[hist-analytic] Descriptive Metaphysics and Analyticity

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Jan 28 21:28:49 EST 2011

In a message dated 1/28/2011 4:23:53  P.M., danny.frederick at btinternet.com 
Although descriptive metaphysics  is a product of analysis,
it is an analysis of 'our actual conceptual scheme'  (Strawson seems to 
we have only one of those). Since he also thinks  that alternative
'revisionary' conceptual schemes are possible, he would  have, I think, to
say that the propositions of descriptive metaphysics are  not analytic.  

Cfr. other interesting comments by R. B. Jones in reply to D. Frederick and 
True. "Metaphysics and analysis" does not seem to quote from Kripke, but I  
think, from the 'editorial review', that the view is pretty clear:
So I will interperse comments in connection with my shared interests with  
R. B. Jones below:
The amazon review reads:

"All developed human beings possess a practical  mastery of a vast  range 
concepts, including such basic structural notions as  those of  identity, 
truth, existence, material objects, mental states, space,  and  time;"
---- This idea of 'developed human being' seems to be close to D.  
Frederick's idea of things we feel 'at home with'. When one enters the study of  
philosophy (as I once did) one is NEVER told that one is going to devote one's  
life to what "developed human beings" possess. I mean, who cares? We are 
NOT  psychologists, philosophers!
So, in that simple editorial review, the reviewer is being 'reactionary':  
stipulating what the philosopher (analytic philosopher, if you will) needs 
do is  concern himself with 'reconstructing' what "developed human beings"  
The analytic-synthetic distinction seems far a more technical thing than  
"but a 
practical mastery does not entail theoretical understanding. It  is  that 
understanding which philosophy seeks to achieve. In this book,  one of the  
distinguished of living philosophers, assuming no  previous knowledge of 
subject on the part of the reader, sets out  to explain and illustrate a 
certain  conception of the nature of  analytical philosophy."
---- His own! Of course, Grice's, too. Grice used to say ("Reply to  
Richards") that his conversations with Strawson tended to be so concise that  
nobody else knew what they were talking about. Plus, Grice (Chapman recalls, via 
 Mrs. Grice) how tedious (to Lady Ann Strawson -- nee Martin) Grice would 
go in  interrupting Sir Peter's usual life with abtuse questions on 
categories in the  middle of the night.
"Strawson draws on his 
many  years of teaching at Oxford  University, during which he refined and 
developed  what he regards as  the most productive route to understanding 
fundamental  structure  of human thinking."
---- Again, Kantian. "Human thinking". Only, as neo-Kantian, he would  
object to Kant's own emphasis on what he was doing as NOT being 'empirical  
psychology'. "Apperception of the ego" and other Kantian pieces of jargon, while 
 apparently dwelling on human thinking are 'conceptual' structures. And the 
 analytic-synthetic distinction, as per Kant, is a narrow distinction 
within the  definition of some forms of judgements. It's NOT the cornerstone of 
all  philosophy, I would think.
"Among the distinctive features of 
his exposition  are the  displacement of an older, reductive conception of 
philosophical method   (the ideal of "analyzing" complex ideas into simpler 
elements) in favor  of  elucidating the interconnections between the 
complex but  
irreducible notions  which form the basic structure of our  thinking;"
So, he would quote from Hume. Kant of course was awoken from his dogmatic  
slumbers -- by Hume. In the context of the Grice-Strawson 'historical' 
context,  their campaign was perhaps against neo-behaviouristic or 
analytic-behaviouristic  (as they are also called) accounts such as Ryle, The concept of 
mind. Grice and  Strawson would NOT be 'empiricist' (like Ryle, or Hume, 
before him), but  'conceptualists' (or 'intentionalists', as Grice prefers). 
They dwell on 'our  actual conceptual scheme' as D. Frederick aptly quotes from 
"Individuals: an  essay in descriptive metaphysics". I would need to revise 
this, but I think one  unfinished project by Grice was "From Genesis to 
Revelations", which he saw as  an essay in 'revisionary' metaphysics, rather. 
It would seem that Strawson and  Grice thought, deep down, that it was with 
'revisionary' metaphysics that all  the fun begins!
"and the 
demonstration that the  three traditionally distinguished  departments of 
metaphysics (ontology),  epistemology, and logic are but  three aspects of 
unified enquiry."
----- So if he does not explicitly deal with the formerly Princeton prof.  
of philosophy (Kripke) that may be the reason. Do not multiply 'necessities' 
 beyong, er, necessity. Note, too, that Sir Peter was one of the TWO 
philosophers  at Oxford (officially). He held the title of Waynflete prof. of 
metaphysical  (METAPHYSICAL) philosophy. (as opposed to 'moral' philosophy). So, 
there is a  professorial side to his research, too. 
If the book deals with 'philosophy of language', I was always fascinated by 
 this big polemic between Sir Peter and Grice (Grandy has dealt with 
another  interesting polemic: the conventional-implicature (favoured by Sir Peter) 
versus  the CONVERSATIONAL-implicature) account to 'if' -- Grandy, in 
"Legacy of  Grice"): the idea of a truth-value gap.
THIS *HAS* an important metaphysical side to it. Grice rejected a  
'metaphysics' that allowed for 'truth-value gaps'. And struggled hard to, say,  
account for 'the' phrases in terms of implicatum-plus-entailment, rather than in 
 the Strawsonian manner involving things which -- never mind 'analytic' or  
'synthetic' -- are neither true nor false! ("The king of France visited the 
 recent Exhibition"). 
------ Chapman quotes extensively from unpublished work by Grice and  
Strawson. It is very fortunate that it was GRICE who kept all the notes. They  
are deposited at UC/Berkeley. They spring from joint seminars on "Categories"  
(strictly, Aristotle's categories -- for the Lit. Hum. programme at 
Oxford), and  include some delightful examples concerning, as I recall, a man 
called  Bunbury.
------ And so on.
(If I define myself as a neo-Gricean, I would define Noel Burton-Roberts, a 
 linguist, strictly, as a neo-Strawsonian. Pity you cannot really engage 
Burton  Roberts in the usually otiose talk philosophers love to engage, 

More information about the hist-analytic mailing list