You look in the room and see the sweater draped over a chair. You turn your gaze elsewhere, engage the ongoing conversations and the din of others distracted. Later, you turn back your gaze again, and the sweater is gone. You look about to try and see whether someone picked it back up, is wearing it, or perhaps put it somewhere else.
You imply and infer – yes, one must follow the general grammatical rule that the speaker implies while the listener infers; but you are both the speaker and the listener, the one who observes and the same one who steps outside of the conscious universe to observe the observed. You imply that someone put the sweater over the chair, and that same person (or someone else) took it at a later time – all during a period when your eyes were diverted elsewhere.
You assume that the world continues to operate even outside of the purview of your deliberate and conscious observation, as we all do. You infer the same; of a world otherwise not within the limited perspective of observation, either by visual or audio awareness. Yet, where is the evidence of such inference or implication; and that is, of course, what Bishop Berkeley’s restrictive definition of “existence” and Being was meant to encapsulate in perfect form: Not that there are no mountains on the far side of the moon when we cannot observe them, but that we limit the definition of Being such that peripheral philosophical conundrums created by language’s difficulty with implied Being and inferred Existence can be avoided.
Perhaps we dreamt the draping of the sweater over the chair, or had a fit of phantasm and imaginative discourse that went astray. In any event, you never saw the person either drape the sweater over the chair, nor dispossess the chair of its warmth and concealment. Instead, you infer and imply – ignoring the grammatical rules previously mentioned.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the relevance here concerns writing up an effective narrative of one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s position, and the legal argumentation to make in order to persuade OPM: to what extent should facts and other statements be directly delineated, as opposed to leaving certain matters presumed or otherwise to be inferred or implied?
OPM is a bureaucracy, and with all such administrative entities, is made up of varying levels of competence and acuity of observation. For the most part, in writing up the narrative on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the general rule should be to make that which is implicit, as explicit as possible, and never to leave the room where a sweater is draped such that disappearance of the garment may leave a mystery otherwise unable to be solved except by implication and inference.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire