. Austin. I have a great respect for 

Austin's work How to Do Things With Words. It is a superb analysis, but it is more 

linguistics than philosophy in my opinion. 

As for physics. I side with Carnap in one respect (as well as others, like Schlick, 

Reichenbach etc): the most important questions of epistemology will come down 

to those related to science. This is not to say that I don't maintain a need to get 

a good theory of perception going. Science trades in laws, for the most part; 

perception with individual events connected to action. That is the crucial nexus 

that will not be found in the "nomological net." 

My "beef" with a lot of folks who fall back on current physical theory is that current 

physical theory is, typically, as wrong as current philosophy and it's application to 

philosophy tends to cheapen philosophical questions by reformulating them in 

such a way that philosophy becomes a simple matter. If you think the problems of 

philosophy are scientific, then for heaven's sake do science not philosophy. But once 

you go at these traditional problems head-on I think you find current science is 

a very flexible crutch, serving to prop up easy solutions to problems that no one 

really thinks are problems in the first place. That is my bias; but, again, the 

epistemology of the scientific enterprise is at the heart of my own epistemology. 

Physical theories about physical events are not so much my concern. I leave them 

to the experts in science. I am not a "wanna-be" scientist stuck in philosophy. 

Sometimes I get this impression from J. J. Smart; not sure. 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jlsperanza at aol.com 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk 
Sent: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 8:36:22 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern 
Subject: "Red and Green All Over" (Was: Synthetic A Priori, Grice's Informants 

I think Chapman misses the point, slightly when she writes, as per below, "amusing himself". True, philosophy ceases to be philosophy when you take 'the fun' out of it; but it seems Grice was into the same campaign as Aune! (And I was delighted that Schwartz repr. Grice, "Causal Theory of Perception" in one of his collections, on "Sensing" -- what a beautiful verb). 

Sure there's the pun that Grice should have known, what is black and white and red all over? "Not the Daily Telegraph, precisely -- I cannot go through the classifieds". 

Now, 'green and yellow', which is I think Aune's example, strikes me as slightly different from Grice's "red and green". For there's nothing in COMMON between 'red' and 'green', while, strictly, green IS yellow and blue. It strikes me that a case can be made that via implicature, if you see 'green' you are seeing blue AND yellow. But my knowledge of physics is nil. 

I would disgress as well into the role of physical theory, etc. Grice, for example, was open-minded when it comes to the role that physics would play in a 'philosophical' theory of perception of the causal type that Grice defended (and Bayne has made charmingly publicly available via the Aristotelian Society version in his site). In Section III, Grice expands on the philosopher needing to _draw a blank_, I think his wording is, as to how the philosophical approach HAS to give room for a physical theory of perception that is somehow consistent with it. 


J. L. Speranza 


S. Bayne quotes from B. Aune: "But if two determinate colors are conceded to be 
distinguishable, it _follows logically_ that 
nothing possesses both of them at the same place 
at the same time." (Empiricist Theory of Knowledge, p. 66. A disgression of the Gricean type. When reading S. Chapman's bio of the man (Grice) I was amused by a commentary by Mrs. Grice from the time they were living in that apartment on Woodstock road, not far from St. John's, in Oxford. Chapman writes: "IT is clear that the nature of analytic and synthetic sentences, and of our knowledge of them, exercised Grice a good deal both  at this time and later. [Mrs.] Grice recalls that, during the 1950s, he delighted in questioning his children [Karen and Timothy]'s playmates about  'whether something can be red and green all over' and enjoyed their subsequent CONFUSION, insisting that spots and stripes were NOT allowed. (Mrs. Grice, personal communication). As he observes in his own notes, "Nothing can be red and green all over" is a supposed candidate for a statement that is both synthetic and a priori.  *'The Way of Words', Studies in: Notes, offprints and draft material. H. P. Grice Papers, BANC MSS 90/135c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley). Grice was presumably amusing himself by testing this claim out on some genuinely naive informants." -- for surely Karen and Timothy were 'in the know'. (p.54) 
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