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

altkorho at mappi.helsinki.fi altkorho at mappi.helsinki.fi
Fri Sep 25 08:17:37 EDT 2009


You can certainly find the idea in Frege. For example, a quick look at  
Frege's "Logic" of 1897 yielded the following sentence: "the thought  
must be preserved if we are to speak of a translation at all" (p. 231  
in the Frege Reader, edited by M. Beaney). No doubt, you can find  
quotations where Frege makes the point quite explicitly. In Frege you  
quite often find the idea that the thought is what gets communicated  
via language, and no doubt the step from here to the thesis you're  
interested in is not a very long one. Sorry I cannot give you a list  
of references, as I am supposed the lecture about the ontological  
argument on next Monday's metaphysics class.


Lainaus Baynesr at comcast.net:

> 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?
> Regards
> Steve

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