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Notes 01 - Frege


Ime Philosophy of Language (narrow sense)

Linguistic Nature
Gottlob Frege
How Does Language Matter to Philosophy? (Ian Hack)
Mathematics is not psychology, its logic.
Frege had to develop a logic (with quantifiers) in order to prove
arithmetic statements.
Some signs are inherently referential; some signs are inherently
Footnote: Philosophy cannot be spoken of (Wittgenstein took this to
the extreme in the Tractatus)
In A Thought Frege as a metaphysician postulates a return to
Platonic forms (in the form of speculation of a third realm)
o Physical
o Mental
o Meaning
Philosophers of languages began with discussion of the meaning of
terms before combining them into sentences; Frege, on the
contrary, proposes that we begin with sentences as units (Tractatus
begins with the assertion that the world consists of facts)
Truth Condition Pragmatics Its raining. In order to assess
whether this is true we dont just look out the window. The truth
conditions is affected by my path on my way home, etc. Under
what conditions is a statement true? (differences between
sentences that do not affect its truth value)
When you turn away from mathematical language to natural
language, Frege wants his system to be strong enough to have room
for this.
Sense and Reference
o a=a (tautology) could be the same as a=b (which could be
true or false)
o Reference of sentences is truth values (which are objects)
o Extensionality there are constructions of complex sentences
of simple sentences such that you can derive the truth value
of the complex sentence from the truth values of the simple
constituent sentences

Ray Monk The Duty of Genius
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
This is Freges philosophy of language applied to metaphysics
Language is the key to metaphysics
That language is logic
Language makes certain things inexpressible
The sentence is the primary element of language
On Denoting

The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language

Heideggers, Kants, Hegels, etc. philosophy is merely morbid
poetry according to Carnap
Carnap did look favorably upon Husserls philosophy
Attempting to make philosophy scientific (as method) in order to
evolve a logically precise language with which to pose empirical
Carnap participates in the construction of artificial languages and
not as much a logical analysis. Logical syntax of language is the
construction of an artificial language which is in accordance with the
dictates of logic.
Methods produce results, and the results produced by the
application of the philosophical method are philosophical results
Metaphysicians are really just frustrated artists, who write dry
tortured poetry under the flag of philosophy
Testability and Meaning

Carnap suggests that confirmability, rather than verifiability, ought

to be the criteria for meaning.
o Verifiability possibility of verification; logical possibility
o Confirmability it is physically possible to gain confirmation
If you look at science, and heavily theoretical sentences of science,
it would be ridiculous to say that notions like that are defined by
one simple definition.
o Ex. If you want an operational definition of electricity, there
are many way that scientists define it, but it would completely
misrepresent scientific practice to insists on a single
If x is put in water and dissolves, then it is soluble
o While this statement is true, it defines solubility in such a way
that we can say nothing about the solubility of things which
have not been placed in water.
o material implication
Theoretical science concepts of science are meaningful, but can
not be exhausted by any reductive sentence, as they can be
identified through tests and can be expressed as the totality of
reductive sentences
Have we weakened verifiability so much now that religion sneaks in
the back door?
o The concept of God cannot be exhausted by any reductive
sentence, nor by the totality of reductive statements that one
could make
o Carnap claims that the surplus meaning that remains once
one has assessed all possible reductive statements about the
concept of God is meaningless
The only honest thing for a philosopher to do is to stop doing
philosophy and live modestly and do honest work.
Context Principle
Frege In the enquiry that follows, I have kept to three
fundamental principles:
o Always to separate sharply the psychological from the logical,
the subjective from the objective;
o Never to ask for the meaning of a word in isolation, but only in
the context of a proposition;
o Never to lose sight of the distinction between concept and

o 3.3 Only the proposition has sense; only in the context of a

proposition has a name meaning
o 3.314 An expression has meaning only in a proposition.
Every variable can be conceived as a propositional variable.
(Including the variable name.)

Philosophical Investigations
When something presents itself as a philosophical problem, we find
that it is actually the result of a malfunctioning of language
Wittgenstein claims that Frege was wrong about their being two
types of force involved in the use of language
A systematic theory of speech acts cannot be done (because it
would be like making a systematic theory of human action)
At the bottom of a system of language there must be things which
actually exist (Wittgensteins objects are primary elements of
Terms like Excalibur (the fictional sword)
o To Frege, these terms have no referents, but real senses
o To Wittgenstein, instead of just saying that Frege solved the
problem, he says that many things can go on when a term has
no reference (there is no general solution to this question)
43. For a large class of casesthough not for allis which we
employ the word meaning it can be defined thus: the meaning of
a word is its use in the language.
Psychoanalysis of the fetishization of logic
90. We feel as if we had to penetrate phenomena: our
investigation, however, is directed not towards phenomena, but, as
one might say, towards the possibilities of phenomena.
Philosophy is not a language game (so we should stop doing it
The meaning of a proposition is not in the mind, but in the use.
Thus the search for an absolute logical structure is a fetish, which is
pursued by those who believe that meaning exists outside of use.
Of course language can function even if there are uncertainties
inherent to some specific instances of language use.
It isnt so dangerous to have a logical flaw in the system if we can
isolate and bypass the inconsistency (Russells paradox in response
to Freges system), rather than allowing the entire system to
Proposition 125, paragraph 5: The civil status of a contradiction, or
its status in civil life: there is a the philosophical problem.
o Contradiction between the absolute sovereignty of the EU vs.
Danish legal systems (a language game in itself).
o Frege/Russell would say that the entire system collapses

o Wittgenstein would propose that we form a committee in

order to mediate the practicalities of this contradiction.
o The purpose of philosophy is to tackle this practical question.
When we do philosophy, language idles.
To do philosophy is to leave the world as it is, rather than imposing
a priori interpretations onto the world. Imposing particular logical
paradigms generally is an error.
The ideal of philosophy is to address these specific logical failures.
Proposition 133, paragraph 3: The real discovery is the one that
makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to.
Philosophical scruples differ from case to case, thus philosophers
must employ a multitude of methods to the particular case in
question, rather than trying to evolve one sole general method for
the application to all potential cases.
128. If one tried to advance theses in philosophy, it would never
be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to
Philosophy cannot be articulated systematically because it would be
trivial and boring.
Ordinary Language (Gilbert Ryle)
Ordinary Language can mean:
o the use of ordinary language
o the ordinary use of language
The interesting problems in language pertain to those words which
are used by everyone (not specific and technical terminology)
Use and Utility
o Use is a question of mechanics and how something is
performed; technique
o Utility is a what/why question of purpose; something beyond
the mere mechanics of an objects use
Use and Usage
o Use is (again) a question of mechanics and how something is
performed; technique
o Usage is the prevalence of a particular practice or technique
Knowing how to operate is not knowing how to tell how to

We are all equally proficient users of language

o Some of us are better at describing this usage explicitly, but
we are all equally proficient at using terms.

Theory of Convention (David Lewis)

The convention is basically about an agreement about how to use
sentences in such a way that we speak truly.
Linguistic Division of Labour (Hilary Putnam)
Basically language is a communal thing in the sense that we all
make use of terms which belong to technical disciplines, of which
we do not know the meaning, yet we use them proficiently
o Ex. Anyone can make use of the term gold whether or not
they are actually aware of its chemical makeup (Au)
Putnam communicated extensively with Kripke, with both referring
to each other frequently
Language idles (goes on holiday) when we do philosophy, and we
must return it to its ordinary use. (Who decides what constitutes
ordinary use?)
On the Existence of God
o Different language games employ different categories of
Contrast religious language game with the scientific
language game
The question cannot be posed from one language game
to another
In ordinary use, terms are defined by Paradigm Cases

How To Do Things With Words (J. L. Austin)

Language is action
Philosophers of language had noted (prior to Austin) that many
statements dont function as descriptive statements, and began to
refer to them as pseudo-statements devoid of meaning
Austin asserts that pseudo-statements are actually statements
that were never meant to be descriptive, yet were meaningful
Austins categories of language:
o Constatives
o Performatives
o Locution Aspect of a sentence which consists of its relation
to the world
o Illocution
o Perlocution
Performatives are cases where you do something just by saying
something (a conventionalized way of doing something, that could
perhaps be performed without using words)
Success Conditions
o Meaning of a statement is its truth conditions (Frege)
o Meaning of a statement is its verification conditions (Carnap)
o Meaning of a statement is determined by an accepted
conventional procedure (Austin)
Austin conflates convention in a weak sense (horse is pferd in
German and heste in Danish) with convention in a strong sense (a
certain term, must be used to be meaningful)

In all speech acts there is an expression of an attitude, but the

crucial point is that the legal effects of the speech acts are not
affected by that
o Ex. If I am to be married an I say I do in the proper context
(conventional procedure) I cannot absolve myself from the
consequences of doing so by taking refuge in my own
insincerity (intention)
Performatives are speech acts where the elocutionary power (the
particular thing you do in the speech act) is explicit
o Ex. I hereby order you; I hereby promise you; etc.
Assertions are primary performatives, which are speech acts
wherein we do not explicitly state the elocutionary power

All is a rule of inference, not a descriptive term (Schlick)

We cannot evaluate an infinite class
We would need empirical verification of every member of a class in
order to evaluate statements using all
Ex. All horses are fast runners
o Not to be understood that every member of the class of
horses is a fast runner
o We may infer that a particular horse is likely a fast runner
o Contradiction
This sentence is false
Russells Paradox
The Earth moves is true = The Earth moves
o To claim that a statement is true is equivalent to making the
assertion yourself
o And you ought to take responsibility for it (in any case, you
do, and you should be aware of it)
o Saying a proposition is true adds nothing to the statement;
youre doing something else: asserting it to be true
o Truth predicate is unique; it raises the statement to a higher

o You cannot generate a self-referential sentence that claims

itself to be true
o Object language everyday pronouncements
o Meta language once you use the term true, you have
moved your language up to another language
o Ex. The Earth moves (object language) is true (meta
o Truth and Meaning (1967)
Frege when I say anything, what makes it meaningful, is that
there concepts which exist in a third realm which are being referred,
For any sentence with have a particular form in a language it will
generate a sentence which can evaluate it in terms of truth
conditions (Tarski)
Davidson wants to apply this formal language to natural language
Radical interpretation (Quine) the challenge you face when you
get to a language that you do not get at all
Charity the only way to make sense of language that you do not
understand is to attribute to the speaker a type of logic and
consistency (even at risk of misunderstanding them). You have to
grant the text that you pick up and read that it makes sense.
Intentional sentences (ex. belief sentences) Nothing follows from
the sentence Galileo believes that the earth moves (or any belief
sentence of the form Galileo believes that x)
Bardot is good raises no special problems for truth definition.
Moral sentences may not be able to be verified, but we ought not
dwell on it because Bardot is good is true iff Bardot is good is
logically coherent.
I am an admirer of Frege the truth condition of this is
contingent upon the identity of the speaker: Emilio is the admirer
of Frege
Its raining now not its raining somewhere now, but its
raining here now
o On Saying That
Certain statements perform actions (performative statements
According to Quine we should never say Galileo said the earth
moves (in English, because of course he didnt say it in English
This isnt a problem for theory of language, but is still a problem for
the speaker

If I affirm a statement made by someone else then I commit myself

to affirming the meaning, but not the exact statement in the original
There is no implicit reference to any particular language, when one
makes a statement like Galileo said x => Galileo said x (in some
language or other that means the same as x in my language)
o Mental World
o Physical World
Names -> Individual things
Predicates -> Classes of things
o Senses (Sinne)
Some of the same functions (perhaps all) as Forms in Platonic
o Socrates is wise
Either true or false
o Morning Star = Morning Star
A Priori Analytic
o Venus = Morning Star

Kripke A Posteriori Analytic

o Epistemic difference the former statement is not
informative; the latter is informative
o According to Frege, mathematical concepts are out there, but
not in the physical world Senses? Mental World?
o We feel the need to postulate a world in addition to the Mental
and the Physical, like Freges Sense or Platos Forms, but they
do not do the work for us
However, Lewiss Possible Worlds may begin to do the work for us
o Extensionality Truth functionality
o Modal Logic
Can compare truth claims across Possible Worlds
When you think about logic as models in possible worlds you have
all the advantages you have with extensional logic because you can
do the math
o Counterfactuals are non-extensional
o Counterpart Theory
I cannot exist in multiple possible worlds, but I can have a
counterpart who is sufficiently similar to myself
o Soames Criticism of Possible Worlds

Were actually back to Freges initial criticism that meaning does not
exist in the mental realm
We have much more complex terminology, but have gone full circle
o We ought to try to make do with the two worlds that we know
to exist, the Physical and Mental, and only appeal to new
ontologies if we absolutely have to
o Is this possible?
o A modest theory of meaning
Snow is white is true iff its true
It does not account for what it means for snow to be white
o Sne er hvid means that sne er hvid
o Snow is white means that snow is white
o Snow is white is true iff snow is white
o Discussion: Dummett will insist that understand a sentence is
to be able to perform a test on the sentence that either
verifies/confirms it or falsifies it. For these analogies (e.g.
God, backwards time travel, dark side of the moon) not to be
illusions they must contain a recipe about how to analyze
o How to you get to a notion of a proof from a given iteration of
a sentence.
o Why does Dummett focus so much on verification rather than
other considerations. (Dummett needs a little bit more
o Dummetts theory of meaning shows that we will have to give
up certain linguistic intuitions (modify the way we think of and
use language)

o Wittgenstein: Philosophy doesnt change the way we use

language, it can only describe it
o 1) Empiricism
o 2) Physicalism
o 3) Pragmatism
o 4) Behaviourism (Skinner)
o The Two Dogmas of Empiricism
Empiricists dont like necessity unless it can be defined as analytic,
which is circular; necessity is either a meaningless metaphysical
term or it means analytic necessity
Statements are equivalent iff they have the same conditions of
verification or disverification
Quines web:
o All propositions in our system can be linked to one another in
meaningful ways
Quines definition of analyticity:
o Sentences that we stick to come what may. (Skinners
o Ex. Bachelors are unmarried men is a proposition that
Quine will stick to regardless of what evidence comes up
(because no evidence could disprove this)
Carnap tried to locate a stratum of propositions (observation
statements) that are wholly sound reflections of reality; Quines web
drops this enterprise

o Political rhetoric Freedom as a concept that, when used in

political discourse, has neither a fixed sense, nor a fixed
reference. However, the senses are all positive, while the
concept can refer to situations which actually negate any
notion of freedom
Persuasive Definitions (Stevenson)
o Terms without a clear descriptive component, may have a
clear emotive (persuasive) content

o Democracy; Freedom; etc.

George Lakoff
o Republicans can steal the election away by using metaphors
o Some uses of language are not literal, but are metaphorical
Metaphors We Live By
o Conservatives using the metaphor of the family
o Sociology Oppression
The marginalization of terms like oppression prevent classes of
persons to whom the term applies from being able to speak
meaningfully about their experiences and position within society
o Speech as action and language as interpersonal
o Economics Value, specifically use-value vs. utility and
value (objective) vs. utility (subjective)
o (Pragmatics(Speech Act Theory(Truth Theory)))
o Truth Theory (Formalists)
o Use Theory (Functionalists)
Communication Theory
Representation Theory
o Implicature (Grice)
Semantics properties of sentences; its grammatical form
Pragmatics properties of utterances