[hist-analytic] BRUCE AUNE'S Philosophical Autobiography

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed May 11 09:08:38 EDT 2011


In a message dated 5/11/2011 8:48:35 A.M.,  aune1 at verizon.net writes: "Hi, 
all. I am amazed by J.L.s amazing knowledge of  things Gricean and 
Oxford-philosophical. I had of course heard of Grice before I  met him at Oxford, but 
he didn't have the reputation then that he had later. I  heard him talk on 
conversational implicatures more than once, but I wasn't sure  how 
significant it would turn out to be. Grice was then, I thought, in the  process of 
drawing conclusions from the many examples he had assembled. In the  Saturday 
Mornings he didn't talk about his own current work, at least in the  
sessions I attended. Thanks, J.L. for all the information.  

----
 
My pleasure! And I was thinking... since I came a bit out of the blue, but  
what I shared with Bayne's list was a rewrite of what I also shared with 
the GC,  elsewhere! --- In my (I think, 3 or 4 posts in this elsewhere) I 
checked with  the other references by Aune to Grice -- and I will browse his 
other sections,  too!
 
For example, in an earlier page, he makes a reference to the 'intentional'  
fallacy which I thought very clever. And a note to Grice. Then after the 
Grice  narrative (on which I focused in Hist-Anal.) Aune mentioned yet again 
Grice as  popping in, we think, as he contributed to this seminar run by Hare 
and  others.
 
But what I want to focus on this post, as I consider other things, too, is  
this excellent reference by Aune to this Black volume where this essay 
caught  Grice's attention. Aune is modest enough to wonder why Grice would have  
thought it of special value. Since only Aune can express the things the way 
he  expresses, let me quote him:
 
The thing was properly called, “On the Complexity of Avowals". And it is  
interesting that Grice quotes, if not from that essay, from the Black  
collection, which has become sort of essential for Grice Studies in that it  
contains the "American soldier" alleged counterexample by Searle --  which right 
now I happen to be discussing, elsewhere, with Wouter Janssen  who wrote his 
online thesis on it. 
 
Aune then continues: "In the course of developing my criticism of some of  
these arguments [by Malcolm and 'Witters'] I drew a distinction between what 
a  statement implies and what this or that person might imply in making 
that  statement."
 
This is history. This is making history. Let's rephrase it: "a distinction  
between"
(a) "what a statement implies"
and 
(b) "what this [or that] _person_*might* imply 
in making that statement."
 
That SURELY was to catch Grice! Aune goes on: "This distinction was similar 
 to one that ... Grice was then making in his work on what he called  
conversational implicatures."
 
I'll have to check what dates we are talking about. When we noticed a gap  
in the OED -- as Horn irreverently put it in ADS-L -- the American Dialect  
Society -- archives online -- we noticed that 'implicature' lacked an entry 
in  the OED. The next day I was corresponding with the OED about earliest 
quotes, so  this is an interest of mine. In any case, the earliest quote I 
have now  identified comes from 
 
1964. Logic and Conversation: the Oxford lectures. Since the quote is so  
glorious, I will re-quote it: Grice writes:

"I am here considering what  is (or may be) only an _ideal_ 
case, one which is artificially simplified by abstracting 
from all considerations other than those involved in the
pursuance of a certain sort of conversational cooperation. I
do not claim that there _actually_ occur any conversations
of this artificially simplified kind; it might even be that 
these _could_ not be (cf frictionless pulleys). My question
is on the (artificial) assumption that their only concern
is cooperation in the business of giving and receiving
information, what subordinate maxims or rules would
it be reasonable or even mandatory that participants should
accept as governing their conversational practice? Since
the object of this exercise is to provide a bit of theory
which will explain, for a certain family of cases, why is 
it that a particular implicature is present, I would suggest
that the final test of the adequacy and utility of this
model should be a) can it be used to construct
explanations of the presence of such implicatures,
and is it more more comprehensive and more
economical than any rival [I have tried to make a start
on the first part of a)] b) Are the no doubt crude, _pretheoretical_
explanations which one would be prompted to give of
such implicatures consistent with, or better still 
favourable pointers towards the requirements involved in
the model?"
 
Grice, 'Logic and conversation (notes 1964)' -- The HP Grice Collection,  
BANC[roft] MSS 90/135c, 
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
 
[Note that incidentally, Sidonius, as translated in the Harvard Loeb  
Library, had used 'implicaturis', which Short/Lewis find interesting enough to  
provide an entry for in "Latin Dictionary" (inplicatura). Wright, for Loeb,  
translated it as 'entanglement'].
 
"[A]nd perhaps because of this, Grice was quite pleased by my talk."
 
Indeed. Who wouldn't! Again: "a distinction between" (a) "what a statement  
implies" and  (b) "what this [or that] _person_*might* imply  in  making 
that statement."
 
Why, even Grice is saying Senior Austin often ignored it. "A distinction  
never done by Witters; seldom by Austin" (or words to that effect, in  
"Prejudices and predilections".  The complexity of Aune's example is in the  
avowal, too. And I see that 1964 was then vintage. Because Grice is treading  
ground from "Causal theory of perception" ("That pillar box seems red to me.")  
to "Remarks about the senses" (in Butler) -- and while not about 'pain'  
specifically, it is introspective 'statements' enough. 
 
So It will do, at some point, to consider the sort of 'verbal expressions'  
that Aune is using in "Complexity of Avowals". 
 
(I for example, tried to look for examples by Austin on the use "I imply"  
but not to much effect, "I imply I know it's a finch" is the most Griceian  
Austin can get, I believe -- with a 'caveat' on 'know').
 
Perhaps we can refocus on the 'fallacy' then, which in the "Autobiography"  
comes even earlier. This comes on p. 6 of the pdf document: "An example of 
the  sort of issue I am attempting to describe is posed by the first line of 
T.S.  Eliot's poem, "Morning at the Window"."  "The words," Aune notes, 
"are  simple, the basic
syntax is prim and proper, but the sense of the line is  decidedly 
obscure." --- to wit:
 
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids sprouting despondently at area  
gates.
 
"In opposition to the current dogma set forth in Wimsatt and Beardsley’s  “
Intentional Fallacy,” I took the line, later made respectable by Paul 
Grice,  that what needs to be understood is the author’s intention in producing 
the  relevant words, what he or she was trying to accomplish my means of 
them."  Almost too good to be true! 
 
Grice was fascinated by this (and that) -- his favourite poet,  
implicaturally speaking, being Blake (as discussed in Way of Words, ii) --. But  Grice 
comments that appeal to intentions CAN sometimes be otiose. He misquotes a  
line by Donne in "Prejudices and predilections" and goes on to quote  
Nowell-Smith:
 
At the round earth's imagined corners blow
Your trumpets, angels, and  arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your  scattered bodies go 
 
At one meeting of the Play Group (Middle section), Nowell-Smith (who  was 
tyring to analyse what we mean when we say 'ordinary language') was  
wondering about that particular utterance "At the round earth's imagined corners  
blow your trumpets, angels, and arise" as not being particularly  'ordinary'. 
(Rather, Nowell-Smith, casting in the role of straight man to  Austin's 
comedic turns, was stretching the thing and arguing for the utterance  as being 
non-understandable (English)). To which Austin's paraphrase of  authorial 
intention may have left Wimsatt (if not Beardsley) cold: "Why, it  seems 
obvious enough _to me_." And went to propose as paraphrase:
 
"Angels, blow your trumpets at what persons *less cautious  than I* would 
call the four corners of the earth."
 
Perhaps a similar one applies to Tom (of "Tom and Viv" fame). And so  on. 
Aune expands:
 
"I had of course heard of Grice before I met him at Oxford."
 
He adds: "He [certainly] didn't have the reputation then that he had  
later."
 
-Oddly, I once came across a piece by Potts (not the Massachusetts Potts,  
but Timothy Potts, who taught at Leeds), and wrote him as to further 
research  along Griceian lines. His reply was brief and implicatural, to the effect 
that  Grice had been his tutor at Oxford for a term only. "A very eccentric 
man; but  he had a great reputation as a teacher." (I must have the letter 
somewhere, to  doublecheck). I would think, lovely implicature of 'but' 
aside, that Grice must  have earned his 'reputation as a teacher' early enough. 
For some reason, too, he  AVOIDED, by contract, to come in any sort of 
contact with undergraduates when he  became a member of the Dept. of Philosophy 
at Berkeley. Which perhaps is a bit  of an exaggeration.
 
"I had of course heard of Grice before I met him at Oxford."
 
Indeed, his "Meaning" and "Defense of a dogma" were early-enough classics.  
It's very odd that it was only via Strawson (and his wife) that those 
things got  published. In the "Meaning" case, Grice was done with it by 1948. The 
thing  actually confused Bennett, who came out (in Linguistic Behaviour) 
with the neat  but wrong idea that "Meaning" is a sequel to "Defense of a 
dogma". It was via  Anne Strawson's typing the thing and Strawson sending it to 
the Philosophical  Review that Grice had it published. And of course, his 
"Defense" joint work with  Strawson was written just to please Quine during 
his Oxford visit.
 
Aune: "I heard him talk on conversational implicatures more than once, but  
I wasn't sure how significant it would turn out to be." I wonder if HE was. 
 Until the day that a good annotated edition of the 1964 notes come out, 
one can  only wonder. In particular, the story behind the 1967 William James 
lectures  (the handwritten notes, the somewhat badly typed copy, the xerox 
copies) makes  for some fascinating novel. Grice's English friends (of his 
generation) back in  Oxford would just drop the occasional reference to the 
implicature.
 
In working with OED3 'implicature', I found Hare actually using "Grice's  
theory of conversational implicature" in Mind 1967, but my favourite (which I 
 don't think made it to the OED) was Pears, in The Canadian Journal of  
Philosophy, also citing Grice's conversational implicature on the strengthening 
 of 'if' to mean 'iff'. Dummett also has some early collocations on 
'implicature'  as the 'talk of the town' (along with the presupposition and the 
illocutionary  force).
 
Aune: "I heard him talk on conversational implicatures more than once, but  
I wasn't sure how significant it would turn out to be." --- Audiences can  
provide context. I would assume Aune was the perfect audience for Grice: a  
clever, attentive person. Into philosophy! Grice, like Austin, found  
'implicature' a tool one can use to 'play' with language. I should find that  
quote, since he developed it in early versions of the lectures -- and not in the 
 reprinted versions in WoW. It's like when Austin, after finishing "How to 
do  things with words" goes on to say, "Now the fun is putting this to 
philosophical  use and application."
 
As a matter of history, I find Aune's ref. to Witters and Malcolm of  
particular interest, because Grice seems clear that HIS FIRST motivation was to  
challenge "later Wittgensteinians" and their criticism of sense-datum 
theory.  This then must have been 1940s. But already in the early 1950s, if not 
before,  Grice was tutoring Strawson on logic (the result: an acknowledgement 
to "Mr. H.  P. Grice" in the Foreword to Introduction to logical theory 
(1954). A  footnote, later one, is so elaborated, with respect to 'maxims' as 
they expand  on the logical form of utterances, that Grice must have spent 
SOME TIME  discussing all that with Grice. 

By the time, I want to say, his interest expanded too. From this  
sense-datum motivation ("It seems to me as if there is a red pillar box before  my 
eyes") to the idea of the vulgar connectives and their logical formal  
representation. In Prolegomena to the James lectures he had gathered enough  
suspect examples to please the whole lot of that distinguished faculty: he goes  
on to mention Hare on "good" as implicating "I like it", Hart on 'carefully', 
 Ryle and Austin on 'involuntarily', Benjamin on uses of 'remember', and 
beyond.  In the context of that particular "Prolegomena" the gist must be in 
Grice having  included HIMSELF as a propounder of a suspect-example! 
 
Aune: "I heard him talk on conversational implicatures more than once, but  
I wasn't sure how significant it would turn out to be."
---- Call me naive, but I think the best applications of 'conversational  
implicature' were _avant la lettre_, as it were! Vintage Oxford. Or even Mill 
 talking of 'sous-entendu' of normal conversation. Call me Grecian and 
Griceian,  too.
 
"Grice was then, I thought, in the process of drawing conclusions from the  
many examples he had assembled."  ---- which took him a lifetime. Something 
 strange happened in California, too. He never quite explained it. But he  
does say that Putnam once said, "You are too formal" which had an effect on 
him!  Plus, his associations with Judith Baker (originally his PhD student) 
'helped'  him move from implicature -- or 'move on' as it were. It is just 
fascinating how  he could expand. At the same time, the affection and sort of 
vivid reminiscence  he kept for his days at Oxford and Corpus Christi with 
Hardie and later the Play  Group with Austin is unique. 
 
Aune: "In the Saturday Mornings he didn't talk about his own current work,  
at least in the sessions I attended." -- I wonder how he organised that 
work.  The 1960s saw him at Nottingham for the "Causal Theory of Perception" 
colloquium  with A. R. White. But other than his "Remarks about the senses" he 
would not  publish much. 
 
Now, having moved to the States made a bit of a difference. And by 1968 he  
had a paper out with "Foundations of Language", and two published pieces in 
 1969: "Vacuous names" for the Quine festschrift and "Utterer's meaning and 
 intentions" for the "Philosophical Review." So indeed, the Grice that Aune 
 interacted with was the one at his creative best. Plus, if one reads of 
the  appointments to lecture in America before his final move one is suprised. 
--- To  think that he only competed at the county level for cricket with 
the Oxford  North Country Club and at bridge is enough to realise what 
magnificent fibres he  was made of!
 
Cheers, and thanks again for further input. Again, a pleasure to hear your  
reminiscences, and all. 
 
J. L. 
 
J. L. Speranza
 




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