The Metaphysicians of Meaning: Russell and Frege on Sense and Denotation

By Gideon Makin | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Russell’s first theory of denoting

The present chapter introduces Russell’s first theory of denoting, namely the one he put forth in The Principles of Mathematics and endorsed up until the time he struck upon the theory of descriptions in 1905. Two intermingled tasks are involved: one is to explain the distinctive features of the theory itself—primarily to facilitate the discussion in the following chapter. This will be done just about in full. The other is to introduce the broader theoretical setting in which Russell’s discussion of denoting is couched. Here I will merely point out some of the most salient features, without attempting to answer all the questions it gives rise to. Some of them will be touched upon at various points in the following chapters, but their more direct discussion will have to wait until Part III, after the discussion of Frege.


I The elements

Russell’s first theory of denoting can be wrapped into a single sentence: ‘a concept denotes when, if it occurs in a proposition, the proposition is not about the concept, but about a term connected in a certain peculiar way with the concept’ (PoM: § 56). But unless we know what precisely is meant by ‘proposition’, ‘term’, ‘denote’ and ‘about’ such a statement is hardly illuminating and part of our task, therefore, is to clarify these notions.

To begin with propositions, it is crucial to bear in mind that they are not, nor are they abstracted from, symbolic or linguistic or psychological entities (PoM: § 51). On the contrary, they are conceived of as fundamentally independent of both language and mind. Propositions are first and foremost the entities which enter into logical relations of implication, and hence also the primary bearers of truth. Their other role is to be the objects certain relations to which constitute belief and knowledge.

But even when the non-linguistic conception of propositions is acknowledged at the outset, it is in constant danger of being obscured when following particular discussions. Not only do ‘truth’ and ‘implication’ apply, in their primary senses, to propositions and only derivatively to the sentences expressing them, but there is a host of related notions—‘term’ (meaning

-11-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Metaphysicians of Meaning: Russell and Frege on Sense and Denotation
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 230

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.