New PDF release: An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth

By B. Russell

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All other physical sentences can theoretically be either proved or disproved (as the case may be), or rendered probable or improbable,· by sentences of these forms; and we ought not to include as a datum anything capable of logical proof or disproof by means of other data. But this is merely by way of anticipation. In a sentence of atomic form, expressed in a strictly logical language, there are a finite number of proper names (any finite number from one upwards), and there is one word which is not a proper name.

What you saw was some particular shape, to which we will give the proper name A; and you judged "A is human". The two sentences "I saw A" and "A is human" enable you to deduce "I saw a man", but this latter sentence does not imply that you saw A, or that A is human. When you tell me that you saw a man, I cannot tell whether you saw A or B or C or any other of the men that exist. What is known is the truth of some proposition of the form : "I saw x and x is human". '> This form is not atomic, being compounded of HI saw x and "xis human".

Observe that the order of words can be Changed, and that · we can say "Caesar killed Brutus" just as easily as "Brutus killed . · not imply that there are universals. It only asserts that the status of a word, as op� to its instances, is the same as that ofDog as opposed to various particular dogs. • This does SENTENCES, SYNTAX, AND PARTS OF SPEECH Caesar,,, we are apt to think that the words are definite things which are capable of different arrangements. This is a mistake: the words · are abstractions, and the verbal utterances can only have whichever order they do have.

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An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth by B. Russell


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