[hist-analytic] _Equi_vocality

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Jan 17 15:35:33 EST 2010

In a message dated 1/17/2010 10:25:48  A.M. Eastern Standard Time, 
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
You mention the  following case: 
"equal, even, well-balanced, 
ἅρμα δίκαιον evengoing  chariot, X.Cyr.2.2.26"
I've sometimes wondered about the relation of 'aqua'  to 'equal'. I imagine 
a calm morning; I look at the water; it is level  ('equal') now 'aqua' may 
been "calm water."  

Yes, "equal" _and" "acqua" is ever in my mind. I have just watered my  
But anyway, back to 'equal'. Not sure if it relates to 'acqua'. While your  
scenario makes sense, I just think it's different roots, so, to echo you, 
no,  from philological reasons.
But back to 'equal'. I like, of course, to consider this in connection with 
 " = ". When I did logic and metalogic with my good old tutor Roetti, we 
were  fighting with Kleene, Introduction to Metamathematics. We eventually 
reached the  algebra bit, and the logic of identity, and I realised that Frege 
was _not_  joking when he uses 
     a = b
in his writings. It's algebraic _and_ arithmetic.
But equa-, as in equi-, has other connotations. I would have to doublecheck 
 this but Grice, you know, was obsessed with 'meaning' and things  

In Aspects of Reason he speaks of '_equi_vocality' thesis. In  hypertext, 
or enriched text, the 'equi' is italicised. So what does he  mean?
One considers the OED for 'aequivocal', 'equivocal', and indeed, it relates 
 to 'same voice', with 'equi-' being the =. So is this homophony? Grice 
didn't  think so. Rather it's what I call uniguity (I dislike the hybrid, 
monoguity --  cfr. ambiguity), or monosemy, i.e. yet another corollary of his 
"modified  Ockham's razor", 
        [Sensa] non sunt multiplicanda  praeter necessitatem.

Back to 'equi-'vocality. It means exactly the opposite of what it says;  
but on second thoughts you realise the logic of Grice's analysis.
People use, colloquially, "You are equivocating". As a bad thing. But for  
Grice it is a _good_ thing. 
Consider the 'popular applications' of "dikaios". 
Socrates may be saying to Thrasymachus: "You are aequivocating". But he is  
not. He is using the very same 'voice', 'dikaios'. What he is saying is 
that  there's ONE voice, and that it equals itself. 
Grice on the other hand is playing when he says,
    He's caught in the grip of a vyce
    He's caught in the grip of a vice
In British English, the things are spelled differently. Not in American.  
They are, like acqua and equal, different roots. (Incidentally, I think your  
"otter" is connected with 'water', or 'acqua', I forget). So there is no 
way the  person is using the same voice, or 'equivocating', because originally 
they were  different 'voices'.
But this is confusing.
In any case, there should be online discussion on 'equivocality thesis'. I  
cannot think how I can do search online with google using italics, but 
should  find out.

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