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The titles published in this series are listed at the end ofthis volume
Boston University

An Ultimate Presupposition of
Twentieth-Century Philosophy


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ISBN 978-90-481-4754-0 ISBN 978-94-015-8601-6 (eBook)

DOI 10.1007/978-94-015-8601-6

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Originally published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 1997
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1. "Contemporary Philosophy and the Problem of Truth" 1

2. "Is Truth Ineffable?" 20

3. "Defining Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth" 46

4. "On the Development of the Model-Theoretic Viewpoint in Logical Theory" 104

5. "The Place of C.S. Peirce in the History of Logical Theory" 140

6. (with Merrill B. Hintikka) ''Wittgenstein and Language as the Universal

Medium" 162

7. "Camap's Work in the Foundations of Logic and Mathematics in a Historical

Perspective" 191

8. "Quine as a Member of the Tradition of the Universality of Language" 214


1. Jean van Heijenoort, "Logic as Calculus and Logic as Language" 233

2. Martin Kusch, "Husserl and Heidegger on Meaning" 240


The following list indicates the first publication fonns of the different essays
included in the present volume (the first publication forum elsewhere, if an
essay appears here for the first time):

1. "Contemporary Philosophy and the Problem of Truth", forthcoming in

Aeta Philosophiea Fenniea.
2. "Is Truth Ineffable?", in Les Formes Aetuelles du Vrai: Entretiens de
Palermo, ed. by N. Scardona, Enchiridion, Palenno, 1989, pp. 89-120.
3. Defining Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth, Reports
from the Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, no. 1,
1991,72 pp ..
4. "On the Development of the Model-Theoretic Viewpoint in Logical
Theory", Synthese, vol. 77 (1988), pp. 1-36.
5. "The Place of C.8. Peirce in the History of Logical Theory", in The Rule
of Reason: The Philosophy of eharles Sanders Peiree, ed. by Jacqueline
Brunning and Paul Forster, University of Toronto Press, 1996.
6. (with Merrill B. Hintikka) "Wittgenstein and Language as the
Universal Medium", ch. 1 of Investigating Wittgenstein, Basil
Blackwell,Oxford, 1986, pp. 1-29.
7. "Carnap's Work in the Foundations of Logic and Mathematics in a
Historical Perspective", Synthese, vol. 93 (1992), pp. 167-189.
8. "Quine as a Member of the Tradition of the Universality of Language",
in Perspeetives on Quine, ed. by Robert Barrett and Roger Gibson,
Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1990, pp. 159-175.


1. Jean van Heijenoort, "Logic as Calculus and Logic and Language",

Synthese, vol. 17 (1967), pp. 324-330.
2. Martin Kusch, "Husserl and Heidegger on Meaning", Synthese, vol. 77
(1988), pp. 99-127.

All the previously published essays appear here with the pennission of the
respective copyright owners, if any. These permissions are most gratefully

f these essays, 1 and 5 are being published elsewhere at the same

time but have not been published before. Essays 2,4 and 6-8 are published
without any changes. For technical reasons, it has not been feasible to make
them completely uniform typographically or to bring their references
completely up to date. Essay 3, which is the mainstay of the argumentation
of this volume, has been revised for republication. In particular, its sees. 9
and 12 have been thoroughly rewritten.

R.G.Collingwood saw one of the main tasks of philosophers and of historians of

human thought in uncovering what he called the ultimate presuppositions of
different thinkers, of different philosophical movements and of entire eras of
intellectual history. He also noted that such ultimate presuppositions usually
remain tacit at first, and are discovered only by subsequent reflection.
Collingwood would have been delighted by the contrast that constitutes the
overall theme of the essays collected in this volume. Not only has this dichotomy
ofviews been one ofthe mostcrucial watersheds in the entire twentieth-century
philosophical thought. Not only has it remained largely implicit in the writings
of the philosophers for whom it mattered most. It is a truly Collingwoodian
presupposition also in that it is not apremise assumed by different thinkers in
their argumentation. It is the presupposition of a question, an assumption to the
effect that a certain general question can be raised and answered. Its role is not
belied by the fact that several philosophers who answered it one way or the other
seem to be largely unaware that the other answer also makes sense - if it does.
This Collingwoodian question can be formulated in a first rough
approximation by asking whether language - our actual working language,
Tarski's "colloquiallanguage" - is universal in the sense of being inescapable.
This formulation needs all sorts of explanations, however. As usual, the
conceptual issue is at its clearest in the realm oflogical theory, even though it is
not by any means restricted to it. An initial reference-point in this area is
provided by Leibniz's distinction between two components of his ambitious
project in mathematicallogic or, rather, project to create a mathematicallogic.
On the one hand, Leibniz proposed to develop a characteristica universalis or
lingua characteristica which was to be a universallanguage of human thought
whose symbolic structure would reflect directly the structure of the world of our
concepts. On the other hand, Leibniz's ambition included the creation of a
calculus ratiocinator which was conceived of by him as a method of symbolic
calculation which would mirror the processes ofhuman reasoning.
When Leibniz's project began to be realized in the nineteenth century, its two
components were taken up by different research traditions. The "algebraic"
school represented by Boole, Peirce, and Schrder sought to develop in the spirit
of Leibniz's calculus ratiocinator mathematical techniques by means of which
different kinds of human reasoning could be mastered. In contrast, Frege
himself noted, his Begriffsschrift was to be primarily a characteristica
universalis in Leibniz's sense, a Formelsprache des reinen Denkens (cf. here
Sluga, 1987). Admittedly, Frege made claims for it also as a calculus
ratiocinator, but those claims were not met with enthusiasm. Husserl
contradicted them, apparently thinking (as Tarski did later) that a lingua

universalis cannot be purely formal. In any case, as Jourdain snidely noted,

Frege's formalism was singularly clumsy as a means of actual reasoning: "...
using Frege's symbolism as a calculus would be rather like using a three-Iegged
stand-camera for what iscalled 'snap-shot' photography" (Jourdain, 1914).
Sub se quent attempts to find specifi.c help for the purpose of concrete work in
logic or in the foundations of mathematics have tended to confirm rather than to
disconfirm Jourdain's judgment. The theoretical interest of Frege's ambitious
project is due to its being an attempted characteristica universalis or at least
lingua characteristica mathematicae, not to its being a viable calculus
But more is going on here than first meets the eye. What is at stake is much
more than different research traditions or different intellectual orientations. The
contrast between Frege and the algebraic school was based on a deep difference
in the assumptions of the two kinds of logicians. In Frege's case, this was first
noted by Jean van Heijenoort, whose classical paper "Logic as Language and
Logic as Calculus" (1967) is reprinted as an appendix to the present volume. For
the likes of Peirce, there is a wide variety of different logics that can be defined,
refined, and traded for each other at will, depending on the purpose of the
inquiry one happens to be engaged in. Logic can even be self-applied. The
semantical import of a logicallanguage can be specified and studied.
In contrast, for Frege there is in a sense only one possible Begriffsschrift, for
there is only one kind of human thinking it must reflect. Frege's Formelsprache
is not a particular development beyond our ordinruy language; it is a purified
and streamlined version of the entire ordinruy language itself. It is calculated to
replace ordinruy language, at least in its mathematical uses, not to extend it.
The meanings of the expressions of this language cannot be defined, for they
would have to be presupposed as a precondition of any such attempt to explain
its semantics. In introducing bis Formelsprache Frege has to rely on an
antecedent understanding of what such a language is supposed to do. Its
semantics cannot be defined in that language itself without circularity, for this
semantics is assumed in all its uses, and it cannot be defined in a metalanguage,
because there is no such language beyond our actual working language. In brief,
the semantics of our one and only actuallanguage is inexpressible in it.
This syndrome of ideas characterizes what I have called language as the
universal medium. Only after I had be gun to use this locution did Martin Kusch
point out to me that Hans-Georg Gadamer had used it earlier in the same sense.
An alternative and perhaps more descriptive label for the same idea is the
universality of language. What van Heijenoort showed is that it is one of Frege' s
fundamental ideas. No wonder, accordingly, that the project of characteristica
universalis was the focal point ofbis interests.

Since the meanings (references) of the expressions of our language cannot be

expressed in that language we cannot rationally consider varying them, either,
at least not in a way that could be specified in language and theorized about. In
this sense, our language cannot be reinterpreted. Hence all model theory of our
actuallanguage is impossible, for the basic idea of all model theory is precisely to
let the interpretation of the language in question vary. Insofar as a universalist
thinks of set theory as a generic model theory, as for instance Wittgenstein did,
he or she must reject set theory, too. And since the meanings of our language
cannot be changed, it can be used for one purpose only, viz. to speak of this one
actual world of ours. Hence a kind of one-world assumption is implicit in the
idea of language as the universal medium.
The elimination of ambiguities and other defects from ordinary language
which Frege's Begriffsschrift was calculated to implement was expected to
facilitate actual reasoning carried out by its means as compared with reasoning
in ordinary language. Even if Frege had succeeded in constructing a viable
formalism for actual reasoning, this success would have been for him only a
pIe asant by-product rather than the purpose ofhis logic script. The main - and
the intended-impact ofFrege's approach is seen in such things as the creation
of our current notion of a purely formal system of logic, diagnosed in an
illuminating way by van Heijenoort, rather in improved tools of logical
Likewise, language was for Wittgenstein almost literally a prison from which
one cannot hope to escape, not merely a "false prison" like a fly-bottle. This point
is argued in the chapter ''Wittgenstein and Language as the Universal Medium"
of Investigating Wittgenstein reprinted below.
I have called the contrary view language as calculus, seeking to generalize
van Heijenoort's notion of logic as calculus. The multiple connotations of the
word "calculus" can nevertheless be rather misleading, especially as the point is
not that language is like an uninterpreted calculus, but rather that it can in
principle be reinterpreted like a calculus. I would now speak rather of the model-
theoretical tradition in logic and philosophy of language. According to this
tradition, we are not prisoners of our own language in the same way as
according to the universalist tradition. We can speak in a suitable language of its
own semantics; we can vary its interpretation; we can construct a model theory
for it; we can theorize about its semantics; and so on, at least given suitable
For typical members of the model-theoretical tradition, too, their logical
orientation is much more than a choice of research topics. It is grounded deeply
in their overall philosophical position. For instance, in my essay on Peirce,
reprinted in this volume, it is shown that what I have called his model-

theoretical stance not only explains many of the features of bis work in logic but
is a virtual precondition ofhis pragmatist (or pragmaticist) philosophy.
In the essays collected here, the role of the universality vs. calculus contrast in
the philosophy of the last hundred and fi.fty years is studied by reference to
particular thinkers and some particular problems. Since these essays were
originally published separately, there is a fair amount of duphcation of ideas
between the different essays. For practical reasons, it was decided not to try to
remove such duphcation but to preserve the self-contained character of the
several papers.
Of the two overall positions, the idea of language as the universal medium is
hkely to strike one as the more outlandish one. Yet it tums out that it dominated
the crucial period in the development of contempormy logical theory,
characterized by such names as Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Camap during bis
Vienna Cilde days, Quine and Church. In logical practice, this domination
meant a heavy emphasis on axiomatic and syntactical methods and
conceptualizations. Partly because of this emphasis, the significance of the work
of logicians working in the other tradition did not receive the attention its
promise deserved. C.S. Peirce is philosophically the most prominent victim in
point, but by no me ans not the only one.
Only very slowly did model-theoretical ideas insinuate themselves into the
consciousness of philosophers. The momentous impossibility results by Gdel
and Tarski admittedly forced logicians to acknowledge the fundamental
distinetion between deductive (syntactical) and model-theoretical (semantical)
concepts and results - the distinction highhghted by the title of Tarski's famous
lecture "Truth and Proof'. But logicians' awareness of this distinction did not
immediately lead to the systematic development of model theory. Even after
such a theory was developed as a branch of technical logic by Tarski and his
associates in the late fifties, the philosophical significance of model-theoretical
ideas and results continued to be denied by many influential philosophers.
Some aspects of this development are taken up in my essay "On the
Development ofModel-theoretical Tradition in Logical Theory" reprinted below. I
have come to realize that this study needs supplementation in several different
directions. A fascinating subject for an indepth study would be the ambivalent
role of Tarski and Gdel in the unfolding of the model-theoretical vision. Their
results forced them - and the rest of logicians - to distinguish model-theoretic
concepts from syntactical ones. For one simple instance, Gdefs first
incompleteness theorem forces us to distinguish arithmetical truth from
provability in arithmetic. But even Gdefs results were not enough to convince
philosophers and other thinkers of the hmitations of syntactical methods. The
seductiveness of the universality ideology is manifested in the pronouncements
of several later popular writers who mistakenly think that Gdef s results

somehow cast a shadow on the notion of arithmetical truth, or makes it relative

in the same way as the choice of one' s axioms of geometIy. In reality, the
opposite is of course the case.
In spite of forcing the community of logicians to acknowledge the distinetion
between semantical and syntactical concepts, even Gdel and Tarski themselves
remained in the main within the universalist tradition, at least in their outlook
on our actual working language and on a possible universallanguage of science.
For instance, for all his admiration of Leibniz, the one Leibnizian concept Gdel
never had any use for was that of a possible world, a concept that was
instrumental in inspiring Carnap's later semantical approach to the logic of our
language. Likewise, Tarski denied the possibility of a universal language of
science that could handle its own semantics so as to allow the explication of
concepts like analyticity.
One philosophical development which instantiates and illustrates the contrast
I am talking about is the longstanding controversy between Quine and Carnap
concerning the feasibility of logical semantics complete with such things as the
analytic-synthetic distinetion. The popularity of Quine's position is a telling
example of the stranglehold of the universalist dogmas of many contemporary
philosophers. I believe that once the rug of the universalist dogma is pulled
under Quine's ideas, they are likely to lose most of their plausibility. I will tIy to
do so in my forthcoming paper "Three Dogmas of Quine' s Empiricism" .
I will return to the import and impact of Tarski's and GdeYs results below.
Meanwhile, it is important to realize that the significance of the universality vs.
calculus contrast is not restricted to logical theory, or to analytic philosophy. In
his important work, Language as Calculus vs. Language as Universal Medium
(1989), Martin Kusch has convincingly shown that the contrast he displays in
his title was the philosophie al gist of one of the most consequential and most
intriguing love-hate relationships in twentieth-century philosophy, the
relationship between Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. In general, the
role of the universality vs. calculus distinetion in the phenomenological and
existential tradition in philosophy is so important that the present volume
cannot do its job without some discussion of this role of the distinetion. Since I
have not discussed it in print myself, I decided to reprint Kusch's paper "Husserl
and Heidegger on Meaning" (1988), as an appendix to this volume.
Unsurprisingly, in view of Heidegger's influence, the relevance of the
universality vs. calculus contrast to nonanalytic traditions in philosophy extends
far beyond Husserl's relationship to Heidegger and beyond the motivation of the
hermeneutical approach to philosophy. A more recent, albeit blissfully
unacknowledged example is Richard Rorty's ill-named Philosophy and the
Mirror of Nature. Of course the kind of philosophers Rorty is criticizing never
conceived of their task qua philosophers to be mirroring nature. What they were

- and are - examining is how the language of philosophy, science and

everyday life mirrors nature. Hence what Rorty is in the last analysis (as
Freudians do not say) objecting to is the possibility of discussing in our rational
discourse the language-world relationships. It is not an accident that Rorty's
true masters, such as Heidegger and late Wittgenstein, were passionate
believers in the ineffability of semantics. In contrast, the archetypal "model
theorists", for instance Peirce, turn out to hold views diametrically opposed to
Rorty's in practically every major philosophical issue (see Haack, 1996).
This importance of my theme contrast in twentieth-century philosophy
prompts the true sixty-four thousand dollar question: Which idea is correct, the
vision of language as the universal medium or the attempted treatment of
language as interpreted but re-interpretable calculus? A great deal is at stake
here, not just questions as to whether Quine or Carnap is right or whether we
should prefer Husserl to Heidegger. One major moot issue is the entire
philosophical methodology. For what prospects does a philosopher face in his or
her thinking and in conveying the results of this thinking to others if he or she
believed in the universality of language and as a consequence in the ineffability
of semantics? For many influential philosophers, there obtains agrand albeit
partly hidden equivalence between thought and language, and as a consequence
a parity between what should, can or cannot be thought of the conceptual world
of our thought and what can or cannot be thought about our home language. If
the latter is inexpressible in language, then so is the former (for such
philosophers). Hence a philosopher cannot according to this view express his or
her conceptual insights by me ans of literally intended and understood language,
such as the language we use for science, scholarship and everyday practical
communication. A philosopher has to resort to some indirect me ans of expressing
one's own thoughts and of understanding what other philosophers are saying.
This is the dilemma that led Wittgenstein to speak of showing in
contradistinction to saying. Wittgenstein likewise noted that if we t:ry to express
the semantics of our language in that language itself, the only thing we can do is
to utter tautologies in which we merely repeat what is being presupposed in the
meaningfulness of the language we are using. His advice was being followed by
Heidegger in his telltale practice of using and coining the tautologies for the
purpose of shocking his audience to realize what he is after.
One reaction to this problem situation is to stick to the universalist position
and to assume a special technique of nonliteral expression and interpretation,
the hermeneutical approach. I am tempted to call it a hermeneutical method, but
of course for a hermeneutical philosopher the term "method" already
presupposes a literal, rational approach. I am afraid that the term "technique" is
not a much better one. Unfortunately, I cannot practice in ineffability of
conceptual matters here, for I do not believe in it. But independently of the

philosophical and pohtical correctness of my terminology, the main point is

crystal clear. The hermeneutical approach stands and falls together with the
thesis of the universality of our language and of our own conceptual system.
So who's right here? A pointed out in my essay "Contemporary Philosophy
and the Problem of Truth", this question can be discussed, not only on the level
of abstract philosophical speculations, but also as instantiated by speci:fic logico-
semantical questions concerning the expressibility or inexpressibility of the
metatheory of a given precisely dehneated language or language fragment in
that language itself. Naturally, answers to such hmited questions will stillleave
open the problem of extending these answers to our actual working language.
But this question, too, can be discussed rationally by reference to the known
semantical features of ordinary as weIl as formallanguages.
In this direction, a veritable experimentum crucis is offered by the definability
of the concept of truth. The role of this notion as the comerstone of propositional
meaning lends it an especially important position here. It is also an instructive
index of different philosophers' attitudes to the universality vs. calculus
distinction. For instance, one of the most revealing symptoms of Heidegger's
commitment to the universality view is bis construal of truth, not as
correspondence, but as Unverborgenheit.
The definability of truth in speci:fic exphcitly formulated languages can be
studied and has been studied by me ans of the tools of logic and formal
semantics. These tools were created primarily by Al:fred Tarski in bis
pathb:reaking work on the concept of truth in formahzed languages. Indeed, the
entire definability problem might seem to have been settled by the famous result
by Tarski, estabhshed as early as in 1935, that one cannot define truth for an
exphcit logical language satisfying certain weak-looking conditions in that
language itself, only in a stronger metalanguage. This impossibility result seems
to the overall conceptual problem once and for all in favor of the universalist
view. There is no metalangugae over and above our own "colloquiallanguage",
as Tarski calls it. Hence either the structure of this language is so messy as not
to satisfy (even after appropriate p:rehminary st:reamhning and regimenting) the
minimal conditions Tarski is tra:ffi.cking in or else it does not admit of a truth
definition. Indeed, it was obviously through bis negative results that Tarski
himself was led to adopt a universalist posture vis-a-vis ordinary language and
to any other language that could claim the status of a Universalsprache der
Wissenschaft. And even such nonanalytic philosophers as Demda have appealed
to the impossibility results of Gdel and Tarski in support of their views.
The central essays in this volume, especially "Is Truth Ineffable?" and
''Defining Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth", deal with this
paradigmatic problem of the possibility of truth definitions. Stri.ctly speaking,
what is at issue in them is the expressibility of truth for a language in that

language itself, not necessarily its definahility in the form of an explicit

definition. For the expressibility, the possibility of formulating an explicit truth
predicate is enough. For simplicity, 1 will nevertheless go on speaking of the
definahility of truth.
My essays a:re selfexplanatory, and hence might not seem to need any
introductory comments. However, they a:re not strictly speaking commensurate,
because they represent different stages of the development of the subject. The
essay "Is Truth Definahle?" is a discussion of the implications of Tarski's
impossibility result. 1 argue that they a:re much less sweeping than they have
often been taken to be. Among other things, they do not commit us to an
unquaJified universalist position.
However, 1 have come to realize that 1 was at the same time too bold and too
timid in the arguments 1 marshalled in the paper on the ineffability of truth. My
main line of argument was to the effect that Tarski's results do not commit us to
the ineffability of truth in our actual "colloquial language", but only to the
inexhaustibility of the concept of truth. Tarski's results notwithstanding, you can
define truth for a fragment of ordinary language in another fragment, and keep
expanding the two fragments appa:rently indefinitely. Even though 1 still believe
that this line of thought is basically cor:rect, 1 underestimated in that paper the
hold ofholistic ideas of such influential universalists as Wittgenstein and Quine.
They would both reject my tacit assumption that it makes sense to think of
suitable fragments of our natural idiom as self-contained languages for which
truth-definitions can be given (and received). At the very least, I should have
supplemented my arguments by a critical discussion of holism. Even though I
believe in the fallaciousness of holism, 1 did not do so in the earlier paper.
Moreover, 1 am not prepa:red to do so here, either.
But it turns out that 1 do not need to do so, after all. There a:re much deeper
reasons for thinking that Tarski's impossibility result is not decisive of, and
largely even irrelevant to, the overall issue of the definahility of truth than has
been generally believed. The applicability of the premises of Tarski's theorem is
much more limited than it might at first seem.
It was only after the essay "Is Truth Ineffable?" was written that 1 reached
the breakthrough insights reported in the essay ''Defining Truth, the Whole
Truth, and Nothing But the Truth". It turns out that even our most basic logical
languages do not satisfy the premises of Tarski's theorem. These languages a:re
the independence-friendly (lF) first-order languages motivated and defined in
my papers (see also Hintikka, 1996, chapters 3-4 and 6). These languages a:re so
fundamental that they can be characterized as a result of merely removing
certain unnecessary and arbitrary restrietions from the received formulations of
(ordinary) first-order logic.

In suitahle IF first-order languages, a truth predicate is definable without the

usual problems in this department, such as the threat of the liar paradox. The
paraphemalia needed for the purpose are unproblematic, mainly needed for the
purpose of speaking of the syntax of the relevant language in that language
itself. Moreover, these basic logical languages exhibit in certain respects an
uncanny resemblance in their logical behavior to ordinmy language, thus
suggesting that a truth predicate is likely to be likewise definable in the
"colloquiallanguage", too, for the sentences to which the notion oftruth (truth in
a model) can be meaningfully applied.
Even though work on these results and their consequences is still going on,
they already have a massive impact on the crucial question: Who are right, the
believers in language as the universal medium or the philosophers who see the
wave of the future in the model-theoretic approach? The results reported here
constitute a powerful argument for the conception of language as calculus and
against the thesis of the ineffability of semantics. For reasons indicated in this
introduction and elaborated in the essay "Contempormy Philosophy and the
Problem of Truth", this answer to our Collingwoodian question has deep-
reaching consequences for contempormy philosophy in general. One of the most
important consequences is a strong suggestion of the dispensability of any
special hermeneutical mode of thinking and argumentation. The belief in the
indispensability of such a mode is due, as illustrated by the thought of its main
fountainhead in twentieth-century philosophy, Martin Heidegger, to a tacit
acceptance of the ineffability thesis. Even though the radical rejection of all
hermeneutical argumentation that is suggested by the definability of truth does
not by itself invalidate any of the theses of hermeneutical philosophy, it does
mean that those have to be formulated and argued for in the same rational
discourse as the theses of scientists or lawyers. We have every right to say to
hermeneutically oriented philosophers: Hic Rlwdos, hic salta, the hic being the
familiar ground of our normal logical mathematical, scientific, linguistic,
historical and legal methods of argumentation.
But the consequences of the rejection of the universalist vision extend far
beyond the hermeneutical methodology (to use the politically incorrect word).
Among other things, a large-scale re-evaluation of such universalist philosophers
as Wittgenstein and Quine is in order. For instance, in Quine's
Auseinandersetzungen with Camap conceming such issues as the analytic-
synthetic distinction, Camap's position, ifnot his argumentation, is beginning to
look like the more correct one and especially more promising one when it comes
to making philosophical musings relevant to actual science, such as linguistics
(cf., Creath 1990). Somewhat surprisingly, there tums out not to be anything
intrinsically impossible about Camap's dream of a universallanguage in which
even its own semantics could be formulated.

The essays reprinted in this volume do not exhaust its overall subject
matter, nor do the essays listed in the bibliography to this introduction. The
still open questions inelude some of the most fundamental ones. One of them
is: Why did the different adherents of the universality dogma believe it? Even
though a elose examination of this question is pending, certain facts are
fairly elear. The motivation of universalist thinkers were frequently different
for different philosophers, and sometimes they were mixed.
An important part of the background of the ineffability view is Kant's
transcendental philosophy (see here Hintikka, 1981). When discussing the
impossibility of speaking of the meanings of our sentences without triviality,
Wittgenstein connects this impossibility directly with Kant.

The impossibility of expressing in language the conditions of agreement

between a meaningful proposition - a thought - and reality is the
solution ofthe puzzle. (MS 108, p. 265.)

The limit of language shows itself in the impossibility of describing the

fact that corresponds to a sentence ... without repeating that very
sentence. What we are dealing with here is the Kantian solution to the
problem ofphilosophy. (Vermischte Schriften, p. 27.)

Kant in fact held that an informative and at the same time general
characterization of truth cannot be given. "A sufficient and at the same time
general criterion of truth cannot possibly be given" (Critique of Pure Reason
A 59 = B 83). Hence Wittgenstein's observation is indeed a keen one.
In fuller and more general terms, Kant maintained that it is impossible to
speak ofthings considered an sich, that is to say, considered independently of
and hence unaffected by, our knowledge-seeking activities and the
conceptual system they involve. I have pointed out that such an impossibility
makes sense only if our epistemic activities and the tools they use are
likewise unknowable. For otherwise, such knowledge could enable us to
separate the contributions of our own activities from what can be said of
things themselves. From this unknowability, an eminently natural
substitution of our language for our conceptual system takes us to the
ineffability of semantics.
But even if this is what happened in the main, the specific chains of
influences remain to be stu die d. Was Frege influenced or perhaps rather
inspired by Kant in this respect? What was the role of Schopenhauer in the
formation of Wittgenstein's deep-seated faith in the ineffability of the
meanings of our language? The true links may be more inconspicuous, I
strongly suspect that the context in which the language-world problematic

first became important for Wittgenstein was the problem of representation in

the philosophy of physics, rather than the philosophy of either Kant or
Moreover, the Kantian influence cannot have been the only one, at least
not directly. For one thing, it would run diametrically counter to the
philosophical attitude of the Vienna Circle members. Where, then, did they
get their belief in the idea of the "formal mode of speech"? Was Wittgenstein
right when he claimed that this idea does not represent a single step beyond
the Tractatus? (See his letter to Schlick, dated Aug. 8, 1932.)
I believe that this transformed Kantian problematic is at bottom related to
the logical and semantical issues which Tarski began to study and which will
in my judgment decide the viability or (as I have argued) the failure of the
universalist view.
In particular, the semantical games of my game-theoretical semantics
have in a suitable perspective their Kantian analogues. I have mentioned
these analogies in a few papers, but they obviously need to be examined more
fully than I have so far done.
An altogether different motivation of the ineffability thesis is derived from
the ideas of conceptual analysis and "logical atomism". We can according to
this line of thought specify what an object is only by specifying how it is
composed of the ultimate simples of conceptual analysis. But, by the same
token, we cannot say anything about these conceptual atoms themselves.
Ideas of this nature were clearly operative in the thought of Russell and
Moore. Wittgenstein gives an eloquent expression of this way of thinking in
Philosophicallnvestigations I, sec. 46, if only to reject it.

What lies behind the idea that names really signify simples? - Socrates
says in the Theaetetus: "If I make no mistake, I have heard some people
say this: there is no definition of the primary elements - so to speak -
out of which we and everything else are composed; for everything that
exists in its own right can only be named, no other determination is
possible, neither that it is nor that it is not ... But what exists in its own
right has to be ... named without any other determination. In consequence
it is impossible to give an account of any primary element; for if nothing is
possible but the bare name; its name is all it has. But just as what consists
of these primary elements is itself complex, so the names of the elements
become descriptive language by being compounded together. For the
essence of speech is the composition of names. - Both Russell's
'individuals' and my 'objects' (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) were such
primary elements.

Wittgenstein's self-interpretation (or was it inspired by Frank Ramsey, as the

preface of Philosophical Investigations suggests?) could not be apter. But
once again this cannot be the whole story, for Wittgenstein happily (or
unhappily) continued to believe in the ineffability of semantics even after
having given up any belief in (simple) names standing for simple objects.
A less clear-cut motivation of the ineffability thesis relies on the
inseparability of the meanings of our language from what we do with the
language. Some philosophers try to compress this idea in the adage "the
meaning of an expression is its use". If one also adopts a conservative stance
as to whether we can seriously speaking change this use at the drop of a
paradigm, one ends up believing in the universality of our actual practice-
founded language in the sense of its pragmatic indispensability. I strongly
suspect that reasons of this kind are operative in the adoption of the
universalist posture by such philosophers as Heidegger and Rorty. I have
been tempted to call this a pragmatist motivation of the universality view,
were it not that there is no trace of it in the actual pragmatists.
In this respect, pragmatists are in my judgment much more pragmatic
than their alleged or unacknowledged followers. One can, on the contrary, try
to turn the meaning-use connection around and to argue that inventing,
planning and discussing new practices in fact shows us how a realistic
semantics alternative to our own can be meaningfully and rationally dealt
with in our thought and in our language. An example of such a discussion of
an alternative semantics is presented in chapter 10 of my 1996 book, where a
restriction imposed on the strategy sets in our "games" of verification and
falsification gives rise to a constructivistic semantics and logic different from
the customary "classical" ones.
There is a further insight which helps to put the essays included in this
volume in a sharper light but which I had not fully reached when I wrote
them. This insight concerns the nature of the semantical games in terms of
which truth can be defined. As is indicated in the essay "Defining Truth"
Below, in suitable IF languages we can speak of strategies used in such
games in the same language and hence define truth for such a language in
that very language itself. I have called these language-games games of
verification and falsification. I do not find anything intrinsically wrong in
this characterization in the light of hindsight, either. A sentence S is true if
and only if there exists a winning strategy in the corresponding semantical
game G(S). What needs to be pointed out more forcefully than I have done
before is that semantical games are not what are in ordinary discourse called
processes of verification and falsification. What is at stake in such processes
("games") is not whether a given sentence S is true, that is, whether there
exists a winning strategy for the initial "verifier" , but to find what such a

strategy iso In other words, such "games" are not games searching for truth,
but of searching for knowledge of truth. They are epistemic games. Their
structure and other characteristics are not caught by semantical games, but
(I have argued) by interrogative games. A survey of the theory of such games
is presented in the survey paper by Hintikka, Halonen and Mutanen,
"Interrogative Logic as a General Theory of Reasoning" .
Both semantical games and interrogative games have to be distinguished
from the games of formal proof of validity in logic. A confusion between the
three is one of the most common and most serious confusion in the
philosophy of logic and mathematics. The relations between the three kinds
of games is discussed in chapter 2 of my 1996 book, The Principles oi
Mathematics Revisited.
Thus, there is still much work to he done also on the systematic conceptual
problems which will decide - and to a large extent have already decided-
the big question as to whether the universalist or the model-theoretical view
is right. What I have done, jointly with such able co-workers as Gabriel
Sandu, is to show that the basic concept of propositional meaning, the
concept of truth, can be defined in a suitable realistic language for that
language itself. However, we have not dealt with the expressibility of symbol
meaning. I believe that it too, can be handled in a way that belies the
ineffability dogma, but all the real work on this question remains to be done.


Creath, Richard, editor, 1990, Dear Van, Dear Carnap, Harvard U.P..
Frege, Gottlob, 1969 (written 1880-81), "Booles rechnende logik und die
Begriffsschrift", Nachgelassene Schriften, Felix Meiner, Hamburg, pp. 9-52.
Fre ge , Gottlob, 1969 (written 1882), "Booles Logische Formelsprache und meine
Begriffsschrift", ibid., pp. 53-59.
Frege, Gottlob, 1967 (1895), "Kritische Beleuchtung einiger Punkte in E. Schrder's
Vorlesungen ber die Algebra der Logik", Kleine Schriften, Felix Meiner,
Hamburg, pp. 193210.
Frege, Gottlob, 1967 (1896), "ber die Begriffsscrift des Herrn Peano und meine
eigene", ibid., pp. 234-239.
Goldfarb, Warren, 1979, "Logic in the Twenties: The Nature of the Quantifier",
Journal 01 Symbolic Logic, vol. 44, pp. 351-368.
Griffin, Nicholas, 1980, "Russell on the Nature of Logic 1903-1913", Synthese, vol.
45, pp. 117-188.
Haack, Susan, 1996, '''We Pragmatists .. .'; Peirce and Rorty in Conversation",
Synthese, vol. 106 (forthcoming).

Hintikka, Jaakko, 1981, "Wittgenstein's Semantical Kantianism", in E. Morscher

and R. Stranzinger, editors, Ethics: Proceedings 01 the Fi{th International
Wittgenstein Symposium, Hlder-Pichler-Tempsky, Vienna, pp. 375-390.
Hintikka, Jaakko, 1989, ''The Paradox of Transcendental Knowledge", in F.R.
Brown and J. Mittelstrass, editors, An Intimate Relation, Kluwer Academic,
Dordrecht, pp. 243-257.
Hintikka, Jaakko, 1996, The Principles 01 Mathematics Revisited, Cambridge U.P..
Hintikka, Merrill, and J aakko Hintikka, 1986, Investigating Wittgenstein, Basil
Blackwell, Oxford.
Hylton, Peter, 1980, "Russell's Substitutional Theory", Synthese, vol. 45, pp. 1-31.
Hylton, Peter, 1990, RusselI, Idealism, and the Emergence 01 Analytic Philosophy,
Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Jourdain, Philip E.B., 1914, "Preface" to Louis Couturat, The Algebra 01 Logic, The
Open Court, La Salle and London, pp. iii-x.
Kusch, Martin, 1989, Language as the Universal Medium vs. Language as Calculus:
A Study 01 Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht.
Sluga, Hans, 1987, "Frege Against the Booleans", Notre Dame Journal 01 Formal
Logic, vol. 28, pp. 80-98.
Tarski, Alfred, 1935, "Der Wahrheitsbegriffin den formalisierten Sprachen", Studia
Philosophica, vol. 1, pp. 261-405; Collected Papers, vol. 2, Birkhuser, Basel,
1986, pp. 51-199.
Tarski, Alfred, 1969, "Truth and Proof', L'age de la Science, vol. 1, pp. 279-301;
Collected Papers, Birkhuser, Basel, 1986, pp. 401-423.
Tarski, Alfred, 1992 (1930-36), "Drei Briefe an Otto Neurath", Grazer Philosophische
Studien, vol. 43, pp. 1-32.
van Heijenoort, Jean, 1967, "Logic as Calculus and Logic as Language", Synthese,
vol. 17, pp. 324-330.
van Heijenoort, Jean, editor, 1967, From Frege to Gdel, Harvard University Press,
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1983, Letter to Schlick, dated 08.08.1932, in Michael Nedo
and MicheIe Ranchetti, editors, Ludwig Wittgenstein: Sein Leben in Bildern und
Texten, Suhrkampf, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 254-255.


An outside ob server looking at the contemporary scene in philosophy may

very weIl be excused if his or her first impression is of people talking past
each other. Philosophers belonging to the different analytic traditions are
easily perceived of as wasting their ingenuity and stringency on small
technical problems which have no larger human significance while
hermeneutical and deconstructivist thinkers are often thought of as
trafficking in vague generalities expressed in a pompous jargon whose
purpose is to obscure ideas rather than to clarify them. Or else it might seem
that we are witnessing an "end of philosophy" which in practice seems to
mean a deterioration of philosophy into clever dialogue for clever dialogue's
This picture might or might not satisfy a sociologist of knowledge, but it
ought not to satisfy a philosopher. Not only are there deeper reasons for the
perverse-Iooking peculiarities of different philosophical traditions. Not only
are there hidden problems and assumptions that cut across the artificial
boundaries between different philosophical traditions. It is actually possible
for a philosopher to reach specific results which put to an essentially new
light issues that affect all the different philosophical traditions. Philosophical
thought can provide more than politically correct witticisms. It can produce
answers to questions which affect deeply the presuppositions of more than
one philosophical movement.
In this paper, I will present an example of such a contribution to the
clarification of the presuppositions of several leading philosophers via
specific philosophical arguments. Whether the clarification amounts to an
Aufhebung of their philosophies in a positive or negative sense of that
beautifully ambiguous German expression, will be seen only when I have
concluded my argument.
Now where can we look in the present-day situation in philosophy for
discoveries and uncoverings of hidden assumptions and even for assumptions
which cannot be exposed without thereby leaving the philosophers and the
philosophies relying on them up an ideological creek (or creed) without a
conceptual paddle? Many philosophers (and even more literary scholars) will
point to Derrida and his deconstructivism as exemplifying that very
enterprise. And even though I am not a fan of Derrida's, a few comparative
comments on the methodology of the study of historical as weIl as
contemporary ideas is in order. A long time ago, an influential philosopher
and historian of ideas, A. O. Lovejoy, proposed studying the history of
thought by isolating certain basic unit ideas which in different combinations
enter the systems of different philosophers as well as of nonphilosophical

thinkers. 1 & an example, Lovejoy studied the history of what can be called
the principle of plenitude, that is, the metaphysical idea that all possibilities
are realized in time. Such history of ideas in a narrow sense is a useful and
salutary method in the study of the history of thought, but it has its
limitations. At one point, I argued that such Lovejoyful unit ideas are not
independent of their context and that their study therefore ought to pay
attention to their interaction and not only to their different possibilities of
being combined with each other.2 (In so arguing, I incidentally showed that
Lovejoy got the history of his own prize specimen, the so-called Principle of
Plenitude, seriously wrong.) Derrida carries further this dynamization of the
study of the history of ideas, including contemporary ideas. He strives to
uncover hidden assumptions, hidden tensions and hidden contradictions
which, once exposed, change radically the way we must look at the different
thinkers in question and which typically lead to a dissolution, not to say
deconstruction, of the thought of the thinker in question.
I share to some extent Derrida's overall vision of the history of philosophy
and of contemporary philosophy. Several times my own researeh has led me
to realize that once we have genuinely understood the concepts and
presuppositions of a major thinker, we are thereby forced to look at him or
her in a radically new light. In my own experience the interpretation of
Wittgenstein's philosophy has been the arehetypal example, involving even
his philosophical relations to the Vienna Circle. 3 & a slogan, I could
therefore say that like Derrida I believe that contemporary philosophy and
large parts ofthe history ofphilosophy are ripe to be deconstructed.
I nevertheless have three main objections to deconstructivism. First, I will
argue that there is no valid reason to think that the job that the
deconstructivists are trying to do cannot be done equally weIl and better by
means of tradition al historical and logical means.
Second, I see no reason why deconstruction cannot be followed by
reconstruction. Or, rather, I see a reason which I in fact will try to diagnose
later in this paper. But this putative reason turns out to be mistaken, as I
will also argue later in this paper.
Third, my most specific criticism of Derrida is that he is a largely
unsuccessful deconstructivist. He has never been able to deconstruct
successfully a single truly significant centrally philosophical (logical,
epistemological or metaphysical) idea, concentrating instead on half-baked
suggestions on the social context of philosophical ideas. In fact, jf you want to
find truly significant examples of deconstructive exercises, you find them
outside the circle of self-proclaimed deconstructivists. You will not find them
in Derrida's essays on deep philosophie al concepts like that of a postcard but

for instance in Ernst Mach's deconstruction of Newtonian concepts of space

and time. Even in my limited work on the history of ideas I have come across
a number of ideas and assumptions that could serve as targets of
deconstruction better than any of the ones Derrida actually analyzes. They
include, besides the "Principle of Plenitude" mentioned earlier, the notions of
analysis and analyticity, intuition, induction, knowledge by acquaintance,
the de dicto vs. de re distinction, the interpretation of higher-order logic
(together with the notion of arbitrary nmction so crucial in the foundations of
mathematics), the notion of completeness in logic, and so on. Later in this
paper I will indicate how to deconstruct and to reconstruct even the idea of
elementary logic.
In particular, Derrida has nothing to say of the crucial idea which I will
use as my guideline in this paper. The format of this hidden "idea" would
have delighted Collingwood, for it is not so much an assumption in the
ordinary sense as a distinction or contrast, ready to serve as apresupposition
of a question.4
The presupposition I have in mind is a contrast between two visions of our
language and its relation to the world - and to ourselves. I have called these
two overall views on the one hand language as the universal medium or the
universality of language, on the other hand, language as calculus or the
model-conception of language. 5
According to the universalist conception, language (the language, in
Wittgenstein's words "the only language I understand") is an inescapable
intermediary between me and the world, a medium I cannot dispense with. I
cannot so to speak step outside my language (and the conceptual system it
embodies) and view it from outside.
Hence, according to the universalist view, I cannot discuss in my language
the relationships that connect it with the world. These relationships
constitute the meanings of the words and other expressions of my language.
Their totality is what is known as the semantics of that language. Therefore
one of the most important corollaries of the universalist position is the
ineffability of semantics. Since the meanings of our words and expression in
the sense of meaning as distinguished from reference are our concepts, a
universalist is bound to believe in the inexpressibility of all conceptual
truths. For this reason, we can attribute the ineffability assumption also to
thinkers who say relatively little about language in so many words. The
Heidegger of Sein und Zeit is a typical case in point, as we will see.
The opposite view, the vision of language as calculus, can be characterized
most briefly by saying that according to it all those things are possible which
a universalist thinks of as being impossible.

I have discussed this grand contrast on earlier occasions, and hence I can
be fairly brief here, and emphasize only a few selected points. A believer in
the ineffability of semantics can very weIl have elaborate ideas about how
our language links up with the world. The early Wittgenstein of the
Tractatus and its so-called picture theory of language is a telling example.
What such a "semanticist without semantics" has to deny is the expressibility
of the central semantical ideas in language and consequently to deny any
possibility of rationally theorizing about semantics. Semantical ideas can
only be conveyed nonverbally, nay, nonconceptually. They rely on an
unexpressed and unexplainable preconceptual Vorwissen.
The only kind of knowledge about language that can be explicitly
expressed and systematically developed concems the purely formal aspects of
language, the "logical syntax of language". This corollary to the universalist
thesis creates strange bedfellows. For instance, Camap's preference ofpurely
formal studies oflanguage and Heidegger's reverence of Vorwissen and other
Vorgriffe tum out to have the same ultimate motivation. What distinguishes
the two is a different evaluation of the relative importance of the two aspects
of language. In a different walk of science and scholarship, Chomsky's
strategy in bis govemment and binding theory of approaching semantical
concepts (like coreference) in terms of their purely syntactical manifestations
is very much in the universalist spirit.
Other consequences of the universalist position are even more obvious. For
one thing, a realistic metalanguage in which we could discuss our own
working language is a chimera according to the universalists. For the very
raison d'etre of such a metaIanguage is supposed to be its being avantage
point from which we can discuss the relations of our ordinary "object
language" to reality.
Accordingly, all model theory is an anathema to a universalist. (This is
among other things the ultimate motive of Wittgenstein's hatred of set
In a different direction, a universalist cannot speak of truth as
correspondence. Indeed, I suspect that some version of the universalist
assumption is in the last analysis (logical as weIl as psychological analysis)
the ulterior motive of most of those so-called theories of truth that do not
conceive of truth as correspondence between sentences and facts.
A few terminological comments may help to clarify further the nature of
the contrast I am discussing. The fundamental and largely unacknowledged
nature of the distinction is retlected in the difficulty of finding self-
explanatory terms for the two contrasted viewpoints. I first introduced the
terms ''language as calculus" and ''language as the universal medium" as

generalizations from van Heijenoort's terms "logic as calculus" and ''logic as

language" which he used in a special case of the contrast.6 I have come to
realize since that these terms, particularly the term ''language as calculus",
are not self-explanatory and may even be misleading. The analogy between
language and a calculus has been used in twentieth-century philosophy to
highlight three different things. They are (1) the allegedly purely formal
character of language and its laws; (2) the need of doing actual calculus-like
manipulations when using language (in the sense of putting it to use, not in
the sense of speaking it); (3) the possibility of re-interpreting language as
freely as interpreting an uninterpreted calculus. It was seen earlier that
emphasis on (1) is as characteristic of believers in the universality of
language as of the defenders of the "language as calculus" conception. It is
not what I have in mind here, nor is (2), which is Wittgenstein's reason for
comparing language to a calculus. What I am emphasizing in my use of the
terminus technicus "language as calculus" is simply and solely the re-
interpretability sense (3).
Why have different philosophers adopted the universalist position? There
probably are almost as many answers as there are universalist philosophers.
For some, it is simply an assumption, often an unacknowledged assumption.
Some philosophers, for instance Wittgenstein, believe in the universality of
language out of deep conviction, yet at the different stages of their careers
adduced additional reasons for it. It is rooted deeply is his general belief that
all semantics is literally unspeakable. At the same time, it was also based on
the phenomenological nature of Wittgenstein's simple objects postulated in
the Tractatus. Being phenomenological, they can almost literally be shown.
Yet, because of their role as the basic objects out of which everything else is
built, they cannot be defined or described in language. Thus Wittgenstein's
early saying-showing distinction can Iegitimately be taken either in a
metaphoric or in an almost literal sense. In Wittgenstein's later philosophy,
the ineffability of the meanings of particular words and of the rules that
govern them is due partly to the involvement of what we do in alllinguistic
meaning and partly (and more happily) to the primacy of entire language-
games over their rules.
One particular (and historically important) reason for adopting the
universalist view and in particular for the ineffability of semantics is a
transcendental or perhaps pragmatist one. It is held that human action is
constitutive of the meanings of the world of our concepts more generally. For
this reason, so it is thought, we cannot detach ourselves from our concepts,
for we cannot possibly stop our conceptual practices without losing our
concepts. But if we continue the practice which on this view underlies all

"preaching", that is, all use of language, then we are committed to a

conceptual status quo and cannot discuss it in our language without already
accepting it.
This type of reason for the ineffability view is not a conclusive one,
however. There is sight unseen no reason why the concepts we need to
master in order to talk about our language could not also be grounded on
human activities. Hence the pragmatist rationale for the ineffability of our
conceptual world is not a valid one. In some crucial cases, it can even be
maintained that the activities on which the most crucial semantical concepts
are based are the very same activities as are involved in the part of language
we are creating a semantics for. Indeed, it tums out that the same
semantical games which in my game-theoretical semantics give our central
logical concepts their meaning can also serve as a basis of spealring of the
truth ofthe sentences ofthe very same language.
Another, somewhat different set of reasons for the ineffability thesis is
connected with the notion of analysis. The undefinability and other
inexpressibility of our concepts really means the undefinability of the most
basic symbols of our language, and they cannot be defined just because such
definability would require access to even more basic symbols. For thinkers of
this kind, exemplified partly by G. E. Moore, the ineffability of meanings is
based on the requirement that all analysis must come to an end. Of the
ultimate stopping-points of such conceptual analysis we cannot any longer
say anything, because they are what we must assume for our language to
have any sense in the first place. 7
This type of motivation of the ineffability thesis nevertheless relies on
presuppositions of semantical context independence (compositionality,
atomicity) which are far from obvious and in my considered judgment are in
the last analysis unacceptable. This judgment will be backed up by my
forthcoming work on the so-called principle of compositionality (done jointly
with Gabriel Sandu).
The interesting and deep reason for a belief in the universality of language
and in the ineffability of semantics is a conviction that such an ineffability is
rooted deeply in the nature of our language and more specifically in the
nature of the basic concepts pertaining to its semantics, especially the all-
important concept of truth. Conceming its importance, it is relevant to point
out that the notion of truth is involved in all sentence meaning (propositional
meaning), because a sentence says what it says by telling us what the world
would be like if it were ttue (as Wittgenstein pointed out especially
forcefully). This central role of the concept of truth is among others asserted
forcefully by Hilary Putnam, who writes:8

The antirealist can use truth intra-theoretically in the sense of a

"redundancy theory"; but he does not have the notions of truth and
reference extra-theoretically. But extension is tied to the notion of truth.
The extension of a term is just what the term is true of. ... the antirealist
should reject the notion of extension as he does the notion of truth (in
extra-theoretical sense). [Emphasis in the original.]

Thus it is worth our while to look at a special case of the grand contrast
between the universality of language and the idea of language as calculus.
We have found a specific problem that can serve as a "crucial experiment" of
the contrast or at the very least of the problem of the ineffability of
semantics. It is the question of the definability of truth. One reason why this
question is significant is that the notion of truth is the single most important
semantical relation, that is, relation between language and the world. And
the reason for this reason is not merely that the truth or falsity of a sentence
is important for communicative and other pragmatic purposes. As was just
noted, the relation of a true sentence to the fact that makes it true is crucial
for the meaning of a sentence. A sentence means what it means by telling
you what the world would be like if it were true.
A second reason why it is worth while to concentrate on the question of the
ineffability of truth is that there are things one can say about it. There are
both older results concerning this question, and there are spectacular new
results concerning it. In fact, what we have here is an interesting example of
how apparently technical results can have truly striking consequences of the
fundamental assumptions of entire philosophical traditions.
If we now look at contemporary philosophy or, rather, at twentieth-century
philosophy, from the vantage point of my grand contrast, many familiar
players in the drama of philosophy (which Rorty is trying to tum into a
comedy of manners) suddenly appear in unfamiliar roles. First of all, on the
analytic side, it tums out that the early history of contemporary logical
theory was dominated, not to say terrorized, by the universalist tradition.
This tradition included in significantly different variants Gottlob Frege, early
and middle Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein throughout his career,
the Vienna Circle during its "formal mode of speech" phase, W. V. Quine and
Alonzo Church, among others.
There are many telling signs of the tremendous strength of this
universalist tradition in logical theory. They include among other things the
underestimation and even neglect of the work of logicians in the other
traditions, such as Charles S. Peirce, the almost total incomprehension with

which the early model-theoretical ideas of David Hilbert were met, and the
paranoid fear of GdeYs of being misunderstood if he formulated his
incompleteness results as results concerning the undefinability of
arithmetical truth (which resulted in his reformulating them as theorems
about deductive incompleteness), and the total absence of model-theoretical
papers among the hundreds of articles Quine has authored. On the level of
larger developments, the hegemony of the universalist tradition shows up in
the relative lateness of the development of model theory as a major technical
discipline in mathematical logic and in the lateness of the development of
serious model theory for modal and intensionallogics.
A usual, one of the best indications of a universalist position is the
attitude of the different thinkers in question to the concept of truth.
What I did not initially expect is that the contrast should show up in a big
way also on the side of nonanalytic philosophy. In this respect, Martin
Kusch's work has opened up highly interesting new vistas. 9 Among other
things, he has shown that the contrast between language as calculus and
language as a universal medium marks as the crucial watershed between the
philosophies of Husserl and Heidegger. It is not prima facie obvious what
that contrast really iso It is tempting to think, as an early commentator wrote
of Sein und Zeit, that what one finds there is merely HusserYs philosophy
expressed in a different jargon, with Dasein corresponding to the
transcendental ego etc., but without the deeper justification Husserl tried to
give to it. 10 Even though that judgment was passed by Husserl himself (in bis
marginal comments on Heidegger's book), one must respectfully disagree.
The crucial new (or not so new) element in Heidegger that Husserl missed is
precisely the assumption of the universality of one's language or perhaps
primacy of the conceptual system which language codifies. This ineffability
assumption is precisely why Heidegger could not give "the deeper
foundation" to his ideas that Husserl would have liked to see. In spelling out
this point I may perhaps restrict myself to a bare minimum in view of the
excellent exposition of this very point by Martin Kusch in his excellent book
on the calculus vs. universality contrast in continental philosophy.
Perhaps the most instructive evidence of Heidegger's universalist
commitment is his way of expressing himself. Heidegger's language is
sometimes referred to in Anglo-American literature as typical German
metaphysical jargon. The opposite is more likely to be true. Heidegger's
language was calculated to overthrow and replace traditional German
metaphysical and other philosophical styles. In a deep sense, Heidegger's
real or alleged obscurities are not a pose. He is according to bis own lights
literally trying to say the unsayable. Hence he cannot say what he means. He

has to convey his message in some indirect way and he has to shock his
readers in order to make his audience realize that that is what he is doing.
This is what his play with certain words is calculated to do. Like Frege in
setting up his formal language, Heidegger nevertheless has to rely on an
antecedently existing pre-understanding. This Heidegger in fact does, and
even makes distinctions between different elements or kinds of pre-
understanding, such as a distinction between Vorsicht (pre-viewpoint),
Vorgriff (pre-concept) and Vorhabe (horizon of pre-understanding). As
Wittgenstein did before him, Heidegger realizes that in trying to say the
unsayable, one of the few courses open to one is to utter tautologies - and by
so doing to surprise his audience into an awareness of what is going on. This
is precisely what Heidegger is doing. He is often expressing his point by
using outright tautologies, e.g. "Die Sprache spricht", and heightening the
effect by introducing artificial tautologies by coining words merely for this
very purpose, as in "Die Welt weItet" and "Das Nichts nichtet". The
interesting point about such Heideggerian expressions is not that they
contain neologisms or that they are ungrammatical, but that they are
tautologies. In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein said that an logical truths are
tautologies. In a not unrelated sense, an Heideggerian truths are tautologies.
And saying this is not calculated per se to denigrate Heidegger or to
denigrate logic.
Heidegger's own statements as to what can and cannot be expressed in
language nevertheless have to be taken with a grain of salt, for he sometimes
includes within language much more than I am doing here or than what
someone like Wittgenstein did. What is included then covers also things that
in Wittgenstein's terminology can only be shown, not said. "Das Nichts
nichtet" may be part of language in this Heideggerian sense, but it is not a
part of any language in the sense intended in my formulation of the
ineffability thesis. It is instructive to note that for Wittgenstein, too, such
"showing" can sometimes be accomplished by me ans of language. Indeed, this
is the nlnction of tautologies:

The fact that propositions of logic are tautologies shows the formal -
logical-properties oflanguage and the world. (Tractatus 6.12.)

One of the most obvious indications of Heidegger's commitment to the

universalist position is his treatment - or perhaps rather his use - of the
notion of truth. Truth for Heidegger is disclosedness, a meaning which he
tried to read back into the Greek word for truth, aletheia.

Here, once again, it is important to separate the more superficial features

of what Heidegger does from the ones to show the deep rootedness of his
views in the universalist conception of language and in particular in the
ineffability of meanings and concepts. For instance, what is interesting in
Heidegger's ideas is not just the rejection of truth as correspondence. Apropos
Tugendhat's well-known book ll on the subject Kusch writes (op. cit. p. 189):

Tugendhat' sanalysis is of course correct in the sense that Heidegger here

indeed gives up the correspondence theory of truth. What is crucial here,
however, is not so much that he does so, but rather why he is forced to do
so. Heidegger's dissatisfaction with Tugendhat's book turned precisely on
this point. (von Herrmann, personal communication.)

The deeper grounding ofHeidegger's views lies elsewhere:

Heidegger claims that truth as uncovering is grounded in the phenomenon

that he calls "Being-in-the-world", alias the phenomenon that Dasein is
'in the truth H~ On another occasion he writes that if we want to speak of
truth as a relation, we should say that it is the relation "of Dasein as
Dasein to its world". (Kusch, loc. cit.)

This idea of ''being-in-the-world" is connected closely both with the one-

world view and with the ineffability of our conceptual world .

... Heidegger reminds us that insofar as Dasein is Being-in-the-world,

where world is the universal medium of meaning, the world is disclosed to
Dasein. ... Insofar as Dasein lives in its world, this world is an already
interpreted world, a world already implicitly identified, a world that
Dasein is aware of and acquainted with .

... Dasein is "thrown into" this world, in the sense that Dasein "always
already" lives within some already interpreted world. ... Dasein cannot
just step outside of this interpretation, nor can this interpreted world be
compared with the "real" world. (Kusch, op. cit. pp. 189-190.)

Undoubtedly the most important aspect of Heidegger's adoption of the

universalist position concerns his philosophical method. He looked upon the
world as a text to be interpreted. This is in keeping with Heidegger's overall
vision of the world as being constituted by Dasein who therefore can use it as
if it coded the secret of its own nature. But a hermeneutical task is a task of

understanding meanings. Hence, according to the universalist thesis, it falls

within the scope of the ineffability of meanings. Hermeneutical
understanding is hence a task which cannot be carried out by means of the
normal rational uses of language, and its results cannot be codified in
normallanguage. It requires a technique of its own. Without the ineffability
assumption there would not be any reason why meaning in general could not
be dealt with by means of our normal reasoning and argumentation,
including logical and scientific ones. And, conversely, in the absence of the
universalist presupposition, Heidegger's own study of the Dasein's
constitution of the world would have to be rationalized back into a
Husserlian analysis of the constitution of the world by the transcendental
ego or perhaps into some other kind of phenomenological or analytical
enterprise. In a sufficiently long perspective, Ernst Cassirer's Philosophie der
symbolischen Formen and Rudolf Carnap's Der logische Aufbau der Welt were
not only almost perfectly contemporaneous with Heidegger's Sein und Zeit,
they were also alternatives to it, showing how one might perhaps want to do
the same job as Heidegger in his book if one did not believe in the
universality oflanguage.
Several of the things Heidegger says in motivating and explaining his
position are relatively supemcial, in that they can be reconciled with a
different viewpoint altogether, including even the view of language as
calculus. These claims include the notorious hermeneutical circle and the
need of pre-understanding in a hermeneutical enterprise. It is not hard to
find counterparts for them in the most sober scientific theorizing. Even so,
they are interpretationally, not to say hermeneutically, relevant here, for
they are clearly intended by Heidegger as grist to his hermeneutical mill.
Some other remarks of Heidegger's do not touch the gist of the matter,
either. For instance, he makes much of the involvement of human action in
meaning and in meanings. This is nothing but the pragmatist motivation of
the universalist viewpoint which was discussed above and found relatively
supemcial and unconvincing. The value of such views of Heidegger's to us is
again merely a historical one: they are symptoms of the presence of the
universalist syndrome in Heidegger.
In the light of what has been said, it is no exaggeration to suggest that
Heidegger's hermeneutical method stands and falls with the thesis of the
inexpressibility of conceptual truths. It is not unfair, either, according to
Heidegger's own lights - or should I say, according to his own
Gtterdmmerung? - to think of the definability of truth as the test case of
viability of the hermeneutical approach. If I can say what it means for a
sentence to be true, I can say what the sentence means. And if I can say this

in my own sober factual language, I can dispense with all special

hermeneutical discourse technique and all special hermeneutical jargon.
Many of the things that were just said of Heidegger can also be said of his
followers, including relatively distant ones, philosophers inspired by him
rather than following him. For instance, we can now see what the deeper
foundation is of the deconstructivist dogma about the irreversibility of
deconstruction or, rather, of the impossibility of a deconstruction's being
followed by a reconstruction. The allegedly deeper ground is the ineffability
of the results of deconstruction.
Likewise, Derrida's reason for his use of a strange jargon is (I hope, for his
own sake) the same as Heidegger's. Or, more cautiously expressed, the most
charitabk and historically most plausible explanation of bis apparent
idiosyncrasy is to take him to follow Heidegger's lead here.
The fate of Derrida's methodology, like Heidegger's, is thus inextricably
tied to the evaluation of the overall universalist position. And one test case
for such an evaluation is the problem of truth.
This problem is particularly instructive because it can be approached in
terms of state-of-the-art analytical techniques. However, at first sight there
might seem to be no need to resort to any novelties here, for much older
results seem to elose the issue for good.
In the early thirties Alfred Tarski published the results of his fundamental
researches into the concept of truth in his mono graph Der Wahrheitsbegriff
in formalisierten Sprachen. 12 Most contemporary readers, including critics
like John Etchemendy, tend to read Tarski in a way which is deeply foreign
to Tarski's way of thinking at the time. It is not only that Tarski's own
background was far more philosophical than later readers are sometimes
aware of, Tarski's assumptions concerning language at large, both the
language of mathematics and what Tarski called "the colloquial language"
are not obvious, and would deserve a closer scrutiny.
In his pathbreaking work, Tarski considered in the first place explicitly
formulated formallanguages. The basis of Tarski's tremendous impact is that
he showed how to define the concept of truth explicitly for a large (and
apparently representative) class of such languages. This is a major
philosophical achievement whose familiarity to us has unfortunately be gun
to breed contempt. In our days, it is virtually a number of the compulsory
figures of philosophical discussion who complain that Tarski only defined
some sort of abstract relation between language and the world which is
unconnected with the way we actually verify and falsify sentences. This
alleged defect in Tarski's discussion can be fixed, and in any case it does not
matter for my purposes here.

In showing us how to define truth, albeit only locally, Tarski might seem
to have aided and abetted theorists of language as calculus, at least
methodologically. But the main philosophical impact of Tarski's work has
been of a different kind. Tarski showed, given certain assumptions, that a
truth-definition can be given for a formal language only in a stronger
metalanguage. This result seems to lead to a perfect vindication of the
universalist position in the crucial test case of truth. For applied to our
actual working language - Tarski's "colloquial language" - it implies,
assuming that this colloquial language satisfies the assumptions of his
theorem, that truth can be defined for it only in astronger metalanguage.
But there is no stronger metalanguage beyond our actual working language.
Hence in the case that really matters philosophically, truth-definitions are
impossible. In this sense, truth is literally ineffable, and the universalists
have won.
A weak point here is of course the question whether colloquial language
satisfies the conditions of Tarski's impossibility theorem. Tarski seems to
have been keenly aware of this problem. The actual reasons he gives against
truth-definitions for the colloquiallanguage rely in fact more on the openness
and irregularity of natural languages rather than his own theorem. The
alleged irregularity has since been largely disproved by such linguists and
logicians as Chomsky or Tarski's own favorite student Richard Montague. I
suspect that the main alleged irregularity that Tarski had in mind was the
failure of the formal guideline of his truth-definition, i.e. the failure of the
principle that linguists know as compositionality and some philosophers as
the Frege Principle but whose real force is a semantical context-
independence. I have argued elsewhere that the assumption of such context-
independence in the semantics of naturallanguages is totally unrealistic.
AlthGugh the alleged philosophical impact of Tarski's results is not
established beyond reasonable doubt, the overwhelming majority of
philosophers apparently has taken them to elose the definability issue once
and for all. For instance, in recent discussions of the rise and fall of Carnap's
original project in language theory which led to The Logical Syntax of
Language, the undefinability of truth (andJor analyticity) for suffieiently rieh
languages in those languages themselves has been taken for granted. 1S
Aceordingly, the wider philosophieal eommunity has aeeepted the
ineffability of truth for philosophieally important languages as an
established result. This has provided strong eneouragement to the
universalist stanee in the general philosophy of language and in philosophy
in general.

In a broader bistorical perspective, Tarski's result was but one of the

several negative results that were established about the same time and
wbich together have been taken to show serious limitations of logical,
mathematical and other rational approaches to the foundations of logic,
mathematics and science. These results also include Gdel's incompleteness
results (wbich are in fact closely related to Tarski.'s results) and Heisenberg's
discovery of the uncertainty relation in quantum physics.
But here comes the main novelty I am reporting in this paper. Contrary to
popular belief, Tarski's negative results, though of course correct, do not close
the issue. In order to drive home this point, I have to undertake nothing more
and nothing less than a kind of deconstruction of our very conception of logic,
more specifically, of what the basic core area of logic iso If this question is put
to logicians and philosophers, the overwhelming majority will teIl that the
true elementary logic is what is variously lmown as quantification theory,
(lower) predicate calculus or first-order logic. Once when I told a colleague
that I was going to criticize the status of this logic as a codification of the true
logic of our naturallanguage, as the true Sprachlogik, he looked at me with
mock horror and said, "Nothing is sacred in philosophy any Ion ger!" First-
order logic is what you all have been taught in courses of elementary logic. It
is the core area in the logic of Frege and RusselI. And yet there is a point of
view from wbich this traditionallogic appears as little more than the result
of a serious mistake on Frege's part. And what is more, correcting this
mistake leads to an entirely different view of the nature of logic from what
ordinary first-order logic makes it appear like.
Very briefly, the situation is thiS: 14 First-order logic is usually said to be
the logic of quantifiers. But this is only a half-truth. First-order logic is not
the logic of quantifiers taken one by one. It is the logic of dependent
quantifiers. Such dependent quantifiers are illustrated by sentences like

(*) (\fx)(3y)S[x,y]

where the truth-makingvalue ofy depends on the value ofx. Frege's mistake
appears from bis interpretation of quantifiers as higher-order predicates.
Such an interpretation cannot do justice to sentences like (*) semantically.
Furthermore, this general neglect of the idea of quantifier dependence led
Frege to a specific mistake. In formulating his formation rules, Frege
arbitrarily excluded (of course without being aware of what he was doing)
certain perfectly possible (interpretable) patterns of dependence and
independence between quantifiers. The simplest irreducible quantifier prefix

Frege unwittingly ruled out is the Henkin quantifier representable as a

branching structure:

(**) (\fx)(3y)

(\fz)(3u) > S[x,y,z,u].

It is more convenient, however, to employ a slash notation to exempt a

quantifier from the scope of another. For instance, (**) can then be written as

(***) (\fx)(\fz)(3yNz)(3uNx)S[x,y,z,u).

A systematic use of the slash notation gives rise to what I have called
independence-friendly (lF) first-order logic. It is the true basic or elementary
logic. This place of honor is usually accorded to ordinary first-order logic. Yet
IF first-order logic has a better claim, for it involves no ideas which are not
already presupposed in ordinary first-order logic. The only apparent novelty
that has to be understood in order to understand IF first-order logic is the
idea of quantifier independence. But to understand independence is the same
thing as to understand dependence, which you need to understand ordinary
first-order logic. As I once put it, IF first-order logic is a veritable Mafia logic:
it is a logic you cannot refuse to understand. It is our truly deconstructed and
reconstructed basic logic.
Among the many remarkable features of IF first-order languages is the
fact that if one builds into such a language some me ans of speaking of the
syntax of such a language in the language itself, then one can also give a
complete truth-definition for that language in the language itself. 15 This
result puts in one fell swoop the entire issue of the definability of truth in a
new light. Among other things, it deprives Tarski's negative result its
philosophical significance. It shows that the presuppositions of Tarski's
impossibility theorem are so restrictive that the theorem does not apply even
to the most basic logicallanguages one can imagine.
The definability of truth in IF first-order languages cannot be dismissed as
concerning only certain artificial formal languages. For one thing, as was
explained, IF first-order logic is the basic elementary logic by the same token
as ordinary first-order logic has generally been claimed to be. Furthermore, it
displays remarkable closeness to ordinary language in a number of ways in
which tradition al first-order logic does not. This goes especially for the
behavior of negation in natural language. Also, IF first-order logics are

remarkably resourceful, allowing for instance the expression of most

mathematical theories by their means. Moreover, an analysis of what goes
into my truth-definition shows what is wrong with Tarski's informal reasons
for thinking that truth cannot be defined for what he calls "colloquial
language". Hence my definability result (obtained together with Gabriel
Sandu) has to be taken at its metaphysical face value.
And in view of the exemplary role of the problem of truth, this me ans a
most severe blow to the entire hermeneutical methodology. Whether it is a
knockdown blow remains to be seen, even though by my count we are
reaching the conclusive ten very soon. It is to be noted, however, that this
refutation of the hermeneutical methodology does not affect the problems of
hermeneutical philosophy or even the specific views of hermeneutical
philosophers, insofar as they are not tied to their methodology.
With these provisos, though, my result to all practical purposes puts an
end to all claims of the universalists of doing justice to the logic of our actual
language. Conversely, the definability of truth in IF first-order languages is
in effect a proof that the ineffability thesis is wrong and that one can in fact
discuss the semantics of a language in that language itself. And this in turn
amounts to a total dispensability of any specifically hermeneutical
methodology, together with all the doctrines that depend on that
methodology, for instance the view of truth as disclosedness. What the
repercussions of such a result should be for the contemporary philosophy at
large, I can leave to my audience to speil out.
The same methodological criticism applies with vengeance also to Derrida.
To return to the themes I introduced in the beginning of this paper, there
remains indeed no reason why deconstruction could not be carried out by
perfectly normal analytic, historical or other scholarly methods, no reason
why it should require a special jargon to be expressed, and absolutely no
reason why it could not be followed by reconstruction.
In Derrida's case my results are especially poignant because Derrida
himself appeals to Tarski-type results in expounding his views. The name he
evokes in so many words is Gdel's rather than Tarski's, but from the
vantage point of logical theory this makes little difference. In claiming that
what are known as infrastructures are undecidable, Derrida draws an
explicit analogy with Gdel's discovery of undecidable propositions. Since
Derrida in his own formulations speaks of truth and falsity rather than of
provability and unprovability, he really ought to have appealed to Tarski-
type undefinability of arithmetical truth in the language of arithmetic, rather
than to the usual formulation of Gdel's unprovability result. But this does

not spoil Derrida's point (or mine). Infrastructures are, according to Derrida,
just like formal systems in Gdel. 16

An undecidable proposition, as Gdel demonstrated in 1931, is a

proposition which, given a system ofaxioms governing a multiplicity, is
neither an analytical nor a deductive consequence of those axioms, nor in
contradiction with them, neither true nor false with respect to those
axioms. Tertium datur, without synthesis.

But who lives by Tarski's and GdeYs results dies by them. I have shown
once and for all that Tarski's result does not have the philosophical
implications it has generally been taken to have. Indeed, a closer analysis of
the situation leads to a conclusion diametrically opposite to what has usually
been taken to follow from Tarski' s results. As far as GdeY s results are
concerned, a more penetrating examination shows that Gdel did not
absolutely speaking disprove the completeness of any axiom system in the
most important sense of completeness, viz. in the sense of what I have called
descriptive completeness.
Speaking more generally, my line of thought has thus produced aseries of
results. Not only is it the case that specmc appeals to Tarski's and GdeYs
results turn out to be vacuous. The entire philosophical signmcance of
incompleteness and undefinability theorems must be re-evaluated. Results
like GdeYs and Tarski's in fact constitute the hard core of any rational basis
of the overall ineffability thesis. Yet I have shown that Tarski's and GdeYs
results simply do not have the negative philosophical implications which they
first seemed to possess and which they have usually been taken to imply.
Hence the ineffability thesis is ripe to be rejected, and in any case the
philosophical methodologies which have been predicated on this thesis lose
their raison d'tre. These methodologies include in the first place the
hermeneutical and deconstructivist ones. Or, to be accurate, my criticisms hit
only those aspects of the hermeneutical approach that depend on the alleged
ineffability of conceptual insights. Those aspects that arguably are merely
special cases of certain features of rational and even scientific methodology in
general are unaffected by any criticisms. For instance, there is no need of
interpreting truth as disclosedness as Heidegger does, but a certain (not
necessarily vicious) circle can be argued to be present even in sober scientific
inquiry, rightly understood.
In other respects, too, my results have to be understood correctly. I am not
saying that we should disregard the thoughts of those philosophers who have
believed in the ineffability of semantical and conceptual matters or that they

did not have genuine insights. But those insights have to be formulated in
the same explicit terms as scientific truths and argued for (and against) by
the usual methods of rational reasoning and inquiry, be they an alytical,
phenomenological or historical. We can speak in our own language of truth
and other conceptual matters. And what we can speak of, that we must
reason about logically, scientifically, and historically.


1 A.O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being, Harvard University Press, 1936.
2 Cf. here my presidential address, "Gaps in the Great Chain ofBeing", Proceedings

and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, vol. 49 (1975-76), pp. 22-
3 Cf. here my paper, "Ludwig's Apple Tree", in Friedrich Stadtler, editor, Scientific

Philosophy: Origins and Developments, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1993, pp. 27

4 Cf. RC. Collingwood, Essay on Metaphysics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1939,

especially chapter 5.
5 See here e.g., Jaakko Hintikka "On the Development of Model-theoretical

Viewpoint in Logical Theory", Synthese, vol. 77 (1988), pp. 1-36; Merrill B. Hintikka
and Jaakko Hintikka, Investigating Wittgenstein, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1986,
chapter 1.
6 See Jean van Heijenoort, "Logic as Calculus and Logic as Language", Synthese,

vol. 17 (1967), pp. 324-330.

7 The longstudied discussion of the so-c!illed "paradox of analysis" provides

glimpses of this kind of reason for the ineffability thesis. Wittgenstein acknowledges
the sometime influence of this line of thought on him (and on RusselI) in
Philosophie al Investigations (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1953) I, sec. 46.
B Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of 'Meaning"', in Mind, Language and Reality,

Philosophical Papers, vol. 2, Cambridge University Press, 1975, pp. 215571,

especially p. 236.
9 See Martin Kusch, Language as Caleulus vs. Language as the Universal Medium:

A Study of Busserl, Beidegger and Gadamer, Kluwer Academic Publishers,

Dordrecht, 1989.
10 See here Dagfinn F011esdal, "Husserl and Heidegger on the Role of Actions in the

Constitution of the World", in Esa Saarinen et al., editors, Essays in Honour of

Jaakko Bintikka, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1979, pp. 365-376, especially p. 369.
11 Ernst Tugendhat, Der Wahrheitsbegriff bei Busserl und Heidegger, de Gruyter,

Berlin, 1967.

12 Alfred Tarski, "Der Wahrheitsbegriff in formalisierten Sprachen", Studia

Philosophica, vol. 1 (1935), pp. 261-405.

13 See here e.g., Michael Friedman, "Logical Truth and Analyticity in Carnap's

Logical Syntax of Language', in W. Aspray and P. Kitcher (editors), History and

Philosophy of Modern Mathematics (Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science
XI), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1988, pp. 82-94; and cf. J aakko
Hintikka, "Carnap's Work in the Foundations of Logic and Mathematics in a
Historical Perspective", Synthese, vol. 93 (1992), pp. 167-189.
14 See here Jaakko Hintikka, "What is Elementary Logic?', in K. Gavroglu et al.,

editors, Physics, Philosophy and the Scientific Community, Kluwer Academic

Publishers, Dordrecht, 1995, pp. 301-326. Also The Principles of Mathematics
Revisited, Cambridge U.P., 1996, chapters 3-4.
15 See here Jaakko Hintikka, Defining Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the

Truth, Reports from the Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 1991;

also The Principles of Mathematics Revisited, op. cit., ch. 6.
16 Jacques Derrida, Dissemination, translated by Barbara Johnson, University of

Chicago Press, 1981.



I. An Ultimate Presupposition
of TweDtieth-Century Philosophy

In this paper, 1 ShaI1 discuss one singuJarly importaDt problem. It is a

generalization of the question 1 am usiDg as the tide of the paper. It has
probably played a more importaDt role in the philosophy of Ianguage ud
philosophica1 anaIysis in general in the last hundred-odd years than any other
single issue. It is a problem which would have deligbted Hegel. For it bas
remained almost completely impliat in the actual philosophicalliterature. 115
general significance still is virtuaIIy unacknowledged. Omy now, in the evening
twilight of i15 career, has this problem followed the example of Minerva's owl
ud begun to rise to the COnsciOUSDess of philosophers. One does not have
to be a Hege1ian, however, to believe that this taat role of my theme problem
testifies to i15 fundamental significance for twentieth-century philosophy.
Another variety of idealistic philosophers might, for instance, compare it to a
Collingwoodian -absolute presupposition- charaaeristic of the period in
philosophy which began with Frege - or perhaps with Kant - ud which is
omy now ending.l Or perhaps the philosophy of thisperiod is, rather,
returning to i15 OWD ultimate sources in Kant's transcendental methode
But what is this deep problem? 1 said that it is a generalization of my
tide question. This question concemed the expressibility of the concept of
trutb. Now the concept of truth is one of tbe most important relations,
perhaps the most important one, that can obtain between language (a
Iinguistic expression) ud the world. Such relations are called semantical
relations, ud tbe totality of such relation linking a given language to reality
is called i15 semantics. Accordingly, the question wbetber trutb is

inexpressible is a faeet of the more general question whether semantics is

inexpressible. And this question is in turn subordinate to an eYen more
sweeping problem. This problem has the form of a choiee betwcen two
competing overall views eonceming our relationship to our language. I shall
call them (i) the view of language as the universal medium 0/ communication
(in brief, language as the universal medium), or otherwise expressed, the view
of the universality o/language, and () the view of language as caJculus.2
Tbese terms "language as the universal medium" and "Ianguage as calculus" are
generalizations of van Heijenoort's terms "logie as language" and 10gie as
caleulus," which mark one partieular manifestation of the same eontrast as my
terms. Both of my terms have to bc taken with a grain of salt, especially the
latter, whieh is not intended to compare language with an uninterpreted
caleulus. (Cf. sec. 6 below).
The need of choosing between these two views is the ultimate unspoken
Collingwoodian presupposition I referred to. Like Collingwood's
presuppositions in general, it is essentially the presupposition of a question,
not of an assertion, whieh according to Collingwood are all answers to
questions anyway (insofar as they are steps in a legitimate inquiry).' As was
mentioned, the contrast between the two assumptions (the assumption of the
universality of language and the assumption of language as calculus) has
played a role in the bistory of philosophicallogic, philosophy of language, and
analytic philosophy of the last hundred years which is commensurate with the
status of tbis contrast as a Collingwoodian ultimate presupposition. It is the
purpose of this paper to outline the nature and role of the two assumptions,
examine their systematic repercussions, and to sketch briefly their role in the
philosophical and logical discussion of the last hundred years. Most
importantly, I shall discuss the ehoice of two contrasting views as a
philosophical problem, and to comment on the implications of the answer I
will tentatively give to the question, is language universal or is it like a
caleulus? In doing so, I shall pay elose attention to the special case of the
question that figures as the title of this paper.
But even before doing any of these things it may be helpful to identify
the main actors of the drama I am trying to describe. Tbe two views are in
recent philosophy represented by two (admittedly loose) traditions. Tbe
tradition of the universality of language ineludes prominently Frege, as van
Heijenoort has shown," early Russell,S Wittgenstein,6 Vienna Cirele during its
syntactic period, eharaeterized by a belief in the formal mode of speech as the
appropriate jargon of philosophy,7 and W.V. Quine. In contrast, the tradition
of logic as calculus has not had equally single-minded representatives. If
anything, the development of the idea of language as calculus (in my specific
sense) has been a story of a gradual consciousncss-raising which has slowly
tumed unwitting practices into methodological principles. (Cf. sec. 8 below,

Now what are thesc two contrary viewpoints the view of tanguage as the
universal medium and the view of language as a calculus? According to the
former idea, language -- our language - is universal in the sense of being
inescapable. One cannot say, MStop the world, I want to get off: or say, either,
RStop the tanguage, I want to step outside it: Everything we say and
(according to some philosophers) think already presupposes the one language
we are using, including the semantical relations in virtue of which it <:an be
used to say something.
Applied to an analytic philosopher's formalized canonical notation, a
formalized togicallanguage, this view implies that such a formallanguage has
to be thought of not merely (or primarily) as an organon or tool facilitating
reasoning by creating a more suitable medium for argumentation, but as a
universallanguage in which everything <:an be expressed. In the terms Frege
borrowed from bis predecessors, philosophical Begriffsschrift must be a
lingua characterica and not merely a calculus ratiocinator.10 .
What is interesting for us here is that according to the view of language
as the universal medium such a lingua characterica must not only be an
interpreted language. It is a unique language, te., a universallanguage. And
this- universality means exclusivencss. What lies outside such a universal
Janguage is inexpressible in language and therefore senseless. Language thus
is, as far as our linguistic relations to the rest of the universe are conccmed,
between us and the world. We cannot RreachMthe world linguisticallyexccpt
by means of our actua1language. We are, in this sense, prisoners of our OWD
tanguage. If we are to bclieve in the universalist dogma, this prison is a
maximum-security one from which there is no hope of an escape.
According to the other, competing idea of language, the idea of tanguage
as calculus, we are not tied to our language. Our language is Our servant, we
are its masters. We can tell to it wbat it is to do, and we are not committed
to its doing wbat it does in one way only. We can even hire another one if
one old language does not serve us satisfactorily. What all the different things.
are that we cannot do on the view of language as tbe universal medium but
can do on the view of language as calculus will be seen when we spell out the
consequences of the former thesis.
One particular aspect of tbis alleged universality of language is that we
cannot step outside language and examine its relations to the world. Or,
instead of examining" the semantics of one's OWD language we should here
speak of expressingthe semantics of the language while one is actually using
that language. In other words, one of the consequences of the universality of
language is the ineJfability 0/ semantics. Any bcliever in language as the
universal medium will have to say of semantics at large what Wittgenstein says
in the Tractatus 4.12 of the most important (for him) ingredient in semantics,
the logical forms:

In order to bc ablc to !eplelCnt topcaI form, we Ihould bne to bc able to station

ourselva witb propolitiona IOIIlCWbcre outside . , tbat iI outside tbc world.

Less metaphorically speaking, in using language meaningfully, we must

already presuppose the system of meaning relations which obtain between
language and reality. Hence we cannot employ language to say something
about that system of relationships, for it is being presupposed before we can
as much as to try to say what it is. Hence an attempt to speak of the
semantics of our language in that 1anguage itself is an undertaking analogous
to Baron Mnchhausen's provcrbial attempt to lift himself up by pulling at his
own bootstraps. At worst, the result is nonsense; at best (viz., if we simply
repeat when is already presupposed) the result is vac:uous.
It may be questioned at this point whether I havc got my priorities fight.
It was pointed out that the idea of language as the universal medium easily
leads to the assumption that semantics is ineffable. Conversely, if semantics
is ineffable, it makes no sense to try to speak in our language of a situation
in which the expressions of one's language would have meanings different
from what they in fact have. In other words, if semantics is ineffable, it m8kes
no sense to try to say or to assume, by using my actual home language, that
there are languages other than it or that I am changing the semantics of my
language. -A language that I do not understand is no language: as
Wittgenstein once put it.11 Thus it may be argued that the ineffability of
semantics entails the universality of Ianguage. Hence thc ineffability of
semantics may be considered the strooger of the two assumptions. I sh8Il
return to this matter later. Meanwhile, my foc:us will be as much the
ineffability of semantics in this paper as the universality of Ianguage.
Among the semantical relations whic:h ac:cording to the universality view
are ineffable is truth, te., the relation of a truc sentence to the fact which
makes it true. Thus my title question is to a considerable extent equivalent
with the question: Is language universal? An affumative answer to both
questions is argued for by Wittgenstein:
For wbat does a proposition'. "beini truc mcan? "p. iI true p. (Ibat ja tbe
(Rtmtuks Oll IM FoundtIdtnu o/~, Appendix I, see. S.)

The basis of this view, and its moral, are explained by Wittgenstein as follows:

This impossibility of expreuinl in Ianpp tbc conditionl of apcement bctwecn a

mcaninpul proposition - a tboupt - ancI reaUty iI the solution of tbc puzzle. (MS
1m, p. 265.)

Elsewhere, Wittgenstein relates his point to certain major philosophical


1be limit of IanpaF iI Ihown by itl beial impolliblc to dClcribe the fact whic:h
conapondl to _ a ICntcncc, without limply rcpcatinl thc ICIltcllCe. (Wc are here
dcalinl with thc Kantian solution of thc problem of philolOphy.)12

It is clear that the correspondencc Wittgenstein is speaking of in tbis quote

is the one which makcs the scntencc true.
Tbc ineflability of truth (according to beUevers in the universaUty of
language and logic) leads easily to a paradoxical-looking situation. On the one
hand, truth and truth-conditions are the comerstoncs of all logic and al1
scmantics. However, we cannot speak of them in language if we follow the
same thinkers. Tbus Frege was led to say, on the one band,13 that
I.o&ic iI thc Kicncc of the most Fnerallaws of truth pitcrally. bein,-true).

in German:

Loaik ist die WlIICllKhaftt der allFmcinstcD Gactze der Wahncin

and deny, on the other band,14 that truth can be defmed or otberwise spoken

Trutb docs not umit of adefinition. One CMDOt uy: a repl'CICDtatioa iI truc wheD
it AJI'CCI witb thc rcality.

Wahr lIIt lieb Dicht definieren; man bnn nicht MFD: Wahr ist eine Vorstcllun"
~aa sie mit der Warldicbkeit bcrciDitimmt.

How, then, can any beUevcr in the universaUty of language and its logic
actually do logic, devclop logical systems and investigate them? Tbc answer
is: purely formally.l.S Here wc bavc in fact an explanation of an apparently
curious phenomenon whicb would otherwise be inexpUcable and whicb I have
called the paradox of formalization. This paradox Ues in the fact that the most
important philosophcrs and logicians who developed the idea of a purely
formal system of logic were not formaUsts. Frege criticized bitterly formalistic
ideas in the foundations of mathematics, and bis OWD logic is firmly grounded
in what unmistaIcably are scmantical ideas. For Wittgenstein, language
(Iogically correct language) was not a formaUstic calculus, but actually
reected the form of the world. Yet Frege aeated the idea of a completely
formal system of logic, and Wittgenstein's TrtlCtIItU.r seems to bavc been the
main gateway througb which the crucial idea of logical syntax entered into
twentieth-ccntury philosophical discussion.
Tbc explanation of the apparent paradox is Frege's and Wittgenstein's
belief in the ineflability of scmantics. Evcn thougb they botb saw logic as
being based on scmantics, the ineflability of scmantics implies that in actual
explicit logical theory the only thing they could speak of were the purely
formal aspects of language. Thus the contemporary conccption of a purely

formal system of logic, with its axioms and rules of inferencc, was not
prompted by a formalistic philosophy of logic, but is due to theidea of
language as the universal medium. Wittgenstein's way of tbinking is strikingly
illustrated by pronounccments like the following:

But if someone 18)'1, How am Iluppo&ed to Imow wbat be MeaU, all 1 can see are
mcrely his symbols,. thCD 118Y: How is M IUppo&ed to know wbat hc mcanl, aII that
hc hu are mcrely his symbolI. (MS 108, p. m.)

Tbe implications of the view of language as the universal medium -

systematic as well as historical implications -- can ooly be illustrated here
rather than studied exhaustively. A few ccntral points must nevertheless be
registered. One interesting cluster of consequences depends on one particular
corollary of the ineffability of semantics. If we cannot speak of the semantical
links that actually tie oUf language to reality, we cannot discuss in language
any possible alternatives to this actual system of meaning relations. Insofar
as linguistic expressibility is taken to mark the limits of serious theoretical
possibility, we cannot VllI)' the intetpretotion OIOUT language, at least not as'
a part of a serious theoretical enterprlse.
One further consequencc of considerable historical interest is that all
model theory (in the logica1 sense of the term) is impossible on the view of
the universality of language. For the leading idea of all model theory is
precisely to let the representative relations between a language, whether
formal or natural, and the part of reality (the model) in which it is interpreted
be different from what they normally are, at least insofar as noological
constants are conccrned. Hencc model theory presupposes the view of
language as calculus, to some ext~nt at least. Indeed, this fact has inspired the
very term wlanguage as calculus: It does not reCer to any conception of
language as a mere play with uninterpreted symbols. As we saw, such a
conccption can be, in the special case of formallogic, a consequencc of the
contrary idca of language as the universal medium. Rather, the term
wlanguage as calculus serves to highlight the claim that language is re-
interpretable like a calculus.
A historica1 implication of the dependencc of logical model theory on the
view of language as calculus will be followed up in the next section. It is that
the gradual development of model theory and model-theoretical way of
thinking in the course of the twentieth ccntury has gone hand in hand with a
gradual disenchantment of logicians with the assumption of the universality of
language. This development is one of the most important and .east discussed
aspects of the history of recent philosophy. It is a development to which the
adage, You've come a long way. baby: is eminendy applicable. For the
starting-point of this development was the conception of Frege and Russen
which included the universality of 1anguage in two different ways. Tbey took
the impossibility of alternative interpretations of our language to amount to

a kind of one-world dodrine. In order to speak of alternatives to this world

of ours, we w01.lld have to (they thought) alter the interpretation of our
language, for actually it speaks of course of the actual world. (This of course"
is of course not only misleading but fallacious.) Hence it does not make any
sense to speak of models" other than the actual world on which our language
has been interpreted. Since we cannot discuss what wouId happen if the
interpretation were changed, we cannot really speak of alternatives to the
actual world.
This one-world view has been gradually abandoned, but not always
completely. Por instance, Wittgenstein in the Tractatus was willing to speak
of possible states of affairs other than the actual ones, and if he does not
speak of possible worlds, the reason is merely the same as prevented him from
speaking of the actual world as a whole. However, all the other possible
worlds were still tied to the actual world by a constant interpretation of our
language, which for the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus came down to the
relations obtaining between simple objects and their names. Betause these
had to be presupposed in all uses of Ianguage, we have (says Wittgenstein) to
treat the actual objects as existing necessarUy and as necessarily exhausting the
entire realm of all possible objects.16 In brief, for Wittgenstein in the
Tractatus there are several possible worlds, but only one substance of the
world, for this substance consists precisely of the objects. To this extent, the
early Wittgenstein is still a prisoner of the one-world view.
In later philosophy and logic, a residual form of the same one-world
assumption still rears its ungainJy head, principally in the persistent hut
unmotivated assumption which is made in most treatments of the semantics
of modal logic. In most of them, it is assumed that the domains of all the
worlds" considered are subsets of the same fixed given set of individuals. This
is a hangover from the faed set of objects of the Tractatus. But while it was
in Wittgenstein motivated by bis deep commitment to the idea of language as
the universal medium, it is in such semantics of modal logic as Kripke or
Montague has developed merely an arbitrary and unsupported dogma.11

n. Language as the Universal Medium

in Twentieth-Century Thought

I cannot discuss here ful1y the role which the contrast between language as the
universal medium and language as calculus has played in recent philosophy.
A few hints are nevertheless in order. I have already mentioned some of the
manifestations of a belief in Ianguage as the universal medium in Prege and
Wittgenstein. They don't come close to exhausting the significance of this
asSumption for them. Por instance, in Prege the assumption of the
universality of language leads to bis one-world view whlch in turn prejudices

bis treatment of existence. Existence cannot be a genuine predicate of

individuals for Frege, for there cannot be merely possible individuals for whom
the attribution of existence will enlarge their concept. Existence can therefore
be expressed only by the existential quantifier, which is essentially a second
order predicate. This treatment of existence is part and parcei of Frege's view
that verbs like "is" are ambiguous, which is one of the most important shared
assumptions in most of twentieth-century analytical philosophy. This
ambiguity assumption was built by Frege and Russen into their logical
language (Iogical notation), which has remained normative for almost a
hundred years.18
Tbe role of the assumption of the universality of language in Wittgenstein
has been studied by Merrill and Jaakko Hintikka in their boolc, Investigating
Wittgenstein. 19 Suffice it to say here only that Wittgensten's belief in the
ineffability of semantics is closely related to a large number of bis central
ideas and concepts. They include the celebrated contrast drawn up in the
Tractatus between saying and showing, the absence of an metatheoretical
considerations in bis later philosophy, which is the backbone of Wittgenstein's
philosophical method of argumentation, bis idea of the limits of language, bis
important notionsof grammar and ca/cu/us, the conceptual priority of
language-games over their rules, and thereby much of Wittgenstein's later
philosophy of language. It is perhaps worth noting that, in a wider
philosophical and bistorical perspective, Wittgenstein's emphasis in bis later
thought on the importance of a shared "way of life" or shared modes of
behavior as aprerequisite of understanding other people is not due to a need
of a special process of empathy or Verstehen, but at least partly to an
assumption which Wittgenstein shared with the Vienna Cirele positivists. In
fact for a while (around 1930-32) Wittgenstein and the Vienna ekele shared
the assumption of the ineffability of semantics. Wittgenstein himself claimed
that Carnap's idea of an exclusively "formal mode of speech" did not mark a
slightest step beyond bis Tractatus.'JIJ During this period, Wittgenstein went
so far as to maintain that it is enough to get rid of a philosophical problem to
realize that it cannot be expressed in language. (Cf. the quote from Cu/ture
and Value in sec. 4, above, written in 1931.)
In Quine, the ineffability of semantics is what leads him to the related
problems of the underdeterminacy of radical translation and of the
inscrutability of reference.21 For instance, if we could say in our home
language what the expression of a radically different language means, we could
eliminate (assuming that our own language is strong enough) the
underdeterminacy of its translation in our home language. Tbe role of the
assumption of the universality of language in Quine nevertheless has not been
studied systematically, in spite of its overwhelming importance for bis thought
and in spite of bis consistent adherence to the assumption. Among bis
hundreds of logic papers not a single one is devoted to model theory. What

is more, qua philosopher of science Ouine has consistently eschewed

probability theory, undoubtedly because its semantics is but a variant of
possible-worlds semantics.
Other manifestatioDS of the idea of the ineffability of semantics in recent
philosophy 1arge1y remain to be studied. For instance, is the idea
(represented, e.g., by lerry Fodor) that the light form of semantical theory is'
a translation method to a -language of thought- a reection of a belief in the
ineffability of semantics?Z2 Or is Heidegger's famous CODStruai of truth as
Unverborgenheit merely a poetic dramatization of the Iiteral ineffability of
truth?2S Answers to many such qUestiODS will have to wait lor detailed further
As was mentioned, aII model theory presupposed that we can vary the
representational relationships between a language and reality -- and
presupposes when pursued as a systematic theoretical enterprise, that such
variation can be discussed in language. In brief, aII model theory presupposes
the thesis of language as calcu1us. Abrief discussion of the genesis of model- '
theoretical way of thinking iIluminates the very ideas of the ineffability of
semantics and the ineffability of truth. At the same time, it shows how
technicallooking developments in logic can be harbiDgers of deep changes in
the general way of thinking in a philosophical tradition. In the fOundatiODS of
logic and mathematics, the gradual development of logical model theory in the
course of the. twentieth century accordingly means a slow transition &om the
view of language as the universal medium to the view of language as calculus.3t
Or in a somewhat different perspective, it means a victory for a tradition
which has emphasized logic as calcu1us over a tradition which has believed in
the universality of language and its logic. The representatives of the former
include Peirce, Schrder, Lwenheim, Gdel and Tarski;25 of the latter, Frege,
Russen (by and large), Wittgenstein and Ouine. Hilbert was clearlyan early
exponent of the free interpretability of mathematical axiom systems, as every
reader of his Foundations 0/ GeometTy lenows.26 (No wonder that Hilbert's
work prompted Frege's ire.) However, Hilbert's position vis-i-vis the contrast
has been overshadowed by his later formalistic approach to the entire
foundations of mathematics.
In spite of the efforts of lean van Heijenoort, Peter Hylton and Warren
Goldfarb, this development largely remains to bc investigated. There is
nevertheless no doubt of its reality and significance. It marks one of the most
important aspects of the history of twentieth-century logic and its philosophy.
Here I cannot study this development adequately as a historical
phenomenon. It is nevertheless of some interest to see what it must involve
as a systematic transition and how some of those systematic aspects of the
change are reected in the historical material.
One of the consequences of the universality of language noted earlier is
the uniqueness of its one and only interpretation. From this it fonows that

one of the steps that had to be taken was the development of the idea of
mode~ that is to say, of different interpretations of the nonlogical primitives
of a theory. This idea was not complctcly new, however, for mathematicians
knew it, for instance, from the foundations of geomctry whcrc the consistency
of a non-Euclidean geometry could be demonstrated by modelling it within a
Euclidean universe. Many philosophers and logicians nevertheless eschewed
the general idea of model for a long time. Yet the c:rucial significance of this
concept is seen from the role it ptays in many of the Most fundamental meta-
theoretical results in twentieth-century logic. Without the concept of mode~
the concepts of satisfiability and validity cannot be defmed, and without the
concept of validity the completeness of a logical system cannot be defmed.
Thus such results as the completeness of first-order logic, the incompleteness
of elementary arithmetic, the (downwards) Skolem-Lowenheim theorem, etc.,
not only cannot be proved without the concept of model; they cannot even be
formulated without adopting the idea of language as calculus.
Perhaps the most general and most c:rucial concept that could come into
its own only through the development of a model-theoretical viewpoint is the
concept of logical truth. It is no exaggeration to say that, for Frege and carly
Russe~ logical truth was not conceptually different from truth simpliciter.
They were not two concepts but varieties of one. Even logical truths were
truths about this world, the only world our language can speak about, albc;it
about its Most general and abstract features. As Russell once put it:27

Logic: ja c:onccmcd with tbe real world just .. zooIo&y, tbougb witb its more general
and abstract features.

From this idea there is a long way to the present-day idea of logical truth as
truth on all possible interpretations, which turns logical truth from a variety
of truth into categorically different notion.
It is an amusing bistorical illustration of this c:rucial role of semantical
concepts in twentieth-century logic that Gdel fust discovered incompleteness
in the form of the impossibility of detining arithmetical truth in elementary
arithmetic.2I Only because such semantical concepts as truth were ostracized
by the Vienna Circle at the time, did Gdel reformulate bis result as a
theorem concerning the incompleteness of formal systems.
In gener~ the development of the concept of model and the emergence
of the notion of truth have gone largely hand in hand in our century. Not
surprisingly, the main breakthrough of model-theoretical ideas was Tarski's
famous monograph on the concept of truth.2.9 H anyone ever assumed truth
to be expressible, it was Tarski, although he was at the same time also most
keenly aware of the limits of that expressibility.
However, several further developments of the model idea took place only
tater, and in part are evolving only now. Fust, logicians began to consider

several different models of the same sentences together, in their relation to

each other. That meant the genesis of the semantics of modallogics.30 Then
the models different from the actual world were no longer viewed merely as
helpful auxiliary constructions within our one and only actua1 world, and
gained their indepcndence as realistic alternatives to the one model among
many that, from a consistently model-theoretical viewpoint, the actual world
has to be thought of as being. Tbis meant the birth of possible-worlds
semantics, for in it the meanings of nonlogical constants are explicated by
means of the functions that determine their extensions in those other worlds,ll
At this same time, those other worlds have grown increasingly unlike the
real one. They may now be populated by denizens partly or wholly different
from the inhabitants of our familiar home world, and some of the fancier
worlds many even change when we explore them, as Rantala's um models are
allowed to
Some logicians and philosophers have even played with the idea of letting
the interpretation of logical constants vary from world to world in certain
ways.'J3 In the form this idea has been carried out, it is mistaken, however, I
fear, for the meaning of logical constants are often constituted precisely by the
way they are interpreted in each world However, a different possibility of
variation offers spectacular opportunities. What can be varied is the entire
relationship between a set of sentences, for instance, a nonlogical axiom
system to its models. Tbis can be done, not by varying the rules (truth-
conditions) for logical partic1es, but by imposing additional holistic restraints
on models tout court.54 This idea, which seems to be new in the literature,
promises in fact extremely interesting insights into the foundations of logic and
mathematics. (Cf. below, sec. 17.)
But even the interpretations of particuJar logical constants can in a sense
be varied. Take for instance the quantifiers -every" and -some,- in their
plainest fmt-order (singular) use. For Frege and for Quine, there is ooly one
value-range for such quantifiers, viz., all the actually cxisting individuals
(whatever they are or may be). As Quine once put it, the answer to the
question -Wbat is there?- is very simply: -Everything.tOl5 A believer in
language and logic as calculus cannot share this answer, however, for him or
her the force of -everything" is always relative to some particuJar specification
of the ranges of bound variables.
There is a further subtlety about the notion of quantifier, however,
different from the mere relativity to a freely chosen domain.36 For Frege, the
notion of existence as expressed by the existential quantifier was a second-
order predicate. As such, it was an abstract entity which either applied or
failed to apply to each first-order predicate in virtue of the interrelations of
these etemal and immutable abstract entities. What remains hidden by this
way of looking at the logic of quantifiers is that nested quantifiers of different
sorts (existential w. universal) must be ~ought of as involving a choice of

individuals that may depend on earlier choices. For instance, in a sentence of

the form:
(1) (Vx) ( 3y) ( '*) ( 3u) M(x.y,z.u)

the choice of the value of "y" depends on the value of "X" and the choice of "u"
depends on the values of"~ and "z." Moreover, the "cash value" (operational
value) of a quantified proposition like (1) for a mathematician is precisely the
possibility of such dependent choices. A Fregean believer in the universality
of language and its logic must nevertheless look away from the idea of such
choices as a mere misleading illustration of the true immutable relations
between concepts, perhaps in the same spirit as Plato's criticism of all the talk
of "constructions" in geometry. To put the same point in different terms, a
Fregean must think of the "choices" in question as having been carried out
by logicians' omniscient god, not made by us humans.
If one gives up the "one interpretation" assumption wbich Frege makes,
however, the idea that the meaning of quantifiers depends on predetennined
selections becomes highly dubious. For one thing, when formula like (1) is
reinterpreted so as to apply to another universe of discourse, even if its truth-
value does not change, it may happen that the functions that determine the
verifying selections of individuals (depending on earlier selections) may have
to be chosen differently. Does this entail that the meaning of these quantifiers
changes? Hardly. Tbus from a model-theoretical viewpoint one has to think
of a sentence like (1) as asserting the existence of choice functions of a certain
kind, instead of relying on predetermined selection of such functions. In other
words, the meaning of (1) will be captured by a bigher-order sentence like the
(2) (3f)( 3g)( Vx)( 'Vz) M(x,f(x),z.g(J,Z.

But to adopt this way of looking at the semantics of quantifiers is to adopt

what I have cal1ed game-theoretical semantics of quantified propositions.37
Game-theoretical semantics is thus a virtually inevitable outgrowth of the
general model-theoretical way of thinking, and an important part of its
Here we can also see how the meaning of (fIrst-order) quantifiers can
legitimately and interestingly be altered. This can happen by extending to
bigher-order quantiflers the basic model-theoretical idea of varying their
range. Tbe meaning of the fust-order quantiflers in (1) can be varied by
varying the ranges of the function quantifiers ( 3t), (3g) in (2) so as to
comprise only a subset of all extensionally possible functions. This step is an
instance of a transition to what has since Henkin been DOwn as nonstandard
interpretations of bigher-order quantifiers.3I Henkin's idea of a nonstandard

interpretation of higher-order logic is thus but another facct of the

development of model-theoretical way of thinlring
Against thc backdrop of these systcmatic observations, it is not surprising
to find that a generalization of the step from (1) to (2) figured in the original
proof of the first major model-theoretical result in twentieth-ccntury logic,
Lowenheim's-Skolem theorem." Subsequcntly, logicians gencraIly tried to
avoid higher-order notions. But a variant of the higher-order translation
(iUustrated by thc cquivalencc (2) and (1 was rcvived later by Gdel as the
leadiDg idea of bis so-callcd functional intcrpretation of rlfSt-order logic and
arithmctic.40 I first fOUDd the motivation of Gdel's idea UDfathomable, UDtil
I realized that it was little more than the codification of one possible game-
theoretical treatment of rU"St-order logic and arithmetic - and as such merely
an application of the model-theoretical (-logic as calculus-) way of thiDkiDg to
dependent quantifiers. This application is scarccly surprising in view of the
fact that the breakthrough of the entire model-theoretic Denkweise was to a
coDSiderable extent due to Gdel himself. .
Tbe consequences of viewiDg quantifiers from a model-theoretical vantage
point - and thc importancc of doing so - are illustrated further by the
followiDg observation. In a game-theoretical approach, among the safest
assumptions one can make in logic are equivalenccs one can set up between
a sentencc and its higher-order translation. Tbe following is a case in point:
(3) (VxX 3y)R(x. y] .. (3f)( Vx)R(x,f(x)]

This equivalenee ought to be UDobjectionable for a constructivist. He or she

would of course restrict the values of the function variable as the right-hand
side of (3) to constructive functions (in some sense or other). This does not
make any differencc, however, for a consistent constructivist should interpret
also the dependent quantifier on the left side of (3) equaIly coDStructivistica1ly.
Tben the restriction on the range of( 3f)- on the right band side of (3) will
merely spell out what precisely this restriction is. It will not invalidate (3).
But (3) is a form of the axiom of choicc. Hencc the coDStructivists (e.g.,
intuitionists) who have objected to the axiom of choicc are guilty of simple
inconsistency.41 In effect, they have interpreted their function variable .
constructionisticalJy, but have failed to re-interpret their quantifiers in the
same way. They have UDwittingly accepted apart of the classical idea of a
Tbe development of a model-thcoretical way of thinking Dcvcrtheless did
not affect only the development of logic. Just because Frege-Russclliogic
has played a crucial role in the philosophical thought of our ccntury, cbanges
in philosophers' CODCCptioD of logic frequently means also changing their
philosophical problem situation.

Among such changes in philosophical problem situation brought about by

the devclopment of the model-theoretical viewpoint, there is the following:
Sincc for a philosopher like Russell there was only one legitimate range of
first-order quantifiers, viz., all that there actually is, and sincc that
interpretation c:annot be changed, it bec:ame a auciaUy important problem to
find a dass of basic: individuals to filI that bill. This led Russen to his idea of
the objects of ac:quaintancc, out of which everything eise should be c:onstructed
logic:ally.42 Wbat is interesting here is that the problem Russen's idea was
calc:u1ated to solve was an unavoidable consequencc of his adoption of the idea
of language as calc:ulus applied to the kind of first-order language he and
(before him) Frege bad devcloped. For the same reason, Wittgenstein bad to
wrestle in the Tractatus with his problem of the simple objec:ts. And the
same problem situation, I believe, is what underlies Qume's problem of the
inscrutability of referencc.
As soon as a full-fledged model-theoretical way of looking at our
languages, induding the familiar first-order language which so many
philosophers havc thought of as logiclan's home language, the grand problem
of Russen's and Wittgenstein's vanishes at a stroke. Tbe meaningfulness of
our quantific:ational idiom does not depend on there existing a fixed dass of
-urindividuals.- It is not a task of the philosophers of logic: to fmd such a
univcrse of logical atoms. We c:an (If language is like a reinterpretable
calc:ulus) specify the range of our quantifiers ad hoc for each partic:ular
applic:ation of our fust-order languages. Nor must the values of quantifiers be
unanalyzable simples. Tbus in sense we c:annot any longer share some of
the most important problems of early Russen and early Wittgenstein.

111. Is Semantics Really Ineffable?

Tbe most interesting part of the title of this paper is nevertheless the question
mark. Is language to be c:onccived of as an inesc:apable medium of all
knowledge and all c:ommumc:ation or as a re-interpretable calc:u1us? One's
fust impulse here is to leavc the last word to the forces of history. There
exists by this time a vigorous and philosophic:ally relevant logical semantic:s
both for formal and natural languages, and logicians havc devcloped an
elaborate and again philosophic:ally relevant model theory, even though both
ought to havc been impossible on the view of language as the universal
medium. Few, if any, ac:tual examples of c:ross-linguistic: brealcdowns of
understanding have been produc:ed to backup the claims of c:u1tural and
linguistic: relativists. Tbe idea of metalanguage is a c:ommonplacc in the
logic:al ud philosophic:al study of language. Truth-definitions, at least for
limited formallanguages, are astapie of for a logical analyst of language, and
some philosophers havc even tried to make a systematic: study of truth-

conditions the comerstone of a meaning theory. Can there be more telling

evidence to show that truth is indeed expressible and that language should
indeed be thought of as caleulus?
Its rigid adherence to the view of language as the universal medium and
the ineffability of truth is indeed in my view amistake. If a pragmatie proof
is required, in my undoubtedly biased opinion the bistory of both
mathematical and philosophical logie amply demonstrates the need and
usefulness of a model-theoretical viewpoint.
Tbe advantages offered by this viewpoint in a systematie logical theory
are obvious, and are reected in the earlier section dealing with the
development of the model-theoretical viewpoint. But in philosophically
oriented studies, too, the same viewpoint is enormously useful, even though
its virtues have not been recognized as widely as in more technical and
mathematical studies. From a consistendy semantical viewpoint, most of the
important problems conceming intentional contexts, de dicto vs. de Te
modalities, attributive vs. referential uses of noun phrases, substitutivity of
identity, indexicals, causal theory of reference, ete., were solved teo, fd'teeo, or
twenty years ago, and the messy literature on these subjects which is still
growing is but a reection of the sad backwardness of the large number of
analytic philosophers who are still prisoners of an antiquated syntactical way
of thinking. In brief, their problems are stricdy self-inOicted.
Another exercise in futility is Wittgenstein's later philosophy of
mathematics, whieh is to a considerable extent nothing but a denial of
metalanguages, metamathematics, metalogic, and model theory writ large and
developed ad nauseam.43
It would nevertheless be amistake to dismiss either my title question or
the more general choice between viewing language at the universal medium
and viewing it as a calculus because of the excesses of the extreme forms of
the ineffability of semantics and of truth. Tbere is an interesting gist to these
views. Why did they look so plausible? Tbe explanation I gave above was
that we cannot try to say something in a language L about the meanings of the
expressions of L, we are bound to end up with nonsense or tautology, for in
that very attempt we are already presupposing the meaning relations between
L and reality. But saying tbis is subject to an important objection. In a way,
this argument is viciously ambiguous. Applied to some particular expression
E 1 it says that we cannot express the meaning of ~ by means of some other
expression ~ of the same language L, because in ~ we must already assume
-- what? Do we have to assume in ~ the meanings of the constituent
expressions of Eu or the meanings of those ingredients out of which the
meaning of ~ is to be composed? What is triviay true is the latter claim.
But this reading does not suffice to buttress the vaunted ineffability of
semantics. It does not imply that the meaning of ~ cannot be specified by
means of another expression ~ of the same language. What follows is merely

that the meanings of all expressions of L cannot be specified in L in one fell

swoop without already presupposing the meanings of some expressions of L.
But that does not even me80 that there are 80y particular expressions in L
whose truth cannot somehow be explained by other means of expression
provided by L. What it implies is that this cannot be done for alI expressions
of L at once. It does not make meanings inexpressible piecemeal, only
wholesale. It does not entail that the sem80tics of a given language is
inevitably ineffable in that language. At most, it entails that sem80tics is
inexhaustible, not that it is ineftable.
Tbose same observations apply to the alleged ineffability of truth a
fortiori. For instance, when Wittgenstein (cf. above) speaks of -the
impossibility of describing the fact that corresponds to a sentence...without
repeating Ihm very sentence- (emphasis added) he is asserting something he
has not proved 80d cannot prove. All that he can assert is that one cannot
describe the verifying fact without using some sentence or other we are
familiar with. What follows is not a thesis claiming that language is
sem80tically limitless (i.e., inexhaustible).
Tbe true gist in the claim that truth is ineffable thus seems to be the
thesis that the general concept of truth cannot be defmed in a language for
that language, 80d 8Oalogausly the view of the inexpressibility of semantics will
have to be weakened to claim that the semantics of a given language cannat
be defmed in that l80guage itself. In this form, these two claims have a great
deal to recommend them. Tbe first thesis -- undefmability of the notion of
truth for a given l80guage L in L itself -- is in the case of explicit formal
languages essentially a well-known result usually attributed to Tarski (but cf.
below), and can thus be considered as proven.44
Furthermore. Tarski's result is not the only one which illustrates the
inexhaustibility of sem8Otics. Why, for instance, should it be impossible to
defme the concept of truth for naturallanguage by reconstructing in a suitable
framework offered by Montague semantics or some similar possible-worlds
framework? Because that kind of framework is in totally satisfactory only if
the possible worIds in question comprise all conceptually (logically) possible
worIds. But the collection of all such worlds is not a well-formed totality, for
it surely is logically possible that there should exist more individuals th80 in
the sum of individuals existing in the members of any collection of worlds.
Hence the totality of logically possible worlds makes no sense. Since such a
totality would be needed if (say) Montague semantics were a universally
applicable framework of meaning analysis. Hence a possible-worlds semantics
cannot be exhaustive.45
This line of thought is in fact related to Wittgenstein's idea of the limits
of language in the Tractatus. For these limits were there constituted by the
totality of actually existing individuals. Their ineIJability were construed by
Wittgenstein as a reason to claim that we have to treat actually existing

individuals as if they were each of them necessarilyexistent and as if they were

collectivelyexhaustive (and unnecessarily so). Thus Wittgenstein was able to
escape the threatening inexhaustibility. Montague in fact tries a similar gambit
(the assumption of a fixed set of possible individuals), but he does not have
the same theoretical reason for this assumption as Wittgenstein has for his.
Hence bis procedure can only be considered arbitrary in adamaging sense.
Hence the answer to my initial question is: No, truth is not ineffable,
notwithstanding the noble experiments of Frege, early Russell, Wittgenstein,
Quine and others. What these philosophers saw, however dimly, was a
different insight, viz., the inexhaustibility of semantics and the undefmability
of truth for a language in that language itself. In brief, truth is not ineffable,
but it is undefmable, except by transcending the language for which it has to
be defined.
One reason why tbis tentative result is important is that it justifies us in
reaping the harvest of the developments mentioned above, such as the
development of logical and Iinguistic semantics, the development of model
theory, including a model theory for modallogics and propositional attitudes,
etc. For there is nothing in the inexhaustibility of semantics which prevents
anyone from buiIding a satisfactory truth-conditional semantics for some
particular part of one's language, whether formal or natural.
It is even turning out that the apparent inexhaustibility of truth can be
overcome to a greater extent than is generaIly assumed, see my forthcoming
paper, -"I'ruth Defmed:

IV. Universality of Language and the

Problem of Realism

In order to gain a fIrmer grasp of our results, we can try to relate them to an
important philosophical issue, the problem of realism vs. idealism. At fust
sight, there nevertheless does not appear to be much hope of buiIding a bridge
to the problem of realism from the paradigmatic dilemma of language as
calculus vs. language as the universal medium. It may be tempting to caII the
view of the universality of language "semantical idealism," particularly when it
leads to the idea of one's not being able to anticipate rationaIly what the
semantics of a radicalIy different language is Iike. It is also Iikely to be true
that the ideas of the universality of Ianguage and of the ineffability of
semantics are historically speaking descendants from Kantian idealism.*
However, they are semantical theses, not metaphysical or epistemological
ones. They may perhaps be said to imply that we are semantically speaking
prisoners of our OWD language, but they do not imply that we are
metaphysicalIy or epistemologically speaking separated from the reality or
unable to reach it. Thus even a full-fledged form of belief in language as the

universal medium does not forcc upon us a belief in metaphysical or

epistemological idealism. If historical evidencc is needed, several of the
philosophers I have discussed as representatives of the ineffability of semantics
-- Frege, early Russell, early Wittgenstein, Vienna eircle in 1930-34, Quine
-- were all realists with respect to the actua1 mind-independent existencc of
the world and with respect to our being able to obtain objective knowledge
about reality. There have been few philosophers who have emphasized more
strongly the mind-independent existencc of the objects of mathematics than
Frege, and few philosophers who have staked more on immediate knowledge
of mind-independent objects "knowiedge by acquaintancc" than the Russell of
1905-1915 and the early Wittgenstein. In the light of historical evidencc, it
thus appears perfectly possible to combine a realistic metaphysics and
epistemology with a belief in language as the universal medium.
It is nevertheless clear that this historical eYidencc, however eloquent,
does not close the issue. Actual historical figures can be mistaken in their
views, and their doctrines can be based on assumptions which remain to be
made explicit. It is indeed llnmistakable that the idea of 1anguage as the
universal medium does have apparently idealistic implications. It leads to the
view that we can see the reality only through a glass darkly or, more literally
expressed, that we can speak of the reality only through a jargon darkly. Isn't
this a distinct1y anti-realistic conclusion? Its idealistic implications are
reinforc:ed by noting that the medium by means of which we have to express
ourselves is man-made. 9n the view which I share with the later Wittgenstein,
it consists essentially of ccrtain human activities, the famous (or infamous)
language-games. Furthermore, the language-games which lend the logical
core of our fact-stating languages are unmistakably language-games of
verification and falsification. (This idea bas been spelled out and vindicated
in a large scale in game-theoretical semantics.)47 This suggests strongly that
the view of language as the universal medium does indeed lead to aversion
of idealism (anti-realism) which is not only analogous with Kant's idea of the
unknowability of things in themselves but virtually equivalent with "it.
Elsewhere I have in fact shown how an attempt to represent our knowledge
by means of logicians' beloved first-order languages inevitably leads to ccrtain
distortions or resonanccs (i.e., presencc of only apparently possible alternatives
conccrning the world) which "color" wbat we are trying to say about the
How, then, can any true believer in language as the universal medium
escape the clutches of idealism? Two answers to this rhetorical question are
possible. FlI'st, it is important to note that what follows &om the universality
of language is merely that we can have linguistic acc:ess to the world only via
our one and only language. We can describe the world only through the
"glass" of this language. But whether or not this cOrollary leads to idealistic
conclusions depends on whether the inevitable role of 1anguage as an

intermcdiary distorts or goes beyond or otherwise colors wbat we are saying.

U it does not, there is no need to try to eliminate the contributions of our
language to the representation of the world, for there is then by assumption
no such contnution to be eliminated, and the claim of transcendental idealists
that our OWD contnutions to our descriptions cannot be eliminated (i.e., that
we cannot say how things are considered in themselves, that is, independently
of our language) is vacuous. Maybe we see the world only through a glass,
but it faJse to allege that we see reality through a glass darldy if this glass
itself is crystal clear and does not distort or hide anything.
Now Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle maintained a thesis which
amounts precisely to the transparent clarity of our language in its role as an
intermediary between ourselves and the world. It is their thesis of the
tautological nature of logic.49 Language with its logical operating principles
does not distort reality, for it does not contribute anything to our description
of reality. Coming to know the logic of our language more fulIy is not needed
to help one to describe the world more faithfully, except ~ the secondary
sense of getting rid of merely subjective, psychological obstacles to
Tbus it can be seen that the thesis of the tautological character of logical
truths was for Wittgenstein and the VieDDa Circle not merely an excursion
into the philosophy of logic. It determined their overall stance with respect
to the realism-idealism contrast.
Or, strictly speaking, I should say: their attempted stance, for a closer
examination of the issues shows that the thesis of the tautological charaaer
of logic cannot be upheld. Logic does contribute to the way we describe
reality, and its effects cannot be eliminated from language once and for alle
Tbe result is that Kantian idealism cannot be exorcised from the philosophy
of logic by means of the tautologicity thesis.50
Other philosophers in the same tradition have tried to escape the idealistic
conclusions of their own views in other ways. One way is to claim,
metaphysically speaking, that the glass pane of language is transparent, but has
been itself written on. Tbat "writing" can, according to this view, be separated
from the reality behind the pane. It constitutes an independent Platonic
reality which we can describe and study and separate from the nonlinguistic
reality it can help us to speak of. However, the study of logic does not make
a difference to the role oflanguage as the medium of world description. This
is, roughly, the option chosen by Platonistic logicians Iike Frege and early
Russell. It faUs for reasons similar to the reasons for the failure of the
tautologicity thesis.
Tbc second answer to the question as to how a believer in the thesis of
language as the universal medium can escape from idealist condusions is to
point to the need of weakening the thesis to assert merely the linguistic
inexhaustibility of semantics, not its ineffabllity. U the inexhaustibility thesis

is adopted, there is not longer any need to draw idealistic conclusions.

Admittedly, the semantica1 situation is still analogous to seeing through the
glass of language darkly. However, there is not any longer any reason to think
that any one particular feature of reality is hidden by the darkness of the glass.
Rather, the point is that the medium we have to use in order to reach reality
contributes its share to what we see, and that this contribution is not initially
separable from the contributions of the real things at the other side of the
glass. However, we the language-users can eliminate more and more of these
distortions which our own idiom causes. In fact, that is precisely what proving
particular 10gica1 theorems accomplishes. At any one stage of our knowledge
of logic, we still see- the reality oo1y through a distorting medium, but those
distortions can be gradually eliminated by our increasing knowledge of the
logic of our own language. Indeed, for philosophers' paradigmatic languages,
applied fIrst-order languages, one can show that each particular distortion will
eventually be eliminated. This is what the semantica1 (deductlve)
completeness of first-order logic amounts to in terms of my analogue between
language and a distorting medium.51 Accordingly, eventually each particular
feature of the world out there can be seen (to continue myanalogy) as it is
considered in itself, without reference to the distorting effects of our language.
We do not have in general any mechanica1 way of ascertaining when we have
reached this paradisic state of affairs, but we know that we can in each
particular case do so.
This means of course that all arguments for metaphysica1 anti-realism go
by the board. Reality is not separated from us by an impenetrable iron
curtain, whether this curtain is supposed to be constituted by perception, as
in Kant, or by our language, as in linguistic relativism.
This result, however, opens the door for the next move by a resourceful
anti-realist. My realistic observations were based on the completeness of fll'st-
order logic. But fll'st-order languages, their popularity notwithstanding, are
not the oo1y ones that a philosopher must keep an eye on. Indeed I have
argued myself that they are too elementary to serve as realistic models of
natural languages, let alone the language of science.52 And when we go
beyond fll'st-order languages, completeness oflogica1 systems gets quickly lost.
As soon as one's language contains a modicum of elementary arithmetic, its
logic is incomplete, Gdel's incompleteness theorem says. And that
incompleteness once again seems to bring back the threat of idealism with
vengeance. How can we hope to claim that our language does not distort
reality and prevent us from reaching it, if the propositions (e.g., axiom
systems) attempting to describe the world inevitably have unintended
nonstandard models? Even when my proposition is actually true, I don't know
what I am talking about, for I don't know whether the reality exemplifies the
standard model or one of the nonstandard models of my proposition. What
can be a more blatantly anti-realistic result? In fact, Hilary Putnam argued

at one time against realism preclsely by reference to the kind of

incompleteness which makes it impossaole for us to ruIe out nODStandard
models of our theorles of
The problem I am now facing is in fact dosely related to my tide question.
I asked initially: Is truth ineffable? Now I am faced with the question: Are
there inefl'able truths? And, indeed, there might in fact seem to be ineft'able
trutbs at least in the sense of unprovable trutbs.
Yet the attempt to use Gdelian incompletencss as a re8SOn for Hnguistic
anti-realism (idealistic) is a colossal mistake. It is based on a serlous
misunderstanding of Gdel's incompletencss theorem. In order to see the
situation correctly, we have to distinguish different kinds of completeness and
incompleteness from each other. We have to keep apart what might be called
(i) descriptive, () semantical, and (ili) deductive completencss.

(i) Descriptive completeness is an attnoute of a noological axiom

system T. It means that the models of T comprlse all lind on~
intended models, i.e., that T is sound and is able to rule out all
-nonstandard- (unintended) models.
() Semantic completencss is an attnoute ofaxiomatizations of logic.
Such an axiomatization is complete if and only if the axiomatization
enumerates recursively all (and only) valid formulas, i.e., formulas
true on every interpretation.
(i) Deductive completeness is an attnoute of an axiomatization of a
noological axiom system. It presupposes that this noological axiom
system is combined with an axiomatization of logic. A noological
axiom system T is deductively complete if and onIy if from it one can
derlve (by means of the logical axioms and roles of inference) either
C or < for each sentence einthe language of the theory.

The prevalent tendenCf not to distinguish these senses of completeness

from each other is undoubtedly a hangover from the Fregean fallure to
distinguish Iogical truth and material truth from each other. The distinction
is nevertheless crucial. Gdel proved elementary aritbmetic incomplete in the
sense (i), i.e., in the sense of deductive incompleteness. However, deductive
completeness can fall either because the noological theory is descriptively
incomplete or because the underlying logic is semantically incomplete.
Gdel's resolt does not as such say which of these happens, although in fact
he didassume that the logic he was using was first-order logic which he bad
himself proved complete.
Now we can change the concept of model which is presupposed both in
(i) and in (h) so as to alter the balance between descriptive and semantical
completeness. By imposing stricter requirements on models we reduce the
number of models, usually therefore also the number of nonstandard models.

This makes descriptive completeness easier to acmeve. However, the number

of formulas true in aIl (remaining) models groWl, and hence is apt to make
semantical completeness harder to reach. Thus a tradeoff is possible here.
We can hope to acmeve the kind of descriptive completeness which Gdel's
incompleteness result was mistakenly thought of as ruling out proYided that
we are willing to give up the semantical completeness of the underlying logic.
Elsewhere, I have shown how to reach desaiptive completeness for
important mathematical theories, albeit at the ineYitable cost of the semantical
completeness of the underlying logic. I have also argued that this is how we
ought to Yiew the foundations of mathematical theories.56
This opens interesting Yistas, for it is only the descriptive incompleteness
that would have nonrealistic consequences. Only descriptive incompleteness
would enable a philosopher to argue that we cannot reach rea1ity by means of
our concepts codified in our language such as this rea1ity is, unsullied by aIl
confounding nonstandard models which cannot be told apart from the
intended rea1ity. Since descriptive incompleteness can be eliminated, idealists
cannot find any aid or comfort in my conclusioDS.
But doesn't the resulting inevitable semantical incompJeteness of thc
underlying logic change thc situation? I don't sec that it does. Admittcdly,
before the logical consequences of a nonlogical theory T are speUed out,
theory T does not yet reach out fully to things in themselves, independent of
such by-products of our language as mereJy apparent possibilities conceming
the world. But these consequences have to be obtained one by one no matter
whether the Jogic is completely axiomatizable or not. What is aucial, in
neither case is there any absolute limit which cannot be transgressed. It may
be that our conceptual system and the language in which it is codified distort
what we say of reality by means of this Janguage. However, therc is no limit
beyond which these distortions cannot be eliminatcd. The only differencc is
that when the underlying logic is compJeteJy axiomatizable, the progressive
elimination of the distorting effects of our language can be accomplished by
a mechanical enumeration, whereas in'the absence of complete axiomatization
this gradual elimination depends on logician's ingenuity in coming up with new
principles. This makes an important differencc to the philosophy of
mathematics, but not to the realism-idealism contrast.

Acknowledgements: Work on this paper was made possible by NSF Grant

IST 8310936 (Information Sciencc and Technology). An earlier form of this
paper appeared in Lu Formes ActueUes du V1IIi: Entretiens de Palermo
1985, no cd. indicated (palermo: Enchiridion, 1989): 89-120.


1. Cf. R.G. Collingwood, Essays on Metaphysics (Oxford: Clarendon

Press, 1940), pp. 21-48 andpassim.
2. This contrast was introduced into recent discussion by Jean van
Heijenoort in his paper, "Logic as Language and Logic as Calculus: Synthese
17 (1967) 324-30. Because of its nature as an unspoken presupposition, the
contrast has not received much conscious attention. Perhaps the most
extended discussions of the distinction are Chapter 1 of Merrill B. Hintikka
and Jaakko Hintikka, Investigating Wittgenstein (Oxford: Basil Blackwell,
1986); and Jaakko Hintikka, "On the Development of the Model-Theoretical
Tradition in Logical Theory: Synthese (forthcoming). Recently, the role of
the contrast in the phenomenological-hermeneutica1 tradition has also begun
to be recognized; see Martin Kusch, Sign vs. Picture (forlhcoming), Martin
Kusch, Language Is the Universal Medium: Gadomers Philosophy 0/
Language (Oulu: Oulun yliopiston historian laitos, 1987); and Martin Kusch,
"Husserl and Heidegger on Meaning," forthcoming.
3. Cf. R.G. Collingwood, pp. 23-33;Autobiography (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1939), pp. 29-43.
4. See van Heijenoort, pp. 324-30.
5. See Peter Hylton, "Russell's Substitutional Theory: Synthese 45 (1980):
6. See Hintikka and Hintikka, chap. 1.
7. Cf. Jaakko Hintikka, "Ludwig's Apple Tree: Evidence Concerning the
Philosophical Relations of Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle" (forthcoming).
8. Cf. my contribution to the 1988 Symposium on W.V. Ouine (St. Louis),
9. On the development of the model-theoretica1 ("Ianguage as ca1culus")
tradition, see Jaakko Hintikka, "On the Development of the Model-Theoretical
Tradition in Logical Theory," and Warren Goldfarb, "Logic in the Twenties:
the Nature of the Ouantifier,"loumal 0/ Symbolic Logic 44 (1979): 351-68.
10. Cf. here van Heijenoort, pp. 324-30.
11. MS no. 109 (von Wright), p. 196.
12. Tbe quote is from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (Oxford:
Basil Blackwell, 1980), p. 10. I have modified Peter Winch's translation which
waters down Wittgenstein's point.
13. Gottlob Frege, "Logik," in Schriften zur Logik und Sprachphilosphie
(Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1971), P. 39.
14. Gottlob Frege, p. 35.
15. Cf. Hintikka and Hintikka, Chap. 1, sec. 5.
16. Cf. Hintikka and Hintikka, Chap. 4, sec. 9.
17. This assumption or its rejection may have important implications for
the prospects of developing formal systems of a1ethic modallogic in the first
place. See here laakko Hintikka, "Is Alethic Modal Logic Possible?" Acta
Philosophica Fennica 35 (1982): 89-105.
18. Cf. laakko Hintikka, "'150' Semantical Games and Semantical
Relativity: loumal 0/ Philosophical Logic 8 (1979): 433-68.

19. Hintikka and Hintikka, chap. 1.

20. Letter to Schlick, dated August 8, 1932. Cf. Jaakko Hintikka,
"Ludwig's Apple Tree," sec. 11.
21. Cf. especially W.V. Quinc, Word and Object (Cambridgc, MA: MIT
Press, 1960) and Ontological Rellllivity and Othe, Essays (NY: Columbia
University Press, 1969).
22. Cf. Jerry A. Fodor, The Language 01 Thought (NY: Thomas Y.
Crowell Co., 1975).
23. Sec, e.g., Martin Heidegger, Sein lUIIl Zeit, passim, and Unterwe&f
zur Spf'tIChe (GDther Ncske, 1959); and cf. Martin Kusch's book mentioned
in note 2 above.
24. Cf. Iaakko Hintikka, "On the Development ofthe Model-Theoretical
25. Interestingly, although Tarski used model-theoretical conceptuali-
zations freely in bis studies of the semantics of formallanguages including the
concept of truth, he bclieved that the semantics of our actuat ordinary
(colloquial) language is ineffable. See Alfrcd Tarski, Logic, Semantics,
Metamathematics (Oxford: Clarcndon Press, 1956), pp. 164-5.
26. Grundlagen der Geometrie, originally 1899, many subsequent editions.
27. Bertrand Russell, IntroductiOll to Mathematical Philosophy (London:
Allcn & Unwin, 1919), p. 169.
28. Cf. Kurt Gdel, ColIected Papen, Vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1986); lohn W. Dawson, Ir., "Tbc Reccption of Gdel's Incompletencss
Theorems," in PSA 1984, Vol. 2 (Bast Lansing, MI: Philosophy of Soence
Association, 1985).
29. Alfrcd Tarski, "Der Wahrheitsbegriff in den formalisierten Sprachen,"
Studia Philosophica 1 (1936): 261-405; includcd in English translation in
Tarski, Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics, pp. 152-278.
30. The earliest work in this diredion included Stig Kanger, Provability
in Logic (Stockholm; Almqvist and Wiksell, 1957), and Jaakko Hintikka,
"Quantifiers in Deontic Logic," Societas ScientiQ1Um Fennica,
CommentatiOllu HumanQlUm Litteranun, Vol. 23 (1958), No. 4. (Appearcd
in 1957.)
31. The most fully workcd-out version of posS1le-worlds semantics in
Montague semantics; see Richmond Thomason, cd., Fonnal Philosophy:
Selected Papers 01 RicIuud Montague (Ncw Haven: Yale University Press,
1974), and cf. Barbara H. Partee, cd., Montague Gnunmar (NY: Academic
Press, 1976).
32. Veikko Rantala, "Um Models: A New Kind of Non-Standard Model
for Fast-Order Logic," lournal 01 Philosophical Logic 4 (1975): 455-74. Cf.
also Jaakko Hintikka, "Impossible Possiblc Worlds Vmdicatcd," loumal 01
Philosophical Logic 4 (1975): 475-84.
33. This is, e.g., in effect what happens in the so-callcd relevance logie.
34. My work in this diredion is still in progress. For an indication of its
philosophical motivation, see, "Is Thcrc Comp1ctencss in Mathematics After
Gdel?" in Philosophical Topics 17 (1989): 69-90.

35. See W.V. Quine, "On What There Is," in From a Logical Point 0/
View (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953). Cf. Warren
Goldfarb, 351-68.
36. For the following, cf. also Jaakko Hintikka, "On the Development of
the Model-Tbeoretica1 Tradition."
37. See Jaakko Hintikka, The Game 0/ Lllnguage (Dordrecht: D. Reide~
1983); Jaakko Hintikka and Jack Kulas,Anaphora and Definite Descriptions:
Two Applications 0/ Game-Theoretical Semantics (Dordrecht: D. Reidel,
1985); Esa Saarmen, ed., Game-Theoretical Semantics (Dordrecht: D. Reide~
38. Leon Henkin, "Completeness in the Tbeory of Types," Joumal 0/
Symbolic Logic 15 (1950): 81-91. (For a correction, see Peter Andrews,
"General Models and Extensionality," Joumal 0/ Symbolic Logic 37 (1972):
395-97.) Cf. also Jaakko Hintikka, "Is Alethic Modal Logic Possible?" 89-105.
39. Cf. Jean van Heijenoort, ed., From Frege to Gdel: Source Book in
Mathematical Logic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967),
chapter on Lowenheim.
40. Kurt Gde~ "ber eine bisher noch nicht bentzte Erweiterung des
finiten Standpunktes," Logica: Studia Paul Bemays dedicata (Neuchatel:
Editions Griffon, 1959), pp. 76-83; in English in the JoumaJ 0/ Philosophical
Logic 9 (1980): 133-42.
41. Tbere are, however, other kinds of constructivistic interpretations of
elementary Iogic and arithmetic which make the axiom of choice false.
42. Bertrand Russell, "Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by
Desaiption," in Mysticism and Logic (London: Longmans, London, 1918).
Cf. 1aakko Hintikka, "Knowledge by Acquaintance," in BeTtrand RusselI: A
Collection 0/ Critical Essays, cd. David Pears (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday,
1972), pp. 52-79.
43. This judgment is undoubtedly too harsh for one can fmd in
Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics several ideas which could be
developed and related to developments in actual 10gica1 and foundational
theorizing. Cf. Jaakko Hintikka, "'Die Wende der Philosophie': Wittgenstein's
New Logic of 1928," Proceedin8S 0/ the 12th Intemational Wittgenstein
Symposium, eds. Ota Weinberger et al. (Wien: Hlder-Pichler-Tempsky,
1988): 380-396.
44. Alfred Tarski, "Der Wahrheitsbegriff," 261-405.
45. Cf. Jaakko Hintikka, "Is Alethic Modal Logic Possible?" 85-105.
46. a. Jaakko Hintikka, "Das Paradox transzendentaler Erkenntnis", in
Bedingungen der Mglichkeit: 'Transcendental Arguments' und
transzendentales Denken, eds. E. Schaper and W. Vossenkuhl (1984), pp. 123-
49; and "Wittgenstein's Semantical Kantianism," in Ethics: Proceedings 0/ the
Fifth Intemational Wittgenstein Symposium, eds. E. Morscher and R.
Stranzinger, (Vienna: Hlder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1981), pp. 375-90.
47. Tbe semantical games which give our sentences their meanings are
of the character of "games" of verification and falsification. a. note 37 above.
48. a. "Das Paradox," pp. 123-49, and "Information, Deduction, and the
APriori," Nous 4 (1970): pp. 135-52.

49. This was c:alIed ODe of the main thcscs of logical empiricism by GB.
von Wright in Den logislaI empirismen (Helsingfors, 1944). a. here laakko
Hintikka, G.H. von Wright on Logical Truth, in The Philosophy 0/ G. H. von
Wright, eds. P. A. Schilpp ud L. E. Hahn (La SalIe, IU.: Open Court, 1989):
SO. a. the worb referred to in notes 46 ud 49 above.
51. Opa eit.
52. a ..CIs,' Semutical Games and Semantical Relativity, 433-68, and
The Game 0/ Language.
53. Hilary Putnam, Models ud Reality, /oumaJ 0/Symbolic Logic Vol.
45 (1980): pp. 464-82.
54. a. note 34.




Wenn das Wenn im Wege nicht wre, what do you hope your favorite truth-
definition might accomplish? The following description of what looks like a
semanticist's paradise might:fill the bill:

(i) The truth-definition should apply to a language L which is a good

approximation to, perhaps a regimented fonn of, our actual language of
thinking, reasoning, and arguing. At the very least, L should be strong enough to
do all mathematics in.

() The truth-definition should be complete in the sense that as it applies to a

syntactical description of each well-fonned sentence S of L, giving a positive
answer always and only when S is true. (lt should define, so to speak, "the whole

(iii) The truth-definition should be fonnulated in L itself, not in some

metalanguage with a stronger and hence presumably more problematic
semantics. 1

(iv) The definition should in a straightforward sense tell us what it means for a
sentence to be true, rather than merely to define some abstract correspondence
relation between the sentence and a fact "out there". Ideally, the definition
should be a codification of the ways in which we actually verify and falsily
sentences. (lt should capture "nothing but the truth", one could say
In somewhat different words, the truth-conditions resulting from the truth-
definition should be non-trivial or infonnative.

(v) The definition should be independent of the particular model M (or, if you
want to avoid logicians' jargon, the particular scenario or ''possible world") in
which it is applied. It should associate, by a method that is independent of M to
each sentence ofL another one which expresses its truth-condition.

In order to illustrate this desideratum, it might be pointed out that even that
paragon of semantical virtue, Tarski's truth-definition, does not satisfy (V).2 For
it uses quantification over valuations, which in this context means valuation of
sentences and fonnulas relative to the given model. Likewise, the recent

approaches which operate by means of sequences of partial truth-definitions, fix

points, etc., are subject to the same criticism.s For the crucial sequences ofpartial
truth-definitions are all definitions pertaining to one and the same model of the
underlying language, in the sense that the domain and the interpretation of
predicates other than the truth predicate is fixed.
Before discussing the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question as to what extent
my wish list (i) - (v) can actually be satisfied, it may be in order to pause and to
examine for a moment our own aims. What is so desirable about these
desiderata? What would follow from (i) - (v) concerning actual philosophical
One partial way of seeing the relevance of (i) - (v) is to recall the extremely
strong, albeit partly tacit tradition or trend in philosophy (not only in the
philosophy of language) that maintains that semantics is ineffable, at least the
semantics of our actual working language.4 This tradition is represented by no
lesser figures than Frege, Wittgenstein, the Vienna Cirele of 1930-32, Quine and
Chureh, and similar views frequently rear their ugly heads elsewhere in
contemporary philosophical discussions. 5 And if semantics at large is
inexpressible, then the key concept of all semantics, the concept of truth, will a
{ortiori be ineffable, according to this tradition. Furthermore, we are not dealing
here with a sect of analytic philosophers, either. Martin Kusch has shown that a
similar view is one ofthe key ingredients ofHeidegger's philosophy.6 This entire
multiple tradition comes to a screeching halt if truth turns out to be definable
after all in a nontrivial way.
Moreover, if the language L figuring in (i) - (v) is a reasonable approximation
to our actual colloquial language, at least to the extent of serving as a true
Begriffsschrift in Frege's ambitious sense, one of the standard objections to the
philosophical signifi.cance of truth-definitions like Tarski's are removed. Often,
such skeptics appeal to the well-known result by Tarski, according to which one
can give (on certain assumptions) a truth-definition for a formallanguage only
in a richer language, and hence never in the language itself7 (cf. (iii. Sometimes
the doubting Alfreds and doubting Thomases echo also, or instead, Tarski's
claim that because of its universality colloquiallanguage is too protean to admit
a truth-definition that would not falter on paradoxes.8 Ifby some remote chance
(i) - (iii) could be satisfied, these objections would become inoperative.
A to the desideratum (i), it is a matter of historical fact that Carnap
abandoned what later became Language I of The Logic Syntax o{ Language as
his primary working language because Gdel and Hahn pointed out that it was
too weak for the purposes ofhonest-to-Gauss classical mathematics.
In a different direction, if the desideratum (iv) is satisfied, the criticisms
which constructivists like Dummett have leveled at truth-conditional semantics
lose much of their sting.9 More generally, the success of large-scale truth-

definitions formulated in our actual working language (cf. (i reduces the

plausibility of all attempts to use the results offormal semantics for anti-realistic
purposes. For it cannot be maintained any longer that these truth-definitions
concem only artificial formal languages, not truth in our actual working
Moreover, if all the desiderata above can be satisfied, the so-called coherence
theory of truth inevitably loses much of its point. For why should one bother to
try to capture the truth-condition of a sentence by means of its coherence with
others if one can say in one fell swoop in one's own language when it is true in an
informative way?
A great deal thus rides on the desiderata (i) - (v). Nevertheless most
philosophers are likely to have remained singularly unaffected by my emphasis
on the virtues of a perfect truth-definition. Such a definition, they think, would
be too good to be true, to self-apply a metaphor.
The skeptics are nevertheless wrong. The first main purpose of this paper is to
point out that a truth-definition satisfying (i) - (v) is indeed possible. In fact,
they can be satisfied in a most natural and straightforward way. The main
reason why this result is apriori surprising is that any unrestricted conception
oftruth, and hence a generally applicable truth-definition, is thought to falter on
the well-known liar-type paradoxes which also lie at the bottom of Tarski's
famous impossibility result (see Tarski, "The Concept of Truth", in Tarski
(1956. As you undoubtedly know, Tarski's result is calculated to show, on
certain plausible-looking conditions, that one can define truth for a given
language only in a stronger metalanguage. Hence we are led to examine how the
paradoxes are avoided in my treatment. This examination in turn leads us to
study the behavior of negation in formal and naturallanguages, with interesting
The only snake in this semanticists' Eden is that there turns out to be a
considerable tension between the requirements (iii) and (iv). I shall nevertheless
argue that, rightly understood, these two desiderata are not incompatible.
Moreover, the nature of this tension throws interesting light on the issues
conceming truth and so-called theories of truth.


But where can we find a language to play the role ofthe language L mentioned
in our desiderata?lO What is the naturallanguage of lOgical reasoning, anyway?
Although full answers are likely to vary radically, there is a fair degree of
consensus conceming a partial answer. An unproblematic, perhaps the
unproblematic, part of the complex of logicallanguages is constituted by first-

order languages, languages whose logic is the usual first-order logic, a.k.a.
quantification theory. Such languages are a part of Frege's contribution, and
they have served as logicians' canonical notation throughout much of this
century. Sometimes they have also figured as linguists' canonical notation for
their so-called logical form. They can certainly be taken to be apart of any
reasonable Begriffsschrift.
But what is their logic all about? The usual but deeply misleading answer is:
quantifiers, Le., the notions "all" and "some". This is a half-truth, at best. The
real secret of first-order logic is not the idea of quantifiers like (Vx) or (3y), but
the idea of dependent quantifier, as (3y) is in

(2.1) (Vx)(3y)R(x,y).

For it is only by means of dependent quantifiers that we can express functional

relationships. And without such relationships, there is precious little we can talk
about. To understand first-order logic is thus to understand the idea of a
dependent quantifier.
But if you understand the idea of dependent quantifier, you ipso facto
understand the idea of an independent quantifier. They are simply two sides of
the same conceptual coin.
All this is perfectly unproblematic. What is equally unproblematic but
unnoticed by the vast majority ofphilosophers is that the usual notation for first-
order logic arbitrarily rules out certain perfectly possible and perfectly
understandable patterns of mutual dependence and independence between
quantifiers. In that notation, each quantifier is associated with a segment of the
formula as its scope. It is then required that these scopes are ordered, that is,
that the scopes of two different quantifiers must either be exclusive or else that
the scope of one is included in the scope of their other (i.e., that the scopes of two
quantifiers cannot overlap only partially). This restriction is completely
arbitrary.ll Every single explanation offered in introductory logic texts or
anywhere else of the notions of scope and quantifier is understandable and
applicable irrespective of the restriction. For instance, when the variables of
quantification are compared to anaphoric pronouns and quantifiers to their
heads, this explanation in no way presupposes that the scopes of two different
quantifiers must always be either exclusive or nested. Indeed, arguably there are
violations of this requirement in naturallanguage.
But what happens when this arbitrary notational stipulation is given up?
Purely notationally, the use of parentheses as scope indicators becomes
awkward, for it is not easy to perceive at once which parentheses is to be paired
with which, even if they are indexed. It is more convenient to introduce a special
notation whose purpose is to exempt a quantifier from the dependence on

another one within whose scope it would otherwise be. For this purpose, a slash
notation will be used here. For instance, in

(2.2) (\:fx)(\tz)(3yMz)(3uMx)S[x,y,z,u]

the first existential quantifier depends on (\tx) but not on (\:fz) while the second
depends on (\tz) but not on (\:fx). (For an alternative and in some ways more
natural notation, see sec. 4 below.)
A moment's reflection shows that (2.2) is equivalent with

(2.3) (\:fx)(3y)(\:fz)(3uMx)S[x,y,z,u]

and with the branching quantifier formula

(2.4) (\:fx)(3y)

but not obviously equivalent with any slash-free (linear), first-order formula.
Indeed, it is in general impossible to reduce (2.2) to an independence-free linear
first-order form.
What can be said of quantifiers (and what can be done about them) can also
be said, mutatis mutandis, of disjunctions and conjunctions (and done ahout
them). Thus we now have formulas like the following:

(2.5) (\:fX)(Sl[X] (vMx) S2[X]).

The mild-looking extension ofthe usual first-order notation which is proposed

here can be implemented by adding to the usual formation rules of first-order
logic the following new one:

Assume that S is a formula of the usual first-order logic, and assume that in S
an negation-signs precede immediately an atomic formula. Then you may in S
replace any existential quantifier (3y) by

(2.6) (3yMX1, \tX2, ...)

where (\:fXl), (\:fX2), ... are (some of the) universal quantifiers within whose scope
(3y) occurs in S, and replace any disjunction


where (\tXl), ('i1X2), ... a:re quantifiers within the scope ofwhich (2.7) occurs in S.

It is understood that any (finite) number of changes can be made at the same
time. The logical primitives a:re assumed to be v, &, (\tx), (3y), -, and =.
The result is what I have called independence-friendly (IF) first-order logic.
Languages whose logic is of this sort a:re called IF first-order languages. They
will be the focus of our attention in the following.
Independence-friendly first-order languages a:re introduced and studied in my
paper, "What is Elementary Logic?" (1995). They have a somewhat longer
ancestry, however. IF first-order logic is a generalization of what is known as the
logic of partially ordered quantifiers. The study of such quantifiers was begun by
Henkin (1961), and among its milestones a:re the papers by Walkoe (1970),
Enderton (1970), Krynicki and Lachlan (1979), and Barwise (1979). The
presence of partially ordered quantifier structures in natural languages was
shown in Hintikka (1974), and the idea of independence was applied outside
first-order logic for the first time by Carlson and ter Meulen (1979).
One novelty which is incorporated in the present notion of an IF logic is that
of an informationally independent connective. Such connectives were studied for
the first time by Sandu and Vnnen in (1992).12
One of the most important features of independence-friendly first-order
languages is that they a:re true Mafia languages: they a:re languages no one can
refuse to understand. We all understand an ordinary first-order language, and
the cor:responding IF language does not involve any new notions. For if you
understand quantifier dependence, which is the gist all of first-order logic, you
ipso facta understand quantifier independence, which is the only prima facie
new ing:redient in independence-friendly languages.


An example may illustrate the meaning of independent quantifiers and

connectives. Let us consider a simple model (mini-world or scenario) dealing
with th:ree gentlemen, Alan, Brian, and Cecil, and their respective hobbies. The
"world" can be specified by me ans of the following diagram, where x ~ y me ans
that y is one ofx's hobbies:

(3.1) Alan = a 0 0 riding =r

Brian=b 0 ....... 0 sailing = s
Cecil=c 0 --. 0 tennis =t

Let us consider (3.1) as a complete description of a mini-world, and let us use

H(x,y) for the same purpose as the arrow. In order to keep my example as simple
as possible, I will restrict the variables x and z to persons, i.e. to the set {a, b, cl,
and the variables y, u to hobbies, i.e. to the set {r, s, t}. For the same purpose, I
am also leaving the relativazation of quantifiers to these two sets tacit.
Naturally, this does not hann my example in the least.
Dsing these conventions, we can raise and answer the question whether the
following sentences are true in the model specified by (3.1):

(3.2) (V'x)(V'z)(3y)u)(H(x,y) & H(z,u) & (y :# u

(3.3) (V'x)(V'z)yNz)uNx) & (H(x,y) & H(z,u) & (y :# u.

The latter is obviously equivalent with the branching quantifier formula

(3.4) (V'X)Y
(H(x,y) & H(z,u) & (y :# u.

Here (3.2) says that for any two gentlemen there is a hobby they do not share.
A moment's glance at (3.1) convinces one that (3.2) is indeed true in our scenario.
In contrast, (3.3) has to expressed differently in English, perhaps by saying
something like

(3.5) Everybody has a unique hobby.

Now obviously (3.3) = (3.4) is true if and only if there are Skolem functions
(choice functions connected with the existential quantifiers) f, g such that the
following is true:

(3.6) (V'x)(V'z)(H(x,f(x & H(z,g(z & (f(x) :# g(z).

What would such functions f, g have to be like? By symmetry, it suf6.ces to

consider, say, the case

(3.7) f(a) = r.
Then we must have

(3.8) g(a) = s

as is seen by substituting "a' for both "x' and "z' in (the unquantified part of)
(3.6). ~rthermore,

(3.9) g(b) =t

for the only other promising value would have been g(b) = r which would have
contradicted (3.7). By the same 10ken as (3.8) we have

(3.10) f(b) = r.

But what can f(c) be? The only hobbies Cecil has are s and t. But

f(c) = s violates (3.8)

f(c) =t violates (3.9).
Hence there cannot be Skolem functions f, g satis:fying (3.6) in our mini-world.
In other words, (3.3) = (3.4) is not true. This illustrates the phenomenon of
quantifier independence and its effects. 13
This example can also be tumed in10 an illustration of the independence of
disjunctions of universal quantifiers. This can be done by replacing each
existentially quantified subformula in (3.4) (starting from the inside) by a
disjunction of its three possible substitution-instances. Each disjunction is
independent of the same universal quantifiers as the corresponding existential
The same transformation can be applied 10 (3.3). It is of interest 10 compare
the two results. By rehearsing the same arguments as were sketched above, we
can show that the latter (obtained from (3.3 is true while the former
(corresponding 10 (3.4 is false in the model specified by (3.1).


What is there to be said of IF first-order logic? Sin.ce I have examined this matter
elsewhere, I can afford to be relatively brief. 14 Intel'pretationally, IF logic does
not mark a single step beyond ordinary first-order logic, and notationally it can
be considered merely as a liberated variant of the same logic. .All valid formulas
of the old first-order logic remain valid, and many of the valid formulas in the
slash notation resemble closely their dependent cousins. Yet some of the overt
metalogical properties of IF first-order logic are not only new but shockingly
For one thing, IF first-order logic is incomplete: The class of its valid formulas
is not recursively enumerable. Furthermore, Tarski-type truth-definitions do not
work, either. Their several recursive clauses are cakulated to determine the
truth-value of a sentence (and the satisfacti.on of a formula) in terms of the
truth-values and/or sati.sfaction of its simpler constituents. The
applicability of such a truth-definition presupposes context-
independence, better known as compositionality, context principle or the Frage
principle. 16 What this principle SayB is that the intel'pretation of a
complex expression is determined by the intel'pretation of its
component expressions. But by its very nature, an IF language violates
compositionality. The foree of a like (2.6) depends on its relation to the
quantifiers (VX1),(VX2), ... which occurs further out in the same formula and
which hence cannot be a component expression of the formula govemed.. For this
reason, Tarski-type truth-definitions do not work in IF logic (cf. here Barwise
(1979. For the (truth, sati.sfaction) which a Tarski-type
truth-definition associates with a formula are determined by the ofits
component expressions. Such a truth-d.efinition works its way from inside out,
and hence presupposes compositionality and rules out context-
This point - or, rather, the violation of compositionality involved here - is
somewhat obscured by my notation. I indicate independence by appending to a an indication of which outer quantifiers it is independent of, as in

(4.1) (Vx)(Vz)y/'Vz)(3uIVx) S[x,y,z,u).

But of course what such an indication is all about is the scope of the outer Hence an equivalent, and in principle more natural, notation would
append that information to the scope indication of the ourer quantifier, perhaps
like this:

(4.2) (VxJl3u)(Vzll3y)y)u) S[x,y,z,u]


This notation makes plain the violation of compositionality which makes IF

languages immune to Tarski-type truth-definitions.
Notwithstanding the failure of Tarski-type semantics in IF logi.cs, game-
theoretical semantics (GTS) applies without any changes.16 Indeed, what has
been called quantifier independence now becomes merely an instance of the
general game-theoretical phenomenon of informational independence, and the
slash notation becomes (together with the usual scope conventions) a (partial)
method of indicating the information sets of moves govemed by quantifiers, i.e.,
the sets of earlier moves which are known to the player who is making a given
In fact, the step from an ordinary first-order language to the
corresponding IF language admits of a persuasive motivation in game-
theoretical terms. From the general game theory we know that the information
sets of successive moves need not be ordered by class-inclusion. Yet that is what
the normal first-order notation requi.res by requiring that the scopes of
quantifiers and propositional connectives be nested.
The technicalities of GTS have been presented elsewhere, and some of them
are recounted in an appendix below. They need not detain us here. The
important thing to realize is the extent to which game-theoretical semantics is
nothing but a codification of our normal, spontaneous ways of tbinking about the
veri:fi.cation and falsification of sentences. For instance, take the game rule for
existentially quantified sentences:

(R.E) G3x)S[x) begins with a choice by myself (= initial verifier) of an

individual, say b, from the domain do(M). The rest of the game is as in

What this says is little more than the apparently trite advice that, in order to
verify an existentially quantified proposition, you must find an individual for
which the instance of the existential generalization can be verified.
Even the game-theoretical definition of truth of a sentence S as the existence
of a winning strategy for the initial verifier in the correlated game G(S) is
eminently in keeping with our intuitive ideas. For it says in effect that a
proposition is true jf and only jf it can in principle be verified. And the
qualification "in principle" does not here refer to any lofty abstraction, only to
looking away from the verifier's and the falsifier's respective capacities of
personally finding suitable individuals when they are in fact available.
For instance, consider again the argument formulated above in sec. 3 to the
effect that (3.3) is not true in (3.1). If you attend to what is going on in this
argument, you will see that it amounts to showing that every attempt to verify

(3.3) (according to our common sense ideas as to how it must be verified) can be
frustrated. For such an attempt must take the form of the adoption of a strategy
codified by the nmctions fand gin (3.6). What was seen in sec. 3 shows that any
such attempt can be defeated by a suitable choice of x and z.
A telling indication of the naturalness of the game-theoretical treatment of
truth is the fact that logicians have repeatedly resorted to it spontaneously when
Tarski-type truth-definitions are for some reason or other inapplicable, as
witnessed inter alia by Henkin (1961), Kolaitis (1985) and Gdel (1990), and
discussed in Hintikka (1988).
The surprising thing here is not that GTS is little more than a precis of our
ordinmy ways of tbinking about truth and about the verification and
falsification of sentences. What is truly surprising is that GTS should,
notwithstanding its naturalness, yield signi:6.cant new results and viewpoints, as
demonstrated inter alia by this paper.


The incompleteness of IF first-order logic might lend you to suspect that it is a

hard logic to master. This suspicion can be proved wrong. Independent-friendly
first-order logic has several eminently natural features. For one thing, the game-
theoretical truth-condition of any sentence S can be expressed by a second-order
sentence S* which in fact is a Ll sentence.17 This sentence S* asserts the
existence of the Skolem functions for S, plus similar functions for disjunctions.
These functions obviously incorporate a strategy for the (initial) verifier of S, and
the fact that they constitute a winning strategy can be expressed with the help of
universal first-order quantifiers.
Clearly, the sentence S* expressing the existence of a winning strategy for the
initial verifier can then be considered as a second-order translation of S. For
instance, we can thus equate (2.1) with

(5.1) (3f)(\fx)R(x,f(x

(2.2) with

(5.2) (3f)(3g)(\fx)(\fz) S[x,f(x),z,g(z)]

and (2.5) with

(5.3) (3f)(\fx)(f(x) =0) & Sl[X]) v f(x) ;I:. 0) & S2[X])).


This second-order translation is not unlike Gdefs functional interpretation,lB

which likewise operates through a translation of logic and arithmetic into a
higher-order language. As in Gdefs functional interpretation, the higher-order
translation S* expresses fully the import of the game-theoretical interpretation of
S. This interpretation can therefore be discussed in terms of the translation S ~
S*, and vice versa. For instance, all that was said of the naturalness of game-
theoretical semantics in general, and of the naturalness of the game-theoretical
truth-conditions in particular, is applicable to the translation S* of S as a way of
spelling out what it means for S to be true. In fact, all that S* in effect says is
that, in order for you to veri:fy S, you must be able to find certain individuals,
depending of course on the individuals which might have previously been
presented to you. This is little more than old-fashioned mathematicians' jargon
in expressing their quantifiers. What they do is precisely to speak of what "one
can find" when certain individuals, e.g., certain numbers, "are given".
It is important to notice that the equivalence of S and S* is not necessarily
affected by the adoption of a constructivistic viewpoint. Such a viewpoint is most
naturally implemented in the same way as in Gdefs functional interpretation,
that is, by restric1ing the range of function variables to recursive functions (and,
in general, restric1ing other higher-order variables recursive entities of the
appropriate logical type).l9 The equivalence of S and S* is not affected, because
the restricted range of function quantifiers in S* can be taken to be merely a way
of spelling out what it means to interpret the first-order quantifiers (and
connectives) in S constructivistically.
Because IF first-order logic is not axiomatizable, one might fear that it is too
unmanageable to be useful. Indeed, this is precisely the fear voiced by Quine,
concerning what is in effect a special case of IF first-order logic. 20 This fear is
nevertheless unfounded. Several of the key metalogical results can easily be seen
to hold for IF first-order logic. They include compactness, Lwenheim-Skolem
property, and the separation theorem. 21 The last one even holds in a greatly
strengthened form. The assumptions ofthe extended separation theorem are the
same as of the usual one. Two sets of formulas cr and 't are assumed to be such
that cr and't each is satisfiable, but cr u 't is not. Then the separation theorem
asserts the existence of a single "separation formula" F such that

(5.4) cr ~ F, 't ~-F

and that all the nonlogical constants and free variables of F occur in the
members ofboth cr and 't. As in ordinary first-order logic, cr and't can be infinite.
To this remarkable result we can in IF first-order logic add the requirement that
Fis a formula of ordinary (slash-free) first-order logic.

The proof of the separation theorem utilizes the second-order translations of

the members of Cl and 't, thus incidentally illustrating the central role of this
translation for understanding IF first-order logic. AB you can easily see, the
sentence-initial existential function quanti:6.ers do not affect the assumptions of
the separation theorem. Hence they can be omitted, thus in effect reducing the
proof of the extended separation theorem to its ordinm:y first-order counterpart.
In the same way as in the metatheory of ordinm:y first-order logic, the
extended separation theorem has as its consequences, not to say as its corollm:y
an extension ofBeth's theorem on definability. The extended form says, applied
to one one-place predicate constant P, that if a theory (finite or infinite) T[P] is
consistent and if it implicitly defines P in the sense that the set of formulas

(5.5) T[p] u T[p] u {P(x)} u { -P'(x)}

is not satisfiable, while T[P] is, then there is a definiens D[x] (satisfying the
usual requirements), such that

(5.6) T[P] ~ (V'x)(P(x) ~ D[x)).

In (5.5), T[p] is like T[p] except that P has been replaced by a new one-place
predicate P'. The de{iniens D[x] is found as the separation formula with

(5.7) Cl =T[P] u {P(x)}

(5.8) 't;: T[p] u {-P'(x)}.

Accordingly, D[x] is an ordinm:y first-order formula.

There are interesting variants of this result. Instead of asking whether the
predicate Pis itself definable, we can ask whether a complex predicate F[p, x]
containing P is definable. Assuming that it is implicitly definable means that the
following is not satisfiable:

(5.9) T[P] u T[P'] u {F[P,x]} u {-F[P', x]}

even though T[P] u {F[P, x]} and T[P] u { -F[p, x]} are.
By the separation theorem, there is then an ordinm:y first-order formula D[x]
without P such that

(5.10) T[P] u {F[P, x]} ~ D[x]

(5.11) T[P] u {-F[P, x]} ~ -D[x].

IfF[p, x] is an ordinm:y first-order formula, we also have


(5.12) T[P] r('v'x) (F[P, x] B D[x]).

Moreover, even though there cannot exist a complete proof procedure for
validity, there does exist a disproofprocedure, that is, a procedure for recursively
enumerating all inconsistent formulas (and all inconsistent finite sets of
All these can be viewed as consequences of the character of the second-order
translations S* of IF first-order formulas S as Ll formulas. This fact illustrates
further the informativeness of the second-order translation 8* of 8 and hence the
central role of this translation in the systematic theory of IF first-order logic.


Results like the separation theorem have interesting further consequences.

80me of them concem the logical behavior of negation in IF first-order logic.
In order to see what is involved, we must go back and ask how negation can
be treated in game-theoretical semantics in the first place. The obvious way
to do so is to let negated and unnegated sentences be mirror images of each
other, i.e., to adopt the following rule:

(6.1) G(-8) is like G(8) except that the roles of the two players have been
reversed, including rules of winning and losing.

Likewise, the definition of falsity is obvious:

(6.2) S is false if and only if there is a winning strategy for nature (the
initial falsifier) in G(8).

Truth and falsity are thus duals: 8 is true if and only if -8 is false.
All this is so natural that it might seem trivial. On closer inspection,
however, certain striking consequences begin to come to light. For one thing,
how does the good old law of the excluded middle fare here?22
In order to see the answer, you can put for an arbitrary IF formula G in
the separation theorem cr = {G}, "t = {-G}. Then by the separation theorem,
there is an ordinary first-order formula F such that

(6.3) G rF, - G r - F.
Assurne now that the law of excluded middle applies to G, Le., that

(6.4) ~Gv-G.

From (6.3) and (6.4) it then follows that

(6.5) ~G~F.

In other words, G is equivalent to an ordinary first-order formula.

What this shows is that the only sentences of an IF first-order Ianguage to
have their contradictory negations expressible in the same Ianguage are the
usual first-order sentences (without slashes). In other words, the Iaw of
excluded middle holds in an IF first-order Ianguage only in the fragment
consisting of the corresponding ordinary first-order Ianguage. The result goes
back to Walkoe (1970).
For agame theorist, there is nothing surprising in this result. For what
the Iaw of excluded middle says, applied to a sentence F, is that the
correlated semantical game G(F) is determinate, that is, the one or the other
player has a winning strategy in G(F). Assumptions of determinacy are not
trivial. On the contrary, assumptions of determinacy for suitable classes of
games can be incredibIy strong assumptions, as witnessed e.g. by the axiom
of determinacy in axiomatic set theory.2S
One cannot blame the failure of tertium Mn datur on an inappropriate
definition of falsity, either (cf. (6.2) above). For surely every red-blooded
Iogician wants to study, not only when a sentence is true (can definitively be
verified) but also when it is false (can definitively be falsified). And that
latter is what is codified in the definition (6.2) of falsity. Moreover, it is
obviously different from the sentence not being true, that is, different from
the mere failure of all possible attempts to verify it.
Moreover, no natural game roles like (6.1) can be used to characterize the
contradictory negation. Hence the wisest course here is to use (6.1) and (6.2),
and to raise the question Iater whether contradictory negation can
subsequently be introduced. I shall return to this matter below in sec. 15.
It is worth emphasizing that in the IF first-order Iogic the Iaw of excluded
middle fails in an interesting way. It does not fail because we have somehow
postulated ad Me a third truth-value or truth-value gaps or simpIy assumed
the failure of some Iogicallaw or other. The behavior of negation in IF first-
order Iogic follows from the basic ideas of this Iogic, codified in explicit truth-
conditions for its sentences.
What is truIy novel here is therefore not just the failure of tertium Mn
datur. In many treatments of Iogical semantics, truth-value gaps (or a third
truth-value) likewise violating the Iaw of excIuded middle are frequently

postulated. What is distinctive in the approach used here is that the failure
of the law of the excluded middle is not assumed but is a consequence of the
eminently natural basic assumptions of the entire theory, which are not
motivated by any need of truth-value gaps or even overtly related to them.
From the failure of the weak (contradictory) negation to be representable
in general in an IF first-order language, it foilows that only a strong

(6.6) -SI V S2

and only a strong equivalence

are representable in general in such a language.

From this it foilows in turn that Tarski's T-schema is not an acceptable
condition on truth-definitions in IF first-order languages. For assume that
S(F) is a quotation or a structural description of the sentence F. Then T-
schema says the foilowing

(6.8) S(F) ~ F

where "~' expresses strong equivalence. But (6.8) is tantamount to

(6.9) (S(F) & F) v ( -S(F) & -F)

and embodies the assumption of tertium non datur. Hence T-schema is not
acceptable outside the ordinary first-order fragment of IF first-order
The fact that Tarski's famous schema presupposes tertium non datur has
been noted in the earlier literature. Usual1y, it has been adduced as an
argument against al1 realistic truth-conditions, because it is thought that
tertium non datur cannot be upheld in any case. Here, it is being used as an
argument against Tarski's schema. The rest ofthis paper serves to show that
our observation does not constitute an objection to realistic truth-conditions
in general, for they turn out to be eminently compatible with a failure of
tertium non datur.
The reliance on strong conditionals and strong equivalences is virtual1y
necessitated by the basic ideas of the game-theoretical approach. For
instance, the simplest natural game rule for a conditional (SI :::J S2) will teil
the initial verifier ("myself') to choose to defend either S2 or -SI. Since we can

formulate natural game rules only for the strong (dual) negation not obeying
the law of excluded middle, we must take -Si to involve the strong negation.
This illustrates the naturalness of the treatment outlined here.
It is often asserted that natural-Ianguage conditionals are logically
stronger than truth-functional ones. We have found one way in which they
cannot help being stronger, assuming that natural-Ianguage conditionals are
like their cousins in IF first-order languages.
These observations show that we have to be very careful in the metatheory
of IF first-order logic, however, for not everything we would like to find there
is actually available. For instance, the deduction theorem does not hold. If (J I-
F means that F is true in a model as soon as all the members of (J are true

does not entail

More generally, there is not always any single formula So such that

(6.12) I- So
if and only if

However, if S2 is an ordinary first-order formula, (6.11) is entailed by (6.10).

It is to be pointed out that the kind of failure of tertium Mn datur we are
dealing with here has nothing to do with the particular subject matter one's
sentences are dealing with, e.g. future as distinguished from the past. Such a
failure is possible only for sentences of certain logical structures, but it does
not depend on the nature of the relations and properties. In principle, these
relations and properties can e.g. be decidable arithmetical ones.
These observations are not without consequences. For instance, they show
among other things the invalidity of Carnap's (1935, p. 181) sometime claim
that all logical propositions are either analytical or contradictory. A
convenient counter-example is in fact provided by the sentence

(6.14) (Vx)(Vz)(3yNz)(3uNx) x =z) ~ (y =u.


(6.14) is true in all (and only) infinite models, but its negation

(6.15) (3x)(3z)(Vy/3z)(Vu/3x) x = z) ~ (y ::t. u

cannot be true in any model. Thus (6.14) should be analytic or contradictory

if Carnap were right, for it contains only logical concepts. Yet in reality it is
true in some models but not in others, and hence is neither analytic nor
contradictory. The fact that (6.15) can be seen never to be true shows that the
validity or invalidity of the law of excluded middle has nothing to do with the
question as to whether the truth of a sentence can be decided apriori.


It is in order to emphasize how eminently natural the failure of the law of

excluded middle is in IF first-order logic. Let S be an IF first-order sentence
which is not equivalent with any ordinary first-order sentence, and let M be a
model ('world") in which S is neither true nor false. What happens in such a
world, concretely and realistically speaking?
What happens is that every attempt to verify such a sentence S can be
defeated by choosing a suitable counter-strategy. Conversely, every strategy
which the (initial) falsifier might employ for the purpose of falsi:fying S can be
defeated by a suitable selection of choices of individuals to be dealt with. In such
c:ITcumstances, a reasonable person can scarcely fail to conclude that S is neither
true nor false.
A specific example is offered by the same illustration as was employed in sec.
3 above. The negation of (3.2) is clearly

(7.1) (3x)(3z)(Vy)(Vu) (H(x,y) & H(z,u::::l (y=u

which says that there are two individuals who have the same single hobby.
Clearly, (7.1) is not true in the model specified by (3.1).
Now when is (3.3) = (3.4) false, in the obvious sense that its falsifier has a
winning strategy? For the purpose, the falsifier must be able to choose x and z
such that, no matter what happens in the rest of the game, the verifier loses. But
the verifier's choices are not restricted by the independence stipulations. (As
soon as there is a truth-making choice ofy and u, for those particular values of x
and z, values of y and u can of course be selected independently of x and z. It
could have happened that I had opted as my strategy to choose those very values
ofy and u in any case.) Hence the strong (dual) negation of (3.3) is the same (7.1)
as was the contradictory negation of (3.2).

Formally, this is seen by noting that strong negation interchanges 3 and V

and thatfor questions of truth, dependencies of Von 3 do not matter.
This fact is simpler than it sounds. For what could a strategy be like that
would definitely falsify (3.3)? By symmetIy, the putatively falsifying choices of
the values of x and z can be taken to be either both b or b and c.
In the former case, the unquantified part

(7.2) H(x,y) & H(z,u) & (y*'!)

can be made true by choosing y = r and u = s.

In the latter case, one can likewise make (7.2) true by choosing e.g. y = r, u = t.
What this implies in terms of my scenario is that (3.2) is true, hence its
negation (7.1) is false in the model (3.1). (Since (3.2) is a sentence of ordinary
first-order language, its strong negation and contradictory negation coincide.)
Earlier (3.3) was found not to be true. Now it is seen that its strong negation
(7.1) is not true, either, in (3.1). Hence (3.3) is neither true nor false in (3.1). It
provides an example of tertium datur.
What is striking here is that this failure of (3.3) to be either true or false in
(3.1) is merely a retlection of the concrete fact that any attempt to verify (3.3) in
(3.1), and likewise any attempt to falsify it there, can be defeated. This is the
clearest operation al meaning that I have ever seen associated with the idea of a
"third truth-value".


These results bring out the crucial importance of the second-order translations
S* of IF first-order sentences S for the systematic theory of IF first-order logic. It
has also been seen that this importance is in the last analysis a consequence of
the nature of S* as a natural way of spelling out what S really says. All this can
be summed up by saying that S* expresses the truth-condition of S. Indeed, that
is precisely what our line of thought has led us to. For S* expresses what the
truth of S amounts to in game-theoretical terms, viz. the existence of a winning
strategy for the (initial) verifier of S. The translation rules effecting the
transition from S to S* will then express the truth-definition for all sentences of
the IF first-order language in question.
It has also been seen in effect that these truth-conditions satisfy the
desiderata (), (iv) - (v) formulated above. In fact, the fact that they are satisfied
is virtually obvious. For instance, (iv) is satisfied because on the game-
theoretical conception truth is not an abstract relation between a sentence and a
fact, but a global feature of the "games" through which a sentence could be
verified or falsified. And even though the structure (the rules) of these games can

be speci:fied in abstraction from the idiosyncracies of the player, they arguably do

constitute the greatest common denominator of the p:rocesses through which
quanti:fication sentences are in practice verified and falsified.
Or, for another example, take desideratum (v). The truth-conditions I have
given for IF first-order sentences do not employ any concepts which refer to any
particular model of the underlying language or would otherwise be relative to it.
The only thing that is required is that the game G(S) played with the original
sentence is played on the same model of which its second-order counterpart S*
It was pointed out above that the equivalence of S* and S should (properly
understood) be acceptable also to a constructivist. In another respect, too, should
a constructivist like Dummett be happy with the kind of truth-definition
envisaged here'?24 They have wanted to replace a conception of truth as a relation
between a sentence and the world (a model) by a notion of truth that is geared to
our actual methods of verifying propositions. Since the semantical games
employed in game-theoretical semantics are precisely games of verifying (in the
teeth of a real or imaginary opponent) sentences,25 what has been done here
should be an answer to their prayers. The ironic twist in the tale, that is, the fact
that by reference to semantical games one can after all define truth-conditions,
should not upset them, either.
In order to avoid misunderstanding, it is worth pointing out that the kind of
truth-conditions envisaged here do not rely on any particular theory of reference.
They use the usual system of references of the expressions of the given IF
language, but they do not mention them or theorize about them. Thus the
objections or reservations used by the likes of Hartry Field (1972) against
Tarski-type truth-definitions are inoperative here, no matter whether or not they
really apply to Tarski' sdefinition.
Of course, we have enriched our original IF first-order language in an
important respect in that the game-theoretical truth-conditions we have
explained employ a fragment of second-order logic. But from the game-
theoretical perspective this extension does not presuppose the mastery of any
new concepts over and above those relied on in the given IF first-order language.
The meaning of that language can be explained by specifying the rules of certain
games. But in every game of strategy the real understanding of the game
involves more than knowing which moves are admissible and which ones are
not. If you only know which movements of the different chessmen are
admissible, you are not even a mediocre chess player; you cannot even honestly
say that you know how to play chess. In order to be able to defend such claims,
you need to have some grasp of the strategies that can be pursued in the game.
Now the values of the second-order quantifiers that are needed in the truth-
conditions I have formulated are (parts of) strategies used in the semantical

games that give the original first-order language its meaning. Hence we
understand them as soon as we understand the original semantical games.
Hence no more language learning or language understanding is presupposed in
my truth conditions than is required for the purpose of a realistic mastery of the
original "object language".


What has been reached does not yet look like a formal truth-definition. In one
sense, such truth-definitions are impossible to formulate, viz. as explicit
definitions of the form

(9.1) (\fx) (the sentence with the Gdel number x is true B D[x])

where D[x] is a formula of IF first-order language and x ranges over natural

numbers. For it was seen in sec. 6 above that sentences like (9.1) imply that D[x]
obeys the law of excluded middle, which is not always the case
What can be done, however, is to define explicitly a formula D[x] such that it
is true of x if and only if x is the Gdel number of a true sentence. Whenever in
the sequel a truth-definition is mentioned, it has to be taken to mean an explicit
formulation of a truth-predicate in this sense.
The clumsy way I had to formulate (9.1) illustrates another discrepancy
between usual truth-definitions and my truth-conditions. Usually, truth-
conditions and truth-definitions are thought of as being applied, not to already
interpreted sentences, but to syntactical descriptions of sentences. This
dissimilarity is easily eliminated, however. It is merely a consequence of the fact
that we have not introduced any ways of speaking of the syntax of the
underlying language L. If needed, this cosmetic defect is easily rectified. We can,
for instance, introduce a modicum of elementary arithmetic and discuss the
structure of the various expressions of the ensuing IF first-order arithmetic in
that language itselfby means of the familiar technique of Gdel numbering.
Of course, in order to discuss the definiens and not only the definiendum, we
must code also the :El fragment of the corresponding second-order language by
the Gdel numbers of our arithmetic.
However, even then the truth conditions so far reached are not yet what lied
you to expect. The second-truth conditions I have set up are not in the same
ballpark as Tarski's truth definition. Rather, they are like Tarski's T-schema.
Tarski requires that theory of truth should entail equivalences like

(9.2) d(S) is true if and only if S


where d(S) is a quotation or structural description (perhaps by means of its

Gdel number) of the sentence S. Instead, we require that it entail all sentences

(9.3) d(S) is true if and only if S*

where S* is the second order translation of S.

But how can we get from such criteria for truth definitions to the definitions
themselves? Everybody's first guess is likely to be the same as Tarski's. If the
truth conditions that have been set up do not explicitly define the concept of
truth, maybe they define it implicitly, in some suitable sense of implicit
definition. Indeed, Tarski in effect considers the idea, revived later in a different
variant by Davidson, of introducing a new predicate Tr(x)
calculated to capture the (Gdel numbers oi) all and only true sentences. This
new predicate has to be taken into account in the formation rules of our
extension of the elementary number theory and in the Gdel numbering. The
possibility Tarski considers is to use as the postulates of a truth theory
(calculated to yield an implicit definition of truth) all the sentences of the form

where rS1 is the Gdel number of S.

Tarski nevertheless rejects this approach to truth theories, mainly because he
thinks it results in too weu a theory. Not only is it too weu to determine
uniquely the interpretation of Tr(x). In Tarski's judgment, it is too weu to yield
all the consequences we are entitled to expect of an adequate truth theory.
However, we can develop the idea of an implicit definition of truth further.
Let us assume for the purpose that we are given a second-order language which
includes IF first-order language as a part and also includes an ordinary first-
order axiomatization of elementary number theory. Let us also assume that this
language includes an initially unspecifi.ed additional one-place numerical
predicate Tr(x). (It is calculated to apply to the Gdel numbers of all, and only,
true sentences.) It is assumed that this predicate may occur in the substitution-
instances of the induction schema, but that these substitution-instances must
not contain second-order quantifiers or the slash. Let us assume furthermore,
that in that language we carry out a Gdel numbering of all its expressions.
Then my strategy is as follows, I will try to find a finite conjunction of E1
sentences containing Tr(x) which implicitly characterize the notion of truth for
finite IF first-order sentences. If this conjunction is T[Tr], then it serves as an
implicit definition of truth, and a desired truth predicate can be obtained as

(9.5) (3X)(T[X] & X(y.

This is a ~1 sentence of second-order logic, but it can be translated (as will be

shown) into IF first-order language.
The line of reasoning leading to this conclusion is fairly complex, even though
unsurprising. Most of the details are routine; suffice it therefore to indicate the
main ideas. I will indicate first how the different (clauses) of the predicate T can
be formulated for an ordinary first-order language (in the corresponding second-
order language). Later, I will show how this predicate can be extended to (Gdel
numbers of) sentences in the corresponding IF first-order language plus those in
the ~1 fragment of the correlated second-order one.
I will first give the different clauses of T(X) in an interim notation, where the
Gdel number of a sentence S is indicated by rS1 and the numeral that expresses
the number x by x. Then the different clauses can be formulated as folIows:

If R(x, y) is one of the primitive predicates,

(9.6) Tr(rR(x, y)l) => R(x, y)

(9.7) Tr(r -R(x, y)l) => -R(x, y)

(9.8) Tr(r(x=y)l) => (x=y)

(9.9) Tr(r_(x=y)l) => -(x=y)

Likewise for the other primitive predicates:

(9.11) Tr(r(SI & S21 => (Tr(rS 11) & Tr(rS21

(9.12) Tr(r(3x) S[x]l) => (3z) Tr(rS[z]l)

(9.13) Tr(r('Vx) S[x]l) => ('Vz) Tr(rS[z]l)

if S2 is the negation normal form of SI.

All the conditions (9.6) - (9.14) are assumed to be preceded by universal
quantifiers which make sure that they hold for all formulas S, SI, S2 of the

appropriate fonn. What remains to be shown is that all the syntactical notions
used here can actually be represented in the arithmeticallanguage in question.
Iffunctions are present, we can accommodate them in the obvious way. Two
changes are needed:

(i) In the clauses (9.6) - (9.9) arbitrary tenns must be admitted to play the
roles of x and y.
(ii) In (9.13) the substitution of an arbitrary tenn is allowed instead z.

To show this step by step would require more space and effort than I can use
here. A shortcut is possible here, however. The relevant relations are the ones
holding between numbers of the following kind:

(9.15) X,x

(9.16) fRl, x, y, fR(x, y)l

(9.17) fR1, x, y, f -R(x, y)l

(9.18) x, y, f(x =y)l

(9.19) x, y, f -(x =y)l

(9.20) f(S1 v S2)1, fS 11,rS21

(9.22) f(3x)S[x]l, z, fS[z]l

(9.23) f(V'x)S[x]l, z, fS[z]l

(9.24) fS11, fS21 where S2 is a negation nonnal fonn of S1

All these relationships are obviously effectively decidable. By Church's thesis,

the corresponding properties and relations of their Gdel numbers are recursive.
(For the basis of this kind of reasoning, see Rogers 1967, pp. 20-1.) Hence they
can be represented in elementary number theory (see Mendelson, 1987, p. 157).
If we replace Tr by X in (9.6) - (9.13), fonn their conjunction, and plug this
conjunction for T[X] in (9.5), we obtain a I:l predicate which is a truth predicate
for finite ordinary first-order languages containing the arithmetical relations
needed in (9.15) - (9.24).

When this line of thought is extended to IF first-order languages, the clause

(9.12) for existential instantiation has to be changed. The reason is that the
dependencies and independencies of (3x) have now to be indicated explicitly.
This can be done by the following clause

where (\iZl), (\iZ2), ... are all the universal quantifiers within the scope of which
(3xNYl, 'dY2, ...) occurs in SI except for (\iYl), (\iY2), ....
Once again, the syntactical relations involved in (9.25) are obviously effective.
Hence, by the same argument as before, they can be represented in a language
containing elementary arithmetic.
But (9.25) involves an attribution of truth to El sentences. This can be done as

(9.26) Tr(r(3fl)(3f2) ... (\iXl)(\iX2) ... S[:fi(Xil, Xi2, ...)]1)

(3g1)(3g2) ... (V'Xl)(V'X2) ... Tr( rS[g;.(Xil, Xi2,
::::> ... )] 1)

where S is quantifier-:free and where g;(Xil, Xi2, ...) is the numeral representing
g;(Xil, Xi2, ...).
It is seen that even though (9.25) contains second-order quantifiers, its
insertion into (9.5) will still keep the truth-predicate (9.5) in the El form.
As before, the syntactical relations involved in (9.26) can be seen to be
arithmetically representable.
In this way, it is possible to reach a truth predicate (9.5) which applies to the
Gdel numbers of sentences in the El fragment of a second-order language even
when the contain informationally independent first-order quantifiers. The truth
predicate is itself of the El form.
It is a straightforward task to prove that the resulting truth predicate (9.5)
actually is defined uniquely for the Gdel numbers of formulas and that among
Gdel numbers of finite IF first-order sentences it is satisfied by all and only
numerals which are Gdel numbers of true sentences. Thus it actually serves as
the desired truth predicate for the part of our language which comprises its IF
first-order part. The predicate itself is a El second-order sentence. The initial
existential second-order quantifiers comprise the quantifier (3X) displayed in
(9.4) and the function quantifiers in (9.26).
So far, a truth predicate has been defined only for arithmeticallanguages. A
review of the line of thought just presented nevertheless shows that the only
assumption that is not obviously satisfied in IF first-order languages in general
concems the availability of names or other singular terms for each member of
the domain ofindividuals. In an arithmeticallanguage, there is an effective way

of obtaining for each natural number, that is, for each member of the
arithmetical domain of individuals, a numeral that represents it, and vice versa.
Even if such an effective availability of names is not an unproblematic
assumption in general, it can be argued that whatever problems it involves
pertain to symbol meaning rather than propositional meaning, which is at issue
in questions of truth and truth predicates. Hence what has been found here
strongly suggests that the definability of a truth predicate holds in general. It
also shows in what sense the truth-predicate defined here is independent of any
particular model (cf. desideratum (v) in sec. 1 above).
In any case, the naming problem can be avoided by Tarski's stratagem of
defining truth in tandem with satisfaction. As in Tarski, this can be done by
quantifying over different valuations of the fonnulas of the language in the
relevant model. In this way, a truth predicate can be defined in suitable IF first-
order languages for the same language. "Suitable" now means only that the
language in question contains elementary number theory, not any longer that its
domain of individuals is the set of natural numbers. I will not discuss such neo-
Tarskian truth predicates here, however.
Even so, I can safely say that I have accomplished one of the aims of this
paper. I have fonnulated in a second-order language (which contains a first-
order arithmetic and also contains as a part IF first-order language) a truth-
definition for all the sentences of this language which are in the IF first-order
notation. This truth-definition has the fonn of a definition of a predicate of the
Gdel numbers of the expressions of our language which is applicable to the
Gdel number of an IF first-order sentence S if and only if S is true. The
definition is ofthe fonn (9.5).


This truth-predicate is not fonnulated in our IF first-order language, but in a

second-order language. It has the fonn of a El fonnula, and hence can be
translated back into our IF first-order language. This translatability is wen
known from the literature. For it is known that all El sentences have
equivalents in the corresponding IF first-order language. This result seems to
have been first established by Walkoe (1970); but see also Enderton (1970) and
Barwise (1979). Applied to the truth-condition (9.5), it shows that this truth-
definition for IF first-order sentences can be expressed in the IF first-order
language itself.
I will not prove this result here in full detail. Instead, I will indicate by means
of examples how a El sentence can be translated into an IF first-order sentence.

A Ll sentence has the form of a sequence of second-order existential

quantifiers followed by a first-order formula. First we replace all predicate
variables by function variables. This can be done one by one. For instance,
suppose we have a formula of the form

(10.1) (3X)S[X]

where Xis a one-place predicate variable. Then we can replace (10.1) by the Ll

(10.2) (3f) S'[f]

where S'[f] is obtained from S[X] by replacing every atDmi.c formula of the form
X(y) or X(b) by

(10.3) f(y) =0


(10.4) f(b) =0
After eliminating all predicate variables in this way, all the formulas we need
tD deal with are of the form

(10.5) (3f1)(3f2) . (3D.)(V'XI)(V'X2) .. (V'XI) S[fl, f2, ... , fi., Xl, X2, ... , Xl]

where S is a quantifier-free ordinary first-order formula.

Here (10.5) can be expressed in an equivalent form in the IF first-order
notation if the following two conditions are satisfied:

(i) There is no nesting of functions fi.

() Each fi occurs in S only once, say with the variables Xu, Xi2, missing
from its set of arguments.

For then we can replace (10.5) simply by

(10.6) (V'XI)(V'X2) ... ('v'Xl) .. (3yJ\fXil, V'Xi2, )S*

where S* results from replacing each fi followed by its arguments by Yi.


What has to be shown is therefore how an arbitrary (10.5) can be brought to a

form where (i) - () are satisfied.
I shall illustrate this transition by means of two examples. First, consider a
formula of the form

Here (i) is satisfied. In order to bring it to a form where () is also satisfied, we

can rewrite it as

This is easily seen to be logically equivalent with

For the second example, consider a formula of the form

(10.10) (3fl)(3f2)('I1x) S[fl(f2(X].

Here condition (i) is not satisfied. In order to meet this condition, we can consider
the formula

which satisfies both (i) and (). Indeed, (10.11) is logically equivalent with

(10.12) ('I1Xl)('I1X2)('I1Xs) ('I1X4)(3yJ'l1X2, 'I1Xs, 'I1X4)(3yzNxl, '11X2, 'I1Xs, '11X4)

(3Y3I'i1Xl,'I1X2,'I1X4)(3Y4I'i1Xl,'I1X2,'I1Xs) (Xl = Xs) B (yl = Y3 &
X2 =X4) B (y2 =Y4 & yl =X2) :::> S[y2])).

In neither example are the other singular terms occurring in S affected. We

can therefore eliminate one by one all the violations of the requirements (i) and
() mentioned earlier in this section. This process terminates a:fter a finite
number of steps, yielding the desired truth-definition (truth predicate),
expressed in the original language itself. This means that desideratum (i) of
sec. 1 above is satisfied. Otherwise, the truth definition is like the earlier one.
Consequently, all the nice things said above of the second-order truth-conditions
can be applied to truth-conditions which can be expressed in the same IF first-
order language of elementary arithmetic.



The quest of an implicit definition of truth admits of other d.ixections. Even if

they do not result in success, unlike the course we took in sec. 9 above, they have
a considerable intrinsic interest.
One starting-point is offered by the question: Why cannot we strengthen
Tarski's suggested theory (cf. sec. 9, especially (9.3 so as to reach an explicit
definition of a truth predi.cate? Heuristi.cally, it might look as if we could in
way avoid the tortuous compression of an infinity of truth-conditions into a finite
number of conditions, as is required by the method used in sec. 9. For instance,
Beth's theorem can be used also when the basis theory is infinite. Can it be used
Hopes are raised even higher here by the fact that in sec. 9 we were ahle to
define a truth predi.cate which gives the right answer for all numerals which are
Gdel numbers of well-formed formulas. In other words, truth predi.cate
shows that truth is definahle in the standard model of arithmeti.c. Thus for any
numeral n which is the Gdel number of a well-formed sentence we have

(11.1) T[Tr] u T[Tr'] HTr(n) ~ W(n.

Why, then, cannot we use Beth's theorem (which holds in IF first-order logic) to
reach an explicit definition ofthe truth predi.cate?
The obvious answer is that if we could rule out all nonstandard numbers from
the models of our underlying number theory, we indeed could on the basis of
(11.1) reach an explicit definition

(11.2) (V'x)(Tr(x) ~ D[x])

implied by our number theory. In other words, if we could reach a complete

axiomatization of elementary number theory in our IF first-order logic, we would
have in virtue ofBeth's theorem an explicit definition ofthe truth predi.cate.
But that is impossible, for the defin,iens D[x] in Beth's theorem can always be
chosen to be an ordinary first-order formula. If (11.2) were true with such a
defin,iens, a truth-predi.cate would be explicitly definable already in first-order
logic, which is precisely what Tarski.'s result shows to be impossible. Hence the
right conclusion here is an extension of GdeYs incompleteness result:
Elementary arithmeti.c is incomplete also in IF first-order logic.
This fact is not changed by the fact that it is possible to characterize by means
of L~ formulas - and hence also by me ans of IF first-order logic - the
nonstandard numbers. The following formula will do the trick:

(11.3) (3X)(X(O) & (\ix)(X(x):::> X(x + 1):::> (\ix)(X(x & -X(y.

If we abbreviate (11.3) by Ns(y), then it might be tempting to try to define a

truth-predicate by means ofNs(y). The reason is that we are only interested in a
truth-predicate insofar as it applies to ordinazy standard Gdel numbers. A
closer analysis quickly shows, however, that no app1ication of Beth's theorem is
possible here which would serve the purpose.
For instance, if we try to use Tr(y) v Ns(y) in our last and final truth
predicate, and if we try to rely on Beth's theorem for the purpose, we cannot
satis:fy the assumptions of Beth's theorem for reasons closely related to the
behaviorofthe sentence (6.14).


Next we retum to our original desiderata (i)-(v). The truth-definition (truth

predicate) that has been defined satisfies obviously the desiderata ()-(ili). It has
been explained to what extent, and what sense, it satisfies (v). Below, in sec. 16,
it will be argued that the adequacy condition (i) is also satisfied. This leaves
desideratum (iv) to be discussed. Here we encounter one of the most interesting
features of the conceptual situation in truth theol'Y. For it looks as if the
reflexization of the truth-conditions destroys much of the desideratum (iv) of
non-triviality. The truth predicate (9.4) looks comp1icated but that is only
because it codifies in effect truth-conditions for an the different types of
sentences. Applied to any parti.cular sentence of ordinazy first-order logic, these
different conditions come to play one by one in the most straight-forward
manner. For instance, all that our truth definition says about an atomic sentence
Ais that it is true if and only if A Likewise, an it says of (3x)A[x], A[x] atomic, is
that (3x)A[x] is true if and only if A[n] is true for some numeral n; and so on. All
this might look quite trivial. Indeed, depending on the details of the back
translation from the l:l fragment of a second-order to the original first-order
language it may happen that the truth-condition of an ordinazy first-order
sentence tums out to be the vel'Y same given sentence.
In general, when my truth-definition is applied to an ordinazy first-order
sentence S, little more is involved in simple cases than the decoding of the Gdel
number representation of the sentence S. Dnly when we come to sentences
which themselves involve the truth predicate or are otherwise more complex do
we get nontrivial results.
In view of such apparent triviality, someone might even wonder whether my
truth predicate offers any advantages over the well-known "disquotational" or
other "minimalist" accounts of the truth of first-order sentences. The answer to

this particular question is simple. Disquotational accounts of truth may look

seductively simple, but they suffer of the same fatal difficulty as Tarski-type
truth definitions. They cannot be formulated in the language to which they are
supposed to apply. This can be seen in a variety of different ways. One ofthem is
geared to the very motivation of the disquotational approach. As its name
suggests,- it is calculated to deal with the concept of truth on the purely
syntacticallevel. In respect, it is apparently very much in the spirit of the times,
from Frege's conception of purely a:xi.omatic system of logic to Chomsky's
autonomous syntax. But the success of purely syntactical methods is a shallow
one. The real situation is brought out by such generalizations as Montague's of
GdeYs ~sults (see Montague, 1963). As Montague shows, GdeYs line of
thought can be put to use to show that modal notions cannot be construed as
purely'syntactical predicates.
Now the same argument shows a {ortiori that truth cannot be inte!preted as a
purely 'syntactical predicate, either. The notion of truth satisfies in fact the
conditions on which Montague's impossibility result for a syntactical treatment
of modality rest. Disquotational truth predicate would be belied by the liar
paradox, I am tempted to say.
Disquotational treatments of truth are also subject to the standard criticism
which has been levelled at Tarski's treatment oftruth. They do not teIl anything
about the way our sentences are in fact shown to be true or false. Indeed, when
notbing is said of the ''language games" through which truth and falsity are
constituted, it is natural to resort to disquotational ideas. As is shown by the
dause for atomic sentences in my truth predicate, they are treated in my
approach disquotationally, This is because I am on pU!pose abstaining from a
study of how their truth or falsity depends on their structure and of their
ingredients. This is not a matter of any impossibility, however, only a matter of
restricting my task in this paper to manageable proportions. What I have to
assume is merely that the primitive predicates (and functions) of the relevant
language are defined on our domain of individuals. This suffices to determine
the truth-values of all atomic sentences, which is all that I need here.
As soon as we begin to consider those actual semantical games that are the
logical home of quantifiers, game-theoretical truth conditions soon lose their
innocence. Consider, for example, a sentence of the form

(12.1) (V'x)(3y) S[x,y)

Its truth condition can be taken to be of the form

(12.2) (3f)(V'x) S[x, f(x).


But the implication from (12.1) to (12.2) is a fonn of the axiom of choice and
hence highly nontrivial. Other implications from a first-order sentence S to the
second-order sentence that asserts the existence of the Skolem functions of S are
even less triviallogical truths of the second-order logic.
This nontriviality, including the apparent dependence of game-theoretical
semantics on the axiom of choice, does not throw any shadow on the viability of
the game-theoretical semantics. What this semantics does is to bring out an
important bridge between first-order logic and second-order logic. This bridge is
constituted by the equivalence of first-order sentences and their second-order
truth-conditions. These are not as it were accidental equivalences. The game-
theoretical analysis in fact shows that first-order logic and second-order logic
cannot in an interesting sense be treated in isolation from each other, but are
connected by important logical principles. These connections deserve a fuller
analysis than can be given to them here. Suffice it to say that the axiom of choice
derives its interest from being an example of such bridge principles. The reason
why the axiom of choice assumes the fonn of an additional mathematical axiom
in set theory is that set theory is in effect an attempt to do higher-order logic on
first-order level. For this reason, bridge principles like the axiom of choice
assume there the appearance of afterthought assumptions. Quine has called
second-order logic set theory in sheep's clothing. It might be apter to call set
theory a higher-order logic on first-order crutches.
By the same token, we are used to thinking only the transition from a first-
order sentence to its second-order truth-condition as being nontrivial, in
contradistinction to the return trip which was examined in the reflexivization
discussion. In reality, we are dealing with a bridge that can be travelled in both
directions equally trivially or nontrivially.
A closer look at the different clauses in the truth predicate defined in sec. 9
above shows what these clauses in effect say. They say in effect that one can
always choose one's moves in a semantical game in such a way as to move from a
true sentence to another true sentence. In other words, they say that there exists
a winning strategy for the verifier, i.e. that the sentence in question is true
according to GTS. Thus my truth predicate is very closely connected with the
ways in which one can in fact ascertain the truth of the proposition in question.
This is another respect in which the truth predicate defined in this work is
The crucial question here is, of course: Why is the ascent to a second-order
language so important for the nontriviality of our truth-conditions? An answer is
implicit in what has been said. In the second-order translation of a first-order
sentence IF or not, we are still dealing with the same semantical games as in the
given first-order one. What is new is that we are now speaking explicitly of the
strategies which are open to the inquirer, and quantifying overthem. Attending

consciously to these strat.egies and conceptualizing them lifts one's thinking to a

Hence the ultimate answer to the question of triviality lies in the importance
of understanding one's strategies in agame for und.erstanding that game in the
first place.
The line of thought that led to my truth conditions has a respectable bistorical
precedent. Gdel introduced bis so-called functional interpretation (or Dialectica
interpretation) as a way of reaching stronger evidential principles, especially for
the purposes of consist.ency proofs. It was easily shown, for the first time in Dana
Scott (1968), that Gd.efs interpretation has a most natural game-theoretical
interpretation. (lt is actually elose to the one used here.) Soon, logicians in fact
began to use it as a truth-definition. Some of them have gone so far as to elaim
that this truth-definition (or some variant of it) preserves the meaning of the
original formulas (cf., e.g., Shoenfield, 1967, p. 219).
Even somewhat looser analogies may be helpful here. If the starting point of
the search of a truth-condition is not the Gdel number of a logical formula but a
(suitably coded) description of the syntactic structure of an English sentence,
then the process culminating in the truth-condition is not unlike the transition
in transformational grammar from the S-structure to the structure Chomsky
calls LF and which in bis approach does the duty of logical form. 27 Indeed, the
kind of representation Chomsky intends to capture by bis LF is very much like a
first-order quantificational formula.
This process cannot be thought of as being trivial. What is even more
remarkable, some of the same questions can be raised about it as were raised
conceming my truth-conditions. When it is the ultimate result of an attempt to
represent the logical form of an English sentence by means of first-order logic (IF
if necessary), it may not be at all obvious how the representation can be obtained
by a rule-governed process. An example is offered by the notorious "donkey
sentences" , for instance,

(12.3) If owns a donkey, he beats it.

The "logical form" of (12.3) is elearly

(12.4) (Vx)(x is a donkey) & (peter owns x ::J (peter beats x.

But the transition from (12.3) to (12.4) is so difficult that it has provoked an
extensive discussion.
Just as in my truth-definition for IF first-order languages, the natural and
powerful treatment of sentences exemplified by (12.3) employs higher-order logic
as a medium of semantical representation (see Hintikka and Sandu (1991.

Such a representation of a natural-Ianguage conditional is nevertheless usually

more complex than in the case of IF first-order languages, and cannot always be
reduced to ordinary first-order languages. Only in degenerate cases like (12.4)
does this higher-order representation reduce to an ordinmy first-order one.
Hence the whole interest lies in the transition from (12.3) to (12.4) and in the
rules governing it, not in its outcome.
Of course, the situation in naturallanguages is somewhat different from IF
first-order languages. For instance, it is not a foregone conclusion that all
semantical representations of natural-Ianguage conditionals can be expressed in
an IF notation.
In spite of such d.iscrepancies, what we find in the semantics of natural-
language conditionals exhibits an illuminating analogy with the problem
situation involved in truth-conditions for IF formal first-order languages in those
languages themselves. What is particularly striking is the fact that even a
trivial-Iooking semantical representation (truth-condition) can only be reached
via a procedure that normally leads us to higher-order semantical
The retlexivization of my truth-conditions has an interesting consequence.
Suppose we codi:fy the retlexivized truth-condition for a number-theoretical IF
first-order language L in a truth-predicate. Then this truth-predicate is a
complex expression of L itself. Consequently all attributions of truth and falsity,
whether they involve themselves with the truth-predicate or not, are closed
sentences of L. From this it follows that the assignment of an extension
(consisting of the truth sentences of L) and an antiextension (consisting of the
false sentences of L) to this predicate is a fixed point in Kripke's sense (see
Kripke in Martin (1984), p. 67). What that means is that Kripke's technique of
using a sequence of truth-predicates cannot be used to improve on my truth-
definition. I have so to speak reached a fixed point in one fell swoop, without
using any sequence oftruth-predicates ala Kripke.
In any case, even if we express our truth-conditions on the second-order level,
we do not face an infinite regress here. I have shown how to express the truth-
conditions of all IF first-order sentences in a fragment of the corresponding
second-order language. Now game-theoretical truth-conditions of
sentences have to be formulated in a language, which suggests that a
regress might be in the offing here. The suggestion is wrong, however, for in the
fragment in question - consisting essentially of ~1 sentences - each sentence
has a truth-condition in the same fragment of a second-order language. Truth-
conditions thus do not prompt any infinite regress.
Instead, what we can see is that if an IF language is extend.ed by
adding to it all the ~1 sentences in the corresponding second-order language, we
obtain a language in which truth-conditions can be expressed for all its

sentences and whose truth-conditions are not subject to the same suspicions of
triviality as the original.
This extension does not introduce any violations of the other desiderata of sec.
1, either. The reason is that each added sentence has a synonym in the original
unextended IF first-order language.


The most eloquent reason why a truth-predicate like the one sketched above is
not trivial is nevertheless the fact that such truth-definitions have commonly
been suspected to be impossible. In ordinary language, self-apphcable truth-
definitions are thought of as faltering on the har paradox, and for precise formal
languages various impossibility results have actually been proved by Tarski and
Gdel. I shall return to naturallanguages later. A far as formallanguages are
concerned, GdeYs incompleteness theorem offers an especially interesting object
of comparison. Even though GdeYs pubhshed result concerns deductive
incompleteness, his way of proving his result is closely related to semantical
ideas, so much so that historically speaking Gdel first estabhshed the
undefinability of arithmetic truth in the language of first-order arithmetic, and
only subsequently transformed his result to show the inevitable deductive
incompleteness of elementary arithmetic. 28 This historie al fact is closely related
to the systematic closeness of GdeYs hne of thought to the tradition al paradox of
the liar (cf. here Gdel (1986), especiallypp. 148-51).
Hence the really riveting question becomes: Why does not the truth-
definitions explained above fall prey to a Gdel-type impossibility result or some
other variant of the har paradox? This question is especially poignant because
all the ingredients of a Gdel-type result seem to be available. Asuming, as we
shall do in what follows, that the IF first-order language we are dealing with
incoIporates a suitable formulation of elementary arithmetic, we can in fact put
to motion the entire machinery of Gdel numbering, fix point theorems etc., in a
form not radically different from the customary one.
Once again, the details need not detain uso The crucial point is that the
construction of a truth-definition outlined above amounts to the construction of
an exphcit predicate T(x) such that T is true of a natural number n if and only if
n is the Gdel number of a true sentence. By the fixpoint theorem,29 there is a
numeral rg1for a number g such that gis the Gdel number of the formula

Let us call (13.1), G. Intuitively and loosely speaking G says, "I am false" .

What are we to make of (13.1)? It cannot be true, because it would then be

fa1se. It cannot be fa1se, because it would then have to be true. But of course it
need not be either. It can be neither true nor false in the realm of natural
numbers. In sec. 5 above, it was seen that this is a common occurrence in IF
first-order languages. A simple example (from a much simpler model of another
IF first-order language) was provided to illustrate such situations, including a
simple sentence (3.3) and a model (3.1) in which (3.3) is neither true nor fa1se.
What Gis, is simply another case in point. Hence a liar paradox does not arise in
IF first-order logic.
There is absolutely nothing paradoxical about G. In sec. 5, it was seen in
concrete, intuitive terms that any attempt to verify (3.3) in the model (3.1) can be
defeated, and so can any attempt to falsify it. The only reasonable thing in such
circumstances is to consider (3.3) neither true nor false in (3.1). The liar-type
sentence G is in principle just like (3.3) even though its fully analyzed structure
is so complex that we cannot see this at one glance.
Nor is the failure of one particular version of the liar paradox accidental,
leaving us in fear of other paradoxes. If you review the process of means by
which we arrived at the truth-conditions explained above you will see that no
semantical paradox can possibly come about as a consequence of these truth-
conditions. The second-order truth-condition of a given IF first-order sentence S
merely expresses what S means, and the reduction of this truth-condition back
to an IF first-order language is likewise merely a meaning-preserving
Sentences like G are interesting in other ways, too. If we set up an

then it is seen immediately that neither side of (13.2) is either true or false. Since
(13.2) has to be construed as a strong equivalence (cf. sec. 6 above), (13.2) is
neither true nor false itself.
This is interesting because (13.2) is an instance of Tarski's T-schema. It
provides an instance of the T-schema which is not true. As was pointed out
above in sec. 6, the use of the T-schema as a key to a truth-definition
presupposes the validity of tertium Mn datur in the language in question. This
presupposition is not satisfied in an IF first-order language.


But why cannot we simply add contradi.ctory negation as a new primitive to IF

first-order logi.c? Why not, indeed? Syntacti.cally, it is of course perfectly possible,
except that formationrules have to be of a somewhat unusual sort. For there is
no way of interpreting the symbol for contradi.ctory negation in general unless it
occurs in the beginning of an entire sentence (closed formula) or eise in front of
an atomic formula (where the difference between the two kinds of negations does
not make any difference anyway). Hence the formation rule for the contradi.ctory
negation (it Will be expressed by "-") will be global. It can only be applied to
closed formulas, and no formulas, and no formation rule can be applied to a
formula containing it.
Semanti.cally, too, contradi.ctory negation is in a perfectly good sense well
defined: -S is true if and only if S is not. Thus in a sense we can extend IF first-
order logi.c by adding to it a sentence-initial contradi.ctory negation. Let us call
the result extended IF first-order logi.c.
The extended IF first-order logi.c is in one perspective a completely familiar
logi.c. In another perspective, however, it presents a situation never before
countenanced in theory, at least in contemporary literature, as far as I
What is unfamiliar anddeeply puzzling here isthat the extension in a sense
introduces nothing new or at least nothing that a theorist could lay bis or
her hands on. The added part is a mere superstructure in the Marxist sense, a
stratum of logi.c whose behavior is completely determined by the more basic
parts of logi.c and which in that sense scan:ely can be said to enjoy independent
existence. It is for instance impossible to formulate any natural game rules for
the contradi.ctory negation.
On the other hand, the extended IF first-order logi.c is in another perspective
eminently familiar. For it can be shown to have the same expressive power as
the entire second-order logi.c (with the standard interpretation in Henkin's
sense, of course). This means that it has an extremely great expressive power, for
it is well known that you can for instance express most of the grand unsolved problems (continuum hypothesis, Souslin's conjecture, most of the
great unsolved problems, etc.) as questions concerning the
validity of certain second-order sentences.
The sense in which the extended IF first-order logi.c is as rieh as the entire
second-order logi.c is the following: For each sentence S of second-order logi.c, you
can find a sentence S* of extended IF first-order logi.c which is satisfiable if and
only if S is; and likewise for validity.
This can be shown along the lines of Hintikka (1955). I will not try to
reproduce here a full proof of the expressive equivalence in the sense indi.cated.

Suffice it to give some indications of how it can be proved and what the
conceptual situation is in other respects. The main point is in fact clear and
indeed quite simple. so You can always think of second-order logic as a kind of
many-sorted first-order logic, the different sorts being individuals plus sets of n-
tuples of individuals, for each n. The only thing you cannot capture by so doing is
the standard interpretation of the second-order language in question, that is to
say, the requirement that for each extensionally possible set of n-tuples there
actually corresponds the appropriate second-order entity. For instance, the
many-sorted first-order formulation cannot guarantee that for each class of
individuals there actually exists an element of the logical type that corresponds
to classes of individuals, that has the right members (i.e. has the elements of the
given class, and only them, as its members).
But this requirement can obviously be expressed by means of an initial finite
string of second-order universal quantifiers, over and above first-order
quantifiers. A sentence with such a quantifier structure can in turn be relatively
easily shown to be equivalent to a contradictory negation of a sentence of an IF
first-order language.
From the vantage point of extended IF logic, we can also see how interesting
liar-type sentences like (13.1) really are. For G is a sentence which is neither
true nor false in the standard model of arithmetic. Hence its contradictory
negation -G is a truth of arithmetic. Moreover, it is an arithmetical truth which
cannot be expressed in the IF first-order arithmetic (without contradictory
negation). For if it were, it would have to be an ordinary first-order formula, and
the liar paradox would apply. Hence the construction of Gdel-type sentences
means the discovery of arithmetical truths which go beyond IF first-order
What is lost when sentence-initial contradictory negation is introduced are in
the first place the nice metatheorems mentioned above. It is not any longer
possible to prove compactness, the Lwenheim-Skolem theorem or the
separation theorem. This makes it much more difficult to obtain any direct
overview of the extended logic.
These observations nevertheless put second-order logic in a new perspective.
Even though general results conceming second-order logic are few and far
between, it turns out to have a fragment for which all sorts of nice results can be
proved. And in asense, it is this fragment that determines the rest of second-
order logic.
Furthermore, adding sentence-initial contradictory negation to IF first-order
languages does not jeopardize the possibility of giving a truth-definition for such
a language in that very same language. For since "....!' occurs only sentence-
initially, all we need to do is to add the obvious stipulation that -S is true if and
only if S is not true, and false if and only if S is true.

Moreover, the characterization of extended IF languages can be relaxed to

some extent. There is clearly no harm or even danger in allowing arbitrary
truth-functional compounds of sentences of the form -8 into one extended IF
language. Their semantic interpretation (truth-conditions) are determined by
the usual truth-table stipulations. Thus it does not have to be strict1.y true that
in my extended IF first-order languages contradictory negation can only occur
sentence-initially. What is true is that it must not occur within the scope of a
quantifier. (Even this restriction can sometimes be lifted, but never given up


But it might now seem that the liar paradox is going to threaten us once again. 3l
For liar-type paradoxes need not be generated by a sentence which literally or in
some modified Gdel-type sense says

(15.1) I am false.

It was seen that in IF first-order languages paradoxes are avoided because the
sentences epitomized by (15.1) are neither true nor false. But paradoxes can
equally weIl be generated by sentences of the kind illustrated by

(15.2) I am not true.

For it appears that if (15.2) is true, it is not true, and if not true, it is true.
Admittedly, (15.2) is not expressible in an IF first-order language (even apart
from the mode of self-reference) because weak (contradictory) negation is not
expressible in such language in general. But the presence of the weak negation
is precisely what characterizes extended IF first-order languages. Admittedly,
such languages do not have first-person pronouns, let alone personal pronouns
referring to propositions. Hence the strengthened liar paradox is not
formalizable as such in an extended IF language. But this does not remove all
the dangers. What we must be on a lookout for are self-referential sentences of
the Gdel type, illustrated by (13.1) above. Why cannot such a sentence be
forthcoming with a weak negation instead of a strong one in an extended IF
first-order language?
The answer lies in the fact that in the extended IF languages contradictory
negation can occur only sentence-initially. Therefore, it cannot be used in
constructing a sentence like (15.1). The best such a sentence can therefore do is
to say, so to speak, (15.1) and not (15.2). Furthermore, no matter how we

manipulate sentence-initial contradictory negations, we cannot produce a

paradox. For instance, the contradictory negation of (13.1), that is,

says that what the Gdel sentence says is not true, which is in fact true.

says that the claim that the Gdel sentence is false is not true, which is again
true. Hence liar-type paradoxes are avoided even though contradictory negation
can occur in the language.


Independence-friendly languages provide an extremely interesting perspective

on naturallanguages. Familiar though they are, naturallanguages have often
been - and they ought to have been even more often - a source of puzzlement
and wonder for logical analysts. Everyday or colloquial language has certain
features which seem to be too good to be true. Such a language is normally taken
to be universal, in the sense of this word used by Tarski, who holds in so many
words that

a characteristic feature of colloquial language (in contrast to various

scientific languages is its universality. It ... could be claimed that 'if we
can speak meaningfully about anything at all, we can also speak about it
in colloquiallanguage'. 32

Now extended IF first-order languages cannot be claimed to be universal in such

an extreme sense. Yet they are in several respects good approximations to what
we find in ordinary discourse. For one thing, IF first-order languages exhibit a
remarkable degree - and kind - of expressive power. As was pointed out
above, extended IF first-order languages have in a sense the same expressive
power as second-order languages.
What that means in practice is that virtually all mathematics can be done in
terms of such languages. What is more, a representation of mathematical
propositions in second-order terms - and a fortiori in terms of an extended IF
language - offers more than a language (notation) for mathematical
statements. In typical cases, it offers an analysis (account) of mathematical

propositions, in that a proposition's truth-conditions are specifiable by reference

to the semantics of the extended IF language. For instance, most of the great
unproved mathematical conjectures are tantamount to the validity of some
parti.cular second-order formula. 33
In contrast the representation of a mathematical proposition in the language
ofset theory does not ipso {acto contrlbute anything to our understanding of the
proposition, e.g. to our knowledge of its truth-conditions or of the ''language-
games" by means of which its truth could be established.
It is this strength and :t1.exibility of extended IF first-order languages that
justifies a claim that the truth-definition offered here satisfies the first
cksideratum (i) formulated in the beginning of this paper. This strength is all the
more remarkable in view of the fact that IF first-order languages are
ontologically extremely frugal. They do not involve any higher-order variables or
set variables. All the variables used range over individuals. Thus we reach the
interesting result that virtually all mathematics can in principle be done in a
language without any variables for sets or for any higher-order entities of any
kind. A {ortiori, it is simply false to claim that set theory is an indispensable
foundation for mathematics.
In another dimension, too, the extended IF languages have been found to
exhibit a high degree of Tarskian "universality", in that they can be used to
speak of their own semantics, including their own truth-conditions and of the
"games" through which their sentences are verified and falsified.
Moreover, IF languages offer an explanation as to how naturallanguages can
reach their expressive power apparently withut using those means of
expression which lend certain logicallanguages their strength, such as higher-
order quantifiers. H Chomsky is right and the logical forms of English sentences
are. roughly comparable to (ordinary) first-order formulas, where can the
extraordinary expressive power of naturallanguages like English come from?
What we have found here suggests an answer. This answer lies in the fact that
Chomsky's ''logical forms" were originally incompletely analyzed, because
informational independence was not indicated in them. But if arbitrary
informational independence is allowed, Chomsky-type logical forms can very
well be :t1.exible enough to allow a much greater expressive power.
The kinship of IF languages and naturallanguages can be argued in other
ways, too, albeit perhaps somewhat less directly. It turns out that the
phenomenon of independence that lent its name to independence-friendly logic is
but a special case of informational independence in the sense of game theory.
Hence it can be expected to occur wherever game-theoretical semantics is
applicable, not merely in connection with quantifiers and connectives. This
expectation is in fact resounding1.y fulfilled by evidence. Informational
independence is not only a ubiquitous presence in naturallanguages. It is the

key ingredient in the analysis of several large-scale phenomena in linguistics

(linguistic semantics). The full dimensions of this ubiquity are only now
beginning to emerge. An early survey is provided by Hintikka and Sandu (1989),
and further examples are found in Sandu's papers. I showed a long time ago that
independent quantifiers are needed for the semantical representation of certain
types of questions; see Hintikka (1982a) and (1982b). But it is only now
becoming clear that an elegant, fully general theozy of all kinds of questions and
answers is possible only by means of IF logic (see here Hintikka (1991.
Furthermore, what is perhaps the most common (or at least most commonly
evoked) manifestation of independence phenomena in naturallanguages, the so-
called de-dicto vs. de re distinctions, has not yet been systematically discussed
from the vantage point of IF logics. The necessity of doing so is highlighted by
Sandu, "On the Logic of Informational Independence" , where an actual example
is provided to show that earlier treatments of the contrast are inadequate.
All told, the notion of informational independence is as deeply ingrained in
the semantics of naturallanguages as it is in the logic of IF languages.


How far do these similarities between IF formal languages and natural

languages extend? Do they extend so far that we can realistically undertake a
formulation of a truth-theozy for a naturallanguage in that language itself?
These questions are obviously of a tremendous signi:fi.cance to the methodology of
theoreticallinguistics. I cannot provide definitive answers to them here. A few
general points can nevertheless be made.
First, what has been seen in this paper suffices to show that there is in any
case a great deal of important similarity between extended IF first-order logic
and our Sprachlogjk. Hence the general, albeit tentative, suggestion of the
results reached here is that naturallanguages are indeed like IF languages, vezy
likely to the point of allowing self-applied truth-definitions. One of the results of
this paper is therefore strong encouragement to try to develop a theozy of truth
for naturallanguages in some suitable" metalanguage which does not have to be
thought of as being sharply separated from the object language itself.
Second, in any case, it can be seen that the usual reasons given in the
literature against the possibility of giving a truth-definition for a natural
language in itself are not conclusive. Usually, this impossibility is traced in one
way or another back to the universality of ordinazy language, which is alleged to
lead us down the garden path to liar-type paradoxes. What has been said in this
paper shows that liar-type paradoxes are not unavoidable even in extremely
strong languages.

Third, what has been found in any sharpens the issues in this problem
area. The possibility of using IF first-order languages as the medium of
semantical representation for naturallanguages may depend on, and even falter
on, those difficulties of openness and irregularity that Tarski empha.sized. But
certainly the jury, with Noam Chomsky as its foreman, is still out on such
issues.S4 What has been seen here shows that there is a much more specific issue
that is crucial for the comparison of extended IF languages and natural
languages. It is the behavior of negation in natural languages and in their
"naturallogic" .


Philosophers sometimes take the behavior of negation for granted, thinking of it

as involving a simple reversal of truth-values. The only main open issue will
then be whether we need "truth-value gaps" or "a third truth-value". That this
pieture is oversimplified is amply shown by the actual behavior of negation in
natural languages.S5 Among the piethora of complexities about negation in
natural languages then are the following: S6 Even though many linguists
postulate but one negative constituent, negation appears in languages like
English in two shapes, verbal negation and sentential negation. But even if we
consider both of them, it is ext.remely difficult to give hard-and-fast rules for
forming the contradictory of a given English sentence S. Indeed, on an earlier
occasion I have given some reasons to think that there cannot be recursive rules
for this purpose.S7 Contradictory negation can only be formed so its seems by
somewhat artificial like "It is not the thai'.
Now extended IF first-order languages offer an interesting novel framework
for analyzing the behavior of negation in natural languages. This interest is
partly due to the relevance of the behavior of negation to the possibility of
theorizing about truth of a naturallanguage sentences in that language itself,
and partly intrinsic, due to the promise of IF languages to help us to understand
the way negation operates in naturallanguages.
I cannot attempt a full-scale discussion of negation in naturallanguages here.
It is in order to point out, however, that there is no evidence that negation does
not behave in naturallanguages in essentially the same way as in extended IF
languages. On the contrary, in spite of the confusing complexities of natural
languages, several features of the behavior of negation in English becomes more
understandable when they are compared with what we find in extended IF
For one thing, we obtain an interesting perspective on the bifurcation of
natural-Ianguage negation into verbal and sentential negation. It would be a
serious oversimplification simply to assimilate this dichotomy to the distinetion

between strong and weak negation in extended IF languages; but the two
contrasts are not unrelated, either. When a negation-sign occurs in front of an
atomi.c formula in a formallanguage, the difference between strong (falsifying)
negation and weak (contradictory) negation disappears. Hence verbal negation,
which very roughly speaking negates the unquantified part of a sentence, is
likely to be a relatively unproblematic ingredient, and hence easily handled in
naturallanguages by relatively straightforward rules.
At the same time, the vagaries of contradictory negation in naturallanguages
like English become understandable. The fact that we can easily form the
contradictory of an English sentence by prefixing it by "It is not the case that" is
like introducing a sentence-initial contradictory negation into a IF first-order
logic without being ahle to introduce it into any position except the sentence-
initial one. The di.fficulty or perhaps even impossibility of giving effectively
applicahle rules for forming contradictory negations in English is in keeping
with the inevitable absence of contradictory negation from an IF first-
order language, without extending it by a new type of formation rule and by a
new type of truth-condition.
There even seem to be linguisti.c regulaiities in English which are closely
related to the awkwardness of locating negation between a sentence-initial
position and a minimal-scope position in an English sentence, apart from truth-
functional compounding. One regularity is seen by raising the following
question: When can not be prefixed to a quantifier phrase in English? The
following examples illustrate some of the acceptable constructions:

(18.1) Not every Scotsman is stingy.

Not a single student failed.
Not many runners managed to finish.

In contrast, the following constructions are unacceptable or at least much less


(18.2) not any


What makes the difference? It turns out that the quantifiersjnvolved in (18.2)
an have a wider scope than negation while those in (18.1) do not. Hence the
constructions (18.2), if they were admissible, could push negation into the
sentence-intemal no-man's land. In contrast, the quantifiers occurring in (18.1)

do not have the right of way in relation to negation. Hence they let negation stay
senumce-initial, and hence presumably a contradictory one.
This explanation is somewhat reinforced by observing that the constructions
instantiated in (18.1) are ceteris paribus admissible only in the subject position,
not in the object position. For instance, one can say

(18.3) Not every hunter shot a lion.


(18.4) Some hunter shot not every lion.

The reason is that if rwt occurs in a phrase which occupies an object position, it
can be within the scope of other quantifiers, typically quantifiers in the subject-
position phrase. This would once again land negation in a position where
contradictory negation cannot occur, if we assume that EngIish is like an
extended IF language.
This regularity has nothing to do with the "intendecf' meaning of expressions
like (18.4), for it is acceptable to say

(18.5) Not every lion was shot by some one hunter.

There are further linguistic regularities which become understandable in the

light of the behavior of negation in IF languages. One of them is the fact overt
negation can be a barrier to anaphora. For instance, anaphora is possible in the
former of the following two sentences, but not in the latter:

(18.6) Some student passed the examination. She must have studied very
(18.7) Not every student failed to pass the examination. She must have studied

Since (18.6) and (18.7) are logically equivalent, the discrepancy in the respective
degrees of acceptability of anaphora in them might at first sight seem puzzling.
It is nevertheless easily accounted for. In Hintikka and Kulas (1985), a theory of
anaphora is developed with GTS. Apart from the details, the basic idea is clear,
and it is the only thing I need to evoke here. This idea is that, in any play of a
semantical game, anaphoric pronouns refer to certain individuals introduced
earlier in the course of the same play. For instance in (18.6), the first game rule
to be applied is the rule for some. It involves a choice of an individual, say Susan,
from the relevant domain, whereupon the game is continued with respect to

(18.8) Susan passed the examination. Susan is a student. She must have
studied very hard.

When sometime later in the game the pronoun She is dealt with, there will be an
eligible value for it availahle, viz. Susan. Hence anaphora is possible in (18.6).
In contrast, (18.7) is not intelpreted directly through any game played with it.
Since its first sentence obviously involves a (sentence-initial) contradictory
negation, it is intelpreted only indirectly through the intelpretation of the

(18.9) Not every student failed to pass the examination.


(18.10) Every student failed to pass the examination.

Even if agame with (18.10) is involved in the intelpretation of (18.10), it does

not automatically restore the possibility of anaphora in (18.7). The reason is that
individuals introduced by applications of mIes for univerSal quantifiers are not
automatically availahle as values of anaphoric pronouns. (I shall not discuss
here the reasons and limits for this regularity.)
In any case, this regularity has nothing to do with the quantifier every as
such. For we have a similar situation with pairs of sentences like the following:

(18.11) Few students passed the examination. They must have studied very
hard to be ahle to do so.
(18.12) Not many students passed the examination. They must have studied
very hard to be ahle to do so.

However, the overt facts of the grammar of negation in English are too
'complex to be subject to any simple correlation with what happens in logical
languages, IF or not. In spite of this problem of less than radical translation,
sufficient evidence has been found to justify the claim that extended IF
languages satisfy the initial desideratum (i) of this paper.


It is to be noted also that all we need to solve the informalliar-type paradoxes is

to that negation behaves in natural languages in essentially the
same way as in extended IF first-order languages. An analysis of the self-

referential mechanism which leads to such prima facie paradoxes is needed only
for the purpose of arguing for the naturalness of this solution, not for the
solution itself. For instance, consider the arehetypalliar sentence

(19.1) Sentence (19.1) is false.

What kind ofprocedure is involved in trying to verify (19.1)? Such a language-

game would have to involve some rule not unlike the following:

(19.2) When the game has reached a sentence of the form, "Sentence (n) is
false", myself has to look up sentence (n). The game is then continued
with respect to its negation.

A mirror-image rule would be

(19.3) When the game has reached a sentence of the form "Sentence (n) is
true", nature has to look up sentence (n). The game is then continued
with respect to it.

Applied to (19.1), agame with the rule (19.1) leads to a loop, and hence to an
infinite play of the game. This does not by itself prevent us from speaking of
winning and losing here. We know from game theory that there can be perfectly
reasonahle ways of defining who wins and who looses in infinite and not only in
finite games. However, in this particular case, the infinite play is symmetrical
with respect to the two players. Hence there is not reasonahle rule for winning or
losing that would declare either player the winner. Hence (19.1) cannot be
verified, and by symmetry it cannot be falsified, either. Therefore (19.1) cannot
naturally be considered either true or false.
A similar argument applies to

(19.4) The sentence (19.4) istrue.

In this case, however, the infinite play of the game is not aymmetrical. One of the
players, viz. nature, can be "blamed" for the play's infinitude. This can naturally
be used as a basis for stipulating a sentence like (19.4) to be true (cf. here
Hintikka and Rantala (1976.
Hence an attempt to vindicate the strengthened liar paradox by considering a
sentence like

(19.5) The sentence (19.5) is not true.


where "not true" expresses contradictory negation, also fails, for (19.5) is simply
You do not have to like the details of this treatment of informalliar-type
paradoxes. For though my solution might very well look like an ad hoc
procedure, it in any case serves to illustrate the ease at which liar-type
paradoxes can be dealt with in naturallanguages as soon as it is admitted that
negation behaves in naturallanguages basically in the same way as in extended
IF first-order languages.
The kinds of definitions of winning and losing and a fortiori of truth and
falsity are interesting in principle (among other things) because they show that
there are reasonable ways of defining truth and falsity also for what Kripke calls
ungrounded sentences containing the truth predicate (see Kripke in Martin
(1984), p. 57).


Insofar as my argument in this essay has been successful, several important

conclusions and suggestions will follow. Here I can only mention briefly some of
the most important ones.
Some of them were foreshadowed in sec. 1 above. For one thing, the main
theoretical undelpinning of the idea of the ineffability of semantics is eliminated
if truth is defined in a suitable language, appl'Oximating the logical power of
natural languages. This will make huge differences to the evaluation of such
philosophers as Frege, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and the entire hermeneutical
Likewise, the claim of constructivists like Dummett that truth-conditional
semantics cannot do justice to the ways we actually verify and falsify the
sentences of our language has to be re-examined and re-evaluated.
But it is not only the main conclusions of this essay that are folgenschwer. The
way they were reached is also full of impllcations. What my conclusions suggest
strongly is that IF first-order logic is a much better model of the semantics of
natural languages than ordinary first-order logic. It enables us to codify
eforma1ize") several striking features of a naturallanguage, including its ability
to speak of its own semantics, the behavior of negation, etc. AB was mentioned in
sec. 2 above, the notion of informational independence is also about to pl'Ove to
be vital in explaining a large number of other phenomena in naturallanguages.
Since IF first-order languages look very much like ordinary first-order
languages, this perhaps does not at first seem to be a radical change. However, if
you look at the methodological situation, the picture changes. In current
theoreticallinguistics, you find a heavy reliance on compositionallanguages and
on Tarski-type truth-definitions, either in their original form or in various more

sophis1icated versions, such as Montague seman1ics. But these two ideas,

compositionality and Tarski.-type semantics, are not applicable in IF first-order
languages or any extensions of theirs. Hence, if IF first-order languages are
needed in order to do jus1ice to the overall seman1ics of naturallanguages, this
semantics has to be different from most of the types of semantical
conceptualization used in contemporary linguis1ics. Compositional models have
to be replaced by noncompositional ones, and Tarski.-type seman1ics has to yield
to a seman1ics which, like GTS, works from outside in and is therefore applicable
without the assumption of compositionality.


The most general repercussion of the observations presented here may

nevertheless be their liberating effect. Ever since Tarski's result, it has been
generally believed that a theory of truth for one's own naturallanguage can only
be formulated in a stronger metalanguage. If so, the construction of such a
super-language cannot rely merely on our own antecedent understanding of our
own language. But where could such superior understanding come from? And,
how can it be relevant if all we want to do is to understand our language?
All these questions become irrelevant in the light of the results reached here.
There is no reason to doubt that we can construct a truth-definition for our own
language in that language itself, relying only on an understanding of that very
same object language. What is crucial is that that understanding must be
strategie in nature, involving explicitly the strategies which there are available
for the two players in the seDlan1ical games which I have been relying on.
One consequence is that the entire object language vs. metalanguage
distinction becomes less important than it was earlier thought of as being.
Instead of worrying about the segregation of object languages and
metalanguages from each other, a prac1icing logieal analyst should be more
careful than before about the notion of negation she or he is using. At the very
least, a clear recognition of a distinction between the strong (Le. dual) negation
and the weak (Le. contradictory) negation is in order, completed with an
understanding ofthe differences in each one's logieal behavior.
Does that insight tum me into an ally of intuitionists and/or other
constructivists? I do not personally care one way or the other what the answer is,
I suspect that there may very wen be a genuine kinship between the ideas on
which IF first-order logie is based and the intentions of intuitionists. For
instance, the way the law of excluded middle fails in IF logic is related to the
intuitionists' idea that sometimes one cannot either verlly or falsify a
proposition. The game-theoretical element may likewise recall the idea that in
mathema1ics one is dealing with certain human operations.

But if SO, I must find the intuitionists' ideas badly and confusingly expressed.
For IF logi.c was obtained by analyzing further the ideas of classical logic,
developing them further, and even strengthening this classicallogic. This is a far
cry from the intuitionistic logicians' apparent rejection of classicallogic.
Again, the failure of the law of excluded middle is not a matter of insuffi.cient
information or a failure of the human mind to cany out an infinity of operations.
When neither S nor its strong negation -S is true in a model (world) M, this is an
objective fact about M, totally independent of what human beings happen to
know, to think, or to imagine. It means that the structure of M is such that the
semantical game G(S) played on M, is not determinate. Stating this fact ipso
facto conveyed to a hearer objective knowledge about M. Intuitionistic
mathematics is weaker than the classical one. In contrast, practically all of
classical mathematics can in principle be done in an extended IF first-order
language. Only if these facts are compatible with an intuitionist's or a
constructivist's position can I agree with them. And their own formulations of
their position does not encourage me to believe in the possibility of a
reconciliation, much as I would welcome it.
Apart from the relation of my ideas to those of the intuitionists, we are in any
case experiencing here a significant liberation. "Tmth" is no longer to be
considered a four-letter word in philosophical analysis.



For a formal first-order S, we associate a two-person zero-sum game G(S) of the

following kind:

(1) The two players are called myself and nature. Intuitively speaking, the
former is trying to veri:fy S, the to falsify it. However, the two players may
have to roles during the game.

(2) The game G(S) is played on a given fixed model M of the underlying first-
order language L (without function symbols).

(3) Since M is a model of L, all its predicates are interpreted on the domain
do(M} ofM. This implies that the truth-value of every atomic sentence ofL in M
is determined, and likewise for every extension of L obtained by adding to it a
:finite number of names of members of do(M}.

(4) The game begins with S. At each stage, the two players face some one

(5) The mIes of the game are the following:

(R.&) GFl&F2 begins with the choice by nature ofF; (i = 1 or 2). The rest of
the game is as in G(F;).

(R.v) G(Fl v F2) begins with the choice by myself ofF; (i = 1 or 2). The rest of
the game is as in G(F;).

(R.A) G('v'x)F[x]) begins with the choice by nature of a member, say b, of

do(M). (If this individual does not have a name in L, it is given one
which is added to L.) The rest ofthe game is as in G(F[b]), where F[b] is
the sentence obtained from ('v'x)F[x] by omitting the quantifier and by
replacing all occurrences of the variable bound to it by "b".

(R.E) Likewise, except that choice is made by myself.


(R.-) G(-F) begins with an exchange of roles of the two players, as defined by
the game rules (including rules for winning and losing). The rest of the
game is otherwise as in G(F).

Agame govemed by these rules obviously comes to an end in a finite number

of moves, in that the players are confronted by an atomic sentence to which no
rule can be applied. The rule for winning and losing is very simple:

(R.A) If the game has come to an end with a true sentence, the winner is
myself and the loser nature: if with a false one, vice versa.

These games enable us to define truth and falsity as follows:

S is true if and only if there exists a winning strategy for myself in G(S).

S is false if and only if there exists a winning strategy for nature in


All these rules are immediately motivated by thinking of G(S) as an attempt

on my part to verify S and on the nature's part to falsify it.


1 An even more serious problem is the infiniw regress which would result from the
need to resort to a stronger metalanguage.
2 See Tarski (1956).

3 For these approaches, see the papers collecwd in Martin (1984) and see also McGee

4 Cf. Hintikka (1988), (1989).

5 See van Heijenoort (1967); Hintikka and Hintikka (1986), chapwr 1; Hintikka (1990),

Church (1958), introduction.

6 See Kusch (1989).

7 See Tarski (1956), especially p. 273.

8 See Tarski (1956), pp. 163-5.

9 See Dummett (1978) andHintikka (1987a).

10 I am following in this seetion closely Hintikka, "What Is Elementary Logic'!' (1995).

11 This point can be reinforced by arguing that the very notion of scope is seriously

flawedin any case. See Hintikka (1987b).

12 Sandu has studied independence-friendly language in a number of other studies, too.

See his papers (1992, 1993) and also Hintikka and Sandu (1989).
13 Another small-scale example of informationally independent quantifiers is given in

Hintikka (1991).
14 See Hintikka (1995).

15 See here Hintikka (1983), chapwr 10.

16 For GTS, see Saarinen (1979) and Hintikka (1983). For the basic ideas of game

theory, see von Neumann and Morgenswrn (1944), Jones (1980) or Owen (1982).
17 That is, in its prenex form there is only one initial string of second-order quantifiers,

all ofthem exiswntial.

18 See Gdel (1990).

19 This is of course not the only way of trying to implement constructivistie ideas. Other

approaches do affect the equivalence of S and S*. From the game-theoretieal viewpoint,
the course suggeswd here nevertlieless appears the most natural one.
ID See Quine (1970), pp. 90-1.

21 Cf. here Hintikka (1995).

22 With the following, cf. Walkoe (1970).

23 For this axiom, cf. Fenstad (1971).

24 Cf. Dummett (1978) and Hintikka (1987a).

25 Cf. Hintikka (1983), eh. 3, and Hintikka and Sandu (1991).

26 Cf. here Hintikka and Sandu (1991).

27 Cf. here e.g. Chomsky (1986).

28 Cf. here Dawson (1985) and Gdel (1986).

29 For the fix point theorem, see e.g. Mendelson (1987), pp. 59-60.

30 Cf. Here Hintikka (1955).

31 For this strengthened form of the liar paradox, cf. e.g. Martin (1984), pp. 87-93.
32 See Tarski (1956), p. 164.

33 Several people have argued that second-order languages are the proper medium of

logical and mathematical thinking. Examples are offered by Putnam (1971), Boolos
(1984), and Shapiro (1985). In view of the elose relationship between the extended IF
mst-order logic and second-order logic these arguments provide, at least indirectly, more
grist to my IF mill.
34 I have a suspicion that Tarski's worries about the aIleged irregularity of natural

languages are in part due to the fact that he did not believe that we can develop a viable
semantical theory for languages in which compositionality does not hold. He seems to
have perceived, correctly, that compositionality does not hold in naturallanguages. This
makes it impossible to apply the kinds of truth-definitions that he had in mind to
natural languages. However, in this respect the development of game-theoretical
semantics has changed the prospects of logic-driven theorizing radicaIly, in that it has
shown that the failure of compositionality is no obstacle whatsoever to the formulation of
eminently natural truth-definitions.
Tarski may or may not be right in elaiming that it is impossible to give precise
structural truth-conditions for naturallanguage sentences. But it is elear from what has
been said that the specific arguments Tarski presents are not conelusive. The alleged
impossibility does not follow from the universality of colloquial language or from the
elaimed inevitability ofliar-type paradoxes in naturallanguage.
35 For the behavior of negation in English, see e.g. Klima (1964) and Stockwell, et al.

(1973), chapter 5.
36 Cf. here Sandu (1994).

37 In Hintikka (1983), chapter 4.


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35 (1970), pp. 535-55.




The most important background factor in the development of twen-

tieth-century logic has received insufficient attention in the literature.
This factor is a largely tacit contrast between ways of looking at the
relation of language and its logic to reality. I have called them the idea
of language as the universal medium and the idea of language as
calculus.! I shall also refer the two traditions representing these two
respective ideas as the universalist tradition and as the model-theoreti-
cal tradition.
The former tradition domina ted the development of symbolic logic
from Frege to Russell, Whitehead and later certain parts of the
subsequent developments, such as Quine's work, certain aspects of the
proof-theoretical tradition, etc. According to the tenets of this tradi-
tion, you are a prisoner (as it were) of your language. You cannot step
outside it, you cannot re-interpret it in a large scale, and you cannot
even express its semantics in the language itself. The most important
and in many ways the most characteristic representative of this tradi-
tion of language as the universal medium was Frege. 2 In his writings,
we can see vividly what the consequences of this view look like. Frege
held that one cannot explain in a language its own semantics nor can
one explain a new language (like bis own Begriffsschrift), except by
means of indirect hints and clues and by relying on pre-existing
understanding on the part of the learner. Hence all that one could do
in actual logical theory is to formulate purely formal systems. (This is
why Frege, whose Begriffsschrift was an interpreted language intend-
ed to be a realistic alternative to naturallanguages, nevertheless came
to develop the current idea of a purely formal system of logic.) No
general metalogic was, strictly speaking, possible for Frege. Likewise,
model theory was impossible. On the contrary, one should avoid all
model-theoretic or "intuitive" ways of thinking in real logic. As
metalogic is impossible, so is metalanguage. Or, rather, both the
subject language and the metalanguage must be understood locally,

since they must both be parts of the language, the one and only
language we have.
The most important casualty of the prohibition against metalogic is
the concept of truth. 3 For the concept of truth pertains to the relations
of our sentences to the world, and hence must be ineffable for anyone
who believes in language as the universal medium. It can be "effed"
(expressed) only in a metalanguage. which is another no-no for the
same universalists.
Furthermore, the interpretation of our language cannot be changed
or, rather, we cannot speak of, or theorize about, such changes. Hence
there is only one thing language can speak of, to wit, this one actual
world. There is no sense in tal king about other possible worlds or even
other models (interpretations) of our language (or of Frege's formal
language). Hence logical truths cannot be explained a la Leibniz (or a
la Camap) as truths in every possible world. 4 Logical truths are for
Frege truths about this world of ours, albeit about its more abstract
aspects. This explains Frege's characterization of analytic truths as
being based exclusively on completely general laws and definitions, a
characterization later echoed by Quine. s These characterizations are
based on the assumption which Russell once expressed in bis inim-
itable way by saying that "logic is concemed with the real world just
as zoology, though with its more general and abstract features".6
These views were in the main shared by early Russell, Wittgenstein,
in the Vienna Circle in its hayday in 1930-32, Quine, etc. 7 I would not
even be surprised if a perceptive historian of twentieth-century
thought could trace to the same source Chomsky's consistent
emphasis of syntax at the expense of semanties. 8


As far as the development of logic itself is concemed, this tradition is

usually contrasted to a tradition wbich comprises among others Boole,
Schrder, Lwenheim, Gdel, later Carnap, and (in a certain sense)
Tarski.9 By the time we come to the second half of the fifties, Tarski
~nd bis numerous students and associates are busy forging model
theory in the restricted present-day sense of the term as apart of the
technical mathematical logic and foundational studies. 10 Needless to
say, the development of any model theory worthy of its name presup-

poses the possibility of varying in a large scale the interpretation of the

language in question, be it natural or formal, in other words, it
presupposes the idea of language as calculus. Indeed, my choice of the
term "calculus" (or, rather, van Heijenoort's choice of the word) is
calculated to highlight this re-interpretability of language, not its
purely formal character (which sometimes is due instead to one's belief
in language as the universal medium).
The teIltale ideas of this tradition, which I shall also call the
model-theoretical tradition, include such notions as "the universe of
discourse" and "Denkbereich" (for they show that the logician in
question was ready to vary the interpretation of his or her language), a
mixture of logical and metalogical cQnsiderations (in one's official
theory, for of course even a universalist like Frege could mix them as
apart of his or her informal heuristic reasoning), the use of the
concept of truth, all reliance on metalanguage, each and every use of
intuitive model-theoretical ideas in systematic logical theory (such as,
e.g., the Hintikka-Beth idea of viewing formal proofs as frustrated
countermodel constructions), etc. lJ Later, I shall add a couple of
further items to this list.
At the early stages of this tradition, it was also characterized by the
use of algebraic methods and by attempts to find paralleis between
logic and algebra. Sluga calls this entire tradition "algebraist", and
terms like "the algebra of logic" do in fact abound in it. 12
The relationship of this tradition to the use of algebraic techniques
is a eomplex one, however. For one thing, at the later stages of the
development of the model-theoretical tradition a eouple of new twists
were added to the relationship between logic in the model-theoretical
tradition and algebra. First, as c1early seen in the pioneering work of
Abraham Robinson, model theory found one of its most important
applications as a metatheory of algebraic systems. 13 Second, even
though the formal parallelism between logie and algebra grew less
conspicuous, the philosophical parallelism remained intact. Model-
theoretical logic was thought of as being applicable in a huge variety
of different ways, just as algebra is applicable in spectaeularly different
ways to many different "universes of discourse". In fact, eontrary to
what many philosophers seem to be saying, most of the traditional
work in abstract algebra consists (in the light of philosophical hind-
sight), not of deductions of theorems from the axioms of such theories
as group theory, the theory of fields, lattiee theory, ete., but of

metatheoretical results concerning such axiomatic theories and their

models. 14
If taken seriously, the model-theoretical tradition gives rise to the
idea that the relation of a sentence to its models is the cornerstone of
all semantics. According to this consistent model-theoretical concep-
tion, what a sentence S says, it says by specifying a class of models
M(S). To know that S is true in a model Mo is to know that
Mo E M(S). To know what S is logically true is to know that it is true
in every model, Le., to know that M(S) = the entire space of models.
Thus in the last analysis everything comes down to the relation of a
sentence S (or of a set of sentences) to its models. Tarski-type
truth-definitions are in effect definitions of that relation, which is the
source of their importance in logical theory. It will be argued later in
this paper, however, that they are not the only nor even the best (most
general) means of getting the job done.
From this vantage point it is clear that a sentence (e.g., a theory T)
yields more information as it more narrowly restricts the class of
models in which it is true. Its informativeness is not measured by the
class of models to which it applies (in the sense of being true in them),
but by the class of models to which it does not apply (Le., in which it is
It does not even matter whether in the passage of a sentence S to its
models that the nonlogical constants of S may be re-interpreted. For
instance, what an axiomatization of a certain kind of geometry does is
to specify (if it is consistent) a class of structures. What the elements of
this structure are does not matter in the least. They may be elements
in some abstract platonic structure; they may be reinterpreted ele-
ments of another kind of geometry (as in the Klein model in which a
non-Euclidean geometry is interpreted within apart of Euclidean
geometry); or they may be suitable physical objects (e.g., when group
theory is applied in physics). None of these ideas make any general
sense to someone who seriously believes in the universality of the
languages in question.
Of course, in actual historical material these two traditions are
transformed and even distorted by the idiosyncracies of particular
logicians and philosophers. For instance, even a believer in the uni-
versality of language can speak freely about the semantics of bis
language, develop theories relying on the concept of truth (e.g., the
usual truth-function theory), provided that he declares what he is

saying as being, strictly speaking, nonsensical, as Wittgenstein did in

the Tractatus. 15 Or one can adopt the view that ordinary language is
the unique universal medium of all communication but that particular
formallanguages can admit an explicit semantical theory, as long as it
is formulated in another artifical language, its metalanguage. Interes-
tingly, this was Tarski's attitude. 16 In his famous monograph, he
combines a classical form of the view of the universality of natural
language with explicit truth-theory for formal languages. The former
view is stated by Tarski as folIows: 11

A characteristic feature of colloquial language (in contrast to various scientific lan-

guages) is its universality. It would not be in harmony with the spirit of this language if
in some other language a word occurred which could not be translated into it; it could
be c1aimed that "if we can speak meaningfully about anything at all, we can also speak
about it in colloquial language." If we are to maintain this universality of everyday
language in connexion with semantical investigations, we must, to be consistent, admit
into the language, in addition to its sentences and other expressions, also the names of
these sentences and expressions, and sentences containing these names, as weil as such
semantic expressions as 'true sentence', 'name', denote', etc. Hut it is presumably just
this universality of everyday language which is the primary source of all semantical
antinomies, Iike the antinomies of the liar or of heterological words. These antinomies
seem to provide a proof that every language which is universal in the above sense, and
for which the normal laws uf logic hold, must be inconsistent.
If these observations Are correct, then the very possibility o{ a consistent use o{ the
expression 'true sentence' which is in harmony with the laws o{ logic and the spirit o{
everyday langUllge sums 10 be very questionable, and consequendy the same doubt
attaches 10 the possibility o{ constructing a co"ect definition o{ this expression.

Historically this is a truly remarkable passage. In it, the grandfather of

all truth-conditional semantics expresses his skepticism concerning the
possibility of a truth-conditional semantics for the entirety of a natural
language. We shall have reasons to return to Tarski's views later.
In the rest of this paper, I shall analyze a couple of facets of the
development of the two grand traditions.



First, the early stages of the history of the tradition of logic and
language as calculus may not at first sight seem very impressive. Who
in this day is reaDy interested in Schrder or Lwenheim? This

inauspicious beginning of the model-theoretical tradition may lead you

to wonder how it ever got off the ground in the teeth of a formidable
array of major philosophers who believed in the universality of lan-
guage and the ineffability of model theory (semantics).18
Part of an answer lies in what was said earlier about Tarski. The
model-theoretical viewpoint was first developed so as to be applicable
to particular explicitly formulated formal (of course, formal not in the
sense of being uninterpreted but in the sense of being expressible in an
explicit logical notation) languages, and only subsequently extended
(in so far as it was extended) to natural languages.
However, there is another partial answer in the offing. Model-
theoretical thinking had a formidable ally in the early decades of this
century. The inftuence of this other line of thought is typically over-
looked in discussions in which attention was restricted to - the
development of logic only. This is amistake. One of the strongest
inftuences on early twentieth-century philosophy was the modern
axiomatic approach to scientific theories, including mathematical
theories. This axiomatic approach culminated in Hilbert's Foundations
0/ Geometry, originally published in 1899. 19 The axiom system of
elementary geometry presented there was thought of by Hilbert in the
purest model-theoretical terms. Not only does Hilbert make it clear
that he is not making any assumptions as to what the entities he labels
"points", "Iines" and "planes" are. He makes it clear that any struc-
ture of objects which satisfies the axioms will qualify as a geometry,
regardless of whether or not they bear any resemblances to what in
ordinary discourse would be called "point", "line" or "between",
"congruent", etc. From the beginning Hilbert was actually using
suitable unintended interpretations of some subsets of the axioms to
establish the independence of yet another axiom from them. 20
There is no doubt that Hilbert's Foundations 01 Geometry was one of
the main gateways of model-theoretical thinking into twentieth-cen-
tury logic and philosophy.21 Its role has not always been appreciated.
Its inftuence is nevertheless conspicuous in such inferential works as
Einstein's famous lecture 'Geometry and Experience'.22 Some of the
charges of "formalism" that have been levelled at Hilbert stem from a
failure to understand bis model-theoretic way of thinking. In reality,
the right diagnosis of Hilbert's axiomatic approach shows that his
philosophy of mathematical theories was in 1899 as far from formalism
as one can get. Far from being self-contained calculi, mathematical

theories receive according to Hilbert their whole import from the class
of models they specify.
In fact, it seems to me that it was a large-scale misunderstanding of
Hilbert's standpoint, combined with Hilbert's unfamiliarity with
philosophers' views. that led philosophers in the first place to apply the
unfortunate and misleading term "formalist" to hirn.
For instance, Hilbert's emphasis on the consistency of various
explicit axiom systems, including elementary arithmetic, is a direct
consequence of his model-driven approach. For as soon as an axiom
system (a set of sentences) is consistent, it specifies a class of models,
and can be used as a tool of studying them. And if mathematics is
conceived of as the study of various kinds of structures, this is enough
to get the business of doing mathematics going. Thus the crucial role
of the consistency problem in Hilbert's thought is not a consequence
of his alleged formalism, but of his model-theoretic viewpoint.


The contrast between a model-theoretical approach and a universalist

one is iIlustrated vividly by the correspondence which was conducted
between Frege and Hilbert and which was prompted by Frege's
negative reaction to Hilbert's 1899 monograph. 23 For one thing, this
correspondence confirms one's worst fears of how difficult it was for
Frege to understand Hilbert's viewpoint. Frege could not believe that
"a precise and complete description of the [usual geometrical] rela-
tions is given by the axioms of geometry ... and that the concept
'between' is defined by axioms", as Hilbert c1aimed he was doing. 24
For Frege, to define an expression is to fix its sense (which determines
its reference), and this sense is an actual object in this one world of
ours. No wonder Frege could not understand what Hilbert was doing.
For Hilbert, because of his axiomatic way of thinking, it does not
make any sense to ask for a definition of the basic concepts of
geometry in the sense Frege wanted (Le., a specification of what they
stand for in this world). "To try to give a definition of a point in these
Iines is to my mind an impossibility, for only the whole structure of
axioms yields a compiete definition. . .. A 'point' in Euclidean, non-
Euclidean, Archimedean and non-Archimedean geometry is some-
thing different in each case".2S For Hilbert it was "surely obvious that
every theory is only a scaffolding or schema of concepts together with

their necessary relations to one another, and that the basic elements
can be thought of in any way one likes".2to "In other words: any theory
can always be applied to infinitely many systems of basic elements. ,,27
This contrast came to a head in a question concerning the issue of
consistency and consistency proofs. For Frege, there strictly speaking
could not exist any problem of consistency, only the problem of truth.
"From the truth of the axioms it follows that they do not contradict
one another. There is therefore no need of further proof". 28
In somewhat different terms, Frege writes: 29

What means do we have of demonstrating that certain properties, requirements (or

whatever else one wants to call them) do not contradict one another? The only means I
know is this: to point to an object that has all these properties. to give a case where all
those requirements are satisfied. It does not seem possible to demonstrate lack of
contradiction in any other way.

Frege held to this, because for him there was only one thing that the
axioms of geometry could speak of, only one reality they could apply
to, and of course they had to be true in that one unique "model" if
they were to be of any use. Unfortunately such a one-world concept of
truth was not even available to Hilbert. On the contrary, he saw the
procedure Frege advocated as being very nearly fallacious. According
to Hilbert,30

One of the main sources of mistakes and misunderstandings in modern physical

investigations is precisely the procedure of setting up a [new] axiom, appealing to its
truth, and inferring (rom this that it is compatible with the defined concepts. One of the
main purposes of my [book Foundations 0/ GeometryJ was to avoid this mistake.

The only way Frege had to accommodate Hilbert's emphasis on

consistency was to misinterpret it as a fallacious "inference from lack
of contradiction to truth".31 He was encouraged in doing so by
Hilbert's unfortunate terminology, which led hirn to statements like
the following: 32

I was very much interested in your sentence: 'From the truth of the axioms it follows
that they do not contradict one another', because for as long as I have been thinking,
writing, lecturing about these things, I have been saying the exact reverse: If the
arbitrarily given axioms do not contradict one another, then tbey are true, and tbe
things defined by the axioms exist.

Of course, Hilbert could easily have avoided the loaded terms "truth"

and "existence" here. But it was not merely the unfortunate choice of
these words that was objectionable to Frege. rather it was Hilbert's
entire model-theoretical way of thinking.
What muddled Hilbert's philosophical pronouncements - even
though it never caused any confusion in his actual axiomatic work -
was that he was in effect lumping together two different kinds of ideas.
One is that an axiomatic system has an application as soon as it is
consistent. Then its models "exist" , and so do individuals in those
(usually several) models. Furthermore, the set ofaxioms is true in each
model. What Hilbert is thus saying is merely that a mathematician has
his or her work cut out for him or her as soon as one's axiom system is
consistent. Of course one ought not to have expressed this by saying
that the objects of an axiomatic theory "exist" as soon as the theory is
But Hilbert was also relying on the idea of consistency in another
way, which was unfortunately never distinguished from the first one
either by Hilbert or by Frege in their respective philosophical
pronouncements. This is the idea codified in Hilbert's "Axiom of
Completeness" which says in effect that whatever individuals can exist
in the intended model of the axiom system must exist in a sense that
pertains (according to Hilbert's intentions) to the actual structure
imposed by the axioms or their models, consistency implies exis-
tence. 33 In order to express this idea, he of course had to speak of
existence in the usual sense of the word.
There are difficulties with this idea, too, especially in the for-
mulation Hilbert gave to it in his 1899 book. But it is not subject to
the same philosophical objections as the general idea that the con-
sistency of an axiom system implies the existence of the elements it
speaks of. Rather, Hilbert's idea is that the consistency of the existence
01 an individual 01 a certain kind with the axioms (and with the
existence of all other individuals whose existence is prescribed by the
axioms) guarantees its existence. There are not inconsiderable tech-
nical difficulties in carrying out this idea, but this is not wh at Frege is
objecting to in Hilbert - or if it is, Frege's arguments are not very
impressive. 34
It is most revealing to see that in the end the only way in which
Frege could try to make any sense of Hilbert's approach in general
and of Hilbert's use of arbitrary models in particular is by suggesting

by plaeing yourself in a higher position from which Euclidean geometry appears as a

special case of a more comprehensive theoretical structure, you [Hilbert] widen your
view so as to include examples which make the mutual independence of those axioms
evident. 35

It may be that Frege is here beginning to understand Hilbert's way of

thinking. If so, he could not have found a worse way of expressing
himself than to say that Hilbert is making Euclidean geometry part of
a richer structure. Hilbert's whole point is that Euclidean geometry is
itself one structure among several competing ones.
When Michael Resnik says, as a conclusion of his discussion of the
Frege-Hilbert exchange, that "given the data before him, Frege's
criticism was completely justified", only establishes that Resnik shares
Frege's radical failure to appreciate Hilbert's way of thinking. 36
All this illustrates what" I said earlier in general terms about the
contrast between the traditions of logic as the universal medium
(Frege) and logic as calculus (Hilbert).


Why, then, was Hilbert perceived as a formalist? There are un-

doubtedly many explanations, but the most important of them is
probably his conviction that the logic which is being used to derive
theorems from the axioms of an explicit axiom system, e.g., his own
axiomatization of geometry, can be "formalized", that is, summed up
in the form of a complete "axiom system" of logic. Ironically, Hilbert
shared this belief with several major representatives of the tradition of
the universality of logic, such as Frege and Wittgenstein. Thus Hilbert
was not a formalist in bis pbilosophy of mathematics, but perhaps in a
sense in bis pbilosophy of logic.
In this respect, Tarski for one was much more cautious than Hilbert.
In his paper "On the Concept of Logical Consequence,,37 he writes:
The concept of logical consequence is one of those whose introduction into the field of
strict formal investigation was not a matter of arbitrary decision on the part of this or
that investigator; in defining this concept, etJorts were made to adhere to the common
usage of the language of everyday life. But these etJorts have been confronted with tbe
ditliculties which usuaIly present themselves in such cases. Witb respect to tbe c1arity of
its content the common concept of consequence is in no way superior to other concepts
of everyday language. Its extension is not sharply bounded and its usage Ouctuates. Any
attempt to bring into harmonyall possible vague, sometimes contradictory, tendencies
which are connected with the use of this concept, is certainly doomed to failure. We

must reconcile ourselves from the start to the fact that every precise definition of this
concept will show arbitrary features to a greater or less degree. Even until recently
many logicians believed that they had succeeded, by means of a relatively meagre stock
of concepts, in grasping almost exactly the content of the common concept of con-
sequence, or rather in defining a new concept which coincided in extent with the
common one. Such a belief could easily arise amidst the new achievements of the
methodology of deductive science. Thanks to the progress of mathematical logic we
have leamt, during the course of recent decades, how to present mathematical dis-
ciplines in the shape of formalized deductive theories. In these theories, as is weil
known, the proof of every theorem reduces to single or repeated application of some
simple rules of inference - such as the rules of substitution and detachment. These rules
tell us what transformations of a purely structural kind (i.e., transformations in which
only the external structure of sentences is involved) are to be performed upon the
axioms or theorems already proved in the theory, in order that the sentences obtained as
a result of such transformations may themselves be regarded as proved. Logicians
thought that these few rules of inference exhausted the content of the concept of
consequence. Whenever a sentence follows h"om others, it can be obtained from them -
so it was thought - in more or less complicated ways by means of the transformations
prescribed by the rules. In order to defend this view against sceptics who doubted
whether the concept of consequence when formalized in this way really coincided in
extent with the common one, the logicians were able to bring forward a weighty
argument: the fact that they had actually succeeded in reproducing in the shape of
formalized proofs all the exact reasonings which bad ever been carried out in mathema-
Nevertheless we know today that the scepticism was quite justified and that the view
sketched above cannot be maintained.

After baving described some ways of extending the usual notion of

consequence Tarski writes: 38
The conjecture now suggests itself that we can finally succeed in grasping the full
intuitive content of the concept of consequence by the method sketched above, Le. by
supplementing the rules of inference used in the construction of deductive theories. By
making use of the results of K. Gdel we can show tbat this conjecture is untenable. In
every deductive theory (apart from certain theories of a particularly elementary nature),
however much we supplement the ordinary roles of inference by new purely structural
rules, it is possible to construct sentences which follow, in the usual sense, from the
theorems of this theory, but which nevertheless cannot be proved in tbis theory on the
basis of the accepted rules of inference. In order to obtain the proper concept of
consequence, which is close in essentials to the cOlDlon concept, we must resort to
quite different methods and apply quite different conceptual apparatus in defuJing it.

Tarski thus thought as early as 1935 that skepticism conceming the

characterizability of the notion of logical consequence "was quite
In my view, this belief in tbe formalizability of logic was the crucial

flaw in Hilbert's thinking. The concept of consequence which is

needed for the purposes of studying nonlogical axiom systems in the
way Hilbert wanted, e.g., to prove their consistency in a purely formal
way. is not possible. But from this it does not follow in the least that
Hilbert's original model-theoretical conception of a (nonlogical)
axiomatic system was wrong .
. Here my terminology, which I inherited from van Heijenoort, turns
out to be somewhat unfortunate. 39 The conception of logic is calculus
as I am using the term, is eminently compatible with Tarski's skeptical
position, namely, with the thesis that logic (logical consequence)
cannot be exhaustively formulated as a calculus.



A few additional comments on what I have called the model-theoreti-

cal tradition are in order. First, there still seem to be a number of
misconceptions and suspicions among philosophers against this tradi-
tion. In most cases, these negative attitudes can be traced back to the
competing tradition and to its basic assumption, the assumption that
language - our language - and its logic constitute the universal
language of communication. However, in philosophical discussions
about the foundations of mathematical and also empirical theories, the
myth of the universality of colloquial language has frequently been
replaced by an equally pernicious myth. This is the myth of the
universality of set theory and its language as the serious theorist's
"mother tongue". This assumption is in evidence, e.g., in the so-called
structuralist approach to the philosophy of science.40 The same
assumption is often made, usually unreflectively, also in the foun-
dations of mathematics.
One has to read carefully here; however. For some philosophers, to
speak of set theory is little more than to speak of a model-theoretical
approach to mathematical theorizing. (In some cases, this is made
understandable by the fact that the philosopher in question formed his
ideas before model theory was developed as a serious logical dis-
cipline.) But for others an emphasis on the universality ofaxiomatic
set theory leads them to downgrade model theory. For instance,

Michael Resnik dismisses the philosophical interest of model theory as

followS: 41
Model theory is a mathematical theory. It proceeds from axioms which. although simply
left as understood in most writings in model theory. can be made explicit. Thus model
theory can be formulated as an axiomatic mathematical theory along the same lines as
say. group theory or number theory. When it is so formulated it will be seen to be a
branch ofaxiomatic set theory.
This view represents a serious failure to understand what is involved in
a model-theoretical approach. Model theory simply is not another
mathematical theory on a par with group theory or number theory.
This is shown by the fact that for any particular mathematical theory
we can, and must, develop its own model theory. There exists in fact a
model theory for group theory, a model theory of number theory, a
model theory ofaxiomatic set theory, a model theory for modallogic,
etc. In fact, such enterprises (although they have not always been
identified by the names I just used) in fact comprise the majority of
major results in contemporary logic. By Resnik's token, we ought to
have also a model theory of model theory, which is enough to show
the absurdity of his claim.
What lends some surface plausibility to Resnik's statement is that
any nontrivial model-theoretical argument must rely on some set-
theoretical assumptions. But this simply does not make a model theory
apart ofaxiomatic set theory. For there is no set of set-theoretical
axioms which would satisfy every model theorist - or every set
theorist, either. It is weil known that one of the main challenges a set
theorist faces is to find stronger and stronger axioms of set theory.
And while there is no consensus as to where the new axioms are to be
sought, most of the ones' that have been proposed have been arrived at
by means of model-theoretical considerations. Some examples are the
axiom of constructibility, Azriel Levy's schema, the various axioms of
determinateness, etc. 42 Hence the facts of the logician's life show that
Resnik's view turns the true state of affairs upside down. Model theory
is not a branch ofaxiomatic set theory. Rather, the axioms of set
theory are typically arrived at by means of model-theoretical con-
Resnik's statement reflects in my view the same prejudice against
model-theoretical approaches that dominated the mainstream logical
theory far too long.



There is one particular strand in the web of the tradition of logic as

calculus that I want to follow here. It concerns the most important
ingredients of contemporary elementary logic (first-order logic),
At first, there might not seem to be much to choose from between
the universalist and the model-theoretical viewpoint when it comes to
quantifiers. Frege had a treatment in his terms which might seem
eminently satisfactory. Take, for instance, the existential quantifier
(3x). Frege took it to be a second-order predicate, applicable to the
complex predicate S[x] which it is prefixed to iff there exists an
individual (say, b) which instantiates S[x] (so that S[b] is true). Frege
in fact argues for his treatment at some length. 43
There is neverthelesss something deeply unsatisfactory about this
treatment, so unsatisfactory that people like Warren Goldfarb have
been moved to say that Frege did not really have our concept of
quantification theory at all. 44 In order to see where the problem lies, it
can first be pointed out that Frege's treatment of the existential
quantifier does not cover in an unmodifieH manner all the uses of this
quantifier. Consider the cases where an existential quantifier occurs in
the scope of a universal one, as in

(1) (Vy)(3x) S[x, y].

Here the existential quantifier "(3x)" is applied to an open formula

S[x, y] so as to yield another open formula

(2) (3x) S[x, y].

Hence the Fregean idea does not apply unmodified. What the existen-
tial quantifier does in (2) is to map a two-place predicate on a
one-place predicate. What we have in (2) is a relation of the individual
y to the second-order function which does this mapping. Now con-
sidered as a function of y, (2) depends essentially on what the intended
universe of discourse (range of the relevant values of "y") iso If (2) is
false, it may become true when the universe of discourse is widened.
In asense, what the existential quantifier does in (2) is thus to define a
relation between the individual y and the entire universe of discourse

(more accurately, the range of values of "x"). It is in this relation that

the real meaning of an existential quantifier consists.
But if so, an universalist like Frege cannot give areal account of the
meaning of the existential quantifier, for he cannot vary the universe
of discourse so as to bring out what this relationship iso Thus we are
led to an ironie conclusion. Frege's main achievement as a logician
consisted in his introduction of the notion of quantifier, in building up
the logic of quantification as the central area of logic. Frege, even
more than Quine, was the true quantifex maximus. Yet because of his
philosophieal preconceptions he was prevented from giving a satis-
factory semantical analysis of this very concept.
My point here is c10sely related to what Warren Goldfarb argues in
his extremely important paper 'Logic in the Twenties: The Nature of
the Quantifier,.4S He argues there that Hilbert grasped the nature of
"quantification-in-action" more firmly than any of his predecessors, at
least if the "nature" of quantifiers is interpreted as their role in actual
mathematical thought.
Now what is this nature? The idea that the existential quantifier in
(2) transforms a two-argument formula is related to the idea of a
choiee function (Skolem function). For such functions are actually
what effect the transformation from S[x, y] to a one-argument predi-
cate like
(3) S[f(y), y]
The role of the existential quantifier in (2) is thus to affirm the
existence of such a choke function. In other words, (1) in some sense
means the same as
(4) (3f)(Vy) SU(y), y].
It is seeing this connection between existential quantifiers and Skolem
(choice) functions that according to Goldfarb constitutes Hilbert's
insight into the nature of the quantifier. He writes: 46

As I have mentioned, Hilbert principally focused not on pure quantificationallogic, but

ralber on quantification-in-action, specifically in the context of number theory and
analysis. Hilbert, like Skolem, exploits the similarities between the quantifier (or, more
accurately, quantifier-dependence) and choice funCtiODS. But whereas Skolem used
these similarities to denigrate thc power of quantification, Hilbert is impressed with how
much thc quantifier does, insofar as it acts like a choice function.
I am suggesting that behind Hilbert's interest in proving, by finitistic hook or crook,

the consistency of formal systems lies a deeper point: tMt of using tltt proxy choice-
funetion to provide in some measure an explication of tltt meaning of tltt quantiJication
used in fonnt11 proofs. TItt method of step-by-step evaluation is botk a reftection of. and in
tltt end an account of. tIae force of our matlttmatical practice (tMt is. fonnt11 practice) in
tltt use of tlttse signs. If you like. tltty teil us tltt meaning of tltt proof. (Emphasis added)



Now we are at the threshold of an important insight. There is some-

thing hauntingly familiar, and familiar from more than one deja vu,
about saying that (4) in some sense speils out the meaning of (1).
Saying this is to formulate the basic idea of the treatment of quantifiers
in the approach I have dubbed game-theoretical semantics.47 In fact,
by far the most natural way of viewing (4) is the game-theoretical one.
What (4) says is that I have a winning strategy in a mini-game
connected with (1). This game is controlled by the order of symbols in
(1). My opponent gives me a value of y. In order to win, I must choose
a value of x such that S[x, y] is true. The function / in (4) is precisely
what I need to make my choice (depending on y) so as to win, no
matter what y iso
Game-theoretical semantics is but a systematic generalization of this
idea to the rest of the semantics of formal as weIl as naturallanguages.
Needless to say, this generalization can be carried out in detail in more
than one way.
The functional interpretation (game-theoretical translation) of an
arbitrary first-order formula asserts the existence of the choice func-
tions which constitute that part of a verifier's strategy that relates to
quantifiers (essentially, to dependent existential quantifiers). These
functions are known in the trade as Skolem functions. The general
form of the simple game-theoretical translation of a first-order sen-
tence explained above is therefore
(5) (3/1)(3/2) ... (3{;)(Vxt)(Vxz) ... (VXj)
S[Xh Xz, , xi> !t[Xl1, X12, ),
h(X21' XZ2, ), ,"(Xil' Xz, )].
Here each x,,,
E {Xl> X2,"" Xj}, depending on the propositional struc-
ture of S. In other words, different Skolem functions have normally
different sets of arguments; viz. those variables bound to outer uni-
versal quantifiers. A closer analysis of the situation soon shows that

other, usually more complex translations from a first-order language to

a higher-order one can also be motivated game-theoretically.48
The insight we have thus reached is this: Game-theoreticaL semantics
is nothing but a systematic way 0/ spelling out the modeL-theoretical
meaning 0/ quantifiers and, of course, of generalizing the same idea to
other ingredients of formal and natural languages. Hence game-
theoretical semantics is an integral part of the development of model-
theoretical viewpoint and, in fact, a systematization of some of the
leading ideas of this development. Far from being an idiosyncratic way
of looking at semanties, it is the culmination of one major tradition,
perhaps the main tradition, in twentieth-century logical theory.



But is there anything in the actual history of logic and philosophy that
be ars out this judgment? What links, if any, are there between this
newcomer and the long background development of the model-
theoretical viewpoint? It turns out there is in fact an interesting,
continuous sub-plot in the drama of the unfolding of the model-
theoretic viewpoint.
First of all, it is a remarkable fact that logicians have consistently
resorted to game-theoretical ideas completely independent of my
systematization of GTS whenever Tarski-type truth-definitions have
failed to do the job they are supposed to do. This has happened in at
least three different directions, all predictable on the basis of the
general ideas of game theory.
Why, in the light of these ideas, don't conventional approaches to
logical theory, such as the usual truth-definitions work satisfactorily in
some cases? Game-theoretical ideas yield immediately three com-
plementary answers:
(1) If a semantical game goes on infinitely instead of coming to
an end with an atomic sentence, a Tarski-type truth-
definition will fail because it depends on building up the
truth-values of a complex sentence step by step from those
of simpler sentences.
(2) If the successive moves in a semantical game can be
informationally independent of each other, they cannot be

handled by conventional truth-definitions. these definitions

presuppose a kind of semantical context-dependence, and
informational independence violates such context-in-
(3) If the interpretation of one's logical symbols depends on
restrietions imposed on one's strategies in semantical
games, it cannot be discussed by means of traditional
These three reasons for resorting to a game-theoretical treatment of
logic are all exemplified in the actual theorizing, even though many
philosophical logicians are unaware of the general significance of
these developments. Before discussing these three particular lines of
development, it may be pointed out that even apart from them, there
is a growing awareness among some of the sharpest mathematical
logicians that even when they do not have to resort to game-theoreti-
cal concepts and ideas, the game-theoretical viewpoint offers an
excellent framework for systematic logical theorizing. This con-
sciousness-raising is evidenced by such book titles as that of Wilfred
Hodges's Building Models by Games. 49 Perhaps one should also men-
tion here J. H. Conway's unconventional book On Numbers and
Games. so


In the theory of infinitary languages, logicians study various extensions

of first-order languages. These extensions initially branched into two
different directions. First, logicians introduced infinitely long con-
junctions and disjunctions. (Of course, the cardinality of the set of
conjuncts or disjuncts had to be restricted.) Second, they beg an to
experiment with infinitely long sequences of quantifiers, first merely
quantifiers to which an infinity of different variables could be bound,Sl
later also with an infinite sequence of quantifiers of alternately
different kinds (existential vs. universal).S2
The first innovation (infinitely long disjunction and conjunctions)
did not force logicians to use game-theoretical concepts. The reason is
made plain by game-theoretical semantics. Although in conjunction
and disjunction moves the players face an infinite number of possible
moves (choices), the play itself always comes to an end after a finite

number of steps with an (interpreted) atomic sentence, whose truth or

falsity determines the outcome of the game. Hence the usual rule of
winning and losing applies, implying that Tarski-type truth-definitions
(which work from inside out and hence need atomic sentences as their
starting-points) can be used as the foundation of semanties.
But when infinite sequences of unlike quantifiers are introduced
semantical games will involve an infinite number of successive moves
and hence will not terminate with atomic sentences. Accordingly,
Tarski-type (inside-out) methods are inapplicable. However, the need
of playing agame ad infinitum does not bother agame theorist in the
least. What she or he needs to do is merely to define winning and
loosing for such infinite plays of the semantical game in question. And
there is no unsurmountable obstacle to doing so.
Thus the game-theoretical viewpoint naturally suggests a way of
developing a model theory for languages with infinite chairs of unlike
quantifiers. The striking fact is that the actual historical development
of recent logic has followed exactly this prescription (independently of
such general systematizations of game-theoretical ideas as my "game-
theoretical semantics"). In fact, infinite quantifier sequences involving
changes from one kind of quantifier to another are known in the trade
as game quantifiers. 53 It is fairly obvious where this name comes from.
Game-theoretical ideas were the only way logicians could find to
explain the meaning of such quantifiers.
Game quantifiers cannot perhaps be said to have played a major
role in recent logical theory. They nevertheless illustrate strikingly the
theme of this paper as weil as the nature of the game-theoretical
approach to logic. It is highly significant that, as illustrated by game
quantifiers, logicians should have spontaneously resorted to game-
theoretical ideas as soon as the usual Tarski-type fuundation of
semantics is no longer applicable.
Also, it is instructive to see why Tarski-type truth-definitions do not
work for game quantifiers. The basic reason is that Tarski-type truth-
definitions work their way from inside out, i.e., from the simpler
sentences towards more complex ones, whereas game-theoretical
semantics works its way from outside in. For this reason, Tarski-type
truth-definitions need atomic sentences as their starting-points, and
fail whenever they are not present. In contrast, game-theoretical
semantics does not need atomic sentences as its sole foundation. What
it needs instead is a rule for winning and losing for infinite plays of a

semantical game. Thus the difference in the direction of proceeding,

which might at first sight seem a rather insignificant difference, turns
out to have quite important consequences. This shows, in a manner of
speaking, that Parmenides was wrong when it came to the treatment of
quantifier logic: there road up and the road down are not the same.
At the same time, the connection between the infinitary quantifiers
just discussed and the game-theoretical approach illustrates a more
general fact. Quite often, developments in the more technical parts of
logic have fuUy as much philosophical interest as the work that is done
in the soi-disant "philosophical logic", even though most of such
philosophical implications have not caught the eye of the majority of
"philosophicai" logicians.


Once we realize the possibility of using infinitely long games as tools

in model theory, we can also see why we cannot study other kinds of
infinitely long semantical games than those generated solely by game
quantifiers. In other words, the game-theoretical viewpoint suggests
generalizing the theory of game quantifier into a general theory of
infinitely deep languages. Together with Veikko Rantala, I proposed
this idea in 1976. 54 Subsequently, infinitely deep languages have been
studied by a number of excellent younger logicians: Juha Oikkonen,
Jouko Vnnen, Maaret Karttunen, Tapani Hyuinen, etc. 55



But a game's going on infinitely is not the only reason why Tarski-type
semantics can fail and why logicians have been forced to resort to
game-theoretical ideas. What the inside-out procedure mainly
presupposes is, I have shown in an earlier paper (though the main
point can be appreciated without much elaborate argument) is a kind
of context-independence. 56 If the meaning of a simpler formula is not
constant but depends on the context in which it occurs, we cannot
proceed consistently from inside out in our semantics. We must be
aUowed to have a peek at the context in which an expression occurs in
order to establish its meaning, hence departing from the inside-out

When described in such abstract terms, it is perhaps not im-

mediately easy to see where to look for actual instances of such
semantical context-dependence as would violate the inside-out direc-
tion. In reality, however, we do not have to venture beyond the
paradigm problem studied in this paper, the meaning of dependent
quantifiers, in order to find a case in point. Indeed, the very notion of
dependent quantifier shows that in this paper we have been a11 along
hovering at the brink of semantical context-dependence. For what do
dependent quantifiers depend on? They depend on other quantifiers
further outside, in the scope of which they occur. In functional
interpretations like (5), this dependence is shown, in the case of each
dependent existential quantifier, by the list of arguments of the Skolem
function which replace that existential quantifier. The only reason why
this dependence has not been properly appreciated is that logicians
initially restricted their attention to one simple way in which the
dependence of existential quantifiers upon universal ones furt her out-
side is determined. This is the usual system of scope relations among
quantifiers. But there is nothing holy about this one possible system of
dependence determination. And as soon this dependence system is
generalized, the resulting context-dependencies make it impossible to
use Tarski-type truth-definitions as the cornerstone of our semantics
(model theory).
The way such more flexible quantifier dependencies are usually
presented is by me ans of a notation which allows partially ordered
(and not just linearly ordered) quantifier prefixes, e.g., branching
quantifier structures like the following:
(6) (Vx)(3y)
)S[x, y, z, u]
But we can have also more complex nonbranching partially ordered
structures like the following:
(7) (Vxy)\
(Vz) (3u) - S[x, y, z, u, t, v].

The study of partially ordered quantifiers was initiated by Leon

Henkin in 1961,57 and it has since become a small but growing branch
of logical studies. 58 It is not an isolated subject, either. For instance, it
has turned out easier to prove certain results concerning linear
quantifier prefixes indirectly by the mediation of arguments relating to
branching quantifier structures than directly, i.e., by considering linear
prefixes only.59
This small fact can be taken to iIIustrate the targer fact I am
emphasizing here. The possibility of branching quantifier structures is
a direct consequence of the dynamic way of looking at quantifiers
which was explained above and which gives rise to the game-
theoretical interpretation of quantifiers and to functional inter-
pretations. If Goldfarb is right concerning Hilbert's awareness of this
quantifier dynamism, it may perhaps be said. that partially ordered
quantifier structures represent the ultimate revenge of Hilbert on
Frege. For there is not a prayer of hope of dealing with branching
quantifiers by means of the universalist principles which led Frege to
try to characterize quantifiers as second-order predicates.
Thus the theory of partially ordered quantifiers ilIustrates the im-
portance of game-theoretical ideas on two levels. As was hinted at
above, Leon Henkin and his successors have consistently used game-
theoretical concepts in order to explain tbe meaning of sentences with
partially ordered quantifier prefixes, for the simple reason that a
Tarski-type approach to their meaning does not work. But this is
merely an indication of a deeper sense in which partially ordered
quantifiers iIIustrate the kinds of dependence relations which are the
raison d' etre of the game-theoretical approach to logical theory.


It is worth noting that there is nothing particularly important about

linearity or nonlinearity here. The linearity of sentences with branch-
ing quantifiers can be restored by a translation into the functional
(higher-order) notation, as in (5). But even on the original first-order
level, it is the simplest thing in the world to restore linearity by means
of a slightly amplified notation. All we have to do is to append to each
existential quantifier a list of those outside universal quantifiers it is
independent of. Thus, e.g., (6) would become in the new notation
(8) (\fx)(3y)(\fz)(3ulx) S[x, y, z, u]

where the slash expresses independence. But this linearization only

serves to highlight what is the crucial aspect of "branching"
quantifiers, to wit, a violation of the semantical context-independence
of certain quantifiers. This context-dependence is the true moral of the
story of partially ordered quantifiers.
This is also the basic reason why branching quantifiers cannot be
handled (on the first-order level) by me ans of Tarski-type truth-
definitions. The technical reasons for this failure have been spelled out
by Jon Barwise.60 The philosophical gist of this failure is nevertheless
the one I have explained: a failure of semantical context-in-


The third specific role which game-theoretical ideas have played in

recent logical and foundational theorizing is much less obvious on the
surface. In 1958 Kurt Gdel published an intriguing Iittle paper
entitled (in English translation) 'On a Hitherto Unexploited Extension
of the Finitistic Viewpoint'.61 The main technical vehicle of this
extension was a translation of first-order logic and arithmetic into a
higher-order (type-theoretical) language. After the translation has
been carried out, the ranges of all the higher-order variables are
restricted by Gdel to recursive entities (recursive functions and
functionals). This interpretation is in many ways highly interesting. For
one thing, the consistency of the re-interpreted elementary arithmetic
can be proved in that arithmetic itself. Gdel's interpretation has
prompted a considerable stream of studies and in fact launched an
interesting line of foundational studies.
Gdel offers Iittle motivation for his translation rules. When I first
tried to read bis paper, I could not begin to understand Gdel's reason
for choosing tbis precise set of translation rules among hundreds
which to my mind looked equally plausible (or implausible). It was
only after I had developed my own game-theoretical semantics that
scales fell off my eyes and I saw (I thought) what Gdel was doing. He
was doing game-theoretical semanties! In fact, the basic idea on which
his is based is precisely the idea on which functional interpretations
Iike (5) are predicated on. In the literature Gdel's interpretation is
actually called a functional interpretation.

Gdel adds to this basic idea two additional elements. First, as was
already mentioned, he restricts the range of his higher-order variables
to recursive entities. Secondly, Gdel changes the translation roles for
certain propositional connectives so as to make the translation con-
form better with certain intuitionistic (or other finitistic) conceptions. I
shall return to this second ingredient in Gdel below.
These additional complications do not detract from the massive fact
that Gdel's functional interpretation can, and in my view must, be
understood in game-theoretical terms. I have myself tried to throw
sharper light on some of Gdel's choices of his translation roles from
an explicitly game-theoretical vantage point.
Of course, as soon as I had discovered the game-theoretical inter-
pretation of Gdel's interpretation, I was made aware that I had be~n
anticipated by Dana Scott, who had pointed out in an unpublished
note the possibility of giving a game-theoretical motivation to Gdel's
translation roles. 62
All told, Gdel's functional interpretation, and the entire research
tradition it launched, serves as resounding evidence for the im-
portance of game-theoretical ideas in recent logical theorizing. It
nevertheless requires a few supplementary explanations. For instance,
some readers might resent my appropriating the term "functional
interpretation" for a use that is much wider than Gdel's "extension of
the finitistic viewpoint". It is in fact true that, in actual discussions of
functional interpretations in the literature, a lion's share of attention
has rightly been claimed by the particular finitistic restrictions which
Gdel and bis successors have imposed on the strategies which the
first player ("myself" , the initial verifier) may employ. These restric-
tions are of course wbat lends Gdel's interpretation its specific
character. But this should not distract oUf attention from the much
more basic fact that it is the game-theoretical approach that enables
Gdel to formulate these restrictions in the first place. In this respect,
Gdel's functional interpretation is firmly in the game-theoretical
tradition in logical theory. This is already highly significant, for Gdel
was one of the most important pioneers of model-theoretical ideas
in logical theory in general. It is this important link between Gdel
and the game-theoretical tradition that tbe term "functional
interpretation" is calculated to highlight in its wider usage here



The relation of Gdel's functional interpretation to game-theoretical

semantics deserves a few more comments. When I have expounded
the game:"theoretical import of Gdel's functional interpretation
before a live audience, the reaction has typically been one of disbelief.
"That cannot have been what Gdel had in mind", I have been told
repeatedly. This response is due to a failure to appreciate the role of
game-theoretical ideas in the development of the model-theoretical
approach. When you realize this role, you will see that in a very literal
sense the game-theoretical idea is precisely what Gdel was pursuing.
It is what gave him the chance to restrict game strategies to recursive
There is an additional link between Gdel's functional inter-
pretation and game-theoretical semantics. Not only does the game-
theoretical viewpoint bring to light the reasons why Gdel can restrict
the game strategies to recursive ones and by so doing conform to a
suitably extended version of the finitistic position. Game-theoretical
ideas in one fell swoop show what is going on in the rules Gdel sets
up for the purposes of interpreting propositional connectives. Take,
for instance, the most complicated translation rule Gdel sets up, viz.,
that for a conditional (A::> B). Let's assume that their higher-order
translations are
(9) (3f)(V1)A'[f, 1)]
(10) (3tp)(V,)Bltp, l'],
respectively. Here ~, 1), tp, and , are strings of variables of any
logical type. Then Gdel's translation of (A::> B) is
(11) (3H)(34(Vf)(V ,)
(Alf, HU, ')]::> B'[4>U), ,]).
This might seem completely arbitrary, but it has an extremely natural
game-theoretical interpretation.63 This interpretation makes use of
most natural ideas, viz., that of a subgame. What happens in (11) is
that two interdependent subgames are played. The game on the
antecedent is played with the roles of the two players reversed. In

other words, I am now trying to falsify A, and in so doing I have

access to both my opponent's verificatory strategy ~ (in the subgame
connected with A) and his or her falsifactory strategy , (in the
subgame connected with B). In the latter game the two players have
their normal roles, and there I have access to my opponent's
verifieatory strategy ~ in the first subgame. There is no equally
transparent way of understanding Gdel's translation whieh does not
rely on game-theoretical ideas, including the idea of a subgame.


But saying all this will still leave open the question of the immediate
parentage of Gdel's functional interpretation. To this question, there
is a simple answer. What was the most important anticipation of the
kinds of arguments Gdel used in his historical completeness proof for
first-order logie? Undoubtedly tbe Lwenheim-Skolem theorem.64
Now in his original proof of this (meta)theorem, Lwnheim used as an
intermediate step the very same kind of funetional interpretation
whieh is illustrated by the equivalenee of (1) and (4) and in whieh we
can see the gist of the game-theoretical viewpoint. It is fairly elear
where the basic idea of Gdel's funetional interpretation eame from.
The importance of this "Lwenheim eonneetion" is not redueed by
the fact that Lwenheim did not restriet the set of strategy funetions in
any way nor by the fact that this step in his original argument was
dispensable, as Skolem lost no time in pointing out.6S In Lwenheim's
proof, we thus have a vivid illustration of how the model-theoretieal
tradition in recent logical theory developed hand in hand with the
model-theoretical way of thinking.
Admittedly, Skolem soon showed that the use of functional inter-
pretations in Lwenheim's proof is dispensable. This does not in-
validate my point, but rather strengthens it, for I am coneerned here
with Lwenheim's way of thinking, not with the objective pre-
conditions of bis theorem.
But Lwenheim and the proof of his theorem are not the earliest
oecurrenee of the Skolem funetion (funetional interpretation) idea.
Skolem funetions, you may have thought for a wbile in reading the
preeeding few paragraphs, in reality ought to be ealled Lwenheim
funetions. Yet this would not be historieally just either, for the idea
underlying them was part and pareel of the tradition of logie as

calculus weil before Lwenheim. In fact, Lwenheim refers in his

paperback to Schrder, an earlier representative of the Ulogic as
calculus" idea.l\b Schrder's belief in this idea is in fact easily docu-
It also turns out that the concept of Skolem function is in effect
employed by Schrder, albeit hidden under the guise of double index-
ing. In his Vorlesungen ber die Algebra der Logik,68 (eleventh lecture,
Section 29, pp. 574-76), Schrder describes how existential quantifiers
can as it were move outside so as to precede universal ones, just as in
the transition from (1) to (4). Or, rather, he describes the dual of this
Schrder's cumbersome notation makes it diflicult to understand
fully wh at is going on in his reasoning and in his results. The general
thrust of his remarks is nevertheless urimistakable.
Now an intriguing thing about Schrder's introduction of a rudi-
mentary form of the functional interpretation idea is that it takes place
in a lecture in which Schrder takes off from certain results ("curious
development formulae") discovered by Charles S. Peirce. 69 They are
interesting because they involve explicitly what we would call second-
order quantification, that is, quantification over all relations in a given
domain. In fact, Schrder uses them in arriving at his primitive version
of the functional interpretation idea.
Now the reason why this context is especially intriguing is the fact
that the game-theoretical interpretation of quantifiers was presented
explicitly by Peirce, albeit in a semiotic rat her than logical context.
This has been shown by Risto Hilpinen and Jarrett Brock. 70 If it could
be established that Schrder's inspiration came from Peirce when he
introduced his rudimentary version of the choice function idea, the
entire model-theoretic tradition would involve as its part an explicit
game-theoretical ingredient. As Brock notes, Peirce also anticipated
the way in which the game-theoretical approach can be extended to
modal notions.
Thus if the step from Peirce's semiotic ideas to his logic and further
to Schrder could be bridged, the model-theoretic tradition might
almost be said to begin with game-theoretical ideas and to have
cuIminated in them. The step from Peirce to Schrder is not easy to
see c1early, however, and I certainly cannot in any literal sense claim
that Schrder got his choice function idea from Peirce. But even so,
even with this minor gap in the great chain of game-theoretical ideas,

what we have found suffices to show how important a factor game-

theoretical ideas in fact were in the development of the model-
theoretic approach.
A supplementary comment is needed here to forestall unnecessary
doubts. At first sight, 'Peirce's status vis-a-~is the two contrasting
traditions of our language (and its logic) as tlie universal medium and
of logic and lallguage as calculus (the model-theoretical tradition)
might seem quite ambivalent. For instance, one normally tell tale sign
of membership in the model-theoretical tradition usually is a logician's
willingness to countenance merely a possible worlds, that is to say
realistic alternatives to the actual world (intended interpretation). In
contrast, we saw, for instance, how firmly Frege believed that there is
only this one world to be talked ahout and theorized ahout.
From the vantage point of this central role of the idea of (merely)
possible world, it might seem that Peirce was not a full-ftedged
adherent of the model-theoretical tradition because he on several
occasions disassociates hirnself of the idea of other possible worlds. In
fact, Peirce's relation to the "many worlds" idea was neither unam-
biguous nor constant in time. In order to do it justice I would have to
write an even longer paper than the present one. 71
It is in any case unmistakable that in his logical theory we find
Peirce operating freely with multi-model techniques. How wil-
ling-and indeed anxious - Peirce was to deal with unrealized pos-
sibilia in developing bis bag of logical tricks is shown by the following
quotation: 72

But in the gamma part of tbe subject all the old kinds of signs take new fonns . . .. Thus
in place of a sbeet of assertion, we have a book of separate sbeets, tacked togetber as
points, if not otherwise connected. For our alpha sheet, as a whole, represents simply the
universe of existent individuals, and tbe different parts of tbe sheet represent facts or
true assertions made conceming that universe. At tbe two cuts we pass into other areas,
areas of conceived propositions which are not realized .... You may regard the ordinary
blank sheet of assertion as a film upon which there is, as it were, an undeveloped
photograph of the facts in the universe .... But let us ratber call it a map - a map of
such a photograph if you Iike.

There are several indications here of Peirce's adherence to the model-

theoretical tradition, including his willingness to operate with
representations, ("maps") several different "universes", some of them
containing "conceived propositions wbich are not realized". It is also
relevant to note Peirce's unabashed emphasis on the representational

funetion of his "sheets of assertion" whieh he eompares to "photo-

graphs" and "maps". Sueh ideas make Peiree into a major represen-
tative of the tradition I have ealled the tradition of "Iogie as ealculus".



The history of the model-theoretieal tradition and the role of game-

theoretieal ideas within it ean be put into a further perspeetive. It is
possible to make a guess as to why Peiree and Sehrder failed to fully
develop game-theoretieal ideas. Peiree had a sharp idea as to what the
games (I have ealled them semantieal games) are like that is relevant
to the meaning of quantifiers. But he does not reach a complete c1arity
as to how precisely those games hang together with the notion of
truth. Ideas like Peirce's conception of truth as the ideal limit of
inquiry, perhaps as the limit of inquiry-games, do not help us - or help
Peirce - here. What is needed is the concept of strategy which was
later introduced by von Neumann. 73 A strategy is a rule or, mathema-
tically speaking, a function which teIls a player what to do in any
circumstance that might arise during an explicitly defined game.
Game-theoretically,. the truth of a proposition S does not mean that its
verifier wins in the long run or that (s)he wins simpliciter. Rather, it
me ans that there exists a winning strategy for the initial verifier, i.e., a
strategy that wins against any strategy that one's opponent might have
available. This analysis of the nature of truth is what underlies game-
theoretical translations like (5).
Such a clear concept of strategy is missing in Peirce, Schrder and
Lwenheim. This is, 1 suspeet, what made it hard for Peirce to relate
his game-theoretical ideas in semiotics to his work in logic. For one
cannot easily express in explicit logical terms the game-theoretical
truth-conditions of multiply quantified sentences without recourse to
the concept of strategy. (One has to quantify over strategies in the
explicit truth-condition.) And it is this idea of strategy that is missing,
as far as I can see, in the early history of the game-theoretical
For instance, I have not been able to find any traces of the
game-theoretical approach in Peirce's purely logical writings. In
Schrder, the same absence of a dear conception of strategy as being
defined by a function is reftected in the curious notation which he uses

and which makes it very hard to take in his complicated formulas.

Instead of quantifying over functions (certain second-order entities),
he uses indices in a way that makes dependence between them very
hard to appreciate. Dependencies which would be easy to understand
in a function notation are expressed by Schrder in the form of letting
one index occur within the "scope" of one, or by one index' occurring
as an index of another, or sometimes even by an entire quantifier's
occurring as an index (subscript) of another quantifier. Since Lwen-
heim still follows c10sely Schrder's notation, it may after all be only
fair to credit the idea of a Skolem function to Skolem.
In all fairness, it must be mentioned that Lwenheim was no clearer
than Schrder about the distinction between first-order and second-
order quantification. Second-order quantification comes via devices
Iike double indexing. At least this is how the situation appears from
Lwenheim's notation. In general terms, what this suggests is that the
abstract concept of strategy (strategy representable by a function) was
not yet c1ear in Lwenheim's mind. For instance, the reason why he
did not restriet the set of strategy functions was that he did not think
of them as functions. In fact, it took Gdel to speil out the idea that
choice functions have to be quantified over in order to be useful in
representing the meaning of first-ordeJ; quantifiers in the intended
manner, and that we therefore have to deal with an entire set of
(strategy) functions. This, of course, presupposes that one realizes the
roje of strategies and strategy functions.
The slowness of the development of this idea, simple though it
might be in the light of hindsight, is an unwitting tribute to John von
Neumann and his achievement in formulating the explicit game-
theoretical notion of strategy. There are in fact interesting con-
nections between von Neumann's and Morgenstern's game theory and
the game-theoretical approach to logic which I have discussed. In
particular, the general idea of which all functional interpretations are
based is only a special case of the transformation of agame which is
represented in the extensive form to what von Neumann and Morgen-
stern call the normal form of agame. 74 In fact, the development of
this idea of normal form represents the single most important ap-
plication of the concept of strategy and can be considered as one of
the most crucial steps in the development in the genesis of game
theory.7S It is therefore of great interest to see that the very same idea,
applied to a special case, plays a pivotal role in the development of the

model-theoretical viewpoint under the guise of the funetional inter-

pretation (game-theoretical) idea.
This similarity is more than skin deep. In fact, some of the same
puzzling questions that can be raised about von Neumann's concepts
of strategy and normal form can be raised about functional inter-
pretations. For instance, what kinds of functions can serve as the
strategies (strategy functions) that can figure in the normal form
matrix? A classically inclined mathematician presumably has to say:
any old function. But can one really playa game according to a
nonrecursive function? Apparently not. Hence in general game theory
presumably the set of strategies considered should be restricted to
strategies codifiable by recursive functions and functionals.
This course has not been followed by game theorists in general, in
spite of its plausibility. However, in the special ease of the semantical
games on which Gdel's specific functional interpretation is based,
Gdel in fact imposes on his strategy functions (Skolem functions),
precisely the requirement of recursivity. Should this not serve as an
example to all game theorists? This question opens all sorts of closets
which have been kept closed in the received versions of game theory.
For instance, we have to ask: do the mathematical mainstays of game
theory, such as various minimax theorems, remain valid when strate-
gies are restricted to recursive ones? Maybe a logician like Gdel can
have a message to convey to game theorists in general.
But are those problems themselves perbaps due to tbe transition
from the extensive form of agame to its normal form? This transition
tore es a player as it were to sum up all bis or her choices in one and
the same formula. Is this realistic? Does not a clever player in reality
create the strategy she or he uses move by move "across the board",
as chess buffs say, responding to each situation when it comes along?
If so, it will not be motivated to require that each player's strategies be
recursive. I cannot answer these questions here, but I do not need to
emphasize their importance, either. They show that the problems that
have come up in game-theoretical approaches to logic are closely
related to the problems of game theory in general.
These questions, in turn, pose the intriguing question of a possible
inftuence by the very creator of game theory, John von Neumann, on
the game-theoretical tradition in logical theory. I have no hard-and-
fast results to offer in this respect. I can only recommend the subject
for future historians of logic. Lest anyone should think that I have got

my chranology hopelessly wrang - after all, von Neumann and Mor-

genstern published their c1assical book only in 1943 - I must remind
you that von Neumann's first paper on game theory was published as
early as in 1928.76 It is to be noted, moreover, that, according to von
Neumann hirnself, "E. Borel was the first author to evolve the concept
of astrategy, pure as weil as mixed, although he did not go beyond the
case of the symmetrie two-person game"." Borel's notes on game
theory were published in 192 1-27. 78
All this the fact that the term I have been using, "the game-
theoretical tradition in logical theory", is not a courtesy title. There
are connections between such central concepts of game theory as
strategy and normal form and the uses of game-theoretical ideas in


I The most extended discussions of this contrast are Jaakko Hintikka: forthcoming, '15
Truth Ineffable?' and Merrill B. Hintikka and Jaakko Hintikka: 1986, Investigating
Wingensrein, Chap. 1, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
2 See Jean van Heijenoort: 1967, 'Logic as Calculus and Logic as Language', Synthese
17. 324-30, and cf. Hans Sluga: 1987, 'Frege Against the Booleans', NOITe Dame
Journal 0/ Formal Logic 18, 80-98.
3 See Jaakko Hintikka. '15 Truth Ineffable?', op. cit.
4 More generally, unwillingness to countenance serious alternatives to the one actual
course of events ("other possible worlds") is a characteristic of the universalist tradition.
Hence representatives of this tradition usually take a dim view of the prospects of any
serlously interpretable modallogic.
5 See Gottlob Frege: 1950, Foundations 0/ Arithmelic, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 3-4,
99-101; W. V. Ouine: 1953, From a Logical Point 0/ View, Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, pp. 20-27.
6 Bertrand RusselI: 1919, Introduction to Matlttmalical Philosophy, Allen and Unwin,
7 For Russell see Peter Hylton: 1980, 'Russell's Substitutional Theory', Syntlttse 45,
1-31; for Wittgenstein, see Hintikka and Hintikka, loc. eit.; for the Vienna Circle, see
Rudolf Carnap's sometime avowals of allegiance to the "formal mode of speech", e.g.,
in 1937, TItt Logical Syntax 0/ Language, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London; for
Quine, see my paper, 'Quine as a Member of the Tradition of the Universality of
Language', in R. B. Barrett and R. Gibson (eds.), proceedings of the 1988 Conference
on W. V. Quine at Washington University, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, (forthcoming).
.. A historicallink might perhaps be Nelson Goodman's early inftuence on Chomsky.
9 Cf. here Warren Goldfarb: 1979, 'Logic in the Twenties: The Nature of the
Quantifier', Journal 0/ Symbolic Logic 44, 351-68; Sluga, op. eit.; and leaD van
Heijenoort (ed.): 1968, From Frtge to Gdel: A Source Book in Mathemalical Logic,
Harvard University Press, Cambridge. As to Tarski, he occupies a special position in

this tradition because he firmly denied the applicability of the model-theoretical view-
point to ordinary language; see Alfred Tarski: 1956, Logie, Semanties, Metamalhema-
lieS. Clarendon Press. Oxford, pp. 164~5.
tu See here R. L. Vaught: 1974, 'Model Theory before 1945', in Leon Henkin et al.
(eds.), Proceedings O/Ihe Tanki Symposium, (Proc. of Symposia in Pure Mathematics,
vol. 25), American, R.I . pp. 153-72; C. C. Chang, 'Model Theory 1945-1971', ibid.
pp. 173-86.
11 See Jaakko Hintikka: 1955. 'Form and Content in Quantification Theory', Acta
Philosophica Fenniea 8. 11-55; E. W. Seth: 1955, 'Semantical Entailment and Formal
Derivability', Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Weten-
schappen, Afd. Letterkunde, N.R., vol. no. 13, Amsterdam.
12 Sluga, op. cit., p. 81.
13 See Abraham Robinson: 1963, lntroduction to Model Theory and to the Metamalhe-

maues 0/ Algebra, North-Holland, Amsterdam.

14 This is one of the several respects in which the prevalent view of mathematical

activity among philosophers overestimates the role of theorem-proving.

15 Ludwig Wittgenstein: 1977, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, translated by David
Pears and Brian McGuinness, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.
16 See Note 9 above.
11 Op. eil., pp. 16~5.
IM A measure of the predominance of tbe universalist tradition is the lateness of the
development of areal semanties for modal and intensional logies. Teehnieally, this
development is straightforward. All the major problems eonnected with it are inter-
19 See David Hilbert: 1971, Foundations 0/ Geometry, translated from the tenth
German edition by Leo Unger, Open Court, La Salle.
20 Op. cit., Chap. 2.
21 Hilbert's work was extremely influential among mathematicians and science-oriented
philosophers in the earlY deeades of this eentury.
22 Albert Einstein: 1954, 'Geometry and Experience', in ldeas and Opinions, Crown,
New York, pp. 232-46. The early pages of Einstein's lecture show an unmistakable
influence of Hilbert's approach.
23 The Frege-Hilbert exchange has been published in Gottlob Frege: 1980, Philosophi-
cal and Mathematical Correspondence, Sasil Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 31-52.
24 Op. cit., p. 35.
2S Op. cit., p. 40.
26 Op. cit., p. 40.

21 Op. cit., pp. 40-41.

28 Op. cit., p. 37.
29 Op. cit., p. 43.
30 Op. cit., p. 40.
31 Op. cit., p. 48.
32 Op. cit., p. 42.
33 Hilbert, Foundations, op. eil., Chap. I, Seetion 8. In later editions, this Axiom of
Completeness oceurs as a theorem, baving been replaeed as an axiom by a special ease,
the so-ealled Axiom of Line Completeness.

34 I am in the process of developing an approach to the foundations of mathematics

which employs inter alia maximality conditions on models not unlike Hilbert's Axiom of
Completeness. This approach will be objectionable to a believer in the universality of
logic idea. but not because of any problems specifically pretaining to the ideas related to
Hilbert's axiom.
3~ Frege. op. eil.. pp. 43-44.
3h Michael D. Resnik: 1980. Frege and the Philosophy 0/ Mathematics. Cornell Uni-

versity Press. Ithaca, p. 111.

37 Tarski, op. eit .. pp. 409-10.

3M Op. eit., pp. 412-13.

39 What makes Tarski's idea especially interesting is the possibility of achieving
descriptive completeness in actual mathematical theories at the expense of giving up the
semantical completeness of the underlying logic. This possibility is used in the approach
mentioned in Note 34.
40 See, e.g., Wolfgang Stegmller: 1976, The Structure and Dynamics 0/ Theories,

Springer-Verlag, New York, Heidelberg, Berlin.

41 Resnik, op. cit.. pp. 120-21.
42 Cf. here the useful anthology, Ulrich Felgner: 1979. Mengenlehre, Wissenschaftliche
Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, (with a selective bibliography).
43 Gottlob Frege: 1979, Posthumous Writings, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 53-67.

44 Op. cit.. pp. 152-53.

4~ Warren Goldfarb. op. cit., pp. 359-60.
4/t Op. cit., pp. 360-61.

47 See Esa Saarinen (ed.): 1979, Game- Theoretical Semantics, D. Reidel, Dordrecht;
Jaakko Hintikka: 1983, The Game 0/ Language, D. Reidel, Dordrecht; Jaakko Hin-
tikka and Jack Kulas: 1985, Anaphora and Definite Descriptions: Two Applications o{
Game-theoretical Semantics, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.
4lI See The Game o{ Language, op. cit., Chap. 3.
49 Wilfred Hodges: 1985, Building Models by Games, Cambridge University, Cam-
bridge. Cf. aJso the bibliography in The Game 0/ Language, and the survey paper,
Rastilav Telgarsky: 1987, 'TopologicaJ Games: On the 50th Anniversary of the
Banach-Mazur Game', Rocky Mount4in Journal o{ Mathematics 17, 227-76.
SII J. H. Conway: 1976, On Numbers and Games, Academic Press, London.
SI These two extensions characterize the usuaJ infinitary languages L . Here is the upper
bound on the length of conjunctions and disjunctions, and the maximal number of
variables in the same quantifier. Cf., e.g., H. J. Keisler: 1971, Model Theory /or
[nfinit4ry Logic, North-Holland, Amsterdam.
S2 In this way we obtain so-called game quantifier formulas. Cf., e.g., the partial
bibliography in The Game 0/ Language, op. cit., p. 306, and Y. N. Moschovakis: 1971,
'The Game Quantifier', Proceedings 0/ the American Mathematical Sodety 31, 245-50.
53 See Note 52 above.
54 Jaakko Hintikka and Veikko Rantala: 1976, 'A New Approach to Infinitary
Languages', Annals 0/ Mathematical Logic 10,95-115.
55 See the bibliographies in The Game 0/ Language, op. cit. pp. 303-5; in Tapani
Hyttinen: 1987, Games and [n/init4ry Languages, AnnaJes Academiae Scientiarum
Fennicae, Ser. A, I. Mathematica, Dissertationes vol. 64; Helsinki (1987) and in Maaret
Karttunen: 1984, Model Theory /or [nfinite'y Deep Languages, ibid. vol. 50, Helsinki.

~h See The Game o{ Language. Chap. 10.

H Leon Henkin, 'Some RemarIes on Infinitely Long Formulas', in (no editor given):
1961 Infinirislic Merlwds, Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp. 167-83.
511 See the (partial) bibliography in The Game o{ lAnguage, op. eil., pp. 300-03.
5'1 See W. Walkoe. Jr.: 1970, 'Finite Partially Ordered Quantification'. Journal o{

SymboUc Logic 35. 535-55.

"., See Jon Barwise: 1979, 'On Branching Quantifiers in English', Journal o{ PhUoso-
phical Logic, 8, 47-80.
61 Kurt Gdel: 1958, 'ber eine bisher noch nicht bentzte Erweiterung des finiten
Standpunktes'. Dialeclica 12, 280-87; English translation (with a bibliography) in 1980,
Journal o{ PhUosophical Logic 9. 133-42.
61 Dana Scott: 1968. 'A Game-Theoretical Interpretation of Logical Formulae', (un-
published), McCarthy Seminar. Stanford University, July.
".l See here Jaakko Hintikka: 1983. The Game o{ Language. D. Reidel. Dordrecht.
M See here the relevant parts of van Heijenoort (ed.), From Frege ro Gdel, op. cit., pp.

6S Thoralf Skolem: 1920, 'Logisch-kombinatorische Untersuchungen ber die Erfll-
barkeit oder Beweisbarkeit mathematischer Stze', Videnskapsselskapets Skri{ter I.
Mathematisk-naturvidenskabelig klasse, no. 3, Oslo. English translation and com-
rnentary in van Heijenoort (ed.), op. cit., pp. 252-63. Also in Th. Skolern: 1970,
Sewcted Worb in Logic, J. E. Fenstad (ed.), Universitetsforlaget, 0510, pp. 103-36.
66 van Heijenoort (ed.): op. eil., p. It is also known that Gdel read Schrder; see Hao
Wang: 1987, Reflections on Kurt Gdel, MIT Press, Carnbridge, pp. xx, 265.
67 Cf., e.g., Sluga, op. cit.
611 E. Schrder: 1966, Vorwsungen ber die Algebra der Logik, vols. 1-3, Leipzig,
1890-95; reprinted, Chelsea, New York. See here eleventh lecture, Seetion 29, pp.
6'1 Op. eil., p. 401.

70 See Risto Hilpinen, 'On C. S. Peirce's Theory of the Proposition: Peirce as a

Precursor of Game-theoretical Sernantics', in E. Freeman (ed.): 1983, The Releoance o{
Charles Peirce, The Hegeler Institute, La Salle, pp. 264-70; Jarrett Brock, 'Peirce's
Anticipation of Game Theoretic Logic and Semanties', Proceedings o{ rhe 1980 Meeting
o{ rite American Semiolic Sociery.
71 Cf., e.g., Charles G. Morgan: 1979, 'Modality, Analogy, and Ideal Experiments
According to C. S. Peirce', Synthese 41, 65-83 (with further references).
72 Charles Hartshorne, Paul Weiss, and Arthur W. Burks (eds.): 1933-58, Colwcted
Papers o{ C. S. Peirce, vols. 1-8, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (see here 4.512).
73 John von Neurnann and Oskar Morgenstern: 1943, Theory o{ Games and EcOllOmic
Behaoior, Princeton University Press, Prir,ceton.
74 Op. cit., Section 11, pp. 79-84.
7S The idea of a normal form is probably the single most powerful conceptual tool in
game theory. It depends entirely on the concept of strategy.
76 John von Neumann: 1928, 'Zur Theorie der Gesellschaftsspiele', Mathematische
Annalen 100, 295-320.
77 John von Neumann: 1953, 'Cornmunication on the Borel Notes', Eco~triclJ 11,
124-25, (see p. 124).

~H The most important of them have been translated into English and published in:
1953, Economerrica 21,97-117. Cf. also Maurice Frechet, 'Emil Borei, Initiator of the
Theory of Psychological Games and Its Application', ibid. pp. 95-96, and 'Commentary
on the Three Notes of Emile BoreI', ibid .. pp. 118-27.

Department of Philosophy
F10rida State University
203 Dodd Hall
Tallahassee, FL 32306-10..i4




Speaking of someone's "place in history" is often apreface to eulogy. But we

have come to study Peirce, not to praise him, and only incidentally to try to
see that his good ideas are not interred with his bones or with his
unpublished papers.
One of the difficulties in studying Peirce is his elusiveness. Peirce's
writings rare brimful of perceptive and provocative ideas, but do they add up
to a c~herent overall view? Even though Peirce himself offers a general
perspective on his own ideas, it is not clear how his specific results are
suppos~d to be parts of a larger picture. This has been my problem when I
have tried to offer specific observations on the details of Peirce's ideas in my
early publications. How are they related to Peirce's general philosophical
In this paper, I shall pursue one lead as to how to make our ideas of Peirce
clear. This way is to compare Peirce with certain other thinkers including
Frege, Wittgenstein, and Quine. Such comparisons will hopefully illuminate
both the general character of Peirce's thought, so to speak his position on the
overall map of the history of philosophy, and also his specific intellectual
relationships to other thinkers.
Consequently, the main purpose of this paper is to define and to describe
Peirce's locus in the landscape of certain important but specific traditions in
the kind of philosophy he practiced. I am not only going to offer scholarly
observations conceming the details of Peirce's ideas. (Several of the detailed
observations I shall discuss here have in fact been published in my earlier
papers.) I shall try to show that these bits and pieces of ideas of Peirce's are
in reality parts of a large jigsaw puzzle which can be put together. In other
words, I am primarily endeavoring to present a general perspective on his
thought. I expect that this perspective will help to lend direction and perhaps
also a conceptual framework for more detailed studies.
The history in which I am trying place Peirce is primarily the history of
logical theory. Hence I have to discuss in some detail certain aspects of
Peirce's work in logic, and to compare him with other logicians (and logically
oriented philosophers). However, what I shall say has much broader
implications, especially conceming the nature and the presuppositions of
Peirce' s pragmatism (or pragmaticism).
The main coordinate axis of the map on which I am trying to locate Peirce
is provided by a distinction between two contrasting visions of language as

weil as of its relations to the language user and the world. These two views
have been labeled language as the universal medium (or the universality of
language) and language as calculus (or the model-theoretical view of
language; Hintikka, 1988). These terms are not self-explanatory, and have to
be taken with more than one grain of salto The terms of this contrast are not
found in the earlier literature, with a couple of interesting exceptions, the
main reason being that the majority of philosophers have been blissfuIly or
banefuIly ignorant of the role which the contrast has played in the
philosophical thought of the last hundred-odd years.
A believer in the universality of language sees language (and the
conceptual system it codifies) as an indispensable intermediary between you
and your world (the world). You are virtually a prisoner of your language;
you could not, for instance, step outside it and have a look at the way it is
related to the world. Or, less metaphorically speaking, you cannot express in
language (in "the only language I understand" , as Wittgenstein put it) its
semantical relations to the world, without committing nonsense or tautology.
As either formulation shows, semantics is ineffable according to the doctrine
ofthe universality oflanguage.
As a consequence, you cannot strictly speaking understand another
language without making it part of your own. "A language that I don't
understand is no language", to speak with Wittgenstein again. Hence a
believer in language as the universal medium can escape linguistic
relativism only by adopting a kind of linguistic solipsism. This connection
between linguistic universality and linguistic relativism is one of the grains
of salt needed to acquire a taste for my terminology.
Conversely, the conception of language as calculus implies that we can
perform all those neat feats a universalist claims we cannot perform, for
instance, to discuss the semantics of a language in that language itself. For
another instance, on this view, we can vary the interpretation of our
language, that is, admit other "models" for its propositions than the actual
universe. In other words (worlds?), language is re-interpretable like a
calculus. Hence the term. However, adefender of this view does not hold that
language (our very own home language) is like an uninterpreted calculus,
but only that it is re-interpretable like a calculus. Nor does a model theorist
hold that his or her language is a mere tool for purely formal (calculus-like)
inferences. These observations provide a couple of further grains of the
proverbial brine needed to understand the import of what I have called the
idea of language as calculus.
Some of the further consequences of the two tenets are clear. For instance,
all systematic model theory presupposes something like a belief in language
as calculus, at least as applied to the specific languages (often the formal

languages of a logician) whose model theory is at issue. There nevertheless is

nothing incoherent in an intermediate position like Tarski's according to
which we can happily develop model theories for particular formalized
languages but not (just because of its universality) for our overall colloquial
Tarski's name reminds one of another issue that separates the calculus
men from the universality boys. This issue is the definability of the central
semantical concept of truth. An all-out model-theoretical philosopher would
like to see the notion of truth for a language defined in this language itself,
while a universalist would dismiss any such attempt as a hopeless daydream.
The thesis ofthe universality oflanguage may strike you as being far more
outlandish than its rival. Yet it was the dominant view in the early logical
theory and in the early analytic philosophy of language. The universalist
position was embraced by Frege, early and middle Russell, Wittgenstein, the
Vienna Circle of the early thirties and in a certain sense Quine. (If you want
to find an apostolic succession here, be my guest.) On the so-called
continental side, the same belief in the ineffability of truth and of other
semantical concepts was shared among others by that secret admirer of
Frege, Martin Heidegger (see here Kusch, 1989). Through Heidegger's
influence, the universalist tenet became a cornerstone of the hermeneutical
and deconstructivist traditions.
Against such powernd (though often unacknowledged) allies, the early
tradition of language as calculus might at first look like a triekle even in the
history of logical theory (cf. Sluga, 1987). This tradition includes people like
Boole, Schrder and Lwenheim who are scarcely household names even in
philosophical families. Only later, through the work of Tarski, Gdel and
Carnap the born-again semantieist, did the model-theoretical tradition
gradually gain the upper hand among logicians, though to a much lower
degree among philosophers.
Moreover, at the early stages of the tradition of ''language (and its logic) as
calculus", only a minuscule part of the totality of model-theoretical tools was
brought to bear on logic, viz. only such algebraic techniques as could
facilitate the drawing of logical inferences.


One of the main theses of this paper is that Peirce was an integral member of
the model-theoretical tradition (Le., the tradition of language as calculus). A
further thesis I shall argue for is that this observation throws into a sharper
relief a large number of aspects of Peirce's many-faceted thoughts and even

opens new ways of understanding them. The import of these claims will
become clearer as the paper proceeds, and so will the very contrast between
language as calculus and language as the universal medium.
Peirce's membership in the model-theoretical tradition is not controversial.
Peirce identifies himself with perfect clarity the "very serious purpose" of his
language of graphs, by saying that "this system is not intended to serve as a
universallanguage for mathematicians or other reasoners like that of Peano"
(4.424). This disassociates him completely from the universalists.
Peirce continues:

Third, this system is not intended as calculus, or apparatus by which

conclusions can be reached and problems solved with greater facility than
by more familiar systems or expression .... But in my algebras and graphs,
far from anything of that sort being attempted, the whole effort has been
to dissect the operations of inference into as many distinct steps as
possible. (Loc. cit.. I am grateflll to Susan Haack for first drawing my
attention to this passage.)

In spite of the verbal disagreement, this statement shows that Peirce was
dealing with interpreted logic, not merely formal inferences. In other words,
Peirce was unmistakably taking a model-theoretical or "calculus" view of his
formallanguage. In fact, he says in 4.423 that he will only later move on to
see what purely formal rules might correspond to the initial interpreted

Part II will develop formal "ruIes", or permissions, by which one graph

may be transformed into another without dan ger of passing from truth to
falsity and without referring to any interpretation of the graphs ....


One subject we can appreciate better from the vantage point of the contrast I
have sketched is precisely Peirce's place in history. To begin with a relatively
superficial aspect of this location task, Peirce's membership in the model-
theoretic tradition will already explain something about his posthumous
stature. It is usually said that the founder of contemporary logic is Frege
(compare here van Heijenoort, 1967). Why not Peirce? Admittedly, Frege was
the first one to publish a treatment of the basic part of logic that is variously
known as quantification theory, lower predicate calculus or first-order logic.
But Peirce and his associates developed a logic of quantifiers completely
independent of Frege. What is a couple of year's publication priority among

friends? It is a historical fact that Peirce not only independently discovered

the importance of quantifiers, developed a notation for them, but that he
discussed their nature in a most perceptive way. In particular, Peirce showed
a much keener awareness than Frege of the nature of dependent (nested)
quantifiers and their importance for logical reasoning. For instance, in 4.483
Peirce says that "when a proposition contains a number of anys and somes, it
is a delicate matter to alter the form of statement while preserving the exact
meaning". These insights of Peirce's are not trifling; related ideas have since
played a crucial role among other developments in Hilbert's meta-
mathematical thought and ingame-theoretical semanties. I shall soon return
to this subject in greater detail.
Unlike Frege, Peirce also outlined or foreshadowed several sub se quent
developments in logic, especially in modal logics. In general, the bag of
logical tools we find in Peirce's writings is much richer than what we find in
Peirce's failure to have much of his best work in logic published explains
some of the modesty of hls later reputation. But Frege, too, was little known
in his own day. Hence Peirce's failure to publish does not fully explain why
his reputation should have perished in comparison with Frege's.
The fate of Peirce's logical work is a considerable extent due to the fact
that he happened to be a member of a less dominant tradition than Frege.
Both Frege and hls discoverer, the early Russell, were firmly in the
universalist tradition, and so is in a way W.V. Quine, who has probably more
than anybody else helped to turn Frege into the major saint in modern
logicians' calendar that he is by now in the majority view (cf. here Hintikka,
1990). Admittedly, from the vantage point of the universalist tradition,
Frege's claims to fame are exceedingly weIl founded. For instance, he created
the conception of a formal system of logic whlch has remained paradigmatic
for a century (cf. van Heijenoort, 1967).
Frege's universalist stance helped to make his work look impressive. Frege
presented first-order logic as the central part of a relatively simple universal
language which was calculated to capture faithfully the world of our
concepts. (This is the point of Frege's calling hls formal language a
Begriffsschrift.) For Peirce, the self-same quantification theory was only one
kind oflogical system among many; Characteristically, Frege did not see any
need of explaining or analyzing its ingredients, such as quantifiers, any
further. He probably would have agreed with one of his latter-day followers
who has said that if he does not understand first-order logic, he does not
understand anything at all in logic. In contrast, far from taking any set of
accustomed logical principles for granted, Peirce was constantly trying to
give them a deeper foundation or extending their range.

Now to say that the graphical procedure is more analytical than another is
to say that it demonstrates what the other virtually assumes without
proof. (EiseIe, ed., vol. 4, p. 319.)

The one universally valid method is that of mathematical demonstration;

and this is the only one which is commonly avoided by logicians as
fallacious. (EiseIe, ed., vol. 4, p. 21.)

As a consequence of this constant presence of interpretational ideas in his

work on the formal rules of logic, Peirce did not feel the need of making a
hard-and-fast distinction between, on the one hand, the formal axioms of
logic and its formal inference rules, and, on the other hand, its derived
truths. They all had to be justified by means of semantical considerations,
which could be evoked at any stage of the proceedings. Thus, to the detriment
of his later reputation, Peirce never came to develop explicitly the idea of a
formal system (axiomatization) oflogic, unlike Frege.


Several aspects of these remarks need to be explained further. First, Peirce's

pioneering work in modallogic reflects deep philosophical assumptions which
are closely related to his model-theoretical conception of logic. A universalist
like Frege could never have developed a modallogic. Why not? The answer is
obvious. If language (our actuallanguage or any alternative that can do an
appreciable part of the same job as it) cannot be re-interpreted, it can only be
used to speak. of one and the same world, viz. our actual world. No serious
alternatives are possible, and hence the notions of possibility and necessity
lose their natural ("possible-worlds") Leibnizian sense. Consequently modal
notions either have to be abandoned as meaningless, as Quine urges, or to be
suitably re-interpreted, as in Russell's proposal to define necessity as
universality. In particular, logical truths are not for a universalist truths
about all possible worlds. Rather, as Russell once put it, for a universalist
thinker like himself logic deals with the actual world quite as much as
zoology, albeit with its more abstract denizens. The main alternative open to
a universalist who does not want to consider logical truths as genuine truths
about our world, is to declare logical truths to be tautologies, as Wittgenstein
Thus the predominance of the tradition of language as the universal
medium explains why modal logic failed to catch the attention of most
philosophers until the late fifties. And insofar as it enjoyed a modest earlier

flowering, as it did in C.I. Lewis' hands, it did so outside the mainstream

tradition in logical theory.
Indeed, anyone who takes modalities and modal logic seriously must
countenance some version of the view of language as calculus. Here we are
obviously approaching Peirce again. Unfortunately, this is not a place to offer
an exhaustive study of Peirce's theory of modality. The main facts can
nevertheless be registered. They show once again Peirce's firm place in the
tradition of language and logic as calculus.

(1) At least in his mature thought, Peirce understood modalities

realistically in a straightforward metaphysical sense, without trying to
explain them away e.g. epistemically.

(2) In his actual work in logic, Peirce developed ways of studying modal
logics. In his logical theory generally Peirce used freely ideas that presuppose
a multiplicity of possible worlds (or other possibilia).

(3) Peirce influenced the subsequent development of explicit systems of

modallogic. In particular, he was greatly admired by C.!. Lewis.

(4) The philosophically deep point here is that Peirce showed a much
keener awareness of the crucial disfulction between truth (truth simpliciter)
and the ill-named concept of ''logical truth" than the members of the
universalist tradition.

In the light of these observations, we can see why for a universalist like
Quine, Peirce's anticipations ofmodallogics were scarcely a recommendation.
And by the time the tide had tumed and modallogics and algebra-oriented
and model-theoretical approaches had again become important, the actual
detailed methods of theorizing in logic had surpassed what Peirce could offer.
All told, to ask Quine to be the main speaker when Peirce's logical work is
being discussed is a little bit like asking Cardinal Manning to deliver a
eulogy on John Henry Newman.


Furthermore, Peirce's interest in the deeper nature of quantifiers tums out to

lend him a remarkable place in the entire model-theoretical tradition. Since I
have dealt with this matter at Bome length in other recent papers, I can be
quite brief.

What do quantifiers mean, anyway? What is their logical status? A one-

world universalist like Frege is likely to try to get away with saying merely
that quantifiers are second-order predicates of a special kind. For instance,
the existential quantifier (3x) in the sentence (3x) S[x] is a second-order
predicate (predicate of predicates) which says that the (possibly complex)
first-order predicate S[x] is not empty. But Frege never gives anyexplanation
of what is special about such second-order predicates. His explanation does
not work without a great deal of hand-waving for nested (dependent)
quantifiers. And a model theorist will ask in any case for further
explanations. What makes a second-order predicate an existential quantifier
is not its extension in the actual world, but the way this extension is
determined in any old (or new) world. And this way of being determined is
never explained by Frege.
Inevitably, when our present-day conception of a quantifier was first
conceived of by the likes of Skolem and Hilbert, it was related to the idea of a
choice function (Skolem function). A sentence containing adependent
existential quantifier, for instance,

(1) ("iix)(3y) S[x,y]

in affect asserts the existence of a choice function. For instance, (1) is

equivalent with

(2) (3f)("iix) S[x,f(x)]

Now the remarkable thing here is that Peirce had this way of looking at
quantifiers down pat. He feit called upon to explain the logical behavior of
the quantifier words some and any in a way which goes beyond the mere
formulation of the rules of inference in which they playapart.

Every some, as we have seen, means that under stated conditions, an

individual could be specified of which that which is predicated of the so me
is [true] , while every any means that what is predicated is true of no
matter what [specified] individual; and the specifications of individuals
must be made in a certain order, or the meaning of the proposition will be
changed. (4.483.)

As Risto Hilpinen has shown, elsewhere Peirce speIls out even more
explicitly the game-theoretical meaning of quantifiers. If I am right,
something like this meaning is the only model-theoretically natural way of

dealing with quantifiers. Here Peirce's comments on quantifiers offer further

evidence ofbis model-theoretical stance.
Peirce's comments may be more than an anticipation of the idea of
quantifiers as being based on choice functions. The notion of Skolem function
(choice function connected with a quantifier) was foreshadowed by
Lwenheim's use of double indexing, wbich he inherited from Schrder. Now
Peirce, who in bis semiotic theory had the idea of quantifiers as asserting the
possibility of choices or "specmcations" of a certain kind, is known to have
influenced Schrder's logic significantly. Is it therefore likely that Peirce not
only anticipated the idea of quantifiers as choice functions, but in a sense
started it? Further bistorical research is needed before a convincing answer
can be given to this question.
It is considerably easier to teIl why Peirce, Schrder and Lwenheim never
managed to implement this idea in a way that would have enabled them to
put it to use in a large-scale systematic in their logical theory. They had not
reached Skolem's idea of codifying the relevant choices in an explicitly
mentioned function (Skolem function). Now what is the game-theoretical
meaning of such a function? It is a partial codification of a verifier's strategy.
Before the general game-theoretical concept of strategy was formulated by
von Neumann (or at least before the special case of this concept in the form of
a Skolem function was available) there simply was no obvious model for a
fuIl-fledged development of Peirce's game-theoretical interpretation of


One particular consequence of the universalist position is that our language

and its logic can neither be self-applied, as a whole nor discussed in its
entirety in aseparate metalanguage (except for its purely formal features, of
course). This consequence, wbich was noted by van Heijenoort in bis
pioneering paper (1967), offers some of the most useful tests of actual
bistorical membersbip in the two traditions. If there were any lingering
doubts about Peirce's allegiance to the model-theoretical tradition, they
would hence be quickly dispelled by bis willingness to discuss logic by means
oflogic. A case in point is offered by Peirce's theory of existential graphs. For
instance, in 4.527 he writes:

I will now pass tO another quite indispensable department of the gamma

graphs. Namely, it is necessary that we should be able to reason in graphs
about graphs. The reason is that reasoning about graphs will necessarily
consist in showing that something is true of every possible graph of a

certain general description. But we cannot scribe every possible graph of

any general description and therefore if we are to reason in graphs we
must have a graph which is a general description of the kind of graph to
which the reasoning is to relate.

And Peirce goes on to develop in some detail a notation for "gamma

expressions ofbeta graphs", which is precisely a logic applied to logic.
One has to be careful here, however. For a universalist, too, has to apply
logic to itself, just because it is universal and hence has to apply to
everything. What distinguishes the two is (among other things) that a
believer in the ''logic as calculus" conception feels free to develop aseparate
new technique, even a new language (a metalanguage, perhaps) if need be,
for the purpose.
That this is what Peirce was in effect doing is clear from his writings,
indeed clear from the examples already given.


One particularly important and particularly subtle set of consequences of the

two contrasting approaches concems the idea of formalism in logic and
mathematics. What is subtle here is that the attitude of both the
universalists and the model theorists to the idea of formalism is bound to be
ambivalent. Take first a believer in logic as calculus. As the very term
highlights, such a theorist is likely to emphasize the usefulness of calculus-
like systems in the study of logic. Indeed, this tradition was at an early stage
of its development known as the tradition of the algebra of logic. The idea
was to find quasi-algebraic laws by means of which logical formulas could be
manipulated in the same (or similar) way in which algebraic equations were
Rere we can in fact see one of the many symptoms which show that Peirce
was fully and firmly a member of the model-theoretical ("logic as calculus")
tradition. As every student of Peirce knows, most of his work in logic belongs
historica1ly speaking to the "algebra of logic" movement. At first sight, the
use of the techniques of old-fashioned elementary algebra might seem
indicative of a concentration of interest on formal matters rather than
interpretation al ones. But it is crucial to realize that, but for the believers in
the model-theoretical conception, formalism was a servant, not the master.
As was found in sec. 2 above, Peirce in any case distinguished his interests
from those of the logical algebraists. They were merely looking for rules to
facilitate the drawing of actual logical inferences; Peirce was deeply

concerned with the model-theoretical basis of such inferences, especially with

analyzing them into the shortest and most obvious steps.
In general, like all believers in logic as calculus, Peirce was not only ready
to provide an interpretation for their calculi at the drop of a symbol. He could
- or thought they could - discuss such changes systematically in an explicit
language. The very freedom of choosing a formalism differentlyon different
occasions was sometimes a consequence of their belief that it is the
underlying representational realities that really mattered, not the formalism.
In some typical and important cases, one can see how a formalism and even a
temporary adoption of a formalistic attitude in reality served substantive
interpretational purposes.
The interplay between formalism and interpretation can be further
illustrated by considering Hilbert's often-misunderstood program. Hilbert the
axiomatist conceived of his axioms as interpretable systems. They served a
purpose as soon as they had one realization, one interpretation which made
all the axioms true. But how can we be sure that a given axiom system has
such an interpretation? H we have available to us, as Hilbert thought, a
complete and completely formal system of logic, then it would suffice to study
the axiom system purely formally to answer the question. H it can be shown
that one can never derive a contradiction from the axioms in a purely formal
way, then the axiom system is consistent also in the interpretability sense,
granted of course the completeness of one's formalized logic. What concerns
us here is merely the fact that Hilbert's formalism was in this important
sense merely a means of reaching interpretational (semantical) results. He
was trying to prove the semantical consistency ofaxiom systems by proving
their syntactical consistency, one might say.
Peirce, too, found in his logical work useful to give a "pure mathematical
definition of existential graphs, regardless of their interpretation" (4.414). As
with Hilbert, this does not mark any lapse from model-theoretical virtue.
Likewise, a believer in the universality of logic and in the ineffability of
semantics is also likely to care for the basic interpretation al meaning of his
or her interpreted Begriffsschrift. But that meaning cannot be discussed in
language. Consequently it cannot be theorized about or studied in a
systematic fashion. It has to be taken for granted. It is presupposed, not
discussed. It can be studied only insofar as it manifests itself in the purely
formal behavior of one's logic and language. Hence a universalist's belief in
the ineffability easily leads him or her, too, to a formalist practice. It is for
this reason why Frege the universalist created our current paradigm of a
formal system of logic and why Wittgenstein the lifelong believer in the
ineffability of semantics became the fountainhead of the idea of a "logical

syntax of language", in spite of the fact that they both had many strong views
about the relation oflanguage and the world.
Of course, different philosophers' ideas ab out formalism are likely to have
their mirror image in the same philosophers' ideas ab out the non-formal
aspects of language, that is, ab out the representative nmction of language
and its logic. One might perhaps expect that an emphasis on calculation in
logic might divert a philosopher's attention from the intuitive picture-like
representativeness oflanguage. Yet the contrary is usually the case. The free
re-interpretability of language according to the calculus conception is on the
contrary apt to focus one's attention to the interpretation and to the
representative nmctions oflanguage.


Here I am obviously touching on one of the most characteristic features of

Peirce's ideas about language and logic, viz. the role of what he called icons
and iconicity.
My readers are all undoubtedly familiar with Peirce's distinction between
an index, an icon, and a symbol. I am interested here in the second of these
three vehicles of linguistic representation. An icon, Peirce says, represents
whatever it represents by resembling it. Moreover, this resemblance need not
mean looking alike in a vulgar sense of the expression. The similarity is
essentially a structural similarity. The parts or elements of an icon are
related to one another in a way, analogous to the way the corresponding
ingredients of what it represents are related to each other.
What is instructive here is that Peirce's model-theoretical attitude is
revealed by his emphasis on the role of icons in logic, reasoning, and thinking
in general. The point is not difficult to appreciate. Another way of expressing
the iconic relation of a sign to what it represents, is to say that the sign is a
model of what it stands for in a sense not completely different from logicians'
use of the term. One way of illustrating this iconity is by reference to the
technique (which goes back at least to Henkin) of using suitable sets of
formulas (e.g., model sets, or maximal consistent sets) literally as their own
models. Hence Peirce's willingness to theorize about icons and to use them in
his actual work in logic is but another fact of his model-theoretical approach
to language and logic.
By and large, Peirce's model-theoretical attitude, in contrast to Frege's
universalist stance, shows up in his actual work (and with formal rules of
inference) in the following way: Both logicians obviously rely on tacit
interpretation al ideas to set up the basic rules of inference. But Frege is
suspicious of such semantical ideas, undoubtedly because they apparently

cannot be expressed in a correct Begriffsschrift and apparently hence cannot

be subject to the same standards of argumentative rigor and clarity as that
which can be so expressed, including (Frege thought) mathematical concepts.
Moreover, Peirce's idea of the iconicity of logic highlights still another
difference between Frege and Peirce. For Frege, finding the right principles
of logic is a matter of thought, not of intuition. By the same token, when we
proceed from logical axioms to logical theorems, we cannot expect any
bottom-line help from intuition, and we should not trust other
interpretation al ideas very much, either. Hence, all told, for Frege there is
only a limited role for interpretational considerations in pure logic, and
properly speaking no real role for intuitions at all. They are at best
dispensable auxiliary aids to logical thought.
Thus, Frege writes (Foundations of Arithmetic, sec. 60):

Time and again we are led by our thought beyond the scope of our
imagination, without thereby forfeiting the support we need for our

In contrast, Peirce's characteristic logical techniques are iconic and

graphic, and in that sense involve intuition (in the general sense in which
sense-perception is a species of intuition). Sometimes he even denies that
"demonstrative reasoning is something altogether unlike observation"
(3.641). And the foundation of this claim is precisely the iconic element in

... The intricate forms of inference of relative logic call for such studied
scrutiny of the representations of facts, which representations are of an
iconic kind, that they represent relations in the fact by analogous relations
in the representation, that we cannot fall to remark that it is by
observation of diagrams that the reasoning proceeds in such cases. (3.641.)

Peirce's iconic methods did not, as far as I can see, anticipate the specific
ideas which the sub se quent guided model-theoretically oriented
axiomatizations of logic, such as the Beth-Hintikka idea of construing a
(first-order) logical proof, as a frustrated attempt to construct a counter-
example. Such later ideas are closer to the spirit of Peirce's philosophy than
its letter. This spiritual kinship is nevertheless unmistakable. One of its
many symptoms is Peirce's comment on the usefulness oficons:

The Icon does not stand unequivocally for this or that existing thing, as the
Index does ... But there is one assurance that the Icon does afford in the

highest degree. Namely, that which is displayed before the mind's gaze-
the Form of the Icon, which is also its objeet - must be logically possible.

This is essentially just the other side of the interpretational coin minted by
Beth and Hintikka. If proofs are frustrated attempts to eonstruct a counter-
example, then a completed construction will ipso facto show that a counter-
exampie is indeed logically possible. (Such uses of the techniques of logieal
argumentation are still being neglected by philosophers.)
The Beth-Hintikka idea is precisely to interpret a logieal proof as an
attempt to eonstruct an iconic counter-example to the putative conclusion.
What the logician who carries out this construetion hopes is that this
attempted construction is seen to fail inevitably, whereby the result to be
proved is shown to be logically necessary.


In some specific respects, however, Peme did anticipate later semanties-

friendly conceptualizations in logic.
Indeed, an excellent case study of the role of iconic thinking in Peirce is
offered by a distinetion to whieh he himself attached considerable
importance. It is a distinction between what Peirce called corollarial and
theorematic reasoning in logic (see here Hintikka, 1983). The paradigm ease
is geometrical reasoning, which of course is often overtly iconic, relying on
geometrical figures as an aid to reasoning. In elementary geometry, familiar
to many readers from their sehooldays, some theorems ean be proved by
considering simply the eonfiguration of geometrical objects mentioned in the
statement of the theorem. Such proofs Peilce calls corollarial. But in other
eases, a proof is possible only by reference to other geometrical objects not
mentioned in the original statement. In the traditional jargon of elementary
geometry, we need "auxiliary construetions" in order to be able to earry out
the proof. Such proofs Peirce calls theorematic. Peirce's choice of terms is in
fact very mueh in keeping with traditional geometrical terminology.
A distinction of this kind can only be drawn on the basis of some sort of
iconic representation of reasoning, which in the case of geometry is provided
by the familiar geometrie al figures. When geometrie al reasoning was
"formalized" in the sense of considering it as strietly logieal reasoning, many
philosophers, for instanee Bertrand Russell, thought that any
coneeptualization that is made by reference to figures is dispensable and off
the mark in rigorous geometry. They were wrong beeause they overlooked the
potential iconicity of all 10gie al reasoning.

Indeed, Peirce's brilliant insight was that alllogical reasoning is at bottom

iconic. This is the basic reason why the contract between corollarial and
theorematic reasoning can be applied to all logical reasoning. For since all
such reasoning is iconic, it involves representatives for the entities involved
in the reasoning, either representatives of some particular individuals or else
for suitable sampIe individuals the reasoner is considering. Hence we can
always distinguish between such (theorematic) reasoning as requires more
complex configurations of entities that are mentioned in the result to be
proved (or in the premises one has available) from such (corollarial)
reasoning as merely involves reshuftling an iconic configuration that has
already been given. Obviously, a general distinction of this kind is possible
only if one can consider alllogical reasoning as an iconic or model-theoretical
A long time aga (cf. Hintikka, 1973), I came independently upon the same
distinction in my work in the philosophy of logic, only to discover that the
same insight had been reached by Peirce.
Peirce's place in the bistory of logical theory is vividly illustrated by the
incomprehension with wbich bis distinction between corollarial and
theorematic reasoning was met. This incomprehension was undoubtedly due
to the prevalence of the universalist tradition at the time. As was indicated,
this rejection to ideas like Peirce's distinction was based on the formalization
of all mathematical reasoning as a sequence of purely logical conclusions.
Since all reasoning in theories like elementary axiomatic geometry can (and
must) be capable of being represented in the form of strictly logical
inferences, codifiable in terms of a completely formalized logical system, this
tradition maintained, conceptu alizations like Peirce's which rely on
geometrical constructions (or on other iconic representations) are irrelevant.
Russell is a representative example of thinkers adhering to this line of
thought. Unfortunately for them, they miss what in reality is the deep
insight of Peirce's, to wit, that even the kind of apparently purely symbolic
reasoning we carry out in formallogic is in the last analysis iconic. This is
the same insight as is expressed in a different way by the Beth-Hintikka idea
of considering all first-order logical arguments as frustrated countermodel
constructions. As soon as we realize this iconicity of logical reasoning, we can
make the Peircean distinction, which therefore is a telling example of bis way
of thinking in general.
lronically, my unwitting reconstruction ofPeirce's distinction has met with
precisely the same misunderstanding that led the vast majority of logicians
and philosophers to overlook the significance of Peirce's discovery. For
instance, Hookway considers in bis book (1985, pp. 199-200) this
reconstruction of Peirce's distinetion as a mere way of "developing Peircean

themes" in specialized contemporary logical theory and rejects it as not being

able to "help us to get to the heart" of Peirce's thought. Yet the evidence
Hookway himself marshals teils eloquently against his judgement rather
than for it. He mentions several wider issues in Peirce to which my
reconstruction is alleged to be irrelevant. They include "the use of abstract
reference as crucial to the most important and widespread forms of
theorematic reasoning" (op. cit., p. 200). In reality it is the introduction of
new objects by existential instantiation that creates the most interesting
problem of abstract reference, viz. the problem of the status of the "arbitrary
objects" or "witness individuals" that are apparently referred to by the
"dummy names" introduced in existential instantiation. And this problem,
far from being neglected in my reconstruction, is thrust to the place of
prominence by it. Moreover, I have pointed out that the problem of
understanding existential instantiation is a time-honored one, going back to
the interpretation of the logical and mathematical notion of ekthesis in
Aristotle and Euclid (Hintikka, 1974).
Again, Hookway places considerable emphasis on the connection between
Peirce's distinction and questions of decidability. This connection is
nevertheless a mere coroilary to my interpretation and hence teils in its
favor. Not only is it the case that coroilarial reasoning is mechanizable and
decidable. On my reconstruction, the decidability of a theory becomes simply
the problem of telling which "auxiliary constructions" to carry out - or even
merely how many of them will be needed for a proof. Predicting this number
is equivalent to the decision problem of the theory in question.
Even Peirce's at first somewhat surprising speculation that "the need for
theorematic reasoning reflects the current state of mathematical ignorance"
turns out to have an interesting point. For if the mathematical theory we are
dealing with happens to be (deductively) complete, decidability foilows from
axiomatizability. Hence Peirce's conjecture might simply reflect a (mistaken
but natural) surmise that decidability (completeness) entails the possibility
of coroilarial reasoning.
Hence, far from forcing us to ignore such Peircean claims and conjectures,
my reconstruction offers an exceilent framework of discussing and even
evaluating them. In reality, it is Hookway who fails to "get to the. heart of'
Peirce's thought, which in this case is the iconicity of even purely formal
inferences of symbolic logic.
In emphasizing the importance of diagrams, graphs and icons in
reasoning, Peirce is not primarily talking about some new fancy forms of
reasoning different from the traditional modes of reasoning in geometry or
other kinds of mathematics or from the modes of logical reasoning developed
since Peirce. To allege this is to miss completely his deeper point. His point is

that all these different modes of reasoning are at bottom iconic and
diagrammatic. This result may have striking philosophical consequences, as
e.g. Kettner maintains, but they are not tied to any particular method of
doing logic. To claim that they are is comparable to accepting a logical
argument only as long as it is expressed in French, but not in English
translation. The philosophical consequences in question must be capable to
be argued for in terms of any method of logical systematization. To try to
connect them to Peirce's idiosyncratic and quaint techniques in logic is to
misunderstand completely Peirce's point and to block the path of inquiry in
logical theory.
Peirce's idea ofthe iconic character oflogic can be illustrated by a different
comparison. It is an index of the subtly ambiguous relations between
formalism and representation that a universalist thinker like the early
Wittgenstein could also maintain the iconicity of language under the guise of
his ill-named ''picture theory of language". Thus an emphasis on iconicity
does not per se put Peirce in the model-theoretical camp. The true differences
between the two traditions are revealed by more elusive clues. But even
though elusive, these clues are real. Not only does the pictorial character of
language apud the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus belong to what can only be
shown but cannot be words about the iconicity of language. Wittgenstein's
sometime picture conception of language is completely static, completely
timeless. It only serves to account for the way sentences (both atomic and
complex sentences) represent the world. In contrast, in Peirce, iconicity is the
key to logic and logical inference. "Icons are specially requisite for reasoning",
he wrote (4.531).


The role of game-theoretical concepts in the model-theoretical tradition is but

a special case of a wider phenomenon. On the universalist conception, the
representative relations have to be there before any one particular use of
language. One can use them, but one cannot change or generate them - or
at least one cannot systematically discuss in one's own language such
changes and generations nor theorize about them. Hence particular concrete
human actions cannot be a constitutive element in such semantical
relationships. Consequently, for a believer in the universality of language
there is likely to exist a sharp contrast between the study of the semantics of
language (insofar as it is possible) and the study of the use of language. This
distinction is of course the one generally known as the contrast between the
semantics and the pragmatics of a language. AB a matter of historical fact, a
belief in the inexpressibility of the semantics of language (as maintained by

the Viennese positivists) was the background of Morris' creation of the

semantics vs. pragmatics contrast (Morris, 1938,1946). What is remarkable
about the distinction is not just the postulation of some sort of boundary
between two theoretical enterprises, but the idea that pragmatics inevitably
involves the peculiarities of the language users in question and hence
belongs to the psychology and sociology of language rather than its logical
and philosophical study.
Hence, the received distinction between semantics and pragmatics is not
only inspired by a universalist vision of language, but loses its raison d'etre if
the universalist paradigm is given up. Of course, such a violation of the
semantics vs. pragmatics distinction takes place in game-theoretical
semantics, once again showing its inseparable ties with the model-theoretical
Peirce is quite explicit about the role of certain interpersonal activities in
the semantical interpretation of uttered propositions in general, not just in
the case of quantifier sentences. He is also aware of the game-like nature of
those interpersonal activities.

The utterer is essentially adefender of his own proposition, and wishes to

interpret it so that it will be defensible. The interpreter, not being so
interested, and being unable to interpret it fully without considering to
what extreme it may reach, is relatively in a hostile attitude, and looks for
the interpretation least defensible. (MS 9, pp.3-4.)

This passage has been quoted earlier by Risto Hilpinen (1983, p. 267), who

Peirce occasionally calls the interpreter of a proposition its "opponent" (e.g.

in MS 515). Thus the language-game played by the utterer and the
interpreter with respect to indeterminate proposition is, according tO
Peirce, a zero-sum game.

It is of a particular interest to us here to see how according to Peirce an

interpretation of an utterance, far from being fixed ahead of time, comes
about during the "language-game" between the utterer and the interpreter.
This shows once again vividly the closeness of Peirce's ideas to those
codified in game-theoretical semanties. At the same time it can be seen how
Peirce's game-theoretical interpretation of quantifiers that was discussed in
sec. 5 above is merely a special application of more general ideas connected
with his pragmatism.

Moreover, Peirce practices in bis actual work in logic what he preaches in

bis semiotic theory. His entire theory of existential graphs is, as the very
name suggests, an exercise of iconic representation. Peirce's semiotic ideas,
such as bis distinction between icons, indices and symbols, sometimes occur
in the midst of his purely logical work and are made use of there (cf., e.g.,
Here we are obviously toucbing on some of the most characteristic general
features ofPeirce's theories oflanguage and meaning.



To put the general point even more bluntly, Peirce's pragmatism (or
pragmaticism, if you prefer) is predicated on a denial of any absolute
separation of semantics and pragmatics and hence predicated on some
version of what I have called the calculus conception. For without it, the use
of a word or a sentence either is irrelevant to its meaning in any theoretically
interesting sense or else cannot be discussed in language.
A comparison with Wittgenstein might be instructive here. Like Peirce,
Wittgenstein believed that the use of language is constitutive of its meaning.
And like Peirce, Wittgenstein does not mean by "use" a mere verbal use, that
is, a "game" whose moves are language-acts. Both are emphasizing the use
pragmatically in the sense of its language utilization. (Witness, for instance,
how Wittgenstein compares language to a box of tools.) But there the
similarities end. As a universalist, Wittgenstein could not officially say
anything about language-games in general or even develop a real theory of
any particular kind of language-games, in complete contradistinction to
Peirce. What is even more striking, as far as their semantical role is
concerned, Wittgensteinian language-games were essentially static. Their
role was to constitute the network of meaning relations that connects
language with the world. Paradoxically, they do not help very much to
understand how we humans actually use those relations. For all bis fame as
a theorist of logic, Wittgenstein never had anything interesting to say about
logical inference, wbich was precisely one of Peirce's long suits. For
Wittgenstein, logic has to be considered as a mere caleulus, without any
references to a semantieal foundation that eould be discussed in language.
These observations throw some ironie sidelight on Peirce's plaee in bistory
- or perhaps on the way bis place in history is eoneeived of by later
philosophers. Mueh of recent resurgenee of interest in Peirce and in
particular in his theory of language has been in eontext of traditions whieh
emphasize pragmaties and, more generally, the roots of language and

meaning in the language community, in its customs, rules and practices.

Such emphasis is apt to lead into many valid insights into Peirce's thought.
However, insofar as this tradition presupposes a contrast between semantical
approaches to language, including explicit formal semantics, and use-
oriented approaches, it is in one important respect foreign to Peirce's thought
and likely to distort it. For Peirce, there cannot be any impenetrable
boundary between pragmatics and a formal study of language, or between
semiotics and logic. A his own words show (e.g., in the application to
Carnegie Foundation in 1902), logic was for Peirce formal semiotics. It is not
just that according to Peirce we have to study the pragmatics of language
over and above its syntax and formal semantics. The rightly understood
semantics, even the most formal one, is part of pragmatics, and even the
most purely syntactical (formal) rules of logical inference are anchored in the
semantics and even pragmatics of the symbols involved in it. Conversely, if
there ever was an idea that Peirce would have found foreign, it is the idea
that we could study semiotics without sooner or later needing the help of
symbolic logic. Peirce's ideas about the need of an interpretant or about the
game character of quantifiers are not calculated to replace a logical and
formal study of language, but to show what such a study is supposed to
capture. In a later jargon, Peirce is not maintaining a contrast between
pragmatics and semantics (including logical semantics), but their ultimate
unity. In this re spect, too, Peirce's place in history can be defined more
sharply than has been done in the earlier literature.
This point is not disproved by the often striking similarities between
Peirce and the later Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein made certain rule-govemed
activities, his "language-games", the basis of all meaning. The result was a
denial of the presence of any sharp logic in our actual language. But if so,
how could Peirce find a foundation for his exact logic in essentially the same
human activities? The answer is that those prima facie similarities are in
so me cases only skin deep. Admittedly, there are genuine kinships between
the two, such as the role of human activity in linguistic meaning and anti-
skepticism, manifesting itself as a reliance on truths which are indubitable
because they are not doubted. Similarities between Peirce and the later
Wittgenstein can only be used as evidence against the unity of logic and
semiotics if Wittgensteinian language-games are conceived as social games of
using language in the sense of speech-acts and other language-acts. Qnly
then can these language-games be contrasted to logic and logical theory. This
is nevertheless a rank misinterpretation of Wittgenstein, however, as I have
shown elsewhere.
But another question arises here. How can Wittgenstein, unlike Peirce,
maintain the ineffability of semantics if that semantics is based on rule-

govemed human activities? Surely we can talk about such activities,

including their rules, all the time in our language! The answer lies in
Wittgenstein's peculiar holism. In his mature view, entire language-games
are conceptually primary in relation to their rules. We do not come to
understand a language-game by leaming its rules, according to Wittgenstein.
We can only grasp the rules of the game by leaming to master the entire
game. And that game as a whole is ineffable. In Peirce, in contrast, there is
no assumption of irreducible holism.
Once again Peirce and Wittgenstein tum out to be at one and the same
time very elose to each other and yet worlds apart.


So what is Peirce's place in the history of logical theory? He was a working

member of a tradition which was largely suppressed in his own time and in
the next couple of decades. Because of this suppression, few if any of his most
interesting ideas were developed by others. By the time the model-theoretical
tradition was revitalized again among logicians and philosophers, some of
Peirce's problems and ideas had been surpassed and even forgotten. Others
were found to be brilliant anticipations of ideas that were later rediscovered
independently. Undoubtedly there can be further ideas in Peirce that still
deserve to be taken up and developed further. (For instance, it is tuming out
that Peirce's graphical notation is weil suited for the purpose of avoiding a
certain important trap into which Frege fell in developing his notation.) A
genuinely interesting and important interpretation of Peirce has to be able to
sort out his ideas into these categories, And that can only be done on the
basis of asolid knowledge of the subsequent history of the ideas Peirce had
and of the substantive issues involved in his work. At the same time, the
forays into the details of Peirce's logical and philosophical views that I have
reported in this paper (see especially sees. 5 and 9) provide examples of how
interesting and important Peirce's ideas are even from a contemporary


Peirce is quoted in the standard editions, unless otherwise indicated, plus Carolyn
Eisele (ed,) The New Elements of Mathematics by Charles S. Peirce I-IV, Mouton,
The Hague, 1976.

Freeman, Eugene (ed.), The Relevance of Charles Peirce, The Hegeler Institute, La
Salle, Illinois, 1983.
Hilpinen, Risto, "On C.S. Peirce's Theory of the Proposition: Peirce as aPrecursor of
Game-Theoretical Semanties", in Freeman (1983), pp. 264-70.
Hintikka, J aakko, Logic, Language-Games and Information, Clarendon Press,
Oxford, 1973.
Hintikka, Jaakko, "C.S. Peirce's 'First Real Discovery'and Its Contemporary
Relevance", in Freeman (1983), pp. 107-18.
Hintikka, Jaakko, "On the Development of the Model-theoretical Viewpoint in
Logical Theory", Synthese, vol. 77 (1988), pp. 1-36.
Hintikka, Jaakko, "Quine as a Member of the Tradition of the Universality of
Language", in R. Barrett and R. Gibson (eds.), Perspectives on Quine, Basil
Blackwell,O:xford, 1990, pp. 159-75.
Hintikka, Merrill and J aakko Hintikka, Investingating Wittgenstein, Basil
Blackwell, O:xford, 1986.
Hookway, Christopher, Peirce (The arguments of the Philosophers), Routledge &
Kegan Paul, London, 1985.
Kusch, Martin, Language as the Universal Medium vs. Language as Calculus. A
Study of Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1989.
Morris, Charles, Foundations of the Theory of Signs (International Encyclopedia of
Unified Science, vol. 1, no. 2), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1938.
Morris, Charles, Signs, Language and Behavior, Prentice-Hall, New York, 1946.
Sluga, Hans, "Frege Against the Booleans", Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic,
vol. 28 (1987), pp. 80-98.
van Heijenoort, Jean, ''Logic as Language and Logic as Calculus", Synthese, vol. 17
(1967), pp. 324-30 .



We shall begin our investigation of Wittgenstein by presenting, in this

first chapter, a viewpoint which helps one to understand not only
Wittgenstein but also much of recent philosophy of language. This
viewpoint was introduced into scholarly discussion in a special case by
Jean van Heijenoort in his perceptive paper on Frege's conception of
logic. 1 He characterizes it as a contrast between two conceptions of
logic, which he labels 'logic as language' and 'logic as calculus'. He
explains the former view in effect as a doctrine of the universality (in
the sense of inescapability) o/logic. We cannot as it were get outside
our logic and its intended interpretation. For instance, an 'important
consequence of the universality of logic is that nothing can be, or has
to be, said outside of the system.'
In his suggestive paper, van Heijenoort traces several other con-
sequences of the view of logic as language and attributes it to Frege.
This view he contrasts to that of 'logic as calculus', according to which
we can raise metatheoretic questions about our logic and even think of
its interpretation as being changed, for instance, with respect to the
domain over which its quantifiers range. His point is thus not that on
this view logic is like an uninterpreted calculus, but rather that it is re-
interpretable like a calculus.
Jaakko Hintikka has generalized van Heijenoort's contrast into a
fundamental oPfosition between two different ways of looking at
one's language. He calls these 'language as the universal medium'
and 'Ianguage as calculus'. According to the former view, one cannot
as it were look at one's language from outside and describe it, as ODe
can do to other objects that can be specified, referred to, described,
discussed, and theorized about in language. The reason for this
alleged impossibility is that one can use language to talk about
something only if one can .rely on a given definite interpretation, a
given network of meaning relations obtaining between laDguage and
the world. Hence one cannot meaningfully and significantly say in

* Written jointly with Merrill B. Hintikka


language what these meaning relations are, for in any attempt to do so

one must already presuppose them. Thus the gist of this view of
language as the universal medium lies in the thesis of the ineffability 0/
semanties, for it is precisely semantics that deals with those language-
reality relationships. In this respect, the consequences of the view of
language as the universal medium are especially elose to those of the
narrower doctrine of logic as language, for (as van Heijenoort noted)
all logical semantics (model theory) is impossible if the view of
language as the universal medium is correct.


Several elarificatory comments are in order here. First, it is important

to realize that the thesis of language as the universal medium implies
primarily the inexpressibility of semantics rather than the impossi-
bility of semantics, in the sense that a believer in language as the
universal medium can nevertheless have many and sharp ideas about
language-world connections, which are the subject of semantics.
However, these relations are inexpressible if one believes in the view
of language as the universal medium. In fact, this is, according to van
Heijenoort, Frege's actual position. Frege had much more sophisti-
cated ideas about the relation between our language and the world
than first meet the eye. Frege is usually credited primarily with the
sense-reference theory, which is for him essentially a theory about the
meaning of expressions occurring in oblique (intensional) contexts.
What is frequently not realized is that Frege also had adefinite and
articulated set of ideas about the semantics of ordinary extensional
language, including truth-functional definitions of propositional con-
nectives, the meaning of quantifiers, etc. However, since he does
not believe in the proper linguistic expressibility of such semantical
relationships, he does not incorporate them in his 'official' systematic
theory, but leaves them on the level of indirect informal explanations.
The first main thesis of this chapter is that Wittgenstein's attitude to
the ineffability of semantics was rather like Frege's. 3 Wittgenstein
had, in both his early and his late philosophy, a elear and sweeping
vision of how language and the world are connected with each other.
Like Frege, he did not think that this vision could be expressed in
language. Unlike Frege, the young Wittgenstein nevertheless believed
that he could convey his vision by an oblique use of language. This
nonliteral, secondary employment of language he had to consider as
something different from saying what the semantics of our language
iso This is the origin, it will be argued later, of Wittgenstein's notion of
showing as distinguished from saying.

One specific thing that is inexpressible, according to the view of

language as the universal medium, is what would be the case if the
semantical relations between language and the world were different.
In other words, one cannot on this view vary the representative
relations between our expressions on the one hand and the reality on
the other. We are stuck, logically speaking, with our one and only
home language. Even the enterprise of leaming a new language, in
the usual sense of the word, should strictly speaking be conceptualized
as extending one's first (and only) language rather than as acquiring a
radically new one. After all, the only way in wh ich one could leam the
'new' language is by means ofthe old one, according to this view. In
brief, the view of language as the universal medium implies a thesis of
the universality of language reminiscent of the universality of logic to
which Frege was committed.
The impossibility of varying the interpretation of our language is an
important additional reason why all model theory is impossible on the
view of language as the universal medium. For a systematic variation
of the representative relations between language (or at least its non-
logical vocabulary) and the world is a conceptual comerstone of all
logical semantics. Indeed, the development of logical semantics and
its technical twin, model theory, has gone hand in hand with a gradual
transition from the view of language as the universal medium to the
view of language as calculus. It is striking that those logicians, notably
Quine, who have remained committed to the view of language as the
universal medium have completely failed (or refused) to contribute to
model theory or to use it in their work.
This situation leads a commentator to a terminological dilemma. In
describing Frege's, Wittgenstein's, or Quine's views about language-
world relationships, it is very tempting to speak of their views about
semanties. Is it not precisely semantics that studies these links between
our expressions and their targets in reality? Yes, but all semanties, as
it is practised as a systematic enterprise whose results are codifiable in
language, is committed to the view of language as calculus, for reasons
just noted. Yet these philosophers do not share this presuppositition.
Hence it will sound strange to speak of the semantical views of such
philosopher-Iogicians, since they rejected the very idea of systematic,
codified semantics. For instance, Jaakko Hintikka has been led to
speak of Frege as a 'semanticist who did not believe in semanties' .4
The paradox is in reality only a terminological one, and need not
mislead one who keeps in mind what has to be meant by terms like
'semantics' in the case of someone who is committed to language as
the universal medium.



In the case of Bertrand RusselI, the consequences of his qualified

adoption of the view of language as the universal medium have been
studied by Peter Hylton, and to some extent also by Warren Goldfarb. 5
These consequences need not concern us here, except for one par-
ticular area where they impinge on Wittgenstein, namely, Russell's
Introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. There
Russell puts forward, as a solution to the problem of the inexpressi-
bility of language, the idea of metalanguage, i.e., a language in
which we can speak about a given language (later termed the object
For us latter-day readers, Russell's suggestion may too easily seem
trite, since it is practically the first idea that we would expect to occur
to a competent logician or philosopher of language. In reality, it was
for Russell a radical and daring departure from his earlier position, in
which he had been deeply committed to the universality of language.
The depth of Wittgenstein's impact on Russell may be measured in
part by the sharpness of this departure from Russell's own earlier
views. One of the consequences of the idea of 'logic as language',
which van Heijenoort registered in the case of Frege, is precisely the
impossibility (and the consequent absence) of metalogical consider-
ations. The same point has been argued in the case of the early Russell
by Peter Hylton. The novelty of Russell's proposal in his Introduction
to the Tractatus can be seen from such observations. Russell's sug-
gestion is an attempt to overcome the view of language as the
universal medium, perhaps forced on hirn when he saw the con-
sequences of the view so explicitly developed by Wittgenstein, who
firmly believed in it.
The idea of language as the universal medium can be considered as
a linguistic counterpart of certain Kantian doctrines. 6 The connection
is pointed out by Wittgenstein: .

The limit of language shows itself in the impossibility of describing the

fact that corresponds to a sentence . . . without repeating that very
What we are dealing with here is the Kantian solution to the problem of
philosophy. (Vermischte Bemerkungen, p.27; translation by Jaakko

What happened on the way from Kant to Wittgenstein is more than

a mere linguistic turn, however. The Kantian doctrine of the limits of

our knowledge and the unknowability of things in themselves, Le.,

things considered independently of our knowledge-seeking activities
and of the means they employ, should of course correspond to a
doctrine of the limits of language in the sense of a doctrine of
the inexpressibility of things independently of some one particular
language. This would amount to something Iike linguistic relativism
rather than a thesis of the ineffability of semantics. Or so it seems.
However, Jaakko Hintikka has argued that there is an intrinsic link,
virtually a mutual implication, between the unknowability of things
considered in themselves, independently of our knowledge-seeking
activities and the conceptual framework that they utilize, and the
unknowability of these activities and of this framework. 7 This 'para-
dox of transcendental knowledge' is matched on the Iinguistic side by
a similar mutal dependence between the ineffability of things con-
sidered in abstraction from language (and of the conceptual system it
embodies) and the inexpressibility of those semanticallinks which are
supposed to mediate between language and reality.
Kant does not seem to take cognizance of the paradox of transcen-
dental knowledge. However, there has been a somewhat sharper
awareness among subsequent philosophers of the linguistic counter-
part of the paradox of transcendental knowledge. This counterpart
is the mutual dependence of linguistic relativity (impossibility of
expressing reality as it is, considered independently of our language)
and the ineffability of semantics. Wittgenstein, for one, held both
views. In particular, it will be argued later in this chapter that
Wittgenstein maintained the ineffability of semantics throughout his
career. His belief in the inexpressibility of reality an sich can be seen,
e.g., from Philosophical Remarks, VIII, sec. 85:

If someone said: Very weil, how do you know that the whole of reality
can be represented by propositions? The reply is: I only know that it
can be represented by propositions, and to draw a line between apart
which can and apart which can't be so represented is something I can't
do in language. Language means the totality of propositions.

The universality of language - one of the main consequences of the

idea of language as the universal medium - is expressed by Wittgenstein
among other places in Notebooks 1914-1916 (entry for 29 May 1915):

But is language: the only language?

Why should there not be a mode of expression through which I can talk
about language in such a way that it can appear to me in co-ordination
with something else?
Suppose that music were such a mode of expression: then it is at any

rate characteristic of science that no musical themes can occur in it.

I myself write only sentences down here? And why?
How is language unique?

As one can see, Wittgenstein ends up entertaining the uniqueness of

language here. It is also significant that he connects the uniqueness of
language with the impossibility of describing it from the outside.
A discussion of the role of the idea of language as the universal
medium in Wittgenstein falls naturally into several parts. These
include (a) the consequences of the ineffability of semantics in the
Tractatus; (b) the ineffability of semantics in relation to the idea of
formalism; (c) the ineffability of semantics and the limits of language;
(d) the consequences of the idea of language as the universal medium
for Wittgenstein's ideas of grammar, calculus, and the publicity of lan-
guage; and (e) language as the universal medium in later Wittgenstein.



It is no news that Wittgenstein's Tractatus represents aversion of the

thesis of the ineffability of semantics. If an example is needed to
illustrate this fact, 3.263 will serve the purpose:

The meanings of primitive signs can be explained by means of eluci-

dations. Elucidations are propositions that contain the primitive signs.
So they can be understood if the meanings of those signs are already

It is also unmistakable that Wittgenstein's belief in the ineffability

of semantics is a consequence of his adoption of the idea of language
as the universal medium; witness, e.g., the following (4.12):

In order to be able to represent the logical form, we should have to be

able to station ourselves with propositions somewhere outside logic,
_that is to say outside the world.

It is likewise clear that the most important consequence of the idea

of language as the universal medium in the Tractatus is the contrast
between what can be said and what can only be shown. What is
perhaps not equally clear is that everything which, according to the
Tractatus, can only be shown involves in the last analysis semantical
relationships. Basically, it is thus the world-language links, and
these links only, that cannot be said but can be shown according to

Here this claim will be argued for in a number of representative

Perhaps the easiest one is the sense of a sentence, wh ich according
to 4.022 can only be shown. But what is this sense? A meaningful
sentence is understood by Wittgenstein to include both the sentential
sign and its 'projective relation to the world' (3.12). Moreover, this
'method of projection is the thinking of the sense of the sentence'
(3.11). Along the same Iines, he says in 4.2 that 'the sense of a
sentence is its agreement and disagreement with the possibilities of
atomic facts obtaining or not obtaining.' These relations of agreement
are of course just what above have been called semantical relations.
Hence, it is impossible to say what the sense of a sentence is because
we cannot express in language the semanticalor 'projective' relations
which connect a sentence with atomic facts according to Wittgenstein.
It follows by the same token that the identity of the meanings of
two expressions cannot be asserted in language, as Wittgenstein
indeed says in 6.2322.
Another group of consequences of the inexpressibility of semantics
in the Tractatus is arrived at by considering the meaning of the simples
of language (Wittgenstein's 'names'). Their relation to the objects
that are their meanings is ineffable, according to the early Wittgenstein.
This ineffability is apparently taken by hirn to imply that we cannot
even say in any particular case that there is something at the receiving
end of the relation, i.e., that the name in question is not empty, any
more than we can say in language wh at an object is, as distinguished
from wh at it is like (see 3.221). (But cf. here chapter 3, section 4,
below.) In other words, the concept of individual existence is inex-
pressible. We cannot say: This and this there is in the world, that there
is not. (See 5.61.) The existence of an object can only be shown
through its name's use in the language. This is taken by Wittgenstein
to imply that in a logically correct language all names are non-empty,
which implication is confirmed by 5.47 (second paragraph) and by
5.441. Nor can we say in language how many objects there are in the
world (see 4.1272). When the elementary sentences are given, the
totality of all elementary sentences is thereby given (see 5.524); and
that totality determines the totality of all objects in the world (ibid.).
And that totaIity of elementary sentences, Wittgenstein says explicitly,
is determined by the application of logic. From this it follows further,
according to Wittgenstein, that the world as a whole is inexpressible,
because its boundaries are inexpressible. (Cf. 5.61.) For these bound-
aries are determined by the totality of objects, or equivalently, the
totality of elementary propositions. Furthermore, since ethics and
aesthetics deal with the world as a whole (Notebooks 1914-1916,

p. 83; cf. 6.43), they, too, are transcendental (6.421), i.e., belong to
the realm ofwhat ean only be shown, not said.
The ineffability of the simple name-object relations has several
further eonsequences for the early Wittgenstein. It amounts to main-
taining that the existenee of an individual ean only be shown by means
of language through the use of its name; it cannot be stated. This view
is apparently taken by Wittgenstein to imply that the identity of
individuals is also shown by the use of the same name. This leads him
to his well-known nonstandard treatment of identity in the Tractatus.
Logical forms (fonns of representation) comprise another rieh class
of things that ean only be shown, not said.

2.172 A picture cannot, however, depict its pictorial form: it displays

it [weist sie auf].

It is also elear in the Tractatus that logicat forms - more generally ,

pictorial forms - are vehicles of semantieallanguage-world relations:

2.22 What a picture represents it represents independently of its truth

or falsity, by means of its pictorial form.

In partieular,

2.181 A picture whose pictorial form is logical form is called a logical


Such logical pictures Wittgenstein identifies with propositions. Their

forms are inexpressible, because the semantics fo our language is
inexpressible. Wittgenstein indieates quite clearly that the reason for
this ineffability is the idea of language as our one and only ineseapable

2.174 A picture cannot, however, place itself outside its represent-

ational form.

Hence all matters of logieal form belong to the sphere of what ean
only be shown, not said, beeause of the ineffability of alt semantics.
Sinee questions of logieal form are frequent in the Tractatus,
this observation explains why many of the detailed matters that
Wittgenstein considers merely 'showable' are so thought of by him.
Among these more specifie matters is the status of tautologies or
contradictions as lacking sense (4.461). Since logical operations deal
with relations in forms (5.241), they ean only manifest themselves in a
variable (5.24).

Furthermore, the polyadicity of a relation cannot be expressed in

language, although it can of course be shown. Thus one can under-
stand Wittgenstein's denial that there are privileged relations or
privileged polyadicities of relations. (See 5.553-5.5541.) Likewise
type-distinctions, in which Peter Geach has wanted to see the gist of
Wittgenstein's saying-showing distinction,8 are inexpressible accord-
ing to Wittgenstein precisely because they are aspects of the logical
form of entities of different kinds. Hence they can only be shown. (Cf.
3.331-3.332.) 80th polyadicities and type-distinctions are matters of
logical form.
There may be even more in common among these different cases
than first meets the eye. One of the most striking doctrines of the
Tractatus is that a1llogical forms can be built up of the forms of simple
objects. We shall return to this doctrine below in chapter 3. Since it is,
according to Wittgenstein, impossible to say what a particular object
essentially is, it is likewise impossible to say what its logical form iso
Hence it is also impossible to say in language what the logical form of
a proposition is, since this form consists of ineffable forms of simple
objects. Hence it follows that the formal properties of propositions
and of objects are inexpressible, which is indeed a familiar doctrine of
the Tractatus (see 4.12-4.1211; 6.12). Thus the ineffability of logical
forms in general is in the Tractatus a consequence of Wittgenstein's
doctrine of the reducibility of all logical forms to those of simple
objects plus the ineffability of those objects themselves.
Thus Wittgenstein's doctrine of showing has two roots in the
Tractatus, a more general and a more specific one. The more general
reason for Wittgenstein 's view is the ineffability of all semantical
relations. The more specific reason is the inexpressibility of simple
objects and their forms. It may even be suspected that all cases of
merely showing in the Tractatus ultimately reduce to the ineffability of
simple objects and their logical forms. Everything else in language
consists after all of combinations of simple names. We shall not try to
argue for this reduction in this chapter, however. It can be considered
a consequence of the results we shall argue for in chapters 3-4 below.



There is one particularly subtle manifestation of the assumption of

language as the universal medium which is important for the inter-
pretation of both tbe early and the late philosophy of Wittgenstein
and which is also found in Frege. 9 We may call it the paradox of

formalization in logic. What it amounts to is the fact that an emphasis

on formalism in logic can have two diametrically opposed moti-
vations. Clearly, one who embraces the idea of language as calculus
can employ formalism to mark those ingredients of language whose
interpretations are, on the occasion in question, thought of as being
varied. The rules governing such formulas must then be formulated in
purely formal terms.
However, a believer in language as the universal medium is pushed
in the same direction by an entirely different line of thought. Such a
philosopher typically believes in a fixed universal set of meaning
relations between language and the world. That system of semantical
relations cannot be varied, and it cannot be discusSed in language.
Hence, the introduction of formalism cannot be motivated in the same
way as in the case of believers in language as calculus. However, even
though an adherent of the view of language as the universal medium
firmly believes that logic is based on one system of meaning relations,
he or she cannot speak of those meaning relations in formulating a
system of logic. All that a believer in language as the universal
medium can do in his or her logic is to speak of the words and other
symbols of language, abstracted from their semantical function. In
brief, he or she is led to a purely formalistic conception of logic by a
belief in the ineffability of semantics. Hence, the idea of a logical
syntax of language as a purely formal enterprise can be motivated in
two entirely different ways. Notwithstanding one's initial expec-
tations, this idea also comes eminently naturally to adefender of the
undiluted idea of language as the universal medium.
This is precisely what is found in Frege and in early Wittgenstein. It
may appear as one of the minor paradoxes of the recent history of
logic that the first complete formalization of first-order logic, and
indeed the very idea of a formal system of logic, should have been
developed by that sworn enemy of formalistic philosophies of logic
and mathematics; Gottlob Frege. The paradox disappears, however,
as soon as the role of the idea of language as the universal medium in
Frege's thought is appreciated. This possible outcome of regarding
language as the universal medium also provides a partial explanation
of another feature of Frege's thought, the fact that Frege gives up all
attempts to assign any semantical (let alone intuitive) content to his
logical axioms and rules of proof. 10
Wittgenstein expresses in his discussions with Waismann (28 Dec-
ember 1930, see Philosophical Remarks, p.320) his agreement with
Frege's criticism of the formalists. In other respects, too, one meets in
Wittgenstein's Tractatus a picture similar to that found in Frege. The
introduction of the idea of logical syntax is motivated precisely in
terms of the ineffability of semantics:

3.33 In logical syntax the meaning of a sign should never playa role. It
must be possible to establish logical syntax without mentioning the
meaning of a sign: only the description of expressions may be pre-

Other passages of the Tractatus are also relevant here; cf., e.g.,
For these reasons, it is incorrect to refer to the Traclatus view as
asserting the inexpressibility of /anguage per se or the inexpressibility
of the structure of language (as Russell does in his Introduction to the
Traclatus). Tbe inexpressibility is confined to the semantics of our
language and its structure. In contrast, the syntax of language can be
expressed and discussed in language. And in fact, the views expressed
in the Tractatus amount to a strong incentive to study 'the logical
syntax of language'.
One symptom of the same abstention from semantical consider-
ations as was practised by Wittgenstein is the preference for 'the
formal mode' of language by Carnap and some other members of the
Vienna CircJe. Tbis tendency culminates in Carnap's Logica/ Syntax
0/ Language and is there attributed in so many words to Wittgenstein. 11
In the light of our observations, it is not surprising to find that
Wittgenstein himself explicitly draws the connection between the
restriction to a 'formal mode of speech' which the Vienna CircJe
practised for a while and his main ideas in the Tractatus. In a letter to
Schlick on 8 August 1932. 12 he accuses Carnap of taking over his ideas
without any acknowledgement:

Fifthly, you know very weil yourself that Camap is not taking any step
beyond me when he stands for the formal and against the "material
mode of speech" [inhaltliche Redeweise]. And I cannot imagine that
Camap should have misunderstood so completely the last few prop-
ositions of the Tractatus - and hence the basic ideas of the entire book
las not to know that. too).

This is also interesting in that it shows that Wittgenstein c1early

believed in the ineffability of semantics and in the resulting need of a
purely formal approach in 1932.


This background of Wittgenstein's 'formalistic' ideas in the Tractatus

does not seem to have prompted any serious misinterpretations.
However, similar practices in Wittgenstein's later work have proved
somewhat more misleading.

They are exemplified by Wittgenstein's deeply ingrained habit in his

later work of speaking of what are obviously semantical rules (rules of
relating language to reality) as grammatica/ rules. Here are some

One is inclined to make a distinction between rules of grammar that set

up a connection between language and reality and those that do not.
(Phi/osophica/ Grammar, IV, sec. 46)
. . . the grammar describes also the application of the language, that
which one might call the connection between language and reality. 13

As long as this peculiar force of Wittgenstein's terms 'grammar' and

'grammatical' is not appreciated, it is very easily thought that by his
frequent references to 'grammar' he meant intralinguistic rules of
language, Le., rules for speaking or writing, and not the rules for
extralinguistic language-games, i.e., rules for using language for non-
linguistic purposes, as was his intention. (For the role of language-
games, see chapter9 below.)
How tempting the potential confusion is he re can be seen, e.g.,
from PI, I, sec. 496:

Grammar does not tell how language must be constructed in order to

fulfil its purpose, in order to have such-and-such an effect on human
beings. It only describes and in no way explains the use o[ signs
[emphasis added).

Apriori, the italicized expression could refer to the use of signs inside
language - the kind of use that is discussed in books of grammar. This
sounds paradoxical, for the very purpose of the language-game idea is
to explain the syntactical use of signs by spelling out their semanties. It
is only in a wider context that we can realize what Wittgenstein
means, viz. the use of signs in the language-games which connect
language and reality. It is language-games that are unanalysable and
unexplainable according to Wittgenstein, not the verbal usage. 14
Historically, Wittgenstein's adoption of the term 'grammar' has to
be seen against the background of the ideas he expressed in the
Tractatus. There he had put forward the 'mirroring' idea which we
shall study in chapter 5 below and according to which the admissible
combinations of symbols in a fully analysed language match the
possible configurations of the entities they represent. In brief, in a
logically analysed language, gramm ar matches ontology. From this
thesis it is not a long step to the idea that the grammar of a language
reftects also its semantics.
Wittgenstein's extremely wide sense of 'grammar' is paralleled by

the inclusive meaning he gives to the word 'language' in his writings.

Within the scope of that term, he includes things that are normally
taken to be merely helpful paraphernalia for the use of language, such
as colour sampies in the use of colour-vocabulary. Likewise, the use of
language includes for Wittgenstein much more than speaking a lan-
guage (making utterances). It includes also the role of language
in facilitating activities which are in themselves nonlinguistic. No
wonder, therefore. that by the 'grammar' of a language Wittgenstein
means the rules governing all these various activities, not just the rules
for speaking and writing the language. The dangers of this wide use
are ilIustrated in chapter 9, sec. 4, below.


Essentially the same comments as were made in sec. 6 on the force of

'grammar' in Wittgenstein apply also, perhaps even more surprisingly,
to Wittgenstein's use of the term 'calculus'. This word seems to refer
paradigmatically to the use of signs inside language. Do we not mean
by 'calculating' essentially just manipulating symbols without regard
to their meaning? This is in fact what the terms 'calculus' and
'calculate' are frequently used to highlight in recent philosophy.
This, of course, may be one of the many ideas Wittgenstein wants to
capture by his term 'calculus'. But he is also here highlighting, not so
much his idea of language-world relationships, as the ineffability of
semantics. Since we cannot express in our language its semanties, all
we can do is express its syntax. And, as we saw, according to
Wittgenstein 'every syntax can be conceived of as a system of rules of
agame,' i.e., as a calculus.
However, Wittgenstein's use of the term 'calculus' in his middle
period is primarily calculated to emphasize an altogether different
facet of the situation. Instead of focusing on the absence of all
attention to the meanings of the symbols involved in calculation,
Wittgenstein focuses on a completely independent aspect of the
analogy. It is that in applying language we have to do something, in the
same way that in calculating it does not suffice merely to stare at the
signs. We have to do the calculating. (Alas, the prevalence of pocket
calculators is bound to make this point harder for future readers of
Wittgenstein to appreciate.) That this in fact is Wittgenstein's point is
neatly verified by Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circ/e, p. 171,
where Wittgenstein says of an example:
I use the picture like the signs in a calculus, as a point of contact for

Ukewise, Wittgenstein writes in Philosophical Grammar, X, sec. 140:

Language is for us a calculus; it is cbaracterized by IangUllge acts

[SprachJumdJungen; our translation).

Thus the acts Wittgenstein caUs attention to by using the term

'calculus' are not intralinguistic, either. He is not inviting his readers
to consider a mere game with symbols. Somewhat surprisingly,
Wittgenstein is not focusing on what happens in natural language,

It is an incorrect idea tbat tbe application of a calculus to tbe grammar

of tbe actuallanguage lends it a reality wbicb it did not bave earlier. ls

Wittgenstein's emphasis on the activity of calculating is also illustrated

by the following titbits:

Augustine does describe a calculus of our language, only not everytbing

tbat we caU language is tbis [particular] calculus. (Philosophical
(lr~r,II,sec. 19)

Wben someone interprets, or understands, a sign in one sense or

anotber, wbat be is doing is taking a step in a calculus (like a cal-
culation). Wbat be does is rougbly wbat be does if be gives expression
to bis interpretation. (Philosophical (lrammar, I, sec. 13)

Howelusive this point is may be seen for instance from PI, I, sec.
136. There Wittgenstein says:

wbat aproposition is is in one sense determined by tbe rules of

sentences formation . . . and in anotber sense by tbe use of tbe sign in
tbe language-game.

Wittgenstein's somewhat unfortunate use of the term 'calculus' can be

characterized as an attempt to capture both of these ideas by one
and the same term, the former by emphasizing the idea of 'mere
calculation' or calculus as a purely formal operation and the latter by
stressing the idea that in calculating we actually have to do something.
This attempt proved unsuccessful in the final analysis. Accordingly,
Wittgenstein in the Philosophical Investigations almost completely
gave up the calculus allalogy. But it is important to realize that this
was not because he gave up either of the two points he wanted to
highlight. He merely came to realize that the term 'caIculus' could not
serve both purposes at the same time.
The use of 'caIculate' involved in Wittgenstein's second point is
probably inspired by mathematical usage, more specifically, by the

contrast between establishing the existence of a certain number by a

purely non-constructive proof and actually being able to calculate it.
In the usage which has been described and wh ich is characteristic of
Wittgenstein's middle period, 'calculus' means nearly the same as his
famous term 'Ianguage-game'. Indeed. the latter term seems to have
been adopted by Wittgenstein later than the former. Kenny quotes an
instructive passage from Philosophica/ Grammar, 11, sec. 31, where
Wittgenstein actually passes over from the use of the word 'calculus'
to that of 'game'. 16 This is an early stage of the development of the
notion of language-game, for the 'game' in quest ion is still a play with
words. But undoubtedly the idea of calculus is one of the most
important sources of the concept of language-game in Wittgenstein.
In view of this interpretation of the role of language-games in
Wittgenstein 's late philosophy, it is especially interesting to see that
he sometimes says of calculi exactly what we shall maintain later in
this book that he thought of language-games:

It is the calculus of thought that connects with extramental reality.

(Philosophical Grammar, VIII, sec. 111)

There are certain differences between the two terms, however. other
than that. 'Calculus' seems to have been preferred by Wittgenstein
in his writings from the same period as Philosophica/ Grammar,
'Ianguage-game' in his later writings. This change mayaiso be partly
due to the fact that 'calculus' seems to presuppose the existence
of explicit rules in a way which 'language-game' does not. This
makes a crucial difference, for (as is spelled out below in chapter 7)
Wittgenstein in his last period not only did not believe in sharp rules
for language-games (cf., e.g., PI, I, sees. 100-8); he went further and
firmly believed that language-games were conceptually prior to their
rules, however sharp or unsharp. In this respect, there is thus a dear
and important contrast between the terms 'Ianguage-game' and
'calculus' in late Wittgenstein. This provided him with an additional
reason to give up the term 'calculus', except perhaps when calculi with
sharp explicit rules are involved. Indeed, one use of the term
'calculus' by the Wittgenstein of the Philosophica/ Investigations is
precisely to highlight the fact that an activity has sharp rules. This is
what Wittgenstein does, e.g., in PI, I, sec. 81. It is nevertheless
significant that even here Wittgenstein feels called upon to point out
explicitly that he means 'calculi with fixed rules' or 'a calculus
according to definite rules'. Moreover, it is dear that the calculi of PI,
I, sec. 81, are not formal calculi, for they comprise uttering a sentence
which the utterer means and understands.

This parentage of the term 'Ianguage-game' in Wittgenstein is

important to keep in mind beeause some of the same misleading
implieations (e.g., the suggestion of involving merely a intralingual
game) whieh attaeh to the term 'calculus' sometimes also attach to the
term 'Ianguage-game' in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. In order to
eorreet this biased connotation of the term 'calculus', as Wittgenstein
for a while tried to use it, it may be salutary to note his reasons for
abandoning it. The main reason does not seem to have been the
misleading suggestion of precision, but the misleading suggestion of
intralinguistic aetivity. Speaking of a calculus seems to imply that we
are dealing with the manipulation of symbols, whereas Wittgenstein's
language-games involve mueh more than speech-acts or other language-
acts. Otherwise, they could not serve their basic purpose of linking
language with reality. (Cf. ehapter 9 below.) -
Did the dangerous connotations of the terms 'calculus' and
'language-game' ever mislead Wittgenstein himsel!? It seems not.
One of the uses of the idea of language as the universal medium as
applied to Wittgenstein is to dispel the impression that Wittgenstein
might have misled himself here, in the sense of thinking of his
language-games as intralinguistic games, by explaining the true
motivation on which his usage is based and which does not involve the
idea of calculi, or language-games as linguistic calculi.


Here we shall take up a line of thought from the end of section 4. The
inexpressibility of the existence of the particular objects which there
are in the world is a special case of what Wittgenstein caUs the limits 0/
language. This doctrine of Wittgenstein's is intimately related to his
belief in language as the universal medium. Since Wittgenstein
identified in his early philosophy what can be said and what can be
thought, this view appears in the Tractatus also as a doctrine of the
limits of what is thinkable. It is one of the most important doctrines of
Wittgenstein's in his own estimation. In his own preface to the
Tractatus he writes:
Thus the aim of the book is to set a limit to thought, or rather - not to
thought, but to the expression of thoughts: for in order to be able to set
a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit
thinkable (Le. we should have to be able to think what cannot be
It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be set, and what
lies on the other side of the limit is simply nonsense.

It is largely this task of limiting the realm of the thinkable that

makes Wittgenstein's philosophical enterprise not only analogous to
but intrinsically similar to Kant's. The main thesis of this section is
that those limits were ultimately thought of by Wittgenstein as con-
sequences of the ineffability of semantics.
This thesis is fairly obvious as applied to Wittgenstein's Tractatus.
There the limits of language are connected explicitly with the doctrine
of showing which was argued above to be a consequence of the
ineffability of semantics in Wittgenstein's thinking. 17 Furthermore, it
can easily be seen that the main limit of language is set by the totality
of objects that are named in the language. This view is examined more
closely in chapter 3 below. For Wittgenstein, the most important 'limit
of language' therefore was, not the external (as it were) boundary of
language, but the internal limitation of language, viz. the inevitable
restrictions on what one can say in a language about that language.
I t might seem less obvious that Wittgenstein also emphasized in his
later philosophy, in similar terms, the importance of the limits of
language - and also their roots in the inexpressibility of semantical
relations. Yet his commitment to these ideas is unmistakable. Thus he
writes in MS 108, p. 265 (quoted by Halleu):18

Tbis impossibility of expressing in language the conditions of agreement

between a meaningful proposition - a thought - and reality is the
solution ofthe puzzle.

In PI, I, sec. 119, we also find referenee to the limits of language. This
referenee is not only one of approval, but one positively in the spirit of
Wittgenstein's Kantian enterprise (his 'Critique of Pure Language '):

Tbe results of philosophy are the uncovering of one or another piece of

plain nonsense and of bumps that the understanding has got by running
its head against the limits 0/ language. These bumps make us see the
value oft he discovery. [Emphasis added. ]

This remark is not an incidental aside on Wittgenstein's part, either. It

is an integral part of his most explicit explanation in his later thought
of the nature of the whole philosophical enterprise. (This explanation
is what PI, I, sees. 116-28, amount to.) Henee the importance of the
'limits of language' view for the later Wittgenstein is seareely smaller
than it was for the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus.
One way of arguing for the presenee of the idea of the limits
of language in the late Wittgenstein is to refute the eompeting
interpretations. A eonvenient and knowledgeable example of the
interpretations we are rejecting is offered by G. Hallett's Companion.

In his eomment on the quoted passage, Hallett claims that in his later
thought Wittgenstein 'saw the error in his whole idea' of the limits of
language whieh he had held earlier. Hallett is nevertheless radieally
mistaken. He does not supply any direet textual evidenee for his view.
What is more important, his general diseussion of Wittgenstein's pos-
ition in the Philosophical lnvestigations (see Hallett, Companion.
'General Introduetion', sees. 41 and 43) is predieated on amistaken
idea of wh at the limits of language are to whieh Wittgenstein is
referring in PI, I. sec. 119. Hallett thinks that the limits of language in
the Tractatus are due to the strictness of the rules that are supposed to
govern a logieally eorreet language. Aecordingly, Hallett is led to
believe that when Wittgenstein gave up striet rules, he thereby gave
up the idea of the limits of language. As we have seen, however, the
limits of language Wittgenstein is talking about are due to the ineffa-
bility of the semantical rules of language. This inexpressibility entails.
among other things, the linguistie inaeeessibility of the relation of a
true sentenee to the fact whieh makes it true. (Cf. Wittgenstein's
remark on 'Kant's solution to the problem of philosophy', quoted in
sec. 3 above.) Whether such semantical rules are striet or loose does
not make the slightest difference. Objectively viewed, all the infor-
mation Hallett in fact supplied supports this interpretation rather than
his. 19
Further evidence is easily forthcoming. For instance in Philosophical
Grammar, VI, sec. 71, Wittgenstein writes:
"But language ean expand." Certainly, but if this word "expand" has a
sense here, then I know already what I mean by it. I must be able to
specify how I imagine such an expansion. And what I ean't think, I can't
now express or even hint at. And in this ease the word "now" means "in
this ealculus" or "if the words are used aeeording to these grammatieal
rules" ...
No sign leads us beyond itself, and no argument either.



Wittgenstein's belief in the universality of language also seems to have

eneouraged hirn to emphasize the publie eharaeter of language. Sinee
the link between the two is not one of implieation, it is somewhat
diffieult to see precisely how Wittgenstein made the transition from
the idea of language as the universal medium to the status of language
as apart of the publie physical world. His line of thought ean

nevertheless be seen in passages like the following (MS 108, p. 277,

also MS 116, p. 6):

What is expressible through language I call thought. Tben it can be

translated from this language into another. I want to say: all thought
must then take place in symbols.
But if one says "How ami supposed to know what he means, all I can
see are merely his symbols," then I say: "How is he supposed to know
what he means. all that he has are merely his symbols ...
Tbe question "How is that [expression] meant," makes sense only when
it amounts to "it is meant Ihus." This "thus" is a Iinguistic expression.
A language [or, what is said - Wittgenstein's variant] can be explained
only by means of a language, wherefore the language cannot be
Tbe aim of philosophy is to build a wall where the language simply
comes to an end.
One can also put it thus: Since one expresses oneself only in a given
language system and since one therefore can explain only in this system
what a sentence means, eventually meanings disappear totally from the
language and hence from consideration. and the only thing we can
consider remains the language [itself].
When we explain the meaning of a sentence, we translate it into a
language less prone to misunderstanding.

Tbe German text is given in an appendix to this chapter. This

passage shows how Wittgenstein 's belief in the ineffability of mean-
ings led hirn to his idea of the limits of language and also to the idea
that somehow a11 we can consider in philosophy is language as an
independent formal structure, which is part of the physical world.
Similar passages will be quoted in chapter 7 below.
The basic idea seems to be this: If we are trying to make the words
or sentences of one language understandable to a speaker of another
language, in the last analysis the only thing we can do is to present a
set of rules for translating from the former language to the latter.
Those translation rules cannot rely on the meanings of words. Since
they cannot be expressed in language, they have to be formal, that is,
depend only on the public feature of symbols. Consequently, what is
given to us by a foreign sentence is merely a configuration of symbols.
And in principle the same holds for one's own language.
Tbis line of thought, modified in different ways and developed
further, is in evidence at two crucial junctures of Wittgenstein's tater
philosophy, first in his decisive initial change of mind in October 1929
and then later in his rejection of private languages in the Philosophical

lnvestigations. We shall cross these interpretational bridges when we

come to them. Then we shall also discuss how much philosophical
traffk these bridges can really bear.



Here we shall examine the role of the ineffability of semantics in

Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Wittgenstein indicates clearly in an
important passage of the Philosophical lnvestigations that he is
there, too, accepting the view of language as the universal medium,
including prominently its corollary, the universality of (our actual)

When I talk about language (words, sentences, etc.) I must speak the
language of every day. Is this language somehow too coarse and
material for what we want to say? Then how is another one 10 be
constructed? - And how strange that we should be able to do anything
at all with the one we have!

In giving explanations lalready have to use language full-blown (not

some sort of preparatory, provisional one); this by itself shews that I
can adduce only exterior facts about language.

Yes, but then how oan these explanations satisfy us? - Weil, your very
questions were framed in this language; they had to be expressed in this
language, ifthere was anything to ask!

And your scruples are misunderstandings.

Your questions refer to words; so I have to talk about words.

You say: the point isn 't the word, but its meaning, and you think of the
meaning as a thing of the same kind as the word, though also different
from the word. Here the word, there the meaning. The money, and the
cow that you can buy with it. (But contrast: money, and its usefulness.)
(PI, I, sec. 120)20

This is as explicit a statement of the view of language as the universal

medium as one can hope to find. The first three paragraphs affirm the
thesis of the universality of language. At the end of the second
paragraph (and again in the fifth) Wittgenstein subscribes once again
to the 'formalistic' consequences of the ineffability of semantics.
(Only the 'exterior facts about language' can be expressed in it.)
The last paragraph is particularly interesting in that it shows how

Wittgenstein's doctrine of meaning as use was based on his belief in

language as the universal medium.



Another prima facie consequence of Wittgenstein's belief in language

as the universal medium deserves notice. The inexpressibility of
semantical relations alternative to our own encourages a form of
Iinguistic relativism. [f lions could speak, we could not understand
them, Wittgenstein says. (See PI, 11, xi, p. 223.) There does not seem
to be much reason not to assume that some human societies could in
principle likewise have such different 'ways of Iife' that we could not
understand their members. It is such a linguistic>relativism, it seems,
that Wittgenstein 's version of solipsism in the Tractatus partly
dramatizes. In Wittgenstein 's last writings, this individual solipsism is
transformed into a 'cultural solipsism'. better regarded as linguistic
relativism. Such a relativism is strongly suggested. for instance. by PI.
11, xi, p. 226:

Wh at has to be accepted. what is given, are - one can say - lorms 01 lile.

Such forms of life have been throughout the Phosophicallnvestigations

the highest court of semantical appeal according to Wittgenstein, and
now they turn out to be something that can in principle be accepted by
us and be given to uso Hence they must be sometbing tbat alterna-
tively could be rejected by us and not be given to uso In MS 109,
p. 196, Wittgenstein confesses as openly his linguistic solipsism as in
the Tractatus he confessed his experiential solipsism:

Alanguage that I don't understand is no language. [Eine Sprache die

ich nicht verstehe ist keine Sprache.]

An apparent counter-example to our attribution of conceptual

relativism to Wittgenstein is found in PI, I, sec. 206, where the
English translation makes Wittgenstein speak of 'the common
behaviour of mankind' which enables us to interpret an unknown
language. As we shall point out in chapter 8, sec. 5, Wittgenstein's
German text does not carry any such anti-relativistic implications.
In MS 109, p. 58 Wittgenstein in so many words professes linguistic
relativism: 21

The relation . . . between thoughts and reality is reproduced by lan-

guage through a shared expression. Tbe relation cannot be expressed in
We are confronted here bya kind of theory of linguistic relativity. (And
the analogy is not accidental.)

It is not hard to see what Wittgenstein means by the analogy

with Einstein's theory of relativity. Einstein motivated his theory by
discussing the ways in which certain propositions (ascriptions of
simultaneity and time) can or cannot be verified. Wittgenstein, too,
was at the time of MS 109 greoccupied with the way different
propositions are in fact verified. 2
Wittgenstein's Iinguistic relativism is rampant in his philosophy of
mathematics. Witness, e.g., Remarks on the Foundations 0/ Math-
ematics, Appendix I, sec. 7:

"But may there not be true propositions which are written in this
symbolism, but are not provable in Russell's system?" - 'True prop-
ositions', hence propositions which are true in another system. i.e. can
rightly be asserted in another game. Certainly; why should there not be
such propositions; or rather: why should not propositions - of physics,
e.g. - be written in Russell's symbolism?
Tbe question is quite analogous to: Can there be true propositions in
the language of Euclid. which are not provable in his system, but are
true? - Why, there are even propositions which are provable in Euclid's
system, but are false in another system .
. . . . [A] proposition which cannot be proved in Russell's system is
"true" or "false" in a different sense from aproposition of Principia

Hence there is in mathematics nothing like a 'common behaviour of

mankind' which would assign a unique sense even to our concepts of
truth and falsity. There is no reason why Wittgenstein should have
been any more absolutistic outside mathematicallanguages.
Nor does an appeal to customary modes of behaviour associated
with a language necessarily help us:
We don't understand Chinese gestures any more than Chinese sentences.
(Zettel, sec. 219)


Still another consequence of the view of language as the universal

medium is unmistakably present in Wittgenstein's later writings. It is

the idea of the universality of language. Time and again Wittgenstein

measures philosophical remarks about language by the same stan-
dards as he claims to apply to our ordinary discourse. Philosophical
views do not enjoy the privilege of being formulated in aseparate
metalanguage. They, too, have to be expressed in our everyday
language, and hence they are subject to the same Iimitations as our
ordinary (object) language. There are, in fact, many passages in
Wittgenstein's later writings where he interpTets philosophical meta-
statements (of the same kind as most propositions of the Tractatus) as
if they belonged to our ordinary language. He expresses the principle
on which this practice is based (applied to the philosophy of logic) as

As theTe is no. metaphysics, there is no metalogic, either. Tbe word

"understand" [and likewise) the expression "understand aproposition"
is also not metalogical but an expression on a par with any other one in
the language. (MS 110, p. 189.)2

Wittgenstein makes a similar point about philosophy in general in PI,

I, sec. 121:

One might think: if philosophy speaks of the use of the word "phil-
osophy" there must be a second-order philosophy. But it is not so: it iso
rather , like the case of orthography, which deals witb the word "ort:ho-
graphy" among others without then being second-order.

A different formulation is given in Philosophical Grammar, VI. sec.

77. Another example is offered by MS 116, p. 2: 24

[Tbere is] a temptation to think that the word "understand'" the

expression "understand aproposition" are metalogical words.
"Understand" and "mean" are words like all the others.

An instructive application of this principle in the field of the

philosophy of psychology is found in PI, I, sec. 296:

"Yes, but there is something there all the same accompanying my cry of
pain. And it is on account of that that lutter it. And this something is
what is important - and frightful." Only whom are we informing of
this? And on wh at occasion?

Moves of this kind are in fact a staple part of Wittgenstein's argu-

mentation in his tater writings. 25
Wittgenstein's rejection of metatheoretical ('second-order') con-

siderations is part and parcel of his idea of language as the universal

medium. Thus the idea of the universality of language is closely
related to one of the most important features of Wittgenstein 's
argumentative strategy in the Philosophicallnvestigations. This con-
nection provides further evidence for our interpretation.
These observations help to put Wittgenstein 's philosophical tech-
nique in perspective. This technique involves asking, time and again,
'on what occasion would anyone utter such a sentenceT This technique
presupposes that a philosophical discussion is not one of the relevant
occasions. Why not? Is Wittgenstein not completely arbitrary in ruling
out this kind of occasion? The answer is that Wittgenstein has a
theoretical reason for trying to rule out not only all philosophical but
also all other metatheoretical contexts. This reason is the universality
of language, wh ich implies that the apparently metatheoretical uses of
language are not genuine ones. They must be improper or trivial.
Hence Wittgenstein can disregard philosophical uses of language,
because in the last analysis (he believes) there are no such uses. In
order to criticize Wittgenstein on this score, one has to criticize his
assumption of the universality of language.
It is important to realize that in this mode of argument Wittgenstein
is going farther than in his early philosophy in effectively rejecting
philosophical views which cannot be expressed in language. In the
Tractatus, he distinguished what can only be shown from wh at can be
said in language, and classified most of his own views in that book as
being merely showable. Thus the young Wittgenstein of the Tractatus
is one of the 'semanticists without semantics' mentioned in section 2
above. Here the author of the Tractatus is comparable to Frege, who
also had quite rich and detailed semantical views but did not think that
they could be expressed in language. 26
In this respect, Frege and the early Wittgenstein were more relaxed
than Bertrand Russell. As Peter Hylton has aptly shown,27 Russell
was ready to use the inexpressibility of Frege's theory as a reason for
rejecting it. Frege cannot express in language that a concept is
essentially predicative, for he claims that 'the concept X' does not
refer to a concept, but to an object. 28 For Russell this is enough to
show that Frege's theory cannot be true: 'the theory consists of
propositions which according to that theory itself cannot be propositions
at all, and if they are not propositions, they cannot be true'. 29
Now Wittgenstein's semantical severity in his later philosophy can
be characterized as areturn, mutatis mutandis, to the stricter stan-
dards of early Russell as distinguished from those of Frege and of his
own younger self. He no longer wants to be a semanticist without
semantics; such an idea is now branded by hirn as nonsense. This point

is particularly important to keep in mind in interpreting the Phi/o-

sophicallnvesligalions. (Cf. chapter 9, sec. 3, below.)
These observations give us an important clue for appreciating
several characteristic features of Wittgenstein's later philosophical
argumentation and philosophical style. They showwhy he is paying so
much attention to what can be said meaningfully in language, and
what circumstances. 30 They also put into perspective Wittgenstein 's
criticisms of the misleading things that philosophers often say. 31 Most
importantly, we are now beginning to understand the purely des-
criptive emphasis of Wittgenstein 's later philosophy. In the Traclalus
he had not hesitated to go beyond ordinary language. This is shown
by such propositons as 3.323. By contrast, in his tater philosophy
Wittgenstein wants to leave everything as it is (PI, I, sec. 124). This
characteristic aspect of Wittgenstein's later philosophical. method-
ology can thus be traced back to his attitude to language as the
universal medium.



Even though Wittgenstein 's philosophy of mathematics will not be

dealt with in this work, it is nevertheless relevant to register an
important consequence of his commitment to the idea of language
as the universal medium. As we have seen above, according to
Wittgenstein's position there cannot be any metatheoretical consider-
ations about language. Now in the special case of the languages
(systems, calculi) of mathematics, one important dass of attempted
metatheoretical results deals with the consistency of mathematical
systems. Faithful as he is to the dogma of the universality of language,
Wittgenstein is committed to rejecting all attempts to produce con-
sistency proofs or, alternatively and a shade more interestingly, he is
committed to considering such proofs as merely another mathematical
calculus, on a par with the original mathematical system.
This is a repeated theme in Wittgenstein's philosophy of math-
ematics. It is, for instance, why he holds that 'what Hilbert is doing is
mathematics and not metamathematics. It is another calculus, just
Iike any other one' (Ludwig Wirtgenstein and the Vienna Circle,
Another, even more general, consequence of Wittgenstein's belief
in the ineffability of semantics is that Wittgenstein cannot use in
mathematics any properly semantical conception of truth different
from provability in some one system. This is one of the most character-

istie features of his diseussions of the foundations of mathematies. Cf.,

e.g., PI, I, sec. 136 or Remarks on the Foundations 0/ Mathematics,
Appendix I, sees. 5-6:

Are there true propositions in Russell's system, which cannot be proved

in his system? - Wh at is called a true proposition in Russell's system,
For what does a proposition's 'being true' mean? 'p' is true = p. (That is
the answer .)
So we want to ask something like: under wh at circumstances do we
assert a proposition?

This tendeney to subordinate the notion of truth to other eoneepts,

such as proof and inferenee, is but a eorollary to Wittgenstein's deep-
seated belief in the ineffability of semanties.
These observations can be generalized further . Wittgenstein 's phi 1-
osophy of mathematics is sometimes eharaeterized as being finitistic,
eonstructivistic, and anti-platonistic. All these labels are applicable,
but they do not tell the whole story. They do not indicate the true
source of several of these eharacteristic features of Wittgenstein's
philosophy of mathematics. This source is his belief in the universality
of language. In the same way as the author of the Tractatus had for
this reason ended up with a formalistic conception of logic (as was
seen above in sec. 5), the older Wittgenstein embraced a view of
mathematics on which it deals with what is actually done in math-
ematics - the actual calculation. Thus it is Wittgenstein's belief in
language as the universal medium that is important here, not an
independent commitment to finitism or operationalism as such.
From the same vantage point one can likewise understand the main
feature which distinguishes Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics
from other finitistic and operationalist approaches. It is the emphasis
Wittgenstein pi aces on systems of calculation. 32 This primacy of
systems in Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics is but a special
case of the primacy of language-games over their rules in Wittgenstein's
later philosophy of language.
This section and its predecessor help to explain a puzzling contrast
between Wittgenstein's descriptivistie and apparently resigned atti-
tude to ordinary language and his highly critical attitude to math-
ematical, especially metamathematical, practiee. In reality, the two
originate from the same source, his belief in language as the universal
medium. In both cases, Wittgenstein is criticizing metatheoretical
Thus the assumption of language as the universal medium has

extremely important consequences for Wittgenstein's philosophy of

mathematics. The source of these consequences has not been diag-
nosed satisfactorily in the literature. A study of Wittgenstein's phil-
osophy of mathematics from the vantage point we have reached is
nevertheless far too large an undertaking to be attempted here.


1 See his important paper, 'Logic as language and logic as calculus',

Synthese, vol. 17 (1967), pp. 324-30.
2 Cf. here also Jaakko Hintikka, 'Frege's hidden semantics', Revue
internationa!e de phi!osophie, vol. 33 (1979), pp. 716-22.
3 Cf. here Jaakko Hintikka, 'Language-Games' in Jaakko Hintikka et
al., editors, Essays on Wiugenslein in Honour o{ G. H. von Wright (Acta
Philosophica Fennica, vol. 28, nos. 1-3), North-Holland. Amsterdam, 1976,
pp. 105-25.
4 In his paper 'Semantics: arevolt against Frege' in G. Aistad, editor,
Contemporary Philosophy: A New Survey, vol. I, Martinus Nijhoff, Tbe
Hague, 1981. pp. 57-82.
5 Peter Hylton, 'Russell's substitutional theory'. Synthese, vol. 45
(1980), pp. 1-31; Warren Goldfarb, 'Logic in the Twenties: the nature of the
quantifier',Journa! o{Symbolic Logic, vol. 44 (1979), pp. 351-68.
6 Jaakko Hintikka, 'Wittgenstein's semantical Kantianisrn'. in E. Morscher
and R. Stranzinger, editors, Elhics, Proceedings 0/ the Fi/th International
Willgenstein Symposium, Hlder-Pichler-Tempsky. Vienna.I981. pp. 375-90.
7 Ibid., note 6, and Jaakko Hintikka. 'Oas Paradox transzendentaler
Erkenntnis', in Eva Schaper and Wilhelm Vossenkuhl. editors, Bedingungen
der Mglichkeit: 'Transcendenta! Arguments' und transzendentales Denken.
Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 1984, pp. 123-49.
8 Peter Geach, 'Saying and showing in Frege and Wittgenstein' in Jaakko
Hintikka et al. , editors, Essays on Wittgenslein, pp. 54-70.
9 See note 3 above.
10 Jaakko Hintikka, 'C. S. Peirce's "First Real Oiscovery" and its con-
temporary relevance', The MonisI, vol. 63 (1980), pp. 304-15.
11 RudolfCarnap, The Logical Synlaxo{ Language, Kegan Paul, London,
1937, p. 282. (Tbe German original appeared in 1934.)
12 This letter has been published in Michael Nedo and Micheie Ranchetti,
editors, Wittgenstein: Sein Leben in Bildern und Texten, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt
am Main, 1983, pp. 254-5.
13 Tbis latter quotation is from MS 113, p.40 (in the actual pagination
common to MSS 112-13, p.31O), dated 16 February 1932. Tbe German
original reads as folIows: 'In der Grammatik wird auch die Andwendung der
Sprache beschreibt; das was man den Zusammenhang zwischen Sprache und
Wirklichkeit nennen mchte.'
14 In MS 110, pp. 194-5, Wittgenstein acknowledges that his 'grammatical
investigations' differ from those of a philologist in that he is interested in rules

which a philologist does not consider at all. Wittgenstein does not specify.
however, wh at these rules are Iike. Wh at we shall attempt in chapters 7-8
below is to speil out the nature of such rules: they are rules of language-
15 The quote is from MS 113, pp. 119-20 (pp. 390-1 in the actual pagin-
ation). The German reads: 'Die unrichtige Idee ist. da die Anwendung eines
Kalkls in der Grammatik der wirklichen Sprache ihm eine Realitt zuordnet.
eine Wirklichkeit gibt, die er frher [vorher] nicht hatte.'
16 See Anthony Kenny. Wittgenstein, Penguin Books. Harmondsworth.
Middlesex, 1973.
17 For the connection, see Tractatus 5.6-5.62. 5.5561.
18 Garth Hallett. A Companion to Wittgenstein's 'Philosophical Investi-
gations', Comell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y., 1977.
19 The passages which show Wittgenstein's faith in the idea of language as
the universal medium during his middle period include the following: MS
108, pp. 192,260,265,269; MS 109, pp. 16,79,97,212,225,290; MS 110, pp.
99, 141, 189; MS 111, p. 134. It is also instructive to read Philosophical
Remarks, XV, sec. 171:

The basic mistake consists, as in the previous philosophy of logic, in

assuming that a word can make a sort of allusion to its object (point at it
from a distance) without necessarily going proxy for it. . .
A form cannot be described: it can only be presented.

20 It seems to us that Wittgenstein's point comes across more forcefully if

Nutzen is translated as 'usefulness' and not as mere 'use', as in the usual
21 The German reads:

Das Verhltnis, die Beziehung zwischen Gedanken und Wirklichkeit

gibt die Sprache durch die Gemeinsamkeit des Ausdrucks wieder.
Anders kann sie dies Verhltnis nicht darstellen.
Wir haben hier eine Art Relativittstheorie der Sprache vor uns. (Und
die Analogie ist keine zufllige.)

22 This is verified by what Wittgenstein says in MS 107, p. 143: 'Einstein:

the way a quantity is measured, is the quantity.' ['Einstein: Wie eine Gre
gemessen wird, das ist sie. ']
23 The German text reads: 'Wie es keine Mataphysik gibt, so gibt es keine
Metalogik. Das Wort "verstehen", der Ausdruck "einen Satz verstehen" ist
auch nicht metalogisch, sondern ein Ausdruck wie jeder andre der Sprache.'
24 The German text reads:

Eine Versuchung zu glauben, das Wort "verstehen", der Ausdruck:

"einen Satz verstehen", seien metalogische Worte.
"Verstehen" und "meinen" sind Worte wie alle anderen.

25 Examples are offered inter aHa by PI. I. sees. 190-2.209-11.213.216.

676, 681, ete. Other examples are found in such works as Zettel; cf., e.g.,
sees. 225,233,330.
26 See, e.g .. note 2 above.
27 Peter Hylton, 'RusseU's substitutional theory', note 5 above.
28 Gottlob Frege, 'ber Begriff und Gegenstand', Vierteljahrschrift fr
wissenschaftliche Philosophie. vol. 16 (1892), pp. 192-205. (See pp. 196-7.)
29 Hyhon, 'Russell's substitution al theory', p. 9.
30 See, e.g., PI, I. sees. 59-60. 261. 394, 577, ete.
31 Cf. e.g . PI. I. sees. 253-4.
32 Cf., e.g . Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. Appendix I. sec.

APPENDIX MS 108. PP. 277-8

Denken nenne ich das was sich durch eine Sprache ausdrcken lt.
Dann mu es in diese Sprache aus einer anderen bersetzt werden.
Ich will sagen: alles Denken mu dann in Zeichen vorsichgehen.
Wenn man aber sagt: "Wie soll ich was er meint ich sehe ja nur seine
Zeichen" so sage ich: "Wie soll er wissen was er meint, er hat ja auch
nur seine Zeichen" .
Die Frage "Wie ist das gemeint", hat nur Sinn wenn es heit "es ist
so gemeint". Dieses "so" ist ein sprachlicher Ausdruck.
Die Sprache [Gesprochenes, Wittgenstein's variant] kann man nur
durch die Sprache erklren, darum kann man die Sprache nicht
Das Ziel der Philosophie ist es eine Mauer dort zu errichten wo die
Sprache ohnehin aufhrt.
Man kann es auch so sagen: Wenn man sich nur [immer,
Wittgenstein's variant] in einem Sprachsystem ausdrckt und also was
ein Satz meint nur durch Stze dieses Systems erklrt, so fllt am
Schlu die Meinung ganz aus der Sprache, also aus der Betrachtung,
heraus und es bleibt die Sprache das einzige was wir betrachten
Wenn wir jemandem den Sinn eines Satzes erklren so bersetzen
wir ihn in eine unmiverstndlichere Sprache [weniger miverstndliche



This paper has a focus somewhat different from that of the majority of
other papers published this year on Rudolf Carnap. I will not discuss
the details of Carnap's work, but will try to both put it in a perspective
which also includes recent and current work on the same topics and to
evaluate tentatively some of Carnap's ideas in this perspective. My
enterprise therefore has a systematic component, but it is not irrelevant
to the purely historical task of understanding Carnap. The reason is
that it often happens that a deeper understanding of a thinker's histori-
cal ideas also presupposes understanding better the systematic context
of his or her ideas. It seems to me that Carnap ofters an instructive
object lesson in this respect.
According to the received account, Carnap's work in logic and lan-
guage theory falls into two periods. In his early work, culminating in
his classic book The Logical Syntax 0/ Language ([1934]/1937), Carnap
tried to deal with the basic problems of logic and language theory on
the level of syntax, that is to say, on the level on which language is
considered as a formal structure and dealt with by axiomatic method. 1
As a by-product of this work, Carnap also presented an account of
mathematical truth. Later, so this account goes, realizing the limitations
of such an approach, Carnap launched a semantical approach to the
same problems. This work culminates in Carnap's influential book
Meaning and Necessity (1947). However, as it frequently turns out to
be the case in the history of philosophy, this facile dichotomy and
periodization in fact hides rather than reveals the real dynamics of
Carnap's thought.
Likewise, it is easy to present an oversimplified account of one main
line of Carnap's discussion of the foundations of mathematics. His aim
was part and parcel of the logicist tradition, and it was to give a purely
logical characterization of mathematical truth. Carnap obviously would
have liked that characterization to yield adecision method. When that
proved impossible, the second best idea seemed to be to give an axio-
matic characterization of mathematical truth. But that attempt was also
shattered by Gdel's and Tarski's results. The third way of spelling out

the nature of mathematical truths was to show that they are all analytic.
And this Carnap was able to accomplish as early as in The Logical
Syntax 0/ Language, where Carnap gives a purely formal criterion of
the validity for mathematical statements.
This account, too, turns out to be so oversimplified as to be seriously
misleading historically and systematically.
Likewise, when one says that one is considering Carnap's work in
the foundations of mathematics in a historical perspective, almost every-
body thinks that he or she knows what that perspective iso We are told
that in the early decades of this century the scene was dominated by
a contrast between three main foundational schools, viz., logicism,
formalism, and intuitionism, represented by Bertrand Russell, David
Hilbert, and L. E. J. Brouwer, respectively. The logicists were trying
to reduce mathematics to logic; the formalists wanted to consider it as
being based ultimately on a formal manipulation of symbols; and the
intuitionists saw the substance of mathematics in creative mental con-
structions of the human mind. A fourth view was Wittgenstein's idea
that all logical truths are empty tautologies and that mathematics is
merely a logical method.
It should nevertheless be dear to a perceptive philosopher that this
picture of the historical setting of Carnap's work is so oversimplified as
to be seriously misleading. As I see it, the true history of twentieth-
century foundational studies is not a history of the schools just listed
or of any other overt doctrines, but a history of certain deeper and
frequently tacit ideas on which different thinkers' explicit doctrines
were based. They resemble A. O. Lovejoy's "unit ideas".2 They usually
cannot be gathered from a philosopher's or a mathematician's explicit
words, but have to be reached through a conceptual analysis of his
theses and arguments.
But, contrary to what Lovejoy presupposes, simply to recognize such
unit ideas is not yet enough, either. Rather, this recognition is only the
first stage of our task. As I have argued elsewhere,3 they are so subject
to contextual pressures that the second part of a historian's task consists
in spelling out the twists and turns which the unit ideas undergo in the
middle of actual historical material. It is only in this second chapter of
our story that we encounter the full irony of actual historical develop-
But what deeper "unit ideas" are relevant to Carnap's enterprise?
We shall meet them one by one as our story unfolds. Probably the

most important of them is one which I have discussed on several earlier

occasions. It is a contrast between two overall ways of looking at the
relation of language (and its logic) to reality. I have called them the
idea of the universality of language (or language as the universal me-
dium) and language as calculus. 4 The lauer should perhaps be called
the model-theoretical view of language. This contrast has played a
crucial role in twentieth-century philosophy, both within the analytical
tradition and the phenomenological-hermeneutical one. On the univer-
salist view, one is irrevocably committed to one's basic 'horne language'.
One cannot step outside it, view its relations to the world from the
outside, or reinterpret it on a large scale. Or, rather, one cannot do
these things in language. On this view, language is not only a 'Haus
des Denkens'; it is a maximum security prison from which one cannot
hope to escape. In contrast, those are all feats one can perform on the
opposing view of language as calculus.
More realistically speaking, the universalist position should perhaps
be described as a syndrome of different ideas which naturally go to-
gether and are typically facets of the same overall vision, but which do
not imply each other. One symptom of this syndrome of ideas is the
ineffability of semantics, that is, the assumption that one cannot express
the semantics of a language - at least of one's actual working language
- in that language itself. This thesis is obviously one of the most clear-
cut explications of the 'prisoner of one's own language' idea.
It is important to realize that what is at issue here is strictly the
expressibility of semantics. A philosopher can have all sorts of ideas
about the relations of language to the world, but if he or she believes
in the ineffability of semantics, he or she cannot consistently express
those ideas in language. I have tried to highlight those situations by
speaking of "semanticists without semantics".5
Typical semantieists without semantics, i.e., representatives of this
idea of ineffability, are Gottlob Frege and Ludwig Wittgenstein, both
of whom strongly influenced Carnap in several respects. Frege held
that one cannot express in language its own semantics, including the
concept of truth as applied to it, or explain a new language like his
own Begriffsschrift in so many words, e.g., through definitions. 6 One
must rely on sundry hints and clues and also on pre-existing under-
standing on the part of the learner.
Likewise, Wittgenstein presented in the Tractatus an extraordinarily
clear theory of language as a mirror of reality, but ended up declaring

that that theory, like the rest of his book, was, strictly speaking, inex-
pressible in language.' In Wittgenstein's terminology, his own theory
can only be "shown", not "said".
The thesis of the ineffability of semantics poses problems to a serious
theorist of language. If the semantics of one actual working language,
be it an ordinary language or an artificial (but interpreted) Begriffs-
schrift like Frege's, cannot be expressed in language, wh at is it that a
language theorist can do? The obvious answer is that one can still
develop a theory of syntax, i.e., a theory of language as a purely formal
system. This explains why Frege, who was bitterly critical of formalistic
views of mathematics, nevertheless developed the very idea of a formal
system of logic. It also explains why Wittgenstein, who presented in
the Tractatus an elaborate theory of the semantical basis of logic,
nevertheless ended up endorsing a view of "the logical syntax of lan-
gu age " , thus using the very phrase that Camap later used as the tide
of his best-known book.
Such a purely formal or syntactical theory of language need not be
a second best thing, either. For it might be hoped that all the important
semantical relationships in our language are reftected on the syntactical
level, so that the study of syntax is, in effect, all that can rationally be
done in semantics, too. In a different direction, this idea ultimately lies
at the root of a great deal of Noam Chomsky's work, especially perhaps
of his so-called govemment and binding theory. 8
Here we are already approaching Camap's ideas. One of the most
important tasks in trying to understand Camap's work is to see precisely
how it is related to this great watershed contrast between the idea of
the universality of language and language as calculus. At first the task
seems easy. In the heyday of the Vienna Circle in the early thirties, he
preferred what he and his friends called the formal mode of speech to
what was termed the material mode of speech. 9 This amounted to
expressing one's language theory in syntactical rather than semantical
terms. For instance, instead of expressing oneself in the material mode
and saying, "Five is a number", Camap preferred to say, "'Five' is a
number-word". This Camapian preference, like the entire idea of a
"logical syntax of language", obviously belongs to the orbit of the ideas
of the ineffability of semantics and the universality of language.
Even the parentage of Camap's idea seems to be obvious. In an
angry letter to Moritz Schlick, dated on 8 August 1932, Wittgenstein

accused Camap of borrowing the idea of the formal mode of speech

from the Tractatus without proper acknowledgment:

You know yourself very well that Camap is not taking a single step beyond me when he
approves of the formal and rejects the "material mode of speech". It is inconceivable to
me that Camap should have misunderstood the last few propositions of the Tractatus -
and hence the basic ideas of the entire work - so thoroughly las not to know it, tOO].1O

However, Wittgenstein, in his characteristically self-centered manner,

missed an important difference between himself and Carnap. Tbe latter
did not so much reject the material mode of speech as he preferred the
formal one. In the most literal sense of the expression, Camap did not
believe in the ineffability of semantics, even though he prefers syntacti-
cal conceptualizations to semantical ones. His inspiration probably
came, in part at least, from Gdel's method of arithmetization, which
amounted to constructing a syntax for the language of arithmetic in
that language itself.
Even though Camap's The Logical Syntax 0/ Language belongs,
sufficiently broadly speaking, to the tradition of the universality of
language, it occupies a unique position witbin that tradition. Carnap
is, in bis characteristic fashion, concemed with tbe constructive possibil-
ities suggested by the universalist position rather than witb tbe limi-
tations it imposes on one's language theory. What is known of the
development of Camap's ideas toward The Logical Syntax 0/ Language
shows tbat his initial bope was to construct a truly universallanguage
for language theory. Tbis hoped-for universal language is tbe original
vision behind what Camap eventually called in the finished book Lan-
guage I. Indeed, it looks likely that one of the most important consider-
ations that led Camap to prefer the formal mode of speech was the
hope that, by using Gdelian methods, be could construct a universal
language in which one could construct a theory of its own syntax. And
the method of Gdel numbering itself can be viewed as one particular
outgrowth of the work of Hilbert's program, which consisted of the
consistency ofaxiomatic matbematical theories by formalizing tbe logic
tbey use and tben sbowing purely formally (syntactically) tbat no contra-
diction can even be proved in those axiom systems.
Tbis indicates how Camap's preference for the formal mode of speech
was partly conditioned by his quest for a universallanguage of language

theory. Later, I will say more on this aspect of Carnap's complex of

The reason why Language I could not satisfy Carnap is that it did
not do the job it was originally hoped it could do. Here the inftuence
of the great impossibility results by Gdel and Tarski are beginning to
playa role. l l They form another dimension wh ich we have to heed in
placing Carnap's ideas in their historical and systematic context. They
constitute another major "unit idea" that plays an important role in
the development of Carnap's ideas. These fundamental results which
govern the prospects of the kind of theory Carnap was trying to develop.
These results include Gdel's famous impossibility results, the first
of which says that an rudomatized elementary arithmetic is inevitably
incomplete, and the second of wh ich says that the consistency of a
formal system which includes elementary arithmetic cannot be proved
in the system itself. Carnap's Language I is shown to be incomplete by
Gdel's results. This is related to the fact, pointed out to Carnap
by Gdel, that this language is too weak to serve the purposes of
Another crucial background result is Tarski's celebrated result to the
effect that one cannot define the central semantical concept of truth in
a language itself, assuming that the language satisfies certain conditions.
(It has to be strong enough and it has to have a logic of the customary
sort.) Hence, an adequate semantics for a language cannot be de-
veloped in that language itself, if Tarski's assumptions are gran ted.
Tarski's result applies to the language which Carnap sets up in The
Logical Syntax 0/ Language. This, likewise, shows the limitations of
Carnap's syntactical approach.
Limitations of this kind, that is limitations brought out by the results
of Gdel and Tarski, were instrumental in persuading Carnap to give
up the syntactical approach and to turn to semantics.
Was this decision the right one? You will get widely differing answers
to this question from different philosophers. Adherents of the univer-
salist tradition, like Quine, will deny - and did deny - that in this way
one can obtain a realistic semantics for our actual operationallanguage.
Somewhat surprisingly, they found an ally in Tarski, who helped to
create the basic concepts of logical semantics and who later was the
main architect of model theory as a discipline of technical mathematical
logiC. 12 In spite of these contributions to the semantical tradition, Tarski
maintained that, because of its openness and its universality, our actual

colloquiallanguage does not admit of an explicit semantical treatment,

e.g., of an explicit truth-definition. In fact, this seems to follow from
Tarski's own impossibility result.
This is in sharp contrast to Carnap who, in so many words, proposed
to apply his semantical theory not only to formal languages but also to
natural languages, like English. In this direction, results like Tarski's
apparently show that Carnap's approach is subject to serious incom-
But he who lives by Tarski's result dies by Tarski's result. It is tuming
out that the presuppositions of Tarski's result are not as innocent as
they have almost universally been taken to be. By analyzing carefully
the basic ideas of our usuallogic, including the ideas of scope, composi-
tionality, and the dependence and independence of logical concepts on
each other, I have managed to show that there are entirely natural
languages on the first-order level which are extremely strong but which
nevertheless admit of a truth-definition expressible in the language
itself. 13 I have called these languages independence-friendly first-order
languages. The existence of such languages forces us to re-open the
case Carnap argues in The Logical Syntax 0/ Language. Several prob-
lems remain to be investigated, in particular the question as to whether,
and if so in what sense, consistency proofs (of the kind Carnap, follow-
ing Hilbert and Gdel, was trying to find) can be carried out in these
languages. Yet what is already known suffices to force us to have a
second look at Carnap's old projects, and to give them much more
credit than they have recently been accorded.
Of course, not everything Carnap was trying to do can possibly be
vindicated. Carnap relied on the principle of the exc1uded middle in
his logic, and he argued strongly for what he called the determinacy of
logical and mathematical propositions. In sharp contrast to such an
attempt, the main apparent change in independence-friendly logic is
the failure of tertium non datur. As it happens, this principle was also
one of the main targets of the intuitionists criticism of classical logic
and classical mathematics. Maybe we also have here an occasion to
have a new look at the principles of intuitionism, too.
Even though Carnap's turn from The Logical Syntax 0/ Language to
his version of logical semantics may thus have been premature, it
remains a historical fact, which remains to be put into perspective. This
perspective is in fact easy to specify in its broad features. Carnap's
work in semantics is part and parcel of the gradual emergence of the

model-theoretical ideas from the domination, not to say hegemony, of

the universalist tradition. 14 The early mainstream of modem logic and
philosophy of logic was characterized by different variants of the univer-
saHst dogma. Cases in point are Frege, RusselI, and Wittgenstein,
followed later by Ouine, Church, and others. The competing tradition
seems puny in comparison. Boole has the fame of an innovator, but
Peirce is better known for other things than his strictly logical work;
and other members of this tradition, such as Schrder, Lwenheim,
and Skolem, are not precisely household names. The model-theoretical
viewpoint was nevertheless strongly encouraged among mathematicians
(rather than logicians) by the early axiomatic work of Hilbert, whose
1899 monograph Grundlagen der Geometrie was one of the most inftu-
ential works in the foundations of mathematies in the early twentieth
I suspect that for a long time the model-theoretical approach was not
thought of so much as being wrong as being redundant. If you can have
a complete formal system of logic and a full reduction of mathematies
to logic, who needs model theory? Accordingly, it was only when the
limitations of syntactica1 and axiomatic methods were uncovered by
Gdel and Tarski that the need of serious logical semanties became
As was mentioned earller, Camap himself was a prominent figure in
the service, not to say in the vindication, of 10gica1 semanties. This is
a major factor in determining Camap's place in history . Through his
later books Introduction to Semantics (1942) and Meaning and Necessity
(1947), he became one of the best-known architects of contemporary
logical semanties, such as philosophers know it. But here, too, one's
first historica1 impression turns out to yield only half-truths. IronicaUy,
Camap, too, remained handicapped by important restrictive assump-
tions, relles of the universalist position, and never reached a full-ftedged
model-theoretical viewpoint, as we shall see later.
Let's see what is involved here. An ingredient of the universalist
syndrome is the idea that we cannot vary the interpretation of one
language, at least not realisticaUy, on a large scale. Hence, we can
speak of only one world in our language, namely, that actual world to
which our expressions refer in the first place. An extreme form of this
idea is that we can speak in our language only of what is true and false
in the one and ooly actual world. This makes it impossible to use any
model-theoretical conceptuallzation at aU, for the basic idea of aU

model theory is to consider what happens to a language in different

models, scenarios or 'possible worlds'. One corollary is that one cannot
characterize logical truths a la Leibniz as truths holding in all possible
worlds. Instead, they have to be thought of as the most general truths
about the actual world. This is precisely what Frege did in identifying
apriori truths with those that can be derived from the most general
laws and definitions. 16 And Russell was even blunter:

Logic is concemed with the real world just as truly as zoology. though with its more
abstract and general features. 17

In his semantical theory, Camap rejects this strict constructionist

version of the one-world view. He even recognizes Leibniz as a source
of inspiration for his views. However, in a couple of subtier ways,
Camap remains within the ambit of one-world ideas.
First, what is it that, according to Camap, the semanticists have to
do in order to interpret a language, say a first-order language? Every-
body agrees that we need to assign interpretations (semantical values)
to the individual constants and predicates of one's language. But, when
we look at what Camap in fact does, he is doing much more than this.
He assurnes that, in order to interpret a first-order language, we have
to specify some one given domain of individuals to which that language
pertains. 18 This is not a Fregean view, for the members of that given
domain of individuals can still assurne different structures. They can
have different properties and different relations to each other. Thus
there can in a sense even be different 'possible worlds'. But these
possible worlds are not the ultimate substance in one's logic; they are
merely different configurations that the one and the same given as-
sembly of individuals can assurne. They are, so to speak, different
possible states of the same world of individuals rather than entirely
different possible worlds. Even though Camap acknowledges Leibniz's
influence on his own ideas, in one respect they remained at the opposite
ends of the spectrum. 19 For Leibniz, the denizens of two different
possible worlds were in the last analysis different, because they had to
reftect the respective possible world they were citizens of. 20 Camap's
view is the other extreme: for hirn, the totalities of the inhabitants of
two possible worlds must ultimately be the same.
This view is c10sely related to the position adopted earlier by Witt-
genstein in his Tractatus, where one and the same supply of the simple

objects constitutes what Wittgenstein called the substance of all possible

states of affairs.
I will call this idea of Camap and Wittgenstein the one-domain
assumption. It has since been loosened somewhat in the Camapian
tradition. For instance, Camap's one-time colleague Richard Montague
allowed some of the given individuals to be absent from some of the
relevant possible worldS. 21 However, the basic idea still holds a large
number of philosopher-Iogicians in its iron grip. Among the best-known
hostages of this restrictive dogma is, for instance, Saul Kripke.
This one-domain assumption is probably the most important back-
ground assumption in Camap's later philosophy of logic and, to some
extent, also in his philosophy of mathematics. Its manifestations and
consequences are worth spelling out somewhat more fully, partly for
the purpose of illustrating the import of this assumption.
First, we can register a dear-cut consequence of the one-domain
assumption in Camap's approach to the foundations of mathematics.
If one assumes, as Camap does, that each interpreted (first-order)
language carries with itself a fixed given domain of individuals, one
cannot compare in one's language two different domains with each
other. Yet, such comparisons played an interesting role in the back-
ground of Camap's work in the form of so-called extremality axioms,
that is, axioms calculated to enforce the maximality or minimality of
the domain of the intended models of a mathematical axiom system.
The best-known example of such an extremality assumption is Hilbert's
so-called Axiom of Completeness in his Grundlagen der Geometrie
(1903). The nature and implementation of such extremality was debated
in the early decades of this century. In a separate paper, I have related
the sad story of what happened when Camap joined the fray in his
1936 paper, written jointly with Friedrich Bachmann. 22 The upshot was
a predictable fiasco. Because of his one-domain assumption, Camap
and Bachmann had to reinterpret tacitly the entire problem so as to
speak of the extremality of a model with respect to properties and
relations, not with respect to individuals, as Hilbert among others, had
considered the problem. The result was less than magnificent, and it
was not really apart of the extremality war, either. Indeed, the only
really interesting thing about Camap's ill-fated paper seems to be its
reliance on the one-domain assumption.
The same assumption was ingrained elsewhere in Camap's thinking.
It clearly is a relic of the universalist attitude, and in a certain sense it

rules out, or at least discourages, a consistently model-theoretical atti-

tude. For Camap, the semantical value of an individual constant is an
individual. The main problem that an applier of semantics faces is then
to keep track of that given individual as it enters and exits the different
possible configurations of such given individuals. For a consistent model
theorist, the prime given materials in one's semantics are the possible
worlds themselves. An individual is conceived of simply as the function
that picks out as it value that particular individual in the different
worlds in which it can make its appearance. And this function is, in
principle, chosen by us - not, of course, by each of us individually but
by the tacit decisions of the language community. These decisions are
codified in what has been called (and will be called here) individuating
funetions. 23
At first sight, it might look as if the difference between the two ways
of looking at the logieal semantics of realistic interpreted languages
were merely terminological. In reality, however, the difference is ex-
tremely important philosophically and also for the purpose of under-
standing and evaluating Camap's work. The following perspectives are
relevant here.
If a philosopher thinks that the different possible worlds are simply
different possible eonfigurations of prefabrieated individuals, he or she
faces an absolutely crucial problem. How can we know what the totality
of those possible configurations is, so that we can match them by means
of our linguistic conventions? Can we know that totality apriori?
Quine's criticisms of Camap and his successors, down to Saul Kripke,
amount to saying that we cannot know that. 24 And, on the level at
which the grand debate between Camap and Quine bas been carried
out, Quine's eriticisms appear unanswerable.
Tbe best way out for Camap would bave been tbe one be did not
take, namely, to give up tbe one-domain assumption, and witb it tbe
priority of individuals over possible worlds. Ironically, it looks as if
such an idea of individuals as constituted rather than given ones was
in much more agreement with Camap's own line of thought in the
Aufbau than with the one-domain assumption. In any ease, if an individ-
ual is simply whatever is picked out by an individuating function, there
is no apriori question as to how such individuals can be combined with
each other. All such questions will be aposteriori ones, and Quine's
criticisms become redundant. Of course, there is a price to pay, for
there is no such thing as a free lunch among logicians, either. What

happens is that we cannot make any apriori assumptions about the

behavior of the individuating functions or of the "world lines" of cross-
identification which they serve to define. These lines may fail to be
extendible from one world to another in the most radical sense imagina-
ble, and we cannot, sight unseen, rule out branching and merging
among them. I remember pointing out this idea once to Richard Mon-
tague. His characteristic response was: "But that would complicate our
logic enormously". The right rejoinder of course would have been: "So
much the worse for your logic".
In a wider perspective, there is plenty of evidence on the need to
give up the one-domain assumption in any case. For one thing, I have
shown that, in our actual working language, we are in effect operating
with two different sets of individuating functions. 25
Retuming to Camap, the one-domain assumption was the single
most important obstacle of his adopting a consistently model-theoretical
standpoint, in which the main basic relation is that of a formula to the
set of its models, irrespective of any assumption of domain. Somewhat
ironically, Camap was not encouraged to press forward in this direction
by the two logicians who otherwise were instrumental in turning his
attention to the model-theoretical approach, Kurt Gdel and Alfred
Tarski. Gdel thought of mathematics as a study of certain objectively
existing structures which were part and parcel of the real world, while
Tarski did not believe that model-theoretical ideas could be applied
realistically and on a large scale to the study of what he called the
If Camap had given up the one-domain assumption, which was not
in any way an integral part of his overall philosophical views, and
adopted a consistently model-theoretical position, he could have carried
his ideas much further than he in fact did. Indeed, in this way Camap
would have been better able to understand the nature of his own
enterprise. It was said earlier that Camap gave up the idea that mathe-
matical truths could be characterized axiomatically because of Gdel's
incompleteness result. But, what is meant here by an axiomatic charac-
terization and its completeness from a strictly model-theoretical view-
point? And, why didn't Camap avail hirnself of such notions? What
difficulties prevented Carnap from reaching a consistent and self-sus-
taining model-theoretical viewpoint remain to be investigated in detail.
Whatever they were, they also prevented Camap from seeing his own
enterprise in the foundations of mathematics in the right light. For a

consistent model-theoretical logician, all that rea11y matters is the sen-

tence-model relation. Once that is given, in any way whatsoever, we
understand our sentences, for a11 that they do is to pick out their models
from the space of all possible models.
Corresponding to tbis model-theoretical idea, there is the notion of
descriptive completeness, which simply means that the given axiom
system has the intended set of structures as its models.
The sentence-model relation can be established by Tarski-type truth-
definitions. But it can also be established by other types of truth-
definitions, for instance, by game-theoretical ones. It also allows other
kinds of variation.
This kind of viewpoint was available to Carnap, at least after Tarski
had shown how truth-definition can be set up for formal languages.
Indeed, Carnap's quest for criterion of validity for mathematical prep-
ositions reftects belief, perhaps a tacit belief, in the importance of such
a view on mathematical theories. Insofar as an axiomatization can
be carried out so as to reach descriptive completeness, the axiomatic
approach to the foundations of mathematical theories has been vindi-
cated to the same extent.
Here we come to a most important general insight. 26 Most philoso-
phers have tacitly taken Gdel's results to imply that descriptive com-
pleteness is impossible even in theories as simple as elementary arithme-
tic. Even though the historical details need further attention, Carnap's
retreat from bis more optimistic hopes in the philosophy of mathematics
seems to reftect the same belief.
However, beliefs of this kind are mistaken. What Gdel showed
was that elementary arithmetic is incomplete in a different sense of
completeness and incompleteness, viz., in the sense of deductivecom-
pleteness and incompleteness. What completeness in this sense means
is that one can, for each statement S, derive either S or rvS by means
of some one system of logical proof. That this sense of completeness
is different from the descriptive one is already suggested by the fact
that descriptive completeness is characterized without any reference to
any method of logical proof. Indeed, deductive incompleteness entails
descriptive incompleteness only in conjunction with the assumption that
the underlying logic is complete in yet another sense of completeness.
In the special case of Gdel's theorem, this assumption is satisfied, for
first-order logic is in fact complete. But if we are willing to give up this
'semantical' completeness of a logic, we can very weIl haveescriptive

completeness without deductive completeness. This is in fact the situ-

ation in higher-order logic (on the so-called standard interpretation),
and such an approach is also apparently possible on the first-order
Hence, in hindsight or perhaps rather in the light of a sharper analysis
of the conceptual situation, Camap's reaction to Gdel's theorem turns
out to have been unnecessarily pessimistic. He could have continued
to use an axiomatic approach to the foundations of mathematics. to-
gether with a suitable truth-definition. Indeed, some corrected variant
of Camap's own Gltigkeitskriterium could serve the purpose. All that is
needed is a stronger faith in the model-theoretical viewpoint. Ironically,
appearances to the contrary, Camap had already used concepts in
The Logical Syntax 0/ Language that presuppose a model-theoretical
viewpoint. Or, at least, that is wh at will be argued below. But his
confidence in this viewpoint was unnecessarily shaken by Gdel and
Thus, both in general terms and in the special case of Carnap's
development, it can be argued that the significance of Gdel's incom-
pleteness results is much less crucial than it has generally been taken
to be. There is in Gdel's results absolutely nothing that rules out the
possibility of a descriptively complete axiomatization of mathematical
theories like arithmetic, in the sense of a theory whose only model is
the intended mathematical structure. It even looks possible to do this
on the first-order level. The price one has to pay is to give up the hope
ofhaving a complete logic at one's disposal, i.e., of dealing with logic by
purely axiomatic and syntactical methods. Perhaps it is in this necessary
sacrifice that we can see the ultimate tTUe justification of Camap's turn
from syntax to semantics.
Camap's attitude toward semantics can be put into a sharper foeus
by relating that issue to another watershed question in twentieth-cen-
tury logic and mathematics. This new "unit idea" concerns the interpre-
tation of higher-order logic. 27 In fact, Carnap typically employed a
higher-order logic rather than a first-order one, and he was, to some
extent, aware of the interpretational problem just mentioned.
The problem stares you in the face as soon as you ask how higher-
order quantification is to be understood. Let us consider as an example
a second-order quantifier which involves a one-place class or predicate
variable, say X. Its value can be taken to be either classes of individuals
or properties (concepts) of individuals. In either case, the same dilemma

confronts a higher-order logician, even if its horns look different on

the two interpretations.
If the values of X are thought of as being classes, then the question
is whether the range of a quantifier which contains X is the entire
power set P( do(M of the relevant domain do(M) of individuals, or
only some designated subset of P(do(M. In other words, the question
is whether the values of X are arbitrary, extensionally possible classes,
or whether only some such classes are accepted as values of X.
The former alternative results in what is usually called the standard
interpretation of higher-order logic; the latter is a nonstandard interpre-
tation. 28
A nonstandard interpretation can be of many different kinds. The
relevant range of X is typically thought of as apart of the specification
of the model M in which a higher-order formula is being interpreted.
Often, the range of X and the ranges of other higher-order variables
cannot be selected completely arbitrary but, rather, they are subject to
certain closure conditions. For instance, the totality of these different
ranges is assumed to be closed with respect to Boolean operations and
to projective ones; in other words, the usual formation rules are as-
sumed to preserve interpretability . What this amounts to is essentially
that only such classes are thought of as really existing as can be defined
in the language in question.
The same distinction has to be made for variables of each logical
type. An especially important case in point is the interpretation of
function variables, as witnessed by the fact that a specific nonstandard
interpretation is sometimes imposed on them on purpose. The best-
known essay in this direction is probably Gdel's functional interpreta-
tion of first-order logic and arithmetic. 29 However, notwithstanding the
variety of different types of entities and their intricate interrelations,
the apparently special case of one single second-order quantifier with
a one-place predicate or class variable is fully representative of the
entire theory of finite types. For there are results which show that if
the standard interpretation is granted to one single second-order one-
place quantifier, the entire higher-order logic (theory of finite types)
with the standard interpretation can be reconstructed by its means. 30
Of course, by the same token the interpretation of a single function
variable determines in a sense the interpretation of the entire higher-
order logic, for classes can always be handled by means of their charac-
teristic functions.

The interpretation al dilemma cannot be avoided by switching to

variables which range over properties or relations in contradistinction
to their extensions. Then the question whether the standard interpreta-
tion is assumed becomes the question whether, for each dass (potential
extension) C, there is a property which has C as its extension or, in
Frege's term, as its value range. The question is extended as a matter
of course to variables of other higher-order types.
The distinction between the standard interpretation and one parti-
cular nonstandard interpretation was first formulated explicitly by Leon
Henkin as late as 1950. It had nevertheless played an extremely impor-
tant role in the earlier foundational discussion. Only a few indications
of that importance can be given here. The idea of the standard interpre-
tation is, for all practical purposes, the same as the idea of a completely
arbitrary function. This idea played an important role in foundational
discussions beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Frank Ramsey's
elimination of the ramified theory of types in favor of the simple one
is, in effect, a step from a nonstandard to the standard interpretation
of type theory.31 A mathematician's or logician's attitude toward the
principle of choice is likely to be determined by his or her attitude
toward the standard vs. nonstandard contrast. For the principle of
choice is trivial if one accepts the standard interpretation; it may seem
problematic if one accepts a nonstandard interpretation.
The standard vs. nonstandard distinction is thus highly important,
even though its role has not always been recognized. How did Camap
handle it? Camap took the choice between a standard and a nonstan-
dard interpretation to amount to the question whether or not only such
properties, relations, and functions can be assumed to exist as can be
defined or otherwise captured by a suitable expression of one's lan-
guage. In the case of infinite models, an affirmative answer leads inevi-
tably to a nonstandard interpretation, for there can only be a countable
number of such definitions or characterizations available for this pur-
pose. Hence, they cannot capture aIl the subsets of do(M), for there is
an uncountable number of such subsets.
Camap wanted to steer clear of metaphysical questions concerning
the objective existence of bigher-order entities, like properties, inde-
pendently of our definitions. For instance, he accused Ramsey of a
metaphysical realism because Ramsey had assumed the standard inter-
pretation in bis elimination of the ramified bierarchy of types. However,
here Camap's criticism is mistaken. The contrast between the two

interpretations is not identical with the question of the objective exis-

tence of higher-order entities, even though such a tacit identification
seems to have been assumed by some philosophers. It is simply a
decision of how one's higher-order language is to be understood.
Here subsequent developments facilitate a neat ad hominem argu-
ment against Carnap. Essentially the same choice between standard
and nonstandard interpretations as confronts us in higher-order logic is
unwittingly faced and made by everybody who is using first-order
logic. 32 For a first-order language, too, can in principle be interpreted
in a nonstandard way. It can be translated into a second-order language
roughly in the same way as in Gdel's functional interpretation, where-
upon the values of function variables used in the translation can be
restricted in some way or other, e.g., to recursive ones (as Gdel does).
This will result in an eminently natural nonstandard interpretation of
first-order logic.
This possibility, though very real, is so subtle that neither Carnap
nor any of his contemporaries (except Gdel) as much as contemplated
it. But, if so, they certainly ought not to have objected to the standard
interpretation of higher-order logic.
The crucial facts about the standard vs. nonstandard distinction were
established by Henkin. Very briefty, higher-order logic is inevitably
incomplete on the standard interpretation, but can be complete on a
(suitable) nonstandard one, inc1uding the particular one Henkin stud-
This might seem to imply that one should opt for a nonstandard
interpretation. This is not advisable, however, for many crucial mathe-
matical conceptualized cases can only be captured if the standard inter-
pretation is assumed. Mathematical induction is the most basic case in
Camap was, as early as in The Logical Syntax 0/ Language, remark-
ably c1ear of certain aspects of the situation. He realized that he needed
the standard interpretation for his languages, if they were to be ad-
equate for mathematics.

The question must ... be put as folIows: Can the phrase "for all properties ... " (interpre-
ted as "for all properties whatsoever", and not "for all properties which are definable in
S") be formulated in the symbolic syntax-Ianguage S? This question may be answered in
the affirmative. The formulation is effected by the help of a universal operation with a
variable p, i.e. by means of '(F)( ... )', for example. (That this phrase has in the language

S the meaning intended is established ... not by substitutions of the pr of S, but with
the help of valuation. )33

Tbis quote, and more generally, the discussion of which it is apart,

puts in a new light Carnap's entire attitude toward syntax and semantics.
He is aware that he cannot deal with the standard interpretation by
axiomatic and syntactical means in the usual sense. He needs the stan-
dard interpretation, however, and explains it by means of quantification
over all possible valuations. But to do this is to do semantics, not
formal syntax. Tbe only excuse that Carnap can ofter is that the values
needed in the valuations are expressions rather than nonlinguistic ob-
jects. But this is completely irrelevant.
Here we find a striking example of how misleading it is simply to
divide Camap's career into syntactical and semantical periods. In a
sense it is even wrong to say that in The Logical Syntax 0/ Language
Camap was doing logical syntax and only later extended his attention
to semantics. He was, in the middle of his c1assic book, operating with
such characteristically semantical concepts as the totality of valuations.
Tbis reinforces what was said earlier about Camap preferring syntactical
conceptualizations to semantical ones, rather than wanting to role out
semantics in toto. When he really had to do so, he was perfectly
prepared to countenance semantical ideas as early as in The Logical
Syntax 0/ Language.
Teehnieally, Camap is eorrect in that his characterization of validity
for mathematical propositions is formulated so as to speak exclusively
of mathematical symbols rather than of what they symbolize. But this
is a hollow victory, which Camap can achieve only because for each
natural number there is a complex symbol representing it. Semantical
conceptualizations can of course be replaced by syntactical ones, not
only in mathematics but everywhere else as weil if all the members of
the domain we are speaking of have names or other representatives in
the language. The crocial question is, rather , whether we can dispense
with the use of valuations. For valuations are precisely the kinds of
language-world correlations which semantics thrives on and which the
believers in the ineffability of semantics declare unspeakable. Valua-
tions are precisely the kinds of entities which according to Tarski can
be handled only in astronger metalanguage. Tbe fact that the values
which these valuations have happen to be linguistic does not make a
whit of difterence. ("A propositional sign is a fact", said Wittgenstein

(1961, 3.14); in other words, language is apart of reality.) Tbis is not

a philosophical stickler's point, either. In hindsight, we know that
many crucial arguments for contemporary model theory, e.g., Henkin's
completeness proof of first-order logic, use linguistic expressions as
their own semantical values, thus illustrating the crucial role of valua-
tions rather than of extralinguistic values.
Moreover, Camap's appeal to standard semantics, and through it to
semantical concepts and results, was not a minor matter. Without it,
Camap could not have done what he wanted to do, namely, to show
that he could deal with mathematical material within his logical ap-
proach to the syntax of language. He could not have presented what
he, in so many words, claimed to present, to wit, a criterion of validity
for mathematical propositions. For the kind of higher-order language
Camap was operating with can capture the crucial mathematical con-
ceptualizations only if it is given a standard interpretation.
At the same time Camap's procedure shows how incompletely de-
veloped the basic concepts of a model-theoretical approach were. He
thinks that he can provide an interpretation (a standard one) for higher-
order logic by explaining what it means for a higher-order sentence to
be analytic. However, this does not do the intended job: what is needed
is an account of what it means for a higher-order sentence to be true.
Also, and most importantly, we can see that Camap was in effect
operating with all undifferentiated concepts of completeness and incom-
pleteness. He was apparently identifying completeness with decid-
ability. (This identification seems to have been made even by Gdel at
the time.) Tbis was most consequential, for it led to a dangerous
overestimation of the significance of Gdel's and Church's results. If
Camap had but distinguished descriptive completeness from deductive
completeness (which is equivalent with decidability), he could have
used his techniques of valuations to show that his very own Language
11 could be used to formulate descriptively complete axiomatizations
for elementary arithmetic and for other mathematical theories, even
though these axiomatizations could not be deductively complete.
Tbere is an important link here with the general theme of this meet-
ing. Tbe historical fate of the Vienna Circle was largely determined by
the brutal events of political and military history . However, even so,
we should not underestimate the importance of the intrinsic conceptual
difficulties into which the work of philosophers like Camap led. Tbe
development of the philosophical thought of the Vienna Circle philoso-

phers was interrupted by the Anschlu and by World War 11; but it
was also affected, and affected in a deeper sense, by the negative-
looking results of Gdel's and Tarski's results. Subsequently, other
prima facie results have been added, such as Lindstrm's theorem. 34
And results from other fields, such as Heisenberg's uncertainty relation,
from the foundations of physics, and the phenomena of the incommen-
surability of theories, and of the theory-Iadenness of observations em-
phasized in the logic of science by Thomas Kuhn, have undoubtedly
also played a role here, even though their logic is not quite as clean,
at least not prima facie, as that of the other results I have mentioned.
It seems to me that not only is the time ripe to have a new critical
look at these allegedly negative and restrictive results, but that we can
in fact anticipate the results of this second-guessing in all the examples
mentioned. From a rightly understood model-theoretical viewpoint,
their restrictive philosophical significance is much more limited than
philosophers and the general public have realized. In the context of the
present meeting, this suggests the possibility of a major intellectual
Ehrenrettung of the Vienna Circle, not always in letter, but in spirit.
Thus, we can see that Camap's work in the foundations of logic,
language, and mathematics, even though it is not the last word on the
subject, is of much more than antiquarian interest. There is a story of
a messenger rushing to the famous elderly statesman Talleyrand, re-
porting breathlessly the shocking news of Napoleon's death at St.
Helena. Talleyrand is said to have replied: "That's not news, it is a
historical fact". What I have tried to show in this paper is that Camap's
ideas on logic and mathematics, while not the last and final truth, are
much more than mere historical facts. They are more newsworthy than
we might have realized. They might allow for more serious development
than philosophers have recently realized and admitted.


1 A full bibliography of Carnap's writings is found in Schilpp (1963).

2 See Lovejoy (1936).
3 See Hintikka (1975-76).
4 See Hintikka (1988).
S Cf. here Hintikka and Hintikka (1986, Chap. 1, Sections 2,5).
6 Cf. here van Heijenoort (1967).
7 Cf. here Hintikka and Hintikka (1986, Cbap. 1, esp. Section 4).
8 The strategy used by Cbomsky is to approach what prima facie looks Iike a semantical

phenomenon. such as coreference, in purely syntactical terms, that is, by finding the
syntactical conditions of (possible) coreference. For the prospect of this kind of strategy.
cf. Hintikka and Sandu (1991).
9 Cf. Carnap ([1934]/1937, pp. 239,286-89,297-303).
10 Tbis letter has been published in Nedo and Ranchetti (1983, pp. 254-55).
11 See Gdel (1986 and 1990). (Cf. here Vol. 1, pp. 147-95). See also Tarski (1956, esp.
pp. 152-278).
12 See here Tarski (1956, pp. 154-65).
13 See Hintikka. (1991b).
14 Cf. here Schilpp (1963).
15 Hilbert: many subsequent editions as an independent volume.
16 Frege (1884. pp. 3-4).
17 Russell (1919. p. 169).
18 See here Meaning and Necessity. Tbe procedure used there presupposes that a fixed
domain of individuals has been given (and that each individual has a name). Cf. especially
the "rules of designation for individual constants" (Carnap 1947, pp. 4-5).
19 See Schilpp (1963. p. 63).
20 See Mates (1968).
21 Cf. here Hintikka (1974b).
22 See Hintikka (1991a). Tbe original paper discussed is Carnap and Bachmann (1936).
23 Cf. hefe Hintikka (1974a, esp. Chaps. 2, 5, 6).
24 See here, e.g., Quine (1963).
2S See. e.g . Hintikka (1990).
26 a. here Hintikka (1989).
27 Cf. here Hintikka and Sandu, (1992).

28 Tbe distinction was fiest articulated fully by Henkin (1950). Tbe terms "standard" and
"nonstandard" are due to Henkin.
29 See Gdel (1990, pp. 217-51).
,30 Cf. Hintikka (1955).
31 See Ramsey (1931).
32 See here Hintikka (1980).
33 Ibid . p. 114.
34 Lindstrm (1969).


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Carnap, Rudolf: 1942, Introduction to Semantics, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
Carnap, Rudolf: 1947, Meaning and Necessity, University of Chicago Press, Chicago
(1956), 2nd ed.).
Carnap, Rudolf and Friedrich Bachmann: 1936, 'ber Extremaliaxiome', Erkenntnis 6,
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Gdel, Kurt: 1986, Kurt Gdel: Collected Works: Publications 1929-36, eds. Solomon
Feferman et al., Vol. 1, Oxford University Press, New York.
Gdel, Kurt: 1990, Kurt Gdel: Collected Works: Publications 1938-74, eds. Solomon
Feferman et al. , Vol. 2, Oxford University Press, New York.
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15, 81-91.
Hilbert, David: 1899, 'Grundlagen der Geometrie', in B. G. Taubner (ed.), Festschrift
zur Feier der Enthllung des Gauss-Weber Denkmals, Leipzig, pp. 3-92 (1903, 2nd
ed., independent monograph).
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8, 57-115.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1974a, The Intentions of Intentionality, D. Reidel, Dordreeht.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1974b, 'On the Proper Treatment of Quantifiers in Montague Seman-
ties', in Sren Stenlund (ed.), Logical Theory and Scientific Analysis, D. Reidel,
Dordreeht, pp. 45-60.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1975-76, 'Gaps in the Great Cbain of Being: An Exercise in the
Metbodology of tbe History of Ideas', Proceedings and Addresses of the American
Philosophical Association 49, 22-38.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1980, 'Standard vs. Nonstandard Logic: Higher-Order, Modal and
First-Order Logics', in Evandro Agazzi (ed.), Modem Logic: A Survey, D. Reidel,
Dordrecht, pp. 283-96.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1988, 'On tbe Development of tbe Model-Theoretieal Viewpoint in
Logieal Theory', Synthese 77, 1-36.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1989, 'Is There Completeness in Mathematics After Gdel?', Philo-
sophical Topics 17, 69-90.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1990, 'The Cartesian Cogito, Epistemic Logic, and Neuroscience:
Some Surprising Interrelations' , Synthese 83, 133-57.
Hintikka, Jaakko: 1991a, 'Carnap, the Universality of Language, and Extremality Axi-
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Hintikka, Jaakko and Gabriel Sandu: 1991, On the Methodology of Linguistics: A Case
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Department of Philosophy
Boston University
745 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215



When Quine returned from his European pilgrimage in 1932-3, he brought

back a heavier intellectual baggage than has sometimes been acknowledged.
Among the main shrines of logical analysis Quine had visited were Rudolf
Carnap's Prague and the Vienna of the Wiener Kreis. Now one of the
characteristic tenets of the Vienna Circle in general and of Carnap in particular
at that time was an excIusive reliance on what they ca lied the formal mode
of speech, the excIusion being directed at what was termed the material mode
of speech. An early formulation of this position is found in Carnap 's 1932
articIe 'Die physikalische Sprache als Universalsprache der Wissenschaft':
Ir we formulate the thesis of the unity of science in such a way that
there is supposed to be only one kind of objects, only one kind of states
of affairs, then we have thereby modified our usual way of speaking,
which speaks of' objects' and 'state of affairs '. The correct form ulation
speaks of words instead of 'objects' and of sentences instead of 'state
of affairs'. For a philosophical, i.e., logical, investigation is an analysis
oflanguage. Because the terminology oflinguistic analysis is unfamiliar,
we shall try to facilitate understanding and to use, over and above the
correct way of speaking (we shall call the formal one), which speaks
only of the forms of language, also the usual one (we shall call it the
material [inhaltlich] one) which speaks of' objects' and 'states of affairs',
of the 'sense' [Sinn] or 'content' of a sentence, and of the 'meaning'
[or 'reference', Bedeutung] of a word. 1
The same thesis of the excIusive correctness of the formal mode of speech is
also put forward in Carnap's Logic:al Syntax of Language, and is reflected in
the very title of his book. l
This thesis might primafacie seem to be a minor idiosyncrasy ofthe Vienna
Circle. In reality it is a particular manifestation of an extremely important
background assumption that has played a profound role in the philosophy
of the last hundred-odd years, and not only in the philosophy of language.
I have called this assumption the idea of language as the universal medium

or the the unitersality of lanyuaye. 3 It has usually remained tacit. In fact. few
of the members of this tradition even seem to have been aware of having
made a choice between two contrasting assumptions. However, in some size.
shape or form this assumption was made by Frege. early RusselI, Wittgenstein
and the Vienna Circle in its heyday in the early 19305, among others. The
contrary assumption I have called, taking a cue from van Heijenoort. the
idea of lanyuage as calculus. 4 It has manifested itself less in the form of a
consciously chosen position or attitude than in the form of actual studies of
the kind wh ich are declared to be impossible (or unimportant) by the thesis
ofthe universality oflanguage or by its implications. In this sense, the tradition
oflanguage as calculus can be said to have been represented by such logicians
as Peirce. Schrder. Lwenheim and Gdel.! Hilbert's early foundational
work also contributed significantly to this tradition. The position of some
important figures, prominently including Tarski, vis-a-vis the grand contrast
is somewhat ambivalent.
Quine has noted Carnap's distinction between the material and the formal
mode of speech. but has treated it essentially as a contrast between two
optional ways of expressing oneself. Carnap's point was, however, that only
the formal mode of speech is eorreet. Quine's rejeetion of sueh semantical
concepts as meaning, synonymy, analyticity, etc., is a special case of Carnap's
original injunction.
In order to facilitate an overview ofthe contrast between the two traditions.
I have Iisted in an appendix to this paper some of their eonflicting theses.
The word 'calculus' in my terminus techn;cus ('Ianguage as ealculus') has
been inspired by van Heijenoort's term 'Iogie as calculus'. It has to be
understood with a certain caution. What is involved is not the idea oflanguage
as a mere play with symbols, but the idea that language - any language,
including our very own language - can be reinterpreted Iike a ealculus.
Another intended suggestion is that of locality: language can be viewed as
another 'calculus' and considered and talked about from avantage point
outside that language.
In contrast, the thesis of the universality of language asserts that I cannot
escape the c1utches of any language - the one and only language I understand.
I cannot change it in a large scale or even say wh at it would be to change
its interpretation. As a consequence, we cannot step outside language so as
to be able to view its relations to the world. Hence semant;cs ;s ;neffable
aecording to the thesis of the university of language. In fact, asserting the
inappropriateness of all semantieallocutions is the cash value of Carnap's
injunction against the material mode of speech.
For the time being, I shall not try to decide which one ofthe two opposing
theses, those of the universality of language and of language as ealeulus, is
actually correct. I shall return to this correctness question later.
Instead, the first main thesis of my paper is that the assumption of the
universality of language is one of the most important tacit premisses of
Quine's entire philosophy of language. The point of this claim is not only
that Quine accepted some form of the prohibition against the semantical
mode of speech, but that the idea of language as the universal medium is

connected with several of the most important aspects of Quine 's entire
philosophy. These views of Quine 's cannot be considered as straightforward
consequences in the strict sense of the word of the universality of language,
but they certainly can be seen as having been inspired or encouraged by this
crucial assumption and sometimes even implied by it jointly with suitable
background assumptions.
Thus Quine's attitude to the philosophy of language is not due only to a
general naturalistic and behaviorist attitude. I cannot speak of what has gone
on in another person 's mind, but in the objective order of things several of
Quine 's theses can be considered consequences of his tacit adoption of the
thesis of language as the universal medium. At the same time, tracing the
repercussions of the idea of language as the universal medium for Quine's
thought serves to darify and to iIIustrate the import and the impact of this
idea in general. 6
One aspect of this impact is familiar to all readers of Van Quine. It is the
emphasis on one's horne language as the medium of all theorizing and
philosophizing about language and of all language teaching. Such teaching
may extend the scope of my horne language, but it cannot effect the transition
to an altogether differene one. Quine quotes with approval Neurath 's
metaphor of language as an old-fashioned wooden ship out at sea. 7 You can
make modest modifications, perhaps replacing a plank here and another one
there, but you cannot abandon your ship altogether.
The universalist assumption is not merely a matter of looking at language
learning in a special way. It has sharp consequences inter alia concerning the
prospects of logical theory. One of the main consequences of the universality
of language (universality of the language) is that I cannot in my language
speak of how its semantical relations to the world could be changed. at least
not in a large scale. But such a systematic variation of the interpretation of
a language is what the model theory for this language is all about. To speak
of different models of a theory or a language in a logician 's sense is ipso facto
to speak of different systems of referential relations (interpretations) connecting
language (or apart thereof) with the world. Hence all model theory is
impossible according to the strict constructionist version of the universal ist
assumption. This consequence of the assumption has certainly been honored
by Quine in his actual research work. Among his hundreds of papers on
logic. there is not a single one dealing with model theory. For instance, in
set theory. Quine has concentrated on such things as different axiom systems,
the role of existence assumptions, etc. He has not paid any attention to what
might be called the model theory of set theory. 8
Quine's actual argumentation conforms to his theoretical ideas. To take
an example dose to my own interests, Quine has construed my conditions
on being able to quantify into an intensional context in terms of the truth
of the English idioms of 'knows who', 'knows what', etc. Then he has gone
on to object to my analysis because of the context-dependence and other
alleged vagaries of the force of such locations. 9 Of course, the direction of
this procedure is diametrically opposite to what I have intended. It is the
semantical model (possible scenarios connected with world Iines) that in my

view is needed to c1arify the meaning of English wh-constructions with

'knows' and other similar verbs, not vice versa. And my explanatory strategy
is to use the model-theoretical framework as a tool for explaining the kinds
of vagaries in the semantical behavior or 'knowing who' expressions and
their ilk which have offended Quine. In fact, model-theoretical considerations
quickly show that there is nothing context-dependent or indexical about the
truth conditions of 'knowing who' expressions, contrary to what Quine
This difference in the two modes ofargumentation is largely due to Quine's
belief in the unavoidability of our horne language in the theory of meaning.
Dut isn 't my claim vitiated by Quine 's approval of that paradigm theory
of alliogical semantics, Tarski's theory of truth? In fact, Tarski's theory is
the apparent exception whose elimination proves the rule. On the other hand,
as the title of Tarski 's c1assical monograph shows; his was a theory of truth
only for artificial formalized languages. 10 Only for such languages can we
hope to define the concept of truth, according to Tarski. As far as our ordinary
language or 'colloquial language' in concerned, Tarski took his own
observations to prove the inexpressibility of truth for the entire language. In
fact, one of the most explicit statements of the universalist theses comes from
In keeping with Tarski's attitude, Quine has consistently viewed model-
theoretical conceptualizations as being feasible in a sm all scale but incapable
of throwing any genuine philosophical light on language at large. Once he
characterized certain model-theoretical techniques as being useful to logicians
for such purposes as proofs of the independence of this or that axiom. 11 One
can even try to argue, as Henri Lauener does in his paper at this meeting,
that Quine's reliance on Tarski's concept of'external' truth is a Fremdkrper
in the overall structure of Quine's thought.
In his discouraging assessment of the theoretical significance of explicit
formal semantics, Quine may have been influenced by another assumption.
One might defend the importance of truth definitions and semantics in general
by arguing that by their means we can study certain important fragments of
our actual language by means of another part of the actual colloquial
language. This defence of semantics is not available for Quine, however,
because of his holistic view of language. Here we can in fact see one way
in which Quine 's holism influences his overall doctrines.
As far as the inexpressibility of semantics is concerned, Quine has in fact
remained faithful to the principles of his youth while the main source of his
original inspiration, Carnap, became a turncoat. 12 Indeed, on the philosophical
side ofthe fence Carnap was an early defender ofthe idea offormal semanties.
And his semantics, unlike Tarski's truth definitions, was calculated to be
applied globally, not just locally, as is shown, e.g., by Carnap 's belief that the
could by its means explicate the notion of analyticity. Quine's criticism of
the analytic/synthetic distinction is but one particular manifestation of a
more general distrust of any attempt to build an explicit overall semantical
theory for our actual working language.1t is highly significant that in Quine's
actual personal Auseinandersetzungen with Carnap, Tarski is reported to have

sided with Quine rather than with his fellow semanticist Carnap
notwithstanding the fact that he, Tarski, had been responsible for persuading
Carnap in 1935 of the possibility of logical semantics.
It is instructive to note that in his criticism of the analytic/synthetic
distinction Quine is by and large merely returning ot a position held by
earlier members of the universalist tradition. For Frege, analytic truths were
not distinguished from synthetic truths by their persistence when we move
to other possible worlds, but by the maximal generality in this world of the
laws on which they base based. 13 And Russell c1aimed in his inimitable way
that even 'Iogic is concerned with the real world just as zoology, though with
its more general and abstract features.'14 Frege and (early) Russell would
have taken Quine's side against Carnap in the last analysis because they
shared Quine's universalist assumption.
Other victims of the universalist thesis are the ideas of metalogic and
metalanguage. Or, strictly speaking, it is not really impossible for a universalist
to entertain the idea of a metalanguage as long as that language only speaks
of the purely formal (syntactical) aspects of the object language. It is only
in this restricted sense that Quine has countenanced the idea of metalanguage.
The universalist thesis has other consequences for one 's logical theory than
merely abstinence from explicit formal semantics. One of them can be seen
by noting a by-product of the aIleged impossibility of varying the semantics
of one's language. If what is referred to is what it is, and not another thing,
then the only use of our language is to speak of what it in fact speaks of, to
wit, of this one actual world of ours. Speaking of other possible worlds
presupposes a modicum of change in the references in our terms and other
expressions, and hence some amount of faith in the conception of language
as a reinterpretable calculcus. For this reason, the so-called possible worlds
semantics, and its predecessor, model theory for modal logics, cannot be
acceptable to a true universalist. Small wonder, therefore, that Quine has
always been skeptical of the interpretability of quantified modal logics. 1s
Moreover, he has indicated that for hirn modal logics are unacceptable for
the same reason as metalogical conceptualizations in general when someone
tries to incorporate them in one's object language. Modallogic, Quine has
changed, was born out of sin, viz., the sin of confusing use and mention. Thus
Quine's criticisms of modal logic are not unrelated to his belief in the
universality oflanguage. A faithful universalist cannot sit with semanticists or
commit modal logic.
Ironically but instructively, by far the best arguments for Quine's basic
position vis-ci-vis modal logic that I know of are not frontal attacks on
modallogic but quasi-reductive arguments. What Quine ought to have done
in my judgment is to give unsophisticated modal logicians enough possible
worlds to hang themselves.
Since I have elaborated this point elsewhere, let me summarize it very
briefly.16 In the model theory for modal logics, the necessary truth of a
proposition in a world W D (say, in the actual world) means its truth simpliciter
in a11 the alternatives to WD' Now in the usual Kripke-type model theory for
alethic modallogics, no restrictions are based on this set of alternative worlds.

But this implies that Kripke-type semantics for logical modalities is incomplete,
for clearly something is logically necessary only if it is true in each logically
possible world. But not all such logically possible worlds need be among
Kripke-style alternatives to a given world, e.g., to the actual one. Thus the
usual Kripke semantics for logical modalities is inevitably incomplete.
But worse is to follow. If one tries to make the semantics complete and
to add the requirement to this effect (i.e., to the effect that alliogically possible
worlds are present in any set of alternatives) to the usual model theory of
modal logics, one runs the risk of paradoxes and even inconsistencies.
David Kaplan's unpublished argument against possible worlds semantics
can, perhaps, be construed as an example of such a paradox. Moreover.
the resulting logic will be so strong as not to be axiomatizable. Whether
or not this constitutes a sufficient reason to reject logical modalities
altogether, this line of thought strikes me as being very much in line with
Quine's criticisms and as being a convincing vindication of at least apart of
Quine 's criticisms of alethic modal logics.
But not only are non-extensional logics a taboo for a fundamentalist
universalist. A universalist stance has consequences also for extensionallogics.
Perhaps the most important one is seen from a contrast between the
universalist Gottlob Frege and such representatives ofthe calculus ratiocinator
idea as Boole and Schrder. The laUer are ready to change the ranges of
their quantifiers at the drop of a domain. This is indicated by their frequent
use of such locations as 'universe of discourse' or Denkbereich.
In contrast a universalist can countenance only one range of values of
quantifiers, viz., all that there iso Quine once asked, 'What is there?', and
answered his own question by saying, simply, 'Everything'.17 This is an
answer that only a universalist can give. A believer in the free reinterpretability
of our language would answer a question concerning the range of an
existential quantifier by saying, 'Whatever we have included in the relevant
uni verse of discourse.' For a univeralist, there is only one range for one's
(first-order) quantifiers, viz., all the individual objects in the world. It is for
such reasons that Quine has been concerned with the unification of universes
even in his technical logical theory and has argued that there is basically
only one sense of existence.
Even though this does not commit a universalist to first-order languages
as his or her 'logical mother tongue', it certainly encourages a belief in the
hegemony of first-order languages in the mind of a universalist. This qualified
hegemony of classical first-order logic for Quine is prima facie all the more
puzzling ~s he also maintains that even logical laws are in principle subject
to revision. 18
This universalist approach to quantification has an ontological counterpart.
If there is only one language and if its quantifiers have only one domain to
range over, then the paramount question in interpreting our language is:
what is the domain? What are the objects that are in this one and only
universal domain? Or, as some philosophers prerfer to put it, what is the
ontology of our language? This is the deep reason for the preoccupation of
such philosophers as Russell and early Wittgenstein with the problem of

(simple) objects and objecthood. In Quine, the same basic attitude is betrayed
by his preoccupation with the problem of ontology.
Of course, Quine was eventually forced to maintain that the ontology of
a language is inscrutable. But this negative result is important only to
a philosopher for whom the problem of ontology is antecedently important.
Notice that Quine 's belief in a single domain of quantification, a simple
ontology, colors his problems of ontological relativity and radical translation.
According to Quine, we somehow have to tease out of ajungle tribe 's linguistic
behavior what the one ontology is that their expressions are relying on, e.g.,
whether their ontology includes rabbits, rabbit parts, instantiations of
rabbithood or whatnot. This task would be significantly easier if the jungle
linguist had available the categorial vocabulary by means of which we
normally distinguish physical objects from their parts, both from their
momentary stages, normal referential terms from mass terms, particulars
from uni versals, etc. (In general, this is the vocabulary by means of which
we structure our world into several conceptually different ranges of quantifiers
instead of one absolute universe of discourse.) For then we could hope to
teach the native these terms and then simply ask which kind of entity he or
she is talking about. Quine would undoubtedly consider the unavailability
and/or unteachability of such categorial vocabulary a consequence of its
non-empirical character. But it is not clear that it is harder to find behavioral
criteria for telling apart persisting physical objects from their temporal stages
than to find ways of translating any old part of the native's vocabulary.
Hence I suspect that the real culprit here is again the unavailabiity of
semantical vocabulary to Quine rather than the absence ofbehavioral criteria
for locating and translating the key terms, which in this case refer to the
categorial division of the world into several incommensurable categories.
Certain other reasons why I am uncomfortable with so me aspects of
Quine's thought are also beginning to be in evidence here. One reason for
thinking that the picture of one-universe logic with one unified domain of
individuals is too restrictive is that that picture rules out all serious study of
a range of crucially important problems. These include the problem of
categories in the original Aristotelian sense of the word, for those categories
were primarily the irreducibly largest classes of entities that can be considered
together. 19 (Note that the very point of categorial distinctions is that these
several ranges of quantifiers can not be obtained by relativization from an
absolute all-comprehensive class of entities.) Furthermore, certain important
problems of identity become inscrutable, both problems concerning the
individuation of persons and those concerning physical objects. It is a counsel
of philosophical despair to brush all these problems under such threadbare
carpets as ontological relativity, vagaries of reidentification, etc. 20
Unfortunately, merely noting this loss of subject matter is not yet asound
argument against a universalist.
One of the most intriguing repercussions of Quine's assumption of the
universalist stance is his idea of the underdeterminancy of radical translation.
There is asense, albeit neither a charitable nor a profitable sense, in which
Quine's radical translation problem is self-infticted. This sense is the following:

if (this is of course the big if) semantical concepts were a bona fide part of what
can be expressed in our language (in Dur language), that is to say, a language
that can be taught and learned, then there would not be in principle much
of a problem of indeterminacy of translation, however radical. F or we could
then in principle teach our local jargon to a member of Quine 's imaginary
jungle tribe, as fuUy as we can teach it to our children. After that, we could
simply ask hirn, 'Does "gavagai" mean rabbit, undetached rabbit part, or
rabbit stage?' Even though this procedure is predicated on assumptions
which Quine conspicuously rejects, it may help to clarify his priorities. For,
even though the possibility of such an interview presupposes of course
cruciaUy the availability of the concept of meaning, it does not automaticaUy
commit us to meanings as mental entities. Your concept of meaning could be
as referential or behavioristic as you like; all that matters is that it be
expressible in our language (and that our language be teachable to others).
Without the ineffability of semantics there would not be much of a problem
of radical translation in Quine 's sense.
Notice also that even if we do not assume that our vernacular is teachable
to our native informant, we disinterested observers could in our own jargon
speculate about the meanings of the natives' expressions, gather evidence
concerning them, falsify hypotheses concerning them, and in general develop
a genuine theory about them, assuming only the expressibility of meanings
in our horne language. This theory would of course be subject to whatever
underdeterminacy by observable data aU theories may be subject to, but
there would not be any additional uncertainty about it, contrary to Quine's
explicit pronouncements as to what is involved in his problem of radical
translation. Thus again the hard core of the underdeterminacy problem turns
out to be the assumption of the inscrutability of semantics.
Of course there would still be interesting problems of translation even if
the expressibility of semantics could be assumed. For there would have to
be in our horne language synonyms for the natives' non-semantical expressions
for them to be translatable into it. It seems to me that it would be highly
desirable to develop a systematic logico-semantical theory of translatability
and identifiability of different concepts in different languages on the basis of
observable evidence. (There is a clearly definable sense in which such a theory
does not yet exist. 21 In such a theory, a theory of radical translation could
be domesticated and systematically discussed. IronicaIly, I suspect that the
very same universalist assumptions that led Quine to the problem of radical
translation have also been the reason why a genuine systematic theory of
translatability has not been developed. In fact, most ofthe detailed discussions
of problems of evidence-based translation in the literat ure strike me as
premature in the absence of a genuine logical theory of the subjecl.
The dependence of the radical translation problem on the universalist
thesis does not automatically constitute an objection to it. And even if it is
construed as an objection, this objection would not be nearly as interesting
as the constructive question that naturally arises here. It is: how much of
the talk of meanings can an universalist make sense of - and how? This
question has highly important historical precedents. An analogy might

iIIustrate what is involved. Frege believed in the universality of language-

the universality of his very own Begri/J.~schr!lt - as strongly as anyone else.
Moreover, for him logic is firmly grounded in semantical concepts like truth.
Logic deals with the most generallaws of truth (or of being true, Wahrsein ),
says Frege. 22 But, being a universalist, he though that the only thing he could
study in language was the purely formal reflections of the underlying
semantical phenomena, i.e., their reflections on the syntactical level. Thus it
was that the confirmed anti-formalist Frege came to create our current idea
of a purely formal system of logic with its formation rules, axioms and
transformation rules. 23 What is going on in Frege is that concepts relating
to a formal system of logic will have to do the duty of semantical concepts
as weil as they can: formal provability for validity, rules of inference governing
propositional connectives for truth function theory. etc.
In the same spirit, we can adopt, for the sake of argument. a universalist
attitude and ask: how much semantics can be captured on the level on which
a universalist Iike Quine can move? It is also easy to see what this level iso
What can be observed about language by everybody's token is linguistic
behavior. Thus in this perspective the role of linguistic behavior in Quinian
language theory is not epistemological, as evidence for meanings behind the
evidence, but the raw material of which we must try to reconstruct as fully
as is possible the content of semantical concepts. The concepts rooted in
Iinguistic behavior will have to serve for a universalist as the linguistically
expressible representatives of the semantical ideas in which we al1 in same
sense see the gist of language. In a way, Quine is trying to do to semantics
what Frege did to logic, in so far as it can be done.
Here a comparison with another representative ofthe universalist tradition
may be ilIuminating. Ludwig Wittgenstein c1aimed that Carnap 's thesis of
the exclusive correctness of the formal mode of speech does not mark a single
step beyond his Tractatu.~. 24 (He added, insultingly, that even Carnap could
not have misunderstood the last few propositions of the Traetatus so
completely as not to see this. )25 As a consequence of his adoption of the
universalist attitude. Wittgenstein faced in his later philosophy same of the
same problems as Quine. The shared attitude is shown among other things
by the role Wittgenstein, tao, assigned to behavior as the true mode of
existence of semantical relations under the guise of what Wittgenstein ca lied
'Ianguage games'.
However, there is a difference between Quine and Wittgenstein as to how
language and behavior mesh with each other according to them. For Quine,
the basis of his salvage operation is linguistic behavior, the kind of behavior
wh ich consists in verbal utterance, (admittedly prompted by various
non-linguistic stimuli), responses to verbal stimuli. associations between
different verbal expressions, etc. The paradigm cases for Quine are the modes
of behavior called assent and dissent. They were the basis of Quine's attempt
in W ord and Objeet to give a kind of behaviorist foundation to propositional
logic. 26
Now Wittgenstein has often been interpreted in a way which would bring,
if it were correct, his language games to the same ball park as Quine 's linguistic

behavior. In other words, Wittgenstein 's language games are frequently taken
to be games of speaking or writing. However, this perspective on Wittgenstein
is not only wrong; it is demonstrably wrong. Together with Merrill B.
Hintikka, I have shown that Wittgenstein's language games were never verbal
games and that their most important function was to link up language with
the world. 2 7 For this reason, their main components must be non-Iinguistic
forms of behavior. As an example of my own, not Wittgenstein 's, I have
argued that certain kinds of games of seeking and finding are the logical
horne of quantifiers. 28 Metaphorically speaking, an analyst of our Sprach logik
should follow the example of speakers ofthe Swedish language (among others)
and to think of the existential quantifier expressible by saying: 'One can
find '. (Swedish: 'Oet finns. ') In fact, certain language games in the strict sense
of the word 'game' employed in the mathematical theory of games have
turned out to be extremely powerful tools in the logical and semantical
analysis of quantifiers both in formal and naturallanguages. It is in concrete
analyses of linguistic phenomena that I see the proof of my game-theoretical
Here I am concerned with the uses of reconstructed Wittgensteinian
language games for the purpose of a partial behavioristic reconstruction of
semantics. It seems to me that here naturalists Iike Quine have missed a
major opportunity. If they had taken into account those non-verbal modes
of behavior wh ich according to Wittgenstein lend to different expressions of
our language their meanings, they would have been able to extend radically
the purview of behavioral interpretation and behavior-based radical
translation. Some time ago I pointed out this possibility in the special and
especially important case of the radical translation of quantifiers. 29 This is
only one case among a huge number of important expressions and kinds of
expressions, however. Their semantics can be spelled out by means of suitable
game rules. And since these are rules of publicly observable games, the
expressions in question can be recognised and learned on the basis of the
accompanying behavior, even when that behavior is not merely linguistic
behavior or involves no speaking or writing at all. Surely we can recognize
all kinds of characteristic modes of behavior on the part of a foreign tribe,
and if certain words find the same niche in them as in our corresponding
behavior, we do not in practice hesitate to translate them into our ownjargon
by their counterparts in our language games. 30 There is little difficulty in
recognizing the characteristic modes of seeking and of finding, of choosing
one of two options, of counting, of playing chess, etc.
We have to be very careful, however, as to precisely wh at kind of game
behavior is the key to the translation of what expressions. For instance,
observing the role of a certain word in the context of the natives' search
behavior may enable me to translate the word as a quantifier. But this
recognition does not mean that I know what the range of that quantifier iso
(H enables me, so to speak, to translate the '3' in '(3x)' but not yet the
variable 'x'.) In order to find out what the values of the quantifier variable
are, I have to observe the natives' procedures and comments pertaining to
identity, especially to reidentification. These two types of activities, searching

and reidentification, are interrelated, but they are not identical.

It might perhaps be countered that such activities as seeking or counting
or calculating or playing chess are intentional and can only be described
adequately by reference to the thoughts of the participants. This objection
is fallacious, however. Perhaps the simplest way of seeing this is to think of
the behavior of automata programmed to act in a certain way. When I say
of a chess automaton that it is contemplating a move, I am neither making
a conjecture about what is going on in the innards of the machine or
attributing to the machine a consciousness of any sort. I am perhaps going
beyond present evidence is using words like 'thinking' in connection with
an automaton, but the predictions I am tacitly making are not predictions
as to what I would feel or think if I were the machine, but predictions about
what kind of behavior it will exhibit. In brief, the cash value of such uses of
'think' is that the machine can play the kind of game which would require
thought on my part if I were to play that role.
There are other language games than those of seeking and finding that
can be recognized behavioraHy as fuHy and as firmly as assent and dissent,
first and foremost those modes qualifying recognizable modes of language
behavior for Quine. The recognition of such language games does in fact
playa role in actual radical translation. One striking example is the language
game of counting. If you have ever actually learned a new tanguage by
means of behavioral c1ues, or witnessed a demonstration of radicallanguage
tearning of the kind Kenneth Pike used to give, you know that one of the
easiest parts of the vocabulary to be learned is constituted by number words.
And the way in which they are learned is precisely what I indicated. The
linguist learning a fundamentally new language engages the native informant
in the 'game' of counting. And the way number words are recognized is in
terms of their role in such language games.
What is ironic here is that for Quine the learning of number of words
should be one of the most diftkult parts in comprehending a radically new
language because they depend on the anticulation of a language user's world
into individuals (with their criteria of identity), in short, depend on the
speaker's ontology.31 Yet as an overwhelming practical fact number words
are the easiest ones in a foreign language to tearn. Isn 't this enough to suggest
to you that Wittgenstein might be one up on Quine here?
And if it is objected that games of counting are played with words,
notwithstanding my insistence that language games are not necessarily verbal,
I have an answer ready. All I need to do, when someone alleges that games
of counting are played by means of linguistic markers like digits, is to point
to non-verbal games in which counters are used, or to point to the etymotogy
of the word 'digit', which originally meant 'finger' or 'toe'. Surely counting
with one's fingers is not any less primitive than counting with numbers. As
Tom Lehrer might illustrate my point, counting in base eight is just like
counting in base ten, if you are misssing two fingers.
Quine's criticism of the analyticjsynthetic fits into this general scheme. It
also turns out to have fascinating paralleis elsewhere in the development of
twentieth-century philosophy. As it happens, in first-order languages

provability does in fact capture logical validity. But in order to capture all
conceptual connections in applied first-order languages we also need to
capture, as Quine correctly pointed out, such conceptual connections as do
not reduce to logical connections. 32 Quine identified these connections with
relations of synonymy. Be this as it may, they are supposed to be codified
by what Carnap and others ca lied meaning postulates. Hence one of the
theses Quine has to argue for is the need for such meaning postulates. Only
if there is such a need can Quine argue that they cannot be captured in
behavioristic terms.
As it happens, the problem of the need for meaning postulates was also
the initial factor in convincing Wittgenstein to give up the philosophy of the
Traetatus, as I have recently shown. 33 Of course, Wittgenstein was trying to
get along with propositional logic instead of first-order logic, but otherwise
his problem was rather like Quine 'so Giving up the idea that propositional
logic (or 'the logic of tautologies', as Wittgenstein called it) is complete was
the first step in the development that eventually led Wittgenstein to his
behavioristic position - if 'behaviorism' is the right label for Wittgenstein 's
mature position.
It is important to realize what precisely I am proposing here. Of course
Quine has always been ready to use all and sundry behavioral dues in his
language theory. But he has only been willing to use them as evidential dues
to what language is for hirn. And what language is for Quine is dearly
restricted to dispositions to verbal behavior prompted by non-verbal stimuli.
This leaves no room for the kind of behavior, linguistic or non-linguistic,
wh ich simply cannot be completely understood as responses to current or
recent stimuli. And such an approach is simply too narrow to do justice to
people's actual 'Ianguage games'. A comparison with other kinds of games
may be iIIuminating here. There is a sense in which a chessplayer's move is
a response to the opponent's most recent move. But an approach based on
such as a stimulus response idea will never lead to a complete theory of chess.
Conceptually, a chessplayer is pursuing a strategy which he or she could in
principle have chosen prior to the game.
This example in fact takes us to the heart of the matter. The behaviorist
program in language theory just cannot be carried out without broadening
the notion of linguistic behavior. And it is not piecemeal broadening that is
needed here. What is required is a conception of behavior so comprehensive
that we can handle by its means different strategies of behavior, not just
responses to stimuli or even 'operant behavior'. No framework that does not
allow us to discuss language users' strategies of verbal and non-verbal
behavior is Iikely to enable us to do justice to realistic semantics. Without
such a framework there is no hope for a behaviorist to play the role of a
Frege of semantic theory.
In general. the conceptions oflanguage and meaning advocated here cannot
be exhausted by verbal responses to non-linguistic stimuli. or even by
dispositions to such behavior. Language also includes intrinsic dispositions
to behave in certain ways that are not reducible to responses to stimuli.

but involve longer series of acts and actions which depend on earlier ones.
Out what we have to admit is not a set of unobservable mental states or
meanings in the speaker's mind. What is needed is merely a behavioral
framework flexible enough (in the sense of aUowing unprompted behavior)
to admit considerations of rule and strategy. What I am proposing here is
a conception of language wh ich is in terms of behavior, but which does justice
to the actual complexity of our linguistic and unlinguistic behavior.
This suggestion may be compared with Donald Davidson 's ideas, presented
in his paper in this very volume. I, too, am replacing Quine 's proximal theory
of meaning by what might be caUed a distal one. Out there are certain
important differences, too. What guarantees the intersubjective synonymy of
utterances on Davidson's account is the totality of shared objects and events,
including their causal relations to each other and to uso On my account, the
synonymy is created, in so far as it is reachable, by the framework of shared
activities or 'Ianguage games', as it is convenient to caU them. The same
shared objects and events which Davidson relies on in his distal theory are
needed in my proposal as the paraphernalia of our shared language games.
Out that role is now different from their function in Davidson 's theory. This
role is not causal. My suggested theory is thus not about the causes of our
sensory stimulations, but about their roles in certain public language games.
My suggestion goes further than Chomsky's complaint that Quine does
not, in concentrating on assent and dissent, take into account a large enough
variety of modes of linguistic behavior. 34 What I am suggesting is that there
are empiricaUy recognizable forms of non-linguistic behavior which are
contributive to the meanings of those linguistic expressions that are related
to them in certain recognizable ways.
If one can carry out this project in a suitable way, an interesting
consequence ensues. As I have recently argued, the difference between the
evidential conception of meaning and the truth conditional one can be made
to disappear. 3S The very 'games of exploring the world' through which we
reach sensory evidence for our sentences serve to constitute the truth
conditions of these sentences!
Unfortunately, I cannot present to you within the limits of one paper more
than the barest outline of this suggested super-behaviorist theory of meaning
and radical translation.
After a11 this has been said, the crucial question remains to be asked - the
question for which you undoubtedly have been waiting with bated breath.
Which conception is the right one, that of language as the universal medium
or that of language as calculus? Is semantics ineffable or not? I have an
answer ready, even though it is neither of the two alternatives you have been
expecting. Neither conception is completely right, but both contain an element
of truth. In fact, the true state of affairs can be described concisely. Semantics
is not ineffable, even for our actual colloquial language or whatever lingua
characterica we may try to develop, but it is inexhaustible. We can step
outside this or that part of our discourse so as to study its relations to the
world, but we cannot do it in one fell swoop. This thesis is in fact a

generalization of Tarski's celebrated resuIt. according to which you can

formulate the semantics of a sufficiently strong language only in a stronger
one, and hence never in that same language. J6
Thus you can approach the truth about truth and other semantical notions
from either direction. You can either start from the universalist position and
be convinced by the successes ofmodel theory and the rest of explicit semantics
for formal as weil as natural languages that a strict party line ineffability
thesis has to be relaxed. Or you can start from the uninhibited ca1culus
conception and be eventually forced to acknowledge the intrinsic limitations
oflarge-scale semantics by dint of explicit impossibility theorems like Tarski 'So
If I prefer the laller approach, it is not for reasons of intellectual taste. It
seems to me that in the present-day problem situation - indeed, in the problem
situation created by Gdel 's incompletneness results - the model-theoretic
approach is likely to be vastly more helpful and fruitful. Take, for instance,
set theory. There will never again be a book on set theory, one can safely
predict, remotely like Set Theory and fts 1.ogic,37 which concentrates on the
axiomatic formulation of set theory and on the ontological commitments. The
actual mainstream work in set theory since Gdel's monograph has been in
what might be called the modeltheory of set theory,38 to which Quine's
book does not make any significant contribution.
This fruitfulness of the model-theoretical approach in logical theory does
not ipso facto prove its philosophical significance. But even though I cannot
argue fully for my point here, I believe that the same fruitfulness of the
model-theoretic viewpoint is true in philosophy. Much ofthis fecundity is only
now beginning to be in evidence, but I for one find the philosophical
perspectives it opens absolutely fascinating. To take but one example, I
acknowledged earlier that there is much that is true and important in Quine 's
criticisms of modal logic in general and modal logicians' ideas about
cross-world identification in particular. J9 But that true element can only be
captured and expressed with the help of model-theoretical conceptualizations.
And if the study of that cross-identification problem leads to important new
theoretical insights, I'd rather commit the sin of commission than that of
omission. And such insights are in fact forthcoming. Analysis of the
cross-identification problems have led, in one direction, to the realization
that the mathematics of cross-identification and re-identification is closely
related to one of the hottest fields in all mathematics, the stability theory of
differential equations and,40 in another direction, to a connection between
different methods of cross-identification and neurologically different cognitive
systems.41 An approach that leads into such insights has to be taken seriously,
even if there remain problems that it does not solve.



Semantics is ineffable. Semantics is possible.
Interpretation cannot be varied. Interpretation can be va ried.

Model theory impossible Model theory possible

(or irrelevant). (and important).
Only one world can be Possible worlds are possible.
talked about.
One domain of quantification Ranges of fully analyzed
in the last analysis. quantifiers can be different.
Ontology Ontology conventional.
is the central problem.
Logical truths are about this world. Logical truth as truth in all
possible worlds.


I Published in Erkenntnis vol. 2 nos 5-6 (1932), pp. 432-65. The translation here
is mine.
2 Rudolf Carnap, The Logical Syntax 0/ Language, London, Kegan Paul, Trench,
Trubner and Co., 1937.
3 See the following papers of mine: 'Is the truth ineffable?', in N. Scardona, ed., Les
Formes Actuelles du Vrai, Palermo, Encliridion, 1988, pp. 89-120. 'On the
development ofthe model-theoretical tradition in logical theory', SJ'nt/rese vol. 77
(1988) pp. 11-26; and also Merrill B. Hintikka and Jaakko Hintikka,lnt"e.~tigutin~J
Wittgenstein, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1986, chapter l.
4 Jean van Heijenoort, 'Logic as calculus and logic as language', SJ'nthese vol. 17
(1967) pp. 324-30.
5 See my 'On the development'.
6 In asense, the contrast between the two standpoints has thus been a truly
Collingwoodian 'ultimate presupposition' oftwentieth-century philosophy. Neither
universalists nor believers in language as calculus have typically been aware of
making a major assumption, but have treated their respective presuppositions as
a matter of course. Quine is not likely to be an exception. Hence I am not claiming
to represent in this paper Quine's actual arguments but the unacknowledged
sources of certain views of his.
7 See W. V. Quine, Word and Object, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1980, p. 3.
8 Cf. W. V. Quine, Set Theory und Its Logic, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University
Press, 1963.
9 See W. V. Quine, 'Worlds Away',Journal o/Philosophy, vol. 73( 1976), pp. 358-64.
10 Alfred Tarski, 'The concept of truth in formalized languages', in Tarski, Logic,
Semanties, Metamathematics, Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1956.
II Cf. W. V. Quine, Theories and Things, Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University
Press, 1981, p. 174. 'Models alford consistency proofs; also they have heuristic
value; but they do not constitute explication.' A representative of the model-
theoretical tradition could turn this thesis completely around and maintain that
only models can constitute a genuine explication.
12 Cr. RudolfCarnap, 'Autobiography', in P. A. Schilpp, ed., The Philosophy 0/ Rudolf
Carnap, La Salle, IIIinois, Open Court, 1963, pp. 3-84, esp. pp. 60-2.
13 See Gottlob Frege, The Foundations 0/ Arithmetic, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1959,
3 (pp. 3-5) and 88 (pp. 99-101).
14 Bertrand RusselI, Introduction 10 Mathematical Philosophy, London, Allen and
Unwin, 1919, p. 169.
15 Cf. here Dagfinn Fsllesdal, 'Interpretation of quantifiers', in B. van Rootselaar

and J. F. Staal. eds. Log' Mt!thodology and Philosophy ~(Sdt!n('t! 111. Amsterdam.
North-Holland. 1968. pp. 271-81; Jaakko Hintikka. 'Quine on quanlifying in'. in
Jaakko Hinlikka, The Intentions q{ Intentionality, Dordrecht. Reidel. 1975, pp.
16 Jaakko Hintikka, 'Standard vs. nonstandard logic', in E. Agazzi. cd., Modern
Logic. Dordrecht. Reidel, 1981. pp. 283-96; 'Is alethic modellogie possible?' Acta
Philosophiea Fennica vol. 35 (1982). pp. 89-105.
17 W. V. Quine, 'On what there is', in From a Logical Point of Vit'l'. Cambridge,
Mass., Harvard University Press 1953. (See p. 1.)
18 Cf., e.g., W. V. Quine. From a Logieal Point of View. pp. 42-4.
19 See here Jaakko Hintikka. 'The varieties of being in Aristotle. in Simo Knuuttila
and Jaakko Hintikka. cds. The Logic of Being: Historieal Studies. Dordreeht.
Reidel, 1987, pp. 81-114.
20 A eonstruetive attempt to deal with some of these problems is made in Merrill B.
Hintikka and Jaakko Hintikka, 'Towards a general theory of individuation and
identification', in W. Leinfellner et al., cds, Language and Ontolog)': Proceedings
ofthe Sixth International Wittgenstein Symposium, Vienna, Hlder-Piehler-Tempsky,
1982, pp. 137-50.
21 What is needed here is not a theory of wh at is definable in a language (or a theory).
Such theories exist: cf., e.g., Veikko Rantala, Aspects of Dejinability (Acta
Philosophie'a Fennica, vol. 29, nos 2-3), Helsinki, Societas Philosophica Fenniea,
1977. What is needcd is a theory of identifiability, that is, a theory of what can
be specified in a language (or a theory) on the basis of available obserrations. The
literat ure on de~nabi1ity problems contains mueh that is relevant to the theory of
identifiability but such results have not been brought together and systematized.
22 Gottlob Frege, Posthumous Writings, H. Hermes et al., cds, Oxford, Basil Blaek weil,
1979, p. 128:' Logic is the scienee of the most generallaws of truth. Vet two pages
earlier Frege writes: 'True cannot be defined; we cannot say: an idea is true if it
agrees with reaility.
23 Cf. van Heijenoort, op. eil.; Hintikka, 'On the development'.
24 Cf. here Merrill B. Hintikka and Jaakko Hintikka, op. cit., chapter I.
25 Letter to Schlick. 8 August. 1932, publishcd in M. Nedo and M. Ranchetti, eds,
Wittgenstein: Sein Leben in Bildern and Texten, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp.
1983, pp. 254-5.
26 W. V. Quine, Word and Object, op. cit., chapter 2.
27 See Hintikka and Hintikka, op. cit., chapter 9.
28 Jaakko Hintikka, The Game of Language, Dordrecht, Reidel, 1983.
29 See 'Behavioral criteria of radical translation' in Donald Davidson and Jaakko
Hintikka, eds, Word.~ and Objections, Dordrecht, Reidel, 1969, pp. 69-91.
30 Cf. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophieal Investigations, Oxford, Basil Blackwell,
1953, part I, 206:
Suppose you came as an explorer into an unknown country with a language
quite strange to you. In what circumstances would you say that the people
there gave orders, understood them, obeyed them, rebelled against them, and
so on?
A shared human way of acting is the system of reference by means of which we
interpret an unknown language.
31 Cf. W. V. Quine, Word and Object, 24-5.
32 See W. V. Quine, From a Logieal Point of View, pp. 20-4.
33 See '''Die Wende der Philosophie": Wittgenstein's new logic of 1928', in Ota

Weinberger, ed . Philosophy~" Law. Polieks and Sodeey: Proceedings Q/"the 12eh

Inrernational Willgenstein Symposium, Vienna, Hlder-Piehler-Tempsky. 1988.
34 Noam Chomsky, 'Quine's empirieal assumptions' in Davidson and Hintikka. eds,
op. eit.. pp. 53-68, esp. pp. 58-9.
35 Jaakko Hintikka. 'Game-theoretical semantics as a synthesis of truth-conditional
and verifieationist meaning theories', in E. LePore. ed., New Directions in Semanrks,
London. Aeademie Press, 1987. pp. 235-58.
36 Alfred Tarski. 'Some methodological investigations on the definability of eoneepts'
in Tarski. op. eit.. pp. 296-319.
37 Cambridge. Mass., Harvard University Press. 1963.
38 Kurt Gdel. The Consisrenc-y 0/ Conrinuum Hypothesis. Princeton, Prineeton
University Press. 1940.
39 See in. 16 above.
40 See Hintikka and Hintikka, op. eit.
41 See Jaakko Hintikka, 'Cartesian cogito. epistemie logie, and neuroseience: some
surprising interrelations', Synthese in Jaakko Hintikka and Merrill B. Hintikka.
The Logic 0/ Epistemology and the Epistemolog}' 0/ Logic. Dordrecht. Kluwer.1989.



Answering Schrder's criticisms of Begriffsschrift, Frege states that,

unlike Boole's, his logic is not a ca/cu/us ratiocinator, or not merely a
calculus ratiocinator, but a Iingua characterica. 1 If we come to understand
what Frege means by this opposition, we shall gain a useful insight into
the history of logic.
Before settling down to this task, I would like to review, or rather
simplyenumerate, Frege's contributions to logic, in order to provide the
proper background for our discussion. These contributions are:
(1) The propositional \:alculus, with truth-functional definitions of the
connectives, of the conditional in particular;
(2) The decomposition of the proposition into function and
argument(s), instead of subject and predicate;
(3) Quantification theory, based on a system ofaxioms and rules of
(4) Definitions of infinite sequence and natural number in terms of
notions of logic.
Besides these four discoveries two more points must be mentioned:
(a) Frege was the first to present, with alt the necessary accuracy, a
cardinal notion of modem thought, that of formal system;
(b) Frege's philosophy is analytic, in the sense that logic has a constant
control over ws philosophical investigations; this marked a sharp break
with the past, especially in Germany, and Frege inftuenced philosophers
as different as Russell, Wittgenstein, and Austin.
The opposition between calculus ratiocinator and /ingua characterica
has several connected but distinct aspects. These various aspects, most of
the time not stated by Frege, have to be brought out by a study of his
work. From Frege's writings a certain picture of logic emerges, a con-
ception that is perhaps not discussed explicitly but nevertheless constantly
guides Frege. In referring to this conception I shaU speak of the uni-
lIersality of logic.
This universality of Frege's /ingua characlerica is, first, the universality

that quantification theory has in its vocabulary and that the propositional
calculus lacks. Frege frequent]y calls Boole's logic an 'abstract togic' 2,
and what he means by that is that in this logic the proposition remains
unanalyzed. The proposition is reduced to a mere truth value. With the
introduction of predicate letters, variables, and quantifiers, tbe pro
position becomes articulated and can express a meaning. The new notation
allows the symbolic rewriting of whole tracts of scientific knowledge,
perhaps of aIl of it, a task that is altogether beyond the reach of the
propositional calculus. We now have a lingua, not simply a ca]culus.
Boole's logic, which cannot claim to be such a lingua, remains the study,
in ordinary language, of algebraic relations between propositions. This
study is carried out in ordinary language and is comparable to many
branches of mathematics, say group theory. In Frege's system the
propositional calculus subsists entbedded in quantification theory; the
opposition between Iingua and calculus is, in this respect, not exclusive,
and that is why Frege writes that bis own logic is not merely a calculus
ratiocinalor. 3
. However, the opposition between calcu/us rat;oc;nator and lingua
characterica goes much beyond the distinction between the propositional
ca1culus and quantification theory. The universality of logic expresses
itself in an important feature of Frege's system. In that system the
quantifiers binding individual variables range over all objects. As is weIl
known, acoording to Frege, tbe ontologica1 fumiture of the universe
divides into objects and functions. Boole has his universe class, and De
Morgan his universe of discourse, denoted by '1'. But these have hardly
any ontologica1 import. They can be changed at will. Tbe universe of
discourse comprehends only what we agree to consider at a certain time,
in a certain context. For Frege it cannot be a question of changing
universes. One could not even say that he restricts himself to one universe.
His universe is the universe. Not necessarily the physical universe, of
course, because for Frege some objects are not physica1. Frege's universe .
consists of all that there is, and it is fixed.
This conception has several important consequences for logic. One, for
instance, is that functions (hence, as a special case, concepts) must be
defined for all objects. To take an example, the function + ' is defined not
only for the natural numbers, but also for, say, the Moon and 1. What
the value of the function is in that case is irrelevant here, but this value

must exist for every set of arguments chosen from among the objects.
When Frege has to deal with a special domain of objects, the natural
numbcrs for example in arithmetic, he uses devices that are in fact equiv-
alent to the method of relativization of quantifiers.
Another important consequence of the universality of logic is that
nothing ean be, or has to be, said outside of the system. And, in fact,
Frege never raises any metasystematic question (consistency, independ-
ence ofaxioms, completeness). Frege is indeed fully aware that any
formal system requires rules that are not expressed in the system; but
these rules are void of any intuitive logic; they are 'rules for the use of
our signs'.4 In such a manipulation of signs, from which any argumen-
tative logic has been squeezed out, Frege sees precisely the advantage of a
formal system.
Since logic is a language, that language has to be leamed. Like many
languages in many circumstances, the language has to be leamed by
suggestions and clues. Frege repeatedly states, when introducing his
system, that he is giving 'hints' to the reader, that the reader has to meet
him halfway and should not begrudge him a share of 'good will'. Tbe
problem is to bring the reader to 'catch on'; he has to get into the
In Principia Mathematica some of the aspects of the universality of logic
are modified - by the introduetion of types. Quantifiers now range over
stratified types. But within one type there is no restriction to a specific
domain, and in that sense the universality is preserved. We have a
stratified universe, but here again it is the universe, not a universe of
discourse changeable at will.
Questions about the system are as absent from Principia Mathematica
as they are from Frege's work. Semantic notions are unknown. '~' is read
as ' ... is true', aod Russen could hardly have come to add to the notion
of provability a notion of validity based on naive set theory. At the
bcginning of his 1930 paper on the completeness of quantification theory
Gdel describes the axioms and the rules of inference of Principia
Mathematica and then adds: "01 course, when such a procedure is
followed the question at once arises whether the system ofaxioms and
principles of inference initially postulated is complete, that is, whether it
really suffices for the derivation of e'llery true logico-mathematical
proposition or whether, perhaps, true propositions (which may even be

provable by means of other principles) are conceivable that cannot be

derived in the system under consideration." 6 (My emphasis first two
times.) Gdel wrote these lines twenty years after the publication of the
first volume of Principia. If the question of the semantic completeness of
quantification theory did not 'at once' arise, it is because of the univer-
sality - in the sense that I tried to extricate - of Frege's and Russell's
logic. The universal formallanguage supplants the naturallanguage, and
to preserve, outside of the system, a notion of validity based on intuitive
set theory, does not seem to fit into the scientific reconstruction of the
language. The only question of completeness that may arise is, to use an
expression of Herbrand's, an experimental question. As many theorems
as possible are derived in the system. Can we exhaust the intuitive modes
of reasoning actually used in science? To answer this question is the
purpose of the Frege-Russell enterprise, to which we must adjoin, in
spite of all its deficiencies, Peano's work. Begriffsschrift, Die Grundlagen
der Arithmetik, the two volumes of Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, Arith-
metices Principia, the various editions ofthe Formulaire de mathematiques,
The Principles 0/ Mathematics, and the three volumes of Principia
Mathematica - each of these works can be regarded as a step in an ever-
renewed attempt at establishing completeness experimentally.
In 1915 Lwenheim published a paper that contained many novel fea-
tures. The system with which Lwenheimisconcemedmost ofthe time is the
first-order p'redicate calculus with identity. He has no axioms or rules of
inference. His logic is based upon naive set theory, and the notion of
provability is replaced by that of validity. While the Frege-Russell
approach to the foundations of logic could be called the axiomatic 7
approach, Lwenheim's could be called the set-theoretic approach. If we
follow that approach, questions of validity of well-formed formulas in
different domains come to the forefront. The very title of the paper, Ober
Mglichkeiten im Relativkalkl, refers to this point: if a formula is valid
in a domain, it may or may not be valid in some other domain. For
instance, for the singulary fragment of the first-order predicate calculus,
if a well-formed formula that contains occurrences of k distinct predicate
letters is valid in a domain of 2" elements, it is valid in every domain.
Or take the famous Lwenheim theorem: if a well-formed formula is
valid in a denumerable domain, it is valid in every domain. 8 Several cases
of the decision problem and the reduction problem are treated by the

semantic method: from the validity of a well-formed fonnula in a domain

some argument allows us to conclude to the validity of a related weil-
formed formula in the same domain, or to the validity of the same weil-
formed formula in some other domain.
These results and these methods were entirely alien to the Frege-
Russell trend in logie. So alien that it is quite puzzling how Lwenheim
eame to think of his theorem. The explanation is perhaps as folIows.
From the result mentioned in the previous paragraph about the singulary
fragment of the first-order predieate ealeulus it follows that, if a well-
formed fonnula of that fragment is valid in every finite domain, it is valid.
This does not hold for the full ealeulus. In fact, Lwenheim knew of
formulas of that ealeulus that, although valid in every finite domain, are
not valid in every domain. But then - since in the singulary ease finite
validity leads to validity - it becomes natural to raise the foUowing
question: if a weJl-fonned fonnula is valid in a denumerable domain, is it
valid in every domain? The answer is yes, and this is Lwenheim's
With Lwenheim's paper we have a sharp break with the Frege-Russell
approach to the foundations of logie and areturn to, or at least a eon-
nection with, pre-Fregean or non-Fregean logie. Lwenheim uses
Schrder's logical notation, but, what is more important, with Schrder
he also takes the freedom to change the universe of diseourse at will and
to base eonsiderations on such changes. And just as Frege was ignored for
some time because of his break with the tradition established, so Lwen-
heim too was ignored for some time beeause of his break with the new
tradition established. Behind the Frege-Russell trend in logic, Lwenheim
renews contact with Boole and Schrder, while making important
contributions of his own to logic.
The first reaetion to Lwenheim's paper was Skolem's paper of 1920 9,
which still follows the set-theoretic approach to logic. Soon, however, the
opposition between the two trends in logic dissolved. Ouring the 'twenties
the work of Skolem, Herbrand, and Gdel produced an amalgamation
and also a depassement of these two trends. In partieular, the work of
Herbrand can be viewed as establishing, beside the axiomatic and the
set-theoretic approaches to the foundations of logic, a third approach,
that of the Herbrand expansions. But that i& another story. Let me say
simply, in conclusion, that Begriffsschrift (1879), Lwenheim's paper

(1915), and Chapter 5 of Herbrand's thesis (1929) are the three corner-
stones of modern logic.

Brandeis U"iversity


1 Schrder's criticisms are contained in his review of Begriffsschrift, published in

Zeiuchri/t fr Mathematik und Physik 2S (1880), Hist"risch-litl!ruri,~d/(' AbtheiluIIg,
81-94. Frege's reply was an address to a learned society, dclivc:rc:d on 27 JaQuary 1882
and published in its proceedings, 'Ober den Zwcck dcr Begriffsschrift'. Sit:/Ilrgs-
berichte eier Jt'lIuischen Gesellschaft fr Meclicin uml NtltllrwiJ,\'('IIschllji fr dtLI' Jahr /88!
(Jena 1883), pp. 1-10, reprintcd in Gottlob Frege, BegrijJ.udrriji IIml am/mt Allfst:,'.
Hildesheim 1964, pp, 97-106. On the origin of the expreSSi\ln 'Iingu,l cham~teri~a' sl!e
Gnther Patzig's foot note 8, on p. 10 of Gotllob Frege, Logil'dre C"tt'rslldlllllg('II,
Gttingen 1966.
2 See, for instance, Frege's comments on Boole in 'ber den Zwcc:1. Jer B~grilrsschrifr
(mentioned in footnote 1), pp. 1-2.
3 In 'Ober die Begriffsschrift des Herrn Penno und meine eigene', Berichte b('/' dil!
Verhandlungen der Kniglichen Schsischen Gesellschaft der Wi.~sI!IIJchLljil!ll :11 Lf'ip:ig.
Mathematisch-physische Classe 48 (1896), 361-378, Frege writes on p. 371: "Hoole's
logic is a ca/cI//lls ratiocinator, but no lillgllu churacterica; Pe.mos mathcmaticallogic
is in the main a Iinglla characterica and, subsidiarily, also a CCl/CII/II,~ ratiocimlf/lr, while
my Begri'sschrift intends to be both with equal stress." Here the terms are usc:d with
approximately thc meanings given in the present paragraph: Boole has a propositional
calculus Mt no quantification theory; Peano has a notation fur quantification thcory
but only a very deficient technique of derivation; Frege has a notation for quantifica-
tion theory and a technique of derivation.
~ Begriffsschrift, 13.
~ Here the inftuence of Frege on Wittgenstein is obvious, - Frege's refus:d to enterlain
metasystematic questions explains perhaps why he was not too disturbed by the state-
ment 'Theconcept Horse is not a concept'. The paradox arises from the fact that, since
concepts, being functions, are not objects, we cannot name them, hence we are unable
to talk about them. Some statements that are (apparelltly) about concepts can easily
be translated into the system; thus, 'the concept tl'J(,) is realized' becomes '(Ex) tl'J(x)'.
The statements that resist such a translation are, upon examination, metasystematic;
for example, 'there are functions' cannot be translated into the system, but we set'.
once we have 'caught on', that there are function signs among the signs of the system,
hence that there are functions.
8 Kurt Gdel, 'Die Vollstndigkeit der Axiome des logischen Funktionenkalkls',
Monatshe/te fr Mathematik lind Physik 37, 349-360; English translation by Stefan
Bauer-Mengelberg in J. van Heijenoort, From Frege to Giicle/. A SOllrce Book in
Mathematical Logic. 1879-/931, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass" 1967,
7 Here 'axiomatic' is used for a method of formal derivation based on axioms and
rules of inference, and this use should not be confused with broader uses, as in 'the
axiomatic method in geometry'. - Let us remark that, unlike Frege, Russell never
emphasized the formal aspect of logical proofs and that, in particular, the system of

Principia Malhemalka does not measure up to the standards that Frege set for a formal
syslem. (On Ihis point see Kurt Gdel, 'Russel\'s Mathematical Logic', in The Phi-
losoph.r ()/ Bmrand Ru.fJell (ed. by Paul Arthur Schilpp), New York 1944, pp. 123-153,
especially p. 126; see also W. V. Quine, 'Whitehead and the Rise of Modern Logic', in
The Philosoph)' 0/ AI/ree' Nor/h Whilehead (ed. by Paul Arthur Schilpp), New York
1941, pp. 125-163, especially p. 140.) The notion of formal system was again brought
into the forefront by Hilbert, in the 'twenties. That is perhaps why the (in our sense)
uxiomatic systems of logic are called Hi1bert-type systems by Kleene (Inlroduclion 10
Melomathemat;('s, p. 441). If the historical priority is to be respected, they should
ralher be called Frege-type systems.
4 For the sake of simplicity I take the formulation of the theorem for quantification
theory without identity.
9 'Logisch-kombinatorische Untersuchungen ber die Erfllbarkeit oder Beweisbarkeit
mathematischer Stze nebst einem Theoreme ber dichte Mengen', Videnskapssels-
kapets skri/ter. I. Matematisk-naturvidenskabelig klasse, no. 4.





In this paper I want to outline a new interpretation of the central

tenets of Edmund Husserl's phenomenology, of Heidegger's ontology
ancJ, of the differences between the two. A fresh attempt to interpret
Husserl's and Heidegger's conceptions of meaning and language
seems to be possible due to recent developments in Frege- and
Wittgenstein-scholarship, especially to Merrill B. -and Jaakko Hin-
tikka's book Investigating Wiugenstein. 1 The cornerstone of the Hin-
tikkas' interpretation is a conception of meaning that the authors call
"language as the universal medium". 2 The core of this conception is
the claim that semantical relations between language and the world
are inexpressible. As the Hintikkas' put the central point:
... one cannot as it were look at one's language trom outside and describe it .... The
reason for this alleged impossibility is that one can use language to talk about something
only if one can rely on a given definite interpretation, a given network of meaning
relations obtaining between language and the world. Hence one cannot meaningfully
and significantly say in language what these meaning relations are, for in any attempt to
do so one must already presuppose them. 3

The corollaries of this general point can be summarized in the follow-

ing argument - here I fOllow more the spirit than the letter of
Investigating Wiugenstein:
(UM-t) Semantical relations are inaccessible; therefore
(UM-2) we cannot imagine different semantical relations; therefore
(UM-3) model theory (and talk of possible worlds) is impossible
(since model theory is based on the systematical variation
of meaning relations); and (due to 1)
(UM-4) linguistic relativism is inevitable (we are trapped in our
language); for (due to 1 & 2)
(UM-5) we cannot grasp reality without Iinguistic (distorting) inter-
ference; and (due to 1)
(UM-6) the construction of a metalanguage is impossible; therefore

(UM-7) truth as eorrespondenee is inexpressible, therefore (and due

to 1)
(UM-8) we have to limit ourselves to syntax, i.e., formalism.
This argument, let us eall it the UM-argument for brevity, ean be
identified not only in Wittgenstein, but also in Frege, as earlier work
by Jaakko Hintikka,4 Jean van Heijenoort 5 and recent studies by Leila
Haaparanta6 have shown. One of my aims in this paper is to make
plausible the claim that eentral elements of the UM-argument ean also
be found in Heidegger.'
In the ease of Husserl, the UM-argument is present only via
negationis, that is to say, in his writings we ean identify a position that
is direetly opposed to at least the first seven theses of the argument.
Thus we ean interpret Husserl's theory of meaning as a variant of what
the Hintikkas eall "language as calculus", a stand which they eon-
struct as negating the eentral points of "language as the universal
medium". (Hintikka has suggested already some time aga that in
Husserl we can find this ealculus eoneeption. 8 )


Here I ean only diseuss some eentral tenets of Husserl's theory of

meaning and language. Let us start with the phenomonological
method as he employs it in almost all of his works after 1905, the
"phenomenological reduetions". This method is meant to help c1arify
the so-ealled "natural attitude", i.e., the attitude through which we are
related towards the world in prescientific and most of scientific
experience. In this attitude we assurne that there exists a world of
physieal, psyehological and eultural states of aflairs, i.e., a world that
is for the most part independent from our conseiousness. From a
language-perspective, a perspective that makes an occasional ap-
pearance in Husserl, too, we ean say that the natural attitude cor-
responds to ordinary language with all its ontological commitments.
However, already in everyday life we sometimes leave this attitude
behind, and psychology has made this step its special mark. That is to
say, sometimes we are not directed towards objects and events in the
world but rather towards our own directedness, e.g., instead of (just)
seeing a tree, we ean refteet on our seeing (the tree). In Husserl's
terminology this turn towards our doing is a "reduction" of our

attention towards the world, a reduction that limits our attention to

OUf psychological consciousness, our "soul". Thus Husserl speaks of a
"psychologie al reduction" here. 9 In moving from the natural attitude
to the psychological attitude we have reduced the ontological com-
mitments of prescientific and non-psychological scientific language,
i.e., we have re-interpreted ordinary language. We drop expressions
that commit us to the existence of an "outer world", or we re-interpret
these expressions in a way that gets rid of these commitments.
However, Husserl goes on to claim that this psychological-
phenomenalistic language is still only partly capable of fulfilling its
task, i.e., to clarify the natural attitude. 1O Husserl e"pJains that the
psychological reduction is insufficient since it does not really break
with all of the ontological commitments of the natural attitude. Thus
the psychological reductions can give us only a circular explanation of
the natural attitude's commitments.
In order to avoid this circularity, Husserl teIls us that we have to
employa further reduction, a reduction that he calls "transcendental";
The transcendental reduction does not only bracket the physical
world, but also the psychic 'world' in so far as it is the sphere of a
specific, publicly identifiable person. The "soul" must thus be analyzed
with the help of a language that is free from any commitment to
soul-like entities. Again language must thos be re-interpreted:
Breaking with the native by employing the transcendental-phenomenological turn leads
to an important change ... All these new apperceptions ... lead to a new language (i.e.,
a new language despite the fact that I have to employ ordinary language, for the
meanings of ordinary language had to change) .... 11

Already at tbis point it seems safe to claim that Husserl commits

hirnself to the opposite of UM-6, namely,
(C-6) The construction of metalanguages is possible.
This is so since the transcendental-phenomenological language is
intended by Husserl to serve as a metalanguage of the ordinary
language. To a lesser degree the same goes for the psychological-
phenomenalistic language (Figure 1).
Furthermore, Husserl's claim that we can re-interpret our language
also points towards the calculos-conception. Yet even stronger evi-
dence on this point is forthcoming once we take a furtber reduction
into account, a reduction that Husserl calls "eidetic". Eidetic reduc-

levels of the Ego levels of language

Ego of the natural attitude physicalistic, naturalistic


psycliological Ego, "soul" psychological-phenomenalistic


transcendental Ego transcendental-phenomenalistic


Fig. 1.

tion does not reduce facts to phenomena, but rather facts (and
phenomena) to essences. 12 The basis of this method is variation and
imagination. In order to find the essence of some fact or phenomenon,
Husserl asks us to imaginatively vary its attributes. Those attributes
that we cannot imaginatively take away from the fact or phenomenon
without its losing its character of being this fact or phenomenon
belong to its essence'. Husserl concedes that we cannot ever run
through all possible variations but deerns it sufficient that the choice of
variations is arbitrary.13
Above we have presented Husserl's reduction in the same order that
is usually given in textbooks. However, let it be noted in passing that
Husserl orders the different reductions differently in different works
and stages of bis development. (In Die Idee der Phnomenologie 14
Husserl does not yet speak of eidetic reductions but less specifieally of
"ideierender Abstraktion". In Die Krisis der europischen Wissen-
schaften und die transzendentale Phnomenologie,t5 he first reduees
the seientific attitude to the natural one.) Figure 2 graphs the main
models: 'N' stands for 'natural attitude', 'P' for 'psychologie al atti-
tude', 'T' for 'transcendental attitude', 'S' for 'scientific attitude', 'E'
for 'eidos on a given level', 'A' for 'abstraction', horizontal arrows for
eidetic reductive steps, vertical arrows for non-eidetic reductive
In our context it seems especially interesting to take notice of the
case where eidetic reduction is used on the transcendental level. Here
the subject matter of variation is not just any object, but the world as
a phenomenon. This world is studied with the method of variation in

Die Idee Ideen I 1 Ideen I 2 Ph.Psych. Cart.Med. Erf.& Urt. Krisis 1 Krisis 2

~ ~O

L L ~ L1
~ o~~ D~
[~ Im
rm cb--;m


order to find its invariant, necessary structures, i.e., structures that are
to be found in every "possible world". It should be noted here that it is
a peculiarity of Husserl's version of possible worlds that different
possible worlds are constituted by different transcendental Egosthat
belong under a common essence or "Eidos". That is to say, to every
possible world there corresponds one transcendental Ego whose acts
of meaning-constitution build up the respective world.
It is in this context, I think, that we can see clearly how deeply
Husserl is committed to the calculus conception. The theses,
(C-l) Semantical relations are accessible,
(C-2) We can say what would be to have different ones,
(C-3) Model theory is possible,
obviously result directly from Husserl's contention according to which
the phenomenologist is able to study systematically how different
transcendental consciousnesses build up different possible worlds via
different meaning structures. The phenomenologist is not caught in a
faciual system of language-world relations; by way of a transcendental
reduction he can turn factuality into a mere phenomenon that by way
of eideitic reduction turns into a reinterpretable calculus.
From this position it also follows that Husserl can accept C-4:
(C-4) Linguistic relativism is not a tenable doctrine.
Husserl makes this point especially in bis late work, Die Krisis der
europischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phnomenolo-
gie:]7 linguistic and cultural differences can always be won over by

way of reductions. We 'only' need to go back to the level of transcen-

dental Egos and ask how we would have to rearrange the meaning,
structuring acts of 'our' transcendental Ego in order to build up the
world or "life-world" in question. 111
In the same way Husserl also disposes of the Ding-an-sich which -
at least in some sense - still flourished for example in Wittgenstein's
"semantical Kantianism".19 However, in the case of Husserl we can
(C-5) We can reach reality as such for we can always subtract the
influence of language.
Since there is a strict correspondence between possible worlds and
possible transcendental consciousnesses, and since there is complete
transparence on the level of the transcendental, a world or a cause
that is in principle inaccessible to any consciousness makes no sense
for Husserl. Whatever there is in some world or other, it is as such
posited by some consciousness or other. This, together with the
further premiss:
... whatever is aeeessible for my 'I' must be principally aeeessible for any olher I, too, if
I am to speak about it at all .... 20

amounts to the accessibility of every possible world.

Husserl also attacks Kant directly, calling the Ding-an-sich a
"Widersinn",21 and writing that
... I really get to know better and better real things and a whole world, and I leam to
exclude illusion and semblenee as merely subjeetive .... In so far as 1 ean intervene into
the course of my experienees ... I ean also direet it towards leaming more and more of
the things aod the world .... 22


Before identifying theses C-7 and C-8 in Husserl's thought I would

like to draw attention to two points where the dichotomy 'language as
the universal medium' and 'language as calculus' can throw some
interesting new light on differences between Husserl and Frege.
Dagfinn Ft)llesdal has put forward the much-discussed proposal ac-
cording to which Frege's Sinne and Husserl's noemata show important
similarities. 23 On Ft)llesdal's interpretation, noemata are intentional
correlates of intentional experiences (Erlebnisse), i.e., of acts. Noe-

act (noesis)---+' noema (Sinn) ----+./object/

entertains prescribes
" intends


mata are placed as ideal "mediators" between the real temporal

content of consciousness (i.e., the noesis), and the reducible object;
F0l1esdal's students Smith and McIntyre sum up the idea in Figure 3. 24
As mentioned earlier, some scholars hold that Frege's whole
philosophy of language and logic, and thus also his famous distinction
between "Sinn" and "Bedeutung",25 is essentially based on his con-
ception of 'Ianguage as the universal medium'.26 This presupposition
forces hirn to excIude model theory and metalanguage, and motivates
his attempts to get by with an extensional first-order language. The
Sinnl Bedeutung distinction then comes into play where Frege's logical
language runs into problems, e.g., in the case of proposition al atti-
Yet if the difference between Husserl's and Frege's conception of
meaning is as radical as the difference between 'language as calculus'
and 'Ianguage as the universal medium', then we might also expect
that this difference shows up with respect to Noema and Sinn. Indeed,
this expectation is not vain: whereas Husserl can systematically study
and vary his Noemata, and can develop a method through which we
can isolate those meanings in terms of which we relate to the actual or
possible worlds, Frege must excIude all this from the domain of sober
research. As Leila Haaparanta has shown in her dissertation Frege's
Doctrine 0/ Being,27 Frege on his own premisses cannot even allow for
the naming of senses:
Frege's examples suggest that when we name a sense of an object, we do not name any
new object which would be a complex of individual properties of that object, but we
name the original object in a new way. Hence, it folIows ... that we do not succeed in
naming a sense of an object. ... 28


A second point that deserves some stressing is that fact that as regards
the analysis of modal notions Husserl turns out to be a more modern

thinker than Frege. 29 Frege is bound here by his view of language as

the universal medium since this conception does not allow for alter-
native, possible worlds. As Haaparanta has shown, Frege is thus
forced to exclude modal notions from the area of logic, to treat them
occasionally as psychological concepts, and to give them in some
contexts a temporal interpretation that leads to accepting the famous
principle of plenitude according to which every true possibility has
been or will be actualised sometimes.
Whereas Frege, that stout admirer of Leibniz, was thus unable to
make use of Leibniz's possible worlds, Husserl employs them sys-
tematically. For example, Husserl writes:

Of course uibniz is right in saying that infinitely many monads and groups of monads
are conceivable, but that not all of these possibilities are compossible, and that infinitely
many worlds could have been crealt!d, but not several of them at the same time since
tbeyare incompossible. JO

As mentioned earlier the correspondence and correlativity of possible

worlds and variations of the eidos 'transcendental consciousness' are
the special mark of Husserl's modal thought. In accordance with this
idea he demands compossibility for both worlds and consciousnesses.
Since transcendental consciousnesses are always accessible to each
other, Husserl does not accept any "alien" worlds in the sense David
Lewis speaks of them;31 in other words, there are no possible worlds
that are not built up by a simple rearranging of the world-constituting
meanings of some transcendental ego. 32


There is also an interesting difference between Frege and Husserl

concerning the question of whether truth as correspondence makes
sense. While Frege, in accordance with the universal medium concep-
tion, claims that truth as correspondence is unintelligible,33 Husserl
takes the opposite stand:

(C-7) Truth as correspondence is expressible.


Husserl's theory of truth and evidence as it appears in the Logische

UnteTsuchungen,34 is especially difficult and highly complex and thus it
cannot be dealt with here in detail. Its basic idea can be expressed by
saying that truth is the complete filling of a meaning intention. Here
meaning-filling is a perception, and meaning-intention is (in general) a
linguistic-significative intention, the intending of some linguistic
meaning. For example, if I think of (and intend) the name 'Mauno
Koivisto', and if I have a complete and clear perception of Koivisto at
the same time, then my thought is true. This truth is not experienced
on the level of meaning-filling and meaning-intention, rather the
identity of meaning-intention and meaning-filling is the object of a
metalevel act of evidence.
Perhaps the intriguing point of Husserl's theory of truth becomes
clear once we remind ourselves of Frege's central counterargument
against the correspondence theory:

It would only be possible to compare an idea with a thing if the thing were an idea, too.
And then, if the first did correspond perfectly with the second, they would coincide. But
this is not at all what is wanted .... For it is absolutely essential that the reality be
distinct from the idea. 35

Husserl's version of the correspondence theory seems to be able to

avoid this Fregian dilemma. On the one hand, Husserl can conceive of
both arguments of the adaequatio-relation as non-real, since the thing
enters into this relation only as a percept. On the other hand, the
phenomenological jargon still allows Husserl to speak of a cor-
respondence between thing and meaning, to speak of "adequatio Tei et
intellectus",36 since Husserl stresses in many places that in complete
perceptive filling the thing is "selbstgegeben".
However, Husserl does not only speak of truth as correspondence
simpliciter. Rather he draws a distinction between four conceptions of
truth that are, nevertheless, all connected to the correspondence
theory. The first meaning of truth is the identity of a factual meaning-
intention and a factual meaning-filling; the second meaning of truth is
ideal identity, i.e., "the idea of absolute adaequatio as such".37 The
third sense of truth is the meaning-intention that is completely filled: it
is true or "richtig" since it corresponds to reality. Finally, the self-
given thing is true, since it makes the meaning-intention true. 38


idea of identity

meaning intention/ meaning-fulfilling act/

meaning perception


identifying act/
factual identity

truth l



Husserl's work on the philosophy of logic, with the exception of his

criticism of psychologism, has not met with much interest. Only
recently, since those researching Frege have become interested in
Frege's contemporaries, have Husserl's ideas on logic been occasion-
ally dealt with.
As leaD van Heijenoort, Jaakko Hintikka and Leila Haaparanta
have shown,39 the special mark of Frege's logic is that it is intended to
be a calculus ratiocinator and a lingua characterica at the same time.
van Heijenoort has demonstrated in his seminal paper 'Logic as
Calculus and Logic as Language' (1967) that it is the lingua concep-
tion that forces Frege not to allow for changes in the universe of
discourse, to ignore metasystematical questions concerning consistency
and completeness, and to bring his semantical ideas ac ross by hints and
unsystematic suggestions.40
Again, Husserl's abiding to the calculus conception can be used to

explain why he is able to take a different stand on all of these points.

To see that Husserl indeed proceeds differently, abrief mention of his
three large and yet incomplete projects on logic has to suffice here:
(1) The first project is concerned with a systematic construction of
logic in three steps. The first level is a "pure theory of forms of
meanings (or a pure logical grammar)"41 that is supposed to give us a
systematization of all judgements in their logical form. In Logical
Investigations Husserl holds that this grammar gives us the ideal
"frame" (Gerst) of all languages; this again shows that Iinguistic
relativism has no justification on phenomenological grounds. The \
second level is a "logic of consequence", a logic that is conceived of
as working only with concepts of consequence and inconsequence,
"without asking the least about truth and falsity ... ".42 Only after we
have interpreted our judgments over the real or some possible world
do we pass on to a third level, the "logic 0/ truth". Husserl tries to
show that the whole area of Logistik can be reformulated without the
concept of truth.
The most central point for us is that Husserl wants to construct a
level of logic that is not concemed with interpretations over a domain.
Where Frege's logic is inseparable from the one real world and the
reference of judgments to the True and lhe False is the starting point,
Husserl chooses an opposite point of departure: logic can abstract
from reference and can confine itself to senses:
A pure systematic: theory of the region of urues ... all questions conc:erning truth are
excluded, for by using the predicate "true" (and aIi its deviates) we go beyond the pure
apriori of the sphere of senses ....43

(2) In Logische Untersuchungen Husserl already formulates the task

of a universal theory " apriori of the essential types (forms) of theories
and the laws of relation that pertain to them".44 We cannot go into the
details of this undertaking here. Nevertheless, two details are worth
stressing: on the one hand, Husserl strlves for a highest theory, a set of
axioms that can be re-interpreted Iike a calculus in order to arrive at
di1ferent theories. 45 On the other hand, Husserl demands that this
highest theory should be complete and consistent, thus making
metasystematical demands that Frege cannot pose for bis system.46
(3) The third Husserlian project, the project of a geneology o/logic,
Le., the project of a transcendentaI-phenomenological grounding of
logic, is also in opposition to Fregian principles. The justification

k'8ic can !Je

juslified by
es ricnce

queslions i'l Iogic
concerning consis-
lency and complele-
ness ca" be raiscd


of logic from an area outside of logic itself, e.g., in phenomena of

pre-linguistic experience, is something only a calculus conception of
logic can strive for.


Despite these differences in the Fregean and Husserlian conceptions

of logic, the fact that both the calculus conception and the language as
the universal medium conception can end up in formalism, deserves
attention. This twist has led Jaakko Hintikka to speak of a "paradox of
formalization":47 language as the universal medium leads into for-
malism since after the exclusion of semantics we are left only with
syntax; also language as calculus leads to formalism since one is likely
to mark those' elements of language that can be re-interpreted.
These remarks on Husserl's calculus conception have to suffice
here. Figure 5 sums up some of the connections of the Husserlian
tenets mentioned above.


In the case of Heidegger I again discuss only those tenets that are of
importance for bis theory of meaning. Mst of all I want to show that
Heidegger's late philosophy, generally regarded as especially difficult
if not obscure, can be partially explained by using the conception of
language as the universal medium. Unfortunately I must confine
myself to only a few indications as to where the interesting questions
lie in Heidegger's early critique of Husserl as weil as in Sein und Zeit.
The way Heidegger's own philosopbicaJ position emerges from his
criticism of Husserl's phenomenology can most c1early be seen from a
recendy published lecture held by Heidegger in 1925, Prolegomena
zur Geschichte des Zeitbegrills.48 It seems to me that this criticism can
be related to the medium/calculus distinction.
Heidegger claims that Husserl's project of phenomenology as a
strict science is a circular enterprise, i.e., phenomenology as a strict
science is possible only in so far as one couches the subject matter of
its research in concepts that already presuppose central
phenomenological tenets. In Heidegger's words:
HusrerI', primary question is simply not concemed with the character 01 the being of
consciousness. Raiber, be is guicled by tbe following concem: Itow CdII ~

~corrw IM pouibk obi1 01 an absolw scitnct? The primary concern which guides him
is the idta 01 an ab$Olw scitnct ... consciousfttu is 10 ~ tht rtgion 01 an absolw
SCltnct ...."'I
Husserl's methodological ideal caUs for an objeetive science, a seienee
that ean c1early distinguish between subject and object. In accordance
with this demand Husserl postulates - not reveals - the subject/object
distinction: the natural attitude (as the subject) posits a world (as the
objeet) and the transcendental eonseiousness (as the subject) dis-
entangles itself from the natural attitude and turns the laUer - together
with the posited world - into a pure phenomenon (i.e., an objeet).
Furthermore, the natural attitude can be bracketed sinee it is thought
of as positing itself as a part of the real world; onee it is thus
eonceived the transcendental conseiousness can turn it into an objeet.
The key to the whole phenomenologieal enterprise is thus a eertain
interpretation of the natural attitude, an interpretation that remains
implicit. It is only because the relation between the natural attitude
and the world is conceptualized as 'positing a world as real' that
Husserl's project succeeds. However, Heidegger claims that this
eharacterization of the natural attitude is unjustifiable: neither does
the natural attitude posit a world of physical and psychological enti-
ties, nor does it posit itself as apart of this world:
Is this attitude a I14twal allitudt or is it not? It is an experience whic:h is totaUy
IUlnatural. For it includes a well-defined theoretical position in whic:h every entity is
taken apriori as a Iawfully regulated fIow of occurrences in the spatio-temporal
exteriority of the world .... Man's natural manner of experience, by contrast, cannot be
called an attitude. 5Cl

To make use of the interpretationa} framework of tbis study, we can

perhaps reconstruct Heidegger's point in the following way: an ab-
solute science as envisaged by Husserl demands that we can take a
stand outside of those meaning-relations that we usually live in. An
absolute science does not allow for circularity that results from situa-
tions where we have to make use of those very networks of meaning
which we are trying to describe and explain. In other words, Husser-
lian phenomenology must aceept the calculus-coneeption of me~ing
in order to arrive at its goal. Yet the price of the implicit acceptance
of the calculus-conception is severe: it amounts to a distortion of the
natural attitude and of the Being of humans. Further, the natural
attitude must be conceptualized as positing the world as an object -

i.e., as a calculus - and the relation of human beings toward them-

selves mustbe one of primarily positing oneself as a physical entity,
alongside brieks and stones.
The distortion eaused by the calculus-eoneeption reaches its peak
once transcendental reduction is implemented alongside eidetic
reduction. The latter reduetion, in aiming for the essenee of objeets,
events, and worlds, rules out the Being and existenee of objects and
events, i.e., it rules out the aetual world:
Likewise, in the consideratioo and elaboratioo 01 pure eonsciousness, merely the
wha,-conlelll is brought to the fore, without any inquiry into the being of the aets in the
~nse 01 their existence. Not ooly is this question not raised in the reductions, the
transcendental as weil as the eideitic; it gel$lost precisely through tJvm. 51

Heidegger's point here seems to be that an ontological clarification of

the Being of the natural attitude cannot be based on a systematic
variation and a eomparison between different (possible) worlds, since
the nature of original experience of a human being is the experienee of
being bound to just one world:
But il there were an entity whole what i& precisely to be tUUlllOthing bat to be, then this
ideative regard 01 such an entity would be the most fundamental of misundentand-

To clarify the Being of the natural attitude and to clarify the way it
understands Being, the phenomenologist must analyze Being as "in-
der-Weit-sein", where 'Welt' appears in the singular and is preceeded
by the definite article. Once we give up the ealeulus conception, we
give. up the thesis of a manifold of possible worlds, and restrict
ourselves to OM world, to the acmal world.


Due to limitations of spaee, I cannot deal witb Sein und Zeit here in
detail, but a closer inspeetion of this modern classic would detect
elements tbat stern from tbe conception of language as the universal
medium as weil as other tenets that ratber fit the conception of
language as caleulus.
Espeeially noteworthy in Sein und Zeit is the fact that Heidegger is
mucb less disturbed by a cireular investigation into meaning relations
tban Frege or Wittgenstein. Once logical minds are confronted witb
tbe circularity involved in studying semantics of a language regarded

TIIe 8eing-in-llIe-w,..ld 01
the natural attitude is to
be conceived 01 a5 being
within a univenal medium
01 meanint! (not only 01
Ilinllu;'tic meaning,

Husser!'. Lo,iscM
Un"n,.,.IIUII~n railler
Ihan his 111ft,. can
serve as a slarting


investi,ation 01
a universal medium
is not vjcious

parts within
the univenal
medium can be
analyzed as


as a universal medium, they are quickly ready to put a ban on any such
attempt. This is so because for them a circle is almost inevitably a
vicious circle. But this was not so for Heidegger,a philosopher
familiar with the hermeneutical tradition, an admirer of Dilthey and a
former student of theology:
au, il we see Iltis circle tU a vicious Olle arullook out 101 ways 01 avoiding il, even il we jUlI
'senst' il tU an inevitable imper/eclion, tlten tIte acl 01 understarulillg htu been mUunder-
stood from tIte growul up ... What is decisive is not to get out of the circle but to corne
into it in tbe right way ... The 'circle' in understanding belongs to the structure of

rnearung ....53

These central ideas of Sein und Zeit nonwithstanding, there still

remain important tenets of the book that can be adequately under-
stood only when read against the background of the universal medium
view. I want to mention at least three of them here:
(1) Heidegger sharply criticizes the correspondence theory of
truthS4 (in a way that is sometimes reminiscent of Frege's critique).
Heidegger replaces truth as correspondence by truth as "disclosed-
ness". In our terminology, the meanings that open up a world (as a
universal medium) for us are the primordial phenomena of truth.
(2) The distinction between Being as Vorhandenheit and Being as
Zuhandenheit can also be reformulated with the calculus/medium
distinction. Heidegger's claim that Zuhandenheit is primary compared
with Vorhandenheit can then be interpreted as saying that the mean-
ing totality allows the controlled and manipulative usage of different
parts of it.
(3) So far Heidegger's modal notions in Sein und Zeit and in bis
latter works have not been According to Sein und Zeit
possibility is not a logical concept but rather a concept that charac-
terizes the human being itself. The possibility Heidegger is mostly
concemed with, the possibility of death, most certainly falls within the
range of the principle 0/ plenitude.
Even though we cannot further discuss here interesting points in Sein
und Zeit, I would like to present its central claims concerning meaning
in Figure 6.


Heidegger's later philosophy seems to be an area where the notion of

language as the universal medium can be fruitfully applied. I shall try

to show in the following section that this holds not only for Heideg-
ger's philosophy of language but also for his philosophy of art.
The central tenets of 'Der Ursprung des Kunstwerks' can be sum-
marized in seven theses. I shall explain each in turn:
(A-l) We cannot analyze a work of art with the categories of
"thing" or "equipment" (Zeug), since both categories only
appear in the work of art. 56
Heidegger arrives at this claim by criticizing the traditional concept of
"thing" and by studying the attributes of "equipment" via a painting
by van Gogh that depicts a pair of peasant-shoes. "Thing" can be
defined neither as a carrier of attributes, nor as a bundle of sense data,
nor as formed matter: the first definition makes the thing itself
ineffable, the second cannot account fer the specific independence of
a thing, and the third commits a category mistake, i.e., it analyzes a
thing with concepts whose original place is a different region of being,
namely the region of equipment. But equipment is not a category that
can help us to conceptualize the essence of art. Heidegger makes this
point in a surprising way - he analyzes equipment by starting from a
concrete example, a pair of peasant-shoes, and this pair is not just any
pair but one that is depicted in a painting by van Gogh. Now, since the
attributes of equipment "have to be" read from the painting, Heideg-
ger concludes that it would be circular if we were to try to analyze art
through the category of equipment.
At first sight it might seem that we have only negative results so far.
But Heidegger teils us that this impression is wrong: the fact that we
could read the attlibutes of equipment from the painting can teach us
something important about art itself:
(A-2) The work of art shows us what a being truly is. 57
The second paragraph of Heidegger's studyS8 is devoted to the further
explication of this claim. A first step is the introduction of the
concepts "happening", "strife", "earth", and "world":S9
(A-3) The work of art is a happening, a strife between world and
Again Heidegger uses a concrete example, this time a Greek temple.
The temple's nature of a happening is described as the 'opening of a
world' on the one hand, and as the 'leaving of the earth in its rights' on

the other. It is worth stressing that world is here not to be conceived

of as an object, but rather as the horizon of meaning that cannot be
transcended. Earth is a metaphor for homeland as weil as for the
material, the strange, the dangerous, and the c1osed. 'World' and
'earth' both name essential albeit opposite aspects in a work of art; art
"happens" only in their strife.
Heidegger argues that this happening is an instantiation of the
happening of truth in general:
(A-4) Art is a happening of truth, truth is a strife between Iighting
and concealment.60
According to Heidegger, truth is thus a happening, too: it is a strife,
and the strife within the work of art is but an exemplification of truth.
As in Sein und Zeit Heidegger again criticizes the correspondence
theory of truth; for hirn truth is neither the adequatio of an assertion to
astate of affairs, nor is it the accessibility of the state of affairs itself,
but rather the original openness that makes it possible for the human
being to distinguish facts, objects, himself, and language from each
other. Since that openness is not under our control, truth as weil as
falsehood figure as independent events in Heidegger's language: truth
is the strife between Iighting (openness) and concealment (falsehood).
The third and last paragraph61 turns to the production of art, and to
the relations between art, history, and language. The first claim
concerns the production of art:
(A-5) The production of works of art corresponds structurally to
their preservation, both are rather a receiving than an
active doing.62
This thesis is a natural corollary of the conception of art as a
happening of truth and of an independent subject. The same thought
also motivates the following thesis which stresses the national, histori-
cal and even deterministic nature of art:
(A-6) Art is bound to nations anddetermines their essence and
Art for Heidegger is not a means by which human beings work toward
consciousness of their bistory, but rather something that determines
this history and calls us into a historical task.
As we shall see below, in tbis respect art resembles language.

However, there is also an even c10ser link between art and language: 64
(A-7) Poetry is the essence of art.
With this statement Heidegger does not deny that painting or music
are art, yet he claims that they only develop an area of truth that has
originally been opened by language, i.e., poetry.


The key to a proper appreciation of Heidegger's philosophy of art is to

see that for each of the seven theses on art we can formulate a
Heideggerian thesis on language:
(L-l) We cannot analyze language with the help of any other
category, since all categories only appear in language.
Evidence for Heidegger's acceptance of L-l is easy to find. For
example, in the lecture "Die Sprache"65 Heidegger claims that the
analysis of the essence of language has to happen along the Iines of
tautologies such as "Die Sprache ist: Sprache" or "Die Sprache
spricht":66 any other starting point would either be circular or destroy
the essence of language. It is interesting to note that this turning
towards tautologies in rder to avoid false reductions is a very popular
move with Heidegger: just think of the famous "the world worlds",67
or "time times" (die Zeit zeitigt), "space spaces" (der Raum rumt)
and "thing things" (das Ding dingt).68 Below we shall see that this
method is interestingly Iinked to the universal medium conception.
L-l is also apparent in Heidegger's repeated claim that there is no
speaking about language and that only the word leads us to the thing.
Language is a totality that we cannot speak about, we can only speak
out of it. 69 Since everything appears within language, language as a
whole cannot thus appear: "Speaking about language turns language
almost inevitably into an object. And then its essence vanishes".70
According to Heidegger the main shortcoming of analytical philoso-
phy is that it strives to speak about language. 71
Heidegger's interpretation of Stefan George's lines is also note-
So lernt ich traurig den verzicht:
Kein ding sei wo das wort gebricht.
(So I renounced and sadly see:
Where word breaks off 00 thing may be.)72

Heidegger derives two central tenets of his thought about language

from these Iines. The one that is of immediate importance concerning
L-l is that the being of the thing is dependent on the word: "Only
where the word for the thing has been found is the thing a thing. Only
thus is it. Accordingly we must stress as folIows: no thing is where the
word, that is, the name, is lacking. The word alone gives being to the
thing".73 It is crucial from the point of view of our investigation that
Heidegger, in all contexts where he interprets these Iines, goes further
and adds another interpretation to the one given. This further inter-
pretation claims that the subject matter of the poet's renunciation is
the (semantical) relation between word and thing:
The poet's renunciation does not touch the word, but rather the relation of word to
thing, more precisely. the mysteriousness of that relation .... 74

The counterparts of A-2, A-3 and A-4 in the realm of the philosophy
of language, namely
(L-2) Language discloses to us what a being truJy is,
(L-3) Language is a happening, strife,
(L-4) Language as happening of truth is a strife between Iighting
and concealment,
can also be easily detected in Heidegger's oeuvre. Thus already in
"der Ursprung des Kunstwerks" Heidegger stresses that it is language
that brings the thing into the lighting. 75 And in the lecture "Die
Sprache" we are told that we encounter the world as a horizon of
meaning and the thing as appearing in this horizon only through our
language. The relation between world and thing Heidegger couches in
almost Hegelian terms as an identity of identity and difference adding
that it is again language that is the condition of the possibility of this
dialectic. 76 The happening character of language also comes out
neatly in the following passage:
To say, related to the Old Norese, "saga", means to show: to malee appear, set free, that
is, to offer and extend what we call World, Iighting and concealing it. This Iighting and
hiding proffer of the world is the essential being of Saying.77

The language-counterpart of A-5 -

(L-5) The speaking of a language is more a receiving than an
active doing.
- appears especially impressive in the following, almost poetic, lines:

"Der Mensch spricht nur, indem er der Sprache entspricht. Die Sprache
spricht. Ihr Sprechen spricht fr uns im Gesprochenen". (The human
being onJy speaks by conforming to language. Language speaks. Its
speaking speaks for us in what is spoken.)'8 With less alliteration
Heidegger makes the same point by stressing that speaking a language
is first and fore most a hearing of that language: HSpeaking is of itself a
Iistening. Speaking is Iistening to the language which we speak ....
What do we he ar there? We hear language speaking".79
Thus in the case of language, to~, Heidegger makes c1ear that we
are dealing more with something of an independent entity or agent
than with a means that is in our hands. As we saw above, this view
leads Heidegger in the case of art to stress art's historical and national
roJe. Support for the corresponding point concerning language -
(L-6) Language is relative with respect to different communities
and deten;nines their essenee and history,
- finds an early expression in "Der Ursprung des Kunstwerks" where
Heidegger stresses that language opens up the world for a people, and
that in the speaking of a language "the eoncepts of a historical
people's essenee, i.e., their belonging to world history, are performed
for that people".80 The cultural and linguistie relativism that raises its
head in these liDes comes out more c1early in the foJlowing passage
from the already mentioned discussion on language:
Some time aga I called language, c\umsily enough, the house of Being. If man by virtue
of his language dweils within the claim and call of Being, then we Europeans presum-
ably dweil in an entirely different house than the man of the Far East. MI

The conneetion between art and language is ereated in "Der Urs-

prung des Kunstwerks" by thesis A-7, according to which the essence
ofart is poetry. The corresponding thesis-
(L-7) Poetry is the essenee of language,
expresses the very eore of Heidegger's thinking about language. It is
the special mark of Heidegger's later thought that he sees a funda-
mental difference between ordinary and scientific language on the
one hand, and poetic language on the other. It is only in poetry that
we are really listening to language, thus it is only in poetry that
language can reveal truth to uso Once we start looking at language as
a mere carrier of information - as is for Heidegger the inevitable

outcome of the development of western technology - we distort its

essence and make ourselves blind to its truth. However, since Hei-
degger sees language as the true agent in his tory, he has to go still
further: because the disclosure of truth is the work of language, and
because we are thus inevitably Iimited and bound by language, our
present way of looking at language is at least as much the doing of
language itself as it is of our own doing. 82


Most of Heidegger's ideas on language and art will appear strange - to

say the least - to anyone within the analytical tradition. Still it is
possible to detect something of a rational, understandable, core in
Heidegger's claims by relating them to the conception of language as
the universal medium the Hintikkas suggest and use in their inter-
pretation of Wittgenstein~
It should not be difficult at this stage to see that with the exception
of (8) we can find all the central ingredients of the universal medium
conception in Heidegger's philosophy of language.
The thesis of the inexpressibility of semantics is not formulated by
Heidegger in a straightforward fashion. However, his interpretation of
the Iines by George that declare the relation between word and thing
to be unexplainable and mysterious comes very c10se to a formulation
of this thesis; Wittgenstein and Gadamer, two other proponents of
language as the universal medium, even use the same word "mys-
terious" to characterize the relation between language and world. 83
Furthermore, it is important to stress here that a supporter of the
universal medium conception cannot really put it bluntly that he
subscribes to this view, for any such attempt would be self-refuting.
Thus Frege has to let it be known through hints what his semantical
ideas are; and the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus has to call on his
reader to throw away that ladder of arguments that convinced him of
the inexpressibility of logical form. Heidegger, as a thinker not bound
by demands for a scientific language, can help himself otherwise:
semantical ideas can be put forward via metaphors or interpretations
of poems.
As concerns the theses (UM-2) and (UM-3) we do not find explicit
formulations of them in Heidegger's text. Again, however, this does
not refute our general claim that the position of Unterwegs zur Sprache

can indeed be characterized as the universal medium vi~w. The

complete absence of even abrief consideration of the potential value
of model theory, or of alternative possible worlds, as a means to study
modal concepts, for example, is as good a proof of Heidegger's stand
as if he had put it to us in so many words.
On the other hand, evidence for Iinguistic relativism (4) in Heideg-
ger turns up in many places explicitly, as we have seen. The same can
obviously also be said for the unacceptability of metalanguages (6) and
the correspondence theory of truth (7). A positive formulation of (6),
say, 'only language gives us reality', formulates Heidegger's own
concept of truth as happening. .
Finally, Heidegger's repeated tautologies, according to which lan-
guage speaks (die Sprache spricht), world worlds, time times, space
spaces, and thing things, can also be given a rational explanation
against the background of language as the universal medium. For as
Eugene Kaelin has pointed out,84 tautologies of this kind are as c1ear
an indication of the universal medium conception as we can ever hope
to find: time, world, space and language, at least, are universal media
that we cannot escape from. They are the conditions of the possibility
that there is something (for us) at all. Thus they lie behind everything
of whose Being we can meaningfully speak at all, and they cannot be
reduced to any other categories.
It is only against this background of Heidegger's philosophy of
language and its interpretation via the universal medium conception
that one can get a proper grasp of Heidegger's philosophy of art.
Since Heidegger constructs art analogously to language, and since his
view on language becomes intelligible once read through our inter-
pretation, our interpretation should also be able to throw some light
on art, too.
Perhaps the obvious way to start is to ask what a conception of art
would look Iike if it were constructed isomorphically with language as
the universal medium. The following formulation seems natural:
(1) Ways of representation cannot be expressed.
(2) We cannot speak of different ways of representation.
(3) A systematical variation of modes of representation is im-
(4) Art is bound to communities, nations.
(5) We cannot grasp reality without art./Language is the con-
dition of the possibility of art.

(6) Art cannot be self-reftective./Metalanguage with respect to

art is impossible.
(7) The truth of art cannot be in its adaequatio to reality.
It is hardly necessary to run through these claims one by one to show
that Heidegger's A-l to A-7 can indeed be related to this model, since
A-l to A-7 correspond to L-I to L-7. However, we should pay
particular attention to the fact that the conception of 'art as the
universal medium' cannot speak about different ways of representating
reality, Le., it cannot speak about what Nelson Goodman calls the
"Ianguages of art".85 In the case of Heidegger it is just as predicted
here: a discussion of the different sign-systems of art is not only
missing from "Der Ursprung des Kunstwerks" but - as far as I can see
- it is also missing from all of his studies of art and poetry. Thus even
though art is regarded as a language by Heidegger, art is language
only in the singular. For him there is just one mode of representation
that might of course change historically, but that cannot be studied or
consciously invented. The fact that Heidegger's most central example
in "Der Ursprung des KllPstwerks" is a Greek temple, Le., a case of
classical art for which alternative modes of representation did not pose
a problem, fits neatly into our interpretation.
This observation concerning Heidegger's philosophy of art can also
serve as a link to come back to Husserl. In his paper 'Concept as
Vision: On the Problems of Representation in Modern Art and in
Modem Philosophy',86 Jaakko Hintikka points out fascinating features
that are shared by the cubist revolution, Husserl's phenomenology,
and possible worlds semanties: neither of these three views accepts a
preferred method to represent reality. According to cubist premises,
the artist is free to choose his own system of signs; according to
Husserl, the transcendental consciousness is free to constitute its own
world; and possible worlds semantics is built on model theory, i.e., the
systematic variation of meaning-relations. In other words, all three
views accept the calculus-conception of meaning.
The case studied by Hintikka is interesting since it draws attention
to the fact that very different movements such as phenomenology and
cubism can share common presuppositions. One can say, slightly
exaggerating, that cubism represents the program of a
'phenomenological' esthetics missing in Husserl's oeuvre. In the case
of Heidegger - and incidentally also in the case of Gadamer - we are
dealing with a philosophy that relates philosophy of language and

philosophy of art to each other via the idea that art as a language must
be a universal medium.
The common presupposition in Husserl and cubism on the one
hand, and the difference with respect to the calculus/universal medium
dichotomy between Husserl and Heidegger on the other hand thus
allows us finally to put forward the following claim: Heidegger's lack
of interest in modern pictorial art is but an indirect result of his
criticism of Husser!.


1 Merrill B. and Jaakko Hintikka: 1986, Investigating Wittgenstein, Basil Blackwell,

Oxford. Professor Hintikka suggested the research rep<>rted here and he also made
numerous suggestions concerning details.
2 Ibid., p. I.
~ Ibid.
4 See e.g., Hintikka: 1981, 'Semantics. ARevolt Against Frege', in Guttorm F1f)istad
(ed.), Contemporary Philosophy, vol. I, Philosophy of Language, Nijhofl, The Hague,
pp. 57-82.
!I See Hintikka: 1967, 'Logic as Calculus and Logic as Language', Synthese 17,324-30.
6 L. Haaparanta: 1985, 'Frege's Doctrine of Being', Acta Philosophica Fennica 39,
7 I have argued in another place that it is central in Gadamer too. See M. Kusch: 1987,
' ... Language is the Universal Medium', - Gadaf1U!!r's Philosophy of Language, Oulun
yliopiston historian laitoksen julkaisuja, No. 1.
11 J. Hintikka: 1975, 'Concept as Vision: On the Problem of Representation in Modern
Art and in Modern Philosophy', in The Intentions of Intentionalily and other New Models
for Modalities, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, p. 223.
9 It should be noted here that Husserl is not consistent in his terminology. I here follow
the usage of Cartesianische Meditationen, Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser
Vortrge, Husserliana Band I, herausgegeben und eingeleitet von S. Strasser, Nijhoff,
den Haag 1950.
10 Die Krisis der europischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phnof1U!!nologie,
Husserliana Band VI, herausgegeben von Walter Biemel, Nijhoff, den Haag 1962, p.
11 Krisis, p. 214.

12 See Elisabeth Strker: 1983, 'Phnomenologie und Psychologie. Die Frage ihrer
Beziehung bei Husserl', Zeitschrift fr philosophische Fonclwng 37, 3-19 (esp. p. 10).
13. 1973, Experience and Judgf1U!!nt. Investigations in a Geneology of !.ogic, revised and
edited by Ludwig Landgrebe, translated by James S. Churchill and Karl Ameriks,
Northwestern University Press, Evanston, p. 341.
14 1958, Die Idee der Phnof1U!!nologie. Fnf Vorlesungen, Husserliana Band 11, heraus-
gegeben und eingeleitet von Walter Biemel, Nijhoff, den Haag.
15 See note 10 above.

16 "Die Idee" cf. note 14. "Ideen In = Ideen zu einer reinen Phnomenologie und
phnomenologisc~n Philosophie, Erstes Buch: Allgemeine Ein/lvung in die reine
Phnomenologie, Neue. auf Grund der handschriftlichen Zustze des Verfassers erwei-
terte Auflage, Husserliana Band 111, herausgegeben von Walter Biemel, Nijhoff, Den
Haag 1950. "Ph.Psych." Phjjnomenologisc~ Psychologie, Husserliana Band IX,
herausgegeben von Walter Biemel, Nijhoff, Den Haag 1962. 'Cart. Med." cf. Note 9
above. "Erf. & Urt." cf. Note 13 above. "Krisis" cf. Note 10 above.
17 See Note 10 above.
111 Krisis, p. 156.
19 See Hintikka's paper 'Wittgenstein's Semantical Kantianism', in Elisabeth Leinfellner

et al. (eds.), Ethics, FoundaoIIS. Problems, and ApplicaoollS, Proceedings of the 5th
International Wittgenstein Symposium, Hlder PichIer Tempsky, Vienna, pp. 375-90.
211 Ideen I, p. 113.
21 1956, Erste Philosophie. Kritisc~ Ideengeschichte. Husserliana Band VII, heraus-
gegeben von Rudopf Boehm, Nijhoff, Den Haag, p. 223.
22 Ibid . p. 361.
23 Dagfinn F~lIesdal: 1958, Husserl and Frege, Aschehoug. Oslo.
2-' David Smith and Ronald McIntyre: 1982, Husserl and Intenrionality, D. Reidel.
Dordrecht, p. 143.
25 1962, 'ber Sinn und Bedeutung', in Funkon, Begriff, Bedeutung, herausgegeben
von G. Patzig, Vandenhoeck. Gttingen, pp. 40-65.
26 See the studies by Haaparanta, Hintikka and van Heijenoort cited above.
27 See Note 6 above.
211 Ibid., p. 66.
29 Leila Haaparanta also stresses this point in her forthcoming, 'How is Logic as
Science Possible? An Introduction to Husserl's Phenomenology'. On Frege's modal
notations see L. Haaparanta: 1988, 'Frege and bis German Contemporaries on AJethic
ModaJities', in Simo Knuunila (ed.), Modem Modalities, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp.
30 Cartesianische Meditationen, p. 167.
31 David Lewis: 1986, On the P1urality 0/ Worlds, Basil Blaekwell, Oxford, p. 91.
32 Like Lewis Husserl denies erossworld identity, however. See Experience and Judg-
ment, p. 356.
33 1967, 'The Thought: A Logical lnquiry', in P. F. Strawson (ed.), Philosophical Logic,
Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 17-38.
34 1913, Logisc~ Untersuchungen, Zweite, umgearbeitete Auflage, Max Niemeyer,
Halle a.d.S.
35 Frege, 'The Thought .. .', p. 19.
36 Logische Untersuchungen, 11, 2, p. 118.
37 Ibid., p. 123, empbasis added.
38 Ibid.
39 See their papers cited above.
40 'Logie as Calculus .. .', p. 327.
41 1974, Formale und ITallSzendentale Logik, Husserliana Band XVII, herausgegeben
von Paul Janssen, Nijhoff, Den Haag, p. 55.
42 Ibid., p. 59.
43 Ibid., p. 143.
44 Logisc~ Untersuchungen, I, p. 247.

4~ FOmuJle und transzendentale Logik, p. 102 .

.u. 'logic as Calculus .. .', p. 326.
47 Invesugating Wiugenstein, p. 9.
4N Proltgomtna zur Geschichte des Zeitbtgril/s (=PGZ) (Marburger Vorlesung Som-
mersemester 1925), herausgegeben von Petra Jaeger, Gesamtausgabe Band 20, Vittorio
Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1979; English translation by Theodore Kisiel: 1985,
Hiswry 0/ tht Coracept 0/ Timt (=HCT), Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
4'" PGZ; p. 147; HCT, p. 107.
50 PGZ, p. 155-; HCT, p. 113.
51 PGZ, p. 151-; HCT, p. 110.
52 PGZ, p. 152; HCT, p. 110.
53 Stin und Zeit (=SZ), 15. Auflage, Niemeyer, Tbingen 1979; Bting and Time
(=BT). Harper &. Row. New York and Evanston 1962; here SZ, p. 153; BT. p. 194-95.
54 SZ/BT. Section 44.
55 SZJBT, Section 32.
St. 'Der Ursprung des Kunstwerks' (=UK), in Holzwege, Vittorio Klostermann, Frank-
furt am Main, 4. Auftage 1963, p. 7. English (partial) translation by David Farrell Krell,
'The Origin of the Work of Art' (=OA), in Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings.
Routledge &. Kegan Paul. London, 1978, pp. 143-88; here UK, p. 11-; OA, p. 149-.
57 UK, p. 25; OA, p. 158.
!IN Ibid., p. 29-.
s'" Ibid., p. 30-.
60 UK, p. 41-; OA, p. 173-.

61 Ibid., p. 46-.
t.2 UK, p. 47-; OA, p. 178-'.
63 UK, p. 62-; OA, p. 186.
M UK, p. 64-; OA, p. 187.
65 In Unterwegs zur Spracht (=US), siebte Auflage, Neske, Pfullingen 1982, English
translation by Peter Hertz: On IM Way w Language (=Ol), Harper &. Row, New York
and Evanston 1971; US, pp. 1):..34; not in the English edition.
fo6 US, p. 13.
67 UK, p. 30; OA, p. 170.
68 US, p. 19; USo p. 213; Ol. p. 106.
t.9 US, p. 191; Ol, p. 85.
70 'Aus einem Gesprch von der Sprache" in US, pp. 83-156; 'A Dialogue on
Language', in OL, pp. 1-56; here US, p. 149; Ol, p. 50.
71 US, p. 160; Ol, p. 58.
72 US, p. From George's poem 'Das Wort' (1919).
73 US, p. 164; Ol. p. 62.
74 US, p. 183; Ol, p. 78/79.
7S UK,'p. 41; OA, p. 175.
76 US, p. 28-. Not in OL.
77 US, p. 200; Ol, p. 93.
78 US, p. 33. Not in OL.
79 US, p. 254; Ol, p. 123-24.
80 UK, p. 61; OA, p. 185.

111 US, p. 90; Ol, p. 5.

112 'Brief ber den Humanismus', in Wegmarken, Gesamtausgabe, I Abt. Band 9,
Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1976, pp. 313-364. English translation:
'Letter on Humanism', in Basic Wrilings, pp. 189-242, here p. 317; p. 197.
113 See my 'language in the Universal Medium', Note 68, p. 84.
114 In his forthcoming book on Heidegger.
II~ Nelson Goodman: 1968, 'An Approach to a Theory of Symbols'. Languages o{ Art,
Bobbs-Merrill, New York.
Klo See Note 8 above.

Koivumentie, 18 C 79
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1. J. Hintikka: Ludwig Wittgenstein: Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half-

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