[hist-analytic] Carnap and Grice on the "myth" of 'language'

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Mar 5 01:37:03 EST 2010

In a message dated 3/4/2010 9:39:30 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
I want to talk of something being conventional just  to 
say that it is rooted in language, without wanting to say 
anything  about how the language gets its structure and   

In his new book with Cambridge University Press, T. Wharton quotes _me_,  
but that's hardly important. He quotes Grice at length. I have been fortunate 
to  correspond with him, and indeed I'm pleased he took up some of my  
bibliographical suggestions. Tim, a very serious reseracher, traced my  
references and _studied_ them! In any case, his closing section of his book on  
_Pragmatics_ -- he has a second in his agenda -- is entitled 'myth' and it's  
basically a retelling of the story in Grice WoW:Meaning-Revisited. But I will  
here excerpt from the last phase where we get to what you may be meaning by 
'full languge framework'
that still needs not be 'conventional' in Grice's term, nor 'arbitrary' in  
that unwanted implicature the term has. Here is Grice then on the 
evolutionary  account of something like 'a language':
It's the middle passage of that vademecum that WoW is, p. 296. Grice  

"In some cases -- "Logiclandian" as it were -- "the ARTIFICIAL 
communication devices MIHGT have certain
other features too, over and above the one
of being artificial: they might, for example,
involve a FINITE number of fundamental,
focal, elementary, root devices [vocabulary. JLS],
and a finite set of modes or forms of combination
(combinatory operations, if you like [syntactics. JLS]
which are capable of being used over and over again.
In these cases, the creatures will have, or be near
to having, what some people [Carnap? R. M. Martin? JLS]
thought to be characteristic of a _language_ [emphasis mine. JLS]:
namely: a communication system with a FINITE SET
of initial devices, together with SEMANTIC provisions
for them, and a FINITE set of different syntactic
operations or combinations, and an understanding
of what the functions of those modes of combination
are. As a result, they can generate an INFINITE number
of sentences or complex communication devices,
together with a correspondingly infinite set of things
to be communicated, as it were"
This is a lecture he delivered in Sussex in 1982, got repr. in N. V.  
Smith's _Mutual knoweldge_, with a reply, and it's now repr. in WoW.

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