1. ## second-order? reasoning

Dear Friends,

I know that this will be rather technical and academic but I do believe that there are also academic-minded people here.

I am reading a paper about irony and the author makes a distinction between irony and literal speech. In his example, a couple are watching an awful painting and the wife says:

1. What a beautiful painting. (irony)
2. What an awful painting. (literal speech)

Since in literal understanding we make inferences about the world, in ironic understanding we make inferences about what the speaker (in this case the wife) thinks about the world.
On this basis the author calls literal understanding first-order reasoning, and irony he calls second-order reasoning.

My question is in what (dictionary) sense the author may use "order" here?

Thank you very much.

Csika

2. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

From Merriam-Webster Online

4
a (1) : rank, level <a statesman of the first order> (2) : category, class <in emergencies of this order — R. B. Westerfield>
b (1) : the arrangement or sequence of objects or of events in time <listed the items in order of importance> <the batting order> (2) : a sequential arrangement of mathematical elements
c : degree 12a, b
d (1) : the number of times differentiation is applied successively <derivatives of higher order> (2) of a differential equation : the order of the derivative of highest order

3. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

Thanks Barb_D but I am aware of these meanings and I also have a dictionary. I even have two! But, you know, in my understanding none of these meanings would perfectly do in a translation in my language. I posted here to find out what meaning natives prefer.

Thanks, anyway.

Csika

4. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

It is unclear to me what the author means by first order reasoning and second order reasoning, but my inference is that neither is necessarily superior to the other, just different. If only we could ask the author what he or she meant by that. (One thing that I am sure of is that in that context "It is a beautiful painting" and "It is an awful painting" mean the same thing.)

5. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

Thanks RonBee but you may be wrong. In this context the ironic This is a beautiful painting and the literal This is an awful painting may not mean the same, since the ironic remark expresses something extra - that the wife feels bad about the painting (not just a factual assertion as in the case of the literal version).

The "order" issue is still not solved.

Csika

6. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

1. What a beautiful painting. (irony)
2. What an awful painting. (literal speech)
Since the first statement is meant ironically, I have to assume that the speaker did not literally mean what she said. In other words she meant that the painting is not beautiful. What I don't get from that is that the wife feels bad about the painting. (There is no reason for me to.)

When I read that the first time I thought it was statements by two different people. That is probably because that is what I expected it to be. More usual would be something like:
.
Two people are looking at a horrid painting:
.
She: That's a beautiful painting, eh? (intending irony)
He: (missing the ironic intent of the first speaker) No, it's perfectly awful.
...

7. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

RonBee, you say don't get that the wife (when using irony) feels bad about the painting. Well, when you use irony, you generally express some negative evaluation. This is the essence of irony. Otherwise you would use literal speech.

Csika

8. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

Originally Posted by Csika
RonBee, you say don't get that the wife (when using irony) feels bad about the painting. Well, when you use irony, you generally express some negative evaluation. This is the essence of irony. Otherwise you would use literal speech.

Csika
As Ronbee said, it is unclear what the author means by first order reasoning and second order reasoning. However, the two statements mean the same, the painting is horrible (in the opinion of the two people concerned), if we accept that the first speaker is being ironic.
IMO in the context "order" means what Barb said, "rank".

9. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

All right, I've been studying irony for years now (doing my PhD) and believe me, irony does not mean the same as literal speech since irony has an extra implication that the speaker generally (but perhaps not exclusively) expresses some negative evaluation. This is what motivates irony. Perhaps, however, in a sense they mean the same but irony has some extra flavour. It depends how we define MEANING.

Csika

10. ## Re: second-order? reasoning

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