A very big sentence

Writing on analytic philosophy is apparently very complex. One essay published on 3QD argues that it actually needs to be that way, and quotes a linguist quoting a philosopher to make its case. The quotation goes thus:

In arguing for his analysis of non-natural meaning, Grice made the mistake of arguing from the sensible premise that a hearer who believed that a speaker did not intend by his words to produce in the hearer a certain belief or intention would not acquire that belief or intention to the invalid conclusion that a hearer who merely failed to believe that a speaker intended by his words to produce a certain belief or intention in the hearer also would not acquire that belief or intention.

Without getting into the specifics of the argument, I want to understand exactly what this 86-word sentence is trying to say.

If we stored the string "a belief or intention" in a variable B, the sentence becomes:

In arguing for his analysis of non-natural meaning, Grice made the mistake of arguing from the sensible premise that a hearer who believed that a speaker did not intend by his words to produce in the hearer a certain B would not acquire B to the invalid conclusion that a hearer who merely failed to believe that a speaker intended by his words to produce a certain B in the hearer also would not acquire that B.

The first part of the sentence suggests that the 'from' (word #15) should be succeeded by a 'to', which is word #45 (counting the 'B' as one word). So let's break the sentence in two at the 'to' and consider them separately. The first half now goes:

… a hearer who believed that a speaker did not intend by his words to produce in the hearer a certain B would not acquire B…

This is now eminently understandable. It means that a hearer who thinks a speaker didn't intend to produce an effect B on the hearer would not acquire B. Let's call the Proposition 1.

On to the second half:

… a hearer who merely failed to believe that a speaker intended by his words to produce a certain B in the hearer also would not acquire that B.

Here, the act of not doing something – from the hearer's point of view – lies with the hearer herself, as opposed to with the speaker in the first half. So the second half means a hearer who failed to believe that a speaker meant to have the effect B would not acquire B. Let's call this Proposition 2.

Taken as a whole, we get:

… Grice made the mistake of arguing from the sensible [Proposition 1] to the invalid [Proposition 2].

Based on this break-down, this is how I'd edit the sentence:

In arguing for his analysis of non-natural meaning, Grice makes a mistake. He begins from the sensible premise that a hearer who thinks a speaker didn't intend to produce an effect B on the hearer would not acquire B. However, he reaches the invalid conclusion that a hearer who failed to believe that a speaker meant to have the effect B would not acquire B.

Of course, I don't know if this simplification would fit in the text's overall context, and I've no idea whether the author would be okay with boiling the string held in B down to one example. But I think it's illustrative, and that the sentence will have to lose at least that much intellectual mass if it is to be understood by people not familiar with the intentions of analytic philosophy.

Second, science communication's rise as a widely recognised specialisation within non-fic writing and journalism also underscores a lack of philosophy and humanities writers. Am I missing something here? If I'm not, I think they're sorely needed to highlight a lot of important work that our philosophers and other scholars are undertaking. These endeavours are funded by public money as well, and these endeavours can also do much good to society.