The one phrase C was to have both meaning and denotation. But if we speak of “the meaning of C,” that gives us the meaning (if any) of the denotation. “The meaning of the first line of Gray’s Elegy” is the same as “The meaning of ‘The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,’ ” and is not the same as “The meaning of ‘the first line of Gray’s Elegy.’ ” Thus in order to get the meaning we want, we must speak not of “the meaning of C,” but “the meaning of ‘C,’ ” which is the same as “C” by itself. Similarly “the denotation of C” does not mean the denotation we want, but means something which, if it denotes at all, denotes what is denoted by the denotation we want. For example, let “C” be “the denoting complex occurring in the second of the above instances.” Then C = “the first line of Gray’s Elegy,” and the denotation of C = The curfew tolls the knell of parting day. But what we meant to have as the denotation was “the first line of Gray’s Elegy.” Thus we have failed to get what we wanted.

Does Russell literally just complain about the necessity of using brackets? Or did I miss something?

  • Assuming that it is a criticism of Frege, it concerns F's double-entities theory: sinn and bedeutung, based on the difficulty of applying it in "indirect" contexts. Commented Apr 3 at 11:54
  • It seems to me that this difficulty consists only in the necessity of using brackets. Am I missing something? Commented Apr 3 at 12:07
  • Page 483: "[Frege] distinguishes, in a denoting phrase, two elements, which we may call the meaning and the denotation. Thus 'the center of mass of the solar system at the beginning of the twentieth century' is highly complex in meaning, but its denotation is a certain point, which is simple." "One of the first difficulties that confront us, when we adopt the view that denoting phrases express a meaning and denote a denotation, concerns the cases in which the denotation appears to be absent." Commented Apr 3 at 12:34
  • "The relation of the meaning to the denotation involves certain rather curious difficulties, which seem in themselves sufficient to prove that the theory which leads to such difficulties must be wrong. When we wish to speak about the meaning of a denoting phrase, as opposed to its denotationù, the natural mode of doing so is by inverted commas." The denotation of The center of mass of the solar system is a certain point in space, while the denotation of "The center of mass of the solar system" is a statement in R's paper. But what is the meaning in the second case? Commented Apr 3 at 12:35
  • As far as I can see, he is just pointing out that quotation seems to work a bit differently for meaning vs. denotation. Even if he's right, I don't see how that is an argument against the existence of meaning and denotation. Commented Apr 3 at 13:59


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