Sunday, 12 February 2017

To mock a mockingbird: Smullyaniana


There was a recent post to the "Carnap Corner" on "Deep Learning Eternal Truth" by R. B. Jones (the founder of Carnap Corner, as it happens).

I thought I would drop a line (or two, as the implicature goes) about Smullyan.

That would be Raymond Merrill Smullyan, a very prolific philosopher whose interests seem to correspond, shall we say, with Carnap's and indeed, Jones's.

Jones makes in his post on "Deep Learning" a passing reference to the catastrophe (not a word Jones uses) brought by Goedel. And Smullyan then has a whole book on Goedelian paradoxes that should amuse Jones.

Smullyan's career is eclectic. He holds a MA, and a PhD from Princeton -- His dissertation being on "Theory of Formal Systems".

He is best known to Griceians for a passing reference in Grice's "Vacuous Names" and for Smullyan's "First Order Logic".

When Grice gave his second William James lecture on logic and conversation, he starts by referring to what he calls, yes, a 'commonplace' in philosophical logic. The commonplace that there is, or appears to be (Grice is so guarded it hurts), between:

some (if not all)

and their formal counterparts: ~, /\, \/, ), (Ax), (Ex), (ix).

And the commonplace is repeated by Smullyan.

Of course, Grice will go on to argue -- not so much in THAT lecture but the two following ones, especially Lecture V, concerning if/) -- that this commonplace RESTS ON A BIG MISTAKE!

The mistake is due to the inability -- by Smullyan and others, onto which we can add Carnap and Quine -- especially the Quine of "Methods of Logic", that P. F. Strawson refers to in his introduction to "Philosophical Logic" (Oxford readings in philosophy) -- to perceive an implicature.

It's not that 'and' and '/\' differ, but if we say:

i. Sally, in our alley, got pregnant and married.
ii. Sally, in our alley, married and got pregnant.

Logically, they are equivalent. If the 'implicatures' differ, that's because there are, to use Carnap's label, some 'pragmatic' or 'general features of discourse' (as Grice puts it in "Prolegomena", Lecture I), at play, so that if you are narrating events, you proceed orderly.

This was noted by Urmson before Grice, and indeed by the Greeks before the English! Urmson's example (in "Philosophical Analysis between the two war worlds") is amusing:

iii. Smith got into bed and took off his trousers.
iv. Smith took off his trousers and got into bed.

When Grice delievered his lecture on "Presupposition and Conversational Implicature" (in the original transcript) he used that example, but the segment was edited out when he included that lecture in his WoW (Way of Words).

There are other fascinating facets about Smullyan. He was, like Grice, fascinated with Dodgson, Goedel, Boole, Cantor, and all the interesting names that should fascinate a Carnapian.

Smullyan had a taste for paradoxes, but he never lost his faith that first-order logic was the solution to it all, almost!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Grice and Carnap on the value of formalism

Speranza's post connecting Dick and (of course) Grice to Carnap contains a quote from Grice which is reminiscent of something which Carnap says in his "Intellectual Autobiography".

Grice said, apparently, :

"If you cannot put it in symbols it's not worth saying it."

Rather uncompromising!

Long before him Carnap (a more radical enthusiast for symbolic logic) more modestly (when writing about how he felt early in his PhD research) wrote:

"When I considered a concept or proposition occurring in a philosophical or scientific discussion, I thought that I understood it clearly only if I felt that I could express it, if I wanted to, in symbolic  language."

That was published 1963, but talks about his views just after the first world war.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Marcus Dick makes it to "Dear Carnap, Dear Van" -- and Grice


The 'and Grice' is what I call the ObG: i.e. any post should have some Griceian implicature to it!

There was a post in the Grice Club some time ago, which was basically a quotation from P. M. S. Hacker's essay on Witters (or Wittgenstein, if you must).

I love Hacker because, with G. P. Baker, they succeeded Grice (when he left for Berkeley) as tutorial fellows in philosophy at St. John's.


Hacker has this thing, like I do, matter of fact, for alphabetical ordering.

And he manages to try to list the members of what J. L. Austin called his 'kindergarten' -- i.e. the members of that play group that he led and that met on Saturday mornings. The list starts -- I shall use set-theoretical formulation to please Jones:

PG = {Dick, Grice, ...}

-- the members of the class needed to fill some requisites: they had to be younger than Austin himself, and full-time Oxonian 'dons' -- no students allowed, or professors, for that matter!

In any case, note that Dick is the first in the list, followed by Grice.

I found that charming.

I don't think Hacker is trying anything too deep, or historiographical, since, for one, give me five minutes or so, and I shall find members for the play group starting with A, B, and C -- so Dick would NOT be the first!

In any case, why does this relate to Carnap's Corner?

Well, in "Dear Carnap, Dear Van: The Quine-Carnap Correspondence and Related Work," edited by Richard Creath, we read:

"Among it various communications from Marcus Dick, trying to get in touch with us."

So, yes, Dick made it to the Carnap annals, too!

The interesting thing is that those 'various communications' could never be reciprocated because Marcus Dick left no 'future address', if you can believe that!

Ah, well.

Quinton knew Dick from his All Souls days, and he used to say (as a reciprocation for Dick saying, "No much competition here, Richard" -- addressing Richard Wollheim) that he had never met a professional philosopher at Oxford who, like Dick, had never published 'a single word'.

Quinton is of course being hyperbolic. Why?

Well, Quine, in his autobiography, refers to Dick as being an outstanding Commonwealth Fellow at Harvard, and having produced some 'outstanding work' in that area (under Quine, of course).

So, I would think that if Dick never published a single word, he must have published (on Quine's blackboard) a symbol, or two!

The connection between Dick and Grice is more tenous, or shall I say, implicatural, in nature!

But we know that in his later phase of his philosophical development, Grice grew more formalistic and logicist. Indeed, the obituary for P. F. Strawson has a gem: Grice once told Strawson,

"If you cannot put it in symbols it's not worth saying it."

-- whatever that meant! Strawson was impressed, and retorted!

But I would think that Carnap, Grice, and why not, Dick, enjoyed the profuse use of 'symbols', or logical notation to make their ideas clear -- or not! (I have a friend who always reprimands me for putting things in 'logical formal' notation -- "Life is not algebra!" he would shout!)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Hintikka, Carnap, and Grice


Jaakko Hintikka was born in Vantaa, Helsinki, Finland.

Hintikka studied mathematics with Rolf Nevanlinna and philosophy with 
Georg Henrik von Wright at the University of Helsinki where defended his 
doctoral dissertation on distributive normal forms.

So we see the cross-reference mathematics -- as per mathematics logic, that
today, for example, is taught at Oxford not within the Sub-Faculty of
Philosophy  but across the street, so that people enrolled in disciplines other
than  Philosophy can attend. The chair is called "Mathematical logic" -- and

Grice loved Wright and he borrowed from him (but never returned) the word 
'alethic'. That Hintikka was inspired by these two people (and these two
fields:  mathematical logic and philosophy -- moral theory --) to write his
essay on  'distributive normal forms' is interesting.

Geary commented: "A distributive normal form is not as normal as it 
seems," and adds with sarcasm: "especially if you catch it  undistributed!".

After his Ph.D. studies Hintikka worked as junior fellow at Harvard  and
became (independently of Stig Kanger) the founder of possible world 

The keyterm is Leibniz, as in Leibniz's world: the best of all possible 
worlds. Woody Allen (who wrote "Irrational man") and Barrett (who wrote 
"Irrational man") have something to say about this, because Leibniz is concerned 
with the "best" (morally best) of all possible worlds and Lucas (the
character  in Allen's film fallaciously thinks he has discovered it!). Hintikka's
treatment  is more abstract: he uses subindexes w1 w2 w3 wn to represent
each world.  Thus

"All man is rational"

is true in all possible worlds if for any world n, man is rational.

Hintikka published his groundbreaking work "Knowledge and Belief" on 
epistemic logic -- the semantics of which is 'possible-worlds'. He uses now two 
dyadic operators:

B(A, p)


K(A, p)

to represent that A believes and knows that p respectively. He liked to 
play with 'paradoxes' like

K(A, p) --> KK(A, p)

i.e. if you know that God exists, you know that you know that God  exists.

Hintikka was appointed professor of Practical Philosophy at Helsinki -- 
which was a good thing since, having been born there, he never got lost! In 
fact, he moved not far from the house where he had been born. And a nice
house  it was, too!

Hintikka later became professor of philosophy at Stanford -- which is  a
bit away from Helsinki, if just more or less at the same distance from the 
beach (different beaches, admittedly).

Stanford, with Hintikka, Patrick Suppes and Dagfinn Föllesdal, and the 
programme initiated by Grice "Hands across the Bay" from across the Bay in 
UC/Berkeley -- became one of the leading centres of philosophy of science and 
philosophical logic, if not conceptual analysis: Urmson and S. N. Hampshire 
also taught there.

Hintikka’s new interests included inductive logic and semantic information.
He would say, "What's the good of a philosopher if you don't have a new 

He shared his time between Stanford and Helsinki for a while.

Later Hintikka started his work with D. Reidel’s Publishing Company (later 
Kluwer Academic Publishers) in Holland as the editor-in-chief of the
journal  "Synthese" and the book series "The Synthese Library" -- which Geary
calls  "hardly synthetic".

This activity made Hintikka the most influential editor of philosophical 
works. In fact, he was co-editor of a festschrift, as it were, for Quine, who
had written "Words and Objections". This came out in Reidel as Words and 
ObjectIONS -- what's the good of a philosophical theory if you are not going
to  criticise it, as Joaquin Phoenix says in "Irrational man"? -- and they
invited  H. P. Grice to contribute. Grice took his time -- which delayed the
publication  of the thing -- and Hintikka was strict with deadlines -- but
eventually the  thing came out with Grice's "Vacuous Names" in it, and a
short reply by Quine  crediting Grice's brilliancy.

Hintikka was appointed to a Research Professorship in the Academy of 
Finland which allowed him to establish a research group of Finnish scholars 
working mainly in logic, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and 
history of philosophy.

The Academy of Finland owes its name to the Academy of Athens founded by 
Plato. Most countries have Academies: Greece first, then Rome, then Italy,
then  France. Then Finland. Even Britain has its academy and Grice was
appointed FBA  in 1966 but he delayed the deliverance of his philosophical lecture
for the  British Academy to 1971, when he came up with "Intention and
Uncertanity": a  parody on Hart and Hampshire's 'slightly ridiculous' claims in
their joint essay  for "Mind" on intention and certainty.

As a teacher and supervisor, Hintikka was highly influential though the 
richness of his new ideas and research initiatives.

Many of the former students of Hintikka have been appointed to chairs in 
philosophy. To wit: Risto Hilpinen, Raimo Tuomela, Juhani Pietarinen, Ilkka 
Niiniluoto, Simo Knuuttila, Veikko Rantala, Juha Manninen, Lauri Carlson,
Esa  Saarinen, Matti Sintonen, Gabriel Sandu.

Lauri Carlson wrote a Synthese Library essay on "Dialogue games" -- the 
ideas will be later developed by Hintikka himself in his contribution to P. G.
R. I. C. E., the Grice festschrift edited by Grandy and Warner.

Hintikka divorced his first wife Soili.

Hintikka married Merrill Bristow Provence -- Mrs. Hintikka willl later 
co-edit with Vermazen a festschrift for Davidson and they invited H. P. Grice
to  contribute. He did with a brilliant essay on 'akrasia'.

Hintikka and Provence were appointed at Tallahassee, Florida.

Hintikka married Ghita Holmström.

Hintikka became philosophy professor at Boston -- not far from where  he
had been a fellow in the next town -- when he was in Harvard, Massachussets 
-- He would walk from Boston to Cambridge, and back, as he seemed to prefer
the  bookshops in Cambridge than those in Boston.

During his Boston pewriod, Hintikka resided in a 'cottage' (as 
non-New-Englanders call them) at Marlborough.

Marlborough was not named after the person -- via rigid designation -- but 
after the borough.

Hintikka retired from Boston and moved back to Finland.

Besides his activities in research, teaching, and publication, Hintikka 
served in many important positions in international organizations, among
others  vice president of The Association for Symbolic Logic, vice-president and
later  president of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of
Science  of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science
(DLMPS/IUHPS),  president of the Charles S. Peirce Society -- D. Ritchie was
mentioning this  genial philosopher recently -- and the chairman of the
organizing committee of  the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy.

As a proof of the appreciation of Hintikka’s work, a volume dedicated to 
him in "The Library of Living Philosophers" was published.

Hintikka’s publications cover an exceptionally wide range of topics.

During his career he published lots of books or monographs, edited lots of 
books, and authored lots of essays in international journals or 

His main works deal with:

-- mathematical logic (proof theory, infinitary logics,  IF-logic)
-- intensional logic and propositional attitudes
-- philosophy of logic and mathematics
-- philosophy of language (game-theoretical semantics, quantifiers, 
-- philosophy of science (interrogative model of inquiry)
-- epistemology, and
-- history of philosophy (Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Peirce, Frege, 
Wittgenstein, Grice -- in the P. G. R. I. C. E. festschrift).

A genius.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

D. P. Henry, R. Carnap, and H. P. Grice


In his "Quæstio Subtilissima", D. P. Henry, of Manchester considers R. Carnap's views on metaphysics as nonsense.

R. B. Jones may find the reference interesting.

Thursday, 3 November 2011



I uploaded a bit on presupposition in Collingwood in our joint blog, "The city of eternal truth" (cfr. "The city of eternal blog", just teasing). By joint I mean Jones's and Speranza's.

This was in reply to Jones's post on presupposition in The Grice Club. Tit for tat, as they say!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Meaning Postulates for "Refudiate"

Chortles refudiate frumiously.

Recall Carnap's example taken up by Grice, "Pirots karulise elatically". Now, Palin was onto something. An online source provides a 'meaning postulate' alla Old Carnap for her neologism:

"a conjunction of repudiate (i.e., renounce the planned building) and refute (i.e., dispute the notion that it is necessary and appropriate at that exact location)."

So what's the buzz?