Bennett and Hacker: Village Idiots or Philosophers?

Ashlie Benjamin Hocking abh2n at cobra.cs.Virginia.EDU
Thu Feb 12 12:00:56 EST 2004


>>>"Glen M. Sizemore" <gmsizemore2 at yahoo.com> writes:
>>> Why take the language at face value in one instance, and not in the other?
>>> If "I remembered that I gave a lecture" is to "recall an event," why isn't
>>> "I remember that I have to give a lecture today" a matter of "recalling an
>>> event?"

>>Ben Hocking <abh2n at cobra.cs.Virginia.EDU> writes
>>It _is_. The event that is being recalled that you "have to give a
>>lecture today". This is not a future event, this (as worded) is a
>>present event based on a past event (namely, that you committed to
>>giving a lecture today). If you wanted to be tricky, you could use the
>>better (IMO) example "I remembered that I will give a lecture
>>today". As phrased, this definitely suggests that the speaker is
>>remembering a future event. Of course, most people will (correctly)
>>infer that the speaker is actually remembering that in the past he
>>committed to giving a lecture in the future, since one cannot remember
>>events that have not yet occurred.

>David Longley <David at longley.demon.co.uk> writes:
> What you've just done at the end there is translate the statement into
> another so that it is consistent with your preconceptions or
> "meaning". That's one of the problems with (or features of)
> intensional contexts. But such moves generally amount to little more
> than a reshuffle in an intensional language game. The point to
> appreciate surely, is that one should really just look at how these
> phrases are used (and used holophrasically). Looking inside the
> phrases amounts to an attempt to quantify in where one shouldn't.

Absolutely. It's my belief that my preconceptions of "meaning" are
consistent with most other's beliefs. Without such "preconceptions"
at some level language is useless. Surely you would concede this, it
just seems that you're are only willing to use these preconceptions at
the atomic level (words and grammar) and not necessarily at higher
levels (similes).

When someone tells me that "I remembered that I will give a lecture
today", my belief options, the best I can see, are:
(1) To believe that person meant that he remembered that he committed
to giving a lecture today
(2) To believe that person is somehow visited by foreknowledge of
events that have not yet happened
(3) To believe that the person _thinks_ he is somehow visited by such
foreknowledge (i.e., to believe that person is not wholly sane)
(4) To believe that the person is lying about being visited by such
foreknowledge

I'm claiming that #1 is usually the best bet (although personal
knowledge of the speaker could cause me to believe #3 or #4). Are you
claiming that #2 is the best bet, or do you see another belief option
that I'm missing (entirely possible, this is off the top of my head)?

>>Of course, what one says (or writes) is not always what one means
>>_literally_, even if one has not misspoken. When Carl Sandburg wrote
>>"the fog comes on little cat feet", the author assumed that the reader
>>would not take him literally. Similarly, most speakers (or authors)
>>who make the above statement ("I remembered that I will give a lecture
>>today") are assuming that the listeners will understand what is meant,
>>although at least one speaker/author (you) would not mean what most of
>>us (I believe) would assume is meant by such a statement.
> 
> And there you really go and confirm it.

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