[hist-analytic] Pilgrim Grice
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Feb 7 15:35:06 EST 2010
I actually found the post in hist-analytic which I now paste. It's in
context with Dale's PhD for NYU (available online). And it's of course a parody
on Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan.
Dale recalls a passage where pilgrim Grice finds himself in the road to
the Holy of Holies:
"As I thread my way unsteadily along the tortuous mountain
path which is supposed to lead, in the long distance,
to the City of Eternal Truth, I find myself beset by a
multitude of demons and perilous places, bearing names like
Extensionalism, Nominalism, Positivism, Naturalism, Mechanism,
Phenomenalism, Reductionism, Physicalism, Materialism,
Empiricism, Scepticism, and Functionalism.
... After a more tolerant (permissive) middle age, I have come to
entertain strong opposition to *all of them*,
perhaps partly as a result of the strong connection between a number
of them and the philosophical technologies which used to appeal
to me a good deal more than they do now"
("The Life and Opinions of Paul Grice", by Paul Grice).
Dale comments: "Though this passage does suggest that he, when writing it,
was against some sort of reductionism, it also strongly suggests that
in his life he supported it."
Indeed. And it's a pity Positivism is one of them because we are trying to
check which Carnap, to use Jones's expression, "falls foul of". Need NOT.
Some are good, betes noires, once tamed.
Let's list them alphabetically and recalling that they are all the
offsprings of Mother Minimalismus.
Now with some editorial by yours truly. First we don't need the capitals.
That's the first step to tame them
empiricism. Nothing wrong with it. And it is the perfect pronoun for a bete
noire, because ISMUS was neuter in Latin, unless it was masculine. Locke
was one, Grice was one, Mill was one. Grice PLAYED with being a rationalist
alla Kant, just to be irreverent. I rather am scared by RATIONALISM -- but
don't spread the word!
extensionalism. Well. He does say that the way he quantifies into (WoW:5)
is enough to give an extensionalist the trembles. But the fact that he was
so self-conscious about logical form (e.g. his "Vacuous Names") and the fact
that he never used triangles and squares to symbolise serious modalities
like poss. and nec. makes you wonder.
functionalism. Ned Block, the big one, lists Grice's Method in
philosophical psychology as the most functionalist a philosopher can BE. I think Grice
is thinking of identity-thesis alla Smart that he need not go into. He was
a multiple realisability functionalist of properties, not states. Etc.
Schiffer has tried to elucidate this in pre-apostatic writings.
materialism. What's the mind? Never matter, or vice versa. This must have
to do with Grice's ontological marxism: if they work, they exist. By 'they'
he means things like 'mental predicates'. But I don't think he was into res
cogitans itself. So if he wasn't a materialist he wasn't a DUALIST. And
DUALISM does scare me. Also ANIMISM.
mechanism. This is the idea in "Method" that there's a mechanist
explanation that leaves you cold when you want to say that you scratch your head
because it itches. But the TOE is trying to reconcile these aspects. It may
also have to do with computer modelling: heuristic, abduction, etc. are
difficult to model mechanistically, but not impossible.
naturalism. He does say that mean-N is the basis for mean-NN, so I think,
or am pretty sure he means here a scheme that leaves VALUE out of the
picture. Especially concerned with the non-naturalistic basis of reason or
rationality: if rationality is a faculty OVER our pre-rational, natural,
dispositions, it cannot be "natural" herself. Etc.
nominalism. This must be a joke unless he is thinking of those ridiculous
theories by Scheffler. Type/token Grice always used. He uses x to symbolise
token, X to symbolise type. He may be objecting to an extensional treatment
of 'classes'. Etc. He may be thinking of higher-order predicate-calculus
where we can substantivise over properties, etc. alla Strawson, Subject and
predicate in logic and grammar.
phenomenalism. This is the early early Grice and we know Carnap rejected
this too. The opposite, Physicalism, actually scares me much more. I do love
phenomenalism, even if inappropriate, as a good way of understanding the
paintings of Picasso. He must be having in mind solipsism as a consequence of
phenomenalism, and the paradoxes of Berkeley brought to reality by Dr.
Johnson when kicking a stone.
positivism. I should leave to Jones to expand on this. The antonym,
negativism, is much more of a scarer. I think he must be meaning what he
elsewhere calls, disrespectfully, the 'rednecks of Vienna' -- as if the sun there
were so strong! (I love Vienna).
physicalism. Well, if this is not the antonym of phenomenalism, he must be
meaning something alla Smart, identity thesis. Neutralism, Monism, I'm
surprised don't challenge him. The opposite, Spritualism, is more of a scarer,
reductionism. We see his problem with reductive AND reductionist analysis.
So here it's eliminationism he objects. And he does it because, once a
linguistic botaniser, allways (sic) a linguistic botaniser. What's the good of
having learned English if Stich and Churchland and the rest of them are
going to tell you that, roughly, is all _false_ (cf. Jones on Formal versus
Natural Languages, though).
scepticism. This is loose Grice. He thinks Gettier etc are too rigid. We
know more than we care to admit. A schoolboy knows that the battle of
Trafalgar was in 1811, etc. So no need to be Phyrronian. I see Jones's pdf. has a
section on my favourite philosopher of Antiquity: Phyrro, and so I'm ready
to distinguish between good and bad sceptics. They were all good, honest
people in fact. I think it's the French philosophers, Voltaire, etc. who gave
scepticism a bad name.
J. L. Speranza
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