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2 - Frege on Sense and reference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Michael Morris
Affiliation:
University of Sussex
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Summary

Key text

Gottlob Frege, ‘Über Sinn und Bedeutung’, Zeitung für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, 100 (1892), pp. 25–50; translated (for example) as ‘On Sense and Meaning’ in G. Frege, Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy, ed. B. McGuinness (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984); this paper appears in many anthologies in various translations.

Introduction

The German mathematician and philosopher, Gottlob Frege, is widely regarded as the father of analytic philosophy. His work has shaped everything which has been written in the philosophy of language in the analytic tradition. I think there are two principal reasons for this. First, his philosophy of language presents a way of accepting what seems most natural and intuitive about the kind of approach to language found in Locke, while decisively rejecting what seems most questionable about it. And, secondly, his work offers the prospect of a thoroughly systematic approach to meaning.

Frege shares with Locke these three crucial assumptions which we identified in chapter 1:

  1. (L1) The nature of language is defined by its function;

  2. (L2) The function of language is to communicate;

  3. (L3) What language is meant to communicate is thought.

But his clearest disagreement with the Lockean tradition comes in his treatment of these two assumptions:

  1. (L4) Words signify or mean the components of what language is meant to communicate;

  2. (L5) The components of thought are Ideas.

Frege accepts some version of (L4), but understands it in a non-Lockean way. Locke had the following conception of how words are components of sentences.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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  • Frege on Sense and reference
  • Michael Morris, University of Sussex
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511801464.003
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  • Frege on Sense and reference
  • Michael Morris, University of Sussex
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511801464.003
Available formats
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  • Frege on Sense and reference
  • Michael Morris, University of Sussex
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511801464.003
Available formats
×