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History of pragmatics/decades 

1800s[edit | edit source]

1843 Mill[edit | edit source]

  • Mill, John Stuart (1843). A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation. John W. Parker. [^]

"A name," says Hobbes,[1] "is a word taken at pleasure to serve for a mark which may raise in our mind a thought like to some thought we had before, and which being pronounced to others may be to them a sign of what thought the speaker had before in his mind." This simple definition of a name, as a word (or set of words) serving the double purpose, of a mark to recall to ourselves the likeness of a former thought, and a sign to make it known to others, appears unexceptionable. Names, indeed, do much more than this; but whatever else they do, grows out of, and is the result of this: as will appear in its proper place.

Are name more properly said to be the names of things, or of our ideas of things? The first is the expression in common use; the last is that of some philosophers, who conceived that in adopting if they were introducing a highly important distinction. The eminent thinker, just quoted, seems to countenance the latter opinion. "But seeing," he continues, "names ordered in speech (as is defined) are signs of our conceptions, it is manifest they are not signs of the things themselves; for that the sound of his word stone should be the sign of a stone, cannot be understood in any sense but this, that he that hears it collects that he that pronounces it thinks of a stone."

If it be merely meant that the conception alone, and not the thing itself, is recalled by the name, or imparted to the hearer, this of course cannot be denied. Nevertheless, there seems good reason for adhering to the common usage, and calling the word sun the name of the sun, and not the name of our idea of the sun. For names are not intended only to make the hearer conceive what we conceive, but also to inform him what we believe. Now, when I use a name for the purpose of expressing a belief concerning the thing itself, not concerning my idea of it. When I say, "the sun is the cause of day," I do not mean that my idea of the sun causes or excites in me the idea of day; but that the physical object, the sun itself, is the cause from which the outward phenomenon, day, follows as an effect. It seems proper to consider a word as the name of that which we intend to be understood by it when we use it; of that which any fact that we assert of it is to be understood of; that, in short, concerning which, when we employ the word, we intend to give information. Names, therefore, shall always be spoken of in this work as the names of thing themselves, and not merely of our ideas of things.

But the question now arises, of what things? and to answer this it is necessary to take into consideration the different kinds of names.

From Of Names (p. 27)‎

1892 Frege[edit | edit source]

  • Frege, Gottlob (1892). "Über Sinn und Bedeutung," ("On Sense and Reference"), Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik 100: 25-50. [^]

Frege's distinction rejects a view put forward by John Stuart Mill, according to which a proper name has no meaning above and beyond the object to which it refers (its referent or reference). That is, the word "Aristotle" just means Aristotle, that person, and no more. It does not mean "The writer of De Anima." Hence, the sentence Aristotle was Greek says only that that person was Greek. It does not say that the writer of De Anima was Greek. That is, it permits that Aristotle might not have written De Anima. More generally, for any given proposition about Aristotle, one can use the name without believing that proposition to be true of Aristotle.

Frege's central objection to the view that a name's meaning is no more than its referent is that, if a and b are names of the same object, then the identity statement a = b must mean the same as a = a. Yet clearly the first can convey information in a way that the second cannot; that Samuel Clemens is Samuel Clemens is just trivial, but that Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain is interesting. Why? Or, why is Cicero is Tully more significant than Cicero is Cicero? And, by the same token, Samuel Clemens wrote novels and Mark Twain wrote novels would have to mean the same thing but, again, the two sentences seem to convey different information.

Frege's distinction is meant to make sense of these phenomena. He postulates that, in addition to a reference (Bedeutung), a proper name possesses what he calls a sense (Sinn), some aspect of the way its reference is thought of that can differ, even between two names that refer to the same object. The important difference between Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens, for example, is a "difference in the mode of presentation of that which is designated". The sense of an expression is "that wherein the mode of presentation is contained". Thus, one can know both the names Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens without realizing that they are about the same object, because they present that object in different ways, that is, they have different senses. Another demonstrative example for this is the following: "The Leader of the Labour Party in October, 2006" and "the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in October, 2006". These two linguistic expressions differ in sense, but they do have the same referent, that is Tony Blair.

From w: Sense and reference

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Computation of Logic, chap. ii.