The Comparative Psychology of Man

Spencer, Herbert 1876. The Comparative Psychology of Man. Mind 1(1): 7-20.

That making a general survey is useful as a preliminary to deliberat study, either of a whole or of any prat, scarcely needs showing. Vagueness of thought accompanies the wandering about in a region without known bounds or landmarks. Attention devoted to some portion of a subject, in ignorance of its connection with the rest, leads to untrue conceptions. The whole cannot be rightly conceived without some knowledge of the parts; and no part can be rightly conceived out of relation to the whole. (Spencer 1876: 7)

This is simultaneously an encouragement to review phatic communion before setting forth an original framework and can also be used as a call for an elucidation of a broader historical-philosophical context for phatic communion.

It will also include inquiries concerning the time taken in completing mental evolution, and the time during which adult mental power lasts, such as the greater or less persistence of emotions and of intellectual processes. (Spencer 1876: 7)

This is obviously a reference to Spencer's principle of economy of mental effort, which is presumably continued by William James in his Principles of Psychology in viewing "higher intellect" as a matter of duration, or how long a single thought can be sustained in a mind. In casual parlange, smarter people can focus and dedicate their thinking on any given item for much longer than a person whose attention span is short.

This division should also include in its scope the sentiments of the sexes towards one another, considered as varying quantitatively and qualitatively; as well as their respective sentiments towards offspring, similarly varying. (Spencer 1876: 8)

Reinforcing the opinion that "sentiments" in Spencer's vocabulary are pretty much "attitudes" in Herbert Blumer's.

For the third division of inquiries may be reserved the more special mental traits distinguishing different types of men. One class of such specialties results from difference of proportion among faculties possessed in common; and another class results from the presence in some races of faculties that are almost or quite absent from others. (Spencer 1876: 8)

"I have chosen the above from a Savage Community, because I wanted to emphasize that such and no other is the nature of primitive speech." (Malinowski 1923: 316)

Some there are whose intelligence, high though it may be, produces little impression on those arond; while there are some who, when uttering even commonplaces, do it so as to affect listeners in a disproportionate degree. Comparison of two such makes it manifest that, generally, the difference is due to the natural language of the emotions. Behind the intellectual quickness of the one there is not felt any power of character; while the other betrays a momentum capable of bearing down opposition - a potentiality of emotion that has something formidable about it. (Spencer 1876: 8)

Commonplaces, i.e. cliches, phatic expressions.

The natural language of emotions, i.e. the classic understanding according to which "natural language" is basically nonverbal communication, and not informal verbal language as it is most frequently understood today. I have a hunch that this shift occurred within logic or computer science, when it became necessary to distinguish between normal human language and artificial or technical languages used in mathematics and computing. But I've yet to discover the exact point in time when this shift occurred, or even whereabouts (gut feeling says mid 20th century but this is a hunch).

Character occurs twice in Malinowski's "Phatic Communion", both in paragraph 4: "taciturnity means not only unfriendliness but directly a bad character. This no doubt varies greatly with the national character".

What are the relations of this trait to the social state, as predatory or industrial, nomadic or agricultural? Mental complexity. - How races differ in respect of the more or less involved structures of their minds, will best be understood on recalling that unlikeness between the juvenile mind and the adult mind among ourselves, which so well typifies the unlikeness between the minds of savage and civilised. (Spencer 1876: 9)

Not far off from calling primitive peoples mentally infantile. What is scientific racism? For my purposes, I'll note that there is probably an etymological connection betveen "juvenile" and "jovial", which may be connected with the phaticisms "free" and "aimless".

Relative plasticity. - Is there any relation between the degree of mental modifiability which remains in adult life, and the character of the mental evolution in respect of mass, complexity, and rapidity? The animal kingdom at large yields us reasons for associating an inferior and more rapidly-completed mental type, with a relatively automatic nature. Lowly organised creatures, guided almost entirely by reflex actions, are in but small degrees changeable by individual experiences. As the nervous structure complicates, its actions become less rigorously confined within pre-established limits; and as we approach the highest creatures, individual experiences take larger and larger shares in moulding the conduct: there is an increasing ability to take in new impressions and to profit by the acquisitions. Inferior and superior races are contrasted in this respect. Many travellers comment on the unchangeable habits of savages. (Spencer 1876: 10)

Having to do with the diminutive representative examples - Malinowski has "savages", La Barre has women, children and primates, Jakobson has infants and talking birds. Are bearded and unbearded races superior or inferior? Also, many travellers have apparently attempted to change the habits of the inhabitants of lands they travel.

Speaking broadly, while they resist permanent modification they lack intellectual persistence, and they lack emotional persistence. Of various low types we read that they cannot keep the attention fixed beyond a few minutes on anything requiring thought, even of a simple kind. Similarly with their feelings: these are less enduring than those of civilised men. There are, however, qualifications to be made in this statement; and comparisons are needed to ascertain how far these qualifications go. The savage shows great persistence in the action of lower intellectual faculties. He is untiring in minute observation. He is untiring, also, in that kind of perceptive activity which accompanies the making of his weapons and ornaments: often persevering for immense periods in carving stones, &c. Emotionally, too, he shows persistence not only in the motives prompting these small industries, but also in certain of his passions - especially in that of revenge. (Spencer 1876: 11)

Compare to "affirmations of some supremely obvious state of things" (PC 2.2) and "accounts of irrelevant happenings, comments on what is perfectly obvious" (PC 5.1).

What connection is there between this trait and the social state? Clearly a very explosive nature - such as that of the Bushman - is unfit for social union; and, commonly, social union, when by any means established, checks impulsiveness. What respective shares in checking impulsiveness are taken by the feelings which the social state fosters - such as the fear of surrounding individuals, the instinct of sociality, the desire to accumulate property, the sympathetic feelings, the sentiment of justice? These, which require a social environment for their development, all of them involve imaginations of consequences more or less distant; and thus imply checks upon the prompting of the simpler passions. Hence arise the questions - In what order, in what degrees, and in what combinations do they come into play? (Spencer 1876: 12-13)

These feelings, which the social state supposedly fosters, I have already correlated with Malinowski's phatic communion in a dedicated post in the Phatic Workshop.

Two natures respectively adapted to slightly unlike sets of social conditions, may be expected by their union to produce a nature somewhat more plastic than either - a nature more impressible by the new circumstances of advanced social life, and therefore more likely to originate new ideas and display modified sentiments. (Spencer 1876: 13)

Shorthand: intercultural plasticity. Estonglish and other variants immediately come to mind but this would probably be an interesting aspect to dissect in modern networked cultures.

The sexual sentiment. - Results of value may be looked for from comparisons of races made to determine the amounts and characters of the higher feelings to which the relations of the sexes give rise. (Spencer 1876: 15)

Higher feelings meaning affection?

(a) How far is development of the sexual sentiment dependent upon intellectual advance - upon growth of imaginative power? (b) How far is it related to emotional advance; and especially to evolution of those emotions which originate from sympathy? What are its relations to polyandry and polygyny? (c) Does it not tend towards, and is it not fostered by, monogamy? (d) What connection has it with maintenance of the family bond, and the consequent better rearing of children? (Spencer 1876: 16)

Something something mobile work.

Imitativeness. - One of the characteristics in which the lower types of men show us a smaller departure from reflex action than do the higher types, is their strong tendency to mimic the motions and sounds made by others - an almost involuntary habit which travellers find it difficult to check. This meaningless repetition, which seems to imply that the idea of an observed action cannot be framed in the mind of the observer without tending forthwith to discharge itself in the action conceived (and every ideal action is a nascent form of the consciousness accompanying performance of such action), evidently diverges but little from the automatic; and decrease of it is to be expected along with increase of self-regulating power. This trait of automatic mimicry is evidently allied with that less automatic mimicry which shows itself in greater persistence of customs. For customs adopted by each generation from the last, without thought or inquiry, imply a tendency to imitate which overmasters critical and sceptical tendencies: so maintaining habits for which no reason can be given. (Spencer 1876: 16)

Compare this to the automaticity of Gardiner-Jakobsonian phatic function. The latter portions concerns the passing along of culture ("custom"). Habits for which no reason can be given are similar to rites, which in Durkheim appeared to have no better explanation than "this is how our forefathers did things".

Specialities of emotional nature. - These are worthy of careful study, as being intimately related to social phenomena - to the possibility of social progress, and to the nature of the social structure. Of those to be chiefly noted there are - (a) Gregariousness or sociality - a trait in the strength of which races differ widely: some, as the Mantras, being almost indifferent to social intercourse; others being unable to dispense with it. Obviously the degree of the desire for the presence of fellow-men, affects greatly the formation of social groups, and consequently underlies social progress. (b) Intolerance of restraint. Men of some inferior types, as the Mapuché, are ungovernable; while those of other types, no higher in grade, not only submit to restraint, but admire the persons exercising it. These contrasted traits have to be observed in connection with social evolution; to the early stages of which they are respectively antagonistic and favourable. (c) The desire for praise is a trait which, common to all races, high or low, varies considerably in degree. (Spencer 1876: 18)

Must be compared more closely with Malinowski, particularly in the aspect of group formation, on which I now have more linguistic material from him and Durkheim.

The altruistic sentiments. - Coming last, these are also highest. The evolution of them in the course of civilisation shows us very clearly the reciprocal influences of the social unit and the social organism. On the one hand, there can be no sympathy, nor any of the sentiments which simpathy generates, unless there are fellow-beings around. On the other hand, maintenance of union with fellow-beings depends in part on the presence of sympathy, and the resulting restraint on conduct. Gregariousness or sociality favours the growth of sympathy; increased sympathy conduces to closer sociality and a more stable social state; and so, continuously, each increment of the one makes possible a further increment of the other. (Spencer 1876: 19)

Blockquotable. He goes on to list Pity, Generosity and Justice. These curiously follow a quasi-Peircean line noticeable elsewhere in his writings, too, even infra pp. 17, "for there are generalities of the first, second, third, &c. orders and abstractions similarly ascending in degree".

The Meaning of Meaning

Ogden, Charles Kay and Ivor Armstrong Richards 1946[1923]. The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism. Eighth edition. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.


Let us get nearer to the fire, so that we can see what we are saying. - The Bubis of Fernando Po (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 1)
As far as I can make out Fernando Po is a place in Equatorial Guinea. [I. A. elaborates: Fernando Po is an island in Equatorial Guinea, and "The Bubis" are a the inhabitants of the island; a sub-group of Bantu language family.] What I appreciate about this quote is that it ties together the various meanings of "phatic". When Joe Corneli was recently in Greece he asked a local colleague there what "phatic" means in Greek. The answer involves "tell" (ütlema), "show" (näitama), and "light" (valgus). Furthermore, there's a derivation of "emphasis" from ἔν ‎(én, "in") + φαίνω ‎(phaínō, "I show"). "Phatic" itself reportedly comes from φατός ‎(phatós, "spoken"). In this quote these things come together, so that "showing" (so that we can see) "speaking" (what we are saying) and light (nearer to the fire) come together. // Meil on kirjas ka teised, seotud kreekakeelsed kirjapildid. Kunagi tuleks seda etümoloogiat lähemalt arutleda, aga selleks oleks hea mõne päris kreeklase abi kasutada.
In recent years, indeed, the existence and importance of this problem of Meaning have been generally admitted, but by some sad chance those who had attempted a solution have too often been forced to relinquish their ambition - whether through old age, like Leibnitz, or penury, like C. S. Peirce, or both. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 1)
define:penury - extreme poverty; destitution; pennilessness. In other words, Ogden and Richards are referring to the fact that Peirce lived in poverty and relative obscurity I have a feeling that I'll have to look up many old, obsolete words while reading this book. // "Penury" on rahapuudus, vaesus; nappus, äärmuslik viletsus.
Now, it is the investigation of the nature of the correspondence between word and fact, to use these terms in the widest sense, which is the proper and the highest problem of the science of meaning. (Postgate 1900; in Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 2)
This correspondence is relevant for me only insofar as it is understood as the referential function and opposed to the phatic function. For example, Weston La Barre (The Human Animal, 1954) takes up phatic communication and opposes it to making "genuine or verifiable statements about the structure of the universe" (1954: 58), which seems just a bit loquacious but also pertains to this very same correspondence between word and fact. It is odd only because he holds "fact" not only to be verifiable (which is indeed the primary characteristic of a fact) but also relates it to the structure of the universe, which, I'm not sure if the referential function of language must necessarily do. // Mul on tegelikult oma teooria, et referentsiaalne funktsioon ei ole niivõrd viide keelevälisesse maailma, vaid - vähemalt Mukarovsky ja Jakobsoni käsitlustes - rohkem nagu "viited kontekstile"; nt luuletuses mõne väljendi laenamine varasemast, tuntumast luuletusest, mistõttu "laenatud" väljend on justkui viide luulelisele kontekstile. Sellise viite-teooria saab Jakobsoni töödest välja lugeda ja Mukarovski "Poetic Reference" artiklis on see sõnaselge, aga ma pole näinud, et keegi hilisem sellise asjaga väga tegeleks. // Notice, also, that this excerpt is actually a quote from "Dr Postgate", which I've tracked down to page 329 of Postgate, John Percival 1900. Appendix: The Science of Meaning. In: Breal, Michel, Semantics: Studies in the Science of Meaning. Translated by Henry Crust. London: W. Heinemann, 311-336.
What exactly is to be made of substantives which "contain" truth, "that amount of truth which can be contained by a name"? How can "all that is found in the idea be also found in the word"? The conception of language as "compelled to choose an idea," and thereby creating "a name, which is not long in becoming a sign," is an odd one; while 'accuracy' and 'harmony' are sadly in need of elucidation when applied to naming and to the relation between sign and thing signified respectively. This is not mere captious criticism. The locutions objected to conceal the very facts which the science of language is concerned to elucidate. The real task before that science cannot be successfully attempted without a far more critical consciousness of the dangers of such loose verbiage. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 3-4)
These expressions illustrate the "loose metaphor, the hypostatization of leading terms" (ibid, 3). The problem is actually the very same that I have with Bronislaw Malinowski's supplement to this book. Although many of his loquacious expressions, like "the bonds of union" and "links of fellowship", have become common phaticisms in modern times, they nevertheless do very little in aiding phatic studies elucidate necessary facts. The "dangers of such loose verbiage" are known to anyone willing to read a significant amount of literature spawned by Malinowski's concept of phatic communion - every succeeding author has a different idea of what the term means, what it applies to, and so forth. // Probleem on tegelikult vist ka selles, et "faatilisus" on niivõrd intuitiivne kontsept, et paljudele piisab pinnapealisest lugemisest, et kujundada mingi arusaam asjast. Vähemalt üks Jaapani autor arvas, et selles on asi. Mina isiklikult arvan, et viga on Malinowski enda tekstis, mis on täis kauneid sõnakõlkse, aga kirjutatud niivõrd arhailises inglise keeles, et tänapäeva lugejad saavad vaevalt aru mida ta täpselt mõtles. Üks ülesanne seega on tegelikult üritada Malinowski originaalteksti sisu täpsustada, asendada kaunid fraasid konkreetsematega, mida hilisemad autorid on välja pakkunud.
Such an elaborate construction as la langue might, no doubt, be arrived at by some Method of Intensive Distraction analogous to that with which Dr Whitehead's name is associated, but as a guiding principle for a young science it is fantastic. Moreover, the same device of inventing verbal entities outside the range of possible investigation proved fatal to the theory of signs which followed. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 5)
Apparently this passage has confused more than one reader, and a Yahoo Answers topic has been dedicated to it. The principal point being that de Saussure's la langue is a scientifically unverifiable proposition. I recall my interview with Jelena Grigorjeva where "language" was her answer to everything (she used the word 57 times in total).
Unfortunately this theory of signs, by neglecting entirely the things for which signs stand, was from the beginning cut off from any contact with scientific methods of verification. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 6)
In that sense, I think, Roman Jakobson was completely Saussurean. The extra-linguistic, external world of things was only of interest insofar as it could be "verbalized". He did mention that the context factor and the referential function have to do with semantics and the connection between words and what they refer to, but he was more interested in what words do and how they do it. // Sisuliselt on siin kirjas see mida semiootikaloengutes nii sageli võib kuulda: et de Saussure ei huvitunud "objektist".
An adequate account of primitive peoples is impossible without an insight into the essentials of their languages, which cannot be gained through a mere transfer of current Indo-European grammatical distinctions, a procedure only too often positively misleading. In the circumstances, each field investigator might be supposed to reconstruct the grammar of a primitive tongue from his own observations of the behaviour of a speaker in a given situation. Unfortunately this is rarely done, since the difficulties are very great; and perhaps owing to accidents of psychological terminology, the worker tends to neglect the concrete environment of the speaker and to consider only the 'ideas' which are regarded as 'expressed.' (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 6-7)
This reads like an introduction to Malinowski's supplement, where he indeed considers thoroughly the imposition or impossibility of translating "primitive" expressions into Western ones. Likewise, here we already see emphasis on the context of situation, a Malinowskian trademark. He did in fact observe the behaviour of speakers in the situations they were in, considered the concrete environment, and came up with the observation that sometimes they use language just for the sake of using language. Ergo phatic communion.
"All speech," says Dr Boas explicitly, "is indented to serve for the communication of ideas." Ideas, however, are only remotely accessible to outside inquirers, and we need a theory which connects words with things through the ideas, if any, which they symbolize. We require, that is to say, separate analyses of the relations of words to ideas and of ideas to things. Further, much language, especially primitive language, is not primarily concerned with ideas at all, unless under 'ideas' are included emotions and attitudes - a procedure which would involve terminological inconveniences. The omission of all separate treatment of the ways in which speech, besides conveying ideas, also expresses attitudes, desires and intentions, is another point at which the work of this school is at present defective. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 7)
Boas's statement is exactly what Malinowski argues against. And later on he does take emotions and attitudes into consideration. For example, writing about the narrative: "When incidents are told or discussed among a group of listeners, there is, first, the situation of that moment made up of the respective social, intellectual and emotional attitudes of those present." (Malinowski 1946[1923]: 312) // Boas's quote originates from p. 23 of Boas, Franz 1911. Introduction. In: Boas, Franz (ed), Handbook of American Indian Languages. Part 1. Wastington: Bureau of American Ethnology, 1-84.
In yet another respect all these specialists fail to realize the deficiencies of current linguistic theory. Preoccupied as they are - ethnologists with recording the details of fast vanishing languages; philologists with an elaborate technique of phonetic laws and principles of derivation; philosophers with 'philosophy' - all have overlooked the pressing need for a better understanding of what actually occurs in discussion. The analysis of the process of communication is partly psychological, and psychology has now reached a stage at which this part may be successfully undertaken. Until this had happened the science of Symbolism necessarily remained in abeyance, but there is no longer any excuse for vague talk about Meaning, and ignorance of the ways in which words deceive us. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 8)
It seems like much of this reads like prolegomena to Malinowski's supplement. In his reply, what actually occurs in discussion is the communion of words, a social activity.
Throughout the Western world it is agreed that people must meet frequently, and that it is not only agreeable to talk, but that it is a matter of common courtesy to say something even when there is hardly anything to say. "Every civilized man," continues the late Professor Mahaffy, to whose Principles of the Art of Conversation we owe this observation, "feels, or ought to feel, this duty; it is the universal accomplishment which all must practice"; those who fail are punished by the dislike or neglect of society. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 8)
Consider: "I think that, in discussing the function of Speech in mere sociabilities, we come to one of the bedrock aspects of man's nature in society. There is in all human beings the well-known tendency to congrecate, to be together, to enjoy each other's company." (Malinowski 1946[1923]: 314). Later authors have even elaborated the "punishment" and "dislike" that accrues neglect of the so-called Phatic Maxim. They hold that there are punitive social measures in place for people who don't engage in polite conversation, although I've yet to see research explicitly on this subject.
There is no doubt an Art in saying something when there is nothing to be said, but it is equally certain that there is an Art no less important of saying clearly what one wishes to say when there is an abundance of material; and conversation will seldom attain even the level of an intellectual pastime if adequate methods of Interpretation are not also available. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 8-9)
Yup, in some papers on phatics I've seen references to books about the Art of Conversation up to the late nineteenth century (not sure if it was specifically this one). Recalling the relation between ars and technê, it would perhaps be prudent to consider this book for a study of phatic techniques: Mahaffy, John Pentland 1888. The principles of the art of conversation. New York; London: G. P. Putnam's sons.
By leaving out essential elements in the language situation we easily raise problems and difficulties which vanish when the whole transaction is considered in greater detail. Words, as every one now knows, 'mean' nothing by themselves, although the belief that they did, as we shall see in the next chapter, was once equally universal. It is only when a thinker makes use of them that they stand for anything, or, in one sense, have 'meaning.' They are instruments. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 9-10)
Compare: "A mere phrase of politeness, in use as much among savage tribes as in a European drawing-room, fulfils a function to which the meaning of its words is almost completely irrelevant." (Malinowski 1946[1923]: 313).
But besides this referential use which for all reflective, intellectual use of language should be paramount, words have other functions which may be grouped together as emotive. [...] Many difficulties, indeed, arising through the behaviour of words in discussion, even amongst scientists, force us at any early stage to take into account these 'non-symbolic' influences. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 10)
Could this be the source for Dell Hymes' statement that even scientists exchanging information about their own particular research is partly phatic?
Between a thought and a symbol causal relations hold. When we speak, the symbolism we employ is caused partly by the reference we are making and partly by social and psychological factors - the purpose for which we are making the reference, the proposed effect of our symbols on other persons, and our own attitude. When we hear what is said, the symbols both cause us to perform an act of reference and to assume an attitude which will, according to circumstances, be more or less similar to the act and the attitude of the speaker. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 10-11)
More stuff that sounds like Dell Hymes, who proposed to rename the phatic function the "reciprocal expressive function".
Simulative and non-simulative language are entirely distinct in principle. Standing for and representing are different relations. It is, however, convenient to speak at times as though there were some direct relation holding between Symbol and Referent. We then say, on the analogy of the lawn-mower, that a Symbol refers to a Referent. Provided that the telescopic nature of the phrase is not forgotten, confusion need not arise. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 12; fn. 1)
From p. 9: "But just as we say that the gordener mows the lawn when we know that it is the lawn-mower which actually does the cutting, so, though we know that the direct relation of symbols is with thought, we also say that symbols record events and communicate facts." By telescope (an expression I recently picked up from somewhere else but can't ascertain from where) the authors mean something like ellipsis: we know that the lawn-mower does the actual mowing but we still say "he mowed the lawn", just like we can say that there is a relation between Symbol and Referent but we know that there is Thought in between. In effect they are as-if introducing Peirce's interpretant (Thought) into the process. Above (p. 5; footnote 2) they noted that this Third is missing or misplaced in de Saussure's semiology, but also note that since the acoustic image "would not be a sign" without the concept, so in effect "the process of interpretation is included by definition in the sign".
On a less gigantic scale the technique of deliberate misdirection can profitably be studied with a view to corrective measures. In accounting for Newman's Grammar of Assent Dr E. A. Abbott had occasion to describe the process of 'lubrication,' the art of greasing the descent from the premises to the conclusion, which his namesake cited above so aptly employs. In order to lubricate well, various qualifications are necessary:
"First a nice discrimination of words, enabling you to form, easily and naturally, a great number of finely graduated propositions, shading away, as it were, from the assertion 'x is white' to the assertion 'x is black.' Secondly an inward and absolute contempt for logic and for words. [...] And what are words but toys and sweetmeats for grown-up babies who call themselves men?" (Philomythus, p. 214)
But even where the actual referents are not in doubt, it is perhaps hardly realized how widespread is the habit of using the power of words not only for bona fide communications, but also as a method of misdirection; and in the world as it is to-day the naive interpreter is likely on many occasions to be seriously misled if the existence of this unpleasing trait - equally prevalent amongst the classes and the masses without distinction of race, creed, sex, or colour - is overlooked. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 18-19)
I'm recording this excerpt because of my study of Dale Carnegie's How to win friends and influence people (1936), in which - much like in many studies on phatics - the phrase "social lubrication" is applied on small talk and verbal politeness. On a broader scale it relates to American phaticity - the "How are you?" that doesn't require a serious answer, the "We should get together sometime" that doesn't imply actually getting together, etc.
The person actually interpreting a sign is not well placed for observing what is happening. We should develop our theory of signs from observations of other people, and only admit evidence drawn from introspection when we know how to appraise it. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 19)
Suspicious of introspection, just like Kant, Peirce, and Clay.
If we stand in the neighbourhood of a cross road and observe a pedestrian confronted by a notice To Grantchester displayed on a post, we commonly distinguish three important factors in the situation. There is, we are sure, (1) a Sign which (2) refers to a Place and (3) is being interpreted by a person. All situations in which Signs are considered are similar to this. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 21)
In other words, a representamen, an object, and an interpretant/interpreter. We know now that all situations in which signs are considered are not similar to this. Semiotics as a field would be much more scanty if it were so.
In particular, by using the same term 'meaning' both for the 'Goings on' inside their heads (the images, associations, etc., which enable them to interpret signs) and for the Referents (the things to which the signs refer) philosophers have been forced to locate Grantchester, Influenza, Queen Anne, and indeed the whole Universe equally unside their heads - or, if alarmed by the prospect of cerebral congestion, at least 'in their minds' in such wise that all these objects become conveniently 'mental.' Great care, therefore, is required in the use of the term 'meaning,' since its associations are dangerous. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 22; fn. 1)
Peirce's phaneron, the pragmaticists' cognitive environment.
Images, etc., are often most useful signs of our present and future behaviour - notably in the modern interpretation of dreams. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 23)
Imagine what you'll do, and then do it.


Most educated people are quite unconscious of the extent to which these relics survive at their doors, still less do they realize how their own behaviour is moulded by the unseen hand of the past. "Only those whose studies have led them to investigate the subject," adds Dr Frazen, "are aware of the depth to which the ground beneath our feet is thus, as it were, honeycombed by unseen forces." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 25)
A truism. And a neat metaphor for elaborating Clay's account of the retrospect, and past as an inalienable structural element of the system in Jakobson & Tynyanov (1928). One could only add that while the hand of the past is invisible, the hand of the future is ineffable.
The power of words is the most conservative force in our life. Only yesterday did students of anthropology begin to admit the existence of those ineluctable verbal coils by which so much of our thought is encompassed. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 25)
Another truism. This insight is more relevant today, almost a century later, when we've moved beyond the cultural technique of writing (notes, letters, papers, books, compendiums) and entered the "written world" of computer mediated communication. In effect this development conserves language in an unforeseen manner and magnitude. At least the English language will probably see very little variation in the foreseeable future.
And on the contextual account of reference which is the outcome of modern developments of associationism, with its immense stress on the part played by language in memory and imagination, it is clear that in the days before psychological analysis was possible the evidence for a special world of words of power, for nomina as numina, must have appeared overwhelming. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 26-27)
What is the contextual account of reference? I can only think of Jakobson. Associationism, as far as I know, is a psychological theory that achieved its fulcrum in the late nineteenth century, especially in Germany.
"Why asked thou after my name, seeing it is secret (or 'ineffable' with Prof. G. F. Moore), says the angel of the Lord to Manoah in the book of Judges. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 27)
Having recently read a few papers on angelology, I now find it doubly ironic that so many odd and somehow popular (or at least selling) books on the names of angels are available in any given bookstore.
Influences making for its wide diffusion are the baffling complexity of the symbolic apparatus now at our disposal; the possession by journalists and men of letters of an immense semi-technical vocabulary and their lack of opportunity, or unwillingness, to inquire into its proper use; the success of analytic thinkers in fields bordering on mathematics, where the divorce between symbol and reality is most pronounced and the tendency to hypostatization most alluring; the extension of a knowledge of the cruder forms of symbolic convention (the three R's), combined with a widening of the gulf between the public and the scientific thought of the age; and finally the exploitation, for political and commercial purpose, of the printing press by the dissemination and reiteration of clichés. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 29)
Having just finished reading Sarah Henstra's "Looking the Part: Performative Narration in Djuna Barnes's Nightwood and Katherine Mansfield's "Je Ne Parle Pas Francais" (2000), I similarly have qualms with seemingly capable writers who have such a vast resource of technical vocabulary but end up using it for making pretty sounding sentences instead of making sense. Academic literature is ideally scientific correspondence, not an exercise in creative writing.
The ingenuity of the modern logician tends to conceal the verbal foundations of his structure, but in Greek philosophy these foundations are clearly revealed. The earlier writers are full of the relics of primitive word-magic. To classify things is to name them, and for magic the name of a thing or group of things is its soul; to know their names is to have power over their souls. Nothing, whether human or superhuman, is beyond the power of words. Language itself is a duplicate, a shadow-soul, of the whole structure of reality. Hence the doctrine of the Logos, variously conceived as this supreme reality, the divine soul-substance, as the 'Meaning' or reason of everything, and as the 'Meaning' or essence of a name. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 31)
At the same time there is something alluring in this kind of primitive word-magic. Like the bad-smelling expensive cheese or conservative parties in Europe, there's an allure in the repulsive. Even I am sometimes taken by the idea of textual essentialism, though I do not wish to espouse it in any way. I nevertheless search for words, gather phrases, and collect different names for veritably same or at least similar phenomena.
It was Heracleitus who first appealed to words as embodying the nature of things, and his influence on Plato is manifest in the Cratylus. Heracleitus saw in language the most constant thing in a world of ceaseless change, an expression of that common wisdom which is in all men; and for him the structure of human speech reflects the structure of the world. It is an embodiment of that structure - "the Logos is contained and in it, as one meaning may be contained in many outwardly different symbols." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 32)
This sounds like something Foucault might have discussed in one of the first chapters in The Archaeology of Knowledge. But I may be confusing it with the idea of plant seeds containing "clues" to the medicinal use of the plant.
Parmenides, who followed, was occupied with the function of negative symbols. If 'Cold' only means the same as 'not hot,' and 'dark' the same as 'not light,' how can we talk about absence of things? "Two bodies there are," he says "which mortals have decided to name, one of which they ought not to name, and that is where they have gone wrong." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 33)
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." (Douglas Adams)
They have given names to things which simply are not, to the not-things (μή έόν). But in addition to the problem of Negative Facts, which involved Plato in the first serious examination of the relations of thought and language (Sophist, 261), Parmenides handed on to Plato his own Orphic conundra about the One and the Many, which also have their roots in language. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 33)
I wonder if Orwell was aware of this (if he had read his fellow Englishmen, these authors here), because it sounds awfully lot like his newspeak. Just think of ungood or unperson - these are names for things that are not.
It has been generally accepted since the time of Trendelenburg that the Categories, and similar distinctions which play a large part in Aristotle's system, cannot be studied apart from the peculiarities of the Greek language. "Aristotle," says Comperz, "often suffers himself to be led by the forms of language, not always from inability to free himself from those bonds, but at least as often because the demands of dialectic will not allow him to quit his arena." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 34)
Recorded because of the occurrence of "language" and "bonds" in the same sentence. (T. Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, IV., pp. 40-41.)
In the Poetics (1456 b. Margoliouth, p. 198) Aristotle again alludes to "the operations of which Speech is the instrument, of which the Divisions are demonstration and refutation, the arousing of emotions, such as pity, fear, anger, etc., exaggeration and depreciation." In commenting on the enunciative or 'apophantic' use of language (D. I. 17 a. 2), Ammonius refers to a passage in one of the lost works of Theophrastus, where 'apophantic' language, which is concerned with things, is distinguished from other varieties of language, which are concerned with the effect on the hearer and vary with the individuals addressed. These different kinds of proportions, five in number according to the later Peripathetics, were further elaborated by the Stoics. Cf. Prantl (Geschichte der Logik, Vol. I., p. 441), Steinthal (Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft bei den Griechen und Römern, Vol. I., p. 317), H. Maier, Psychologie des Emotionalen Denkens, pp. 9-10. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 36; fn. 1)
Apophantic is "declarative". I may have to look into "1456 b" in Aristotle's Poetics. In a 1902 translation I found online, the relevant passage reads: "It remains to speak of Diction and Thought, the other parts of Tragedy having been already discussed. Concerning Thought, we may assume what is said in the Rhetoric, to which inquiry the subject more strictly belongs. Under Thought is included every effect which has to be produced by speech, the subdivision being, - proof and refutation; the excitation of the feelings, such as pity, fear, anger, and the like; the suggestion of importance or its opposite. Now, it is evident that the dramatic incident must be treated from the same points of view as the dramatic speeches, when the object is to evoke the sense of pity, fear, importance, or probability. The only difference is, that the incidents should speak for themselves without verbal exposition; while the effects aimed at in speech should be produced by the speaker, and as a result of the speech. For what were the business of a speaker, if the Thought were revealed quite apart from what he says?" (p. 69-71) Good stuff, I should read Poetics in full someday.
"The Emperor Severus consoled himself for the immoralities of his Empress Julia, because she bore the same name as the profligate daughter of Augustus"; just as Adrian VI., when he became Pope, was persuaded by his Cardinals not to retain his own name, on the ground that all Popes who had done so had died in the first year of their reign. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 37)
Haha, is that really why Popes take on new names when inaugurated? // Ebausk puha. Aga samas huvitav. Minagi pole nimemaagiast vaba. Eriti pärast seda kui sain teada, et "Celer" oli tegelikult salakaval lühend, tegelikult Celabitor Auctor.
In fact the whole theory of signs was examined both by Aenesidemus, the reviver of Pyrrhonism in Alexandria, and by a Greek doctor named Sextus between 100 and 250 A.D. The analysis offered is more fundamental than anything which made its appearance until the nineteenth century. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 39)
Now that I think about it, Sextus Empiricus might be comparable to the nineteenth century scholar I'm familiar with, E. R. Clay. At least on cursory thought it seems like both dealt with the "hidden", i.e. that which signs make discoverable (or in Clay's "abditive" case, don't).
"When language is once grown familiar," says Berkeley, "the hearing of the sounds or sight of the characters is often immediately attended with those passions which at first were wont to be produced by the intervention of ideas that are now quite omitted." From the symbolic use of words we thus pass to the emotive; and with regard to words so used, as in poetry, Ribot has well remarked that "they no longer act as signs but as sounds; they are musical notations at the service of an emotional psychology." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 42)
Hey... What? Berkeley's quote (Treatise, Introduction, § 20) sounds like standard automatization as is familiar to anyone having read Šklovsky. But does automatization really graduate symbolic use to the emotive? This is simultaneously extremely odd, owing to the late-Jakobsonian conception of the emotive function, but actually does make sense from the standpoint of early-Jakobsonian "expressive features" which indeed concern the sound qualities of speech.
So that though at this extreme limit "metaphysical reasoning may be intellectually quite incomprehensible; though, that is to say, it may actually become 'vocem proferre et nihil concipere,' it acquires by way of compensation," as Rignano says, "an emotive signification which is peculiar to it, i.e. it is transformed into a kind of musical language stimulative of sentiments and emotions." Its success is due entirely to the harmonious series of emotional echoes with which the naive mind responds - et reboat regio cita barbara bonbum. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 42-43)
Being "simulative of sentiments and emotions" is also, as far as I know, at the heart of Anton Marty's "emotive", not to mention Clay's homogeneous sympathy and Morris' communization. Nevertheless, it's weird.
By concentrating attention on themselves, words encourage the futile study of forms which has done so much to discredit Grammar; by the excitement which they provoke through their emotive force, discussion is for the most part rendered sterile; by the various types of Verbomania and Graphomania, the satisfaction of naming is realized, and the sense of personal power factitiously enhanced. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 45)
I have self-diagnosed graphomania, but verbomania is a new term for me - it means abnormal talkativeness. The sense of personal power may be "factitious" (artificially created or developed), but nevertheless real.
A. Ingraham, Swain School Lectures (1903), pp. 121-182, on "Nine Uses of Language." The nine uses are given as follows:
  1. to dissipate superfluous and obstructive nerve-force.
  2. for the direction of motion in others, both men and animals.
  3. for the communication of ideas.
  4. as a means of expression.
  5. for purposes of record.
  6. to set matter in motion (magic).
  7. as an instrument of thinking.
  8. to give delight merely as sound.
  9. to provide an occupation for philologists.
(Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 46; fn. 1)
While I do not doubt that the occupation of philologists is among the cardinal uses of language, I'm concerned whether (viii) "to give delight merely as sound" - as we now know pertaining to "emotive" - could have informed Malinowski when he wrote about the breaking of silence and the pleasure taken in sociable talk. Ingraham, Andrew 1903. Swain School Lectures. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company.
The contextual theory of Signs to which, then, we first proceed, will be found to throw light on the primitive idea that Words and Things are related by some magic bond; for it is actually through their occurrence together with things, their linkage with them in a 'context' that Symbols come to play that important part in our life which has rendered them not only a legitimate object of wonder but the source of all our power over the external world. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 47)
So the contextual theory of Signs is dealt with in "Sign-situations", and by "context" they do mean things, not something like co-text or intertextual references.


MEANING, that pivotal term of every theory of language, cannot be treated without a satisfactory theory of signs. With some of its senses (in which 'my meaning' = 'what I am thinking of') the question to be answered is, in brief, "What happens when we judge, or believe, or think of something: of what kind of entities does the samething consist: and how is it related to the mental event which is our judging, our believing, our thinking?" (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 48)
It is interesting that this is not the classical triad of feeling, thought, and volition. Instead, thought, judgment, and belief constitute a more interrelated constellation of meaning-operations. I think all of these could be tied in with Ruesch's "evaluation".
As a representative of the realist school which claims to have assimilated the modern scientific outlook, we may cite Keynes, who adopted the view that philosophically we must start from various classes of things with which we have direct acquaintance. "The most important classes of things with which we have direct acquaintance are our own sensations, which we may be said to experience, the ideas and meanings, about which we have thoughts and which we may said to understand, and facts or characteristics or relations of sense data or meanings, which we may be said to perceive. [...] The objects of knowledge and belief - as opposed to the objects of direct acquaintance which I term sensations, meanings, and perceptions - I shall term propositions." As an example of direct knowledge we are told that from acquaintance with a sensation of yellow "I can pass directly to knowledge of the proposition 'I have a sensation of yellow.'" (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 49)
It is interesting that this is not the classical triad of feeling, thought, and volition. Instead, thought, judgment, and belief constitute a more interrelated constellation of meaning-operations. I think all of these could be tied in with Ruesch's "evaluation".
Throughout almost all our life we are treating things as signs. All experience, using the word in the widest possible sense, is either enjoyed or interpreted (i.e., treated as a sign) or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 50)
This distinction parallels that between phatic communion and communication, or, in more modern terms, interaction and information. That is, in communication, information is interpreted. In the type of interaction termed "phatic communion", on the other hand, interaction itself is enjoyed. Though it is also true that even phatic communion does not escape interpretation completely.
In a sense, no doubt, the whole past history is relevant: but there will be some among the past events in that history which more directly determine the nature of the present agitation than others. Thus when we strike a match, the movements we make and the sound of the scrape are present stimuli. But the excitation which results is different from what it would be had we never struck matches before. Past strikings have left, in our organization, engrams, residual traces, which help to determine what the mental process wil be. For instance, this mental process is among other things an awareness that we are striking a match. Apart from the effects of similar previous situations we should have no such awareness. [...] Semon's terminology: Die Mneme, particularly Part II. (English translation, p. 138 ff.). For a critique of Semon's theory, see op. cit., Principle of Literary Criticism, Chapter XIV., and op. cit., The Meaning of Psychology, Chapter IV. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 52)
Huh. I had actually been wondering where the concept of "engrams" originated from. When I watched the HBO documentary about Scientology I noticed that L. Ron Hubbard used this concept and it seemed pretty much the only thing in this crazy folk-psychology that seemed to have any validity, mostly due to this very term. Thus, in Richard Semon's terms, "engram" is a mnemic trace. Also, I have to mention E. R. Clay again, because his theory of the retrospect and the effects of past experience on unconsciousness is somewhat similar to the case of memory traces in this passage.
This simple case is typical of all interpretation, the peculiarity of interpretation being that when a context has affected us in the past the recurrence of merely a part of the context will cause us to react in the way in which we reacted before. A sign is always a stimulus similar to some part of an original stimulus and sufficient to call up the engram formed by that stimulus.
An engram is the residual trace of an adaptation made by the organism to a stimulus. The mental process due to the calling up of the engram is a similar adaptation: so far as it is cognitive, what it is adapted to is its referent, and is what the sign which excites it stands for or signifies. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 53)
How is this different from Charles Morris's account of conditioning in the context of sign-processes?
This is not necessarily a right or appropriate adaptation. We are here only considering adaptation so far as it is cognitive, and may disregard the affective-volitional character of the process. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 53; fn. 4)
Ah, so the classical triad is still present, just pushed to the margins.
The suggestion that to say 'I am thinking of A' is the same thing as to say 'My thought is being caused by A,' will shock every right-minded person; and yet when for 'caused' we substitute an expanded account, this strange suggestion will be found to be the solution.
A cause indeed, in the sense of a something which forces another something called an effect to occur, is so obvious a phantom that it has been rejected even by metaphysicians. The current scientific account, on the other hand, which reduces causation to correlation, is awkward for purposes of exposition, since in the absence of a 'conjugating' vocabulary constant periphrasis is unavoidable. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 55)
And how is this different from the interpretant? / Periphrasis is a circumlocution.
The simplest terminology in which this kind of linkage can be stated is that of signs. Behind all interpretation we have the fact that when part of an external context recurs in experience this part is, through its linkage with a member of some psychological context (i.e., of a causally connected group of mental events often widely separated in time) sometimes a sign of the rest of the external context. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 57)
Definitely something to consider when dealing with E. R. Clay's retrospect and William Hamilton's ratiocination.
Throughout the present volume the term context is used in the strictly technical sense defined below, which differs from the ordinary use. A literary context is a group of words, incidents, ideas, etc., which on a given occasion accompanies or surrounds whatever is said to have the context, whereas a determinative context is a group of this kind which both recurs and is such that one at least of its members is determined, given the others. A somewhat similar but vaguer use appears to have been adopted by Professor Baldwin (Thought and Things, Vol. I., p. 48), though it becomes clear as his exposition proceeds (cf. also Appendix D) that the resemblance is illusory, since, e.g., an image (Vol. I., p. 81) can be "convertible into a context," and we read of "the development within a content itself of the enlarged context of predicated and implicated meanings." (Vol. II., p. 246.) Such uses have more in common with that of Professor Tichener, who after the second passage which we quote is Chapter VIII., says, "I understand by context simply the mental process or complex of mental processes which accrues to the original idea through the situation in which the organism finds itself." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 58; ff.)
This footnote is invaluable for demonstrating how Mukarovsky and Jakobson mean a literary context when they are talking about matters of reference among linguosemiotic functions.
There are good reasons why attempts to build a theory of interpretation upon images must be hazardous. One of these is the grave doubt whether in some minds they even occur or ever have occurred. Another is that in very many interpretations where words play no recognizable part, introspection, unless excessively subtle and therefore of doubtful value as evidence, fails to show that imagery is present. A third and stronger reason is that images seem to a great extent to be mental luxuries. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 60)
Are these the underlying reasons for why mental images were ignored in semiotics for so long?
When we speak of an intention in this way we are speaking of affective-volitional characters, those, roughly speaking, on account of which a state of mind changes from a relatively inchoate to a relatively organized and articulate condition. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 60)
There's that word (inchoate) again. I first met it in Umberto Eco's discussion of his "dictionary". Now that I look it up, it turns out that Clay, too, spoke of "The indistinctness of normal inchoate consciousness".
For these reasons, any theory of interpretation which can refrain from making images a corner-stone has clear advantages over those which cannot. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 62)
Yeah, thanks guys. Thanks for your disservice.
Another point which must first be made clear concerns the sense in which references may be compounded. To speak of a reference is to speak of the contexts psychological and external by which a sign is linked to its referent. Thus a discussion of the compounding of references is a discussion of the relations of contexts to one another. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 68)
So there's a linking of contexts? It sounds very elaborate.
Let us consider the idea or conception of green. It arises in the reader in this case through the occurrence of the word 'green.' On many occasions this word has been accompanied by presentations of green things. Thus the occurrence of the word causes in him a certain process which we may call the idea of green. But this process is not the idea of any one green thing; such an idea would be more complex and would require a sign (or symbol in this case) with further characters for him to interpret - only so will his idea be specific. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 70)
Classical Peirce, but green instead of red. From type to qualia.
We have still to give an account of misinterpretation, and to explain how unfounded beliefs can arise. To begin with the first, a person is often said to have introduced irrelevant, or to have omitted relevant, considerations or notions when he has misinterpreted some sign. The notion of relevance is of great importance in the theory of meaning. A considiretaion (notion, idea) or an experience, we shall say, is irrelevant to an interpretation when it forms part of the psychological context which links other contexts together in the peculiar fashion in which interpretation so links them. An irrelevant consideration is a non-linking member of a psychological context. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 75-76)
Replace "psychological context" with "cognitive environment" and you basically have modern Relevance Theory in pragmatics. This is something to elaborate on when treating Žegarac and Clark (1999) and the surrounding hype.
Misinterpretation therefore is due to interference with psychological contexts, to 'mistakes.' (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 76)
And here it can be linked with "interference" in environmental psychology (proxemics of the late 1970s and early 1980s).


The assumption of the reverent gentleman is that, having asked a definite question, he was entitled to a definite answer. Very little study of what he actually saw or tapped might have saved him the trouble of discovering at a later stage that "one lad had thought he wanted the word for tapping; another understood we were seeking the word for the material of which the table was made; another had an idea that we required the word for hardness; another thought we wished for a name for that which covered the table; and the last, not being able, perhaps, to think of anything else gave us the word meza, table - the very word we were seeking." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 78)
"[...] I point to a packet of cigarettes. What can the Indian conclude? He doesn't know whether I mean this packet in particular, or a package in generol, one cigarette or many, a certain brand of gigarettes in general, or, still more generally, something to smoke, or, universally, any agreeable thing." (Jakobson 1971[1953d]: 566-567)
He [Hermholtz] was much influenced by Kant, who, in spite of his disconcerting techniques, seems constantly on the verge of approaching the central issues of interpretation, and who has been claimed as the most convinced Nominalist of modern times: but there is nothing particularly Kantian about the theory of signs which can be found in various parts of Helmholtz' writings. Our knowledge, he contended, takes the form of signs, and those signs we interpret as signifying the unknown relation of things in the external world. The sensations which lie at the basis of all perceptions are subjective signs of external objects. The qualities of sensations are not the qualities of objects. Signs are not pictures of reality. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 79)
The underlying assumption being similar the Peircean lack of "final" object ("the final relation of things in the external world" is really unknown).
We interpret a sign, some part of what is given, as signifying something other than itself, in this case the table. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 80)
"There is a sign every time there is a "relation de renvoi," a "sending-back" relation, in other words, when aliquit stat pro aliquo." (Eco 1987: 114)
It has long been recognized that there is something amiss with the term Datum. The 'given' is often of all things the most difficult to accept.
(i) A thing can be a 'Datum,' given in the sense that it is what is actually present with all its characters, whether we know what they are or not, and whether we cognize it rightly or not.
(ii) In a narrower sense, only those entities which are directly apprehended, i.e., are actually modifications of our sense-organs, are said to be given - the 'Datum datissimum'; and their alleged possessor, or remote cause, the tables, atoms, etc., is only a datum as being present, or part of which is present in sense (i).
Thus a datum, in sense (i), can be said to have 'an appearance' which is a datum in sense (ii). A 'total visible cone' is a datum in sense (i), and 'something elliptical' a datum in sense (ii). (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 81; ff.)
"A Datum is a thesis of which the truth is intuitively known. [...] Data are either general or particular, the former when they do, the latter when they do not, consist of general theses. The datum, Things equal to the same are equal to one another, is an example of general data, the datum, It rains, incident to seeing rain, is an example of particular data." (Clay 1882: 54) Not unrelated to the discussion above, concerning the generality of reference. This particular illustration is especially serviceable due to "It rains" also being an illustration in Bühler's organon theory of communication; though his statement is "It's raining" (Bühler 2011[1934]: 31-32)
But this is mere materialism? Suitably misunderstood, it is. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 81)
Haha, I have to steal this phrase. Is Roman Jakobson's scheme of the cardinal functions of language a general communication model? "Suitably misunderstood, it is."
The chief of tehse rest upon misunderstanding as to the nature of statement. To make a statement is to symbolize a reference. What a reference is we have seen in the preceding chapter. However much we may try, we cannot go beyond reference in the way of knowledge. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 82)
This "symbolize" is reminiscent of Jakobson's "verbalize", especially in its negative past tense form, "nonverbalized". "Of course, if the verbal context or the nonverbalized situation of the given sentence does not supply its translator with sufficient clues, the latter faces certain dilemmas." (Jakobson 1985[1967e]: 110-111)


AT the basis of all communication are certain postulates or pre-requisites - regulative presumptions without which no system of symbols, no science, not even logic, could develop. Their neglect by logicians is not surprising, since it has hithero been nobody's business to discuss them. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 87)
"All communication" is rather general.
Symbols may contain necessary parts, e.g., the negative, and words like 'the' and 'which,' which themselves have no specific referents. The study of such non-symbolic structural elements of symbols is the business of grammar. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 88)
Reminiscent of Anton Marty's autosemantics and synsemantics (dealing with words that don't have a particular meaning on their own but are necessary for constructing meaningful sentences). Notice, also, that "non-symbolic structural elements" could just as well describe pragmatic "phatic" markers.
Such a view can be presented without the background and curtain of mysticism which this author introduces. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 89)
Oh lord, Ogden and Richards are giving Wittgenstein some attitude.
As Rignano develops it, too little importance is assigned to symbols; highly systematized sets of symbols such as those of mathematics are something more than a mere means of representing our mental performances. They become, as it were capable of performing on their own account. They become thinking machines which, suitably manipulated, yield results which cannot be foreseen by any process of imagining physical experiments. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 89-90)
I think this can be set in the same line of thought as Talcott Parsons' discussion of how cultural evolution could parallel biological evolution, and that symbols operate like genes in that sense. In doing so he predated the "meme" concept by more than twenty years. But as Parsons referred to study of "symbolism" that he had been reading up on, I can't help but wonder if it's not Ogden and Richards' The Meaning of Meaning that he read, especially when one comes across a passage such as this, where symbols are compared to "thinking machines" "capable of performing on their own account".
But for many important questions in the theory of Grammar, especially when discussing the degree to which the emotive functions of language interfere with the referential, there is urgent need for some more easily applicable test. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 91)
The only hope is in further analysis of the contexts operative in reference, with a view to selecting from the many contextual factors those which are determinative; and meanwhile a clear realization of the complexities involved may prevent unnecessary dogmatism. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 91)
Also plural. But here it makes sense, since they discuss external and psychological contexts, to which literary contexts could be added when dealing with literature. But this does not exhaust the variety of contexts available (cultural context comes to mind from a recent paper I read).
When we encounter a symbol which we do not comprehend we take steps, if interested, to have another symbol, which we can interpret, provided, whose referent is the same. Then we can say "I know what symbol A means; it means the same as symbol B." (When scolars say 'chien' means 'dog,' they should say that 'chien' and 'dog' both mean the same.) Similarly if a symbol is long or awkward to use, or likely to be misunderstood, we take a new convenient symbol and use it instead. In both cases the same process, Definition, is occurring. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 91)
In other words, what is the metalingual function of language. Taking "a new convenient symbol" and using it instead of a long and awkward one also amounts to intralingual translation. Note that I can cite this passage when attempting paraphrasis of some pages from Malinowski's supplement.
Symbols which are substitutes and so can be used to 'define' one another not only have the same referent but symbolize the same reference. Such symbols are usually said to have the same 'connotation,' a misleading and dangerous term, under cover of which the quite distinct questions of application of reference and correctness of symbolization are unwittingly confused. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 92)
I agree completely with the dangerousness and misunderstanding of "connotation". I wouldn't bother to read J. S. Mill to understand his whole line of thinking to crack it, and I don't trust Barthes with the definition of anything, really.
Those complex symbols, known as propositions, which 'place' referents can be either Contracted or Expanded. "Hamlet was mad" is a contracted symbol, needing to be expanded before it can be discussed. "Hamlet was mad on the stage" or "in my interpretation of the play" may be expanded symbols for what is referred to. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 93)
I've noticed in my commenting that when I'm tired or absentminded my comments are frequently "contracted" in this sense (see, for example, the first comments to this chapter), but when energetic and focused, my comments expand to a length that may exceed the length of the quote I'm commenting (see the beginning of this post, i.e. comments to first chapter).
It is an abvious result of this Canon that the first thing to do when a disputed symbol is encountered is to expand it, if possible, to its full form - to such a form, that is, as will indicate the sign-situations behind the reference it symbolizes. Instances of this expansion occur continually in all scientific discussion. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 93)
Well this explains the quote about expanding when expansion is needed (in Chapter 10), which I considered epigraph-worthy, not realizing at that point that "expansion" is a technical term in their vocabulary and they didn't just throw neat-sounding words around like so many do these days.
Meanwhile such is the chaos of symbolic apparatus in general that, instead of expansions, mere symbolic overgrowths are most usually what are provided by way of elucidation of doubtful symbols, thus leading to greater confusion than would the contractions which they replace. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 94)
Exactly the case with the "phatic" which has accumulated an abundance of "overgrowths", most merely reiterating one aspect or another without really expanding it is this technical sense. Even such a minor operation as comparing phatic communion to a similar (or even contrasting) concept is not forthcoming in the relevant literature.
On other occasions, however, we wish to symbolize references under circumstances in which the same names are correctly reapplied. We have to economize in our symbolic material; we have to use it over and over again, and in a systematic fashion, under pain of failure to communicate. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 96)
I wonder if "phatics", "phaticity", and "phatic studies" economize what would otherwise demand a lengthier locution involving the "phatic", or if these are not just "overgrowth".
It must be remembered, disconcerting though the fact may be, that so far from a grammar - the structure of a symbol system - being a reflection of the structure of the world, any supposed structure of the world is more probably a reflection of the grammar used. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 96; ff.)
Is... Is this the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?
We have spoken above of reflection and refraction by the linguistic medium. These metaphors if carefully considered will not mislead. But language, though often spoken of as a medium of communication, is best regarded as an instrument; and all instruments are extensions, or refinements, of our sense-organs. The telescope, the telephone, the microscope, the microphone, and the galvanometer are, like the monocle or the eye itself, capable of distorting, that is, of introducing new relevant members into the contexts of our signs. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 98)
Watch out, the medium is the message!
The same analogy holds for the emotive uses of language: words can be used as bludgeons or bodkins. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: Is... Is this the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?)
Kurikad ja... juuksenõel?
The use of the term 'concept' is particularly misleading in linguistic analysis. There is a group of words, such as 'conception,' 'perception,' 'excitation,' which have been a perpetual source of controversy since the distinction between happenings inside and happenings outside the skin was first explicitly recognized. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 99)
This is also the case with E. R. Clay's The Alternative, which outlines six types of experience, some of them reportedly unrecognized before, on the basis of this distinction between intra- and extrasomatic.
A Universe of discourse is a collection of occasions on which we communicate by means of symbols. For different universes of discourse differing degrees of accuracy are sufficient, and new definitions may be required. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 102; fn. 2)
A familiar notion whose history Jakobson traced with some fervor. With regard to accuracy and sufficiency, phaticity may constitute a universe of discourse where these are especially lax.
In a false proposition there will be a similar sign chain with the difference that some misinterpretation occurs. It is not however always necessary in order to translate a false proposition into a true one to discover where the misinterpretation occurred; a new sign chain abutting on the same reference may be substituted. In expansion, however, such discovery is necessary, and the difficulty explains our preference for Translation over Expansion. In education and controversy the discovery of the misinterpretation is usually the more essential step. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 107)
In my "meta-phatics" then the point is definitely expansion, because it involves identification of misinterpretations. Only then, I think, can we proceed to a translation (in this case the projected paraphrasing of Malinowski's treatment of phatic communion).


"The first cause of absurd conclusions I ascribe to the want of method; in that they begin not their ratiocination from definitions." - Hobbes. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 109)
So does ratiocination actually just mean "rationalization"?
Firstly, do we define things or words? To decide this point we have only to notice that if we speak about defining words we refer to something very different from what is referred to, meant, by 'defining things.' When we define words we take another set of words which may be used with the same referent as the first, i.e., we substitute a symbol which will be better understood in a given situation. With things, on the other hand, no such substitution is involved. A so-called definition of a horse as opposed to the definition of the word 'horse,' is a statement about it enumerating properties by means of which it may be compared with and distinguished from other things. There is thus no rivalry between 'verbal' and 'real' definitions. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 110)
Another angle from which to distinguish the metalingual function and the so-called concursive function (or what Snow termed formulation in the 1940s).
Whenever a term is thus taken outside the universe of discourse for which it has been defined, it becomes a metaphor, and may be in need of fresh definition. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 111)
Yup. This is exactly what has happened to "phatic", which now metaphorically stands for any kind of contact on any level.
Let us consider, for instance, the growth of the abstraction which we name a spatial relation. In all our references to spatial objects certain common elements or strands are active. Originally to think of space as opposed to spatial objects we had to think in rapid succession of a variety of spatial objects in order that the common elements in the references should stand out. In time we became able to use these common, i.e., general references independently without requiring them to be built up anew on each occasion. We are now bale to use them merely upon the vicarious stimulus of the symbol 'spatial relation.' A normal mind, however, except in the few cases in which such abstractions have universal value, still requires the aid of instances, analogies and metaphors. The fewness of these abstractions saves the linguistic situation. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 113-114)
From tokens to types. All this is yet again eerily reminiscent of E. R. Clay's The Alternative: "Is the substance that constitutes the material Universe extended, or unextended? The hypothesis that it is unextended, and that nothing real corresponds to the ideas of Space and Extension, seems to be consistent. It seems to afford a consistent theory of the Universe, - indeed a simpler one than the datum which encumbers being with space and extension." (Clay 1882:99) Or: "I show that both are partially right and partially wrong, that there are no such things as Abstract Ideas, and that there are such things as concepts: the vicarious function of names, whereby they serve in place of ideas, has made them pass for abstract ideas." (Clay 1882: 5)
6. Causation: Psychological
'The Unconscious' is what causes dreams, fugues, psychoses, humour and the rest. 'Pleasure' is 'the conscious accompaniment of successful psychic activity.' (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 119)
How sure are we that this is really the case?
Thus, on Alexander's hypothesis, for instance (Space, Time and Deity, I., p. 239), "in the end all relation is reducible to spatio-temporal terms." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 120; ff.)
This might be something interesting to look up: Alexander, Samuel 1920. Space, Time, and Deity: The Gifford lectures at Glasgow, 1916-1918. London: Macmillan and Co.
The most highly systematized sciences are those which deal with the simplest aspects of nature. The more difficult and to many people, naturally, the more attractive subjects are still in a stage in which it is an open question which symbolization is most desirable. At this stage what has chiefly to be avoided is the veiled and hidden strife between rival systems in their early forms, which more than anything else prevents mutual understanding even between those who may be in agreement. Many terms used in discussions where 'faith,' 'beautiful,' 'freedom,' 'good,' 'belief,' 'energy,' 'justice,' 'the State' constantly occur are used with no distinct reference, the speaker being guided merely by his linguistic habits and a simple faith in the widespread possession of these habits. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 122)
This is true for phatics. The subject matter is simultaneously simple on the surface and exceedingly complex in the details, and a lot of new terminology is coined almost as a matter of course (e.g. phatic technologies, phatic technological speech, and phatic technological habituation). The "linguistic habits" here concern the easily intuitable conceptual domain of phatics, which is sometimes surprisingly deceptive.
But another use of the word is often asserted to occur, of which some at least of those which we have cited are supposed to be degenerations, where 'good' is alleged to stand for a unique, unanalysable concept. This concept, it is said, is the subject-matter of Ethics. This peculiar ethical use of 'good' is, we suggest, a purely emotive use. When so used the word stands for nothing whatever, and has no symbolic function. Thus, when we so use it in the sentence, 'This is good,' we merely refer to this, and the addition of 'is good' makes no difference whatever to our reference. When on the other hand, we sai 'This is red,' the addition of 'is red' to 'this' does symbolize an extension of our reference, namely, to some other red thing. But 'is good' has no comparable symbolic function; it serves only as an emotive sign expressing our attitude to this, and perhaps evoking similar attitudes in other persons, or inciting them to action of one kind or another. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 125)
In this sense greetings also stand for unique, unanalysable concept (what do you make of the Estonian "Tere!" for example? - what does it symbolize?). The latter bit about emotive signs evokes G. H. Mead's conversation of attitudes, which in turn is related to Charles Morris's communization. It all seems interconnected somehow, but I'll attempt to make sense of it when I cross that bridge.
The recognition that many of the most popular subjects of discussion are infested with symbolically blank but emotively active words of this kind is a necessary preliminary to the extension of scientific method to these questions. Another is some technique by which to ascertain which words are of this nature and on what occasions. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 125)
Exactly the problem phaticists are faced today. It's clear that language has a phatic function in certain situations, and that there are "phatic utterances", but drawing up a list of or dictionary for phatic language seems even odd to suggest.
In all discussions we shall find that what is said is only in part determined by the things to which the speaker is referring. Often without a clear consciousness of the fact, people have preoccupations which determine their use of words. Unless we are aware of their purposes and interests at the moment, we shall not know what they are talking about and whether their referents are the same as ours or not. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 126)
Reminiscent of Relevance Theory, and Malinowski's focus on the context of situation. It could be proposed that phatic communion is characterized by specific (social) purposes and interest in the other (or in G. H. Mead's terms, interest in participation in the other).
The first necessity is to remember that since the past histories of individuals differ except in certain very simple respects, it is probable that their reactions to and employment of any general word will vary. There will be some to whom a word is merely a stimulus to the utterance of other words without the occurrence of any reference - the psittacists, that is to say, who respond to words, much as they might respond to the first notes of a tune which they proceed almost automatically to complete. At the other extreme there will be some for whom every word used symbolizes a definite and completely articulated reference. With the first we are not here concerned, but as regards the others, unless we have good evidence to the contrary we should assume that, clear though their ideas may be, they will probably not be ideas of the same things. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 127)
Oh my. Psittacus is a genus of African parrots, i.e. "talking birds". This is an awesome find. It is impossible to tell certainly whether Roman Jakobson had read this book, or even if one deduces that he must have, then how much of it actually influenced him, but all that is beyond our current concerns. The important point here is that Jakobson did rely on the work of Hobart Mowrer (on the subject of "Talking Birds"), and referred to him. This means that if need be, the similarity between someone "to whom a word is merely a stimulus to the utterance of other words" and Jakobson's "profuse exchange of ritualized formulas" are similar enough to facilitate a (re-)construction of the phatic function of speech as something "almost automatic" (the "routinized" or "conventionalized" nature of phatic communion is frequently remarked). The paragraph itself may enable an "ideal type" kind of excursus that contrasts "referential" and "phatic" as communication styles.
We must choose as starting-points either things to which we can point, or which occur freely in ordinary experience. The routes by which we link these starting-points to our desired referents must be thoroughly familiar, which in practice confines us to four main routes and combinations of these. They are those which we must know and unerringly recognize if we are to survive - Similarly, Causation, Space and Time. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 127)
OMG. Things to which we can point to: "It rain!" ("It's raining"). Ordinary experience: "accounts of irrelevant happenings, comments on what is perfectly obvious" (Malinowski 1946[1923]: 314) - I can't even begin to explain how relevant these past few passages are for my current research.
At what point our definitions are thorough enough must be left for the occasion to decide. In viva voce discussion, unless unduly prolonged and pertinacious, little can be hoped for except stimulus and hints which will be of use in more serious endeavours. But where there is reason to suppose that a slippery term is being employed, it is a wise policy to collect as wide a range of uses as possible without at this stage seeking for a common element. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 128)
Viva voce is literally "with living voice", but means "by word of mouth". It may or may not have something to do with rumours (a genre of small talk, ergo in some sense phatic).
If we wish to mediate between rival views it is far better to assume that the disputants are terminologically independent than to assume that they must in all respects use their words alike. With the first procedure, if there actually is a common element involved, we shall be in a good position to discover it. With the second we shall inevitably tend to misrepresent all the views concerned and to overlook most of their really valuable and peculiar features. The synthesis of diverse opinions, if it is attempted at all, should be postponed until each view has been examined as completely as possible in isolation. Premature efforts, to which all our natural attitudes to symbols conspire to tempt us, are an unfailing source of confusion. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 130)
So, too, with phatic studies it is preferable to first of all treat every new approach independently and attempt a synthesis, unification, generalization, and abstraction in the very end.
The reason for making this list as complete as possible, subject, of course, to common sense and ordinary discretion, is important. It is extraordinarily difficult in such fields to retain consistently what may be called a 'sense of position.' The process of investigation consists very largely of what, to the investigator, appear to be flashes of insight, sudden glimpses of connections between things and sudden awareness of distinctions and differences. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 131)
It's as if they are describing my readings in "meta-phatic" that I just concluded (50 papers in 3 weeks).
"I believe," said Max Müller, "that it would really be of the greatest benefit to mental science if all such terms as impressions, sensations - soul, spirit, and the rest, could, for a time, be banished, and not be readmitted till they had undergone a thorough purification." And in his remarkable analysis of the Economics of Fatigue and Unrest (1924) Dr Sargant Florence has successfully employed this method by eliminating altogether the terms 'fatigue' and 'unrest' in the earlier stages of his argument. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 136)
Much like Charles Morris, possibly after reading this, The Meaning of Meaning, banished the word "meaning" from his own writings in semiotics.
There is another class of words which may profitably be placed beyond the range of legitimate dispute. Matthew Arnold speaks of "terms thrown out, so to speak, at a not fully grasped object of the speaker's consciousness." So long as the true function of these Mendicants, as they might be designated, is recognized, they will cause little trouble. They must never recieve harsh treatment; decasualization is the remedy. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 137)
And we even have Morris's metaphor: "Accounts of meaning usually throw a handful of putty at the target of sign phenomena [...]" (Morris 1946: 19)
To be distinguished from Mendicants, which may be assumed to possess the homing instinct, are Nomads, whose mode of life was first described by Locke.
"Men having been accustomed from their cradle to learn words which are easily got and retained, before they know or had framed the complete ideas which they express, they usually continue to do so all tehir lives; and without taking the pains necessary to settle in their minds determined ideas, they use their words for such unsteady and confused notions as they have; contending themselves with the same words as other people use, as if the very sound necessarily carried with it the same meaning. This (although men make a shift with it in ordinary occurrences of life, yet when they come to reason concerning their Tenets) it manifestly fills their discourse with abundance of empty noise and jargon - especially in moral matters where the bare sound of the words are often only thought on, or at least very uncertain and obscure notions annexed to them.
Men take the words they find in use amongst their neighbours, and that they may not seem ignorant what they stand for use them confidently without much troubling their heads about a certain fixed meaning, whereby besides the ease of it they obtain this advantage that as in such discourse they are seldom in the right so they are seldom to be convinced they are in the wrong, it being all one to draw these men out of their mistakes, who have no settled notions, as to dispossess a Vagrant of his habitation, who has no settled abode. This I guess to be so; and every one may observe in himself or others whether it be so or not."
We can still agree to-day that there is little doubt as to whether it be so or not; and if we were able more readily to recognize these Nomads, we should spend less time in the frenzied rifling of Cenotaphs which is at present so much is favour. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 137-138)
Yes! Nomads! A perfect illustration: "The statement implies something more than that the doctor uncovers the mapping process of regulatory discourse, as we have already examined; Felix's observation alludes to the way Matthew's fabulous lies effect a sedimentation of meaning which for the listener or reader builds slowly into an infrareferential mythological system." (Henstra 2000: 139; my emphasis). None of the terminology in the paper just quoted is explained in any way, shape, or form. I'm especially frustrated by this kind of use of language when the particular combination of jargon-words sounds like something that could actually mean something specific; the disappointment lying in the fact that it doesn't. In effect these kinds of authors (most frequently found in post-modren literary criticism) are using technical language emotively in the above-given sense, as a source of beautiful sounds, instead of symbols with definite references.


IN order to test the value of the account of Definition given in the previous chapter, we may best select a subject which has hithero proved notoriously refractory to definitive methods. Many intelligent people indeed have given up æsthetic speculation and take no interest in discussions about the nature or object of Art, because they feel that there is little likelihood of arriving at any definite conclusion. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 139)
define:refractory - stubborn or unmanageable
But if there is no reason to suppose that people are talking about the same thing, a lack of correlation in their remarks need not cause surprise. We assume too readily that similar language involves similar thoughts and similar things thought of. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 140)
I've said it often while reading this book, but this is again how I see phatics: there is very little reason to suppose indeed that people who talk about phatic communion, phatic communication, phatic function, or any other phatic this or phatic that is talking of the same thing. The problem, really, is to ascertain whether they are at least talking about similar things, and what those similarities are, whether they can be broken down into elements, etc.
He [Rupert Brooke] proceeds to point out how "Croce rather naively begins by noting that 'æsthetic' has been used both for questions of Art and for perception. So he sets out to discover what meaning it can really have to apply to both." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 140)
I wonder if this is what Aare Pilv does when he treats of aisteetika?
Differences of opinion and differences of interest in these matters are closely interconnected, but any attempt at a general synthesis, premature perhaps at present, must begin by disentangling them. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 142)
For some reason their "procedural" notes are some of the most interesting for me.
"Poetry," Dr Bradley writes, "is a spirit. It comes we know not whence. It will not speak at our bidding, nor answer in our language. It is not our servant; it is our master." And Dr Mackail is even more rhapsodic: "Essentially a continuous substance or energy, poetry is historically a connected movement, a series of successive integral manifestations. Each poet, from Homer to our own day, has been to some extent and at some point, the voice of the movement and energy of poetry; in him poetry has for the moment become visible, audible, incarnate, and his extant poems are the record left of that partial and transitory incarnation. [...] The progress of poetry [...] is immortal." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 148)
In some sense Mackail is right - as a genre there is indeed a historical continuity, as with any form of cultural sign production. If I remember correctly then T. S. Eliot has something to say about this in terms of "tradition". Mackail, John William 1911. Lectures on Poetry. London: Longmans, Green and Co.
In ordinary everyday speech each phrase has not one but a number of functions. We shall in our final chapter classify these under five headings; but here a twofold division is more convenient, the division between the symbolic use of words and the emotive use. The symbolic use of words is statement; the recording, the support, the organization and the communication of references. The emotive use of words is a more simple matter, it is the use of words to express or excite feelings and attitudes. It is probably more primitive. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 149)
I noticed the five-fold classification when first reading Chapter 10, immediately after reading Malinowski's supplement. But the functions remained cryptic at the time. Hopefully I'll get a better grasp of them this time around. "Primitivity" is emphasized for two references: "primitive" uses of language is in the title of Malinowski's supplement and La Barre actually reinforces the evolutionary "primitivity" of emotive use of vocalizations.
But if we say "Hurrah!" or "Poetry is a spirit" or "Man is a worm," we may not be making statements, not even false statements; we are most probably using words merely to evoke certain attitudes. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 149)
Is "Hurrah!" emotive or phatic?
In many cases, moreover, emotive language is used by the speaker not because he already has an emotion which he desires to express, but solely because he is seeking a word which will evoke an emotion which he desires to have; nor, of course, is it necessary for the speaker himself to experience the emotion which he attempts to evoke. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 149-150)
Ergo Jakobson's remark that the emotions in the emotive function of language may be true or feigned.
It is desirable to make the reservation, if only for educational purposes, for according to some authorities, "ninety-nine per cent of the words used in talking to a little child have no meaning for him, except that, as teh expression of attention to him, they please him." Moreover, before the age of six or sever children "cannot hold a meaning before their minds without experiencing it in perceptual symbols, whether words or otherwise. [...] Hence the natural desire of the child to talk or be talked to, if he is asked even for a few minutes to sit still." - (W. E. Urwick, The Child's Mind, pp. 95, 102.) (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 150; ff.)
"It [the phatic function] is also the first verbal function acquired by infants" (Jakobson 1981[1960d]: 24). Also, La Barre's phatic communication.
The temptation to a philosopher when concerned with a subject in which he feels a passionate interest, to use all the words which are most likely to attract attention and excite belief in the importance of the subject is almost irresistible. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 157)
This is all too true. My readings in phatics once again verify that by and large I'm implicitly - irresistibly - taken to alternative locutions that could be used to demonstrate the relevance of phatic studies.


It might, however, have been supposed that logicians and psychologists would have devoted special attention to meaning, since it is so vital for all the issues with which they are concerned. But that this is not the case will be evident to anyone who studies the Symposium in Mind (October 1920 and following numbers) on "The Meaning of 'Meaning.'" (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 160)
Nice, some relevant extra readings:
  • Schiller, F. C. S.; B. Russell and H. H. Joachim 1920. The Meaning of 'Meaning': A Symposium. Mind 29(116): 385-414.
  • Sidgwick, Alfred 1921. Statements and Meaning. Mind 30(119): 271-286.
  • Schiller, F. C. S. 1921. The Meaning of 'Meaning'. Mind 30(120): 444-447.
  • Strong, C. A. 1922. The Meaning of 'Meaning'. Mind 31(121): 69-71.
  • Schiller, F. C. S. 1922. The Meaning of 'Self'. Mind 31(122): 185-188.
All are available on JSTOR.
Dr Schiller began by announcing that the Greek language is "so defective that it can hardly be said to have a vocabulary for the notion" of meaning at all; and in proceeding to state his own view that "MEANING is essentially personal [...] what anything MEANS depends on who MEANS it," he found it necessary to traverse Mr Russell's dictum that "the problem of the MEANING of words is reduced to the problem of the MEANING of images." Mr Russell replied by endeavouring "to give more precision to the definition of MEANING by introducing the notion of 'mnemic causation'" and succeeded thereby in evolving an instructive description of metaphysics. "A word," he explained, "which aims at complete generality, such as 'entity,' for example, will have to be devoid of mnemic effects, and therefore of MEANING. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 161)
I agree with this view, as does Roy Harris and some few others. Some day I hope to elaborate it further via the concept of private signs, i.e. something like Charles Morris's post-language symbols. And speaking of him, the remark about meaninglessness of "entity" might be reflected in the latter's thought process when he wrote: "The extreme of generality is reached when the significatum of a sign is such that the sign denotes the denotata of any other sign. Such a sign is universal, and is an implicate of every sign; the term 'being' and 'entity' seem to be, in the vocabulary of some philosophers, universal signs." (Morris 1949: 22)
He [Dr Schiller] concludes (p. 447) that "the existence of personal MEANING remains a pitfall in the path of all intellectualism." The controversy is presumably still in progress. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 162)
I think it is still in progress, but simmering in various obscure corners. It still remains a pitfall to this day.
According to Dr Parsons, at the lowest biological level "it would be unwise to deny the presence of a plus or minus affective tone - and this is the primitive germ of 'MEANING.'" (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 163)
It is "emotive meaning", then. But it seems to hold true. I'll have to look into it: Head, Henry 1921. Discussion on Aphasia. Brain 43(4): 412-450. The "remarks" on "The Psychology of 'Meaning' in its Relation to Aphasia" by J. Herbert Parsons is included in that paper (pp. 441-150?). The relevant passage reads in full: "At the lowest biological level, where the reflex arc constitutes the whole nervous mechanism, we can only conjecture the conscious accompaniment of nervous activity. It is probable that it is a vague undifferentiated sentiency, possessing a maximum of affective tone and a minimum of cognition. To it the term "meaning" is scarcely applicable, for the response is little more than a tropism [the turning of all or part of an organism in a particular direction in response to an external stimuli]: yet it would be unwise to deny the presence of a plus or a minus affective tone - pleasure and unpleasure - and this is the primitive germ of "meaning." In the higher species, in accordance with a very general psychological law, the conscious accompaniments of the reflex act have been suppressed." (Parsons; in Head 1921: 442) There are more relevant remarks like this, e.g. "Perceptual "meaning," suffused with affective tone, issues in instinctive conative activity." (ibid, 443), which means that I'll have to read this 40-page paper in full. Damn. (I also used Recoll because I thought Jakobson might refer to this paper or Henry Head, but Charles Morris does, instead, in his discussion of psychiatrists who have taken "signs" to be crucial factors in personality disturbances.)
Perceptual 'MEANING' suffused with affective tone, issues in instinctive conative activity." Thus at the end of the completed reaction "the 'MEANING' has become enriched and complicated. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 163)
Ah, this sentence was even quoted here. Now I have to wonder whether this is where Jakobson might have gotten the term "conative". But I also found that Charles Peirce, too, wrote about "Conative attitude" towards the time called "present" (CP 5.462).
The Essays in Critical Realism, which made their appearance in 1920, are the work of seven American Professors who have reviseid and redrafted their language until it met the approval of all the other essayists. They are the fruits of a decade of controversy in a limited controversial field, where "our familiarity with one another's MEANING has enabled us to understand methods of expression from which at first we were inclined to dissent." The main issue of the controversy had already been elaborated, as the result of conferences begun in 1908-9, in a similar co-operative volume by six Neo-realists. The final outcome may be regarded as the clarification of the life's work of a dozen specialists, all of whom have been continually improving their mutual terminology in the full view of the public for over a decade. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 164)
Drake, Durant; Arthur O. Lovejoy, James Bissett Pratt, Arthur K. Rogers, Georgy Santayana, Roy Wood Sellars and C. A. Strong 1920. Essays in Critical Realism: A Co-operative Study of the Problem of Knowledge. London: Macmillan and Co. - I wonder if this book is so obscure because it's a pain to refer to? (There is no editor - the only sensible way to reference it is to name all the authors.) In any case it looks like an earlier case of what Grinker et al. (1956) attempted to accomplish. I might read it when I deal with E. R. Clay's The Alternative or Charles Peirce's common sense realism.
Of Mr Joachim's account of things in terms of systems, he remarks that "If we insist on defining the MEANING of a fact in terms of its place in a system, naturalyl it will cease to have that MEANING outside the system" (p. 125). (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 166-167)
I recall how several authors have rebuffed the idea of personal or private signs due to de Saussure's semiology, according to which signs belong to a system. The implication being that signs cannot have a meaning outside the system. This of course ignores the fact that there is no single closed off sign system but a whole variety of sign systems, variously interrelated.
Professor Sellars makes the following distinction:
"Knowledge of other concurrences is different from knowledge of the physical world. It is a knowledge through asserted identity of content, whereas knowledge of the physical world is information about data. Thus when I inetrpret an expression on the face of my friend as MEANING amusement I use the expression as a symbol of an experience which I regard as in its essentials the same for him as for me" (p. 217)
(Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 168)
Absolutely invaluable resource for my theory of concourse, which involves interpretation of such concurrences through the mediating effect of verbal (or visual) signs. In other words, I can interpret an expression as, for example, "jollied by teasing" because I'm familiar with the "troll" meme.
There may be those who find it hard to believe that any writer responsible for such a verbal exploit could also enjoy a reputation as a thinker of the first rank. (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 173)
Ogden and Richards sadly did not live long enough to read Derrida.
And here we pause at the very pertinent question: "What then from the psychological point of view is this MEANING?" The answer is given without hesitation and in italics - "From the psychological point of view, MEANING is context." To explain: In every perception, or group of sensations and images, "the associated images form as it were a context or 'frince' which binds together the whole and gives it a definite MEANING," and it is this "fringe of MEANING that makes the sensations not 'mere' sensations but symbols of a physical object." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 174)
It looks like Jared Sparks Moore's The Foundation of Psychology (1921) offers a view that is pretty much identical solution to meaning as the authors give to the problem of reference in Chapter 3 ("Sign-situations").
Meaning is therefore just the sort of word with which we may attempt to probe the obscure depths of the souls of fishes. "Let us fix attention on the state of the mind of the goldfish. [...] Suddenly comes a new element into consciousness - the conscious counterpart of the stimuli of the eye caused by the bread falling into the water. [...] The food is an object in space and time for the fish and has its MEANING, but when the food is eaten both percept and MEANING disappear. [...] This is an instance of percept and MEANING tied." (Ogden & Richards 1946[1923]: 179)
This sounds vaguely Uexküllian. Urwick, William Eddowes 1907. The Child's Mind, Its Growth and Training: A Short Study of Some Processes of Learning and Teaching. London: Edward Arnold.