Communication: A Philosophical Study of Language

By Karl Britton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE ANALYSIS OF PROPOSITIONS

1. The discussion in the last chapter led me to consider the relation between expressions and the references they make--the possible facts that they represent. And it has already become clear that in certain ways the internal properties of the expression may mislead us as to the internal properties of the reference, and that the same reference may be made by different expressions with different degrees of success. Expressions may be more or less complete, more or less explicit, more or less direct: two expressions may thus vary greatly in how much of a reference they convey, and in how well they convey it. And a person A, on hearing another person B say 'p', may understand him only very vaguely and be entirely unable to say exactly and in detail what 'p' conveys to him; yet he may at least begin to understand 'p' and may begin to verify it. And in plain fact we all of us constantly use expressions which we believe to be true, but which we do not understand very well. But of course it is possible to try to find new expressions with the same reference as 'p', but which are more explicit or more direct, or both, and in this way to explain what 'p' means. This process has come to be known as Analysis; we took for a new expression 'pʹ' which makes the same reference as 'p', but which is (for some reason) a more clear expression than 'p'. Then 'pʹ', is an expression which tells us more about p, than 'p' does; the reason for preferring 'pʹ' to 'p' is a reason that depends upon the character of the reference that both make; it is not merely linguistic or stylistic:

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