A Reconstruction of Russell's Gray's Elegy Argument

Max Rosenkrantz


This paper presents a detailed exegesis of Russell’s “Gray’s Elegy Argument” (GEA). It holds that the GEA mounts a successful attack on Frege—a thesis that has been widely controverted in the literature. The point of departure for my interpretation is Russell’s charge that it is impossible to speak about Sinne, or “meanings” as Russell calls them. I argue that the charge concerns the construction of an “ideal language.” For Russell, an ideal language is an artificial schema designed to represent the truth-makers for sentences occurring in natural language. Its signs stand for the entities that are constituents of those truth-makers. Russell’s charge can thus be expressed more clearly and completely as follows: an ideal language designed to express Frege’s ontology requires signs for meanings (Sinne); however, the signs introduced for that purpose cannot be correlated with the entities they are supposed to represent. Thus, the requirement cannot be met.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15173/jhap.v6i2.3086

Max Rosenkrantz
ORCID iD California State University, Long Beach
United States