[hist-analytic] The Play Group: D. F. Pears

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Dec 24 23:49:25 EST 2009

This is in memoriam. Pears, who died in July 2009, is a very important  
figure, in MY opinion, and others's, in the history of analytic philosophy. The 
 Guardian obit has him as an "unsung hero", but that's a hateful phrase. 
My, give  me a sung hero anyday. He cut a handsome figure, and I'm pleased 
that the  photograph of his smart self graces the common room at Christ Church 
He collaborated with Grice in a paper that SHOULD be added should PGRICE  
gets a reprint! That's "Metaphysics", 1957 (co-authored Grice/Strawson/Pears) 
in  Pears, very own, "The nature of metaphysics", 1955 Third programme 
lecturers  aptly transcribed and published by David Francis (P).
He would go on citing Grice -- and indeed, it was by courtesy of yours  
truly that Pears is credited as an early user of "implicature" in the online  
OED3 (quoting from his "Ifs and cans" -- a classic). But he'd also refer to  
Grice in various publications -- the best included in his Duckworth 
"Questions  in the philosophy of mind" -- a must for those who look for a coherent 
theory of  the mind by Oxonian philosophers and fail --. A notable quote 
comes from his  "Motivated irrationality" when he reports Grice as protesting 
the theory of  conversational implicature as being "too social to be true" 
when seen it applied  by, of all people, Davidson, in his account -- failed one 
-- of "I shall but I  won't" or "I will but I shan't". 
Grice in turn would quote Pears pervasively. My favourite of the Pears  
quotes by Grice is in "Intention and Uncertainty". Pears had indeed preceded  
Grice as Henriette Herz lecturer, so it was only appropriate that Grice would 
 find a formidable way to end his talk by changing the topic from 
historical  Prichard to the ever more contemporary Pears "and his work on the 
predictability  of our decisions".
There are some places that ONE associates with the Play Group: the Lamb and 
 Flag, the Bird and Baby, St. John's itself, -- and now, we add: the long  
peripathetic walks in the Meadows, that Pears knew so well...
A checklist of Pears' publications could only go to show what a genial,  
broad-minded interested, interesting philosopher (and more: he  
butterfly-collected) he was.
J. L. Speranza
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