[hist-analytic] Russell's Early View on Meaning

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Fri Sep 25 07:43:09 EDT 2009

In my book I devote a few pages to the use of the private language argument. Along the way, I became curioius about the origin of the idea that meaning is what an expression has in common with its translation. One finds this idea throughout the literature in semantics. Few state the thesis explicitly but do accept it at least implicitly. Quine is explicit on this in Word and Object (p. 32). 

However I notice it is, also, explicit in Russell's very early work, circa 1904. I'm wondering if this originates with Russell. I think it does. I don't think it is anywhere in Frege but it has been a long time since I looked at Frege seriously. Does anyone know of an earlier statement of this position? By the way, this position leads Russell to regard meaning as an abstract entity, a position he later abandons; but when he abandoned it later what became of his view of the idea of a meta-language as a result if anything? 


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