[hist-analytic] Predicting and Deciding
jlsperanza at aol.com
jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Dec 27 02:46:44 EST 2009
While I search for a wittier way to refer to Pears (I'm thinking on a pun
with the famous soap of his ancestors or something alone the lines of
'pears' the fruits -- from the OED or something -- I'm titling this after Pears's
lecture for the British Academy.
Chapman notes that Grice's legacy will possibly be the 'first-person': he
was an intentionalist, and thus the focus on the 'first person' was crucial
to him. I want to think that that was the case with D. F. Pears.
I'm trying to retrieve Grice's ref. to Pears in the last bit of "Intention
and Uncertainty". If I'm not mistaken, Pears's distinction between
_MAY_ relate to that distinction, often obliterated, if that's the word
(but then, what _hides_ between the "ll" of "I'll" -- is it a 'will' or is it
a 'shall'?) between what is perhaps best seen as Future Intentional and
In "Intention and Uncertainty", Grice explores aspects of English modality
which are pretty hard to conceptualise. Consider some of the examples from
the elementary wiki entry on the 'future':
begin quoted text:
"In all of these, action within a future range of time is contemplated.
However, in all cases, the sentences are actually voiced in the present tense,
since there is no proper future tense in English. It is the implication of
futurity that makes these present tense auxiliary constructions amount to
a compound future quasi-tense. An additional form of expressing the future
is "I am going to...".
This reality, that expression of futurity in English is a function of the
present tense, is born out by the ability to negate the implication of
futurity without making any change to the auxiliary construction. When a verbal
construction that suggests futurity (such as "I shall go") is subsequently
followed by information that establishes a condition or presupposition, or
the active verb stem itself contradicts a future indicative application of
the construction, then any sense of future tense is negated - especially
when the auxiliary will is used within its literal meaning, which is to
voluntarily 'will' an action. For example:
Person A says: "You will go now. You will not stay."
Person B answers: "I shall go nowhere. I will stay."
The second 'will', in B's response, is not only expressing volition here
but is being used in contradistinction to the usual first person 'shall' in
order to achieve emphasis. Similarly, in the case of the second and third
persons, 'will' operates with 'shall' in reverse.
A: Will he be at the café at six o'clock?
B: He will be there. [Normal affirmation]
HOWEVER, B: He shall be there. [Stresses that this is not the usual
pattern that was previously established or to be expected (Last time he was late
or did not show up)]
--- end of quoted text.
In "Intention and Uncertainty", Grice quotes from Bertold Brecht's
"Denmark was at one time plagued by a
succession of corrupt finance ministers.
[...] To deal with this situation, a law
was passed requiring periodic inspection
of the books of the Finance Minister. A
certain Finance Minister, when visited by
the inspectors, said to them 'If you
inspect my books, I shall not continue to
be your finance minister. They retired in
confusion, and only eighteen months later
it wsa discovered that the Finance Minister
had spoken nothing other than the literal
Grice, 'Intention and Uncertainty',
Oxford, p. 11
"This anecdote [...] exploits a modal ambiguity
in the future tense, between
(a) the future indicated or factual
(b) the future intentional.
"This ambiguity extends beyond
the first person form of the tense; there is
a difference between
'There will-F be light'
(future factual) and
'There will-I be light'
"God might have uttered
the second sentence while engaged in the
"Sensitive Englsh speakers (which
most of us are not) may be able to mark this
distinction by discriminating between
"'I shall-I go to London'
'I intend to go to London'
to the way in which 'Oh for rain tomorrow!'
stands to 'I wish for rain tomorrow'."
---- This bit below is what fascinates me about Grice and his focus on the
NO ONE *ELSE* can say JUST what *I* say when I
"I shall-I go to London".
"If someone else
"Grice will go to London",
he will be
expressing his, not my, intention that I
shall go." (p. 11).
---- The asymmetries marked by the wiki entry for the future confuse me
"shall (and its subjunctive should). This implies obligation or determined
intent when used in the second person and its plural, and implies a simple
future meaning in the first and third.
will (and its subjunctive form would). This implies wish or intent for the
future, other than in the first and third person, in which it implies
obligation or determined intent. Otherwise, it is used as the most neutral form
and it is the most commonly used."
and I hope Pears shed light on this.
I recall Grice coining (or reviving) a nice turn of phrase for something
like this distinction:
'protreptic' (versus merely 'exhibitive')
Trespassers shall be prosecuted
-- or some such example, Grice notes, does not merely exhibit the utterer's
intention, but also aims at the addressee forming a similar intention.
But back to the predicting and deciding.
Predicting then seems to be all about the 'factual', not the intentional.
It's about the future 'indicated' as Grice has it (where I _think_
'indicated' is 'cognate' with INDICATIVE, so that 'future intentional' would NOT be
'indicative' mode -- Grice hated 'mood' and adopted 'mode' apres Moravsik
(sp?) after he would visit Grice across the bay.
These points may connect with Bayne's research on Anscombe and notes like
his "Deliberation and Grammar", this forum.
J. L. Speranza
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