2. Grice Biography

2.1 A Chronology

H. P. Grice, 1913-1988. Fellow of St. John's, Oxford. Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy, and University Lecturer, St. John's, Oxford. FBA 1966.


Negation. Unpublication. Archival material in the Grice Collection. MSS BANC 90/135c.


Personal identity. Mind.
Meaning. repr. in WoW.



Causal theory of perception. Repr. in WoW

Some remarks about the senses, in R. J. Butler, "Analytic Philosophy", Oxford: Blackwell, repr. in WoW.

The William James Lectures. Manuscript, BANC 90/135c. Repr. WoW, as Part I, "Logic and Conversation".

Utterer's meaning, sentence meaning and word meaning. Foundations of Language. Originally from 1967 handwritten mimeo. Repr. WoW as Essay 6.

Utterer's meaning and intentions. Philosophical Review. From original 1967 manuscript. Repr in WoW as Essay 5.

Vacuous names. in Davidson/Hintikka, Words and objections: essays on the work of W. V. O. Quine.


Intention and uncertainty. Proceedings of the British Academy and Clarendon Press.

Method in philosophical psychology. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association. Repr. as Appendix I to Gri1991.

Logic and Conversation. Originally seond William James lecture
in Davidson/Harman, Logic and Grammar. Encino, Calif: Dickinson, and in Cole/Morgan, Syntax and Semantics, volume 3: Speech acts. London: Academic Press. Repr. as Essay 2 in WoW.

Further notes on logic and conversation. Originally third William James Lecture 1967. in P. Cole, Syntax and Semantics, vol 9: Pragmatics. London: Academic Press. Repr. as Essay 3 in WoW.


Presupposition and conversational implicature. (Dated 1970 in WoW), in Cole, Radical Pragmatics. Academic Press. Repr. as Essay 17 in WoW.

Meaning revisited. In N. Smith, "Mutual knowledge" (proceedings of a symposium at the University of Sussex). London: Academic. Repr. as Essay 18 in WoW.

Preliminary Valediction. The H. P. Grice Papers, MSS BANC 90/135c.

Actions and events. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

Reply to Richards, in Grandy/Warner. It includes Part I, a rewrite of his earlier ""Prejudices and predilections which become the life and opinions of Paul Grice" by Paul Grice", and the "Reply to Richards" proper - a commentary on Richard Grandy's and Richard Warner's introduction to the festchrift.


Aristotle on the multiplicity of being. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. Posthumous. (published after Grice's passing on Aug. 28,
- and with a note, "in memory of Paul Grice").

Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.


The conception of value. Oxford: Clarendon


Aspects of reason. Oxford: Clarendon.

2.2 Griceland

Herbert Paul Grice was born in Harborne, Staffs in 1913 and died in 1988. He wrote thus far three books:

He was educated at Clifton and Corpus Christi, and was Tutor in Philosophy for more than forty years at St. John's to end as full professor of philosophy at Berkeley.

2.3 Religion and Morality

During this period (as a student) Carnap gradually came to disbelieve in God, without being aware of any change in his beliefs on moral questions.

Grice's religious inclinations are harder to pin down. Chapman in fact sounds rather authoritative when she states that "Grice lost all faith by the age of 19" or something. You can never be so sure. Chapman redeems herself by noting the very many religious references, eschatological and Biblical, in Grice's various writings.

While a disbeliever in God, Grice liked to play God. Borrowing on this idea by Carnap of pirots which karulize elatically, Grice founds a full programme in the vein of the ideal-observer. What we would do, as God, to secure the survival of pirots. While not religious in nature, it has a religious tone that is absent in the writings of Carnap in any respect.

2.4 Influences

While Carnap would write, "The men who had the strongest influence on my philosophical thinking were Frege and Russell" in that order2.1, Grice could be more irreverent.

A 1913-born man finds the strongest influence in a linguist born in the 1930s: Noam Chomsky and the Vienna Circle refugee: Quine. -" I have to admit" Grice writes (or words), that what "I admired in them is their method - never their ideas, which I never respected, really". Grice's choice is particularly agonistic: in the sense that it provokes sheer agony in us: "for I never ... over the fact that these two genii never agreed ON ANYTHING". And they lived so close!

2.5 Carnap in London

Carnap gave three renowned lectures in London in 1934 [Car35]. This Grice must have been aware of. He was in his early 20s, then, but I’d think Ayer would have made the thing known in Oxford.

Grice was VERY concerned with what Austin was doing - before the Phoney war.

2.6 Aristotle

It really all starts with Aristotle. Hume is Where the Heart Is, but Kant is the big influence when we are speaking of the Carnap/Grice interface. Grice refers to “Kantotle” and “Ariskant” as apt abbreviations of what he has in mind when he thinks of the greatest of them all. If the early Carnap is best seen as a neo-Kantian, Grice’s pedigree can be traced back as early as Oxford Hegelianism. Ryle, who had been an adherent of Heidegger (and had reviewed Heiddegger’s Sein und Zeit for Mind in 1929, had sent Ayer to Vienna (Ayer’s Weiner Kreis crisis, as it were). On his return, the ‘enfant-terrible’ as he then was and Grice depicts him as, he soon splits from Austin's playgroup. Everything Grice notes, was brought to a halt with The Phoney War.

2.7 The Wars

Carnap fought in the Great War. Grice in the 'phoney' one. Grice's father was operative during the Great War when Carnap fought. Grice's father was a businessman - a rather poor one. He invented a contraception that was good during the Great War but found useless in the aftermath. In 1939 Grice joined the Royal Navy and fought the Germans in mid-Atlantic theatre of operation. He was transferred to Admiralty in London in 1942.

Carnap possibly acquired some pessimism after the Great War. After all, the Germans lost. This contrasts with the strange optimism felt by the Brits in the post-war period. Grice included. They were grown up, they had been forced to grow up too soon. Yet they had not been able to develop their philosophical talents. Now in their thirties, a whole generation had been devastated. They had no time to lose. Grice's efforts were directed at the formation of a new generation of philosophers at Oxford - along with his current fare of unappointed tuttees. Strawson was Grice's favourite student, and the one which gave some sense to his rambling life. At the senior level, the influence of Austin was paramount.

2.8 After the War

After the war, Grice becomes more and more influential in Austin's 'kindergarten', and eventually gets the greatest credit of them all: he travels to the USA to deliver the William James Lectures, where he manages to pun on Heidegger alla Carnap (``Heidegger is the greatest living philosopher, if you can take me seriously'' ([Gri89] Essay 1)). It’s sadly after Carnap’s demise that Grice introduces his ``pirotological programme'' in the APA presidential address (Pacific Division) for 1975. He becomes more metaphysical as gives the Carus Lectures (published as [Gri91]). His postmortem influence grows as his ``Aspects of Reason'' lectures get published in 2001 [Gri01].

Grice regards metaphysics as comprising both a general and a special branch. The general branch comprises two subbranches, metaphysics proper, qua theory of the category, and eschatology, qua theory of transcategorial epithets. The special branch includes cosmology and rational psychology.

2.9 The Oxford Circle

The Oxford Circle. The Berkeley Circle. If Carnap was ultimately Vienna Circle, there’s more of a larger geographical spectrum in Grice. ``The Carnap Circle'' - by this we mean the Carnap convivial approach to philosophy. This is echoed in the Grice Circle. Grice could only work philosophically in convivial conditions. Although he never belonged to the early Austin club, he was a regular, indeed, Austin's favourite member of Austin's playgroup. On Austin's death, Grice led the playgroup until his departure for the States. What's more important, while in the States he would gather at his ``at-homes'' up the Berkeley Hills. It's less clear what sort of convivial meeetings Carnap held while at Santa Monica.

Carnap observes that the state of Logic teaching in the USA was much better than in Europe. This is echoed by Grice. He confesses publicly that part of his professional reason - one wonders: couldn't he just write? - for moving to the States was ``closer contact with logicians''. Grice is already in 1969 quoting from Boolos, Parsons, Myro and Mates. This is the beginning of his System G. Putnam would actually cut short Grice's formalistic fancies: ``You are too formal'' he'd complain. Grice did not fit the brit steroretype of the good humanistic Oxford don of Austinian ilk. Of course they were wrong. Grice fit NO stereotype.

2.10 System $G_{HP}$

Grice lists 13 items ([Gri89] ii) which Grice thinks are constitutive of a good formal language. They reproduce almost verbatim Carnap’s own ideas of axiomatic languages which he had drawn independently from Euclid and the modern formal logicians like Frege and Goedel. System $G_{HP}$ is best illustrated with simple utterances like the one Carnap used in ``Introduction to Semantics''. Grice agrees that lack of sense here is actually a good thing. For what is the logical form of, ``Pirots karulize elatically''? We need a meaning postulate. An x is a pirot P iff it karulize K, where K is extensionally defined as a class such that its members are the denotata of all the names of pirots. The ‘elatically’ qua adverb should not deviate us from the gist of the logical form. More important is the need to quantify. Are all pirots meant? Or is there some scalar implicature at work (``Some pirots karulise elatically''; ``some not''. Is karulising the pirot’s raison d’etre. Is, in the words of Carnap’s meaning-and-necessity something that holds for all possible worlds where pirots exist? In other words, indeed Aristotle’s, is karulising an essential property for pirots? Are we to read Carnp's sentence as pirots having (``MUST'') to karulis elatically? These are the goals. The means are simple enough in Morrisian terms. We need first a Syntactics – where 'proof' is defined, with Gentzen-type rules added for good measure (if we are going to formalize this as (x)Px à Kx, we need introduction and elimination rules for both (x) and à. Then we need a proper formal Semantics. This should allow for scope indicator devices. While pragmatics in Carnapcopia is the realm of pragmatism, the landscape of Griceland is more formal. The third element in System G, Pragmatics, is the realm of implicature

2.11 Metaphysics

Grice, as a Brit, would be more familiar with the views of Waismann, the member of the Vienna Circle who had made it to England. Grice lectured on metaphysics for the BBC. The result is in D. F. Pears, ``The nature of metaphysics'', [PSP57]. This is vintage Grice. I.e. Grice self-presenting as a metaphysician as 'ambitious' as Kantotle was. Metaphysics was starting to cease being the term of abuse he felt Ayer had turned it into. Metaphysics as a discipline in need of professional defence.

Grice, unlike Carnap, was professionally involved in DEFENDING metaphysics. He delivered annually two courses on Metaphysics. Usually with G. Myro. Naturally, he felt the defence of the discipline was what was professionally and institutionally required from him, especially after becoming a full professor at Berkeley in 1975. Grice's student,Sir Peter Strawson had become by 1968 the standard for metaphysical theory as understood in England and Oxford. As Waynflete professor he became more and more interested in neo-Kantian foundations for the discipline. How formal can we get

Myro was a special influence in Grice's metaphysical thought. Educated at Oxford in Balliol, he had a strict logical background and inspired in Grice much of what transpired as Grice's System Q, which Myro later re-baptised System G - ``in gratitude to Paul Grice for the original idea''. The syntax of System G makes use of scope devices to allow for pragmatic implicature.

These undertake two forms:

the use of square brackets to indicate common-ground status. Grice provides formal rules for the introduction and elimination of square brackets in ([Gri89] xviii)
the use of numerical subscripts (in Vacuous Names). This allows for the scope maximal readings of formulae but allowing as well for a minimal reading upon a simple numerical transformation. Dogmatism

Grice and Strawson had defended the analytic-synthetic distinction in "In defense of a dogma" but Grice grew sceptical as to the success of that defense (of an underdogma, as he later had it). He grew more and more pragmatist towards the viability of the need to postulate the distinction.

2.12 Semantics for System G

Carnap's "meaning postulates" have affinities with Grice's notion of 'entailment' which he drew from Moore. Moore, while not a formal logician, is responsible for this coinage, which appealed to Grice, as he would contrast, in his System G, only entailment with 'implicature'. There would be no place for 'presupposition' or truth-value gaps in this scheme, as there is in Strawson. The metaphysical implications of Grice's choice of a bivalent standard interpretation of System G are obvious. The Man is the Style. Grice spoke excellent English. As Clifton and Corpus Christi educated, he found easily crowds of followers, especially in America, in younger philosophers who had grown tired of their dogmatic empiricist teachers. Grice brought a breath of fresh air. This is ironical as seen from the other side of the 'pond', in that the breath of fresh air can be looked, in a sort of inverted snobbery, as an irreverent reactionary dogmatism! On the other hand, Carnap was perhaps less influential among the younger philosophers.

2.13 Griceland and Carnapcopia Galore

It's pretty easy to trace genealogical trees from Grice to the major figures in the Anglo-American analytic philosophy of a decade ago or so. It is perhaps less easy to do same with Carnap. Important metaphysicians with Gricean influences include G. Bealer, G. Myro in the USA. Strawson and Peacocke in the US. A search for 'metaphysics' and Grice retrieves more hits in Google than it retrieves for 'metaphysics' and Carnap. The growth, continuing, of Gricean bibliography is overwhelming. Books published in his memory, although not necessarily from cutting-edge philosophers. He was after all, a philosopher's philosopher. The secondary bibliography on Carnap is perhaps not so vast.

2.13.1 Dialogue

Dialogue Much of the stimulus came from discussions with other philosophers. you write on your thing.



The diagogic. Further to the gladiatorial and the conversational, it is worth pointing out that the later Grice grew less and less tolerant of 'epagoge' and more and more embracing of diagoge. The distinction is Aristotelian, but Grice's twist reminds one of Carnap's pro-attitude for dialogue as stimulating.

Grice's father had been a musician and so was his younger brother Derek. The trios they engaged in in Harborne gave Grice a rich ... (thing) about the value of cooperation: "Getting together to do philosophy should be like getting to play music".

-- The epagoge/diagoge distinction is a basic one for Grice's metaphysical methodology. If evidence is, as the neo-Kantian he was, all too clearly necessary, one would hope however that the BASIS for this or that metaphysical claim (or rejection) should rest on its own virtues rather than on the success or failure of having confronted its antithesis.

re the Vienna Circle as forum for open discussion.

"The Carnap Circle" - by this we mean the Carnap convivial approach to philosophy. This is echoed in the Grice Circle. Grice could only work philosophically in convivial conditions. Although he never belonged to the early Austin club, he was a regular, indeed, Austin's favourite member of Austin's playgroup. On Austin's death, Grice indeed led the playgroup until his departure for the States. What's more important, while in the States he would gather at his "at-homes" up the Berkeley Hills.

-- It's less clear what sort of convivial meeetings Carnap held while at Santa Monica, etc.

(my impression is that he was more isolated [RBJ])

Roger Bishop Jones 2016-01-07