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Between (1) and (2), it seems like "is true" is more particular in the latter than the former:

  1. The truth predicate ("is true") is a predicate attaching to (interpreted) sentences and propositions.E
  2. There is some proposition about snorkeling yaks that is true.

At least, making statements about the predicate, vs. applying the predicate, seems more generalized to some extent. However, if we have, "This sentence is true," the "content" of even "This sentence" is barely more than schematic (there is more raw structure than detailed content, it might be said), and would be either particularized or generalized vs. "is true," but even then "is true" lacks much content insofar as it is looped with its diaphanous subject.

So is "is true" in the honest sentence (or "is known" in the known sentence, etc.) neither more nor less general than in normal sentences? Now it seems as if, at least, it will be either equally general and particular, here, then, or incommensurably ratioed so (it would not be equally both, but the "degree" to which it would be the one would not not commensurate with the "degree" to which it would be the other).


Alternatively: is it ever quite enough to say that a sentence or proposition is true, or should it always be clarified, "That sentence is true in general," or, "That sentence is true in particular," or something along those lines? In the theory of schematics/model theory, for example, an uninterpreted sentence is not truth-apt; there is not a world of difference between a schematic and a general representation (or schematism participates in generality to a sufficient degree, we might say).

However, then:

  1. This sentence is false in general. Now it is not enough to ask, "Is the liar sentence true?" from the outside, but we must go on to, "Is the liar sentence true in general or in particular?" If it is true in general, I suppose the paradox reoccurs easily. However, since it says of itself that it's generally false, yet then if we take it at face value and as a particular sentence nevertheless, we might judge it from the outside as true in particular: it is true of its particular character that it is generally false.
  2. This sentence is false in particular. But then if it is true in general, do we mean: it is a particular example of false sentences generally?
  3. This sentence is false both in general and in particular. The major revenge sentence here, I suppose.

EI have never been entirely comfortable with taking non-sentences as the primary bearers of truth. I understand the seeming knockdown argument as reported in e.g. the SEP article on deflationism, but now suppose truth were a property of propositions. Propositions already are supposed to relate terms, e.g. subjects and predicates (as properties again), but then besides every proposition, "A is B," there is another proposition, "The proposition, 'A is B,' is true," and so on. Is this an unnecessary duplication of truths? If so, though, would propositions still remain the primary bearers of truth value?


Qualification: I see no need to dissociate the general/particular distinction from the use/mention one, here. Generality can be vague and underdeterminate/relative (perhaps not even transitive), and so, "The phrase 'X' is used for..." is hardly different, in its own use, from, "The concept of X is applied to..." (It is not without reason that the SEP article on concepts speaks of "lexical concepts" even if concepts are not words in Mentalese.) Now if I am talking about a concept-by-itself, not per a specific application but rather in terms of its applicability in general, then this hearkens back to Plato's phrasing "auto to," e.g. "auto to agathon" for the Form of the Good; or there is no major distinction, here, between, "The concept of X itself," and, "The concept of X in general" (when X-in-general is the Form-of-X).

At any rate, unless one can find a peer-reviewed, consensus citation that reads something like, "The use/mention distinction is irrelevant to understanding the general/particular distinction," the issue will not be addressed further except that I will add that the abstract/concrete distinction is not directly in play, either, because either this is no more than the encoding/exemplifying distinction (I am not comparing, "This sentence encodes truth," with, "This sentence exemplifies truth," but am preliminarily comparing truth-as-a-subject to truth-as-a-predicate and showing examples of when this is a comparison of a generality with a particular without insisting that absolutely every sample of truth-as-a-subject is general), or because it is not a stable distinction anyway (some will say that abstract objects are causally inert, others that they are in or not in space or time, some that they are grasped by "rational intuition," others that they are reached by a process called "abstraction," etc.; and the insistence that these distinctions have perfectly settled boundaries and are not very relevant to each other seems a misapprehension about the nature of conceptual clarity in philosophy).

P.S. that the four "zones" here have a Tarskian flavor is not denied, but where Tarski goes out the window is the implicit claim that self-referential sentences need not be situate correctly on a hierarchy of more-general-vs.-more-particular sentences but might be found, safe and sound, in the zone of incommensuration. Whether this epistemic possibility is actualized is the occurrent question, however.

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  • The first sentence is not using the predicate "is true"; it is mentioning it, so it is not using it in either a general nor a particular sense. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 21:25
  • @DavidGudeman I was taking use as (usually) more particular and mention as more general (see the remark about application). Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 21:31
  • Yes, and I was pointing out that your usage is wrong. The two things are not comparable in that way. You are trying to force them into boxes they don't fit. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 21:35
  • @DavidGudeman IDK that, though, for all I know, talking about a concept from the outside is more general than applying the concept (c.f. sentence-types vs. sentence-tokens). Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 21:54
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    It seems to me that the correct adjective here is "abstract" rather than "general". Meta-statements about T are always more abstract than object statements with T, and this is more in line with the outside/inside characterization. Then you will be right on the standard solution to the Liar by the Tarski hierarchy - Liar is bad syntax because it mixes object and meta levels. Once one is forced to stratify their truth predicates by level the Liar cannot be formed. Indeed, self-reference is blocked altogether, for better and worse.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 5:11

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