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Frege, Gottlob (1848–1925)


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


German philosopher of logic, mathematics, and language, known chiefly for his work in refining and extending the scope of S ymbolíc logic with the introduction of quantifiers and other technical devices. Frege's contribution in this field is esteemed by some – Michael Dummett prominent among them – as the greatest since Aristotle and the source of all the most important developments in recent analytic philosophy. Less successful was Frege's early attempt to establish the foundations of mathematics on a purely logical basis, an enterprise that foundered (as he came to believe) on certain intractable paradoxes in set theory discovered and brought to his attention by Bertrand Russell. Most important for critical and cultural theorists is Frege's cardinal distinction between “sense” and “reference.” These are the standard – though not altogether satisfactory – translations of the German words Sinn and Bedeutung . The “sense” of a term is its meaning as defined by the role it plays, or the semantic attributes it possesses, in some given natural language. The “referent” of that term is the object which it designates or the real-world entity which it serves to pick out when properly deployed. Thus there exist some names of (for example) fictive or hypothetical objects, characters or events which may be said to possess sense but not reference . That is, we can assert a great many ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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