By Bernard Harrison (auth.)
'... a masterly advent to the important concerns that experience outlined the sector on the grounds that Frege.' instructing Philosophy
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Extra resources for An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language
Locke clearly intends this passage and others like it in Book II of the Essay as definitions, but all that they really accomplish is to offer examples of simple and complex ideas and to explain, trivially, that complex ideas are composed of simple ones while simple ideas are not, in that sense, composite. What is Locke's eriten'on of simplicity? To discover this we have to turn to Book III of the Essay, which deals with language, where we find that 'The names of simple ideas are not capable of any definitions; the names of all complex ideas are';" and, later: I think it is agreed that a definition is nothing else but the showing the meaning of one word by several other not synonymous terms.
4. '6 It is worth noticing, moreover, that the way in which he states the question commits him to answering it in accordance with the referential theory of meaning. Locke assumes, in effect, that a word acquires meaning by standing as a token or substitute for a thing. That assumption made, the problem of generality presents itself as the problem of finding a class of suitably 'general' things ('general natures', in Locke's phrase) for general names to go proxy for, since clearly they cannot stand for particular things.
Once I know that Enid is the name of a hurricane, I want to know which hurricane, and this is not a question which can be settled by appeal to the meanings of general names. s On the other hand, once I have identified the object (the quasi-particular) which 'gold' designates as a kind of stuff (which involves appeal to the concept kind of stuff), all I can do in answer to a demand to know which kind of stuff, is to refer the inquirer to the meaning of 'gold'. Quasi-particulars seem to have their whole being situated within the corpus of human linguistic convention.
An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language by Bernard Harrison (auth.)