By Bernard Harrison (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333120442

ISBN-13: 9780333120446

ISBN-10: 1349162272

ISBN-13: 9781349162277

'... a masterly advent to the imperative concerns that experience outlined the sphere in view that Frege.' instructing Philosophy

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Extra resources for An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language

Sample text

Our senses, conversant about particular sensible objects, do convey into the mind several distinct perceptions of things, according to those various ways wherein those objects do affect them. And thus we come by those ideas we have of yellow, white, heat, cold, soft, hard, bitter, sweet, and all those we call sensible qualities. ],. What is expressed by a word is a meaning, or a concept, and it is not obvious that the concept of sweetness is at all the same thing as some shadowy recollection of the taste of sugar which might pass through my mind when I was thinking about going to make a cup of coffee, and so might reasonably be thought to be one of the mental states which go to make up the thread of my thoughts on that subject.

Possession of what H. H. Price6 called a 'recognitional capacity' in common with the cat, in other words, does not make me a member of the cat's linguistic community; and therefore appeal to recognitional capacities cannot explain what is involved in membership of a human linguistic community. Nor, evidently, does it make much difference if we allow the cat the capacity to indicate negative instances, to say 'not blackbird' to thrushes, tits or rabbits, for example. Such feline mutterings go to show only that the feature, F, of blackbirds which the cat's utterance 'blackbird' picks out is not a feature which blackbirds share with thrushes, tits or rabbits.

An example will make clear what I mean. Imagine a Martian, who, being a philosophical Martian with an affection for the eighteenth century, has set out to learn English on strictly Lockian principles. In his notebook opposite the word 'gold' he has scribbled down a list of properties: yellowness, metallic lustre, malleability. He has also noted that these have 'an union in nature', and that what this means is I 40 THE PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE that they occur frequently conjoined in our experience.

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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language by Bernard Harrison (auth.)


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