11 Comments

  1. I can look up the definitions, but that doesn’t help me understand the comic. Why are two different people labeled Conversational Implicature? Is Presupposition in this comic actually presupposing anything? What does being canceled have to do with anything?

    As for the “point of interest”, I don’t understand that, either. Comics — particularly political cartoons — have been labeling their characters with metaphorical or literal identifications for well over a century. It’s hardly unique to modern photographic memery.

  2. Those two people have similar looking but different names. “Conventional” and “Conversational” Implicatures.

  3. I’m inclined to grant the point that the drawing here, while not hyper-realistic, still is done in a sort of photo-realist mode, and quite in contrast to “cartoonish” drawing in old-style editorial cartoons. So along with the explicit labelling of symbolic intent, I don’t think this could have been done quite this way without the background familiarity we have with photo memes.

  4. The thing is, you don’t really have to do the work. As long as you pick up that these are all technical terms, and related, including ‘cancelled’, the joke is right there and doesn’t really require knowing how they function technically. Just that there is pun material on ‘cancel’ in the contemporary “cancel culture” sense using the same word as the technical meaning, whatever it may be.

    (Though sure, it’s catering to specialists who will already know the technicalities, and will get a spontaneous chuckle, even if in part from something like flattery.)

  5. I think Conventional Implacature is making a conventional implication by assuming the other character seems really down and that something is up with him. He’s sitting in the corner with a pained expression on his face but explicitly there is not indication he is down and something is up with him. And I guess Presupposition is presuming of all the reasons he could be down it’s probably because he was cancelled.

    Which is apparently a big deal to these theorist whethers Conversational Implacature can be cancelled.

    All said and done I don’t see that photo label meme is relevant or that labeling thing is particularly owned by the meme as it’s been done in cartoons and art for centuries.

  6. I think maybe the punch line might be “to φ or not to φ” down in the corner. Phi (pronounced “fee”) is some kind of technical term meaning something or other in linguistics.

  7. MiB. that’s the name of the comic feature. It runs irregularly on dailynous.com, a newsletter type website for academic philosophy. In this context, φ would likely stand for ‘philosophy’.

    We had one from this comic previously, and discussed the contexts where you seem to hear the different popular pronunciations for the name phi. Of course, “fee” has a special advantage in this particular phrase, to rhyme with “be” which it’s replacing. But in math, among Americans, I think “fye” is more common.

  8. I totally agree with SingaporeBill. Having said that, I still did a short dive down the rabbit hole to figure out the “joke.” I got through the first couple of sections of a Wikipedia article on implicature before MEGO. I even tried Mitch4’s link but jumped ship when I hit the first if and only if. A couple of observations.

    This all seems very relevant to artificial intelligence, particularly in relation to “conversations” in things like the Turing test, and yet none of the articles seemed to even be aware of computers. Curious.

    And second, it seems an awful lot of humor derives from violations of the conversational implicature, or more specifically, the cooperative principles.

    And, Mitch4, thanks for the explanation of “to phi or not to phi.”

  9. Well, I looked it up and concluded that implicate (in this context) is a pretentious variation of imply, as is implicature of implication. Implicature is sufficiently obscure that the spell checker assumes I have made an error as I type this comment.

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