An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth by B. Russell

By B. Russell

Bertrand Russell is anxious during this e-book with the principles of information. He ways his topic via a dialogue of language, the relationships of fact to adventure and an research into how wisdom of the constitution of language is helping our realizing of the constitution of the world.

This variation contains a new advent through Thomas Baldwin, Clare university, Cambridge

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Example text

T w o instances o f the letter A are clo sely sim ilar, and each v e ry different fro m an instance o f the letter B . B y using black print on w hite paper, w e m ake each letter stand o u t sharply against its backgrou nd. T h u s a printed page consists o f a set o f discrete and easily classified shapes, and is in consequence a logician’s paradise. B ut he m ust not delude h im self into th inking that the w o rld outside b o o ks is equ ally charm ing. W o rd s, spoken, heard, o r w ritten, differ fro m other classes o f b o d ily m ovem ents, noises, o r shapes, b y h avin g “ m eaning” .

Anything going beyond assertions as to what is sensibly present, and even some assertions which do not do so, can only be effected by means o f sentences; but i f sentences contain object-words, what they assert depends upon the meaning o f the object-words. There are sentences containing no object-words; they are those o f logic and mathematics. But all empirical statements contain objectwords, or dictionary words defined in terms o f them. Thus the meaning o f object-words is fundamental in the theory o f empi­ rical knowledge, since it is through them that language is con­ nected with non-linguistic occurrences in the way that makes it capable o f expressing empirical truth or falsehood.

Thus similarity is symmetrical, and so is dissimilarity; but “ before” , “ greater” , “ to the right o f” , and so on, are asymmetrical. There are also relations which are neither symmetrical nor asymmetrical; “ brother” is an example, since, if x is the brother o f y , y may be the sister o f x. These and asymmetrical relations are called non-symmetrical. Non-symmetrical relations are o f the utmost importance, and many famous philosophies are refuted by their existence. Let us try to state what exactly are the linguistic facts about non-symmetrical relations.

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