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Philosophy of Language - Essay Example

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Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), who was among the founders of the so-called analytical movement within the Anglo-American philosophy, is known today as one of the most outstanding philosophers in terms of his influence on the philosophy of the twentieth century…
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Download file to see previous pages the study of meaning conveyed with its help. And it was in this aspect of his scholarly activity that contributions of Frege are perhaps the most wide-ranging. Indeed, Frege defined the majority of the primary problems that the philosophy of language had to surmount, formulated most of the fundamental concepts and theories in this field, and set new methodological standards of academic scrutiny for the philosophy of language. On ground of all this, the modern philosophy of language has even been likened to footnotes to ideas of Frege. Of course, already before Frege language was viewed as an indispensable tool employed by our memory to record our thoughts and used as a means of expression of our thoughts to people via verbal communication. But in the end of the nineteenth century some philosophers started to perceive language in an even more fundamental way - as a tool without the understanding of which it is impossible to tackle existing conceptual and ontological problems. It was in this respect that Frege offered a variety of new insights into the functioning of language and its true significance. He was advancing the view that the very human thought as such is influenced by language as a form of symbolic interaction, and as he was interested in the study of the structure of the human thought he was naturally bound to closely analyse language. This is why we may find in his works so many fine observations that aim to uncover the most elementary principles of language usage (Weiner 2004, pp.1-6, 159-165). One of such subtle themes in works of Frege is his account of indirect speech, which holds an important place within his scholarly system where every seemingly minor linguistic mechanism matters. Let us overview his analysis of indirect speech and try through its critical evaluation to find out whether Frege gives an adequate account of it.
First of all, to understand the place of the analysis of indirect speech in the works of Frege we should provide a proper context for its complete understanding. For Frege one of the motivating sources of his linguistic investigations was the dilemma represented by the fact that while language is necessary for us to be able to generate meaningful thoughts, it is at the same time the barrier for the adequate expression of thoughts because, being a sensible entity, language is used to express insensible thoughts. To find a proper reference point for the judgement on the matter of the possible interrelation that may exist between thought and language, Frege formulated two important concepts that lie at the point of intersection between them. The first such concept is the so-called sense that is contained in each expression. Sense of an expression relates to the specific way of formulation of description of an object, conception, or function that a certain sentence aims to describe. We may liken the notion of sense to the question 'how' is something expressed in a sentence. Another crucial concept of Frege is the notion of significance, or reference, of an expression, which is the actual object, conception, or function that that expression aims to represent. Similarly, we may liken the notion of reference to the question 'what' does a sentence attempt to tell us. Now, with the help of those two approaches to the analysis of information contained in a particular sentence we can establish that for every meaningful expression there can be only one reference, while there can be different senses that may be used to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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