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Frege, Gottlob (1848–1925)

david bell

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


German philosopher and mathematician. Frege, professor of mathematics at the University of Jena, devoted his intellectual life to a single, narrowly circumscribed project: the reduction of arithmetic to pure logic ( see logicism ). In the attempt to implement this programme, however, Frege found himself increasingly forced to confront the broader philosophical problems which it raised: problems concerning the nature of logic, language, meaning and the mind. As a result he formulated theories concerning identity, truth, validity, existence, sense, reference, generality, logical form, number, objects, concepts, thoughts and judgements. His importance extends, therefore, far beyond the narrow confines of the foundations of arithmetic: his influence on Carnap, Russell and Wittgenstein was formative, for example, and his significance within contemporary Anglo-American philosophy is second to none. He is now widely viewed as the father of analytic philosophy. Broadly speaking, Frege's significance for epistemology is twofold. On the one hand, the revolution that he inaugurated inevitably assigns a less central role to epistemological considerations than that typically assigned to them in post-Cartesian philosophy. As Dummett has emphasized, one of the hallmarks of post-Fregean, ‘analytic’ philosophy is that questions concerning the nature of our knowledge or the justification of our ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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