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Frege’s AntiPsychologism 1 The Rejection of Psychologism See Dummett 1993: ch.4
“Always separate sharply the logical from the psychological, the objective from the subjective.” (Frege: Grundlagen) 2 “In logic we must reject all distinctions that are made from a purely psychological point of view. What is referred to as depending of logic by psychology in nothing but a falsification of it by psychology.” (Frege 1979: 142) 3 Thoughts and Consciousness For Frege thoughts are not constituents of consciousness.
Grasping a thought is a mental act, but the thought exists independently of being grasped. 4 To avoid psychologism, Frege endorses Platonism.
Cf. Frege’s dichotomy between the subjective (ideas) and the objective (thoughts).
Frege doesn’t recognise the intermediate category of the intersubjective. 5 Language as a Social Entity If we look for something nonmythological but objective and external to the mind, we are left with language qua social institution. 6 Language as a praxis (cf. Wittgenstein)
The objectivity required is given by the common practice of speaking a language. Thoughts are generated by language.
Language and thoughts are inseparable (Dummett). A thought cannot be dissociated from its mode of expression (cf. thoughts vs. protothoughts).
7 “The extrusion of thoughts from the mind initiated by Bolzano led to what is often termed ‘Platonism’, as exemplified by Frege’s mythology of the ‘third realm’: for, if thoughts are not contents of the mind, they must be located in a compartment of reality distinct both from physical world and the inner world of private experience. This mythology served Frege and Husserl as a bulwark against the psychologism which they opposed. If, now, our capacity for thought is equated with, or at least explained in terms of, our ability to use language, no such bulwark is required: for language is a social phenomenon, in no way private to the individual, and its use is publicly observable. It is for this reason that the linguistic turn may be seen as a device for continuing to treat thoughts as objective and utterly disparate from inner mental events, without having recourse to the Platonistic mythology.” (Dummett 1993: 131)
8 Grasping a Thought
(See Dummett 1993: ch.10) Grasping is a dispositional relation. We are disposed to grasp new thoughts inasmuch as we know the senses of the expressions. This is not a mental act but a kind of ability. (cf. Wittgenstein who argues that understanding is not a mental process).
9 Knowledge of language is akin to knowing how…
See the French “connaitre” vs. “savoir”.
(1) Jane knows how to ride a bike
(2) * Jane knows that to ride a bike 10 Frege’s realism on senses doesn’t recognise the dispositional character of the grasping. For Frege the grasping relation rests on a link between the mind and the sense/thought. 11 If grasping a sense is an ability, to grasp a sense is a primary concept. We have no account of what a sense is save that embedded in an account of the grasping of that sense.
Abilities are manifested … Disposition to act appropriately in given circumstances.
12 “This does not account with the mythology, according to which a sense is an independently existing object with which the mind somehow makes contact.” (Dummett 1993: 108) 13 Thought and Language
(See Dummett 1993: ch.13) philosophy of thoughts: Is concerned both with:
(i) the question of what it is to have a thought and (ii) the structure of thoughts.
14 The parallelism between thought and language allows us to take the linguistic turn.
If our capacity for thoughts is equated with the capacity of using a language we can give up Platonism. This contrast with the code conception of language (cf. slides 4).
15 A practice doesn’t rest on one entertaining some mental entities or one grasping something. A practice is an activity. The capacity to do something is manifested by doing it. 16 Concepts Concepts differ from ideas/images. A concept is not something which comes to one’s mind. Dispositional nature: to have a concept is to apply it in an appropriate way in a given occasion. The ability to apply a concept is to have that concept. This ability is manifested in our linguistic competence.
17 There is no gap for a psychological act of grasping to bridge.
“It is because concepts cannot be spoken of as coming into the mind as do mental images that they cannot be described as content of consciousness.” (Dummett 1993: 133)
An ability/capacity is not something coming to one’s mind. Knowing how to do something differs from knowing that…
18 Ideas: They are mental but, pace Frege, are communicable because we have thoughts about them which are public. 19 The Social Character of Language vs. the Individual Character of Beliefs An utterance’s meaning depends on the correct use of the words in the common language, while the content of beliefs depends on the personal grasping of the words. 20 Public senses vs. private senses
Is it the public sense or the private sense the sensereferent of expressions appearing in oratio obliqua constructions? 21 Which sense (the private or the public one) help us to block the substitution salva veritate of coreferring terms embedded in attitude ascriptions?
Which one would be the indirect sense? 22 If the sensereferent is:
(i) Public sense: Then this solution may work for proper names but will not for indexicals.
(ii) Believersense: Then it will be difficult to accommodate the intuition that two people believe the same thing. (“Both A and B believe/said that C is F”) 23 (iii) Ascribersense: Then it turns out that the thought attributed and the thought believed may differ. (See Corazza 1999. “Washing Away Original Sinn”. Dialogue 38.) 24 Thus: A(1) Tim believes Fa
A(2) Sue believes whatever Tim believes
A(3) Sue believes Fa is valid. Hence, the term “a” cannot switch reference from the premise A(1) to the conclusion A(3)
25 To know what one believes we must know how she understands the words. To do so we exploit the existence of accepted meanings by using words of which we have only an imperfect understanding (cf. division of linguistic labour).
“There is no sense in asking how much someone would have to know in order to know everything that determines the use of the name “Bologna” in the common language.” (Dummett 1993: 145)
26 saying vs. believing
Saying exploits the common language while believing exploits the understanding of the language. We start with the study of common language rather than with the study of one’s knowledge of it. Primacy of language over idiolects. vs. Humpty Dumpty conception.
27 Meaning and Understanding They are correlated notions. For, the meaning of an expression is what one must know to understand it. Meaning is something that a speaker can know. 28 In which sense can one be said to know the meaning of an expression? This relates to the problem of knowing a language which is (partly) a practical ability manifested in the actual practice of speaking the language. 29 Theory of meaning It is a theory of understanding, it is a representation of a practical ability, i.e.: (i) what a speaker must know in order to know a language, and (ii) in what the speaker having this knowledge consists (manifestation of it).
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- Winter '08