[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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