[hist-analytic] A. G. N. Flew (1923-2010)

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed Apr 14 00:18:33 EDT 2010

S. R. Bayne subscribes to PHILOS-L and CHORA and so he must have heard from 
 R. Lewis that the Daily Telegraph had telephoned him vis a vis the short 
obit.  in "The Times" of yesterday, re: the passing of A. G. N. Flew. I have 
commented  a bit on his work elsewhere. There is so much to discuss about 
this genius.  Perhaps list-members to Bayne's list can contribute.  

I particularly treasure his two series for Blackwell, "Logic and Language". 
 He was tuteed by Grice at St. John's where he was a Casberd Scholar, and 
through  which he obtained, like Grice had, a first in Lit. Hum. After a 
short sojourn as  Student of Christ Church, he left Oxford for good in September 
1950, which was a  big blow for Oxonian analysis.
I think the deah of Ordinary Language Philosophy was provoked, though, by  
two main dates:
---- the death of J. L. Austin in 1960.
---- the departure of H. P. Grice for the USA in 1968.
---- Flew argued over many things ("Inflewenza" and "One Flew Over the  
Cuckoo's Nest" could be titles for Flewian analysis -- etc.). In a footnote to  
"Philosophy and Language" he makes a passing comment where he describes  
Humpty-Dumpty (who he must have known well from his Christ Church days) as an  
'anarchist'! if you can believe that. I was lucky to have presented to the 
Lewis  Carroll Society, of Luton, Beds, a paper which I entitled 
"Conversational  Impenetrability" (and was published in the Society's Journal,  
"Jabberwocky")where I labour the point. Of course Flew is wrong. As D. F. Pears  
and, indeed, Davidson in the PGRICE festschrift (Grandy/Warner) point out,  
Humpty Dumpty was NOT such thing. As he politely notes to Alice (upon her 
naive,  "I didn't know what you mean by 'glory'"), "Of course you don't until I 
tell  you". So, the 'intention' on the part of the egg is such that his 
addressee WILL  recognise the intention: yes, a Gricean echo! -- Borrowing from 
Locke (another  Christ Churchian, like Flew, and Pears) I re-label the egg a 
'semantic'  libertarian, rather. Well, at least he was not a 'semantic 
communist' (those who  endorse the view that the institution called "Language" 
has primacy over its  speakers and imposes its 'meaning-intentions' on them!).

J. L. Speranza
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