An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language by Bernard Harrison (auth.)

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language by Bernard Harrison (auth.)

By Bernard Harrison (auth.)

'... a masterly advent to the primary matters that experience outlined the sector due to the fact Frege.' instructing Philosophy

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It is obvious ... e. with qualities which are exemplified in sense-data. When we see a white patch, we are acquainted, in the first instance, with the particular patch; but by seeing many white patches, we easily learn to abstract the whiteness which they all have in common, and in learning to do this we are learning to be acquainted with whiteness .... Universals of this sort may be called 'sensible qualities'. They can be apprehended with less effort of abstraction than any other, and they seem less removed from particulars than other universals are.

The reasons why Locke failed to see this are interesting. First of all, he confuses the linguistic and the metaphysical senses of 'essence'. He 42 THE PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE confuses the 'essence' of gold in the sense of what really accounts for the 'natural union' of its properties, with the 'essence' of gold in the sense of what criteria enable us to distinguish things to which the word 'gold' applies from things to which it does not apply. Thus, if it occurs to him that to give a list of characteristic properties is not an adequate way of specifying the essence of gold, he locates the inadequacy in the fact that such a list does not give the real - the metaphysical- essence of gold, and not in the fact that such a list is in itself inadequate to determine the reference of 'gold'.

But now names for natural kinds begin to look suspiciously like proper names (the italicised passage in the above quotation shows that Russell entertained the same suspicion). In section I we suggested that the difference between the quasi-particulars which general names stand for and genuine particulars (particulars which can be the bearers of proper names) is that a quasi-particular can be identified only by appeal to the meaning of a general name other than the one which stands for the quasi-particular in question.

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