Frege on Multiple Analyses and the Essential Articulatedness of Thought

Silver Bronzo


Frege appears to hold both (a) that thoughts are internally articulated, in a way that mirrors the semantic articulation of the sentences that express them, and (b) that the same thought can be analyzed in different ways, none of which has to be more fundamental than the others. Commentators have often taken these theses to be mutually incompatible and have tended to polarize into two camps, each of which attributes to Frege one of the theses, but maintains that he is only apparently committed to the other. This paper argues (i) that there are good exegetical and philosophical reasons for reconciling the two theses; (ii) that this reconciliation can be achieved by rejecting an assumption shared by the two opposite camps of the exegetical debate, i.e., the assumption that essential articulatedness implies unique articulation; and finally (iii), that this crucial assumption can be resisted by appreciating Frege’s anti-atomistic and ‘organic’ conception of the internal complexity of thoughts.

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Silver Bronzo
National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow