Concept and object

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In the philosophy of language, the distinction between concept and object is attributable to the German philosopher Gottlob Frege.

Philosophy of language, in the analytical tradition, explored logic, the nature of meaning, and accounts of the mind at the end of the nineteenth century.

Gottlob Frege mathematician, logician, philosopher

Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German philosopher, logician, and mathematician. He is understood by many to be the father of analytic philosophy, concentrating on the philosophy of language and mathematics. Though largely ignored during his lifetime, Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932) and Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) introduced his work to later generations of logicians and philosophers.


According to Frege, any sentence that expresses a singular thought consists of an expression (a proper name or a general term plus the definite article) that signifies an Object together with a predicate (the copula "is", plus a general term accompanied by the indefinite article or an adjective) that signifies (bedeutet) a Concept. Thus "Socrates is a philosopher" consists of "Socrates", which signifies the Object Socrates, and "is a philosopher", which signifies the Concept of being a philosopher.

In linguistics, a copula is a word used to link the subject of a sentence with a predicate, like the word is in the sentence "The sky is blue." The word copula derives from the Latin noun for a "link" or "tie" that connects two different things.

This was a considerable departure from the traditional term logic, in which every proposition (i.e. sentence) consisted of two general terms joined by the copula "is".

In philosophy, term logic, also known as traditional logic, syllogistic logic or Aristotelian logic, is a loose name for an approach to logic that began with Aristotle and that was dominant until the advent of modern predicate logic in the late nineteenth century. This entry is an introduction to the term logic needed to understand philosophy texts written before it was replaced as a formal logic system by predicate logic. Readers lacking a grasp of the basic terminology and ideas of term logic can have difficulty understanding such texts, because their authors typically assumed an acquaintance with term logic.

The distinction was of fundamental importance to the development of logic and mathematics. Frege's distinction helped to clarify the notions of a set, of the membership relation between element and set, and of empty and infinite sets. However, Frege's conception of a class (in his terminology an extension of a concept) differs from the current iterative conception of a set.

Set theory branch of mathematics that studies sets, which are collections of objects

Set theory is a branch of mathematical logic that studies sets, which informally are collections of objects. Although any type of object can be collected into a set, set theory is applied most often to objects that are relevant to mathematics. The language of set theory can be used to define nearly all mathematical objects.

Empty set set containing no elements

In mathematics, and more specifically set theory, the empty set is the unique set having no elements; its size or cardinality is zero. Some axiomatic set theories ensure that the empty set exists by including an axiom of empty set; in other theories, its existence can be deduced. Many possible properties of sets are vacuously true for the empty set.

In set theory, an infinite set is a set that is not a finite set. Infinite sets may be countable or uncountable. Some examples are:

Frege's distinction leads to the famous difficulty or "awkwardness of language" that some expressions which purport to signify a concept — Frege's example is "the concept horse" — are grammatically expressions that by his criterion signify an Object. Thus "the concept horse is not a concept, whereas the city of Berlin is a city".

Anthony Kenny sought to justify the distinction, other philosophers such as Hartley Slater and Crispin Wright have argued that the distinguished category of entity cannot be associated with predication in the way that individual objects are associated with the use of singular terms.

Sir Anthony John Patrick Kenny is an English philosopher whose interests lie in the philosophy of mind, ancient and scholastic philosophy, the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the philosophy of religion. With Peter Geach, he has made a significant contribution to Analytical Thomism, a movement whose aim is to present the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas in the style of analytic philosophy. He is one of the executors of Wittgenstein's literary estate. He is a former President of the British Academy and the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Crispin James Garth Wright is a British philosopher, who has written on neo-Fregean (neo-logicist) philosophy of mathematics, Wittgenstein's later philosophy, and on issues related to truth, realism, cognitivism, skepticism, knowledge, and objectivity. He is Professor of Philosophy at New York University and Professor of Philosophical Research at the University of Stirling, and taught previously at the University of St Andrews, University of Aberdeen, Princeton University and University of Michigan.

A singular term is a paradigmatic referring device in a language. Singular terms are of philosophical importance for philosophers of language, because they refer to things in the world, and the ability of words to refer calls for scrutiny.

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Existence objective persistence independent of ones presence; state of being, existing, or occurring; beinghood

Existence is the ontological property of being, with reference to the ability of an entity to, directly or indirectly, interact with the physical or, especially in idealistic worldviews, mental reality.

In the philosophy of language a proper name, for example the names of persons or places, is a name which is ordinarily taken to uniquely identify its referent in the world. As such it presents particular challenges for theories of meaning and it has become a central problem in analytical philosophy. The common sense view was originally formulated by John Stuart Mill in A System of Logic where he defines it as "a word that answers the purpose of showing what thing it is that we are talking about but not of telling anything about it". This view was criticized when philosophers applied principles of formal logic to linguistic propositions. Gottlob Frege pointed out that proper names may apply to imaginary and inexistent entities without becoming meaningless, and he showed that sometimes more than one proper name may identify the same entity without having the same sense, so that the phrase "Homer believed the morning star was the evening star" could be meaningful and not tautological in spite of the fact that the morning star and the evening star identifies the same referent. This example became known as Frege's Puzzle and is a central issue in the theory of proper names.

A syllogism is a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true.

A proposition is a tentative and conjectural relationship between constructs that is stated in a declarative form. An example of a proposition is: “An increase in student intelligence causes an increase in their academic achievement.” This declarative statement does not have to be true, but must be empirically testable using data, so that we can judge whether it is true or false. Propositions are generally derived based on logic (deduction) or empirical observations (induction). Because propositions are associations between abstract constructs, they cannot be tested directly. Instead, they are tested indirectly by examining the relationship between corresponding measures (variables) of those constructs. The empirical formulation of propositions, stated as relationships between variables, is called hypotheses. The term proposition has a broad use in contemporary analytic philosophy. It is used to refer to some or all of the following: the primary bearers of truth-value, the objects of belief and other "propositional attitudes", the referents of that-clauses, and the meanings of declarative sentences. Propositions are the sharable objects of attitudes and the primary bearers of truth and falsity. This stipulation rules out certain candidates for propositions, including thought- and utterance-tokens which are not sharable, and concrete events or facts, which cannot be false.

Sense and reference mathematical paper by Gottlob Frege

In the philosophy of language, the distinction between sense and reference was an innovation of the German philosopher and mathematician Gottlob Frege in 1892, reflecting the two ways he believed a singular term may have meaning.

Peter Thomas Geach was a British philosopher and professor of logic at the University of Leeds. His areas of interest were the history of philosophy, philosophical logic, ethics, philosophy of religion, and the theory of identity.

In philosophy, the unity of the proposition is the problem of explaining how a sentence in the indicative mood expresses more than just what a list of proper names expresses.

<i>Begriffsschrift</i> book about logic

Begriffsschrift is a book on logic by Gottlob Frege, published in 1879, and the formal system set out in that book.

In mathematics, semantics, and philosophy of language, the principle of compositionality is the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent expressions and the rules used to combine them. This principle is also called Frege's principle, because Gottlob Frege is widely credited for the first modern formulation of it. However, the idea appears already among Indian philosophers of grammar such as Yāska, and also in Plato's work such as in Theaetetus. Besides, the principle was never explicitly stated by Frege, and it was arguably already assumed by George Boole decades before Frege's work.

In the philosophy of language, the context principle is a form of semantic holism holding that a philosopher should "never ... ask for the meaning of a word in isolation, but only in the context of a proposition".

Logical form form for logical arguments, obtained by abstracting from the subject matter of its content terms

In philosophy and mathematics, a logical form of a syntactic expression is a precisely-specified semantic version of that expression in a formal system. Informally, the logical form attempts to formalize a possibly ambiguous statement into a statement with a precise, unambiguous logical interpretation with respect to a formal system. In an ideal formal language, the meaning of a logical form can be determined unambiguously from syntax alone. Logical forms are semantic, not syntactic constructs; therefore, there may be more than one string that represents the same logical form in a given language.

<i>The Foundations of Arithmetic</i> book by Gottlob Frege

The Foundations of Arithmetic is a book by Gottlob Frege, published in 1884, which investigates the philosophical foundations of arithmetic. Frege refutes other theories of number and develops his own theory of numbers. The Grundlagen also helped to motivate Frege's later works in logicism. The book was not well received and was not read widely when it was published. It did, however, draw the attentions of Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, who were both heavily influenced by Frege's philosophy. An English translation was published by J. L. Austin, with a second edition in 1960.

Following the developments in formal logic with symbolic logic in the late nineteenth century and mathematical logic in the twentieth, topics traditionally treated by logic not being part of formal logic have tended to be termed either philosophy of logic or philosophical logic if no longer simply logic.

Sortal is a concept that has been used by some philosophers in discussing issues of identity, persistence, and change. Sortal terms are considered a species of general term that are classified within the grammatical category of common or count nouns or count noun phrases. This is based on the claim that a perceptual link allows perceptual demonstrative thought if it enables sortal classification.

This is an index of articles in philosophy of language


R. Mark Sainsbury is a British philosopher who is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin. He is known for his work in philosophical logic, philosophy of language, and on the philosophies of Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.