[hist-analytic] Qualia: A Gricean Account
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Nov 7 20:25:37 EST 2009
In a message dated 11/7/2009 11:12:36 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
what do you take a color to be. If you mean a qualia or some such
that is one thing; if you mean something like "that property which causes
an object to be seen as (e.g.) yellow under standard circumstances" that
is VERY different.
---- That was S. R. Bayne's query to B. Aune, and I'm following the thread
with interest. Thanks to S. R. Bayne for his comment on 'hot potatoes'. The
issues may relate, and I agree with S. R. Bayne's reply to B. Aune that
possibly 'hot' is _not_ a 'common sense' notion (I have discussed elsewhere
Putnam's Twater -- fool's water, as the online song goes!).
It may do to consider Grice's informants again, since this is Aune, ch. 2,
where he uses the 'color' problem only exemplificatorily before immersing
onto a discussion of meaning postulates.
Chapman then reports how Grice would ask children aged 10
can a thing be red and green all over?
On the other hand, his case (this above was more along the lines of
"Defense of a dogma") in the history of philosophy was for a causal theory of
perception that Bayne has summarised neatly, regarding
the pillar box seems red
the pillar box looks red
-- and the 'causal link' that should explain any of the two statements.
Notably for Grice it would seem that
the first ("seems") statement is _entailed_ by the second ("is")
statement, but of course Dalton would object.
(Otherwise, it is not clear that uttering (i) is to utter a weaker claim
than (ii); Grice notes this).
Then there are the types of Rogers Albritton objections that he considers
(Grice does) in "Some remarks about the senses" (originally in Butler,
That man looks good-looking
That man is good looking
There seems to be a regressus ad infinitum in what I once called
'phenomenalist' ("seems") language (versus 'noumenalist' rather than 'physicalist')
It seems as if it seems as if it seems as if ... seems as if the
pillar box is red.
Now it was objected to me re: the
The potato is hot
that things may _look_ or _sound_ hot to people. One boils oils to fry an
omelette, smells 'the heat' and 'sees' the boilage. One would hardly need to
put the finger in it. I would think animals behave like people in this
respect. It would be surreal to watch my cat attempt to 'drink' from the
fawcett as it spills boiling water.
But it would seem that in these cases what we have is a seem-is
If I smell the boiling oil and I see it boil, it would seem that the
directly to the claim that the oil _seems_ hot.
I.e. that WERE I TO TOUCH it it would be, indeed, 'hot' to the organ of
(I'm being conservative here and following Urmson, "The objects of the five
senses", Brit. Ac., that there are only five and five only senses).
Now, there seems to be an asymmetry between 'hot' and 'red' (or 'green').
It did always struck me as odd, along the lines put forward by Bayne in his
query to Bruce, that
the pillar box _is_ red
the pillar box _seems_ red
connotes an 'otiose' distinction. For 'red' is in the _seeing_. Things
cannot but _seem_ red. I am thus committed to a 'qualia' account of 'red' --
not a physical one in terms of 'range' in a spectrum.
Oddly, Grice considers another odd example with colours. In this case,
colours -- changeable as they seem -- of ties. This is in 1967 Logic and
He is considering the notion (that the does not label explicitly) of
'disimplicature'. If Austin and Witters, he says, ignored implicature, they most
obviously ignored disimplicature or were tricked by it. If implicature is
the phenomenon by which an utterer means more than he says, a disimplicature
is the phenomenon by which a loose utterer drops an entailment that it
standardly communicated by what is said:
Grice is considering the scenario of a couple trying to decide on what tie
to buy to a friend.
They know the friend only would like
a medium-blue tie
(I think is the term he uses).
The consider one particular tie, and one utterer 'goes' -- this is not a
ValleyGirlism, but a report of a phatic act, alla Austin)
The tie seems to be light-blue in this light (rather than medium-blue).
The other objects
Yes, but it does look as if it might seem dark-blue in this other
light (rather than medium blue).
Grice wants to say that these two utterances are _too prolix_, if that's
the word, and thus a flout to the conversational maxim,
It's more likely they would go:
The tie _is_ light blue under this light.
Yep, on the other hand, it is dark blue under this other light.
Grice notes words to the effect that in 'circumstances where a change of
colour is hardly likely to occur, utterers are entitled to _disimplicate_
But with this latter comment, he seems to be leaning then for a
'physicalist' rather than a qualia approach to colour.
Chapman notes in her excellent exegesis that if Grice meant anything to the
history of analytic philosophy, it was a reconsideration of a non-posit
ivistic attitude: it was a 'regress' to a way of doing philosophy that WOULD
allow qualia that were 'exterminated' by the 'rednecks' (sic! it's Grice's
word! in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, "Actions and Events", 1986) of the
Vienna Circle. By allowing for a qualia-approach to sensa he is turning
English philosophy back to the right tracks of the empiricist tradition of a
But of course problems remain: the seem/is, and the loose uses of language
point to the complexity of the issues even for a Gricean, or so it would
_seem_ to me.
J. L. Speranza
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