[hist-analytic] Carnap and Grice on "psychology" ('assertion' and 'belief')

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Mar 7 20:37:58 EST 2010

In a message dated 3/7/2010 4:50:54 P.M.  Eastern Standard Time, 
rbj at rbjones.com writes:
Surely Grice should be a  philosopher of psychology, and a 
philosophical psychologist someone  approaching the similar 
problems from the opposite direction?


Guess so, but as I said in post on 'philosophical logician' -- without  
having read the above, hence reply in this one -- I did claim that I had not  
heard of a psychologist dubbing himself (or his-self, as I prefer -- on risk) 
a  philosophical one.
Ditto, Carnap. 

Both Carnap and Grice seem to think that 'belief' and 'assertion' --  more 
the former, i.e. 'belief' or 'consent' -- seems to be a psychological  
notion, or a concept, a theoretical one, non-observable, of the theory or one  
theory of psychology. Grice's caveats with Intention-Based semantics would 
have  him carefully analysing how one could define '... believes that...' in 
terms, as  apparently Carnap (Church, early Quine, some Davidson) had as "... 
is disposed  to assent to the utterance of the statement "p"".
For Grice, it would seem, 'assert' is sort of reduced to terms of '...  
believes...'. He, in the non-symmetricalist picture of him, painted by 
Avramides  in her book on Grice, is one. (Unlike, she holds, and rightly so it 
seems,  Davidson). I'm less sure about Davidson. This relates to the holism 
Davidson  inherited from Quine. It's the _same_ evidence that has us saying, "he 
asserts  that p", "he believes that p". I doubt that. 
Plus, Grice would say, a cat may believe that the fridge is full, but  
hardly _assert_ _that_ the fridge is full (what kind of miaow would _that_ be?  
-- the regular one? Wouldn't that be more of an assertion that he, for one,  
cannot open it, i.e. the fridge?)
--- There are problems with Carnap's physicalist reduction of psychology,  
perhaps. In that he would be more concerned than Grice would, on the very  
elements of a theory of psychology. In any case, these things seem to belong 
to  the area where both Carnap and Grice were good at. It would be very 
BORING for  me to have to read how a PSYCHOLOGIST defines his field of 
This has a curious consequence that I may share in full elsewhere, I hope.  
Grice's qualms, as per archival material by Chapman, that he never quite  
understood why people who are NOT philosophers are always ready to say what  
philosophy is. I don't see the problem. After all, philosophers are ALWAYS, 
or  most of the time, talking about other things. Grice would say that that 
doesn't  compare, because a philosopher is a man, and a man can speak of 
things of  general concern, or interest. And indeed he seldom inquired onto the 
 _particulars_ of a discipline other than his own (philosophy). But one 
still  wonders. It's a strong statement by Grice cited by Chapman 2006, on the 
very  early p. 5 of her book. Grice writes:
-- and it's note 13, so let me check with Bancroft:
Grice, H. P. Misc. notes. H. P. Grice Papers, BANC MSS 90/135c. The  
Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley.
My marginal note reads:

"Grice's examples! I never met one!
Also "Chomsky, Quine, etc. psukhe."
Grice writes:

"It repeatedly asonishes me that
people who would themselves
readily admit to being
devoid of training,
or knowledge
in philosophy, and
who have plainly been
endowed by nature
with no 
special gifts
of philosophical
should be so
ready to 
philosophers about
the contents of the
body of 
---- a close analysis, to make him less of the authoritarian he seems to be 
I should re-read the Chapman for the context -- but anyway:
"It repeatedly"
one, two, buckle my shoe?
"astonishes me"
is that good or bad? I hope it's good. Wonderment and astonishmet is the  
source of philosophy for Socrates according to Aristotle. It's not 'appalls  
this reminds me of George Michael, "Kissing a fool", "People, you can never 
 trust they way they'll feel, for they'll do" -- "if you let them, break 
your  heart" (or something). "People" the early Grice -- Meaning, 1948 -- had 
as  "vague": "a word means what people (vague) mean by it".
"who would themselves
readily admit to being
devoid of  training,
or knowledge
in philosophy,"
This is inverse snobbery or snobby inversion, I'm never sure. It's usually  
the athetic types. I know that when I was in Harvard I would NEVER display 
an  interest in training, experience or knowledge of philosophy". All I 
cared for  was the history of rowing along the Charles of which I found some 
excellent  books, too, in that second-hand booshop in downtown Cambridge!
who have plainly been
--- plainly. Nobody blinder than he who won't see. Or something.
"by nature"
how can Nature endow NO GIFT?

"with no 
special gifts"
Don't look at a gift horse in the mouth, I say!
"of philosophical
where the idiom is perhaps unhappy (infelicitous) unless Grice is in one of 
 his private little 'angry' (presumed 'disgusted Tunbridge Wells' persona) 
modes  -- never moods. Surely there's more to intelligence than 
philosophical  intelligence, even for Cicero -- who possbily did coin 'intelligence' so 
we  shouldn't worry, those entre nous who have been endowed by Nature with 
such  no-gifts.
"should be so
ready to 
That may be their problem. There was a discussion in CHORA-L recently on  
that. Justine Johnstone was reporting views of 'non-professional' 
philosophers,  who S. Clark, who also runs PHILOS-L seems to have called "unwaged"  
philosophers. Or the other way round: the waged philosopher the professional  
one. But cfr.
Sir Cecil Vyse: Hello.
Emerson. Hello. So you are willing to marry my daughter.
Sir Cecil Vise: Yes.
Emerson: And what's your profession, if I may know?
Sir Cecil (utterly  disgusted -- played by genial Daniel Day Lewis):
--- Profession! Perish the thought! I am a _gentle_ man!
--- Maurice, A Room with a View.

Let's recall the cricket context: Professionals versus Gentleman at  
Lord's, and the insiduous obit Grice got for the Times (anon. -- should THAT be  
"Professional philosopher and amateur cricketer".
Grice refers to the profession of philosophy ironically in another post. I  
shared this with a professional philosopher, Walter Okwewsky (of Memorial  
University in Canada), and he said,
"butter yes, but no bread please"

Grice writes, in PGRICE with the passage I ended my PhD philosophical  
dissertation with: (by heart, hence a mistake or too, in words):
"those who look to philosophy
should praise that the 
flow of problems never
dries up; for otherwise,
it's not like philosophy
would _stop_; it's more 
than that: it would never
have gotten (sic) started!"

(words to that perlocutionary effect).
the contents of the
body of  
--- Do we _need_ 'philosophical' truths. In "Aspects of Reason" he wonders  
about fish. Suppose Empedocles is right and we are all, after all, fish --  
evolved ones, of course. Oddly, Grice would have marvelled at the fact that 
a  "pirot" as defined by the OED, is a type of fish. Grice wonders about
Surely, he says, "it's dubious that there's a type of ichthyological  
necessity." "Necessity" he wants to say, is focal: there is just ONE type of  
'necessity': physical necessity, logical necessity, etc. are the different  
species of the same genus, or perhaps there is a gradual series. But in any  
With 'truth' the same may hold.

"Oh wait -- that is a _philosophical_ truth".

I would be ready to engage in the informativeness (or quantitative, as  L. 
J. Kramer lovingly puts it) maxims: to add ANY qualification of 'truth' is 
to  disparage the notion, even if we, with Tennant(*)may perhaps agree uit 
_is_, on  occasion, in need of some taming or two.  
J. L. Speranza
*Tennant, The Taming of the True

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