Philosophy

by

Bertrand Russell

Originally published by

George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London. May 1o1o.

Online Corrected Edition version 1.o (February ¸, zo1o),

based on the “second edition” (second printing) of April 1ozo,

incorporating additional corrections, marked in green.

ii

[Russell’s blurb from the original dustcover:]

This book is intended for those who have no previous acquaintance

with the topics of which it treats, and no more knowledge of mathe-

matics than can be acquired at a primary school or even at Eton. It

sets forth in elementary form the logical deﬁnition of number, the

analysis of the notion of order, the modern doctrine of the inﬁnite,

and the theory of descriptions and classes as symbolic ﬁctions. The

more controversial and uncertain aspects of the subject are subordi-

nated to those which can by now be regarded as acquired scientiﬁc

knowledge. These are explained without the use of symbols, but in

such a way as to give readers a general understanding of the methods

and purposes of mathematical logic, which, it is hoped, will be of

interest not only to those who wish to proceed to a more serious study

of the subject, but also to that wider circle who feel a desire to know

the bearings of this important modern science.

CONTENTS

Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv

Editor’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi

I. The Series of Natural Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

II. Deﬁnition of Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction . . . . . . . . . 1¸

IV. The Deﬁnition of Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . zz

V. Kinds of Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . jz

VI. Similarity of Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ju

VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers . . . . . . . . . a¬

VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¸8

IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6¬

X. Limits and Continuity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¬j

XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions . . . . . . . . . . . 8o

XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom . . . . . . . . 88

XIII. The Axiomof Inﬁnity and Logical Types . . . . . . . . uu

XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction . . . . . 1o8

XV. Propositional Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116

XVI. Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1z¸

XVII. Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1j¸

XVIII. Mathematics and Logic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1a¸

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1¸a

Appendix: Changes to Online Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1¸¬

iii

PREFACE

v This book is intended essentially as an “Introduction,” and does not

aim at giving an exhaustive discussion of the problems with which

it deals. It seemed desirable to set forth certain results, hitherto

only available to those who have mastered logical symbolism, in a

form oﬀering the minimum of diﬃculty to the beginner. The utmost

endeavour has been made to avoid dogmatism on such questions

as are still open to serious doubt, and this endeavour has to some

extent dominated the choice of topics considered. The beginnings of

mathematical logic are less deﬁnitely known than its later portions,

but are of at least equal philosophical interest. Much of what is set

forth in the following chapters is not properly to be called “philoso-

phy,” though the matters concerned were included in philosophy so

long as no satisfactory science of them existed. The nature of inﬁnity

and continuity, for example, belonged in former days to philosophy,

but belongs now to mathematics. Mathematical philosophy, in the

strict sense, cannot, perhaps, be held to include such deﬁnite scien-

tiﬁc results as have been obtained in this region; the philosophy of

mathematics will naturally be expected to deal with questions on the

frontier of knowledge, as to which comparative certainty is not yet

attained. But speculation on such questions is hardly likely to be

fruitful unless the more scientiﬁc parts of the principles of mathe-

matics are known. A book dealing with those parts may, therefore,

claim to be an introduction to mathematical philosophy, though it

can hardly claim, except where it steps outside its province, to be

actually dealing with a part of philosophy. It does deal, | vi however,

with a body of knowledge which, to those who accept it, appears to

invalidate much traditional philosophy, and even a good deal of what

is current in the present day. In this way, as well as by its bearing on

still unsolved problems, mathematical logic is relevant to philosophy.

For this reason, as well as on account of the intrinsic importance of

the subject, some purpose may be served by a succinct account of

the main results of mathematical logic in a form requiring neither

a knowledge of mathematics nor an aptitude for mathematical sym-

iv

Preface v

bolism. Here, however, as elsewhere, the method is more important

than the results, from the point of view of further research; and the

method cannot well be explained within the framework of such a

book as the following. It is to be hoped that some readers may be

suﬃciently interested to advance to a study of the method by which

mathematical logic can be made helpful in investigating the tradi-

tional problems of philosophy. But that is a topic with which the

following pages have not attempted to deal.

BERTRAND RUSSELL.

EDITOR’S NOTE

vii [The note below was written by J. H. Muirhead, LL.D., editor of the

Library of Philosophy series in which Introduction to Mathematical

Philosophy was originally published.]

Those who, relying on the distinction between Mathematical Phi-

losophy and the Philosophy of Mathematics, think that this book

is out of place in the present Library, may be referred to what the

author himself says on this head in the Preface. It is not necessary

to agree with what he there suggests as to the readjustment of the

ﬁeld of philosophy by the transference from it to mathematics of such

problems as those of class, continuity, inﬁnity, in order to perceive the

bearing of the deﬁnitions and discussions that follow on the work of

“traditional philosophy.” If philosophers cannot consent to relegate

the criticism of these categories to any of the special sciences, it is

essential, at any rate, that they should know the precise meaning that

the science of mathematics, in which these concepts play so large a

part, assigns to them. If, on the other hand, there be mathematicians

to whom these deﬁnitions and discussions seem to be an elabora-

tion and complication of the simple, it may be well to remind them

from the side of philosophy that here, as elsewhere, apparent simplic-

ity may conceal a complexity which it is the business of somebody,

whether philosopher or mathematician, or, like the author of this

volume, both in one, to unravel.

vi

CHAPTER I

THE SERIES OF NATURAL NUMBERS

1 Mathematics is a study which, when we start from its most familiar

portions, may be pursued in either of two opposite directions. The

more familiar direction is constructive, towards gradually increas-

ing complexity: from integers to fractions, real numbers, complex

numbers; from addition and multiplication to diﬀerentiation and in-

tegration, and on to higher mathematics. The other direction, which

is less familiar, proceeds, by analysing, to greater and greater abstract-

ness and logical simplicity; instead of asking what can be deﬁned and

deduced from what is assumed to begin with, we ask instead what

more general ideas and principles can be found, in terms of which

what was our starting-point can be deﬁned or deduced. It is the

fact of pursuing this opposite direction that characterises mathemat-

ical philosophy as opposed to ordinary mathematics. But it should

be understood that the distinction is one, not in the subject matter,

but in the state of mind of the investigator. Early Greek geometers,

passing from the empirical rules of Egyptian land-surveying to the

general propositions by which those rules were found to be justiﬁable,

and thence to Euclid’s axioms and postulates, were engaged in math-

ematical philosophy, according to the above deﬁnition; but when

once the axioms and postulates had been reached, their deductive

employment, as we ﬁnd it in Euclid, belonged to mathematics in the

| z ordinary sense. The distinction between mathematics and mathe-

matical philosophy is one which depends upon the interest inspiring

the research, and upon the stage which the research has reached; not

upon the propositions with which the research is concerned.

We may state the same distinction in another way. The most obvi-

ous and easy things in mathematics are not those that come logically

at the beginning; they are things that, fromthe point of viewof logical

deduction, come somewhere in the middle. Just as the easiest bodies

to see are those that are neither very near nor very far, neither very

small nor very great, so the easiest conceptions to grasp are those that

are neither very complex nor very simple (using “simple” in a logical

sense). And as we need two sorts of instruments, the telescope and

1

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers z

the microscope, for the enlargement of our visual powers, so we need

two sorts of instruments for the enlargement of our logical powers,

one to take us forward to the higher mathematics, the other to take us

backward to the logical foundations of the things that we are inclined

to take for granted in mathematics. We shall ﬁnd that by analysing

our ordinary mathematical notions we acquire fresh insight, new

powers, and the means of reaching whole new mathematical sub-

jects by adopting fresh lines of advance after our backward journey.

It is the purpose of this book to explain mathematical philosophy

simply and untechnically, without enlarging upon those portions

which are so doubtful or diﬃcult that an elementary treatment is

scarcely possible. A full treatment will be found in Principia Mathe-

matica;

1

the treatment in the present volume is intended merely as

an introduction.

To the average educated person of the present day, the obvious

starting-point of mathematics would be the series of whole numbers,

1, z, j, ±, . . . etc. |

j Probably only a person with some mathematical knowledge would

think of beginning with o instead of with 1, but we will presume this

degree of knowledge; we will take as our starting-point the series:

o, 1, z, j, . . . n, n +1, . . .

and it is this series that we shall mean when we speak of the “series

of natural numbers.”

It is only at a high stage of civilisation that we could take this series

as our starting-point. It must have required many ages to discover

that a brace of pheasants and a couple of days were both instances of

the number z: the degree of abstraction involved is far fromeasy. And

the discovery that 1 is a number must have been diﬃcult. As for o, it

is a very recent addition; the Greeks and Romans had no such digit.

If we had been embarking upon mathematical philosophy in earlier

days, we should have had to start with something less abstract than

the series of natural numbers, which we should reach as a stage on

our backward journey. When the logical foundations of mathematics

have grown more familiar, we shall be able to start further back, at

what is now a late stage in our analysis. But for the moment the

natural numbers seem to represent what is easiest and most familiar

in mathematics.

But though familiar, they are not understood. Very few people are

prepared with a deﬁnition of what is meant by “number,” or “o,” or

“1.” It is not very diﬃcult to see that, starting from o, any other of the

1

Cambridge University Press, vol. i., 1o1o; vol. ii., 1o1z; vol. iii., 1o1j. By

Whitehead and Russell.

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers j

natural numbers can be reached by repeated additions of 1, but we

shall have to deﬁne what we mean by “adding 1,” and what we mean

by “repeated.” These questions are by no means easy. It was believed

until recently that some, at least, of these ﬁrst notions of arithmetic

must be accepted as too simple and primitive to be deﬁned. Since all

terms that are deﬁned are deﬁned by means of other terms, it is clear

that human knowledge must always be content to accept some terms

as intelligible without deﬁnition, in order | ± to have a starting-point

for its deﬁnitions. It is not clear that there must be terms which

are incapable of deﬁnition: it is possible that, however far back we

go in deﬁning, we always might go further still. On the other hand,

it is also possible that, when analysis has been pushed far enough,

we can reach terms that really are simple, and therefore logically

incapable of the sort of deﬁnition that consists in analysing. This is a

question which it is not necessary for us to decide; for our purposes

it is suﬃcient to observe that, since human powers are ﬁnite, the

deﬁnitions known to us must always begin somewhere, with terms

undeﬁned for the moment, though perhaps not permanently.

All traditional pure mathematics, including analytical geometry,

may be regarded as consisting wholly of propositions about the natu-

ral numbers. That is to say, the terms which occur can be deﬁned by

means of the natural numbers, and the propositions can be deduced

from the properties of the natural numbers—with the addition, in

each case, of the ideas and propositions of pure logic.

That all traditional pure mathematics can be derived from the

natural numbers is a fairly recent discovery, though it had long been

suspected. Pythagoras, who believed that not only mathematics, but

everything else could be deduced from numbers, was the discoverer

of the most serious obstacle in the way of what is called the “arith-

metising” of mathematics. It was Pythagoras who discovered the

existence of incommensurables, and, in particular, the incommen-

surability of the side of a square and the diagonal. If the length of

the side is 1 inch, the number of inches in the diagonal is the square

root of z, which appeared not to be a number at all. The problem

thus raised was solved only in our own day, and was only solved

completely by the help of the reduction of arithmetic to logic, which

will be explained in following chapters. For the present, we shall take

for granted the arithmetisation of mathematics, though this was a

feat of the very greatest importance. |

Having ¸ reduced all traditional pure mathematics to the theory

of the natural numbers, the next step in logical analysis was to re-

duce this theory itself to the smallest set of premisses and undeﬁned

terms from which it could be derived. This work was accomplished

by Peano. He showed that the entire theory of the natural numbers

could be derived from three primitive ideas and ﬁve primitive propo-

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers ±

sitions in addition to those of pure logic. These three ideas and ﬁve

propositions thus became, as it were, hostages for the whole of tra-

ditional pure mathematics. If they could be deﬁned and proved in

terms of others, so could all pure mathematics. Their logical “weight,”

if one may use such an expression, is equal to that of the whole series

of sciences that have been deduced from the theory of the natural

numbers; the truth of this whole series is assured if the truth of the

ﬁve primitive propositions is guaranteed, provided, of course, that

there is nothing erroneous in the purely logical apparatus which is

also involved. The work of analysing mathematics is extraordinarily

facilitated by this work of Peano’s.

The three primitive ideas in Peano’s arithmetic are:

o, number, successor.

By “successor” he means the next number in the natural order. That

is to say, the successor of o is 1, the successor of 1 is z, and so on.

By “number” he means, in this connection, the class of the natural

numbers.

z

He is not assuming that we know all the members of this

class, but only that we know what we mean when we say that this or

that is a number, just as we know what we mean when we say “Jones

is a man,” though we do not know all men individually.

The ﬁve primitive propositions which Peano assumes are:

(1) o is a number.

(z) The successor of any number is a number.

(j) No two numbers have the same successor. |

(±) 6 o is not the successor of any number.

(¸) Any property which belongs to o, and also to the successor of

every number which has the property, belongs to all num-

bers.

The last of these is the principle of mathematical induction. We shall

have much to say concerning mathematical induction in the sequel;

for the present, we are concerned with it only as it occurs in Peano’s

analysis of arithmetic.

Let us consider brieﬂy the kind of way in which the theory of the

natural numbers results from these three ideas and ﬁve propositions.

To begin with, we deﬁne 1 as “the successor of o,” z as “the successor

of 1,” and so on. We can obviously go on as long as we like with

these deﬁnitions, since, in virtue of (z), every number that we reach

will have a successor, and, in virtue of (j), this cannot be any of the

numbers already deﬁned, because, if it were, two diﬀerent numbers

would have the same successor; and in virtue of (±) none of the

z

We shall use “number” in this sense in the present chapter. Afterwards the

word will be used in a more general sense.

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers ¸

numbers we reach in the series of successors can be o. Thus the series

of successors gives us an endless series of continually new numbers.

In virtue of (¸) all numbers come in this series, which begins with

o and travels on through successive successors: for (a) o belongs to

this series, and (b) if a number n belongs to it, so does its successor,

whence, by mathematical induction, every number belongs to the

series.

Suppose we wish to deﬁne the sum of two numbers. Taking any

number m, we deﬁne m+o as m, and m+(n +1) as the successor of

m+ n. In virtue of (¸) this gives a deﬁnition of the sum of m and

n, whatever number n may be. Similarly we can deﬁne the product

of any two numbers. The reader can easily convince himself that

any ordinary elementary proposition of arithmetic can be proved by

means of our ﬁve premisses, and if he has any diﬃculty he can ﬁnd

the proof in Peano.

It is time now to turn to the considerations which make it nec-

essary to advance beyond the standpoint of Peano, who | ; represents

the last perfection of the “arithmetisation” of mathematics, to that

of Frege, who ﬁrst succeeded in “logicising” mathematics, i.e. in re-

ducing to logic the arithmetical notions which his predecessors had

shown to be suﬃcient for mathematics. We shall not, in this chapter,

actually give Frege’s deﬁnition of number and of particular numbers,

but we shall give some of the reasons why Peano’s treatment is less

ﬁnal than it appears to be.

In the ﬁrst place, Peano’s three primitive ideas—namely, “o,”

“number,” and “successor”—are capable of an inﬁnite number of

diﬀerent interpretations, all of which will satisfy the ﬁve primitive

propositions. We will give some examples.

(1) Let “o” be taken to mean 1oo, and let “number” be taken to

mean the numbers from 1oo onward in the series of natural numbers.

Then all our primitive propositions are satisﬁed, even the fourth, for,

though 1oo is the successor of oo, oo is not a “number” in the sense

which we are now giving to the word “number.” It is obvious that any

number may be substituted for 1oo in this example.

(z) Let “o” have its usual meaning, but let “number” mean what

we usually call “even numbers,” and let the “successor” of a number

be what results from adding two to it. Then “1” will stand for the

number two, “z” will stand for the number four, and so on; the series

of “numbers” now will be

o, two, four, six, eight . . .

All Peano’s ﬁve premisses are satisﬁed still.

(j) Let “o” mean the number one, let “number” mean the set

1,

1

z

,

1

±

,

1

8

,

1

16

, . . .

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers 6

and let “successor” mean “half.” Then all Peano’s ﬁve axioms will be

true of this set.

It is clear that such examples might be multiplied indeﬁnitely. In

fact, given any series

x

o

, x

1

, x

z

, x

j

, . . . x

n

, . . . |

8 which is endless, contains no repetitions, has a beginning, and has no

terms that cannot be reached from the beginning in a ﬁnite number

of steps, we have a set of terms verifying Peano’s axioms. This is easily

seen, though the formal proof is somewhat long. Let “o” mean x

o

, let

“number” mean the whole set of terms, and let the “successor” of x

n

mean x

n+1

. Then

(1) “o is a number,” i.e. x

o

is a member of the set.

(z) “The successor of any number is a number,” i.e. taking any

term x

n

in the set, x

n+1

is also in the set.

(j) “No two numbers have the same successor,” i.e. if x

m

and x

n

are two diﬀerent members of the set, x

m+1

and x

n+1

are diﬀerent; this

results from the fact that (by hypothesis) there are no repetitions in

the set.

(±) “o is not the successor of any number,” i.e. no term in the set

comes before x

o

.

(¸) This becomes: Any property which belongs to x

o

, and belongs

to x

n+1

provided it belongs to x

n

, belongs to all the x’s.

This follows from the corresponding property for numbers.

A series of the form

x

o

, x

1

, x

z

, . . . x

n

, . . .

in which there is a ﬁrst term, a successor to each term (so that there is

no last term), no repetitions, and every term can be reached from the

start in a ﬁnite number of steps, is called a progression. Progressions

are of great importance in the principles of mathematics. As we have

just seen, every progression veriﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms. It can be

proved, conversely, that every series which veriﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms

is a progression. Hence these ﬁve axioms may be used to deﬁne the

class of progressions: “progressions” are “those series which verify

these ﬁve axioms.” Any progression may be taken as the basis of pure

mathematics: we may give the name “o” to its ﬁrst term, the name

“number” to the whole set of its terms, and the name “successor” to

the next in the progression. The progression need not be composed

of numbers: it may be | o composed of points in space, or moments of

time, or any other terms of which there is an inﬁnite supply. Each

diﬀerent progression will give rise to a diﬀerent interpretation of all

the propositions of traditional pure mathematics; all these possible

interpretations will be equally true.

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers ;

In Peano’s system there is nothing to enable us to distinguish

between these diﬀerent interpretations of his primitive ideas. It is

assumed that we know what is meant by “o,” and that we shall not

suppose that this symbol means 1oo or Cleopatra’s Needle or any of

the other things that it might mean.

This point, that “o” and “number” and “successor” cannot be

deﬁned by means of Peano’s ﬁve axioms, but must be independently

understood, is important. We want our numbers not merely to verify

mathematical formulæ, but to apply in the right way to common

objects. We want to have ten ﬁngers and two eyes and one nose. A

system in which “1” meant 1oo, and “z” meant 1o1, and so on, might

be all right for pure mathematics, but would not suit daily life. We

want “o” and “number” and “successor” to have meanings which

will give us the right allowance of ﬁngers and eyes and noses. We

have already some knowledge (though not suﬃciently articulate or

analytic) of what we mean by “1” and “z” and so on, and our use of

numbers in arithmetic must conform to this knowledge. We cannot

secure that this shall be the case by Peano’s method; all that we can

do, if we adopt his method, is to say “we know what we mean by

‘o’ and ‘number’ and ‘successor,’ though we cannot explain what we

mean in terms of other simpler concepts.” It is quite legitimate to say

this when we must, and at some point we all must; but it is the object

of mathematical philosophy to put oﬀ saying it as long as possible.

By the logical theory of arithmetic we are able to put it oﬀ for a very

long time.

It might be suggested that, instead of setting up “o” and “number”

and “successor” as terms of which we know the meaning although

we cannot deﬁne them, we might let them | 1o stand for any three terms

that verify Peano’s ﬁve axioms. They will then no longer be terms

which have a meaning that is deﬁnite though undeﬁned: they will

be “variables,” terms concerning which we make certain hypotheses,

namely, those stated in the ﬁve axioms, but which are otherwise

undetermined. If we adopt this plan, our theorems will not be proved

concerning an ascertained set of terms called “the natural numbers,”

but concerning all sets of terms having certain properties. Such a

procedure is not fallacious; indeed for certain purposes it represents a

valuable generalisation. But from two points of view it fails to give an

adequate basis for arithmetic. In the ﬁrst place, it does not enable us

to know whether there are any sets of terms verifying Peano’s axioms;

it does not even give the faintest suggestion of any way of discovering

whether there are such sets. In the second place, as already observed,

we want our numbers to be such as can be used for counting common

objects, and this requires that our numbers should have a deﬁnite

meaning, not merely that they should have certain formal properties.

This deﬁnite meaning is deﬁned by the logical theory of arithmetic.

CHAPTER II

DEFINITION OF NUMBER

11 The question “What is a number?” is one which has been often asked,

but has only been correctly answered in our own time. The answer

was given by Frege in 188±, in his Grundlagen der Arithmetik.

1

Al-

though this book is quite short, not diﬃcult, and of the very highest

importance, it attracted almost no attention, and the deﬁnition of

number which it contains remained practically unknown until it was

rediscovered by the present author in 1oo1.

In seeking a deﬁnition of number, the ﬁrst thing to be clear about

is what we may call the grammar of our inquiry. Many philosophers,

when attempting to deﬁne number, are really setting to work to

deﬁne plurality, which is quite a diﬀerent thing. Number is what is

characteristic of numbers, as man is what is characteristic of men. A

plurality is not an instance of number, but of some particular number.

A trio of men, for example, is an instance of the number j, and the

number j is an instance of number; but the trio is not an instance

of number. This point may seem elementary and scarcely worth

mentioning; yet it has proved too subtle for the philosophers, with

few exceptions.

A particular number is not identical with any collection of terms

having that number: the number j is not identical with | 1z the trio

consisting of Brown, Jones, and Robinson. The number j is something

which all trios have in common, and which distinguishes them from

other collections. A number is something that characterises certain

collections, namely, those that have that number.

Instead of speaking of a “collection,” we shall as a rule speak of

a “class,” or sometimes a “set.” Other words used in mathematics

for the same thing are “aggregate” and “manifold.” We shall have

much to say later on about classes. For the present, we will say as

little as possible. But there are some remarks that must be made

immediately.

A class or collection may be deﬁned in two ways that at ﬁrst sight

seem quite distinct. We may enumerate its members, as when we say,

1

The same answer is given more fully and with more development in his

Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, vol. i., 18oj.

8

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number o

“The collection I mean is Brown, Jones, and Robinson.” Or we may

mention a deﬁning property, as when we speak of “mankind” or “the

inhabitants of London.” The deﬁnition which enumerates is called

a deﬁnition by “extension,” and the one which mentions a deﬁning

property is called a deﬁnition by “intension.” Of these two kinds of

deﬁnition, the one by intension is logically more fundamental. This

is shown by two considerations: (1) that the extensional deﬁnition

can always be reduced to an intensional one; (z) that the intensional

one often cannot even theoretically be reduced to the extensional one.

Each of these points needs a word of explanation.

(1) Brown, Jones, and Robinson all of them possess a certain

property which is possessed by nothing else in the whole universe,

namely, the property of being either Brown or Jones or Robinson.

This property can be used to give a deﬁnition by intension of the

class consisting of Brown and Jones and Robinson. Consider such a

formula as “x is Brown or x is Jones or x is Robinson.” This formula

will be true for just three x’s, namely, Brown and Jones and Robinson.

In this respect it resembles a cubic equation with its three roots. It

may be taken as assigning a property common to the members of

the class consisting of these three | 1j men, and peculiar to them. A

similar treatment can obviously be applied to any other class given

in extension.

(z) It is obvious that in practice we can often know a great deal

about a class without being able to enumerate its members. No one

man could actually enumerate all men, or even all the inhabitants

of London, yet a great deal is known about each of these classes.

This is enough to show that deﬁnition by extension is not necessary

to knowledge about a class. But when we come to consider inﬁnite

classes, we ﬁnd that enumeration is not even theoretically possible

for beings who only live for a ﬁnite time. We cannot enumerate all

the natural numbers: they are o, 1, z, j, and so on. At some point

we must content ourselves with “and so on.” We cannot enumerate

all fractions or all irrational numbers, or all of any other inﬁnite

collection. Thus our knowledge in regard to all such collections can

only be derived from a deﬁnition by intension.

These remarks are relevant, when we are seeking the deﬁnition

of number, in three diﬀerent ways. In the ﬁrst place, numbers them-

selves form an inﬁnite collection, and cannot therefore be deﬁned

by enumeration. In the second place, the collections having a given

number of terms themselves presumably form an inﬁnite collection:

it is to be presumed, for example, that there are an inﬁnite collection

of trios in the world, for if this were not the case the total number of

things in the world would be ﬁnite, which, though possible, seems

unlikely. In the third place, we wish to deﬁne “number” in such a

way that inﬁnite numbers may be possible; thus we must be able to

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 1o

speak of the number of terms in an inﬁnite collection, and such a

collection must be deﬁned by intension, i.e. by a property common to

all its members and peculiar to them.

For many purposes, a class and a deﬁning characteristic of it are

practically interchangeable. The vital diﬀerence between the two

consists in the fact that there is only one class having a given set of

members, whereas there are always many diﬀerent characteristics

by which a given class may be deﬁned. Men | 1± may be deﬁned as

featherless bipeds, or as rational animals, or (more correctly) by the

traits by which Swift delineates the Yahoos. It is this fact that a

deﬁning characteristic is never unique which makes classes useful;

otherwise we could be content with the properties common and

peculiar to their members.

z

Any one of these properties can be used

in place of the class whenever uniqueness is not important.

Returning now to the deﬁnition of number, it is clear that number

is a way of bringing together certain collections, namely, those that

have a given number of terms. We can suppose all couples in one

bundle, all trios in another, and so on. In this way we obtain various

bundles of collections, each bundle consisting of all the collections

that have a certain number of terms. Each bundle is a class whose

members are collections, i.e. classes; thus each is a class of classes.

The bundle consisting of all couples, for example, is a class of classes:

each couple is a class with two members, and the whole bundle of

couples is a class with an inﬁnite number of members, each of which

is a class of two members.

How shall we decide whether two collections are to belong to the

same bundle? The answer that suggests itself is: “Find out how many

members each has, and put them in the same bundle if they have

the same number of members.” But this presupposes that we have

deﬁned numbers, and that we know how to discover how many terms

a collection has. We are so used to the operation of counting that

such a presupposition might easily pass unnoticed. In fact, however,

counting, though familiar, is logically a very complex operation;

moreover it is only available, as a means of discovering how many

terms a collection has, when the collection is ﬁnite. Our deﬁnition

of number must not assume in advance that all numbers are ﬁnite;

and we cannot in any case, without a vicious circle, | 1¸ use counting

to deﬁne numbers, because numbers are used in counting. We need,

therefore, some other method of deciding when two collections have

the same number of terms.

In actual fact, it is simpler logically to ﬁnd out whether two col-

lections have the same number of terms than it is to deﬁne what

z

As will be explained later, classes may be regarded as logical ﬁctions, manu-

factured out of deﬁning characteristics. But for the present it will simplify our

exposition to treat classes as if they were real.

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 11

that number is. An illustration will make this clear. If there were

no polygamy or polyandry anywhere in the world, it is clear that the

number of husbands living at any moment would be exactly the same

as the number of wives. We do not need a census to assure us of this,

nor do we need to know what is the actual number of husbands and

of wives. We know the number must be the same in both collections,

because each husband has one wife and each wife has one husband.

The relation of husband and wife is what is called “one-one.”

A relation is said to be “one-one” when, if x has the relation in

question to y, no other term x

**has the same relation to y, and x does
**

not have the same relation to any term y

**other than y. When only the
**

ﬁrst of these two conditions is fulﬁlled, the relation is called “one-

many”; when only the second is fulﬁlled, it is called “many-one.” It

should be observed that the number 1 is not used in these deﬁnitions.

In Christian countries, the relation of husband to wife is one-one;

in Mahometan countries it is one-many; in Tibet it is many-one. The

relation of father to son is one-many; that of son to father is many-one,

but that of eldest son to father is one-one. If n is any number, the

relation of n to n +1 is one-one; so is the relation of n to zn or to jn.

When we are considering only positive numbers, the relation of n to

n

z

is one-one; but when negative numbers are admitted, it becomes

two-one, since n and −n have the same square. These instances should

suﬃce to make clear the notions of one-one, one-many, and many-one

relations, which play a great part in the principles of mathematics,

not only in relation to the deﬁnition of numbers, but in many other

connections.

Two classes are said to be “similar” when there is a one-one |

16 relation which correlates the terms of the one class each with one

term of the other class, in the same manner in which the relation of

marriage correlates husbands with wives. A few preliminary deﬁni-

tions will help us to state this deﬁnition more precisely. The class of

those terms that have a given relation to something or other is called

the domain of that relation: thus fathers are the domain of the relation

of father to child, husbands are the domain of the relation of husband

to wife, wives are the domain of the relation of wife to husband,

and husbands and wives together are the domain of the relation of

marriage. The relation of wife to husband is called the converse of the

relation of husband to wife. Similarly less is the converse of greater,

later is the converse of earlier, and so on. Generally, the converse of a

given relation is that relation which holds between y and x whenever

the given relation holds between x and y. The converse domain of a

relation is the domain of its converse: thus the class of wives is the

converse domain of the relation of husband to wife. We may now

state our deﬁnition of similarity as follows:—

One class is said to be “similar” to another when there is a one-one

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 1z

relation of which the one class is the domain, while the other is the converse

domain.

It is easy to prove (1) that every class is similar to itself, (z) that if

a class α is similar to a class β, then β is similar to α, (j) that if α is

similar to β and β to γ, then α is similar to γ. A relation is said to be

reﬂexive when it possesses the ﬁrst of these properties, symmetrical

when it possesses the second, and transitive when it possesses the

third. It is obvious that a relation which is symmetrical and transitive

must be reﬂexive throughout its domain. Relations which possess

these properties are an important kind, and it is worth while to note

that similarity is one of this kind of relations.

It is obvious to common sense that two ﬁnite classes have the

same number of terms if they are similar, but not otherwise. The act

of counting consists in establishing a one-one correlation | 1; between

the set of objects counted and the natural numbers (excluding o) that

are used up in the process. Accordingly common sense concludes

that there are as many objects in the set to be counted as there are

numbers up to the last number used in the counting. And we also

know that, so long as we conﬁne ourselves to ﬁnite numbers, there

are just n numbers from 1 up to n. Hence it follows that the last

number used in counting a collection is the number of terms in the

collection, provided the collection is ﬁnite. But this result, besides

being only applicable to ﬁnite collections, depends upon and assumes

the fact that two classes which are similar have the same number

of terms; for what we do when we count (say) 1o objects is to show

that the set of these objects is similar to the set of numbers 1 to 1o.

The notion of similarity is logically presupposed in the operation of

counting, and is logically simpler though less familiar. In counting,

it is necessary to take the objects counted in a certain order, as ﬁrst,

second, third, etc., but order is not of the essence of number: it is

an irrelevant addition, an unnecessary complication from the logical

point of view. The notion of similarity does not demand an order:

for example, we saw that the number of husbands is the same as the

number of wives, without having to establish an order of precedence

among them. The notion of similarity also does not require that the

classes which are similar should be ﬁnite. Take, for example, the

natural numbers (excluding o) on the one hand, and the fractions

which have 1 for their numerator on the other hand: it is obvious that

we can correlate z with 1/z, j with 1/j, and so on, thus proving that

the two classes are similar.

We may thus use the notion of “similarity” to decide when two

collections are to belong to the same bundle, in the sense in which

we were asking this question earlier in this chapter. We want to make

one bundle containing the class that has no members: this will be for

the number o. Then we want a bundle of all the classes that have one

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 1j

member: this will be for the number 1. Then, for the number z, we

want a bundle consisting | 18 of all couples; then one of all trios; and so

on. Given any collection, we can deﬁne the bundle it is to belong to

as being the class of all those collections that are “similar” to it. It is

very easy to see that if (for example) a collection has three members,

the class of all those collections that are similar to it will be the class

of trios. And whatever number of terms a collection may have, those

collections that are “similar” to it will have the same number of terms.

We may take this as a deﬁnition of “having the same number of terms.”

It is obvious that it gives results conformable to usage so long as we

conﬁne ourselves to ﬁnite collections.

So far we have not suggested anything in the slightest degree

paradoxical. But when we come to the actual deﬁnition of numbers

we cannot avoid what must at ﬁrst sight seem a paradox, though

this impression will soon wear oﬀ. We naturally think that the class

of couples (for example) is something diﬀerent from the number z.

But there is no doubt about the class of couples: it is indubitable

and not diﬃcult to deﬁne, whereas the number z, in any other sense,

is a metaphysical entity about which we can never feel sure that it

exists or that we have tracked it down. It is therefore more prudent

to content ourselves with the class of couples, which we are sure of,

than to hunt for a problematical number z which must always remain

elusive. Accordingly we set up the following deﬁnition:—

The number of a class is the class of all those classes that are similar to

it.

Thus the number of a couple will be the class of all couples. In

fact, the class of all couples will be the number z, according to our

deﬁnition. At the expense of a little oddity, this deﬁnition secures

deﬁniteness and indubitableness; and it is not diﬃcult to prove that

numbers so deﬁned have all the properties that we expect numbers

to have.

We may now go on to deﬁne numbers in general as any one of the

bundles into which similarity collects classes. A number will be a set

of classes such as that any two are similar to each | 1o other, and none

outside the set are similar to any inside the set. In other words, a

number (in general) is any collection which is the number of one of

its members; or, more simply still:

A number is anything which is the number of some class.

Such a deﬁnition has a verbal appearance of being circular, but in

fact it is not. We deﬁne “the number of a given class” without using

the notion of number in general; therefore we may deﬁne number in

general in terms of “the number of a given class” without committing

any logical error.

Deﬁnitions of this sort are in fact very common. The class of

fathers, for example, would have to be deﬁned by ﬁrst deﬁning what

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 1±

it is to be the father of somebody; then the class of fathers will be

all those who are somebody’s father. Similarly if we want to deﬁne

square numbers (say), we must ﬁrst deﬁne what we mean by saying

that one number is the square of another, and then deﬁne square

numbers as those that are the squares of other numbers. This kind

of procedure is very common, and it is important to realise that it is

legitimate and even often necessary.

We have now given a deﬁnition of numbers which will serve for

ﬁnite collections. It remains to be seen how it will serve for inﬁnite

collections. But ﬁrst we must decide what we mean by “ﬁnite” and

“inﬁnite,” which cannot be done within the limits of the present

chapter.

CHAPTER III

FINITUDE ANDMATHEMATICAL

INDUCTION

zo The series of natural numbers, as we saw in Chapter I., can all be

deﬁned if we know what we mean by the three terms “o,” “number,”

and “successor.” But we may go a step farther: we can deﬁne all the

natural numbers if we know what we mean by “o” and “successor.” It

will help us to understand the diﬀerence between ﬁnite and inﬁnite

to see how this can be done, and why the method by which it is done

cannot be extended beyond the ﬁnite. We will not yet consider how

“o” and “successor” are to be deﬁned: we will for the moment assume

that we know what these terms mean, and show how thence all other

natural numbers can be obtained.

It is easy to see that we can reach any assigned number, say jo,ooo.

We ﬁrst deﬁne “1” as “the successor of o,” then we deﬁne “z” as

“the successor of 1,” and so on. In the case of an assigned number,

such as jo,ooo, the proof that we can reach it by proceeding step by

step in this fashion may be made, if we have the patience, by actual

experiment: we can go on until we actually arrive at jo,ooo. But

although the method of experiment is available for each particular

natural number, it is not available for proving the general proposition

that all such numbers can be reached in this way, i.e. by proceeding

from o step by step from each number to its successor. Is there any

other way by which this can be proved?

Let us consider the question the other way round. What are the

numbers that can be reached, given the terms “o” and | z1 “successor”?

Is there any way by which we can deﬁne the whole class of such

numbers? We reach 1, as the successor of o; z, as the successor of

1; j, as the successor of z; and so on. It is this “and so on” that we

wish to replace by something less vague and indeﬁnite. We might be

tempted to say that “and so on” means that the process of proceeding

to the successor may be repeated any ﬁnite number of times; but

the problem upon which we are engaged is the problem of deﬁning

“ﬁnite number,” and therefore we must not use this notion in our

deﬁnition. Our deﬁnition must not assume that we know what a

ﬁnite number is.

1¸

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction 16

The key to our problem lies in mathematical induction. It will be

remembered that, in Chapter I., this was the ﬁfth of the ﬁve primitive

propositions which we laid down about the natural numbers. It stated

that any property which belongs to o, and to the successor of any

number which has the property, belongs to all the natural numbers.

This was then presented as a principle, but we shall now adopt it as a

deﬁnition. It is not diﬃcult to see that the terms obeying it are the

same as the numbers that can be reached from o by successive steps

from next to next, but as the point is important we will set forth the

matter in some detail.

We shall do well to begin with some deﬁnitions, which will be

useful in other connections also.

A property is said to be “hereditary” in the natural-number series

if, whenever it belongs to a number n, it also belongs to n + 1, the

successor of n. Similarly a class is said to be “hereditary” if, whenever

n is a member of the class, so is n + 1. It is easy to see, though we

are not yet supposed to know, that to say a property is hereditary is

equivalent to saying that it belongs to all the natural numbers not less

than some one of them, e.g. it must belong to all that are not less than

1oo, or all that are not less than 1ooo, or it may be that it belongs to

all that are not less than o, i.e. to all without exception.

A property is said to be “inductive” when it is a hereditary |

zz property which belongs to o. Similarly a class is “inductive” when it

is a hereditary class of which o is a member.

Given a hereditary class of which o is a member, it follows that 1

is a member of it, because a hereditary class contains the successors of

its members, and 1 is the successor of o. Similarly, given a hereditary

class of which 1 is a member, it follows that z is a member of it; and so

on. Thus we can prove by a step-by-step procedure that any assigned

natural number, say jo,ooo, is a member of every inductive class.

We will deﬁne the “posterity” of a given natural number with re-

spect to the relation “immediate predecessor” (which is the converse

of “successor”) as all those terms that belong to every hereditary class

to which the given number belongs. It is again easy to see that the

posterity of a natural number consists of itself and all greater natural

numbers; but this also we do not yet oﬃcially know.

By the above deﬁnitions, the posterity of o will consist of those

terms which belong to every inductive class.

It is now not diﬃcult to make it obvious that the posterity of o is

the same set as those terms that can be reached from o by successive

steps from next to next. For, in the ﬁrst place, o belongs to both these

sets (in the sense in which we have deﬁned our terms); in the second

place, if n belongs to both sets, so does n + 1. It is to be observed

that we are dealing here with the kind of matter that does not admit

of precise proof, namely, the comparison of a relatively vague idea

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction 1;

with a relatively precise one. The notion of “those terms that can

be reached from o by successive steps from next to next” is vague,

though it seems as if it conveyed a deﬁnite meaning; on the other

hand, “the posterity of o” is precise and explicit just where the other

idea is hazy. It may be taken as giving what we meant to mean when

we spoke of the terms that can be reached from o by successive steps.

We now lay down the following deﬁnition:—

The “natural numbers” are the posterity of o with respect to the |

zj relation “immediate predecessor” (which is the converse of “succes-

sor”).

We have thus arrived at a deﬁnition of one of Peano’s three primi-

tive ideas in terms of the other two. As a result of this deﬁnition, two

of his primitive propositions—namely, the one asserting that o is a

number and the one asserting mathematical induction—become un-

necessary, since they result fromthe deﬁnition. The one asserting that

the successor of a natural number is a natural number is only needed

in the weakened form “every natural number has a successor.”

We can, of course, easily deﬁne “o” and “successor” by means of

the deﬁnition of number in general which we arrived at in Chapter

II. The number o is the number of terms in a class which has no

members, i.e. in the class which is called the “null-class.” By the

general deﬁnition of number, the number of terms in the null-class is

the set of all classes similar to the null-class, i.e. (as is easily proved)

the set consisting of the null-class all alone, i.e. the class whose only

member is the null-class. (This is not identical with the null-class: it

has one member, namely, the null-class, whereas the null-class itself

has no members. A class which has one member is never identical

with that one member, as we shall explain when we come to the theory

of classes.) Thus we have the following purely logical deﬁnition:—

o is the class whose only member is the null-class.

It remains to deﬁne “successor.” Given any number n, let α be a

class which has n members, and let x be a term which is not a member

of α. Then the class consisting of α with x added on will have n +1

members. Thus we have the following deﬁnition:—

The successor of the number of terms in the class α is the number of

terms in the class consisting of α together with x, where x is any term not

belonging to the class.

Certain niceties are required to make this deﬁnition perfect, but

they need not concern us.

1

It will be remembered that we | z± have

already given (in Chapter II.) a logical deﬁnition of the number of

terms in a class, namely, we deﬁned it as the set of all classes that are

similar to the given class.

We have thus reduced Peano’s three primitive ideas to ideas of

logic: we have given deﬁnitions of them which make them deﬁnite,

1

See Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗11o.

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction 18

no longer capable of an inﬁnity of diﬀerent meanings, as they were

when they were only determinate to the extent of obeying Peano’s

ﬁve axioms. We have removed them from the fundamental apparatus

of terms that must be merely apprehended, and have thus increased

the deductive articulation of mathematics.

As regards the ﬁve primitive propositions, we have already suc-

ceeded in making two of them demonstrable by our deﬁnition of

“natural number.” How stands it with the remaining three? It is very

easy to prove that o is not the successor of any number, and that

the successor of any number is a number. But there is a diﬃculty

about the remaining primitive proposition, namely, “no two numbers

have the same successor.” The diﬃculty does not arise unless the

total number of individuals in the universe is ﬁnite; for given two

numbers m and n, neither of which is the total number of individuals

in the universe, it is easy to prove that we cannot have m+1 = n +1

unless we have m = n. But let us suppose that the total number of

individuals in the universe were (say) 1o; then there would be no

class of 11 individuals, and the number 11 would be the null-class.

So would the number 1z. Thus we should have 11 = 1z; therefore the

successor of 1o would be the same as the successor of 11, although

1o would not be the same as 11. Thus we should have two diﬀerent

numbers with the same successor. This failure of the third axiom

cannot arise, however, if the number of individuals in the world is

not ﬁnite. We shall return to this topic at a later stage.

z

Assuming that the number of individuals in the universe is not

ﬁnite, we have now succeeded not only in deﬁning Peano’s | z¸ three

primitive ideas, but in seeing how to prove his ﬁve primitive proposi-

tions, by means of primitive ideas and propositions belonging to logic.

It follows that all pure mathematics, in so far as it is deducible from

the theory of the natural numbers, is only a prolongation of logic.

The extension of this result to those modern branches of mathematics

which are not deducible fromthe theory of the natural numbers oﬀers

no diﬃculty of principle, as we have shown elsewhere.

j

The process of mathematical induction, by means of which we

deﬁned the natural numbers, is capable of generalisation. We deﬁned

the natural numbers as the “posterity” of o with respect to the rela-

tion of a number to its immediate successor. If we call this relation N,

any number m will have this relation to m+1. A property is “heredi-

tary with respect to N,” or simply “N-hereditary,” if, whenever the

property belongs to a number m, it also belongs to m+1, i.e. to the

number to which m has the relation N. And a number n will be said to

belong to the “posterity” of m with respect to the relation N if n has

z

See Chapter XIII.

j

For geometry, in so far as it is not purely analytical, see Principles of Mathematics,

part vi.; for rational dynamics, ibid., part vii.

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction 1o

every N-hereditary property belonging to m. These deﬁnitions can

all be applied to any other relation just as well as to N. Thus if R is

any relation whatever, we can lay down the following deﬁnitions:

±

—

A property is called “R-hereditary” when, if it belongs to a term x,

and x has the relation R to y, then it belongs to y.

A class is R-hereditary when its deﬁning property is R-hereditary.

A term x is said to be an “R-ancestor” of the term y if y has every

R-hereditary property that x has, provided x is a term which has the

relation R to something or to which something has the relation R.

(This is only to exclude trivial cases.) |

The z6 “R-posterity” of x is all the terms of which x is an R-ancestor.

We have framed the above deﬁnitions so that if a term is the

ancestor of anything it is its own ancestor and belongs to its own

posterity. This is merely for convenience.

It will be observed that if we take for R the relation “parent,”

“ancestor” and “posterity” will have the usual meanings, except that

a person will be included among his own ancestors and posterity.

It is, of course, obvious at once that “ancestor” must be capable

of deﬁnition in terms of “parent,” but until Frege developed his

generalised theory of induction, no one could have deﬁned “ancestor”

precisely in terms of “parent.” A brief consideration of this point

will serve to show the importance of the theory. A person confronted

for the ﬁrst time with the problem of deﬁning “ancestor” in terms of

“parent” would naturally say that A is an ancestor of Z if, between

A and Z, there are a certain number of people, B, C, . . . , of whom B

is a child of A, each is a parent of the next, until the last, who is a

parent of Z. But this deﬁnition is not adequate unless we add that the

number of intermediate terms is to be ﬁnite. Take, for example, such

a series as the following:—

−1, −

1

z

, −

1

±

, −

1

8

, . . .

1

8

,

1

±

,

1

z

, 1.

Here we have ﬁrst a series of negative fractions with no end, and

then a series of positive fractions with no beginning. Shall we say

that, in this series, −1/8 is an ancestor of 1/8? It will be so according

to the beginner’s deﬁnition suggested above, but it will not be so

according to any deﬁnition which will give the kind of idea that

we wish to deﬁne. For this purpose, it is essential that the number

of intermediaries should be ﬁnite. But, as we saw, “ﬁnite” is to be

deﬁned by means of mathematical induction, and it is simpler to

deﬁne the ancestral relation generally at once than to deﬁne it ﬁrst

±

These deﬁnitions, and the generalised theory of induction, are due to Frege,

and were published so long ago as 18;o in his Begriﬀsschrift. In spite of the great

value of this work, I was, I believe, the ﬁrst person who ever read it—more than

twenty years after its publication.

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction zo

only for the case of the relation of n to n +1, and then extend it to

other cases. Here, as constantly elsewhere, generality from the ﬁrst,

though it may | z; require more thought at the start, will be found in the

long run to economise thought and increase logical power.

The use of mathematical induction in demonstrations was, in the

past, something of a mystery. There seemed no reasonable doubt that

it was a valid method of proof, but no one quite knewwhy it was valid.

Some believed it to be really a case of induction, in the sense in which

that word is used in logic. Poincar´ e

¸

considered it to be a principle

of the utmost importance, by means of which an inﬁnite number of

syllogisms could be condensed into one argument. We now know

that all such views are mistaken, and that mathematical induction

is a deﬁnition, not a principle. There are some numbers to which it

can be applied, and there are others (as we shall see in Chapter VIII.)

to which it cannot be applied. We deﬁne the “natural numbers” as

those to which proofs by mathematical induction can be applied, i.e.

as those that possess all inductive properties. It follows that such

proofs can be applied to the natural numbers, not in virtue of any

mysterious intuition or axiom or principle, but as a purely verbal

proposition. If “quadrupeds” are deﬁned as animals having four legs,

it will follow that animals that have four legs are quadrupeds; and the

case of numbers that obey mathematical induction is exactly similar.

We shall use the phrase “inductive numbers” to mean the same

set as we have hitherto spoken of as the “natural numbers.” The

phrase “inductive numbers” is preferable as aﬀording a reminder that

the deﬁnition of this set of numbers is obtained from mathematical

induction.

Mathematical induction aﬀords, more than anything else, the

essential characteristic by which the ﬁnite is distinguished from the

inﬁnite. The principle of mathematical induction might be stated

popularly in some such form as “what can be inferred from next to

next can be inferred from ﬁrst to last.” This is true when the number

of intermediate steps between ﬁrst and last is ﬁnite, not otherwise.

Anyone who has ever | z8 watched a goods train beginning to move will

have noticed how the impulse is communicated with a jerk from each

truck to the next, until at last even the hindmost truck is in motion.

When the train is very long, it is a very long time before the last truck

moves. If the train were inﬁnitely long, there would be an inﬁnite

succession of jerks, and the time would never come when the whole

train would be in motion. Nevertheless, if there were a series of

trucks no longer than the series of inductive numbers (which, as we

shall see, is an instance of the smallest of inﬁnites), every truck would

begin to move sooner or later if the engine persevered, though there

¸

Science and Method, chap. iv.

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction z1

would always be other trucks further back which had not yet begun

to move. This image will help to elucidate the argument from next

to next, and its connection with ﬁnitude. When we come to inﬁnite

numbers, where arguments from mathematical induction will be no

longer valid, the properties of such numbers will help to make clear,

by contrast, the almost unconscious use that is made of mathematical

induction where ﬁnite numbers are concerned.

CHAPTER IV

THE DEFINITION OF ORDER

zo We have now carried our analysis of the series of natural numbers to

the point where we have obtained logical deﬁnitions of the members

of this series, of the whole class of its members, and of the relation

of a number to its immediate successor. We must now consider the

serial character of the natural numbers in the order o, 1, z, j, . . . We

ordinarily think of the numbers as in this order, and it is an essential

part of the work of analysing our data to seek a deﬁnition of “order”

or “series” in logical terms.

The notion of order is one which has enormous importance in

mathematics. Not only the integers, but also rational fractions and

all real numbers have an order of magnitude, and this is essential

to most of their mathematical properties. The order of points on

a line is essential to geometry; so is the slightly more complicated

order of lines through a point in a plane, or of planes through a

line. Dimensions, in geometry, are a development of order. The

conception of a limit, which underlies all higher mathematics, is

a serial conception. There are parts of mathematics which do not

depend upon the notion of order, but they are very few in comparison

with the parts in which this notion is involved.

In seeking a deﬁnition of order, the ﬁrst thing to realise is that

no set of terms has just one order to the exclusion of others. A set of

terms has all the orders of which it is capable. Sometimes one order

is so much more familiar and natural to our | jo thoughts that we are

inclined to regard it as the order of that set of terms; but this is a

mistake. The natural numbers—or the “inductive” numbers, as we

shall also call them—occur to us most readily in order of magnitude;

but they are capable of an inﬁnite number of other arrangements.

We might, for example, consider ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then

all the even numbers; or ﬁrst 1, then all the even numbers, then

all the odd multiples of j, then all the multiples of ¸ but not of z

or j, then all the multiples of ; but not of z or j or ¸, and so on

through the whole series of primes. When we say that we “arrange”

the numbers in these various orders, that is an inaccurate expression:

zz

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order zj

what we really do is to turn our attention to certain relations between

the natural numbers, which themselves generate such-and-such an

arrangement. We can no more “arrange” the natural numbers than

we can the starry heavens; but just as we may notice among the ﬁxed

stars either their order of brightness or their distribution in the sky,

so there are various relations among numbers which may be observed,

and which give rise to various diﬀerent orders among numbers, all

equally legitimate. And what is true of numbers is equally true of

points on a line or of the moments of time: one order is more familiar,

but others are equally valid. We might, for example, take ﬁrst, on

a line, all the points that have integral co-ordinates, then all those

that have non-integral rational co-ordinates, then all those that have

algebraic non-rational co-ordinates, and so on, through any set of

complications we please. The resulting order will be one which the

points of the line certainly have, whether we choose to notice it or

not; the only thing that is arbitrary about the various orders of a set

of terms is our attention, for the terms themselves have always all the

orders of which they are capable.

One important result of this consideration is that we must not

look for the deﬁnition of order in the nature of the set of terms to be

ordered, since one set of terms has many orders. The order lies, not in

the class of terms, but in a relation among | j1 the members of the class,

in respect of which some appear as earlier and some as later. The fact

that a class may have many orders is due to the fact that there can be

many relations holding among the members of one single class. What

properties must a relation have in order to give rise to an order?

The essential characteristics of a relation which is to give rise to

order may be discovered by considering that in respect of such a

relation we must be able to say, of any two terms in the class which

is to be ordered, that one “precedes” and the other “follows.” Now,

in order that we may be able to use these words in the way in which

we should naturally understand them, we require that the ordering

relation should have three properties:—

(1) If x precedes y, y must not also precede x. This is an obvious

characteristic of the kind of relations that lead to series. If x is less

than y, y is not also less than x. If x is earlier in time than y, y is not

also earlier than x. If x is to the left of y, y is not to the left of x. On

the other hand, relations which do not give rise to series often do not

have this property. If x is a brother or sister of y, y is a brother or

sister of x. If x is of the same height as y, y is of the same height as

x. If x is of a diﬀerent height from y, y is of a diﬀerent height from

x. In all these cases, when the relation holds between x and y, it also

holds between y and x. But with serial relations such a thing cannot

happen. A relation having this ﬁrst property is called asymmetrical.

(z) If x precedes y and y precedes z, x must precede z. This may

be illustrated by the same instances as before: less, earlier, left of. But

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order z±

as instances of relations which do not have this property only two of

our previous three instances will serve. If x is brother or sister of y,

and y of z, x may not be brother or sister of z, since x and z may be

the same person. The same applies to diﬀerence of height, but not

to sameness of height, which has our second property but not our

ﬁrst. The relation “father,” on the other hand, has our ﬁrst property

but not | jz our second. A relation having our second property is called

transitive.

(j) Given any two terms of the class which is to be ordered, there

must be one which precedes and the other which follows. For exam-

ple, of any two integers, or fractions, or real numbers, one is smaller

and the other greater; but of any two complex numbers this is not

true. Of any two moments in time, one must be earlier than the other;

but of events, which may be simultaneous, this cannot be said. Of

two points on a line, one must be to the left of the other. A relation

having this third property is called connected.

When a relation possesses these three properties, it is of the sort

to give rise to an order among the terms between which it holds; and

wherever an order exists, some relation having these three properties

can be found generating it.

Before illustrating this thesis, we will introduce a few deﬁnitions.

(1) A relation is said to be an aliorelative,

1

or to be contained in

or imply diversity, if no term has this relation to itself. Thus, for

example, “greater,” “diﬀerent in size,” “brother,” “husband,” “father”

are aliorelatives; but “equal,” “born of the same parents,” “dear

friend” are not.

(z) The square of a relation is that relation which holds between

two terms x and z when there is an intermediate term y such that

the given relation holds between x and y and between y and z. Thus

“paternal grandfather” is the square of “father,” “greater by z” is the

square of “greater by 1,” and so on.

(j) The domain of a relation consists of all those terms that have

the relation to something or other, and the converse domain consists

of all those terms to which something or other has the relation. These

words have been already deﬁned, but are recalled here for the sake of

the following deﬁnition:—

(±) The ﬁeld of a relation consists of its domain and converse

domain together. |

(¸) jj One relation is said to contain or be implied by another if it

holds whenever the other holds.

It will be seen that an asymmetrical relation is the same thing as

a relation whose square is an aliorelative. It often happens that a

relation is an aliorelative without being asymmetrical, though an

1

This term is due to C. S. Peirce.

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order z¸

asymmetrical relation is always an aliorelative. For example, “spouse”

is an aliorelative, but is symmetrical, since if x is the spouse of y, y is

the spouse of x. But among transitive relations, all aliorelatives are

asymmetrical as well as vice versa.

From the deﬁnitions it will be seen that a transitive relation is one

which is implied by its square, or, as we also say, “contains” its square.

Thus “ancestor” is transitive, because an ancestor’s ancestor is an

ancestor; but “father” is not transitive, because a father’s father is

not a father. A transitive aliorelative is one which contains its square

and is contained in diversity; or, what comes to the same thing, one

whose square implies both it and diversity—because, when a relation

is transitive, asymmetry is equivalent to being an aliorelative.

A relation is connected when, given any two diﬀerent terms of its

ﬁeld, the relation holds between the ﬁrst and the second or between

the second and the ﬁrst (not excluding the possibility that both may

happen, though both cannot happen if the relation is asymmetrical).

It will be seen that the relation “ancestor,” for example, is an

aliorelative and transitive, but not connected; it is because it is not

connected that it does not suﬃce to arrange the human race in a

series.

The relation “less than or equal to,” among numbers, is transitive

and connected, but not asymmetrical or an aliorelative.

The relation “greater or less” among numbers is an aliorelative

and is connected, but is not transitive, for if x is greater or less than

y, and y is greater or less than z, it may happen that x and z are the

same number.

Thus the three properties of being (1) an aliorelative, (z) | j± transi-

tive, and (j) connected, are mutually independent, since a relation

may have any two without having the third.

We now lay down the following deﬁnition:—

A relation is serial when it is an aliorelative, transitive, and con-

nected; or, what is equivalent, when it is asymmetrical, transitive,

and connected.

A series is the same thing as a serial relation.

It might have been thought that a series should be the ﬁeld of a

serial relation, not the serial relation itself. But this would be an error.

For example,

1, z, j; 1, j, z; z, j, 1; z, 1, j; j, 1, z; j, z, 1

are six diﬀerent series which all have the same ﬁeld. If the ﬁeld were

the series, there could only be one series with a given ﬁeld. What

distinguishes the above six series is simply the diﬀerent ordering

relations in the six cases. Given the ordering relation, the ﬁeld and

the order are both determinate. Thus the ordering relation may be

taken to be the series, but the ﬁeld cannot be so taken.

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order z6

Given any serial relation, say P, we shall say that, in respect of this

relation, x “precedes” y if x has the relation P to y, which we shall

write “xPy” for short. The three characteristics which P must have in

order to be serial are:

(1) We must never have xPx, i.e. no term must precede itself.

(z) P

z

must imply P, i.e. if x precedes y and y precedes z, x must

precede z.

(j) If x and y are two diﬀerent terms in the ﬁeld of P, we shall have

xPy or yPx, i.e. one of the two must precede the other.

The reader can easily convince himself that, where these three prop-

erties are found in an ordering relation, the characteristics we expect

of series will also be found, and vice versa. We are therefore justiﬁed

in taking the above as a deﬁnition of order | j¸ or series. And it will be

observed that the deﬁnition is eﬀected in purely logical terms.

Although a transitive asymmetrical connected relation always

exists wherever there is a series, it is not always the relation which

would most naturally be regarded as generating the series. The

natural-number series may serve as an illustration. The relation

we assumed in considering the natural numbers was the relation of

immediate succession, i.e. the relation between consecutive integers.

This relation is asymmetrical, but not transitive or connected. We can,

however, derive from it, by the method of mathematical induction,

the “ancestral” relation which we considered in the preceding chap-

ter. This relation will be the same as “less than or equal to” among

inductive integers. For purposes of generating the series of natural

numbers, we want the relation “less than,” excluding “equal to.” This

is the relation of m to n when m is an ancestor of n but not identical

with n, or (what comes to the same thing) when the successor of m is

an ancestor of n in the sense in which a number is its own ancestor.

That is to say, we shall lay down the following deﬁnition:—

An inductive number m is said to be less than another number n

when n possesses every hereditary property possessed by the succes-

sor of m.

It is easy to see, and not diﬃcult to prove, that the relation “less

than,” so deﬁned, is asymmetrical, transitive, and connected, and has

the inductive numbers for its ﬁeld. Thus by means of this relation the

inductive numbers acquire an order in the sense in which we deﬁned

the term “order,” and this order is the so-called “natural” order, or

order of magnitude.

The generation of series by means of relations more or less resem-

bling that of n to n +1 is very common. The series of the Kings of

England, for example, is generated by relations of each to his suc-

cessor. This is probably the easiest way, where it is applicable, of

conceiving the generation of a series. In this method we pass on from

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order z;

each term to the next, as long as there | j6 is a next, or back to the one

before, as long as there is one before. This method always requires

the generalised form of mathematical induction in order to enable

us to deﬁne “earlier” and “later” in a series so generated. On the

analogy of “proper fractions,” let us give the name “proper posterity

of x with respect to R” to the class of those terms that belong to the

R-posterity of some term to which x has the relation R, in the sense

which we gave before to “posterity,” which includes a term in its own

posterity. Reverting to the fundamental deﬁnitions, we ﬁnd that the

“proper posterity” may be deﬁned as follows:—

The “proper posterity” of x with respect to R consists of all terms

that possess every R-hereditary property possessed by every term to

which x has the relation R.

It is to be observed that this deﬁnition has to be so framed as to

be applicable not only when there is only one term to which x has

the relation R, but also in cases (as e.g. that of father and child) where

there may be many terms to which x has the relation R. We deﬁne

further:

A term x is a “proper ancestor” of y with respect to R if y belongs

to the proper posterity of x with respect to R.

We shall speak for short of “R-posterity” and “R-ancestors” when

these terms seem more convenient.

Reverting now to the generation of series by the relation R be-

tween consecutive terms, we see that, if this method is to be possible,

the relation “proper R-ancestor” must be an aliorelative, transitive,

and connected. Under what circumstances will this occur? It will

always be transitive: no matter what sort of relation R may be, “R-

ancestor” and “proper R-ancestor” are always both transitive. But

it is only under certain circumstances that it will be an aliorelative

or connected. Consider, for example, the relation to one’s left-hand

neighbour at a round dinner-table at which there are twelve people.

If we call this relation R, the proper R-posterity of a person consists

of all who can be reached by going round the table from right to

left. This includes everybody at the table, including the person him-

self, since | j; twelve steps bring us back to our starting-point. Thus

in such a case, though the relation “proper R-ancestor” is connected,

and though R itself is an aliorelative, we do not get a series because

“proper R-ancestor” is not an aliorelative. It is for this reason that we

cannot say that one person comes before another with respect to the

relation “right of” or to its ancestral derivative.

The above was an instance in which the ancestral relation was

connected but not contained in diversity. An instance where it is

contained in diversity but not connected is derived from the ordinary

sense of the word “ancestor.” If x is a proper ancestor of y, x and y

cannot be the same person; but it is not true that of any two persons

one must be an ancestor of the other.

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order z8

The question of the circumstances under which series can be

generated by ancestral relations derived from relations of consecu-

tiveness is often important. Some of the most important cases are

the following: Let R be a many-one relation, and let us conﬁne our

attention to the posterity of some term x. When so conﬁned, the

relation “proper R-ancestor” must be connected; therefore all that

remains to ensure its being serial is that it shall be contained in di-

versity. This is a generalisation of the instance of the dinner-table.

Another generalisation consists in taking R to be a one-one relation,

and including the ancestry of x as well as the posterity. Here again,

the one condition required to secure the generation of a series is that

the relation “proper R-ancestor” shall be contained in diversity.

The generation of order by means of relations of consecutiveness,

though important in its own sphere, is less general than the method

which uses a transitive relation to deﬁne the order. It often happens

in a series that there are an inﬁnite number of intermediate terms

between any two that may be selected, however near together these

may be. Take, for instance, fractions in order of magnitude. Between

any two fractions there are others—for example, the arithmetic mean

of the two. Consequently there is no such thing as a pair of consec-

utive fractions. If we depended | j8 upon consecutiveness for deﬁning

order, we should not be able to deﬁne the order of magnitude among

fractions. But in fact the relations of greater and less among fractions

do not demand generation from relations of consecutiveness, and the

relations of greater and less among fractions have the three charac-

teristics which we need for deﬁning serial relations. In all such cases

the order must be deﬁned by means of a transitive relation, since only

such a relation is able to leap over an inﬁnite number of intermedi-

ate terms. The method of consecutiveness, like that of counting for

discovering the number of a collection, is appropriate to the ﬁnite;

it may even be extended to certain inﬁnite series, namely, those in

which, though the total number of terms is inﬁnite, the number of

terms between any two is always ﬁnite; but it must not be regarded

as general. Not only so, but care must be taken to eradicate from the

imagination all habits of thought resulting from supposing it general.

If this is not done, series in which there are no consecutive terms will

remain diﬃcult and puzzling. And such series are of vital importance

for the understanding of continuity, space, time, and motion.

There are many ways in which series may be generated, but all de-

pend upon the ﬁnding or construction of an asymmetrical transitive

connected relation. Some of these ways have considerable importance.

We may take as illustrative the generation of series by means of a

three-term relation which we may call “between.” This method is

very useful in geometry, and may serve as an introduction to relations

having more than two terms; it is best introduced in connection with

elementary geometry.

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order zo

Given any three points on a straight line in ordinary space, there

must be one of them which is between the other two. This will not

be the case with the points on a circle or any other closed curve,

because, given any three points on a circle, we can travel from any

one to any other without passing through the third. In fact, the notion

“between” is characteristic of open series—or series in the strict sense—

as opposed to what may be called | jo “cyclic” series, where, as with

people at the dinner-table, a suﬃcient journey brings us back to

our starting-point. This notion of “between” may be chosen as the

fundamental notion of ordinary geometry; but for the present we

will only consider its application to a single straight line and to the

ordering of the points on a straight line.

z

Taking any two points a, b,

the line (ab) consists of three parts (besides a and b themselves):

(1) Points between a and b.

(z) Points x such that a is between x and b.

(j) Points y such that b is between y and a.

Thus the line (ab) can be deﬁned in terms of the relation “between.”

In order that this relation “between” may arrange the points of

the line in an order from left to right, we need certain assumptions,

namely, the following:—

(1) If anything is between a and b, a and b are not identical.

(z) Anything between a and b is also between b and a.

(j) Anything between a and b is not identical with a (nor, conse-

quently, with b, in virtue of (z)).

(±) If x is between a and b, anything between a and x is also

between a and b.

(¸) If x is between a and b, and b is between x and y, then b is

between a and y.

(6) If x and y are between a and b, then either x and y are identical,

or x is between a and y, or x is between y and b.

(;) If b is between a and x and also between a and y, then either x

and y are identical, or x is between b and y, or y is between b and x.

These seven properties are obviously veriﬁed in the case of points

on a straight line in ordinary space. Any three-term relation which

veriﬁes them gives rise to series, as may be seen from the following

deﬁnitions. For the sake of deﬁniteness, let us assume | ±o that a is to

the left of b. Then the points of the line (ab) are (1) those between

which and b, a lies—these we will call to the left of a; (z) a itself; (j)

those between a and b; (±) b itself; (¸) those between which and a lies

b—these we will call to the right of b. We may now deﬁne generally

that of two points x, y, on the line (ab), we shall say that x is “to the

left of” y in any of the following cases:—

z

Cf. Rivista di Matematica, iv. pp. ¸¸ﬀ.; Principles of Mathematics, p. jo± (§j;¸).

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order jo

(1) When x and y are both to the left of a, and y is between x and

a;

(z) When x is to the left of a, and y is a or b or between a and b or

to the right of b;

(j) When x is a, and y is between a and b or is b or is to the right

of b;

(±) When x and y are both between a and b, and y is between x

and b;

(¸) When x is between a and b, and y is b or to the right of b;

(6) When x is b and y is to the right of b;

(;) When x and y are both to the right of b and x is between b and

y.

It will be found that, from the seven properties which we have

assigned to the relation “between,” it can be deduced that the relation

“to the left of,” as above deﬁned, is a serial relation as we deﬁned

that term. It is important to notice that nothing in the deﬁnitions or

the argument depends upon our meaning by “between” the actual

relation of that name which occurs in empirical space: any three-term

relation having the above seven purely formal properties will serve

the purpose of the argument equally well.

Cyclic order, such as that of the points on a circle, cannot be

generated by means of three-term relations of “between.” We need a

relation of four terms, which may be called “separation of couples.”

The point may be illustrated by considering a journey round the

world. One may go from England to New Zealand by way of Suez

or by way of San Francisco; we cannot | ±1 say deﬁnitely that either of

these two places is “between” England and New Zealand. But if a

man chooses that route to go round the world, whichever way round

he goes, his times in England and New Zealand are separated from

each other by his times in Suez and San Francisco, and conversely.

Generalising, if we take any four points on a circle, we can separate

them into two couples, say a and b and x and y, such that, in order

to get from a to b one must pass through either x or y, and in order

to get from x to y one must pass through either a or b. Under these

circumstances we say that the couple (a, b) are “separated” by the

couple (x, y). Out of this relation a cyclic order can be generated, in

a way resembling that in which we generated an open order from

“between,” but somewhat more complicated.

j

The purpose of the latter half of this chapter has been to suggest

the subject which one may call “generation of serial relations.” When

such relations have been deﬁned, the generation of them from other

relations possessing only some of the properties required for series

becomes very important, especially in the philosophy of geometry

j

Cf. Principles of Mathematics, p. zo¸ (§1o±), and references there given.

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order j1

and physics. But we cannot, within the limits of the present volume,

do more than make the reader aware that such a subject exists.

CHAPTER V

KINDS OF RELATIONS

±z A great part of the philosophy of mathematics is concerned with

relations, and many diﬀerent kinds of relations have diﬀerent kinds of

uses. It often happens that a property which belongs to all relations

is only important as regards relations of certain sorts; in these cases

the reader will not see the bearing of the proposition asserting such a

property unless he has in mind the sorts of relations for which it is

useful. For reasons of this description, as well as from the intrinsic

interest of the subject, it is well to have in our minds a rough list of

the more mathematically serviceable varieties of relations.

We dealt in the preceding chapter with a supremely important

class, namely, serial relations. Each of the three properties which

we combined in deﬁning series—namely, asymmetry, transitiveness,

and connexity—has its own importance. We will begin by saying

something on each of these three.

Asymmetry, i.e. the property of being incompatible with the con-

verse, is a characteristic of the very greatest interest and importance.

In order to develop its functions, we will consider various examples.

The relation husband is asymmetrical, and so is the relation wife; i.e. if

a is husband of b, b cannot be husband of a, and similarly in the case

of wife. On the other hand, the relation “spouse” is symmetrical: if a

is spouse of b, then b is spouse of a. Suppose now we are given the

relation spouse, and we wish to derive the relation husband. Husband

is the same as male spouse or spouse of a female; thus the relation

husband can | ±j be derived from spouse either by limiting the domain to

males or by limiting the converse domain to females. We see fromthis

instance that, when a symmetrical relation is given, it is sometimes

possible, without the help of any further relation, to separate it into

two asymmetrical relations. But the cases where this is possible are

rare and exceptional: they are cases where there are two mutually

exclusive classes, say α and β, such that whenever the relation holds

between two terms, one of the terms is a member of α and the other

is a member of β—as, in the case of spouse, one term of the relation

belongs to the class of males and one to the class of females. In such a

jz

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations jj

case, the relation with its domain conﬁned to α will be asymmetrical,

and so will the relation with its domain conﬁned to β. But such cases

are not of the sort that occur when we are dealing with series of more

than two terms; for in a series, all terms, except the ﬁrst and last (if

these exist), belong both to the domain and to the converse domain

of the generating relation, so that a relation like husband, where the

domain and converse domain do not overlap, is excluded.

The question how to construct relations having some useful prop-

erty by means of operations upon relations which only have rudi-

ments of the property is one of considerable importance. Transitive-

ness and connexity are easily constructed in many cases where the

originally given relation does not possess them: for example, if R

is any relation whatever, the ancestral relation derived from R by

generalised induction is transitive; and if R is a many-one relation,

the ancestral relation will be connected if conﬁned to the posterity

of a given term. But asymmetry is a much more diﬃcult property to

secure by construction. The method by which we derived husband

from spouse is, as we have seen, not available in the most important

cases, such as greater, before, to the right of, where domain and con-

verse domain overlap. In all these cases, we can of course obtain a

symmetrical relation by adding together the given relation and its

converse, but we cannot pass back from this symmetrical relation to

the original asymmetrical relation except by the help of some asym-

metrical | ±± relation. Take, for example, the relation greater: the relation

greater or less—i.e. unequal—is symmetrical, but there is nothing in

this relation to show that it is the sum of two asymmetrical relations.

Take such a relation as “diﬀering in shape.” This is not the sum of

an asymmetrical relation and its converse, since shapes do not form

a single series; but there is nothing to show that it diﬀers from “dif-

fering in magnitude” if we did not already know that magnitudes

have relations of greater and less. This illustrates the fundamental

character of asymmetry as a property of relations.

From the point of view of the classiﬁcation of relations, being

asymmetrical is a much more important characteristic than implying

diversity. Asymmetrical relations imply diversity, but the converse

is not the case. “Unequal,” for example, implies diversity, but is

symmetrical. Broadly speaking, we may say that, if we wished as

far as possible to dispense with relational propositions and replace

them by such as ascribed predicates to subjects, we could succeed in

this so long as we conﬁned ourselves to symmetrical relations: those

that do not imply diversity, if they are transitive, may be regarded as

asserting a common predicate, while those that do imply diversity

may be regarded as asserting incompatible predicates. For example,

consider the relation of similarity between classes, by means of which

we deﬁned numbers. This relation is symmetrical and transitive and

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations j±

does not imply diversity. It would be possible, though less simple

than the procedure we adopted, to regard the number of a collection

as a predicate of the collection: then two similar classes will be two

that have the same numerical predicate, while two that are not similar

will be two that have diﬀerent numerical predicates. Such a method

of replacing relations by predicates is formally possible (though often

very inconvenient) so long as the relations concerned are symmetrical;

but it is formally impossible when the relations are asymmetrical,

because both sameness and diﬀerence of predicates are symmetrical.

Asymmetrical relations are, we may | ±¸ say, the most characteristically

relational of relations, and the most important to the philosopher

who wishes to study the ultimate logical nature of relations.

Another class of relations that is of the greatest use is the class of

one-many relations, i.e. relations which at most one term can have

to a given term. Such are father, mother, husband (except in Tibet),

square of, sine of, and so on. But parent, square root, and so on,

are not one-many. It is possible, formally, to replace all relations by

one-many relations by means of a device. Take (say) the relation less

among the inductive numbers. Given any number n greater than 1,

there will not be only one number having the relation less to n, but we

can form the whole class of numbers that are less than n. This is one

class, and its relation to n is not shared by any other class. We may

call the class of numbers that are less than n the “proper ancestry”

of n, in the sense in which we spoke of ancestry and posterity in

connection with mathematical induction. Then “proper ancestry” is

a one-many relation (one-many will always be used so as to include

one-one), since each number determines a single class of numbers as

constituting its proper ancestry. Thus the relation less than can be

replaced by being a member of the proper ancestry of. In this way a one-

many relation in which the one is a class, together with membership

of this class, can always formally replace a relation which is not one-

many. Peano, who for some reason always instinctively conceives of a

relation as one-many, deals in this way with those that are naturally

not so. Reduction to one-many relations by this method, however,

though possible as a matter of form, does not represent a technical

simpliﬁcation, and there is every reason to think that it does not

represent a philosophical analysis, if only because classes must be

regarded as “logical ﬁctions.” We shall therefore continue to regard

one-many relations as a special kind of relations.

One-many relations are involved in all phrases of the form “the

so-and-so of such-and-such.” “The King of England,” | ±6 “the wife of

Socrates,” “the father of John Stuart Mill,” and so on, all describe

some person by means of a one-many relation to a given term. A

person cannot have more than one father, therefore “the father of

John Stuart Mill” described some one person, even if we did not know

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations j¸

whom. There is much to say on the subject of descriptions, but for the

present it is relations that we are concerned with, and descriptions

are only relevant as exemplifying the uses of one-many relations. It

should be observed that all mathematical functions result from one-

many relations: the logarithm of x, the cosine of x, etc., are, like the

father of x, terms described by means of a one-many relation (loga-

rithm, cosine, etc.) to a given term(x). The notion of function need not

be conﬁned to numbers, or to the uses to which mathematicians have

accustomed us; it can be extended to all cases of one-many relations,

and “the father of x” is just as legitimately a function of which x is

the argument as is “the logarithm of x.” Functions in this sense are

descriptive functions. As we shall see later, there are functions of a

still more general and more fundamental sort, namely, propositional

functions; but for the present we shall conﬁne our attention to de-

scriptive functions, i.e. “the term having the relation R to x,” or, for

short, “the R of x,” where R is any one-many relation.

It will be observed that if “the R of x” is to describe a deﬁnite

term, x must be a term to which something has the relation R, and

there must not be more than one term having the relation R to x, since

“the,” correctly used, must imply uniqueness. Thus we may speak of

“the father of x” if x is any human being except Adam and Eve; but we

cannot speak of “the father of x” if x is a table or a chair or anything

else that does not have a father. We shall say that the R of x “exists”

when there is just one term, and no more, having the relation R to x.

Thus if R is a one-many relation, the R of x exists whenever x belongs

to the converse domain of R, and not otherwise. Regarding “the R

of x” as a function in the mathematical | ±; sense, we say that x is the

“argument” of the function, and if y is the term which has the relation

R to x, i.e. if y is the R of x, then y is the “value” of the function for

the argument x. If R is a one-many relation, the range of possible

arguments to the function is the converse domain of R, and the range

of values is the domain. Thus the range of possible arguments to the

function “the father of x” is all who have fathers, i.e. the converse

domain of the relation father, while the range of possible values for

the function is all fathers, i.e. the domain of the relation.

Many of the most important notions in the logic of relations are

descriptive functions, for example: converse, domain, converse domain,

ﬁeld. Other examples will occur as we proceed.

Among one-many relations, one-one relations are a specially im-

portant class. We have already had occasion to speak of one-one

relations in connection with the deﬁnition of number, but it is neces-

sary to be familiar with them, and not merely to know their formal

deﬁnition. Their formal deﬁnition may be derived from that of one-

many relations: they may be deﬁned as one-many relations which are

also the converses of one-many relations, i.e. as relations which are

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations j6

both one-many and many-one. One-many relations may be deﬁned

as relations such that, if x has the relation in question to y, there is no

other term x

**which also has the relation to y. Or, again, they may be
**

deﬁned as follows: Given two terms x and x

**, the terms to which x
**

has the given relation and those to which x

**has it have no member
**

in common. Or, again, they may be deﬁned as relations such that

the relative product of one of them and its converse implies identity,

where the “relative product” of two relations R and S is that relation

which holds between x and z when there is an intermediate term y,

such that x has the relation R to y and y has the relation S to z. Thus,

for example, if R is the relation of father to son, the relative product

of R and its converse will be the relation which holds between x and

a man z when there is a person y, such that x is the father of y and y

is the son of z. It is obvious that x and z must be | ±8 the same person. If,

on the other hand, we take the relation of parent and child, which is

not one-many, we can no longer argue that, if x is a parent of y and

y is a child of z, x and z must be the same person, because one may

be the father of y and the other the mother. This illustrates that it

is characteristic of one-many relations when the relative product of

a relation and its converse implies identity. In the case of one-one

relations this happens, and also the relative product of the converse

and the relation implies identity. Given a relation R, it is convenient,

if x has the relation R to y, to think of y as being reached from x by

an “R-step” or an “R-vector.” In the same case x will be reached from

y by a “backward R-step.” Thus we may state the characteristic of

one-many relations with which we have been dealing by saying that

an R-step followed by a backward R-step must bring us back to our

starting-point. With other relations, this is by no means the case; for

example, if R is the relation of child to parent, the relative product of

R and its converse is the relation “self or brother or sister,” and if R is

the relation of grandchild to grandparent, the relative product of R

and its converse is “self or brother or sister or ﬁrst cousin.” It will be

observed that the relative product of two relations is not in general

commutative, i.e. the relative product of R and S is not in general

the same relation as the relative product of S and R. E.g. the relative

product of parent and brother is uncle, but the relative product of

brother and parent is parent.

One-one relations give a correlation of two classes, term for term,

so that each term in either class has its correlate in the other. Such

correlations are simplest to grasp when the two classes have no mem-

bers in common, like the class of husbands and the class of wives;

for in that case we know at once whether a term is to be considered

as one from which the correlating relation R goes, or as one to which

it goes. It is convenient to use the word referent for the term from

which the relation goes, and the term relatum for the term to which it

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations j;

goes. Thus if x and y are husband and wife, then, with respect to the

relation | ±o “husband,” x is referent and y relatum, but with respect to

the relation “wife,” y is referent and x relatum. We say that a relation

and its converse have opposite “senses”; thus the “sense” of a relation

that goes from x to y is the opposite of that of the corresponding rela-

tion from y to x. The fact that a relation has a “sense” is fundamental,

and is part of the reason why order can be generated by suitable

relations. It will be observed that the class of all possible referents to

a given relation is its domain, and the class of all possible relata is its

converse domain.

But it very often happens that the domain and converse domain

of a one-one relation overlap. Take, for example, the ﬁrst ten integers

(excluding o), and add 1 to each; thus instead of the ﬁrst ten integers

we now have the integers

z, j, ±, ¸, 6, ;, 8, o, 1o, 11.

These are the same as those we had before, except that 1 has been

cut oﬀ at the beginning and 11 has been joined on at the end. There

are still ten integers: they are correlated with the previous ten by the

relation of n to n+1, which is a one-one relation. Or, again, instead of

adding 1 to each of our original ten integers, we could have doubled

each of them, thus obtaining the integers

z, ±, 6, 8, 1o, 1z, 1±, 16, 18, zo.

Here we still have ﬁve of our previous set of integers, namely, z, ±, 6,

8, 1o. The correlating relation in this case is the relation of a number

to its double, which is again a one-one relation. Or we might have

replaced each number by its square, thus obtaining the set

1, ±, o, 16, z¸, j6, ±o, 6±, 81, 1oo.

On this occasion only three of our original set are left, namely, 1, ±, o.

Such processes of correlation may be varied endlessly.

The most interesting case of the above kind is the case where our

one-one relation has a converse domain which is part, but | ¸o not the

whole, of the domain. If, instead of conﬁning the domain to the ﬁrst

ten integers, we had considered the whole of the inductive numbers,

the above instances would have illustrated this case. We may place

the numbers concerned in two rows, putting the correlate directly

under the number whose correlate it is. Thus when the correlator is

the relation of n to n +1, we have the two rows:

1, z, j, ±, ¸, . . . n . . .

z, j, ±, ¸, 6, . . . n +1 . . .

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations j8

When the correlator is the relation of a number to its double, we have

the two rows:

1, z, j, ±, ¸, . . . n . . .

z, ±, 6, 8, 1o, . . . zn . . .

When the correlator is the relation of a number to its square, the rows

are:

1, z, j, ±, ¸, . . . n . . .

1, ±, o, 16, z¸, . . . n

z

. . .

In all these cases, all inductive numbers occur in the top row, and

only some in the bottom row.

Cases of this sort, where the converse domain is a “proper part”

of the domain (i.e. a part not the whole), will occupy us again when

we come to deal with inﬁnity. For the present, we wish only to note

that they exist and demand consideration.

Another class of correlations which are often important is the

class called “permutations,” where the domain and converse domain

are identical. Consider, for example, the six possible arrangements of

three letters:

a, b, c

a, c, b

b, c, a

b, a, c

c, a, b

c, b, a |

¸1 Each of these can be obtained from any one of the others by means of

a correlation. Take, for example, the ﬁrst and last, (a, b, c) and (c, b, a).

Here a is correlated with c, b with itself, and c with a. It is obvious

that the combination of two permutations is again a permutation, i.e.

the permutations of a given class form what is called a “group.”

These various kinds of correlations have importance in various

connections, some for one purpose, some for another. The general

notion of one-one correlations has boundless importance in the phi-

losophy of mathematics, as we have partly seen already, but shall see

much more fully as we proceed. One of its uses will occupy us in our

next chapter.

CHAPTER VI

SIMILARITY OF RELATIONS

¸z We saw in Chapter II. that two classes have the same number of terms

when they are “similar,” i.e. when there is a one-one relation whose

domain is the one class and whose converse domain is the other. In

such a case we say that there is a “one-one correlation” between the

two classes.

In the present chapter we have to deﬁne a relation between rela-

tions, which will play the same part for them that similarity of classes

plays for classes. We will call this relation “similarity of relations,” or

“likeness” when it seems desirable to use a diﬀerent word from that

which we use for classes. How is likeness to be deﬁned?

We shall employ still the notion of correlation: we shall assume

that the domain of the one relation can be correlated with the domain

of the other, and the converse domain with the converse domain; but

that is not enough for the sort of resemblance which we desire to

have between our two relations. What we desire is that, whenever

either relation holds between two terms, the other relation shall hold

between the correlates of these two terms. The easiest example of the

sort of thing we desire is a map. When one place is north of another,

the place on the map corresponding to the one is above the place

on the map corresponding to the other; when one place is west of

another, the place on the map corresponding to the one is to the left

of the place on the map corresponding to the other; and so on. The

structure of the map corresponds with that of | ¸j the country of which

it is a map. The space-relations in the map have “likeness” to the

space-relations in the country mapped. It is this kind of connection

between relations that we wish to deﬁne.

We may, in the ﬁrst place, proﬁtably introduce a certain restriction.

We will conﬁne ourselves, in deﬁning likeness, to such relations as

have “ﬁelds,” i.e. to such as permit of the formation of a single class

out of the domain and the converse domain. This is not always

the case. Take, for example, the relation “domain,” i.e. the relation

which the domain of a relation has to the relation. This relation has all

classes for its domain, since every class is the domain of some relation;

jo

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ±o

and it has all relations for its converse domain, since every relation has

a domain. But classes and relations cannot be added together to form

a new single class, because they are of diﬀerent logical “types.” We

do not need to enter upon the diﬃcult doctrine of types, but it is well

to know when we are abstaining from entering upon it. We may say,

without entering upon the grounds for the assertion, that a relation

only has a “ﬁeld” when it is what we call “homogeneous,” i.e. when

its domain and converse domain are of the same logical type; and as a

rough-and-ready indication of what we mean by a “type,” we may say

that individuals, classes of individuals, relations between individuals,

relations between classes, relations of classes to individuals, and so

on, are diﬀerent types. Now the notion of likeness is not very useful

as applied to relations that are not homogeneous; we shall, therefore,

in deﬁning likeness, simplify our problem by speaking of the “ﬁeld”

of one of the relations concerned. This somewhat limits the generality

of our deﬁnition, but the limitation is not of any practical importance.

And having been stated, it need no longer be remembered.

We may deﬁne two relations P and Q as “similar,” or as having

“likeness,” when there is a one-one relation S whose domain is the

ﬁeld of P and whose converse domain is the ﬁeld of Q, and which is

such that, if one term has the relation P | ¸± to another, the correlate of

the one has the relation Q to the correlate of the other, and vice versa.

A ﬁgure will make this clearer. Let x and y be two terms having the

z w

x y

Q

P

S S

relation P. Then there are to be two

terms z, w, such that x has the relation

S to z, y has the relation S to w, and z

has the relation Q to w. If this happens

with every pair of terms such as x and y,

and if the converse happens with every

pair of terms such as z and w, it is clear

that for every instance in which the re-

lation P holds there is a corresponding

instance in which the relation Q holds,

and vice versa; and this is what we de-

sire to secure by our deﬁnition. We can eliminate some redundancies

in the above sketch of a deﬁnition, by observing that, when the above

conditions are realised, the relation P is the same as the relative prod-

uct of S and Q and the converse of S, i.e. the P-step from x to y may be

replaced by the succession of the S-step from x to z, the Q-step from

z to w, and the backward S-step from w to y. Thus we may set up the

following deﬁnitions:—

A relation S is said to be a “correlator” or an “ordinal correlator”

of two relations P and Q if S is one-one, has the ﬁeld of Q for its

converse domain, and is such that P is the relative product of S and

Q and the converse of S.

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ±1

Two relations P and Qare said to be “similar,” or to have “likeness,”

when there is at least one correlator of P and Q.

These deﬁnitions will be found to yield what we above decided to

be necessary.

It will be found that, when two relations are similar, they share

all properties which do not depend upon the actual terms in their

ﬁelds. For instance, if one implies diversity, so does the other; if one

is transitive, so is the other; if one is connected, so is the other. Hence

if one is serial, so is the other. Again, if one is one-many or one-one,

the other is one-many | ¸¸ or one-one; and so on, through all the general

properties of relations. Even statements involving the actual terms of

the ﬁeld of a relation, though they may not be true as they stand when

applied to a similar relation, will always be capable of translation

into statements that are analogous. We are led by such considerations

to a problem which has, in mathematical philosophy, an importance

by no means adequately recognised hitherto. Our problem may be

stated as follows:—

Given some statement in a language of which we know the gram-

mar and the syntax, but not the vocabulary, what are the possible

meanings of such a statement, and what are the meanings of the

unknown words that would make it true?

The reason that this question is important is that it represents,

much more nearly than might be supposed, the state of our knowl-

edge of nature. We know that certain scientiﬁc propositions—which,

in the most advanced sciences, are expressed in mathematical sym-

bols—are more or less true of the world, but we are very much at

sea as to the interpretation to be put upon the terms which occur

in these propositions. We know much more (to use, for a moment,

an old-fashioned pair of terms) about the form of nature than about

the matter. Accordingly, what we really know when we enunciate

a law of nature is only that there is probably some interpretation of

our terms which will make the law approximately true. Thus great

importance attaches to the question: What are the possible meanings

of a law expressed in terms of which we do not know the substantive

meaning, but only the grammar and syntax? And this question is the

one suggested above.

For the present we will ignore the general question, which will

occupy us again at a later stage; the subject of likeness itself must

ﬁrst be further investigated.

Owing to the fact that, when two relations are similar, their prop-

erties are the same except when they depend upon the ﬁelds being

composed of just the terms of which they are composed, it is desirable

to have a nomenclature which collects | ¸6 together all the relations that

are similar to a given relation. Just as we called the set of those classes

that are similar to a given class the “number” of that class, so we may

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ±z

call the set of all those relations that are similar to a given relation

the “number” of that relation. But in order to avoid confusion with

the numbers appropriate to classes, we will speak, in this case, of a

“relation-number.” Thus we have the following deﬁnitions:—

The “relation-number” of a given relation is the class of all those

relations that are similar to the given relation.

“Relation-numbers” are the set of all those classes of relations

that are relation-numbers of various relations; or, what comes to the

same thing, a relation-number is a class of relations consisting of all

those relations that are similar to one member of the class.

When it is necessary to speak of the numbers of classes in a way

which makes it impossible to confuse themwith relation-numbers, we

shall call them “cardinal numbers.” Thus cardinal numbers are the

numbers appropriate to classes. These include the ordinary integers

of daily life, and also certain inﬁnite numbers, of which we shall

speak later. When we speak of “numbers” without qualiﬁcation, we

are to be understood as meaning cardinal numbers. The deﬁnition of

a cardinal number, it will be remembered, is as follows:—

The “cardinal number” of a given class is the set of all those classes

that are similar to the given class.

The most obvious application of relation-numbers is to series.

Two series may be regarded as equally long when they have the

same relation-number. Two ﬁnite series will have the same relation-

number when their ﬁelds have the same cardinal number of terms,

and only then—i.e. a series of (say) 1¸ terms will have the same

relation-number as any other series of ﬁfteen terms, but will not have

the same relation-number as a series of 1± or 16 terms, nor, of course,

the same relation-number as a relation which is not serial. Thus, in

the quite special case of ﬁnite series, there is parallelism between

cardinal and relation-numbers. The relation-numbers applicable to

series may be | ¸; called “serial numbers” (what are commonly called

“ordinal numbers” are a sub-class of these); thus a ﬁnite serial number

is determinate when we know the cardinal number of terms in the

ﬁeld of a series having the serial number in question. If n is a ﬁnite

cardinal number, the relation-number of a series which has n terms

is called the “ordinal” number n. (There are also inﬁnite ordinal

numbers, but of them we shall speak in a later chapter.) When the

cardinal number of terms in the ﬁeld of a series is inﬁnite, the relation-

number of the series is not determined merely by the cardinal number,

indeed an inﬁnite number of relation-numbers exist for one inﬁnite

cardinal number, as we shall see when we come to consider inﬁnite

series. When a series is inﬁnite, what we may call its “length,” i.e. its

relation-number, may vary without change in the cardinal number;

but when a series is ﬁnite, this cannot happen.

We can deﬁne addition and multiplication for relation-numbers

as well as for cardinal numbers, and a whole arithmetic of relation-

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ±j

numbers can be developed. The manner in which this is to be done is

easily seen by considering the case of series. Suppose, for example,

that we wish to deﬁne the sum of two non-overlapping series in such

a way that the relation-number of the sum shall be capable of being

deﬁned as the sum of the relation-numbers of the two series. In the

ﬁrst place, it is clear that there is an order involved as between the

two series: one of them must be placed before the other. Thus if

P and Q are the generating relations of the two series, in the series

which is their sum with P put before Q, every member of the ﬁeld

of P will precede every member of the ﬁeld of Q. Thus the serial

relation which is to be deﬁned as the sum of P and Q is not “P or

Q” simply, but “P or Q or the relation of any member of the ﬁeld

of P to any member of the ﬁeld of Q.” Assuming that P and Q do

not overlap, this relation is serial, but “P or Q” is not serial, being

not connected, since it does not hold between a member of the ﬁeld

of P and a member of the ﬁeld of Q. Thus the sum of P and Q, as

above deﬁned, is what we need in order | ¸8 to deﬁne the sum of two

relation-numbers. Similar modiﬁcations are needed for products and

powers. The resulting arithmetic does not obey the commutative

law: the sum or product of two relation-numbers generally depends

upon the order in which they are taken. But it obeys the associative

law, one form of the distributive law, and two of the formal laws

for powers, not only as applied to serial numbers, but as applied

to relation-numbers generally. Relation-arithmetic, in fact, though

recent, is a thoroughly respectable branch of mathematics.

It must not be supposed, merely because series aﬀord the most

obvious application of the idea of likeness, that there are no other

applications that are important. We have already mentioned maps,

and we might extend our thoughts from this illustration to geometry

generally. If the system of relations by which a geometry is applied to

a certain set of terms can be brought fully into relations of likeness

with a system applying to another set of terms, then the geometry

of the two sets is indistinguishable from the mathematical point of

view, i.e. all the propositions are the same, except for the fact that

they are applied in one case to one set of terms and in the other to

another. We may illustrate this by the relations of the sort that may

be called “between,” which we considered in Chapter IV. We there

saw that, provided a three-term relation has certain formal logical

properties, it will give rise to series, and may be called a “between-

relation.” Given any two points, we can use the between-relation to

deﬁne the straight line determined by those two points; it consists

of a and b together with all points x, such that the between-relation

holds between the three points a, b, x in some order or other. It has

been shown by O. Veblen that we may regard our whole space as

the ﬁeld of a three-term between-relation, and deﬁne our geometry

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ±±

by the properties we assign to our between-relation.

1

Now likeness

is just as easily | ¸o deﬁnable between three-term relations as between

two-term relations. If B and B

**are two between-relations, so that
**

“xB(y, z)” means “x is between y and z with respect to B,” we shall

call S a correlator of B and B

if it has the ﬁeld of B

**for its converse
**

domain, and is such that the relation B holds between three terms

when B

**holds between their S-correlates, and only then. And we
**

shall say that B is like B

**when there is at least one correlator of B
**

with B

. The reader can easily convince himself that, if B is like B

in

this sense, there can be no diﬀerence between the geometry generated

by B and that generated by B

.

It follows from this that the mathematician need not concern him-

self with the particular being or intrinsic nature of his points, lines,

and planes, even when he is speculating as an applied mathematician.

We may say that there is empirical evidence of the approximate truth

of such parts of geometry as are not matters of deﬁnition. But there is

no empirical evidence as to what a “point” is to be. It has to be some-

thing that as nearly as possible satisﬁes our axioms, but it does not

have to be “very small” or “without parts.” Whether or not it is those

things is a matter of indiﬀerence, so long as it satisﬁes the axioms. If

we can, out of empirical material, construct a logical structure, no

matter how complicated, which will satisfy our geometrical axioms,

that structure may legitimately be called a “point.” We must not say

that there is nothing else that could legitimately be called a “point”;

we must only say: “This object we have constructed is suﬃcient for

the geometer; it may be one of many objects, any of which would be

suﬃcient, but that is no concern of ours, since this object is enough

to vindicate the empirical truth of geometry, in so far as geometry is

not a matter of deﬁnition.” This is only an illustration of the general

principle that what matters in mathematics, and to a very great extent

in physical science, is not the intrinsic nature of our terms, but the

logical nature of their interrelations.

We may say, of two similar relations, that they have the same

| 6o “structure.” For mathematical purposes (though not for those of

pure philosophy) the only thing of importance about a relation is the

cases in which it holds, not its intrinsic nature. Just as a class may

be deﬁned by various diﬀerent but co-extensive concepts—e.g. “man”

and “featherless biped”—so two relations which are conceptually

diﬀerent may hold in the same set of instances. An “instance” in

which a relation holds is to be conceived as a couple of terms, with an

order, so that one of the terms comes ﬁrst and the other second; the

couple is to be, of course, such that its ﬁrst term has the relation in

1

This does not apply to elliptic space, but only to spaces in which the straight

line is an open series. Modern Mathematics, edited by J. W. A. Young, pp. j–¸1

(monograph by O. Veblen on “The Foundations of Geometry”).

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ±¸

question to its second. Take (say) the relation “father”: we can deﬁne

what we may call the “extension” of this relation as the class of all

ordered couples (x, y) which are such that x is the father of y. From

the mathematical point of view, the only thing of importance about

the relation “father” is that it deﬁnes this set of ordered couples.

Speaking generally, we say:

The “extension” of a relation is the class of those ordered couples

(x, y) which are such that x has the relation in question to y.

We can now go a step further in the process of abstraction, and

consider what we mean by “structure.” Given any relation, we can, if

it is a suﬃciently simple one, construct a map of it. For the sake of def-

initeness, let us take a relation of which the extension is the following

couples: ab, ac, ad, bc, ce, dc, de, where a, b, c, d, e are ﬁve terms, no

d

c

a b

e

matter what. We may make a “map” of this

relation by taking ﬁve points on a plane and

connecting them by arrows, as in the accom-

panying ﬁgure. What is revealed by the map

is what we call the “structure” of the relation.

It is clear that the “structure” of the re-

lation does not depend upon the particular

terms that make up the ﬁeld of the relation.

The ﬁeld may be changed without chang-

ing the structure, and the structure may be

changed without changing the ﬁeld—for |

61 example, if we were to add the couple ae in 61

the above illustration we should alter the structure but not the ﬁeld.

Two relations have the same “structure,” we shall say, when the same

map will do for both—or, what comes to the same thing, when either

can be a map for the other (since every relation can be its own map).

And that, as a moment’s reﬂection shows, is the very same thing as

what we have called “likeness.” That is to say, two relations have the

same structure when they have likeness, i.e. when they have the same

relation-number. Thus what we deﬁned as the “relation-number” is

the very same thing as is obscurely intended by the word “structure”—

a word which, important as it is, is never (so far as we know) deﬁned

in precise terms by those who use it.

There has been a great deal of speculation in traditional philoso-

phy which might have been avoided if the importance of structure,

and the diﬃculty of getting behind it, had been realised. For example,

it is often said that space and time are subjective, but they have objec-

tive counterparts; or that phenomena are subjective, but are caused

by things in themselves, which must have diﬀerences inter se corre-

sponding with the diﬀerences in the phenomena to which they give

rise. Where such hypotheses are made, it is generally supposed that

we can know very little about the objective counterparts. In actual

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ±6

fact, however, if the hypotheses as stated were correct, the objective

counterparts would form a world having the same structure as the

phenomenal world, and allowing us to infer from phenomena the

truth of all propositions that can be stated in abstract terms and are

known to be true of phenomena. If the phenomenal world has three

dimensions, so must the world behind phenomena; if the phenomenal

world is Euclidean, so must the other be; and so on. In short, every

proposition having a communicable signiﬁcance must be true of both

worlds or of neither: the only diﬀerence must lie in just that essence

of individuality which always eludes words and baﬄes description,

but which, for that very reason, is irrelevant to science. Now the only

purpose that philosophers | 6z have in view in condemning phenomena 6z

is in order to persuade themselves and others that the real world is

very diﬀerent from the world of appearance. We can all sympathise

with their wish to prove such a very desirable proposition, but we

cannot congratulate them on their success. It is true that many of

them do not assert objective counterparts to phenomena, and these

escape from the above argument. Those who do assert counterparts

are, as a rule, very reticent on the subject, probably because they

feel instinctively that, if pursued, it will bring about too much of a

rapprochement between the real and the phenomenal world. If they

were to pursue the topic, they could hardly avoid the conclusions

which we have been suggesting. In such ways, as well as in many

others, the notion of structure or relation-number is important.

CHAPTER VII

RATIONAL, REAL, ANDCOMPLEX

NUMBERS

6j We have now seen how to deﬁne cardinal numbers, and also relation-

numbers, of which what are commonly called ordinal numbers are a

particular species. It will be found that each of these kinds of number

may be inﬁnite just as well as ﬁnite. But neither is capable, as it stands,

of the more familiar extensions of the idea of number, namely, the

extensions to negative, fractional, irrational, and complex numbers.

In the present chapter we shall brieﬂy supply logical deﬁnitions of

these various extensions.

One of the mistakes that have delayed the discovery of correct

deﬁnitions in this region is the common idea that each extension of

number included the previous sorts as special cases. It was thought

that, in dealing with positive and negative integers, the positive inte-

gers might be identiﬁed with the original signless integers. Again it

was thought that a fraction whose denominator is 1 may be identiﬁed

with the natural number which is its numerator. And the irrational

numbers, such as the square root of z, were supposed to ﬁnd their

place among rational fractions, as being greater than some of them

and less than the others, so that rational and irrational numbers could

be taken together as one class, called “real numbers.” And when the

idea of number was further extended so as to include “complex” num-

bers, i.e. numbers involving the square root of −1, it was thought that

real numbers could be regarded as those among complex numbers in

which the imaginary part (i.e. the part | 6± which was a multiple of the

square root of −1) was zero. All these suppositions were erroneous,

and must be discarded, as we shall ﬁnd, if correct deﬁnitions are to

be given.

Let us begin with positive and negative integers. It is obvious on a

moment’s consideration that +1 and −1 must both be relations, and

in fact must be each other’s converses. The obvious and suﬃcient

deﬁnition is that +1 is the relation of n +1 to n, and −1 is the relation

of n to n + 1. Generally, if m is any inductive number, +m will be

the relation of n +m to n (for any n), and −m will be the relation of

±;

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ±8

n to n + m. According to this deﬁnition, +m is a relation which is

one-one so long as n is a cardinal number (ﬁnite or inﬁnite) and m

is an inductive cardinal number. But +m is under no circumstances

capable of being identiﬁed with m, which is not a relation, but a class

of classes. Indeed, +m is every bit as distinct from m as −m is.

Fractions are more interesting than positive or negative integers.

We need fractions for many purposes, but perhaps most obviously

for purposes of measurement. My friend and collaborator Dr A. N.

Whitehead has developed a theory of fractions specially adapted

for their application to measurement, which is set forth in Principia

Mathematica.

1

But if all that is needed is to deﬁne objects having

the required purely mathematical properties, this purpose can be

achieved by a simpler method, which we shall here adopt. We shall

deﬁne the fraction m/n as being that relation which holds between

two inductive numbers x, y when xn = ym. This deﬁnition enables us

to prove that m/n is a one-one relation, provided neither m nor n is

zero. And of course n/m is the converse relation to m/n.

From the above deﬁnition it is clear that the fraction m/1 is that

relation between two integers x and y which consists in the fact that

x = my. This relation, like the relation +m, is by no means capable

of being identiﬁed with the inductive cardinal number m, because a

relation and a class of classes are objects | 6¸ of utterly diﬀerent kinds.

z

It will be seen that o/n is always the same relation, whatever inductive

number n may be; it is, in short, the relation of o to any other inductive

cardinal. We may call this the zero of rational numbers; it is not, of

course, identical with the cardinal number o. Conversely, the relation

m/o is always the same, whatever inductive number m may be. There

is not any inductive cardinal to correspond to m/o. We may call it

“the inﬁnity of rationals.” It is an instance of the sort of inﬁnite that

is traditional in mathematics, and that is represented by “∞.” This

is a totally diﬀerent sort from the true Cantorian inﬁnite, which we

shall consider in our next chapter. The inﬁnity of rationals does

not demand, for its deﬁnition or use, any inﬁnite classes or inﬁnite

integers. It is not, in actual fact, a very important notion, and we

could dispense with it altogether if there were any object in doing so.

The Cantorian inﬁnite, on the other hand, is of the greatest and most

fundamental importance; the understanding of it opens the way to

whole new realms of mathematics and philosophy.

It will be observed that zero and inﬁnity, alone among ratios, are

not one-one. Zero is one-many, and inﬁnity is many-one.

1

Vol. iii. ∗jooﬀ., especially joj.

z

Of course in practice we shall continue to speak of a fraction as (say) greater or

less than 1, meaning greater or less than the ratio 1/1. So long as it is understood

that the ratio 1/1 and the cardinal number 1 are diﬀerent, it is not necessary to be

always pedantic in emphasising the diﬀerence.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ±o

There is not any diﬃculty in deﬁning greater and less among ratios

(or fractions). Given two ratios m/n and p/q, we shall say that m/n is

less than p/q if mq is less than pn. There is no diﬃculty in proving

that the relation “less than,” so deﬁned, is serial, so that the ratios

form a series in order of magnitude. In this series, zero is the smallest

term and inﬁnity is the largest. If we omit zero and inﬁnity from our

series, there is no longer any smallest or largest ratio; it is obvious

that if m/n is any ratio other than zero and inﬁnity, m/zn is smaller

and zm/n is larger, though neither is zero or inﬁnity, so that m/n is

neither the smallest | 66 nor the largest ratio, and therefore (when zero

and inﬁnity are omitted) there is no smallest or largest, since m/n was

chosen arbitrarily. In like manner we can prove that however nearly

equal two fractions may be, there are always other fractions between

them. For, let m/n and p/q be two fractions, of which p/q is the

greater. Then it is easy to see (or to prove) that (m+p)/(n +q) will be

greater than m/n and less than p/q. Thus the series of ratios is one in

which no two terms are consecutive, but there are always other terms

between any two. Since there are other terms between these others,

and so on ad inﬁnitum, it is obvious that there are an inﬁnite number

of ratios between any two, however nearly equal these two may be.

j

A

series having the property that there are always other terms between

any two, so that no two are consecutive, is called “compact.” Thus

the ratios in order of magnitude form a “compact” series. Such series

have many important properties, and it is important to observe that

ratios aﬀord an instance of a compact series generated purely logically,

without any appeal to space or time or any other empirical datum.

Positive and negative ratios can be deﬁned in a way analogous to

that in which we deﬁned positive and negative integers. Having ﬁrst

deﬁned the sum of two ratios m/n and p/q as (mq +pn)/nq, we deﬁne

+p/q as the relation of m/n +p/q to m/n, where m/n is any ratio; and

−p/q is of course the converse of +p/q. This is not the only possible

way of deﬁning positive and negative ratios, but it is a way which, for

our purpose, has the merit of being an obvious adaptation of the way

we adopted in the case of integers.

We come now to a more interesting extension of the idea of num-

ber, i.e. the extension to what are called “real” numbers, which are

the kind that embrace irrationals. In Chapter I. we had occasion to

mention “incommensurables” and their | 6; discovery by Pythagoras.

It was through them, i.e. through geometry, that irrational numbers

were ﬁrst thought of. A square of which the side is one inch long will

have a diagonal of which the length is the square root of z inches. But,

as the ancients discovered, there is no fraction of which the square

j

Strictly speaking, this statement, as well as those following to the end of the

paragraph, involves what is called the “axiom of inﬁnity,” which will be discussed

in a later chapter.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸o

is z. This proposition is proved in the tenth book of Euclid, which is

one of those books that schoolboys supposed to be fortunately lost

in the days when Euclid was still used as a text-book. The proof is

extraordinarily simple. If possible, let m/n be the square root of z,

so that m

z

/n

z

= z, i.e. m

z

= zn

z

. Thus m

z

is an even number, and

therefore m must be an even number, because the square of an odd

number is odd. Now if m is even, m

z

must divide by ±, for if m = zp,

then m

z

= ±p

z

. Thus we shall have ±p

z

= zn

z

, where p is half of m.

Hence zp

z

= n

z

, and therefore n/p will also be the square root of z.

But then we can repeat the argument: if n = zq, p/q will also be the

square root of z, and so on, through an unending series of numbers

that are each half of its predecessor. But this is impossible; if we

divide a number by z, and then halve the half, and so on, we must

reach an odd number after a ﬁnite number of steps. Or we may put

the argument even more simply by assuming that the m/n we start

with is in its lowest terms; in that case, m and n cannot both be even;

yet we have seen that, if m

z

/n

z

= z, they must be. Thus there cannot

be any fraction m/n whose square is z.

Thus no fraction will express exactly the length of the diagonal

of a square whose side is one inch long. This seems like a challenge

thrown out by nature to arithmetic. However the arithmetician may

boast (as Pythagoras did) about the power of numbers, nature seems

able to baﬄe him by exhibiting lengths which no numbers can esti-

mate in terms of the unit. But the problem did not remain in this

geometrical form. As soon as algebra was invented, the same problem

arose as regards the solution of equations, though here it took on a

wider form, since it also involved complex numbers.

It is clear that fractions can be found which approach nearer | 68 and

nearer to having their square equal to z. We can form an ascending

series of fractions all of which have their squares less than z, but

diﬀering from z in their later members by less than any assigned

amount. That is to say, suppose I assign some small amount in

advance, say one-billionth, it will be found that all the terms of our

series after a certain one, say the tenth, have squares that diﬀer from

z by less than this amount. And if I had assigned a still smaller

amount, it might have been necessary to go further along the series,

but we should have reached sooner or later a term in the series, say

the twentieth, after which all terms would have had squares diﬀering

from z by less than this still smaller amount. If we set to work to

extract the square root of z by the usual arithmetical rule, we shall

obtain an unending decimal which, taken to so-and-so many places,

exactly fulﬁls the above conditions. We can equally well form a

descending series of fractions whose squares are all greater than z,

but greater by continually smaller amounts as we come to later terms

of the series, and diﬀering, sooner or later, by less than any assigned

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸1

amount. In this way we seemto be drawing a cordon round the square

root of z, and it may seem diﬃcult to believe that it can permanently

escape us. Nevertheless, it is not by this method that we shall actually

reach the square root of z.

If we divide all ratios into two classes, according as their squares

are less than z or not, we ﬁnd that, among those whose squares are

not less than z, all have their squares greater than z. There is no

maximum to the ratios whose square is less than z, and no minimum

to those whose square is greater than z. There is no lower limit short

of zero to the diﬀerence between the numbers whose square is a little

less than z and the numbers whose square is a little greater than z.

We can, in short, divide all ratios into two classes such that all the

terms in one class are less than all in the other, there is no maximum

to the one class, and there is no minimum to the other. Between these

two classes, where

√

z ought to be, there is nothing. Thus our | 6o cordon,

though we have drawn it as tight as possible, has been drawn in the

wrong place, and has not caught

√

z.

The above method of dividing all the terms of a series into two

classes, of which the one wholly precedes the other, was brought into

prominence by Dedekind,

±

and is therefore called a “Dedekind cut.”

With respect to what happens at the point of section, there are four

possibilities: (1) there may be a maximum to the lower section and a

minimum to the upper section, (z) there may be a maximum to the

one and no minimum to the other, (j) there may be no maximum

to the one, but a minimum to the other, (±) there may be neither a

maximum to the one nor a minimum to the other. Of these four cases,

the ﬁrst is illustrated by any series in which there are consecutive

terms: in the series of integers, for instance, a lower section must

end with some number n and the upper section must then begin with

n +1. The second case will be illustrated in the series of ratios if we

take as our lower section all ratios up to and including 1, and in our

upper section all ratios greater than 1. The third case is illustrated if

we take for our lower section all ratios less than 1, and for our upper

section all ratios from 1 upward (including 1 itself). The fourth case,

as we have seen, is illustrated if we put in our lower section all ratios

whose square is less than z, and in our upper section all ratios whose

square is greater than z.

We may neglect the ﬁrst of our four cases, since it only arises in

series where there are consecutive terms. In the second of our four

cases, we say that the maximum of the lower section is the lower limit

of the upper section, or of any set of terms chosen out of the upper

section in such a way that no term of the upper section is before all of

them. In the third of our four cases, we say that the minimum of the

±

Stetigkeit und irrationale Zahlen, znd edition, Brunswick, 18oz.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸z

upper section is the upper limit of the lower section, or of any set of

terms chosen out of the lower section in such a way that no term of

the lower section is after all of them. In the fourth case, we say that |

;o there is a “gap”: neither the upper section nor the lower has a limit or

a last term. In this case, we may also say that we have an “irrational

section,” since sections of the series of ratios have “gaps” when they

correspond to irrationals.

What delayed the true theory of irrationals was a mistaken belief

that there must be “limits” of series of ratios. The notion of “limit” is

of the utmost importance, and before proceeding further it will be

well to deﬁne it.

A term x is said to be an “upper limit” of a class α with respect

to a relation P if (1) α has no maximum in P, (z) every member of

α which belongs to the ﬁeld of P precedes x, (j) every member of

the ﬁeld of P which precedes x precedes some member of α. (By

“precedes” we mean “has the relation P to.”)

This presupposes the following deﬁnition of a “maximum”:—

A term x is said to be a “maximum” of a class α with respect to

a relation P if x is a member of α and of the ﬁeld of P and does not

have the relation P to any other member of α.

These deﬁnitions do not demand that the terms to which they

are applied should be quantitative. For example, given a series of

moments of time arranged by earlier and later, their “maximum” (if

any) will be the last of the moments; but if they are arranged by

later and earlier, their “maximum” (if any) will be the ﬁrst of the

moments.

The “minimum” of a class with respect to P is its maximum with

respect to the converse of P; and the “lower limit” with respect to P is

the upper limit with respect to the converse of P.

The notions of limit and maximum do not essentially demand

that the relation in respect to which they are deﬁned should be serial,

but they have few important applications except to cases when the

relation is serial or quasi-serial. A notion which is often important

is the notion “upper limit or maximum,” to which we may give the

name “upper boundary.” Thus the “upper boundary” of a set of terms

chosen out of a series is their last member if they have one, but, if not,

it is the ﬁrst term after all of them, if there is such a term. If there

is neither | ;1 a maximum nor a limit, there is no upper boundary. The

“lower boundary” is the lower limit or minimum.

Reverting to the four kinds of Dedekind section, we see that in

the case of the ﬁrst three kinds each section has a boundary (upper

or lower as the case may be), while in the fourth kind neither has

a boundary. It is also clear that, whenever the lower section has an

upper boundary, the upper section has a lower boundary. In the

second and third cases, the two boundaries are identical; in the ﬁrst,

they are consecutive terms of the series.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸j

A series is called “Dedekindian” when every section has a bound-

ary, upper or lower as the case may be.

We have seen that the series of ratios in order of magnitude is not

Dedekindian.

From the habit of being inﬂuenced by spatial imagination, people

have supposed that series must have limits in cases where it seems

odd if they do not. Thus, perceiving that there was no rational limit

to the ratios whose square is less than z, they allowed themselves

to “postulate” an irrational limit, which was to ﬁll the Dedekind gap.

Dedekind, in the above-mentioned work, set up the axiom that the

gap must always be ﬁlled, i.e. that every section must have a boundary.

It is for this reason that series where his axiom is veriﬁed are called

“Dedekindian.” But there are an inﬁnite number of series for which it

is not veriﬁed.

The method of “postulating” what we want has many advantages;

they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil. Let us

leave them to others and proceed with our honest toil.

It is clear that an irrational Dedekind cut in some way “represents”

an irrational. In order to make use of this, which to begin with is no

more than a vague feeling, we must ﬁnd some way of eliciting from

it a precise deﬁnition; and in order to do this, we must disabuse our

minds of the notion that an irrational must be the limit of a set of

ratios. Just as ratios whose denominator is 1 are not identical with

integers, so those rational | ;z numbers which can be greater or less

than irrationals, or can have irrationals as their limits, must not be

identiﬁed with ratios. We have to deﬁne a newkind of numbers called

“real numbers,” of which some will be rational and some irrational.

Those that are rational “correspond” to ratios, in the same kind of

way in which the ratio n/1 corresponds to the integer n; but they are

not the same as ratios. In order to decide what they are to be, let us

observe that an irrational is represented by an irrational cut, and a cut

is represented by its lower section. Let us conﬁne ourselves to cuts

in which the lower section has no maximum; in this case we will call

the lower section a “segment.” Then those segments that correspond

to ratios are those that consist of all ratios less than the ratio they

correspond to, which is their boundary; while those that represent

irrationals are those that have no boundary. Segments, both those

that have boundaries and those that do not, are such that, of any two

pertaining to one series, one must be part of the other; hence they can

all be arranged in a series by the relation of whole and part. A series

in which there are Dedekind gaps, i.e. in which there are segments

that have no boundary, will give rise to more segments than it has

terms, since each term will deﬁne a segment having that term for

boundary, and then the segments without boundaries will be extra.

We are now in a position to deﬁne a real number and an irrational

number.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸±

A “real number” is a segment of the series of ratios in order of

magnitude.

An “irrational number” is a segment of the series of ratios which

has no boundary.

A “rational real number” is a segment of the series of ratios which

has a boundary.

Thus a rational real number consists of all ratios less than a certain

ratio, and it is the rational real number corresponding to that ratio.

The real number 1, for instance, is the class of proper fractions. |

In ;j the cases in which we naturally supposed that an irrational

must be the limit of a set of ratios, the truth is that it is the limit of the

corresponding set of rational real numbers in the series of segments

ordered by whole and part. For example,

√

z is the upper limit of all

those segments of the series of ratios that correspond to ratios whose

square is less than z. More simply still,

√

z is the segment consisting

of all those ratios whose square is less than z.

It is easy to prove that the series of segments of any series is

Dedekindian. For, given any set of segments, their boundary will be

their logical sum, i.e. the class of all those terms that belong to at least

one segment of the set.

¸

The above deﬁnition of real numbers is an example of “construc-

tion” as against “postulation,” of which we had another example

in the deﬁnition of cardinal numbers. The great advantage of this

method is that it requires no new assumptions, but enables us to

proceed deductively from the original apparatus of logic.

There is no diﬃculty in deﬁning addition and multiplication for

real numbers as above deﬁned. Given two real numbers µ and ν, each

being a class of ratios, take any member of µ and any member of ν

and add them together according to the rule for the addition of ratios.

Form the class of all such sums obtainable by varying the selected

members of µ and ν. This gives a new class of ratios, and it is easy

to prove that this new class is a segment of the series of ratios. We

deﬁne it as the sum of µ and ν. We may state the deﬁnition more

shortly as follows:—

The arithmetical sum of two real numbers is the class of the arith-

metical sums of a member of the one and a member of the other

chosen in all possible ways. |

We ;± can deﬁne the arithmetical product of two real numbers in

exactly the same way, by multiplying a member of the one by a

member of the other in all possible ways. The class of ratios thus

generated is deﬁned as the product of the two real numbers. (In all

such deﬁnitions, the series of ratios is to be deﬁned as excluding o

and inﬁnity.)

¸

For a fuller treatment of the subject of segments and Dedekindian relations,

see Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗z1o–z1±. For a fuller treatment of real numbers,

see ibid., vol. iii. ∗j1oﬀ., and Principles of Mathematics, chaps. xxxiii. and xxxiv.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸¸

There is no diﬃculty in extending our deﬁnitions to positive and

negative real numbers and their addition and multiplication.

It remains to give the deﬁnition of complex numbers.

Complex numbers, though capable of a geometrical interpretation,

are not demanded by geometry in the same imperative way in which

irrationals are demanded. A “complex” number means a number

involving the square root of a negative number, whether integral,

fractional, or real. Since the square of a negative number is positive, a

number whose square is to be negative has to be a new sort of number.

Using the letter i for the square root of −1, any number involving the

square root of a negative number can be expressed in the form x +yi,

where x and y are real. The part yi is called the “imaginary” part of

this number, x being the “real” part. (The reason for the phrase “real

numbers” is that they are contrasted with such as are “imaginary.”)

Complex numbers have been for a long time habitually used by

mathematicians, in spite of the absence of any precise deﬁnition. It

has been simply assumed that they would obey the usual arithmetical

rules, and on this assumption their employment has been found

proﬁtable. They are required less for geometry than for algebra and

analysis. We desire, for example, to be able to say that every quadratic

equation has two roots, and every cubic equation has three, and so

on. But if we are conﬁned to real numbers, such an equation as

x

z

+1 = o has no roots, and such an equation as x

j

−1 = o has only one.

Every generalisation of number has ﬁrst presented itself as needed

for some simple problem: negative numbers were needed in order

that subtraction might be always possible, since otherwise a−b would

be meaningless if a were less than b; fractions were needed | ;¸ in order

that division might be always possible; and complex numbers are

needed in order that extraction of roots and solution of equations

may be always possible. But extensions of number are not created

by the mere need for them: they are created by the deﬁnition, and it

is to the deﬁnition of complex numbers that we must now turn our

attention.

A complex number may be regarded and deﬁned as simply an

ordered couple of real numbers. Here, as elsewhere, many deﬁnitions

are possible. All that is necessary is that the deﬁnitions adopted shall

lead to certain properties. In the case of complex numbers, if they

are deﬁned as ordered couples of real numbers, we secure at once

some of the properties required, namely, that two real numbers are

required to determine a complex number, and that among these we

can distinguish a ﬁrst and a second, and that two complex numbers

are only identical when the ﬁrst real number involved in the one

is equal to the ﬁrst involved in the other, and the second to the

second. What is needed further can be secured by deﬁning the rules

of addition and multiplication. We are to have

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸6

(x +yi) +(x

+y

i) = (x +x

) +(y +y

)i

(x +yi)(x

+y

i) = (xx

−yy

) +(xy

+x

y)i.

Thus we shall deﬁne that, given two ordered couples of real numbers,

(x, y) and (x

, y

), their sum is to be the couple (x +x

, y +y

), and their

product is to be the couple (xx

−yy

, xy

+x

y). By these deﬁnitions

we shall secure that our ordered couples shall have the properties

we desire. For example, take the product of the two couples (o, y)

and (o, y

). This will, by the above rule, be the couple (−yy

, o). Thus

the square of the couple (o, 1) will be the couple (−1, o). Now those

couples in which the second term is o are those which, according

to the usual nomenclature, have their imaginary part zero; in the

notation x + yi, they are x + oi, which it is natural to write simply

x. Just as it is natural (but erroneous) | ;6 to identify ratios whose

denominator is unity with integers, so it is natural (but erroneous)

to identify complex numbers whose imaginary part is zero with real

numbers. Although this is an error in theory, it is a convenience

in practice; “x +oi” may be replaced simply by “x” and “o +yi” by

“yi,” provided we remember that the “x” is not really a real number,

but a special case of a complex number. And when y is 1, “yi” may

of course be replaced by “i.” Thus the couple (o, 1) is represented

by i, and the couple (−1, o) is represented by −1. Now our rules of

multiplication make the square of (o, 1) equal to (−1, o), i.e. the square

of i is −1. This is what we desired to secure. Thus our deﬁnitions

serve all necessary purposes.

It is easy to give a geometrical interpretation of complex numbers

in the geometry of the plane. This subject was agreeably expounded

by W. K. Cliﬀord in his Common Sense of the Exact Sciences, a book

of great merit, but written before the importance of purely logical

deﬁnitions had been realised.

Complex numbers of a higher order, though much less useful

and important than those what we have been deﬁning, have certain

uses that are not without importance in geometry, as may be seen,

for example, in Dr Whitehead’s Universal Algebra. The deﬁnition

of complex numbers of order n is obtained by an obvious extension

of the deﬁnition we have given. We deﬁne a complex number of

order n as a one-many relation whose domain consists of certain

real numbers and whose converse domain consists of the integers

from 1 to n.

6

This is what would ordinarily be indicated by the

notation (x

1

, x

z

, x

j

, . . . x

n

), where the suﬃxes denote correlation with

the integers used as suﬃxes, and the correlation is one-many, not

necessarily one-one, because x

r

and x

s

may be equal when r and s are

not equal. The above deﬁnition, with a suitable rule of multiplication,

6

Cf. Principles of Mathematics, §j6o, p. j;o.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸;

will serve all purposes for which complex numbers of higher orders

are needed.

We have now completed our review of those extensions of number

which do not involve inﬁnity. The application of number to inﬁnite

collections must be our next topic.

CHAPTER VIII

INFINITE CARDINAL NUMBERS

;; The deﬁnition of cardinal numbers which we gave in Chapter II.

was applied in Chapter III. to ﬁnite numbers, i.e. to the ordinary

natural numbers. To these we gave the name “inductive numbers,”

because we found that they are to be deﬁned as numbers which

obey mathematical induction starting from o. But we have not yet

considered collections which do not have an inductive number of

terms, nor have we inquired whether such collections can be said

to have a number at all. This is an ancient problem, which has

been solved in our own day, chieﬂy by Georg Cantor. In the present

chapter we shall attempt to explain the theory of transﬁnite or inﬁnite

cardinal numbers as it results from a combination of his discoveries

with those of Frege on the logical theory of numbers.

It cannot be said to be certain that there are in fact any inﬁnite

collections in the world. The assumption that there are is what we call

the “axiom of inﬁnity.” Although various ways suggest themselves

by which we might hope to prove this axiom, there is reason to fear

that they are all fallacious, and that there is no conclusive logical

reason for believing it to be true. At the same time, there is certainly

no logical reason against inﬁnite collections, and we are therefore

justiﬁed, in logic, in investigating the hypothesis that there are such

collections. The practical form of this hypothesis, for our present

purposes, is the assumption that, if n is any inductive number, n

is not equal to n + 1. Various subtleties arise in identifying this

form of our assumption with | ;8 the form that asserts the existence

of inﬁnite collections; but we will leave these out of account until,

in a later chapter, we come to consider the axiom of inﬁnity on its

own account. For the present we shall merely assume that, if n is an

inductive number, n is not equal to n +1. This is involved in Peano’s

assumption that no two inductive numbers have the same successor;

for, if n = n + 1, then n − 1 and n have the same successor, namely

n. Thus we are assuming nothing that was not involved in Peano’s

primitive propositions.

Let us now consider the collection of the inductive numbers them-

selves. This is a perfectly well-deﬁned class. In the ﬁrst place, a

¸8

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers ¸o

cardinal number is a set of classes which are all similar to each other

and are not similar to anything except each other. We then deﬁne

as the “inductive numbers” those among cardinals which belong to

the posterity of o with respect to the relation of n to n +1, i.e. those

which possess every property possessed by o and by the successors

of possessors, meaning by the “successor” of n the number n + 1.

Thus the class of “inductive numbers” is perfectly deﬁnite. By our

general deﬁnition of cardinal numbers, the number of terms in the

class of inductive numbers is to be deﬁned as “all those classes that

are similar to the class of inductive numbers”—i.e. this set of classes

is the number of the inductive numbers according to our deﬁnitions.

Now it is easy to see that this number is not one of the inductive

numbers. If n is any inductive number, the number of numbers from

o to n (both included) is n+1; therefore the total number of inductive

numbers is greater than n, no matter which of the inductive numbers

n may be. If we arrange the inductive numbers in a series in order

of magnitude, this series has no last term; but if n is an inductive

number, every series whose ﬁeld has n terms has a last term, as it is

easy to prove. Such diﬀerences might be multiplied ad lib. Thus the

number of inductive numbers is a new number, diﬀerent from all of

them, not possessing all inductive properties. It may happen that o

has a certain | ;o property, and that if n has it so has n +1, and yet that

this newnumber does not have it. The diﬃculties that so long delayed

the theory of inﬁnite numbers were largely due to the fact that some,

at least, of the inductive properties were wrongly judged to be such

as must belong to all numbers; indeed it was thought that they could

not be denied without contradiction. The ﬁrst step in understanding

inﬁnite numbers consists in realising the mistakenness of this view.

The most noteworthy and astonishing diﬀerence between an in-

ductive number and this new number is that this new number is

unchanged by adding 1 or subtracting 1 or doubling or halving or

any of a number of other operations which we think of as necessarily

making a number larger or smaller. The fact of being not altered by

the addition of 1 is used by Cantor for the deﬁnition of what he calls

“transﬁnite” cardinal numbers; but for various reasons, some of which

will appear as we proceed, it is better to deﬁne an inﬁnite cardinal

number as one which does not possess all inductive properties, i.e.

simply as one which is not an inductive number. Nevertheless, the

property of being unchanged by the addition of 1 is a very important

one, and we must dwell on it for a time.

To say that a class has a number which is not altered by the

addition of 1 is the same thing as to say that, if we take a term x

which does not belong to the class, we can ﬁnd a one-one relation

whose domain is the class and whose converse domain is obtained by

adding x to the class. For in that case, the class is similar to the sum

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 6o

of itself and the term x, i.e. to a class having one extra term; so that

it has the same number as a class with one extra term, so that if n is

this number, n = n +1. In this case, we shall also have n = n −1, i.e.

there will be one-one relations whose domains consist of the whole

class and whose converse domains consist of just one term short of

the whole class. It can be shown that the cases in which this happens

are the same as the apparently more general cases in which some part

(short of the whole) can be put into one-one relation with the whole.

When this can be done, | 8o the correlator by which it is done may be

said to “reﬂect” the whole class into a part of itself; for this reason,

such classes will be called “reﬂexive.” Thus:

A “reﬂexive” class is one which is similar to a proper part of itself.

(A “proper part” is a part short of the whole.)

A“reﬂexive” cardinal number is the cardinal number of a reﬂexive

class.

We have now to consider this property of reﬂexiveness.

One of the most striking instances of a “reﬂexion” is Royce’s

illustration of the map: he imagines it decided to make a map of

England upon a part of the surface of England. Amap, if it is accurate,

has a perfect one-one correspondence with its original; thus our map,

which is part, is in one-one relation with the whole, and must contain

the same number of points as the whole, which must therefore be a

reﬂexive number. Royce is interested in the fact that the map, if it is

correct, must contain a map of the map, which must in turn contain

a map of the map of the map, and so on ad inﬁnitum. This point is

interesting, but need not occupy us at this moment. In fact, we shall

do well to pass from picturesque illustrations to such as are more

completely deﬁnite, and for this purpose we cannot do better than

consider the number-series itself.

The relation of n to n +1, conﬁned to inductive numbers, is one-

one, has the whole of the inductive numbers for its domain, and all

except o for its converse domain. Thus the whole class of inductive

numbers is similar to what the same class becomes when we omit

o. Consequently it is a “reﬂexive” class according to the deﬁnition,

and the number of its terms is a “reﬂexive” number. Again, the

relation of n to zn, conﬁned to inductive numbers, is one-one, has

the whole of the inductive numbers for its domain, and the even

inductive numbers alone for its converse domain. Hence the total

number of inductive numbers is the same as the number of even

inductive numbers. This property was used by Leibniz (and many

others) as a proof that inﬁnite numbers are impossible; it was thought

self-contradictory that | 81 “the part should be equal to the whole.” But

this is one of those phrases that depend for their plausibility upon

an unperceived vagueness: the word “equal” has many meanings,

but if it is taken to mean what we have called “similar,” there is

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 61

no contradiction, since an inﬁnite collection can perfectly well have

parts similar to itself. Those who regard this as impossible have,

unconsciously as a rule, attributed to numbers in general properties

which can only be proved by mathematical induction, and which

only their familiarity makes us regard, mistakenly, as true beyond

the region of the ﬁnite.

Whenever we can “reﬂect” a class into a part of itself, the same

relation will necessarily reﬂect that part into a smaller part, and so

on ad inﬁnitum. For example, we can reﬂect, as we have just seen, all

the inductive numbers into the even numbers; we can, by the same

relation (that of n to zn) reﬂect the even numbers into the multiples

of ±, these into the multiples of 8, and so on. This is an abstract

analogue to Royce’s problem of the map. The even numbers are a

“map” of all the inductive numbers; the multiples of ± are a map of

the map; the multiples of 8 are a map of the map of the map; and so

on. If we had applied the same process to the relation of n to n +1,

our “map” would have consisted of all the inductive numbers except

o; the map of the map would have consisted of all from z onward,

the map of the map of the map of all from j onward; and so on. The

chief use of such illustrations is in order to become familiar with the

idea of reﬂexive classes, so that apparently paradoxical arithmetical

propositions can be readily translated into the language of reﬂexions

and classes, in which the air of paradox is much less.

It will be useful to give a deﬁnition of the number which is that of

the inductive cardinals. For this purpose we will ﬁrst deﬁne the kind

of series exempliﬁed by the inductive cardinals in order of magnitude.

The kind of series which is called a “progression” has already been

considered in Chapter I. It is a series which can be generated by a

relation of consecutiveness: | 8z every member of the series is to have a

successor, but there is to be just one which has no predecessor, and

every member of the series is to be in the posterity of this term with

respect to the relation “immediate predecessor.” These characteristics

may be summed up in the following deﬁnition:—

1

A “progression” is a one-one relation such that there is just one

term belonging to the domain but not to the converse domain, and

the domain is identical with the posterity of this one term.

It is easy to see that a progression, so deﬁned, satisﬁes Peano’s ﬁve

axioms. The term belonging to the domain but not to the converse

domain will be what he calls “o”; the term to which a term has the

one-one relation will be the “successor” of the term; and the domain

of the one-one relation will be what he calls “number.” Taking his

ﬁve axioms in turn, we have the following translations:—

(1) “o is a number” becomes: “The member of the domain which

is not a member of the converse domain is a member of the domain.”

1

Cf. Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗1zj.

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 6z

This is equivalent to the existence of such a member, which is given

in our deﬁnition. We will call this member “the ﬁrst term.”

(z) “The successor of any number is a number” becomes: “The

term to which a given member of the domain has the relation in

question is again a member of the domain.” This is proved as follows:

By the deﬁnition, every member of the domain is a member of the

posterity of the ﬁrst term; hence the successor of a member of the

domain must be a member of the posterity of the ﬁrst term (because

the posterity of a term always contains its own successors, by the gen-

eral deﬁnition of posterity), and therefore a member of the domain,

because by the deﬁnition the posterity of the ﬁrst term is the same as

the domain.

(j) “No two numbers have the same successor.” This is only to

say that the relation is one-many, which it is by deﬁnition (being

one-one). |

(±) 8j “o is not the successor of any number” becomes: “The ﬁrst

term is not a member of the converse domain,” which is again an

immediate result of the deﬁnition.

(¸) This is mathematical induction, and becomes: “Every member

of the domain belongs to the posterity of the ﬁrst term,” which was

part of our deﬁnition.

Thus progressions as we have deﬁned them have the ﬁve formal

properties from which Peano deduces arithmetic. It is easy to show

that two progressions are “similar” in the sense deﬁned for similarity

of relations in Chapter VI. We can, of course, derive a relation which

is serial from the one-one relation by which we deﬁne a progression:

the method used is that explained in Chapter IV., and the relation is

that of a term to a member of its proper posterity with respect to the

original one-one relation.

Two transitive asymmetrical relations which generate progres-

sions are similar, for the same reasons for which the corresponding

one-one relations are similar. The class of all such transitive genera-

tors of progressions is a “serial number” in the sense of Chapter VI.; it

is in fact the smallest of inﬁnite serial numbers, the number to which

Cantor has given the name ω, by which he has made it famous.

But we are concerned, for the moment, with cardinal numbers.

Since two progressions are similar relations, it follows that their

domains (or their ﬁelds, which are the same as their domains) are

similar classes. The domains of progressions form a cardinal number,

since every class which is similar to the domain of a progression is

easily shown to be itself the domain of a progression. This cardinal

number is the smallest of the inﬁnite cardinal numbers; it is the one

to which Cantor has appropriated the Hebrew Aleph with the suﬃx

o, to distinguish it from larger inﬁnite cardinals, which have other

suﬃxes. Thus the name of the smallest of inﬁnite cardinals is ℵ

o

.

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 6j

To say that a class has ℵ

o

terms is the same thing as to say that it is

a member of ℵ

o

, and this is the same thing as to say | 8± that the members

of the class can be arranged in a progression. It is obvious that any

progression remains a progression if we omit a ﬁnite number of terms

from it, or every other term, or all except every tenth term or every

hundredth term. These methods of thinning out a progression do not

make it cease to be a progression, and therefore do not diminish the

number of its terms, which remains ℵ

o

. In fact, any selection from a

progression is a progression if it has no last term, however sparsely it

may be distributed. Take (say) inductive numbers of the form n

n

, or

n

n

n

. Such numbers grow very rare in the higher parts of the number

series, and yet there are just as many of them as there are inductive

numbers altogether, namely, ℵ

o

.

Conversely, we can add terms to the inductive numbers without

increasing their number. Take, for example, ratios. One might be

inclined to think that there must be many more ratios than integers,

since ratios whose denominator is 1 correspond to the integers, and

seemto be only an inﬁnitesimal proportion of ratios. But in actual fact

the number of ratios (or fractions) is exactly the same as the number

of inductive numbers, namely, ℵ

o

. This is easily seen by arranging

ratios in a series on the following plan: If the sum of numerator and

denominator in one is less than in the other, put the one before the

other; if the sum is equal in the two, put ﬁrst the one with the smaller

numerator. This gives us the series

1,

1

z

, z,

1

j

, j,

1

±

,

z

j

,

j

z

, ±,

1

¸

, . . .

This series is a progression, and all ratios occur in it sooner or later.

Hence we can arrange all ratios in a progression, and their number is

therefore ℵ

o

.

It is not the case, however, that all inﬁnite collections have ℵ

o

terms. The number of real numbers, for example, is greater than

ℵ

o

; it is, in fact, z

ℵ

o

, and it is not hard to prove that z

n

is greater

than n even when n is inﬁnite. The easiest way of proving this is

to prove, ﬁrst, that if a class has n members, it contains z

n

sub-

classes—in other words, that there are z

n

ways | 8¸ of selecting some of

its members (including the extreme cases where we select all or none);

and secondly, that the number of sub-classes contained in a class is

always greater than the number of members of the class. Of these two

propositions, the ﬁrst is familiar in the case of ﬁnite numbers, and is

not hard to extend to inﬁnite numbers. The proof of the second is so

simple and so instructive that we shall give it:

In the ﬁrst place, it is clear that the number of sub-classes of a

given class (say α) is at least as great as the number of members, since

each member constitutes a sub-class, and we thus have a correlation

of all the members with some of the sub-classes. Hence it follows that,

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 6±

if the number of sub-classes is not equal to the number of members,

it must be greater. Now it is easy to prove that the number is not

equal, by showing that, given any one-one relation whose domain is

the members and whose converse domain is contained among the

set of sub-classes, there must be at least one sub-class not belonging

to the converse domain. The proof is as follows:

z

When a one-one

correlation R is established between all the members of α and some

of the sub-classes, it may happen that a given member x is correlated

with a sub-class of which it is a member; or, again, it may happen that

x is correlated with a sub-class of which it is not a member. Let us

form the whole class, β say, of those members x which are correlated

with sub-classes of which they are not members. This is a sub-class

of α, and it is not correlated with any member of α. For, taking ﬁrst

the members of β, each of them is (by the deﬁnition of β) correlated

with some sub-class of which it is not a member, and is therefore not

correlated with β. Taking next the terms which are not members of β,

each of them (by the deﬁnition of β) is correlated with some sub-class

of which it is a member, and therefore again is not correlated with β.

Thus no member of α is correlated with β. Since R was any one-one

correlation of all members | 86 with some sub-classes, it follows that

there is no correlation of all members with all sub-classes. It does

not matter to the proof if β has no members: all that happens in

that case is that the sub-class which is shown to be omitted is the

null-class. Hence in any case the number of sub-classes is not equal

to the number of members, and therefore, by what was said earlier,

it is greater. Combining this with the proposition that, if n is the

number of members, z

n

is the number of sub-classes, we have the

theorem that z

n

is always greater than n, even when n is inﬁnite.

It follows from this proposition that there is no maximum to the

inﬁnite cardinal numbers. However great an inﬁnite number n may

be, z

n

will be still greater. The arithmetic of inﬁnite numbers is

somewhat surprising until one becomes accustomed to it. We have,

for example,

ℵ

o

+1 = ℵ

o

,

ℵ

o

+n = ℵ

o

, where n is any inductive number,

ℵ

o

z

= ℵ

o

.

z

This proof is taken from Cantor, with some simpliﬁcations: see Jahresbericht

der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung, i. (18oz), p. ;;.

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 6¸

(This follows from the case of the ratios, for, since a ratio is deter-

mined by a pair of inductive numbers, it is easy to see that the number

of ratios is the square of the number of inductive numbers, i.e. it is

ℵ

o

z

; but we saw that it is also ℵ

o

.)

ℵ

o

n

= ℵ

o

, where n is any inductive number.

(This follows from ℵ

o

z

= ℵ

o

by induction; for if ℵ

o

n

= ℵ

o

,

then ℵ

o

n+1

= ℵ

o

z

= ℵ

o

.)

But z

ℵ

o

> ℵ

o

.

In fact, as we shall see later, z

ℵ

o

is a very important number, namely,

the number of terms in a series which has “continuity” in the sense

in which this word is used by Cantor. Assuming space and time to be

continuous in this sense (as we commonly do in analytical geometry

and kinematics), this will be the number of points in space or of

instants in time; it will also be the number of points in any ﬁnite

portion of space, whether | 8; line, area, or volume. After ℵ

o

, z

ℵ

o

is the

most important and interesting of inﬁnite cardinal numbers.

Although addition and multiplication are always possible with

inﬁnite cardinals, subtraction and division no longer give deﬁnite

results, and cannot therefore be employed as they are employed in

elementary arithmetic. Take subtraction to begin with: so long as

the number subtracted is ﬁnite, all goes well; if the other number is

reﬂexive, it remains unchanged. Thus ℵ

o

−n = ℵ

o

, if n is ﬁnite; so far,

subtraction gives a perfectly deﬁnite result. But it is otherwise when

we subtract ℵ

o

from itself; we may then get any result, from o up to

ℵ

o

. This is easily seen by examples. From the inductive numbers,

take away the following collections of ℵ

o

terms:—

(1) All the inductive numbers—remainder, zero.

(z) All the inductive numbers from n onwards—remainder, the

numbers from o to n−1, numbering n terms in all.

(j) All the odd numbers—remainder, all the even numbers, num-

bering ℵ

o

terms.

All these are diﬀerent ways of subtracting ℵ

o

fromℵ

o

, and all give

diﬀerent results.

As regards division, very similar results follow from the fact that

ℵ

o

is unchanged when multiplied by z or j or any ﬁnite number n or

by ℵ

o

. It follows that ℵ

o

divided by ℵ

o

may have any value from 1 up

to ℵ

o

.

From the ambiguity of subtraction and division it results that

negative numbers and ratios cannot be extended to inﬁnite numbers.

Addition, multiplication, and exponentiation proceed quite satisfacto-

rily, but the inverse operations—subtraction, division, and extraction

of roots—are ambiguous, and the notions that depend upon them fail

when inﬁnite numbers are concerned.

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 66

The characteristic by which we deﬁned ﬁnitude was mathematical

induction, i.e. we deﬁned a number as ﬁnite when it obeys mathemat-

ical induction starting from o, and a class as ﬁnite when its number is

ﬁnite. This deﬁnition yields the sort of result that a deﬁnition ought

to yield, namely, that the ﬁnite | 88 numbers are those that occur in

the ordinary number-series o, 1, z, j, . . . But in the present chapter,

the inﬁnite numbers we have discussed have not merely been non-

inductive: they have also been reﬂexive. Cantor used reﬂexiveness

as the deﬁnition of the inﬁnite, and believes that it is equivalent to

non-inductiveness; that is to say, he believes that every class and

every cardinal is either inductive or reﬂexive. This may be true, and

may very possibly be capable of proof; but the proofs hitherto oﬀered

by Cantor and others (including the present author in former days)

are fallacious, for reasons which will be explained when we come

to consider the “multiplicative axiom.” At present, it is not known

whether there are classes and cardinals which are neither reﬂexive

nor inductive. If n were such a cardinal, we should not have n = n+1,

but n would not be one of the “natural numbers,” and would be

lacking in some of the inductive properties. All known inﬁnite classes

and cardinals are reﬂexive; but for the present it is well to preserve

an open mind as to whether there are instances, hitherto unknown,

of classes and cardinals which are neither reﬂexive nor inductive.

Meanwhile, we adopt the following deﬁnitions:—

A ﬁnite class or cardinal is one which is inductive.

An inﬁnite class or cardinal is one which is not inductive.

All reﬂexive classes and cardinals are inﬁnite; but it is not known at

present whether all inﬁnite classes and cardinals are reﬂexive. We

shall return to this subject in Chapter XII.

CHAPTER IX

INFINITE SERIES ANDORDINALS

8o An “inﬁnite series” may be deﬁned as a series of which the ﬁeld is an

inﬁnite class. We have already had occasion to consider one kind of

inﬁnite series, namely, progressions. In this chapter we shall consider

the subject more generally.

The most noteworthy characteristic of an inﬁnite series is that its

serial number can be altered by merely re-arranging its terms. In this

respect there is a certain oppositeness between cardinal and serial

numbers. It is possible to keep the cardinal number of a reﬂexive

class unchanged in spite of adding terms to it; on the other hand, it

is possible to change the serial number of a series without adding or

taking away any terms, by mere re-arrangement. At the same time,

in the case of any inﬁnite series it is also possible, as with cardinals,

to add terms without altering the serial number: everything depends

upon the way in which they are added.

In order to make matters clear, it will be best to begin with exam-

ples. Let us ﬁrst consider various diﬀerent kinds of series which can

be made out of the inductive numbers arranged on various plans. We

start with the series

1, z, j, ±, . . . n, . . .,

which, as we have already seen, represents the smallest of inﬁnite

serial numbers, the sort that Cantor calls ω. Let us proceed to thin out

this series by repeatedly performing the | oo operation of removing to the

end the ﬁrst even number that occurs. We thus obtain in succession

the various series:

1, j, ±, ¸, . . . n, . . . z,

1, j, ¸, 6, . . . n +1, . . . z, ±,

1, j, ¸, ;, . . . n +z, . . . z, ±, 6,

and so on. If we imagine this process carried on as long as possible,

we ﬁnally reach the series

1, j, ¸, ;, . . . zn +1, . . . z, ±, 6, 8, . . . zn, . . .,

6;

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals 68

in which we have ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all the even

numbers.

The serial numbers of these various series are ω + 1, ω + z, ω +

j, . . . zω. Each of these numbers is “greater” than any of its predeces-

sors, in the following sense:—

One serial number is said to be “greater” than another if any series

having the ﬁrst number contains a part having the second number,

but no series having the second number contains a part having the

ﬁrst number.

If we compare the two series

1, z, j, ±, . . . n, . . .

1, j, ±, ¸, . . . n +1, . . . z,

we see that the ﬁrst is similar to the part of the second which omits

the last term, namely, the number z, but the second is not similar to

any part of the ﬁrst. (This is obvious, but is easily demonstrated.)

Thus the second series has a greater serial number than the ﬁrst,

according to the deﬁnition—i.e. ω+1 is greater than ω. But if we add

a term at the beginning of a progression instead of the end, we still

have a progression. Thus 1 +ω = ω. Thus 1 +ω is not equal to ω+1.

This is characteristic of relation-arithmetic generally: if µ and ν are

two relation-numbers, the general rule is that µ +ν is not equal to

ν +µ. The case of ﬁnite ordinals, in which there is equality, is quite

exceptional.

The series we ﬁnally reached just now consisted of ﬁrst all the

odd numbers and then all the even numbers, and its serial | o1 number

is zω. This number is greater than ω or ω+n, where n is ﬁnite. It is to

be observed that, in accordance with the general deﬁnition of order,

each of these arrangements of integers is to be regarded as resulting

from some deﬁnite relation. E.g. the one which merely removes z to

the end will be deﬁned by the following relation: “x and y are ﬁnite

integers, and either y is z and x is not z, or neither is z and x is less

than y.” The one which puts ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all

the even ones will be deﬁned by: “x and y are ﬁnite integers, and

either x is odd and y is even or x is less than y and both are odd or

both are even.” We shall not trouble, as a rule, to give these formulæ

in future; but the fact that they could be given is essential.

The number which we have called zω, namely, the number of

a series consisting of two progressions, is sometimes called ω . z.

Multiplication, like addition, depends upon the order of the factors:

a progression of couples gives a series such as

x

1

, y

1

, x

z

, y

z

, x

j

, y

j

, . . . x

n

, y

n

, . . . ,

which is itself a progression; but a couple of progressions gives a

series which is twice as long as a progression. It is therefore necessary

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals 6o

to distinguish between zω and ω. z. Usage is variable; we shall use

zω for a couple of progressions and ω. z for a progression of couples,

and this decision of course governs our general interpretation of “α.β”

when α and β are relation-numbers: “α . β” will have to stand for a

suitably constructed sum of α relations each having β terms.

We can proceed indeﬁnitely with the process of thinning out the

inductive numbers. For example, we can place ﬁrst the odd numbers,

then their doubles, then the doubles of these, and so on. We thus

obtain the series

1, j, ¸, ;, . . .; z, 6, 1o, 1±, . . .; ±, 1z, zo, z8, . . .;

8, z±, ±o, ¸6, . . .,

of which the number is ω

z

, since it is a progression of progressions.

Any one of the progressions in this new series can of course be |

oz thinned out as we thinned out our original progression. We can

proceed to ω

j

, ω

±

, . . . ω

ω

, and so on; however far we have gone, we

can always go further.

The series of all the ordinals that can be obtained in this way, i.e.

all that can be obtained by thinning out a progression, is itself longer

than any series that can be obtained by re-arranging the terms of a

progression. (This is not diﬃcult to prove.) The cardinal number of

the class of such ordinals can be shown to be greater than ℵ

o

; it is the

number which Cantor calls ℵ

1

. The ordinal number of the series of all

ordinals that can be made out of an ℵ

o

, taken in order of magnitude,

is called ω

1

. Thus a series whose ordinal number is ω

1

has a ﬁeld

whose cardinal number is ℵ

1

.

We can proceed from ω

1

and ℵ

1

to ω

z

and ℵ

z

by a process exactly

analogous to that by which we advanced from ω and ℵ

o

to ω

1

and ℵ

1

.

And there is nothing to prevent us from advancing indeﬁnitely in this

way to new cardinals and new ordinals. It is not known whether z

ℵ

o

is equal to any of the cardinals in the series of Alephs. It is not even

known whether it is comparable with them in magnitude; for aught

we know, it may be neither equal to nor greater nor less than any

one of the Alephs. This question is connected with the multiplicative

axiom, of which we shall treat later.

All the series we have been considering so far in this chapter

have been what is called “well-ordered.” A well-ordered series is one

which has a beginning, and has consecutive terms, and has a termnext

after any selection of its terms, provided there are any terms after the

selection. This excludes, on the one hand, compact series, in which

there are terms between any two, and on the other hand series which

have no beginning, or in which there are subordinate parts having

no beginning. The series of negative integers in order of magnitude,

having no beginning, but ending with −1, is not well-ordered; but

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals ;o

taken in the reverse order, beginning with −1, it is well-ordered,

being in fact a progression. The deﬁnition is: |

A oj “well-ordered” series is one in which every sub-class (except, of

course, the null-class) has a ﬁrst term.

An “ordinal” number means the relation-number of a well-ordered

series. It is thus a species of serial number.

Among well-ordered series, a generalised form of mathematical

induction applies. A property may be said to be “transﬁnitely heredi-

tary” if, when it belongs to a certain selection of the terms in a series,

it belongs to their immediate successor provided they have one. In a

well-ordered series, a transﬁnitely hereditary property belonging to

the ﬁrst term of the series belongs to the whole series. This makes it

possible to prove many propositions concerning well-ordered series

which are not true of all series.

It is easy to arrange the inductive numbers in series which are

not well-ordered, and even to arrange them in compact series. For

example, we can adopt the following plan: consider the decimals

from ·1 (inclusive) to 1 (exclusive), arranged in order of magnitude.

These form a compact series; between any two there are always an

inﬁnite number of others. Now omit the dot at the beginning of each,

and we have a compact series consisting of all ﬁnite integers except

such as divide by 1o. If we wish to include those that divide by 1o,

there is no diﬃculty; instead of starting with ·1, we will include all

decimals less than 1, but when we remove the dot, we will transfer to

the right any o’s that occur at the beginning of our decimal. Omitting

these, and returning to the ones that have no o’s at the beginning,

we can state the rule for the arrangement of our integers as follows:

Of two integers that do not begin with the same digit, the one that

begins with the smaller digit comes ﬁrst. Of two that do begin with

the same digit, but diﬀer at the second digit, the one with the smaller

second digit comes ﬁrst, but ﬁrst of all the one with no second digit;

and so on. Generally, if two integers agree as regards the ﬁrst n dig-

its, but not as regards the (n + 1)

th

, that one comes ﬁrst which has

either no (n +1)

th

digit or a smaller one than the other. This rule of

arrangement, | o± as the reader can easily convince himself, gives rise

to a compact series containing all the integers not divisible by 1o;

and, as we saw, there is no diﬃculty about including those that are

divisible by 1o. It follows from this example that it is possible to

construct compact series having ℵ

o

terms. In fact, we have already

seen that there are ℵ

o

ratios, and ratios in order of magnitude form a

compact series; thus we have here another example. We shall resume

this topic in the next chapter.

Of the usual formal laws of addition, multiplication, and expo-

nentiation, all are obeyed by transﬁnite cardinals, but only some are

obeyed by transﬁnite ordinals, and those that are obeyed by them are

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals ;1

obeyed by all relation-numbers. By the “usual formal laws” we mean

the following:—

I. The commutative law:

α +β = β +α and α ×β = β ×α.

II. The associative law:

(α +β) +γ = α +(β +γ) and (α ×β) ×γ = α ×(β ×γ).

III. The distributive law:

α(β +γ) = αβ +αγ.

When the commutative law does not hold, the above form of the

distributive law must be distinguished from

(β +γ)α = βα +γα.

As we shall see immediately, one form may be true and the other

false.

IV. The laws of exponentiation:

α

β

. α

γ

= α

β+γ

, α

γ

. β

γ

= (αβ)

γ

, (α

β

)

γ

= α

βγ

.

All these laws hold for cardinals, whether ﬁnite or inﬁnite, and

for ﬁnite ordinals. But when we come to inﬁnite ordinals, or indeed

to relation-numbers in general, some hold and some do not. The

commutative law does not hold; the associative law does hold; the

distributive law (adopting the convention | o¸ we have adopted above as

regards the order of the factors in a product) holds in the form

(β +γ)α = βα +γα,

but not in the form

α(β +γ) = αβ +αγ;

the exponential laws

α

β

. α

γ

= α

β+γ

and (α

β

)

γ

= α

βγ

still hold, but not the law

α

γ

. β

γ

= (αβ)

γ

,

which is obviously connected with the commutative law for multipli-

cation.

The deﬁnitions of multiplication and exponentiation that are

assumed in the above propositions are somewhat complicated. The

reader who wishes to know what they are and how the above laws

are proved must consult the second volume of Principia Mathematica,

∗1;z–1;6.

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals ;z

Ordinal transﬁnite arithmetic was developed by Cantor at an ear-

lier stage than cardinal transﬁnite arithmetic, because it has various

technical mathematical uses which led him to it. But from the point

of view of the philosophy of mathematics it is less important and

less fundamental than the theory of transﬁnite cardinals. Cardinals

are essentially simpler than ordinals, and it is a curious historical

accident that they ﬁrst appeared as an abstraction from the latter,

and only gradually came to be studied on their own account. This

does not apply to Frege’s work, in which cardinals, ﬁnite and transﬁ-

nite, were treated in complete independence of ordinals; but it was

Cantor’s work that made the world aware of the subject, while Frege’s

remained almost unknown, probably in the main on account of the

diﬃculty of his symbolism. And mathematicians, like other people,

have more diﬃculty in understanding and using notions which are

comparatively “simple” in the logical sense than in manipulating

more complex notions which are | o6 more akin to their ordinary prac-

tice. For these reasons, it was only gradually that the true importance

of cardinals in mathematical philosophy was recognised. The im-

portance of ordinals, though by no means small, is distinctly less

than that of cardinals, and is very largely merged in that of the more

general conception of relation-numbers.

CHAPTER X

LIMITS ANDCONTINUITY

o; The conception of a “limit” is one of which the importance in math-

ematics has been found continually greater than had been thought.

The whole of the diﬀerential and integral calculus, indeed practically

everything in higher mathematics, depends upon limits. Formerly, it

was supposed that inﬁnitesimals were involved in the foundations of

these subjects, but Weierstrass showed that this is an error: wherever

inﬁnitesimals were thought to occur, what really occurs is a set of ﬁ-

nite quantities having zero for their lower limit. It used to be thought

that “limit” was an essentially quantitative notion, namely, the notion

of a quantity to which others approached nearer and nearer, so that

among those others there would be some diﬀering by less than any

assigned quantity. But in fact the notion of “limit” is a purely ordinal

notion, not involving quantity at all (except by accident when the

series concerned happens to be quantitative). A given point on a

line may be the limit of a set of points on the line, without its be-

ing necessary to bring in co-ordinates or measurement or anything

quantitative. The cardinal number ℵ

o

is the limit (in the order of

magnitude) of the cardinal numbers 1, z, j, . . . n, . . . , although the

numerical diﬀerence between ℵ

o

and a ﬁnite cardinal is constant

and inﬁnite: from a quantitative point of view, ﬁnite numbers get

no nearer to ℵ

o

as they grow larger. What makes ℵ

o

the limit of the

ﬁnite numbers is the fact that, in the series, it comes immediately

after them, which is an ordinal fact, not a quantitative fact. |

There o8 are various forms of the notion of “limit,” of increasing

complexity. The simplest and most fundamental form, from which

the rest are derived, has been already deﬁned, but we will here repeat

the deﬁnitions which lead to it, in a general form in which they do not

demand that the relation concerned shall be serial. The deﬁnitions

are as follows:—

The “minima” of a class α with respect to a relation P are those

members of α and the ﬁeld of P (if any) to which no member of α has

the relation P.

The “maxima” with respect to P are the minima with respect to

the converse of P.

;j

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity ;±

The “sequents” of a class α with respect to a relation P are the

minima of the “successors” of α, and the “successors” of α are those

members of the ﬁeld of P to which every member of the common part

of α and the ﬁeld of P has the relation P.

The “precedents” with respect to P are the sequents with respect

to the converse of P.

The “upper limits” of α with respect to P are the sequents pro-

vided α has no maximum; but if α has a maximum, it has no upper

limits.

The “lower limits” with respect to P are the upper limits with

respect to the converse of P.

Whenever P has connexity, a class can have at most one maximum,

one minimum, one sequent, etc. Thus, in the cases we are concerned

with in practice, we can speak of “the limit” (if any).

When P is a serial relation, we can greatly simplify the above

deﬁnition of a limit. We can, in that case, deﬁne ﬁrst the “boundary”

of a class α, i.e. its limit or maximum, and then proceed to distinguish

the case where the boundary is the limit from the case where it is a

maximum. For this purpose it is best to use the notion of “segment.”

We will speak of the “segment of P deﬁned by a class α” as all

those terms that have the relation P to some one or more of the

members of α. This will be a segment in the sense deﬁned | oo in

Chapter VII.; indeed, every segment in the sense there deﬁned is the

segment deﬁned by some class α. If P is serial, the segment deﬁned

by α consists of all the terms that precede some term or other of α.

If α has a maximum, the segment will be all the predecessors of the

maximum. But if α has no maximum, every member of α precedes

some other member of α, and the whole of α is therefore included in

the segment deﬁned by α. Take, for example, the class consisting of

the fractions

1

z

,

j

±

,

;

8

,

1¸

16

, . . .,

i.e. of all fractions of the form 1 −1/z

n

for diﬀerent ﬁnite values of

n. This series of fractions has no maximum, and it is clear that the

segment which it deﬁnes (in the whole series of fractions in order of

magnitude) is the class of all proper fractions. Or, again, consider the

prime numbers, considered as a selection from the cardinals (ﬁnite

and inﬁnite) in order of magnitude. In this case the segment deﬁned

consists of all ﬁnite integers.

Assuming that P is serial, the “boundary” of a class α will be the

term x (if it exists) whose predecessors are the segment deﬁned by α.

A “maximum” of α is a boundary which is a member of α.

An “upper limit” of α is a boundary which is not a member of α.

If a class has no boundary, it has neither maximum nor limit. This

is the case of an “irrational” Dedekind cut, or of what is called a

“gap.”

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity ;¸

Thus the “upper limit” of a set of terms α with respect to a series

P is that term x (if it exists) which comes after all the α’s, but is such

that every earlier term comes before some of the α’s.

We may deﬁne all the “upper limiting-points” of a set of terms

β as all those that are the upper limits of sets of terms chosen out

of β. We shall, of course, have to distinguish upper limiting-points

from lower limiting-points. If we consider, for example, the series of

ordinal numbers:

1, z, j, . . . ω, ω+1, . . . zω, zω+1, . . . jω, . . . ω

z

, . . . ω

j

, . . . , |

the 1oo upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this series are those that have

no immediate predecessors, i.e.

1, ω, zω, jω, . . . ω

z

, ω

z

+ω, . . . zω

z

, . . . ω

j

. . .

The upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this new series will be

1, ω

z

, zω

z

, . . . ω

j

, ω

j

+ω

z

. . .

On the other hand, the series of ordinals—and indeed every well-

ordered series—has no lower limiting-points, because there are no

terms except the last that have no immediate successors. But if we

consider such a series as the series of ratios, every member of this

series is both an upper and a lower limiting-point for suitably chosen

sets. If we consider the series of real numbers, and select out of it

the rational real numbers, this set (the rationals) will have all the real

numbers as upper and lower limiting-points. The limiting-points of

a set are called its “ﬁrst derivative,” and the limiting-points of the

ﬁrst derivative are called the second derivative, and so on.

With regard to limits, we may distinguish various grades of what

may be called “continuity” in a series. The word “continuity” had

been used for a long time, but had remained without any precise

deﬁnition until the time of Dedekind and Cantor. Each of these two

men gave a precise signiﬁcance to the term, but Cantor’s deﬁnition is

narrower than Dedekind’s: a series which has Cantorian continuity

must have Dedekindian continuity, but the converse does not hold.

The ﬁrst deﬁnition that would naturally occur to a man seeking

a precise meaning for the continuity of series would be to deﬁne it

as consisting in what we have called “compactness,” i.e. in the fact

that between any two terms of the series there are others. But this

would be an inadequate deﬁnition, because of the existence of “gaps”

in series such as the series of ratios. We saw in Chapter VII. that there

are innumerable ways in which the series of ratios can be divided

into two parts, of which one wholly precedes the other, and of which

the ﬁrst has no last term, | 1o1 while the second has no ﬁrst term. Such a

state of aﬀairs seems contrary to the vague feeling we have as to what

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity ;6

should characterise “continuity,” and, what is more, it shows that

the series of ratios is not the sort of series that is needed for many

mathematical purposes. Take geometry, for example: we wish to be

able to say that when two straight lines cross each other they have a

point in common, but if the series of points on a line were similar to

the series of ratios, the two lines might cross in a “gap” and have no

point in common. This is a crude example, but many others might

be given to show that compactness is inadequate as a mathematical

deﬁnition of continuity.

It was the needs of geometry, as much as anything, that led to

the deﬁnition of “Dedekindian” continuity. It will be remembered

that we deﬁned a series as Dedekindian when every sub-class of the

ﬁeld has a boundary. (It is suﬃcient to assume that there is always an

upper boundary, or that there is always a lower boundary. If one of

these is assumed, the other can be deduced.) That is to say, a series is

Dedekindian when there are no gaps. The absence of gaps may arise

either through terms having successors, or through the existence of

limits in the absence of maxima. Thus a ﬁnite series or a well-ordered

series is Dedekindian, and so is the series of real numbers. The former

sort of Dedekindian series is excluded by assuming that our series is

compact; in that case our series must have a property which may, for

many purposes, be ﬁttingly called continuity. Thus we are led to the

deﬁnition:

A series has “Dedekindian continuity” when it is Dedekindian

and compact.

But this deﬁnition is still too wide for many purposes. Suppose,

for example, that we desire to be able to assign such properties to

geometrical space as shall make it certain that every point can be

speciﬁed by means of co-ordinates which are real numbers: this is not

insured by Dedekindian continuity alone. We want to be sure that

every point which cannot be speciﬁed by rational co-ordinates can be

speciﬁed as the limit of a progression of points | 1oz whose co-ordinates

are rational, and this is a further property which our deﬁnition does

not enable us to deduce.

We are thus led to a closer investigation of series with respect to

limits. This investigation was made by Cantor and formed the basis

of his deﬁnition of continuity, although, in its simplest form, this

deﬁnition somewhat conceals the considerations which have given

rise to it. We shall, therefore, ﬁrst travel through some of Cantor’s

conceptions in this subject before giving his deﬁnition of continuity.

Cantor deﬁnes a series as “perfect” when all its points are limiting-

points and all its limiting-points belong to it. But this deﬁnition does

not express quite accurately what he means. There is no correction

required so far as concerns the property that all its points are to be

limiting-points; this is a property belonging to compact series, and to

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity ;;

no others if all points are to be upper limiting- or all lower limiting-

points. But if it is only assumed that they are limiting-points one

way, without specifying which, there will be other series that will

have the property in question—for example, the series of decimals

in which a decimal ending in a recurring o is distinguished from the

corresponding terminating decimal and placed immediately before it.

Such a series is very nearly compact, but has exceptional terms which

are consecutive, and of which the ﬁrst has no immediate predecessor,

while the second has no immediate successor. Apart from such series,

the series in which every point is a limiting-point are compact series;

and this holds without qualiﬁcation if it is speciﬁed that every point

is to be an upper limiting-point (or that every point is to be a lower

limiting-point).

Although Cantor does not explicitly consider the matter, we must

distinguish diﬀerent kinds of limiting-points according to the nature

of the smallest sub-series by which they can be deﬁned. Cantor

assumes that they are to be deﬁned by progressions, or by regressions

(which are the converses of progressions). When every member of

our series is the limit of a progression or regression, Cantor calls our

series “condensed in itself” (insichdicht). |

We 1oj come now to the second property by which perfection was to

be deﬁned, namely, the property which Cantor calls that of being

“closed” (abgeschlossen). This, as we saw, was ﬁrst deﬁned as consisting

in the fact that all the limiting-points of a series belong to it. But this

only has any eﬀective signiﬁcance if our series is given as contained

in some other larger series (as is the case, e.g., with a selection of

real numbers), and limiting-points are taken in relation to the larger

series. Otherwise, if a series is considered simply on its own account,

it cannot fail to contain its limiting-points. What Cantor means is not

exactly what he says; indeed, on other occasions he says something

rather diﬀerent, which is what he means. What he really means is that

every subordinate series which is of the sort that might be expected

to have a limit does have a limit within the given series; i.e. every

subordinate series which has no maximum has a limit, i.e. every

subordinate series has a boundary. But Cantor does not state this for

every subordinate series, but only for progressions and regressions.

(It is not clear how far he recognises that this is a limitation.) Thus,

ﬁnally, we ﬁnd that the deﬁnition we want is the following:—

A series is said to be “closed” (abgeschlossen) when every progres-

sion or regression contained in the series has a limit in the series.

We then have the further definition:—

A series is “perfect” when it is condensed in itself and closed, i.e.

when every term is the limit of a progression or regression, and every

progression or regression contained in the series has a limit in the

series.

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity ;8

In seeking a deﬁnition of continuity, what Cantor has in mind

is the search for a deﬁnition which shall apply to the series of real

numbers and to any series similar to that, but to no others. For

this purpose we have to add a further property. Among the real

numbers some are rational, some are irrational; although the number

of irrationals is greater than the number of rationals, yet there are

rationals between any two real numbers, however | 1o± little the two may

diﬀer. The number of rationals, as we saw, is ℵ

o

. This gives a further

property which suﬃces to characterise continuity completely, namely,

the property of containing a class of ℵ

o

members in such a way that

some of this class occur between any two terms of our series, however

near together. This property, added to perfection, suﬃces to deﬁne

a class of series which are all similar and are in fact a serial number.

This class Cantor deﬁnes as that of continuous series.

We may slightly simplify his deﬁnition. To begin with, we say:

A “median class” of a series is a sub-class of the ﬁeld such that

members of it are to be found between any two terms of the series.

Thus the rationals are a median class in the series of real numbers.

It is obvious that there cannot be median classes except in compact

series.

We then ﬁnd that Cantor’s deﬁnition is equivalent to the follow-

ing:—

A series is “continuous” when (1) it is Dedekindian, (z) it contains

a median class having ℵ

o

terms.

To avoid confusion, we shall speak of this kind as “Cantorian

continuity.” It will be seen that it implies Dedekindian continuity,

but the converse is not the case. All series having Cantorian continuity

are similar, but not all series having Dedekindian continuity.

The notions of limit and continuity which we have been deﬁning

must not be confounded with the notions of the limit of a function for

approaches to a given argument, or the continuity of a function in the

neighbourhood of a given argument. These are diﬀerent notions, very

important, but derivative from the above and more complicated. The

continuity of motion (if motion is continuous) is an instance of the

continuity of a function; on the other hand, the continuity of space

and time (if they are continuous) is an instance of the continuity of

series, or (to speak more cautiously) of a kind of continuity which

can, by suﬃcient mathematical | 1o¸ manipulation, be reduced to the

continuity of series. In viewof the fundamental importance of motion

in applied mathematics, as well as for other reasons, it will be well

to deal brieﬂy with the notions of limits and continuity as applied

to functions; but this subject will be best reserved for a separate

chapter.

The deﬁnitions of continuity which we have been considering,

namely, those of Dedekind and Cantor, do not correspond very closely

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity ;o

to the vague idea which is associated with the word in the mind of

the man in the street or the philosopher. They conceive continuity

rather as absence of separateness, the sort of general obliteration of

distinctions which characterises a thick fog. Afog gives an impression

of vastness without deﬁnite multiplicity or division. It is this sort of

thing that a metaphysician means by “continuity,” declaring it, very

truly, to be characteristic of his mental life and of that of children

and animals.

The general idea vaguely indicated by the word “continuity” when

so employed, or by the word “ﬂux,” is one which is certainly quite

diﬀerent from that which we have been deﬁning. Take, for example,

the series of real numbers. Each is what it is, quite deﬁnitely and

uncompromisingly; it does not pass over by imperceptible degrees

into another; it is a hard, separate unit, and its distance from every

other unit is ﬁnite, though it can be made less than any given ﬁnite

amount assigned in advance. The question of the relation between

the kind of continuity existing among the real numbers and the

kind exhibited, e.g. by what we see at a given time, is a diﬃcult

and intricate one. It is not to be maintained that the two kinds are

simply identical, but it may, I think, be very well maintained that

the mathematical conception which we have been considering in this

chapter gives the abstract logical scheme to which it must be possible

to bring empirical material by suitable manipulation, if that material

is to be called “continuous” in any precisely deﬁnable sense. It would

be quite impossible | 1o6 to justify this thesis within the limits of the

present volume. The reader who is interested may read an attempt

to justify it as regards time in particular by the present author in

the Monist for 1o1±−¸, as well as in parts of Our Knowledge of the

External World. With these indications, we must leave this problem,

interesting as it is, in order to return to topics more closely connected

with mathematics.

CHAPTER XI

LIMITS ANDCONTINUITY OF

FUNCTIONS

1o; In this chapter we shall be concerned with the deﬁnition of the limit

of a function (if any) as the argument approaches a given value, and

also with the deﬁnition of what is meant by a “continuous function.”

Both of these ideas are somewhat technical, and would hardly de-

mand treatment in a mere introduction to mathematical philosophy

but for the fact that, especially through the so-called inﬁnitesimal

calculus, wrong views upon our present topics have become so ﬁrmly

embedded in the minds of professional philosophers that a prolonged

and considerable eﬀort is required for their uprooting. It has been

thought ever since the time of Leibniz that the diﬀerential and in-

tegral calculus required inﬁnitesimal quantities. Mathematicians

(especially Weierstrass) proved that this is an error; but errors incor-

porated, e.g. in what Hegel has to say about mathematics, die hard,

and philosophers have tended to ignore the work of such men as

Weierstrass.

Limits and continuity of functions, in works on ordinary mathe-

matics, are deﬁned in terms involving number. This is not essential,

as Dr Whitehead has shown.

1

We will, however, begin with the deﬁ-

nitions in the text-books, and proceed afterwards to show how these

deﬁnitions can be generalised so as to apply to series in general, and

not only to such as are numerical or numerically measurable.

Let us consider any ordinary mathematical function f x, where

| 1o8 x and f x are both real numbers, and f x is one-valued—i.e. when

x is given, there is only one value that f x can have. We call x the

“argument,” and f x the “value for the argument x.” When a function

is what we call “continuous,” the rough idea for which we are seeking

a precise deﬁnition is that small diﬀerences in x shall correspond

to small diﬀerences in f x, and if we make the diﬀerences in x small

enough, we can make the diﬀerences in f x fall below any assigned

amount. We do not want, if a function is to be continuous, that

1

See Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗zjo–zj±.

8o

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 81

there shall be sudden jumps, so that, for some value of x, any change,

however small, will make a change in f x which exceeds some assigned

ﬁnite amount. The ordinary simple functions of mathematics have

this property: it belongs, for example, to x

z

, x

j

, . . . logx, sinx, and so

on. But it is not at all diﬃcult to deﬁne discontinuous functions. Take,

as a non-mathematical example, “the place of birth of the youngest

person living at time t.” This is a function of t; its value is constant

from the time of one person’s birth to the time of the next birth, and

then the value changes suddenly from one birthplace to the other. An

analogous mathematical example would be “the integer next below

x,” where x is a real number. This function remains constant from

one integer to the next, and then gives a sudden jump. The actual fact

is that, though continuous functions are more familiar, they are the

exceptions: there are inﬁnitely more discontinuous functions than

continuous ones.

Many functions are discontinuous for one or several values of the

variable, but continuous for all other values. Take as an example

sin1/x. The function sin θ passes through all values from −1 to 1

every time that θ passes from −π/z to π/z, or from π/z to jπ/z, or

generally from (zn−1)π/z to (zn+1)π/z, where n is any integer. Now

if we consider 1/x when x is very small, we see that as x diminishes

1/x grows faster and faster, so that it passes more and more quickly

through the cycle of values from one multiple of π/z to another as x

becomes smaller and smaller. Consequently sin1/x passes more and

more quickly from−1 | 1oo to 1 and back again, as x grows smaller. In fact,

if we take any interval containing o, say the interval from − to +

where is some very small number, sin1/x will go through an inﬁnite

number of oscillations in this interval, and we cannot diminish the

oscillations by making the interval smaller. Thus round about the

argument o the function is discontinuous. It is easy to manufacture

functions which are discontinuous in several places, or in ℵ

o

places,

or everywhere. Examples will be found in any book on the theory of

functions of a real variable.

Proceeding now to seek a precise deﬁnition of what is meant

by saying that a function is continuous for a given argument, when

argument and value are both real numbers, let us ﬁrst deﬁne a “neigh-

bourhood” of a number x as all the numbers from x− to x+, where

is some number which, in important cases, will be very small. It is

clear that continuity at a given point has to do with what happens in

any neighbourhood of that point, however small.

What we desire is this: If a is the argument for which we wish

our function to be continuous, let us ﬁrst deﬁne a neighbourhood (α

say) containing the value f a which the function has for the argument

a; we desire that, if we take a suﬃciently small neighbourhood con-

taining a, all values for arguments throughout this neighbourhood

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 8z

shall be contained in the neighbourhood α, no matter how small we

may have made α. That is to say, if we decree that our function is

not to diﬀer from f a by more than some very tiny amount, we can

always ﬁnd a stretch of real numbers, having a in the middle of it,

such that throughout this stretch f x will not diﬀer from f a by more

than the prescribed tiny amount. And this is to remain true what-

ever tiny amount we may select. Hence we are led to the following

deﬁnition:—

The function f (x) is said to be “continuous” for the argument a

if, for every positive number σ, diﬀerent from o, but as small as we

please, there exists a positive number , diﬀerent from o, such that,

for all values of δ which are numerically | 11o less

z

than , the diﬀerence

f (a +δ) −f (a) is numerically less than σ.

In this deﬁnition, σ ﬁrst deﬁnes a neighbourhood of f (a), namely,

the neighbourhood from f (a) − σ to f (a) + σ. The deﬁnition then

proceeds to say that we can (by means of ) deﬁne a neighbourhood,

namely, that from a − to a +, such that, for all arguments within

this neighbourhood, the value of the function lies within the neigh-

bourhood from f (a) − σ to f (a) +σ. If this can be done, however σ

may be chosen, the function is “continuous” for the argument a.

So far we have not deﬁned the “limit” of a function for a given

argument. If we had done so, we could have deﬁned the continuity

of a function diﬀerently: a function is continuous at a point where

its value is the same as the limit of its values for approaches either

from above or from below. But it is only the exceptionally “tame”

function that has a deﬁnite limit as the argument approaches a given

point. The general rule is that a function oscillates, and that, given

any neighbourhood of a given argument, however small, a whole

stretch of values will occur for arguments within this neighbourhood.

As this is the general rule, let us consider it ﬁrst.

Let us consider what may happen as the argument approaches

some value a from below. That is to say, we wish to consider what

happens for arguments contained in the interval froma− to a, where

is some number which, in important cases, will be very small.

The values of the function for arguments from a − to a (a ex-

cluded) will be a set of real numbers which will deﬁne a certain

section of the set of real numbers, namely, the section consisting of

those numbers that are not greater than all the values for arguments

from a − to a. Given any number in this section, there are values at

least as great as this number for arguments between a − and a, i.e.

for arguments that fall very little short | 111 of a (if is very small). Let

us take all possible ’s and all possible corresponding sections. The

common part of all these sections we will call the “ultimate section”

z

A number is said to be “numerically less” than when it lies between − and

+.

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 8j

as the argument approaches a. To say that a number z belongs to the

ultimate section is to say that, however small we may make , there

are arguments between a− and a for which the value of the function

is not less than z.

We may apply exactly the same process to upper sections, i.e. to

sections that go from some point up to the top, instead of from the

bottom up to some point. Here we take those numbers that are not

less than all the values for arguments from a − to a; this deﬁnes an

upper section which will vary as varies. Taking the common part of

all such sections for all possible ’s, we obtain the “ultimate upper

section.” To say that a number z belongs to the ultimate upper section

is to say that, however small we make , there are arguments between

a − and a for which the value of the function is not greater than z.

If a term z belongs both to the ultimate section and to the ultimate

upper section, we shall say that it belongs to the “ultimate oscillation.”

We may illustrate the matter by considering once more the function

sin1/x as x approaches the value o. We shall assume, in order to ﬁt in

with the above deﬁnitions, that this value is approached from below.

Let us begin with the “ultimate section.” Between − and o, what-

ever may be, the function will assume the value 1 for certain argu-

ments, but will never assume any greater value. Hence the ultimate

section consists of all real numbers, positive and negative, up to and

including 1; i.e. it consists of all negative numbers together with o,

together with the positive numbers up to and including 1.

Similarly the “ultimate upper section” consists of all positive

numbers together with o, together with the negative numbers down

to and including −1.

Thus the “ultimate oscillation” consists of all real numbers from

−1 to 1, both included. |

We 11z may say generally that the “ultimate oscillation” of a function

as the argument approaches a from below consists of all those num-

bers x which are such that, however near we come to a, we shall still

ﬁnd values as great as x and values as small as x.

The ultimate oscillation may contain no terms, or one term, or

many terms. In the ﬁrst two cases the function has a deﬁnite limit for

approaches from below. If the ultimate oscillation has one term, this

is fairly obvious. It is equally true if it has none; for it is not diﬃcult

to prove that, if the ultimate oscillation is null, the boundary of the

ultimate section is the same as that of the ultimate upper section, and

may be deﬁned as the limit of the function for approaches from below.

But if the ultimate oscillation has many terms, there is no deﬁnite

limit to the function for approaches from below. In this case we

can take the lower and upper boundaries of the ultimate oscillation

(i.e. the lower boundary of the ultimate upper section and the upper

boundary of the ultimate section) as the lower and upper limits of

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 8±

its “ultimate” values for approaches from below. Similarly we obtain

lower and upper limits of the “ultimate” values for approaches from

above. Thus we have, in the general case, four limits to a function for

approaches to a given argument. The limit for a given argument a only

exists when all these four are equal, and is then their common value.

If it is also the value for the argument a, the function is continuous

for this argument. This may be taken as deﬁning continuity: it is

equivalent to our former deﬁnition.

We can deﬁne the limit of a function for a given argument (if it

exists) without passing through the ultimate oscillation and the four

limits of the general case. The deﬁnition proceeds, in that case, just

as the earlier deﬁnition of continuity proceeded. Let us deﬁne the

limit for approaches from below. If there is to be a deﬁnite limit

for approaches to a from below, it is necessary and suﬃcient that,

given any small number σ, two values for arguments suﬃciently

near to a (but both less than a) will diﬀer | 11j by less than σ; i.e. if is

suﬃciently small, and our arguments both lie between a − and a (a

excluded), then the diﬀerence between the values for these arguments

will be less than σ. This is to hold for any σ, however small; in that

case the function has a limit for approaches from below. Similarly

we deﬁne the case when there is a limit for approaches from above.

These two limits, even when both exist, need not be identical; and if

they are identical, they still need not be identical with the value for

the argument a. It is only in this last case that we call the function

continuous for the argument a.

A function is called “continuous” (without qualiﬁcation) when it

is continuous for every argument.

Another slightly diﬀerent method of reaching the deﬁnition of

continuity is the following:—

Let us say that a function “ultimately converges into a class α”

if there is some real number such that, for this argument and all

arguments greater than this, the value of the function is a member of

the class α. Similarly we shall say that a function “converges into α

as the argument approaches x from below” if there is some argument

y less than x such that throughout the interval from y (included) to x

(excluded) the function has values which are members of α. We may

now say that a function is continuous for the argument a, for which

it has the value f a, if it satisﬁes four conditions, namely:—

(1) Given any real number less than f a, the function converges

into the successors of this number as the argument approaches a from

below;

(z) Given any real number greater than f a, the function converges

into the predecessors of this number as the argument approaches a

from below;

(j) and (±) Similar conditions for approaches to a from above.

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 8¸

The advantage of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses the con-

ditions of continuity into four, derived from considering arguments

and values respectively greater or less than the argument and value

for which continuity is to be deﬁned. |

We 11± may now generalise our deﬁnitions so as to apply to series

which are not numerical or known to be numerically measurable.

The case of motion is a convenient one to bear in mind. There is a

story by H. G. Wells which will illustrate, from the case of motion,

the diﬀerence between the limit of a function for a given argument

and its value for the same argument. The hero of the story, who

possessed, without his knowledge, the power of realising his wishes,

was being attacked by a policeman, but on ejaculating “Go to——”

he found that the policeman disappeared. If f (t) was the policeman’s

position at time t, and t

o

the moment of the ejaculation, the limit of

the policeman’s positions as t approached to t

o

from below would be

in contact with the hero, whereas the value for the argument t

o

was

—. But such occurrences are supposed to be rare in the real world, and

it is assumed, though without adequate evidence, that all motions

are continuous, i.e. that, given any body, if f (t) is its position at time

t, f (t) is a continuous function of t. It is the meaning of “continuity”

involved in such statements which we now wish to deﬁne as simply

as possible.

The deﬁnitions given for the case of functions where argument

and value are real numbers can readily be adapted for more general

use.

Let P and Q be two relations, which it is well to imagine serial,

though it is not necessary to our deﬁnitions that they should be so.

Let R be a one-many relation whose domain is contained in the ﬁeld

of P, while its converse domain is contained in the ﬁeld of Q. Then

R is (in a generalised sense) a function, whose arguments belong to

the ﬁeld of Q, while its values belong to the ﬁeld of P. Suppose, for

example, that we are dealing with a particle moving on a line: let

Q be the time-series, P the series of points on our line from left to

right, R the relation of the position of our particle on the line at time

a to the time a, so that “the R of a” is its position at time a. This

illustration may be borne in mind throughout our deﬁnitions.

We shall say that the function R is continuous for the argument

| 11¸ a if, given any interval α on the P-series containing the value of

the function for the argument a, there is an interval on the Q-series

containing a not as an end-point and such that, throughout this

interval, the function has values which are members of α. (We mean

by an “interval” all the terms between any two; i.e. if x and y are two

members of the ﬁeld of P, and x has the relation P to y, we shall mean

by the “P-interval x to y” all terms z such that x has the relation P to z

and z has the relation P to y—together, when so stated, with x or y

themselves.)

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 86

We can easily deﬁne the “ultimate section” and the “ultimate

oscillation.” To deﬁne the “ultimate section” for approaches to the

argument a frombelow, take any argument y which precedes a (i.e. has

the relation Q to a), take the values of the function for all arguments

up to and including y, and form the section of P deﬁned by these

values, i.e. those members of the P-series which are earlier than or

identical with some of these values. Form all such sections for all y’s

that precede a, and take their common part; this will be the ultimate

section. The ultimate upper section and the ultimate oscillation are

then deﬁned exactly as in the previous case.

The adaptation of the deﬁnition of convergence and the resulting

alternative deﬁnition of continuity oﬀers no diﬃculty of any kind.

We say that a function R is “ultimately Q-convergent into α” if

there is a member y of the converse domain of R and the ﬁeld of Q

such that the value of the function for the argument y and for any

argument to which y has the relation Q is a member of α. We say that

R “Q-converges into α as the argument approaches a given argument

a” if there is a term y having the relation Q to a and belonging to the

converse domain of R and such that the value of the function for any

argument in the Q-interval from y (inclusive) to a (exclusive) belongs

to α.

Of the four conditions that a function must fulﬁl in order to be

continuous for the argument a, the ﬁrst is, putting b for the value for

the argument a: |

Given 116 any term having the relation P to b, R Q-converges into the

successors of b (with respect to P) as the argument approaches a from

below.

The second condition is obtained by replacing P by its converse;

the third and fourth are obtained from the ﬁrst and second by replac-

ing Q by its converse.

There is thus nothing, in the notions of the limit of a function or

the continuity of a function, that essentially involves number. Both

can be deﬁned generally, and many propositions about them can

be proved for any two series (one being the argument-series and

the other the value-series). It will be seen that the deﬁnitions do

not involve inﬁnitesimals. They involve inﬁnite classes of intervals,

growing smaller without any limit short of zero, but they do not

involve any intervals that are not ﬁnite. This is analogous to the

fact that if a line an inch long be halved, then halved again, and so

on indeﬁnitely, we never reach inﬁnitesimals in this way: after n

bisections, the length of our bit is 1/z

n

of an inch; and this is ﬁnite

whatever ﬁnite number n may be. The process of successive bisection

does not lead to divisions whose ordinal number is inﬁnite, since it

is essentially a one-by-one process. Thus inﬁnitesimals are not to be

reached in this way. Confusions on such topics have had much to

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 8;

do with the diﬃculties which have been found in the discussion of

inﬁnity and continuity.

CHAPTER XII

SELECTIONS ANDTHE MULTIPLICATIVE

AXIOM

11; In this chapter we have to consider an axiomwhich can be enunciated,

but not proved, in terms of logic, and which is convenient, though not

indispensable, in certain portions of mathematics. It is convenient, in

the sense that many interesting propositions, which it seems natural

to suppose true, cannot be proved without its help; but it is not

indispensable, because even without those propositions the subjects

in which they occur still exist, though in a somewhat mutilated form.

Before enunciating the multiplicative axiom, we must ﬁrst explain

the theory of selections, and the deﬁnition of multiplication when

the number of factors may be inﬁnite.

In deﬁning the arithmetical operations, the only correct procedure

is to construct an actual class (or relation, in the case of relation-

numbers) having the required number of terms. This sometimes

demands a certain amount of ingenuity, but it is essential in order

to prove the existence of the number deﬁned. Take, as the simplest

example, the case of addition. Suppose we are given a cardinal

number µ, and a class α which has µ terms. How shall we deﬁne

µ + µ? For this purpose we must have two classes having µ terms,

and they must not overlap. We can construct such classes from α in

various ways, of which the following is perhaps the simplest: Form

ﬁrst all the ordered couples whose ﬁrst term is a class consisting of a

single member of α, and whose second term is the null-class; then,

secondly, form all the ordered couples whose ﬁrst term is | 118 the null-

class and whose second term is a class consisting of a single member

of α. These two classes of couples have no member in common, and

the logical sum of the two classes will have µ + µ terms. Exactly

analogously we can deﬁne µ +ν, given that µ is the number of some

class α and ν is the number of some class β.

Such deﬁnitions, as a rule, are merely a question of a suitable

technical device. But in the case of multiplication, where the num-

ber of factors may be inﬁnite, important problems arise out of the

deﬁnition.

88

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom 8o

Multiplication when the number of factors is ﬁnite oﬀers no diﬃ-

culty. Given two classes α and β, of which the ﬁrst has µ terms and

the second ν terms, we can deﬁne µ × ν as the number of ordered

couples that can be formed by choosing the ﬁrst term out of α and the

second out of β. It will be seen that this deﬁnition does not require

that α and β should not overlap; it even remains adequate when α

and β are identical. For example, let α be the class whose members

are x

1

, x

z

, x

j

. Then the class which is used to deﬁne the product µ×µ

is the class of couples:

(x

1

, x

1

), (x

1

, x

z

), (x

1

, x

j

); (x

z

, x

1

), (x

z

, x

z

), (x

z

, x

j

); (x

j

, x

1

),

(x

j

, x

z

), (x

j

, x

j

).

This deﬁnition remains applicable when µ or ν or both are inﬁnite,

and it can be extended step by step to three or four or any ﬁnite

number of factors. No diﬃculty arises as regards this deﬁnition,

except that it cannot be extended to an inﬁnite number of factors.

The problem of multiplication when the number of factors may

be inﬁnite arises in this way: Suppose we have a class κ consisting

of classes; suppose the number of terms in each of these classes is

given. How shall we deﬁne the product of all these numbers? If we

can frame our deﬁnition generally, it will be applicable whether κ is

ﬁnite or inﬁnite. It is to be observed that the problem is to be able

to deal with the case when κ is inﬁnite, not with the case when its

members are. If | 11o κ is not inﬁnite, the method deﬁned above is just as

applicable when its members are inﬁnite as when they are ﬁnite. It is

the case when κ is inﬁnite, even though its members may be ﬁnite,

that we have to ﬁnd a way of dealing with.

The following method of deﬁning multiplication generally is due

to Dr Whitehead. It is explained and treated at length in Principia

Mathematica, vol. i. ∗8oﬀ., and vol. ii. ∗11±.

Let us suppose to begin with that κ is a class of classes no two

of which overlap—say the constituencies in a country where there

is no plural voting, each constituency being considered as a class

of voters. Let us now set to work to choose one term out of each

class to be its representative, as constituencies do when they elect

members of Parliament, assuming that by law each constituency

has to elect a man who is a voter in that constituency. We thus

arrive at a class of representatives, who make up our Parliament,

one being selected out of each constituency. How many diﬀerent

possible ways of choosing a Parliament are there? Each constituency

can select any one of its voters, and therefore if there are µ voters in

a constituency, it can make µ choices. The choices of the diﬀerent

constituencies are independent; thus it is obvious that, when the total

number of constituencies is ﬁnite, the number of possible Parliaments

is obtained by multiplying together the numbers of voters in the

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom oo

various constituencies. When we do not know whether the number of

constituencies is ﬁnite or inﬁnite, we may take the number of possible

Parliaments as deﬁning the product of the numbers of the separate

constituencies. This is the method by which inﬁnite products are

deﬁned. We must now drop our illustration, and proceed to exact

statements.

Let κ be a class of classes, and let us assume to begin with that

no two members of κ overlap, i.e. that if α and β are two diﬀerent

members of κ, then no member of the one is a member of the other.

We shall call a class a “selection” from κ when it consists of just one

term from each member of κ; i.e. µ is a “selection” from κ if every

member of µ belongs to some member | 1zo of κ, and if α be any member

of κ, µ and α have exactly one term in common. The class of all

“selections” from κ we shall call the “multiplicative class” of κ. The

number of terms in the multiplicative class of κ, i.e. the number of

possible selections from κ, is deﬁned as the product of the numbers

of the members of κ. This deﬁnition is equally applicable whether κ

is ﬁnite or inﬁnite.

Before we can be wholly satisﬁed with these deﬁnitions, we must

remove the restriction that no two members of κ are to overlap. For

this purpose, instead of deﬁning ﬁrst a class called a “selection,” we

will deﬁne ﬁrst a relation which we will call a “selector.” A relation R

will be called a “selector” from κ if, from every member of κ, it picks

out one term as the representative of that member, i.e. if, given any

member α of κ, there is just one term x which is a member of α and

has the relation R to α; and this is to be all that R does. The formal

deﬁnition is:

A“selector” froma class of classes κ is a one-many relation, having

κ for its converse domain, and such that, if x has the relation to α,

then x is a member of α.

If R is a selector from κ, and α is a member of κ, and x is the term

which has the relation R to α, we call x the “representative” of α in

respect of the relation R.

A “selection” from κ will now be deﬁned as the domain of a

selector; and the multiplicative class, as before, will be the class of

selections.

But when the members of κ overlap, there may be more selectors

than selections, since a term x which belongs to two classes α and β

may be selected once to represent α and once to represent β, giving

rise to diﬀerent selectors in the two cases, but to the same selection.

For purposes of deﬁning multiplication, it is the selectors we require

rather than the selections. Thus we deﬁne:

“The product of the numbers of the members of a class of classes

κ” is the number of selectors from κ.

We can deﬁne exponentiation by an adaptation of the above |

1z1 plan. We might, of course, deﬁne µ

ν

as the number of selectors from

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom o1

ν classes, each of which has µ terms. But there are objections to

this deﬁnition, derived from the fact that the multiplicative axiom

(of which we shall speak shortly) is unnecessarily involved if it is

adopted. We adopt instead the following construction:—

Let α be a class having µ terms, and β a class having ν terms.

Let y be a member of β, and form the class of all ordered couples

that have y for their second term and a member of α for their ﬁrst

term. There will be µ such couples for a given y, since any member

of α may be chosen for the ﬁrst term, and α has µ members. If we

now form all the classes of this sort that result from varying y, we

obtain altogether ν classes, since y may be any member of β, and β

has ν members. These ν classes are each of them a class of couples,

namely, all the couples that can be formed of a variable member of

α and a ﬁxed member of β. We deﬁne µ

ν

as the number of selectors

from the class consisting of these ν classes. Or we may equally well

deﬁne µ

ν

as the number of selections, for, since our classes of couples

are mutually exclusive, the number of selectors is the same as the

number of selections. A selection from our class of classes will be a

set of ordered couples, of which there will be exactly one having any

given member of β for its second term, and the ﬁrst term may be any

member of α. Thus µ

ν

is deﬁned by the selectors from a certain set

of ν classes each having µ terms, but the set is one having a certain

structure and a more manageable composition than is the case in

general. The relevance of this to the multiplicative axiom will appear

shortly.

What applies to exponentiation applies also to the product of two

cardinals. We might deﬁne “µ ×ν” as the sum of the numbers of ν

classes each having µ terms, but we prefer to deﬁne it as the number

of ordered couples to be formed consisting of a member of α followed

by a member of β, where α has µ terms and β has ν terms. This

deﬁnition, also, is designed to evade the necessity of assuming the

multiplicative axiom. |

With 1zz our deﬁnitions, we can prove the usual formal laws of multi-

plication and exponentiation. But there is one thing we cannot prove:

we cannot prove that a product is only zero when one of its factors

is zero. We can prove this when the number of factors is ﬁnite, but

not when it is inﬁnite. In other words, we cannot prove that, given

a class of classes none of which is null, there must be selectors from

them; or that, given a class of mutually exclusive classes, there must

be at least one class consisting of one term out of each of the given

classes. These things cannot be proved; and although, at ﬁrst sight,

they seem obviously true, yet reﬂection brings gradually increasing

doubt, until at last we become content to register the assumption and

its consequences, as we register the axiom of parallels, without as-

suming that we can know whether it is true or false. The assumption,

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom oz

loosely worded, is that selectors and selections exist when we should

expect them. There are many equivalent ways of stating it precisely.

We may begin with the following:—

“Given any class of mutually exclusive classes, of which none is

null, there is at least one class which has exactly one term in common

with each of the given classes.”

This proposition we will call the “multiplicative axiom.”

1

We

will ﬁrst give various equivalent forms of the proposition, and then

consider certain ways in which its truth or falsehood is of interest to

mathematics.

The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the proposition that a

product is only zero when at least one of its factors is zero; i.e. that, if

any number of cardinal numbers be multiplied together, the result

cannot be o unless one of the numbers concerned is o.

The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the proposition that, if R

be any relation, and κ any class contained in the converse domain of

R, then there is at least one one-many relation implying R and having

κ for its converse domain.

The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the assumption that if α

be any class, and κ all the sub-classes of α with the exception | 1zj of the

null-class, then there is at least one selector fromκ. This is the formin

which the axiom was ﬁrst brought to the notice of the learned world

by Zermelo, in his “Beweis, dass jede Menge wohlgeordnet werden

kann.”

z

Zermelo regards the axiom as an unquestionable truth. It

must be confessed that, until he made it explicit, mathematicians

had used it without a qualm; but it would seem that they had done

so unconsciously. And the credit due to Zermelo for having made it

explicit is entirely independent of the question whether it is true or

false.

The multiplicative axiom has been shown by Zermelo, in the

above-mentioned proof, to be equivalent to the proposition that every

class can be well-ordered, i.e. can be arranged in a series in which

every sub-class has a ﬁrst term (except, of course, the null-class). The

full proof of this proposition is diﬃcult, but it is not diﬃcult to see

the general principle upon which it proceeds. It uses the form which

we call “Zermelo’s axiom,” i.e. it assumes that, given any class α, there

is at least one one-many relation R whose converse domain consists

of all existent sub-classes of α and which is such that, if x has the

relation R to ξ, then x is a member of ξ. Such a relation picks out a

“representative” from each sub-class; of course, it will often happen

that two sub-classes have the same representative. What Zermelo

does, in eﬀect, is to count oﬀ the members of α, one by one, by means

1

See Principia Mathematica, vol. i. ∗88. Also vol. iii. ∗z¸;–z¸8.

z

Mathematische Annalen, vol. lix. pp. ¸1±–6. In this form we shall speak of it as

Zermelo’s axiom.

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom oj

of R and transﬁnite induction. We put ﬁrst the representative of

α; call it x

1

. Then take the representative of the class consisting of

all of α except x

1

; call it x

z

. It must be diﬀerent from x

1

, because

every representative is a member of its class, and x

1

is shut out

from this class. Proceed similarly to take away x

z

, and let x

j

be the

representative of what is left. In this way we ﬁrst obtain a progression

x

1

, x

z

, . . . x

n

, . . ., assuming that α is not ﬁnite. We then take away

the whole progression; let x

ω

be the representative of what is left

of α. In this way we can go on until nothing is left. The successive

representatives will form a | 1z± well-ordered series containing all the

members of α. (The above is, of course, only a hint of the general

lines of the proof.) This proposition is called “Zermelo’s theorem.”

The multiplicative axiom is also equivalent to the assumption that

of any two cardinals which are not equal, one must be the greater.

If the axiom is false, there will be cardinals µ and ν such that µ is

neither less than, equal to, nor greater than ν. We have seen that ℵ

1

and z

ℵ

o

possibly form an instance of such a pair.

Many other forms of the axiom might be given, but the above are

the most important of the forms known at present. As to the truth

or falsehood of the axiom in any of its forms, nothing is known at

present.

The propositions that depend upon the axiom, without being

known to be equivalent to it, are numerous and important. Take ﬁrst

the connection of addition and multiplication. We naturally think

that the sum of ν mutually exclusive classes, each having µ terms,

must have µ×ν terms. When ν is ﬁnite, this can be proved. But when

ν is inﬁnite, it cannot be proved without the multiplicative axiom,

except where, owing to some special circumstance, the existence of

certain selectors can be proved. The way the multiplicative axiom

enters in is as follows: Suppose we have two sets of ν mutually

exclusive classes, each having µ terms, and we wish to prove that the

sum of one set has as many terms as the sum of the other. In order to

prove this, we must establish a one-one relation. Now, since there are

in each case ν classes, there is some one-one relation between the two

sets of classes; but what we want is a one-one relation between their

terms. Let us consider some one-one relation S between the classes.

Then if κ and λ are the two sets of classes, and α is some member of

κ, there will be a member β of λ which will be the correlate of α with

respect to S. Nowα and β each have µ terms, and are therefore similar.

There are, accordingly, one-one correlations of α and β. The trouble

is that there are so many. In order to obtain a one-one correlation of

the sum of κ with the sum of λ, we have to pick out one correlator of

α with β, and similarly for every other pair. This requires a selection

from a set of classes | 1z¸ of correlators, one class of the set being all the

one-one correlators of α with β. If κ and λ are inﬁnite, we cannot in

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom o±

general know that such a selection exists, unless we can know that

the multiplicative axiom is true. Hence we cannot establish the usual

kind of connection between addition and multiplication.

This fact has various curious consequences. To begin with, we

know that ℵ

o

z

= ℵ

o

×ℵ

o

= ℵ

o

. It is commonly inferred from this that

the sum of ℵ

o

classes each having ℵ

o

members must itself have ℵ

o

members, but this inference is fallacious, since we do not know that

the number of terms in such a sum is ℵ

o

×ℵ

o

, nor consequently that it

is ℵ

o

. This has a bearing upon the theory of transﬁnite ordinals. It is

easy to prove that an ordinal which has ℵ

o

predecessors must be one

of what Cantor calls the “second class,” i.e. such that a series having

this ordinal number will have ℵ

o

terms in its ﬁeld. It is also easy to

see that, if we take any progression of ordinals of the second class,

the predecessors of their limit form at most the sum of ℵ

o

classes

each having ℵ

o

terms. It is inferred thence—fallaciously, unless the

multiplicative axiom is true—that the predecessors of the limit are

ℵ

o

in number, and therefore that the limit is a number of the “second

class.” That is to say, it is supposed to be proved that any progression

of ordinals of the second class has a limit which is again an ordinal

of the second class. This proposition, with the corollary that ω

1

(the

smallest ordinal of the third class) is not the limit of any progression,

is involved in most of the recognised theory of ordinals of the second

class. In viewof the way in which the multiplicative axiomis involved,

the proposition and its corollary cannot be regarded as proved. They

may be true, or they may not. All that can be said at present is that

we do not know. Thus the greater part of the theory of ordinals of the

second class must be regarded as unproved.

Another illustration may help to make the point clearer. We

know that z×ℵ

o

= ℵ

o

. Hence we might suppose that the sum of ℵ

o

pairs must have ℵ

o

terms. But this, though we can prove that it is

sometimes the case, cannot be proved to happen always | 1z6 unless we

assume the multiplicative axiom. This is illustrated by the millionaire

who bought a pair of socks whenever he bought a pair of boots, and

never at any other time, and who had such a passion for buying

both that at last he had ℵ

o

pairs of boots and ℵ

o

pairs of socks. The

problem is: How many boots had he, and how many socks? One

would naturally suppose that he had twice as many boots and twice

as many socks as he had pairs of each, and that therefore he had ℵ

o

of each, since that number is not increased by doubling. But this is

an instance of the diﬃculty, already noted, of connecting the sum of

ν classes each having µ terms with µ×ν. Sometimes this can be done,

sometimes it cannot. In our case it can be done with the boots, but

not with the socks, except by some very artiﬁcial device. The reason

for the diﬀerence is this: Among boots we can distinguish right and

left, and therefore we can make a selection of one out of each pair,

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom o¸

namely, we can choose all the right boots or all the left boots; but with

socks no such principle of selection suggests itself, and we cannot be

sure, unless we assume the multiplicative axiom, that there is any

class consisting of one sock out of each pair. Hence the problem.

We may put the matter in another way. To prove that a class has

ℵ

o

terms, it is necessary and suﬃcient to ﬁnd some way of arranging

its terms in a progression. There is no diﬃculty in doing this with the

boots. The pairs are given as forming an ℵ

o

, and therefore as the ﬁeld

of a progression. Within each pair, take the left boot ﬁrst and the

right second, keeping the order of the pair unchanged; in this way we

obtain a progression of all the boots. But with the socks we shall have

to choose arbitrarily, with each pair, which to put ﬁrst; and an inﬁnite

number of arbitrary choices is an impossibility. Unless we can ﬁnd a

rule for selecting, i.e. a relation which is a selector, we do not know

that a selection is even theoretically possible. Of course, in the case

of objects in space, like socks, we always can ﬁnd some principle of

selection. For example, take the centres of mass of the socks: there

will be points p in space such that, with any | 1z; pair, the centres of mass

of the two socks are not both at exactly the same distance from p;

thus we can choose, from each pair, that sock which has its centre of

mass nearer to p. But there is no theoretical reason why a method of

selection such as this should always be possible, and the case of the

socks, with a little goodwill on the part of the reader, may serve to

show how a selection might be impossible.

It is to be observed that, if it were impossible to select one out

of each pair of socks, it would follow that the socks could not be

arranged in a progression, and therefore that there were not ℵ

o

of

them. This case illustrates that, if µ is an inﬁnite number, one set of µ

pairs may not contain the same number of terms as another set of µ

pairs; for, given ℵ

o

pairs of boots, there are certainly ℵ

o

boots, but we

cannot be sure of this in the case of the socks unless we assume the

multiplicative axiom or fall back upon some fortuitous geometrical

method of selection such as the above.

Another important problem involving the multiplicative axiom is

the relation of reﬂexiveness to non-inductiveness. It will be remem-

bered that in Chapter VIII. we pointed out that a reﬂexive number

must be non-inductive, but that the converse (so far as is known at

present) can only be proved if we assume the multiplicative axiom.

The way in which this comes about is as follows:—

It is easy to prove that a reﬂexive class is one which contains

sub-classes having ℵ

o

terms. (The class may, of course, itself have

ℵ

o

terms.) Thus we have to prove, if we can, that, given any non-

inductive class, it is possible to choose a progression out of its terms.

Now there is no diﬃculty in showing that a non-inductive class must

contain more terms than any inductive class, or, what comes to the

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom o6

same thing, that if α is a non-inductive class and ν is any inductive

number, there are sub-classes of α that have ν terms. Thus we can

form sets of ﬁnite sub-classes of α: First one class having no terms,

then classes having 1 term (as many as there are members of α), then

classes having | 1z8 z terms, and so on. We thus get a progression of sets

of sub-classes, each set consisting of all those that have a certain given

ﬁnite number of terms. So far we have not used the multiplicative

axiom, but we have only proved that the number of collections of

sub-classes of α is a reﬂexive number, i.e. that, if µ is the number of

members of α, so that z

µ

is the number of sub-classes of α and z

z

µ

is the number of collections of sub-classes, then, provided µ is not

inductive, z

z

µ

must be reﬂexive. But this is a long way from what we

set out to prove.

In order to advance beyond this point, we must employ the multi-

plicative axiom. From each set of sub-classes let us choose out one,

omitting the sub-class consisting of the null-class alone. That is to say,

we select one sub-class containing one term, α

1

, say; one containing

two terms, α

z

, say; one containing three, α

j

, say; and so on. (We can

do this if the multiplicative axiom is assumed; otherwise, we do not

knowwhether we can always do it or not.) We have nowa progression

α

1

, α

z

, α

j

, . . . of sub-classes of α, instead of a progression of collec-

tions of sub-classes; thus we are one step nearer to our goal. We now

know that, assuming the multiplicative axiom, if µ is a non-inductive

number, z

µ

must be a reﬂexive number.

The next step is to notice that, although we cannot be sure that

new members of α come in at any one speciﬁed stage in the progres-

sion α

1

, α

z

, α

j

, . . . we can be sure that new members keep on coming

in from time to time. Let us illustrate. The class α

1

, which consists

of one term, is a new beginning; let the one term be x

1

. The class

α

z

, consisting of two terms, may or may not contain x

1

; if it does, it

introduces one new term; and if it does not, it must introduce two

new terms, say x

z

, x

j

. In this case it is possible that α

j

consists of

x

1

, x

z

, x

j

, and so introduces no new terms, but in that case α

±

must

introduce a new term. The ﬁrst ν classes α

1

, α

z

, α

j

, . . . α

ν

contain,

at the very most, 1 +z +j +. . . +ν terms, i.e. ν(ν +1)/z terms; thus it

would be possible, if there were no repetitions in the ﬁrst ν classes, to

go on with only repetitions from the (ν +1)

th

| 1zo class to the ν(ν +1)/z

th

class. But by that time the old terms would no longer be suﬃciently

numerous to form a next class with the right number of members, i.e.

ν(ν +1)/z +1, therefore new terms must come in at this point if not

sooner. It follows that, if we omit from our progression α

1

, α

z

, α

j

, . . .

all those classes that are composed entirely of members that have

occurred in previous classes, we shall still have a progression. Let

our new progression be called β

1

, β

z

, β

j

. . . (We shall have α

1

= β

1

and α

z

= β

z

, because α

1

and α

z

must introduce new terms. We may

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom o;

or may not have α

j

= β

j

, but, speaking generally, β

µ

will be α

ν

, where

ν is some number greater than µ; i.e. the β’s are some of the α’s.) Now

these β’s are such that any one of them, say β

µ

, contains members

which have not occurred in any of the previous β’s. Let γ

µ

be the part

of β

µ

which consists of new members. Thus we get a new progression

γ

1

, γ

z

, γ

j

, . . . (Again γ

1

will be identical with β

1

and with α

1

; if α

z

does not contain the one member of α

1

, we shall have γ

z

= β

z

= α

z

,

but if α

z

does contain this one member, γ

z

will consist of the other

member of α

z

.) This new progression of γ’s consists of mutually

exclusive classes. Hence a selection from them will be a progression;

i.e. if x

1

is the member of γ

1

, x

z

is a member of γ

z

, x

j

is a member of

γ

j

, and so on; then x

1

, x

z

, x

j

, . . . is a progression, and is a sub-class of

α. Assuming the multiplicative axiom, such a selection can be made.

Thus by twice using this axiom we can prove that, if the axiom is

true, every non-inductive cardinal must be reﬂexive. This could also

be deduced from Zermelo’s theorem, that, if the axiom is true, every

class can be well-ordered; for a well-ordered series must have either

a ﬁnite or a reﬂexive number of terms in its ﬁeld.

There is one advantage in the above direct argument, as against

deduction from Zermelo’s theorem, that the above argument does

not demand the universal truth of the multiplicative axiom, but only

its truth as applied to a set of ℵ

o

classes. It may happen that the

axiom holds for ℵ

o

classes, though not for larger numbers of classes.

For this reason it is better, when | 1jo it is possible, to content ourselves

with the more restricted assumption. The assumption made in the

above direct argument is that a product of ℵ

o

factors is never zero

unless one of the factors is zero. We may state this assumption in

the form: “ℵ

o

is a multipliable number,” where a number ν is deﬁned

as “multipliable” when a product of ν factors is never zero unless

one of the factors is zero. We can prove that a ﬁnite number is always

multipliable, but we cannot prove that any inﬁnite number is so. The

multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the assumption that all cardinal

numbers are multipliable. But in order to identify the reﬂexive with

the non-inductive, or to deal with the problem of the boots and socks,

or to show that any progression of numbers of the second class is of

the second class, we only need the very much smaller assumption

that ℵ

o

is multipliable.

It is not improbable that there is much to be discovered in regard

to the topics discussed in the present chapter. Cases may be found

where propositions which seem to involve the multiplicative axiom

can be proved without it. It is conceivable that the multiplicative

axiom in its general form may be shown to be false. From this point

of view, Zermelo’s theorem oﬀers the best hope: the continuum or

some still more dense series might be proved to be incapable of hav-

ing its terms well-ordered, which would prove the multiplicative

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom o8

axiom false, in virtue of Zermelo’s theorem. But so far, no method of

obtaining such results has been discovered, and the subject remains

wrapped in obscurity.

CHAPTER XIII

THE AXIOMOF INFINITY ANDLOGICAL

TYPES

1j1 The axiom of inﬁnity is an assumption which may be enunciated as

follows:—

“If n be any inductive cardinal number, there is at least one class

of individuals having n terms.”

If this is true, it follows, of course, that there are many classes of

individuals having n terms, and that the total number of individuals

in the world is not an inductive number. For, by the axiom, there

is at least one class having n + 1 terms, from which it follows that

there are many classes of n terms and that n is not the number of

individuals in the world. Since n is any inductive number, it follows

that the number of individuals in the world must (if our axiom be

true) exceed any inductive number. In view of what we found in the

preceding chapter, about the possibility of cardinals which are neither

inductive nor reﬂexive, we cannot infer from our axiom that there are

at least ℵ

o

individuals, unless we assume the multiplicative axiom.

But we do know that there are at least ℵ

o

classes of classes, since the

inductive cardinals are classes of classes, and form a progression if

our axiom is true.

The way in which the need for this axiom arises may be explained

as follows. One of Peano’s assumptions is that no two inductive

cardinals have the same successor, i.e. that we shall not have m+1 =

n + 1 unless m = n, if m and n are inductive cardinals. In Chapter

VIII. we had occasion to use what is virtually the same as the above

assumption of Peano’s, namely, that, if n is an inductive cardinal, | 1jz n

is not equal to n +1. It might be thought that this could be proved.

We can prove that, if α is an inductive class, and n is the number of

members of α, then n is not equal to n +1. This proposition is easily

proved by induction, and might be thought to imply the other. But in

fact it does not, since there might be no such class as α. What it does

imply is this: If n is an inductive cardinal such that there is at least

one class having n members, then n is not equal to n +1. The axiom

of inﬁnity assures us (whether truly or falsely) that there are classes

oo

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1oo

having n members, and thus enables us to assert that n is not equal

to n +1. But without this axiom we should be left with the possibility

that n and n +1 might both be the null-class.

Let us illustrate this possibility by an example: Suppose there

were exactly nine individuals in the world. (As to what is meant by

the word “individual,” I must ask the reader to be patient.) Then the

inductive cardinals from o up to o would be such as we expect, but

1o (deﬁned as o +1) would be the null-class. It will be remembered

that n+1 may be deﬁned as follows: n+1 is the collection of all those

classes which have a term x such that, when x is taken away, there

remains a class of n terms. Now applying this deﬁnition, we see that,

in the case supposed, o +1 is a class consisting of no classes, i.e. it is

the null-class. The same will be true of o +z, or generally of o +n,

unless n is zero. Thus 1o and all subsequent inductive cardinals will

all be identical, since they will all be the null-class. In such a case

the inductive cardinals will not form a progression, nor will it be

true that no two have the same successor, for o and 1o will both be

succeeded by the null-class (1o being itself the null-class). It is in

order to prevent such arithmetical catastrophes that we require the

axiom of inﬁnity.

As a matter of fact, so long as we are content with the arithmetic of

ﬁnite integers, and do not introduce either inﬁnite integers or inﬁnite

classes or series of ﬁnite integers or ratios, it is possible to obtain all

desired results without the axiom of inﬁnity. That is to say, we can

deal with the addition, | 1jj multiplication, and exponentiation of ﬁnite

integers and of ratios, but we cannot deal with inﬁnite integers or

with irrationals. Thus the theory of the transﬁnite and the theory of

real numbers fails us. How these various results come about must

now be explained.

Assuming that the number of individuals in the world is n, the

number of classes of individuals will be z

n

. This is in virtue of the

general proposition mentioned in Chapter VIII. that the number of

classes contained in a class which has n members is z

n

. Now z

n

is

always greater than n. Hence the number of classes in the world is

greater than the number of individuals. If, now, we suppose the num-

ber of individuals to be o, as we did just now, the number of classes

will be z

o

, i.e. ¸1z. Thus if we take our numbers as being applied to

the counting of classes instead of to the counting of individuals, our

arithmetic will be normal until we reach ¸1z: the ﬁrst number to be

null will be ¸1j. And if we advance to classes of classes we shall do

still better: the number of them will be z

¸1z

, a number which is so

large as to stagger imagination, since it has about 1¸j digits. And if

we advance to classes of classes of classes, we shall obtain a number

represented by z raised to a power which has about 1¸j digits; the

number of digits in this number will be about three times 1o

1¸z

. In a

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1o1

time of paper shortage it is undesirable to write out this number, and

if we want larger ones we can obtain them by travelling further along

the logical hierarchy. In this way any assigned inductive cardinal can

be made to ﬁnd its place among numbers which are not null, merely

by travelling along the hierarchy for a suﬃcient distance.

1

As regards ratios, we have a very similar state of aﬀairs. If a ratio

µ/ν is to have the expected properties, there must be enough objects

of whatever sort is being counted to insure that the null-class does

not suddenly obtrude itself. But this can be insured, for any given

ratio µ/ν, without the axiom of | 1j± inﬁnity, by merely travelling up the

hierarchy a suﬃcient distance. If we cannot succeed by counting

individuals, we can try counting classes of individuals; if we still

do not succeed, we can try classes of classes, and so on. Ultimately,

however few individuals there may be in the world, we shall reach a

stage where there are many more than µ objects, whatever inductive

number µ may be. Even if there were no individuals at all, this would

still be true, for there would then be one class, namely, the null-class,

z classes of classes (namely, the null-class of classes and the class

whose only member is the null-class of individuals), ± classes of

classes of classes, 16 at the next stage, 6¸,¸j6 at the next stage, and

so on. Thus no such assumption as the axiom of inﬁnity is required

in order to reach any given ratio or any given inductive cardinal.

It is when we wish to deal with the whole class or series of induc-

tive cardinals or of ratios that the axiom is required. We need the

whole class of inductive cardinals in order to establish the existence

of ℵ

o

, and the whole series in order to establish the existence of pro-

gressions: for these results, it is necessary that we should be able to

make a single class or series in which no inductive cardinal is null.

We need the whole series of ratios in order of magnitude in order

to deﬁne real numbers as segments: this deﬁnition will not give the

desired result unless the series of ratios is compact, which it cannot

be if the total number of ratios, at the stage concerned, is ﬁnite.

It would be natural to suppose—as I supposed myself in former

days—that, by means of constructions such as we have been con-

sidering, the axiom of inﬁnity could be proved. It may be said: Let

us assume that the number of individuals is n, where n may be o

without spoiling our argument; then if we form the complete set of

individuals, classes, classes of classes, etc., all taken together, the

number of terms in our whole set will be

n +z

n

+z

z

n

. . . ad inf.,

which is ℵ

o

. Thus taking all kinds of objects together, and not |

1j¸ conﬁning ourselves to objects of any one type, we shall certainly

1

On this subject see Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗1zoﬀ. On the corresponding

problems as regards ratio, see ibid., vol. iii. ∗jojﬀ.

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1oz

obtain an inﬁnite class, and shall therefore not need the axiom of

inﬁnity. So it might be said.

Now, before going into this argument, the ﬁrst thing to observe

is that there is an air of hocus-pocus about it: something reminds

one of the conjurer who brings things out of the hat. The man who

has lent his hat is quite sure there wasn’t a live rabbit in it before,

but he is at a loss to say how the rabbit got there. So the reader, if he

has a robust sense of reality, will feel convinced that it is impossible

to manufacture an inﬁnite collection out of a ﬁnite collection of in-

dividuals, though he may be unable to say where the ﬂaw is in the

above construction. It would be a mistake to lay too much stress on

such feelings of hocus-pocus; like other emotions, they may easily

lead us astray. But they aﬀord a prima facie ground for scrutinising

very closely any argument which arouses them. And when the above

argument is scrutinised it will, in my opinion, be found to be fal-

lacious, though the fallacy is a subtle one and by no means easy to

avoid consistently.

The fallacy involved is the fallacy which may be called “confusion

of types.” To explain the subject of “types” fully would require a

whole volume; moreover, it is the purpose of this book to avoid

those parts of the subjects which are still obscure and controversial,

isolating, for the convenience of beginners, those parts which can

be accepted as embodying mathematically ascertained truths. Now

the theory of types emphatically does not belong to the ﬁnished

and certain part of our subject: much of this theory is still inchoate,

confused, and obscure. But the need of some doctrine of types is

less doubtful than the precise form the doctrine should take; and in

connection with the axiom of inﬁnity it is particularly easy to see the

necessity of some such doctrine.

This necessity results, for example, from the “contradiction of

the greatest cardinal.” We saw in Chapter VIII. that the number of

classes contained in a given class is always greater than the | 1j6 number

of members of the class, and we inferred that there is no greatest

cardinal number. But if we could, as we suggested a moment ago, add

together into one class the individuals, classes of individuals, classes

of classes of individuals, etc., we should obtain a class of which its

own sub-classes would be members. The class consisting of all objects

that can be counted, of whatever sort, must, if there be such a class,

have a cardinal number which is the greatest possible. Since all its

sub-classes will be members of it, there cannot be more of them than

there are members. Hence we arrive at a contradiction.

When I ﬁrst came upon this contradiction, in the year 1oo1, I

attempted to discover some ﬂaw in Cantor’s proof that there is no

greatest cardinal, which we gave in Chapter VIII. Applying this proof

to the supposed class of all imaginable objects, I was led to a new and

simpler contradiction, namely, the following:—

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1oj

The comprehensive class we are considering, which is to embrace

everything, must embrace itself as one of its members. In other

words, if there is such a thing as “everything,” then “everything” is

something, and is a member of the class “everything.” But normally

a class is not a member of itself. Mankind, for example, is not a man.

Form now the assemblage of all classes which are not members of

themselves. This is a class: is it a member of itself or not? If it is, it is

one of those classes that are not members of themselves, i.e. it is not a

member of itself. If it is not, it is not one of those classes that are not

members of themselves, i.e. it is a member of itself. Thus of the two

hypotheses—that it is, and that it is not, a member of itself—each

implies its contradictory. This is a contradiction.

There is no diﬃculty in manufacturing similar contradictions ad

lib. The solution of such contradictions by the theory of types is set

forth fully in Principia Mathematica,

z

and also, more brieﬂy, in articles

by the present author in the American Journal | 1j; of Mathematics

j

and in

the Revue de M´ etaphysique et de Morale.

±

For the present an outline of

the solution must suﬃce.

The fallacy consists in the formation of what we may call “impure”

classes, i.e. classes which are not pure as to “type.” As we shall see

in a later chapter, classes are logical ﬁctions, and a statement which

appears to be about a class will only be signiﬁcant if it is capable

of translation into a form in which no mention is made of the class.

This places a limitation upon the ways in which what are nominally,

though not really, names for classes can occur signiﬁcantly: a sentence

or set of symbols in which such pseudo-names occur in wrong ways

is not false, but strictly devoid of meaning. The supposition that a

class is, or that it is not, a member of itself is meaningless in just this

way. And more generally, to suppose that one class of individuals is a

member, or is not a member, of another class of individuals will be

to suppose nonsense; and to construct symbolically any class whose

members are not all of the same grade in the logical hierarchy is to use

symbols in a way which makes them no longer symbolise anything.

Thus if there are n individuals in the world, and z

n

classes of indi-

viduals, we cannot form a new class, consisting of both individuals

and classes and having n +z

n

members. In this way the attempt to

escape from the need for the axiom of inﬁnity breaks down. I do not

pretend to have explained the doctrine of types, or done more than

indicate, in rough outline, why there is need of such a doctrine. I have

aimed only at saying just so much as was required in order to show

that we cannot prove the existence of inﬁnite numbers and classes by

z

Vol. i., Introduction, chap. ii., ∗1z and ∗zo; vol. ii., Prefatory Statement.

j

“Mathematical Logic as based on the Theory of Types,” vol. xxx., 1oo8, pp.

zzz–z6z.

±

“Les paradoxes de la logique,” 1oo6, pp. 6z;–6¸o.

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1o±

such conjurer’s methods as we have been examining. There remain,

however, certain other possible methods which must be considered.

Various arguments professing to prove the existence of inﬁnite

classes are given in the Principles of Mathematics, §jjo (p. j¸;). | 1j8 In so

far as these arguments assume that, if n is an inductive cardinal, n

is not equal to n +1, they have been already dealt with. There is an

argument, suggested by a passage in Plato’s Parmenides, to the eﬀect

that, if there is such a number as 1, then 1 has being; but 1 is not

identical with being, and therefore 1 and being are two, and therefore

there is such a number as z, and z together with 1 and being gives

a class of three terms, and so on. This argument is fallacious, partly

because “being” is not a term having any deﬁnite meaning, and still

more because, if a deﬁnite meaning were invented for it, it would be

found that numbers do not have being—they are, in fact, what are

called “logical ﬁctions,” as we shall see when we come to consider

the deﬁnition of classes.

The argument that the number of numbers from o to n (both inclu-

sive) is n +1 depends upon the assumption that up to and including

n no number is equal to its successor, which, as we have seen, will

not be always true if the axiom of inﬁnity is false. It must be under-

stood that the equation n = n +1, which might be true for a ﬁnite n

if n exceeded the total number of individuals in the world, is quite

diﬀerent from the same equation as applied to a reﬂexive number.

As applied to a reﬂexive number, it means that, given a class of n

terms, this class is “similar” to that obtained by adding another term.

But as applied to a number which is too great for the actual world, it

merely means that there is no class of n individuals, and no class of

n +1 individuals; it does not mean that, if we mount the hierarchy

of types suﬃciently far to secure the existence of a class of n terms,

we shall then ﬁnd this class “similar” to one of n +1 terms, for if n is

inductive this will not be the case, quite independently of the truth

or falsehood of the axiom of inﬁnity.

There is an argument employed by both Bolzano

¸

and Dedekind

6

to prove the existence of reﬂexive classes. The argument, in brief, is

this: An object is not identical with the idea of the | 1jo object, but there

is (at least in the realm of being) an idea of any object. The relation of

an object to the idea of it is one-one, and ideas are only some among

objects. Hence the relation “idea of” constitutes a reﬂexion of the

whole class of objects into a part of itself, namely, into that part which

consists of ideas. Accordingly, the class of objects and the class of

ideas are both inﬁnite. This argument is interesting, not only on its

own account, but because the mistakes in it (or what I judge to be

¸

Bolzano, Paradoxien des Unendlichen, 1j.

6

Dedekind, Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen? No. 66.

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1o¸

mistakes) are of a kind which it is instructive to note. The main error

consists in assuming that there is an idea of every object. It is, of

course, exceedingly diﬃcult to decide what is meant by an “idea”;

but let us assume that we know. We are then to suppose that, starting

(say) with Socrates, there is the idea of Socrates, and then the idea

of the idea of Socrates, and so on ad inf. Now it is plain that this is

not the case in the sense that all these ideas have actual empirical

existence in people’s minds. Beyond the third or fourth stage they be-

come mythical. If the argument is to be upheld, the “ideas” intended

must be Platonic ideas laid up in heaven, for certainly they are not on

earth. But then it at once becomes doubtful whether there are such

ideas. If we are to know that there are, it must be on the basis of some

logical theory, proving that it is necessary to a thing that there should

be an idea of it. We certainly cannot obtain this result empirically, or

apply it, as Dedekind does, to “meine Gedankenwelt”—the world of

my thoughts.

If we were concerned to examine fully the relation of idea and

object, we should have to enter upon a number of psychological and

logical inquiries, which are not relevant to our main purpose. But

a few further points should be noted. If “idea” is to be understood

logically, it may be identical with the object, or it may stand for a

description (in the sense to be explained in a subsequent chapter). In

the former case the argument fails, because it was essential to the

proof of reﬂexiveness that object and idea should be distinct. In the

second case the argument also fails, because the relation of object

and description is not | 1±o one-one: there are innumerable correct de-

scriptions of any given object. Socrates (e.g.) may be described as

“the master of Plato,” or as “the philosopher who drank the hem-

lock,” or as “the husband of Xantippe.” If—to take up the remaining

hypothesis—“idea” is to be interpreted psychologically, it must be

maintained that there is not any one deﬁnite psychological entity

which could be called the idea of the object: there are innumerable

beliefs and attitudes, each of which could be called an idea of the

object in the sense in which we might say “my idea of Socrates is

quite diﬀerent from yours,” but there is not any central entity (ex-

cept Socrates himself) to bind together various “ideas of Socrates,”

and thus there is not any such one-one relation of idea and object

as the argument supposes. Nor, of course, as we have already noted,

is it true psychologically that there are ideas (in however extended

a sense) of more than a tiny proportion of the things in the world.

For all these reasons, the above argument in favour of the logical

existence of reﬂexive classes must be rejected.

It might be thought that, whatever may be said of logical argu-

ments, the empirical arguments derivable from space and time, the

diversity of colours, etc., are quite suﬃcient to prove the actual exis-

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1o6

tence of an inﬁnite number of particulars. I do not believe this. We

have no reason except prejudice for believing in the inﬁnite extent

of space and time, at any rate in the sense in which space and time

are physical facts, not mathematical ﬁctions. We naturally regard

space and time as continuous, or, at least, as compact; but this again

is mainly prejudice. The theory of “quanta” in physics, whether true

or false, illustrates the fact that physics can never aﬀord proof of

continuity, though it might quite possibly aﬀord disproof. The senses

are not suﬃciently exact to distinguish between continuous motion

and rapid discrete succession, as anyone may discover in a cinema. A

world in which all motion consisted of a series of small ﬁnite jerks

would be empirically indistinguishable from one in which motion

was continuous. It would take up too much space to | 1±1 defend these

theses adequately; for the present I am merely suggesting them for

the reader’s consideration. If they are valid, it follows that there is

no empirical reason for believing the number of particulars in the

world to be inﬁnite, and that there never can be; also that there is at

present no empirical reason to believe the number to be ﬁnite, though

it is theoretically conceivable that some day there might be evidence

pointing, though not conclusively, in that direction.

From the fact that the inﬁnite is not self-contradictory, but is also

not demonstrable logically, we must conclude that nothing can be

known a priori as to whether the number of things in the world is

ﬁnite or inﬁnite. The conclusion is, therefore, to adopt a Leibnizian

phraseology, that some of the possible worlds are ﬁnite, some inﬁnite,

and we have no means of knowing to which of these two kinds our

actual world belongs. The axiom of inﬁnity will be true in some

possible worlds and false in others; whether it is true or false in this

world, we cannot tell.

Throughout this chapter the synonyms “individual” and “partic-

ular” have been used without explanation. It would be impossible

to explain them adequately without a longer disquisition on the the-

ory of types than would be appropriate to the present work, but a

few words before we leave this topic may do something to diminish

the obscurity which would otherwise envelop the meaning of these

words.

In an ordinary statement we can distinguish a verb, expressing

an attribute or relation, from the substantives which express the

subject of the attribute or the terms of the relation. “Cæsar lived”

ascribes an attribute to Cæsar; “Brutus killed Cæsar” expresses a

relation between Brutus and Cæsar. Using the word “subject” in a

generalised sense, we may call both Brutus and Cæsar subjects of

this proposition: the fact that Brutus is grammatically subject and

Cæsar object is logically irrelevant, since the same occurrence may be

expressed in the words “Cæsar was killed by Brutus,” where Cæsar

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1o;

is the grammatical subject. | 1±z Thus in the simpler sort of proposition

we shall have an attribute or relation holding of or between one, two

or more “subjects” in the extended sense. (A relation may have more

than two terms: e.g. “A gives B to C” is a relation of three terms.)

Now it often happens that, on a closer scrutiny, the apparent subjects

are found to be not really subjects, but to be capable of analysis; the

only result of this, however, is that new subjects take their places.

It also happens that the verb may grammatically be made subject:

e.g. we may say, “Killing is a relation which holds between Brutus

and Cæsar.” But in such cases the grammar is misleading, and in

a straightforward statement, following the rules that should guide

philosophical grammar, Brutus and Cæsar will appear as the subjects

and killing as the verb.

We are thus led to the conception of terms which, when they occur

in propositions, can only occur as subjects, and never in any other

way. This is part of the old scholastic deﬁnition of substance; but

persistence through time, which belonged to that notion, forms no

part of the notion with which we are concerned. We shall deﬁne

“proper names” as those terms which can only occur as subjects in

propositions (using “subject” in the extended sense just explained).

We shall further deﬁne “individuals” or “particulars” as the objects

that can be named by proper names. (It would be better to deﬁne

them directly, rather than by means of the kind of symbols by which

they are symbolised; but in order to do that we should have to plunge

deeper into metaphysics than is desirable here.) It is, of course,

possible that there is an endless regress: that whatever appears as a

particular is really, on closer scrutiny, a class or some kind of complex.

If this be the case, the axiom of inﬁnity must of course be true. But if

it be not the case, it must be theoretically possible for analysis to reach

ultimate subjects, and it is these that give the meaning of “particulars”

or “individuals.” It is to the number of these that the axiom of inﬁnity

is assumed to apply. If it is true of them, it is true | 1±j of classes of them,

and classes of classes of them, and so on; similarly if it is false of them,

it is false throughout this hierarchy. Hence it is natural to enunciate

the axiom concerning them rather than concerning any other stage in

the hierarchy. But whether the axiom is true or false, there seems no

known method of discovering.

CHAPTER XIV

INCOMPATIBILITY ANDTHE THEORY OF

DEDUCTION

1±± We have now explored, somewhat hastily it is true, that part of the

philosophy of mathematics which does not demand a critical exam-

ination of the idea of class. In the preceding chapter, however, we

found ourselves confronted by problems which make such an exam-

ination imperative. Before we can undertake it, we must consider

certain other parts of the philosophy of mathematics, which we have

hitherto ignored. In a synthetic treatment, the parts which we shall

now be concerned with come ﬁrst: they are more fundamental than

anything that we have discussed hitherto. Three topics will concern

us before we reach the theory of classes, namely: (1) the theory of

deduction, (z) propositional functions, (j) descriptions. Of these, the

third is not logically presupposed in the theory of classes, but it is a

simpler example of the kind of theory that is needed in dealing with

classes. It is the ﬁrst topic, the theory of deduction, that will concern

us in the present chapter.

Mathematics is a deductive science: starting from certain pre-

misses, it arrives, by a strict process of deduction, at the various

theorems which constitute it. It is true that, in the past, mathematical

deductions were often greatly lacking in rigour; it is true also that

perfect rigour is a scarcely attainable ideal. Nevertheless, in so far as

rigour is lacking in a mathematical proof, the proof is defective; it is

no defence to urge that common sense shows the result to be correct,

for if we were to rely upon that, it would be better to dispense with

argument altogether, | 1±¸ rather than bring fallacy to the rescue of com-

mon sense. No appeal to common sense, or “intuition,” or anything

except strict deductive logic, ought to be needed in mathematics after

the premisses have been laid down.

Kant, having observed that the geometers of his day could not

prove their theorems by unaided argument, but required an appeal

to the ﬁgure, invented a theory of mathematical reasoning according

to which the inference is never strictly logical, but always requires

the support of what is called “intuition.” The whole trend of modern

1o8

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 1oo

mathematics, with its increased pursuit of rigour, has been against

this Kantian theory. The things in the mathematics of Kant’s day

which cannot be proved, cannot be known—for example, the axiom

of parallels. What can be known, in mathematics and by mathemat-

ical methods, is what can be deduced from pure logic. What else

is to belong to human knowledge must be ascertained otherwise—

empirically, through the senses or through experience in some form,

but not a priori. The positive grounds for this thesis are to be found in

Principia Mathematica, passim; a controversial defence of it is given in

the Principles of Mathematics. We cannot here do more than refer the

reader to those works, since the subject is too vast for hasty treatment.

Meanwhile, we shall assume that all mathematics is deductive, and

proceed to inquire as to what is involved in deduction.

In deduction, we have one or more propositions called premisses,

from which we infer a proposition called the conclusion. For our

purposes, it will be convenient, when there are originally several

premisses, to amalgamate them into a single proposition, so as to be

able to speak of the premiss as well as of the conclusion. Thus we may

regard deduction as a process by which we pass from knowledge of

a certain proposition, the premiss, to knowledge of a certain other

proposition, the conclusion. But we shall not regard such a process as

logical deduction unless it is correct, i.e. unless there is such a relation

between premiss and conclusion that we have a right to believe the

conclusion | 1±6 if we know the premiss to be true. It is this relation that

is chieﬂy of interest in the logical theory of deduction.

In order to be able validly to infer the truth of a proposition, we

must know that some other proposition is true, and that there is

between the two a relation of the sort called “implication,” i.e. that

(as we say) the premiss “implies” the conclusion. (We shall deﬁne this

relation shortly.) Or we may know that a certain other proposition is

false, and that there is a relation between the two of the sort called

“disjunction,” expressed by “p or q,”

1

so that the knowledge that the

one is false allows us to infer that the other is true. Again, what

we wish to infer may be the falsehood of some proposition, not its

truth. This may be inferred from the truth of another proposition,

provided we know that the two are “incompatible,” i.e. that if one

is true, the other is false. It may also be inferred from the falsehood

of another proposition, in just the same circumstances in which the

truth of the other might have been inferred from the truth of the one;

i.e. from the falsehood of p we may infer the falsehood of q, when q

implies p. All these four are cases of inference. When our minds are

ﬁxed upon inference, it seems natural to take “implication” as the

primitive fundamental relation, since this is the relation which must

1

We shall use the letters p, q, r, s, t to denote variable propositions.

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 11o

hold between p and q if we are to be able to infer the truth of q from

the truth of p. But for technical reasons this is not the best primitive

idea to choose. Before proceeding to primitive ideas and deﬁnitions,

let us consider further the various functions of propositions suggested

by the above-mentioned relations of propositions.

The simplest of such functions is the negative, “not-p.” This is

that function of p which is true when p is false, and false when p is

true. It is convenient to speak of the truth of a proposition, or its

falsehood, as its “truth-value”

z

; i.e. truth is the “truth-value” of a true

proposition, and falsehood of a false one. Thus not-p has the opposite

truth-value to p. |

We 1±; may take next disjunction, “p or q.” This is a function whose

truth-value is truth when p is true and also when q is true, but is

falsehood when both p and q are false.

Next we may take conjunction, “p and q.” This has truth for its

truth-value when p and q are both true; otherwise it has falsehood for

its truth-value.

Take next incompatibility, i.e. “p and q are not both true.” This is

the negation of conjunction; it is also the disjunction of the negations

of p and q, i.e. it is “not-p or not-q.” Its truth-value is truth when p is

false and likewise when q is false; its truth-value is falsehood when p

and q are both true.

Last take implication, i.e. “p implies q,” or “if p, then q.” This is

to be understood in the widest sense that will allow us to infer the

truth of q if we know the truth of p. Thus we interpret it as meaning:

“Unless p is false, q is true,” or “either p is false or q is true.” (The fact

that “implies” is capable of other meanings does not concern us; this

is the meaning which is convenient for us.) That is to say, “p implies

q” is to mean “not-p or q”: its truth-value is to be truth if p is false,

likewise if q is true, and is to be falsehood if p is true and q is false.

We have thus ﬁve functions: negation, disjunction, conjunction,

incompatibility, and implication. We might have added others, for

example, joint falsehood, “not-p and not-q,” but the above ﬁve will

suﬃce. Negation diﬀers from the other four in being a function of

one proposition, whereas the others are functions of two. But all ﬁve

agree in this, that their truth-value depends only upon that of the

propositions which are their arguments. Given the truth or falsehood

of p, or of p and q (as the case may be), we are given the truth or

falsehood of the negation, disjunction, conjunction, incompatibility,

or implication. A function of propositions which has this property is

called a “truth-function.”

The whole meaning of a truth-function is exhausted by the state-

ment of the circumstances under which it is true or false. “Not-p,”

z

This term is due to Frege.

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 111

for example, is simply that function of p which is true when p is false,

and false when p is true: there is no further | 1±8 meaning to be assigned

to it. The same applies to “p or q” and the rest. It follows that two

truth-functions which have the same truth-value for all values of

the argument are indistinguishable. For example, “p and q” is the

negation of “not-p or not-q” and vice versa; thus either of these may

be deﬁned as the negation of the other. There is no further meaning

in a truth-function over and above the conditions under which it is

true or false.

It is clear that the above ﬁve truth-functions are not all indepen-

dent. We can deﬁne some of themin terms of others. There is no great

diﬃculty in reducing the number to two; the two chosen in Principia

Mathematica are negation and disjunction. Implication is then de-

ﬁned as “not-p or q”; incompatibility as “not-p or not-q”; conjunction

as the negation of incompatibility. But it has been shown by Shef-

fer

j

that we can be content with one primitive idea for all ﬁve, and

by Nicod

±

that this enables us to reduce the primitive propositions

required in the theory of deduction to two non-formal principles and

one formal one. For this purpose, we may take as our one indeﬁnable

either incompatibility or joint falsehood. We will choose the former.

Our primitive idea, now, is a certain truth-function called “incom-

patibility,” which we will denote by p / q. Negation can be at once

deﬁned as the incompatibility of a proposition with itself, i.e. “not-p”

is deﬁned as “p / p.” Disjunction is the incompatibility of not-p and

not-q, i.e. it is (p / p) | (q / q). Implication is the incompatibility of p and

not-q, i.e. p | (q / q). Conjunction is the negation of incompatibility, i.e.

it is (p / q) | (p / q). Thus all our four other functions are deﬁned in

terms of incompatibility.

It is obvious that there is no limit to the manufacture of truth-

functions, either by introducing more arguments or by repeating

arguments. What we are concerned with is the connection of this

subject with inference. |

If 1±o we know that p is true and that p implies q, we can proceed

to assert q. There is always unavoidably something psychological

about inference: inference is a method by which we arrive at new

knowledge, and what is not psychological about it is the relation

which allows us to infer correctly; but the actual passage from the

assertion of p to the assertion of q is a psychological process, and we

must not seek to represent it in purely logical terms.

In mathematical practice, when we infer, we have always some

expression containing variable propositions, say p and q, which is

known, in virtue of its form, to be true for all values of p and q;

we have also some other expression, part of the former, which is

j

Trans. Am. Math. Soc., vol. xiv. pp. ±81–±88.

±

Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc., vol. xix., i., January 1o1;.

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 11z

also known to be true for all values of p and q; and in virtue of the

principles of inference, we are able to drop this part of our original

expression, and assert what is left. This somewhat abstract account

may be made clearer by a few examples.

Let us assume that we know the ﬁve formal principles of deduc-

tion enumerated in Principia Mathematica. (M. Nicod has reduced

these to one, but as it is a complicated proposition, we will begin with

the ﬁve.) These ﬁve propositions are as follows:—

(1) “p or p” implies p—i.e. if either p is true or p is true, then p is

true.

(z) q implies “p or q”—i.e. the disjunction “p or q” is true when

one of its alternatives is true.

(j) “p or q” implies “q or p.” This would not be required if we

had a theoretically more perfect notation, since in the conception

of disjunction there is no order involved, so that “p or q” and “q or

p” should be identical. But since our symbols, in any convenient

form, inevitably introduce an order, we need suitable assumptions

for showing that the order is irrelevant.

(±) If either p is true or “q or r” is true, then either q is true or

“p or r” is true. (The twist in this proposition serves to increase its

deductive power.) |

(¸) 1¸o If q implies r, then “p or q” implies “p or r.”

These are the formal principles of deduction employed in Principia

Mathematica. A formal principle of deduction has a double use, and

it is in order to make this clear that we have cited the above ﬁve

propositions. It has a use as the premiss of an inference, and a use as

establishing the fact that the premiss implies the conclusion. In the

schema of an inference we have a proposition p, and a proposition “p

implies q,” from which we infer q. Now when we are concerned with

the principles of deduction, our apparatus of primitive propositions

has to yield both the p and the “p implies q” of our inferences. That is

to say, our rules of deduction are to be used, not only as rules, which

is their use for establishing “p implies q,” but also as substantive

premisses, i.e. as the p of our schema. Suppose, for example, we

wish to prove that if p implies q, then if q implies r it follows that p

implies r. We have here a relation of three propositions which state

implications. Put

p

1

= p implies q, p

z

= q implies r, p

j

= p implies r.

Then we have to prove that p

1

implies that p

z

implies p

j

. Now take

the ﬁfth of our above principles, substitute not-p for p, and remember

that “not-p or q” is by deﬁnition the same as “p implies q.” Thus our

ﬁfth principle yields:

“If q implies r, then ‘p implies q’ implies ‘p implies r,’” i.e. “p

z

implies that p

1

implies p

j

.” Call this proposition A.

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 11j

But the fourth of our principles, when we substitute not-p, not-q, for

p and q, and remember the deﬁnition of implication, becomes:

“If p implies that q implies r, then q implies that p implies r.”

Writing p

z

in place of p, p

1

in place of q, and p

j

in place of r, this

becomes:

“If p

z

implies that p

1

implies p

j

, then p

1

implies that p

z

implies

p

j

.” Call this B. |

1¸1 Now we proved by means of our ﬁfth principle that

“p

z

implies that p

1

implies p

j

,” which was what we called A.

Thus we have here an instance of the schema of inference, since A

represents the p of our scheme, and B represents the “p implies q.”

Hence we arrive at q, namely,

“p

1

implies that p

z

implies p

j

,”

which was the proposition to be proved. In this proof, the adaptation

of our ﬁfth principle, which yields A, occurs as a substantive premiss;

while the adaptation of our fourth principle, which yields B, is used to

give the form of the inference. The formal and material employments

of premisses in the theory of deduction are closely intertwined, and

it is not very important to keep them separated, provided we realise

that they are in theory distinct.

The earliest method of arriving at new results from a premiss is

one which is illustrated in the above deduction, but which itself can

hardly be called deduction. The primitive propositions, whatever

they may be, are to be regarded as asserted for all possible values

of the variable propositions p, q, r which occur in them. We may

therefore substitute for (say) p any expression whose value is always

a proposition, e.g. not-p, “s implies t,” and so on. By means of such

substitutions we really obtain sets of special cases of our original

proposition, but from a practical point of view we obtain what are vir-

tually new propositions. The legitimacy of substitutions of this kind

has to be insured by means of a non-formal principle of inference.

¸

We may now state the one formal principle of inference to which

M. Nicod has reduced the ﬁve given above. For this purpose we will

ﬁrst show how certain truth-functions can be deﬁned in terms of

incompatibility. We saw already that

p | (q / q) means “p implies q.” |

¸

No such principle is enunciated in Principia Mathematica or in M. Nicod’s

article mentioned above. But this would seem to be an omission.

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 11±

1¸z We now observe that

p | (q / r) means “p implies both q and r.”

For this expression means “p is incompatible with the incompatibility

of q and r,” i.e. “p implies that q and r are not incompatible,” i.e. “p

implies that q and r are both true”—for, as we saw, the conjunction of

q and r is the negation of their incompatibility.

Observe next that t | (t / t) means “t implies itself.” This is a

particular case of p | (q / q).

Let us write p for the negation of p; thus p / s will mean the nega-

tion of p / s, i.e. it will mean the conjunction of p and s. It follows

that

(s / q) | p / s

expresses the incompatibility of s / q with the conjunction of p and s;

in other words, it states that if p and s are both true, s / q is false, i.e. s

and q are both true; in still simpler words, it states that p and s jointly

imply s and q jointly.

Now, put P = p | (q / r),

π = t | (t / t),

Q = (s / q) | p / s.

Then M. Nicod’s sole formal principle of deduction is

P | π/ Q,

in other words, P implies both π and Q.

He employs in addition one non-formal principle belonging to the

theory of types (which need not concern us), and one corresponding

to the principle that, given p, and given that p implies q, we can assert

q. This principle is:

“If p | (r / q) is true, and p is true, then q is true.” From this

apparatus the whole theory of deduction follows, except in so far

as we are concerned with deduction from or to the existence or the

universal truth of “propositional functions,” which we shall consider

in the next chapter.

There is, if I am not mistaken, a certain confusion in the | 1¸j minds

of some authors as to the relation, between propositions, in virtue

of which an inference is valid. In order that it may be valid to infer

q from p, it is only necessary that p should be true and that the

proposition “not-p or q” should be true. Whenever this is the case, it

is clear that q must be true. But inference will only in fact take place

when the proposition “not-p or q” is known otherwise than through

knowledge of not-p or knowledge of q. Whenever p is false, “not-p or

q” is true, but is useless for inference, which requires that p should

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 11¸

be true. Whenever q is already known to be true, “not-p or q” is of

course also known to be true, but is again useless for inference, since

q is already known, and therefore does not need to be inferred. In

fact, inference only arises when “not-p or q” can be known without

our knowing already which of the two alternatives it is that makes

the disjunction true. Now, the circumstances under which this occurs

are those in which certain relations of form exist between p and q. For

example, we knowthat if r implies the negation of s, then s implies the

negation of r. Between “r implies not-s” and “s implies not-r” there

is a formal relation which enables us to know that the ﬁrst implies

the second, without having ﬁrst to know that the ﬁrst is false or to

know that the second is true. It is under such circumstances that the

relation of implication is practically useful for drawing inferences.

But this formal relation is only required in order that we may be

able to know that either the premiss is false or the conclusion is true.

It is the truth of “not-p or q” that is required for the validity of the

inference; what is required further is only required for the practi-

cal feasibility of the inference. Professor C. I. Lewis

6

has especially

studied the narrower, formal relation which we may call “formal

deducibility.” He urges that the wider relation, that expressed by

“not-p or q,” should not be called “implication.” That is, however, a

matter of words. | 1¸± Provided our use of words is consistent, it matters

little how we deﬁne them. The essential point of diﬀerence between

the theory which I advocate and the theory advocated by Professor

Lewis is this: He maintains that, when one proposition q is “formally

deducible” from another p, the relation which we perceive between

them is one which he calls “strict implication,” which is not the rela-

tion expressed by “not-p or q” but a narrower relation, holding only

when there are certain formal connections between p and q. I main-

tain that, whether or not there be such a relation as he speaks of, it is

in any case one that mathematics does not need, and therefore one

that, on general grounds of economy, ought not to be admitted into

our apparatus of fundamental notions; that, whenever the relation

of “formal deducibility” holds between two propositions, it is the

case that we can see that either the ﬁrst is false or the second true,

and that nothing beyond this fact is necessary to be admitted into

our premisses; and that, ﬁnally, the reasons of detail which Professor

Lewis adduces against the view which I advocate can all be met in de-

tail, and depend for their plausibility upon a covert and unconscious

assumption of the point of view which I reject. I conclude, therefore,

that there is no need to admit as a fundamental notion any form of

implication not expressible as a truth-function.

6

See Mind, vol. xxi., 1o1z, pp. ¸zz–¸j1; and vol. xxiii., 1o1±, pp. z±o–z±;.

CHAPTER XV

PROPOSITIONAL FUNCTIONS

1¸¸ When, in the preceding chapter, we were discussing propositions,

we did not attempt to give a deﬁnition of the word “proposition.”

But although the word cannot be formally deﬁned, it is necessary to

say something as to its meaning, in order to avoid the very common

confusion with “propositional functions,” which are to be the topic

of the present chapter.

We mean by a “proposition” primarily a form of words which

expresses what is either true or false. I say “primarily,” because

I do not wish to exclude other than verbal symbols, or even mere

thoughts if they have a symbolic character. But I think the word

“proposition” should be limited to what may, in some sense, be called

“symbols,” and further to such symbols as give expression to truth and

falsehood. Thus “two and two are four” and “two and two are ﬁve”

will be propositions, and so will “Socrates is a man” and “Socrates

is not a man.” The statement: “Whatever numbers a and b may

be, (a + b)

z

= a

z

+ zab + b

z

” is a proposition; but the bare formula

“(a +b)

z

= a

z

+zab +b

z

” alone is not, since it asserts nothing deﬁnite

unless we are further told, or led to suppose, that a and b are to

have all possible values, or are to have such-and-such values. The

former of these is tacitly assumed, as a rule, in the enunciation of

mathematical formulæ, which thus become propositions; but if no

such assumption were made, they would be “propositional functions.”

A “propositional function,” in fact, is an expression containing one

or more undetermined constituents, | 1¸6 such that, when values are

assigned to these constituents, the expression becomes a proposition.

In other words, it is a function whose values are propositions. But this

latter deﬁnition must be used with caution. A descriptive function,

e.g. “the hardest proposition in A’s mathematical treatise,” will not

be a propositional function, although its values are propositions. But

in such a case the propositions are only described: in a propositional

function, the values must actually enunciate propositions.

Examples of propositional functions are easy to give: “x is human”

is a propositional function; so long as x remains undetermined, it is

116

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 11;

neither true nor false, but when a value is assigned to x it becomes

a true or false proposition. Any mathematical equation is a proposi-

tional function. So long as the variables have no deﬁnite value, the

equation is merely an expression awaiting determination in order to

become a true or false proposition. If it is an equation containing one

variable, it becomes true when the variable is made equal to a root of

the equation, otherwise it becomes false; but if it is an “identity” it

will be true when the variable is any number. The equation to a curve

in a plane or to a surface in space is a propositional function, true for

values of the co-ordinates belonging to points on the curve or surface,

false for other values. Expressions of traditional logic such as “all A

is B” are propositional functions: A and B have to be determined as

deﬁnite classes before such expressions become true or false.

The notion of “cases” or “instances” depends upon propositional

functions. Consider, for example, the kind of process suggested by

what is called “generalisation,” and let us take some very primitive

example, say, “lightning is followed by thunder.” We have a number

of “instances” of this, i.e. a number of propositions such as: “this

is a ﬂash of lightning and is followed by thunder.” What are these

occurrences “instances” of? They are instances of the propositional

function: “If x is a ﬂash of lightning, x is followed by thunder.” The

process of generalisation (with whose validity we are | 1¸; fortunately

not concerned) consists in passing from a number of such instances

to the universal truth of the propositional function: “If x is a ﬂash

of lightning, x is followed by thunder.” It will be found that, in an

analogous way, propositional functions are always involved whenever

we talk of instances or cases or examples.

We do not need to ask, or attempt to answer, the question: “What

is a propositional function?” A propositional function standing all

alone may be taken to be a mere schema, a mere shell, an empty

receptacle for meaning, not something already signiﬁcant. We are

concerned with propositional functions, broadly speaking, in two

ways: ﬁrst, as involved in the notions “true in all cases” and “true

in some cases”; secondly, as involved in the theory of classes and

relations. The second of these topics we will postpone to a later

chapter; the ﬁrst must occupy us now.

When we say that something is “always true” or “true in all cases,”

it is clear that the “something” involved cannot be a proposition. A

proposition is just true or false, and there is an end of the matter.

There are no instances or cases of “Socrates is a man” or “Napoleon

died at St Helena.” These are propositions, and it would be mean-

ingless to speak of their being true “in all cases.” This phrase is only

applicable to propositional functions. Take, for example, the sort of

thing that is often said when causation is being discussed. (We are

not concerned with the truth or falsehood of what is said, but only

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 118

with its logical analysis.) We are told that A is, in every instance,

followed by B. Now if there are “instances” of A, A must be some

general concept of which it is signiﬁcant to say “x

1

is A,” “x

z

is A,”

“x

j

is A,” and so on, where x

1

, x

z

, x

j

are particulars which are not

identical one with another. This applies, e.g., to our previous case

of lightning. We say that lightning (A) is followed by thunder (B).

But the separate ﬂashes are particulars, not identical, but sharing the

common property of being lightning. The only way of expressing a

| 1¸8 common property generally is to say that a common property of a

number of objects is a propositional function which becomes true

when any one of these objects is taken as the value of the variable. In

this case all the objects are “instances” of the truth of the proposi-

tional function—for a propositional function, though it cannot itself

be true or false, is true in certain instances and false in certain others,

unless it is “always true” or “always false.” When, to return to our

example, we say that A is in every instance followed by B, we mean

that, whatever x may be, if x is an A, it is followed by a B; that is, we

are asserting that a certain propositional function is “always true.”

Sentences involving such words as “all,” “every,” “a,” “the,” “some”

require propositional functions for their interpretation. The way in

which propositional functions occur can be explained by means of

two of the above words, namely, “all” and “some.”

There are, in the last analysis, only two things that can be done

with a propositional function: one is to assert that it is true in all cases,

the other to assert that it is true in at least one case, or in some cases (as

we shall say, assuming that there is to be no necessary implication of

a plurality of cases). All the other uses of propositional functions can

be reduced to these two. When we say that a propositional function

is true “in all cases,” or “always” (as we shall also say, without any

temporal suggestion), we mean that all its values are true. If “φx” is

the function, and a is the right sort of object to be an argument to “φx,”

then φa is to be true, however a may have been chosen. For example,

“if a is human, a is mortal” is true whether a is human or not; in

fact, every proposition of this form is true. Thus the propositional

function “if x is human, x is mortal” is “always true,” or “true in

all cases.” Or, again, the statement “there are no unicorns” is the

same as the statement “the propositional function ‘x is not a unicorn’

is true in all cases.” The assertions in the preceding chapter about

propositions, e.g. “‘p or q’ implies ‘q or p,’” are really assertions | 1¸o that

certain propositional functions are true in all cases. We do not assert

the above principle, for example, as being true only of this or that

particular p or q, but as being true of any p or q concerning which

it can be made signiﬁcantly. The condition that a function is to be

signiﬁcant for a given argument is the same as the condition that it

shall have a value for that argument, either true or false. The study

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 11o

of the conditions of signiﬁcance belongs to the doctrine of types,

which we shall not pursue beyond the sketch given in the preceding

chapter.

Not only the principles of deduction, but all the primitive proposi-

tions of logic, consist of assertions that certain propositional functions

are always true. If this were not the case, they would have to mention

particular things or concepts—Socrates, or redness, or east and west,

or what not—and clearly it is not the province of logic to make asser-

tions which are true concerning one such thing or concept but not

concerning another. It is part of the deﬁnition of logic (but not the

whole of its deﬁnition) that all its propositions are completely general,

i.e. they all consist of the assertion that some propositional function

containing no constant terms is always true. We shall return in our

ﬁnal chapter to the discussion of propositional functions containing

no constant terms. For the present we will proceed to the other thing

that is to be done with a propositional function, namely, the assertion

that it is “sometimes true,” i.e. true in at least one instance.

When we say “there are men,” that means that the propositional

function “x is a man” is sometimes true. When we say “some men

are Greeks,” that means that the propositional function “x is a man

and a Greek” is sometimes true. When we say “cannibals still exist in

Africa,” that means that the propositional function “x is a cannibal

now in Africa” is sometimes true, i.e. is true for some values of x. To

say “there are at least n individuals in the world” is to say that the

propositional function “α is a class of individuals and a member of

the cardinal number n” is sometimes true, or, as we may say, is true

for certain | 16o values of α. This form of expression is more convenient

when it is necessary to indicate which is the variable constituent

which we are taking as the argument to our propositional function.

For example, the above propositional function, which we may shorten

to “α is a class of n individuals,” contains two variables, α and n. The

axiom of inﬁnity, in the language of propositional functions, is: “The

propositional function ‘if n is an inductive number, it is true for some

values of α that α is a class of n individuals’ is true for all possible

values of n.” Here there is a subordinate function, “α is a class of n

individuals,” which is said to be, in respect of α, sometimes true; and

the assertion that this happens if n is an inductive number is said to

be, in respect of n, always true.

The statement that a function φx is always true is the negation of

the statement that not-φx is sometimes true, and the statement that

φx is sometimes true is the negation of the statement that not-φx is

always true. Thus the statement “all men are mortals” is the negation

of the statement that the function “x is an immortal man” is some-

times true. And the statement “there are unicorns” is the negation of

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1zo

the statement that the function “x is not a unicorn” is always true.

1

We say that φx is “never true” or “always false” if not-φx is always

true. We can, if we choose, take one of the pair “always,” “sometimes”

as a primitive idea, and deﬁne the other by means of the one and

negation. Thus if we choose “sometimes” as our primitive idea, we

can deﬁne: “‘φx is always true’ is to mean ‘it is false that not-φx is

sometimes true.’” But for reasons connected with the theory of types

it seems more correct to take both “always” and “sometimes” as prim-

itive ideas, and deﬁne by their means the negation of propositions

in which they occur. That is to say, assuming that we have already |

161 deﬁned (or adopted as a primitive idea) the negation of propositions

of the type to which φx belongs, we deﬁne: “The negation of ‘φx

always’ is ‘not-φx sometimes’; and the negation of ‘φx sometimes’ is

‘not-φx always.’” In like manner we can re-deﬁne disjunction and the

other truth-functions, as applied to propositions containing apparent

variables, in terms of the deﬁnitions and primitive ideas for propo-

sitions containing no apparent variables. Propositions containing

no apparent variables are called “elementary propositions.” From

these we can mount up step by step, using such methods as have

just been indicated, to the theory of truth-functions as applied to

propositions containing one, two, three . . . variables, or any number

up to n, where n is any assigned ﬁnite number.

z

The forms which are taken as simplest in traditional formal logic

are really far from being so, and all involve the assertion of all values

or some values of a compound propositional function. Take, to begin

with, “all S is P.” We will take it that S is deﬁned by a propositional

function φx, and P by a propositional function ψx. E.g., if S is men,

φx will be “x is human”; if P is mortals, ψx will be “there is a time

at which x dies.” Then “all S is P” means: “‘φx implies ψx’ is always

true.” It is to be observed that “all S is P” does not apply only to those

terms that actually are S’s; it says something equally about terms

which are not S’s. Suppose we come across an x of which we do not

know whether it is an S or not; still, our statement “all S is P” tells

us something about x, namely, that if x is an S, then x is a P. And this

is every bit as true when x is not an S as when x is an S. If it were

not equally true in both cases, the reductio ad absurdum would not

be a valid method; for the essence of this method consists in using

implications in cases where (as it afterwards turns out) the hypothesis

is false. We may put the matter another way. In order to understand

“all S is P,” it is not necessary to be able to enumerate what terms are

S’s; provided we know what is meant by being an S and what by being

1

For linguistic reasons, to avoid suggesting either the plural or the singular, it is

often convenient to say “φx is not always false” rather than “φx sometimes” or “φx

is sometimes true.”

z

The method of deduction is given in Principia Mathematica, vol. i. ∗o.

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1z1

a P, we can understand completely what is actually aﬃrmed | 16z by “all

S is P,” however little we may know of actual instances of either. This

shows that it is not merely the actual terms that are S’s that are rele-

vant in the statement “all S is P,” but all the terms concerning which

the supposition that they are S’s is signiﬁcant, i.e. all the terms that

are S’s, together with all the terms that are not S’s—i.e. the whole of

the appropriate logical “type.” What applies to statements about all

applies also to statements about some. “There are men,” e.g., means

that “x is human” is true for some values of x. Here all values of x

(i.e. all values for which “x is human” is signiﬁcant, whether true or

false) are relevant, and not only those that in fact are human. (This

becomes obvious if we consider how we could prove such a statement

to be false.) Every assertion about “all” or “some” thus involves not

only the arguments that make a certain function true, but all that

make it signiﬁcant, i.e. all for which it has a value at all, whether true

or false.

We may now proceed with our interpretation of the traditional

forms of the old-fashioned formal logic. We assume that S is those

terms x for which φx is true, and P is those for which ψx is true. (As

we shall see in a later chapter, all classes are derived in this way from

propositional functions.) Then:

“All S is P” means “‘φx implies ψx’ is always true.”

“Some S is P” means “‘φx and ψx’ is sometimes true.”

“No S is P” means “‘φx implies not-ψx’ is always true.”

“Some S is not P” means “‘φx and not-ψx’ is sometimes true.”

It will be observed that the propositional functions which are here

asserted for all or some values are not φx and ψx themselves, but

truth-functions of φx and ψx for the same argument x. The easiest

way to conceive of the sort of thing that is intended is to start not

from φx and ψx in general, but from φa and ψa, where a is some

constant. Suppose we are considering “all men are mortal”: we will

begin with

“If Socrates is human, Socrates is mortal,” |

16j and then we will regard “Socrates” as replaced by a variable x wher-

ever “Socrates” occurs. The object to be secured is that, although x

remains a variable, without any deﬁnite value, yet it is to have the

same value in “φx” as in “ψx” when we are asserting that “φx implies

ψx” is always true. This requires that we shall start with a function

whose values are such as “φa implies ψa,” rather than with two sepa-

rate functions φx and ψx; for if we start with two separate functions

we can never secure that the x, while remaining undetermined, shall

have the same value in both.

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1zz

For brevity we say “φx always implies ψx” when we mean that

“φx implies ψx” is always true. Propositions of the form “φx always

implies ψx” are called “formal implications”; this name is given

equally if there are several variables.

The above deﬁnitions show how far removed from the simplest

forms are such propositions as “all S is P,” with which traditional logic

begins. It is typical of the lack of analysis involved that traditional

logic treats “all S is P” as a proposition of the same form as “x is P”—

e.g., it treats “all men are mortal” as of the same form as “Socrates

is mortal.” As we have just seen, the ﬁrst is of the form “φx always

implies ψx,” while the second is of the form “ψx.” The emphatic

separation of these two forms, which was eﬀected by Peano and Frege,

was a very vital advance in symbolic logic.

It will be seen that “all S is P” and “no S is P” do not really diﬀer

in form, except by the substitution of not-ψx for ψx, and that the

same applies to “some S is P” and “some S is not P.” It should also

be observed that the traditional rules of conversion are faulty, if we

adopt the view, which is the only technically tolerable one, that such

propositions as “all S is P” do not involve the “existence” of S’s, i.e.

do not require that there should be terms which are S’s. The above

deﬁnitions lead to the result that, if φx is always false, i.e. if there are

no S’s, then “all S is P” and “no S is P” will both be true, | 16± whatever

P may be. For, according to the deﬁnition in the last chapter, “φx

implies ψx” means “not-φx or ψx,” which is always true if not-φx is

always true. At the ﬁrst moment, this result might lead the reader

to desire diﬀerent deﬁnitions, but a little practical experience soon

shows that any diﬀerent deﬁnitions would be inconvenient and would

conceal the important ideas. The proposition “φx always implies ψx,

and φx is sometimes true” is essentially composite, and it would

be very awkward to give this as the deﬁnition of “all S is P,” for

then we should have no language left for “φx always implies ψx,”

which is needed a hundred times for once that the other is needed.

But, with our deﬁnitions, “all S is P” does not imply “some S is P,”

since the ﬁrst allows the non-existence of S and the second does not;

thus conversion per accidens becomes invalid, and some moods of the

syllogism are fallacious, e.g. Darapti: “All M is S, all M is P, therefore

some S is P,” which fails if there is no M.

The notion of “existence” has several forms, one of which will

occupy us in the next chapter; but the fundamental formis that which

is derived immediately from the notion of “sometimes true.” We say

that an argument a “satisﬁes” a function φx if φa is true; this is the

same sense in which the roots of an equation are said to satisfy the

equation. Now if φx is sometimes true, we may say there are x’s for

which it is true, or we may say “arguments satisfying φx exist.” This

is the fundamental meaning of the word “existence.” Other meanings

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1zj

are either derived from this, or embody mere confusion of thought.

We may correctly say “men exist,” meaning that “x is a man” is some-

times true. But if we make a pseudo-syllogism: “Men exist, Socrates

is a man, therefore Socrates exists,” we are talking nonsense, since

“Socrates” is not, like “men,” merely an undetermined argument to a

given propositional function. The fallacy is closely analogous to that

of the argument: “Men are numerous, Socrates is a man, therefore

Socrates is numerous.” In this case it is obvious that the conclusion is

nonsensical, but | 16¸ in the case of existence it is not obvious, for reasons

which will appear more fully in the next chapter. For the present let

us merely note the fact that, though it is correct to say “men exist,”

it is incorrect, or rather meaningless, to ascribe existence to a given

particular x who happens to be a man. Generally, “terms satisfying

φx exist” means “φx is sometimes true”; but “a exists” (where a is a

term satisfying φx) is a mere noise or shape, devoid of signiﬁcance.

It will be found that by bearing in mind this simple fallacy we can

solve many ancient philosophical puzzles concerning the meaning of

existence.

Another set of notions as to which philosophy has allowed itself

to fall into hopeless confusions through not suﬃciently separating

propositions and propositional functions are the notions of “modal-

ity”: necessary, possible, and impossible. (Sometimes contingent or

assertoric is used instead of possible.) The traditional view was that,

among true propositions, some were necessary, while others were

merely contingent or assertoric; while among false propositions some

were impossible, namely, those whose contradictories were neces-

sary, while others merely happened not to be true. In fact, however,

there was never any clear account of what was added to truth by the

conception of necessity. In the case of propositional functions, the

threefold division is obvious. If “φx” is an undetermined value of

a certain propositional function, it will be necessary if the function

is always true, possible if it is sometimes true, and impossible if it is

never true. This sort of situation arises in regard to probability, for

example. Suppose a ball x is drawn from a bag which contains a

number of balls: if all the balls are white, “x is white” is necessary; if

some are white, it is possible; if none, it is impossible. Here all that

is known about x is that it satisﬁes a certain propositional function,

namely, “x was a ball in the bag.” This is a situation which is general

in probability problems and not uncommon in practical life—e.g.

when a person calls of whom we know nothing except that he brings

a letter of introduction from our friend so-and-so. In all such | 166 cases,

as in regard to modality in general, the propositional function is rele-

vant. For clear thinking, in many very diverse directions, the habit of

keeping propositional functions sharply separated from propositions

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1z±

is of the utmost importance, and the failure to do so in the past has

been a disgrace to philosophy.

CHAPTER XVI

DESCRIPTIONS

16; We dealt in the preceding chapter with the words all and some; in

this chapter we shall consider the word the in the singular, and in

the next chapter we shall consider the word the in the plural. It may

be thought excessive to devote two chapters to one word, but to the

philosophical mathematician it is a word of very great importance:

like Browning’s Grammarian with the enclitic δ, I would give the

doctrine of this word if I were “dead from the waist down” and not

merely in a prison.

We have already had occasion to mention “descriptive functions,”

i.e. such expressions as “the father of x” or “the sine of x.” These are

to be deﬁned by ﬁrst deﬁning “descriptions.”

A “description” may be of two sorts, deﬁnite and indeﬁnite (or

ambiguous). An indeﬁnite description is a phrase of the form “a

so-and-so,” and a deﬁnite description is a phrase of the form “the

so-and-so” (in the singular). Let us begin with the former.

“Who did you meet?” “I met a man.” “That is a very indeﬁnite

description.” We are therefore not departing from usage in our termi-

nology. Our question is: What do I really assert when I assert “I met

a man”? Let us assume, for the moment, that my assertion is true,

and that in fact I met Jones. It is clear that what I assert is not “I met

Jones.” I may say “I met a man, but it was not Jones”; in that case,

though I lie, I do not contradict myself, as I should do if when I say

I met a | 168 man I really mean that I met Jones. It is clear also that the

person to whom I am speaking can understand what I say, even if he

is a foreigner and has never heard of Jones.

But we may go further: not only Jones, but no actual man, enters

into my statement. This becomes obvious when the statement is false,

since then there is no more reason why Jones should be supposed to

enter into the proposition than why anyone else should. Indeed the

statement would remain signiﬁcant, though it could not possibly be

true, even if there were no man at all. “I met a unicorn” or “I met a

sea-serpent” is a perfectly signiﬁcant assertion, if we know what it

would be to be a unicorn or a sea-serpent, i.e. what is the deﬁnition of

1z¸

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1z6

these fabulous monsters. Thus it is only what we may call the concept

that enters into the proposition. In the case of “unicorn,” for example,

there is only the concept: there is not also, somewhere among the

shades, something unreal which may be called “a unicorn.” Therefore,

since it is signiﬁcant (though false) to say “I met a unicorn,” it is clear

that this proposition, rightly analysed, does not contain a constituent

“a unicorn,” though it does contain the concept “unicorn.”

The question of “unreality,” which confronts us at this point, is a

very important one. Misled by grammar, the great majority of those

logicians who have dealt with this question have dealt with it on mis-

taken lines. They have regarded grammatical form as a surer guide

in analysis than, in fact, it is. And they have not known what diﬀer-

ences in grammatical form are important. “I met Jones” and “I met

a man” would count traditionally as propositions of the same form,

but in actual fact they are of quite diﬀerent forms: the ﬁrst names

an actual person, Jones; while the second involves a propositional

function, and becomes, when made explicit: “The function ‘I met x

and x is human’ is sometimes true.” (It will be remembered that we

adopted the convention of using “sometimes” as not implying more

than once.) This proposition is obviously not of the form “I met x,”

which accounts | 16o for the existence of the proposition “I met a unicorn”

in spite of the fact that there is no such thing as “a unicorn.”

For want of the apparatus of propositional functions, many logi-

cians have been driven to the conclusion that there are unreal objects.

It is argued, e.g. by Meinong,

1

that we can speak about “the golden

mountain,” “the round square,” and so on; we can make true propo-

sitions of which these are the subjects; hence they must have some

kind of logical being, since otherwise the propositions in which they

occur would be meaningless. In such theories, it seems to me, there is

a failure of that feeling for reality which ought to be preserved even

in the most abstract studies. Logic, I should maintain, must no more

admit a unicorn than zoology can; for logic is concerned with the

real world just as truly as zoology, though with its more abstract and

general features. To say that unicorns have an existence in heraldry,

or in literature, or in imagination, is a most pitiful and paltry evasion.

What exists in heraldry is not an animal, made of ﬂesh and blood,

moving and breathing of its own initiative. What exists is a picture,

or a description in words. Similarly, to maintain that Hamlet, for ex-

ample, exists in his own world, namely, in the world of Shakespeare’s

imagination, just as truly as (say) Napoleon existed in the ordinary

world, is to say something deliberately confusing, or else confused to

a degree which is scarcely credible. There is only one world, the “real”

world: Shakespeare’s imagination is part of it, and the thoughts that

1

Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, 1oo±.

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1z;

he had in writing Hamlet are real. So are the thoughts that we have

in reading the play. But it is of the very essence of ﬁction that only

the thoughts, feelings, etc., in Shakespeare and his readers are real,

and that there is not, in addition to them, an objective Hamlet. When

you have taken account of all the feelings roused by Napoleon in

writers and readers of history, you have not touched the actual man;

but in the case of Hamlet you have come to the end of him. If no one

thought about Hamlet, there would be nothing | 1;o left of him; if no one

had thought about Napoleon, he would have soon seen to it that some

one did. The sense of reality is vital in logic, and whoever juggles

with it by pretending that Hamlet has another kind of reality is doing

a disservice to thought. A robust sense of reality is very necessary

in framing a correct analysis of propositions about unicorns, golden

mountains, round squares, and other such pseudo-objects.

In obedience to the feeling of reality, we shall insist that, in the

analysis of propositions, nothing “unreal” is to be admitted. But,

after all, if there is nothing unreal, how, it may be asked, could we ad-

mit anything unreal? The reply is that, in dealing with propositions,

we are dealing in the ﬁrst instance with symbols, and if we attribute

signiﬁcance to groups of symbols which have no signiﬁcance, we shall

fall into the error of admitting unrealities, in the only sense in which

this is possible, namely, as objects described. In the proposition “I

met a unicorn,” the whole four words together make a signiﬁcant

proposition, and the word “unicorn” by itself is signiﬁcant, in just

the same sense as the word “man.” But the two words “a unicorn” do

not form a subordinate group having a meaning of its own. Thus if

we falsely attribute meaning to these two words, we ﬁnd ourselves

saddled with “a unicorn,” and with the problem how there can be

such a thing in a world where there are no unicorns. “A unicorn” is an

indeﬁnite description which describes nothing. It is not an indeﬁnite

description which describes something unreal. Such a proposition

as “x is unreal” only has meaning when “x” is a description, deﬁ-

nite or indeﬁnite; in that case the proposition will be true if “x” is

a description which describes nothing. But whether the description

“x” describes something or describes nothing, it is in any case not a

constituent of the proposition in which it occurs; like “a unicorn” just

now, it is not a subordinate group having a meaning of its own. All

this results from the fact that, when “x” is a description, “x is unreal”

or “x does not exist” is not nonsense, but is always signiﬁcant and

sometimes true. |

1;1 We may now proceed to deﬁne generally the meaning of propo-

sitions which contain ambiguous descriptions. Suppose we wish to

make some statement about “a so-and-so,” where “so-and-so’s” are

those objects that have a certain property φ, i.e. those objects x for

which the propositional function φx is true. (E.g. if we take “a man”

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1z8

as our instance of “a so-and-so,” φx will be “x is human.”) Let us

now wish to assert the property ψ of “a so-and-so,” i.e. we wish to

assert that “a so-and-so” has that property which x has when ψx is

true. (E.g. in the case of “I met a man,” ψx will be “I met x.”) Now the

proposition that “a so-and-so” has the property ψ is not a proposition

of the form “ψx.” If it were, “a so-and-so” would have to be identical

with x for a suitable x; and although (in a sense) this may be true in

some cases, it is certainly not true in such a case as “a unicorn.” It is

just this fact, that the statement that a so-and-so has the property ψ

is not of the form ψx, which makes it possible for “a so-and-so” to

be, in a certain clearly deﬁnable sense, “unreal.” The deﬁnition is as

follows:—

The statement that “an object having the property φ has the prop-

erty ψ”

means:

“The joint assertion of φx and ψx is not always false.”

So far as logic goes, this is the same proposition as might be

expressed by “some φ’s are ψ’s”; but rhetorically there is a diﬀerence,

because in the one case there is a suggestion of singularity, and in the

other case of plurality. This, however, is not the important point. The

important point is that, when rightly analysed, propositions verbally

about “a so-and-so” are found to contain no constituent represented

by this phrase. And that is why such propositions can be signiﬁcant

even when there is no such thing as a so-and-so.

The deﬁnition of existence, as applied to ambiguous descriptions,

results fromwhat was said at the end of the preceding chapter. We say

that “men exist” or “a man exists” if the | 1;z propositional function “x is

human” is sometimes true; and generally “a so-and-so” exists if “x is

so-and-so” is sometimes true. We may put this in other language. The

proposition “Socrates is a man” is no doubt equivalent to “Socrates is

human,” but it is not the very same proposition. The is of “Socrates

is human” expresses the relation of subject and predicate; the is of

“Socrates is a man” expresses identity. It is a disgrace to the human

race that it has chosen to employ the same word “is” for these two

entirely diﬀerent ideas—a disgrace which a symbolic logical language

of course remedies. The identity in “Socrates is a man” is identity

between an object named (accepting “Socrates” as a name, subject to

qualiﬁcations explained later) and an object ambiguously described.

An object ambiguously described will “exist” when at least one such

proposition is true, i.e. when there is at least one true proposition of

the form “x is a so-and-so,” where “x” is a name. It is characteristic

of ambiguous (as opposed to deﬁnite) descriptions that there may

be any number of true propositions of the above form—Socrates is a

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1zo

man, Plato is a man, etc. Thus “a man exists” follows from Socrates,

or Plato, or anyone else. With deﬁnite descriptions, on the other

hand, the corresponding form of proposition, namely, “x is the so-

and-so” (where “x” is a name), can only be true for one value of x at

most. This brings us to the subject of deﬁnite descriptions, which

are to be deﬁned in a way analogous to that employed for ambiguous

descriptions, but rather more complicated.

We come now to the main subject of the present chapter, namely,

the deﬁnition of the word the (in the singular). One very important

point about the deﬁnition of “a so-and-so” applies equally to “the

so-and-so”; the deﬁnition to be sought is a deﬁnition of propositions

in which this phrase occurs, not a deﬁnition of the phrase itself in

isolation. In the case of “a so-and-so,” this is fairly obvious: no one

could suppose that “a man” was a deﬁnite object, which could be

deﬁned by itself. | 1;j Socrates is a man, Plato is a man, Aristotle is a

man, but we cannot infer that “a man” means the same as “Socrates”

means and also the same as “Plato” means and also the same as

“Aristotle” means, since these three names have diﬀerent meanings.

Nevertheless, when we have enumerated all the men in the world,

there is nothing left of which we can say, “This is a man, and not

only so, but it is the ‘a man,’ the quintessential entity that is just an

indeﬁnite man without being anybody in particular.” It is of course

quite clear that whatever there is in the world is deﬁnite: if it is a

man it is one deﬁnite man and not any other. Thus there cannot be

such an entity as “a man” to be found in the world, as opposed to

speciﬁc men. And accordingly it is natural that we do not deﬁne “a

man” itself, but only the propositions in which it occurs.

In the case of “the so-and-so” this is equally true, though at ﬁrst

sight less obvious. We may demonstrate that this must be the case,

by a consideration of the diﬀerence between a name and a deﬁnite

description. Take the proposition, “Scott is the author of Waverley.”

We have here a name, “Scott,” and a description, “the author of

Waverley,” which are asserted to apply to the same person. The

distinction between a name and all other symbols may be explained

as follows:—

A name is a simple symbol whose meaning is something that can

only occur as subject, i.e. something of the kind that, in Chapter

XIII., we deﬁned as an “individual” or a “particular.” And a “simple”

symbol is one which has no parts that are symbols. Thus “Scott”

is a simple symbol, because, though it has parts (namely, separate

letters), these parts are not symbols. On the other hand, “the author

of Waverley” is not a simple symbol, because the separate words

that compose the phrase are parts which are symbols. If, as may be

the case, whatever seems to be an “individual” is really capable of

further analysis, we shall have to content ourselves with what may be

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1jo

called “relative individuals,” which will be terms that, throughout the

context in question, are never analysed and never occur | 1;± otherwise

than as subjects. And in that case we shall have correspondingly

to content ourselves with “relative names.” From the standpoint

of our present problem, namely, the deﬁnition of descriptions, this

problem, whether these are absolute names or only relative names,

may be ignored, since it concerns diﬀerent stages in the hierarchy of

“types,” whereas we have to compare such couples as “Scott” and “the

author of Waverley,” which both apply to the same object, and do not

raise the problem of types. We may, therefore, for the moment, treat

names as capable of being absolute; nothing that we shall have to say

will depend upon this assumption, but the wording may be a little

shortened by it.

We have, then, two things to compare: (1) a name, which is a sim-

ple symbol, directly designating an individual which is its meaning,

and having this meaning in its own right, independently of the mean-

ings of all other words; (z) a description, which consists of several

words, whose meanings are already ﬁxed, and from which results

whatever is to be taken as the “meaning” of the description.

A proposition containing a description is not identical with what

that proposition becomes when a name is substituted, even if the

name names the same object as the description describes. “Scott is the

author of Waverley” is obviously a diﬀerent proposition from “Scott is

Scott”: the ﬁrst is a fact in literary history, the second a trivial truism.

And if we put anyone other than Scott in place of “the author of

Waverley,” our proposition would become false, and would therefore

certainly no longer be the same proposition. But, it may be said, our

proposition is essentially of the same form as (say) “Scott is Sir Wal-

ter,” in which two names are said to apply to the same person. The

reply is that, if “Scott is Sir Walter” really means “the person named

‘Scott’ is the person named ‘Sir Walter,’” then the names are being

used as descriptions: i.e. the individual, instead of being named, is

being described as the person having that name. This is a way in

which names are frequently used | 1;¸ in practice, and there will, as a

rule, be nothing in the phraseology to show whether they are being

used in this way or as names. When a name is used directly, merely to

indicate what we are speaking about, it is no part of the fact asserted,

or of the falsehood if our assertion happens to be false: it is merely

part of the symbolism by which we express our thought. What we

want to express is something which might (for example) be translated

into a foreign language; it is something for which the actual words

are a vehicle, but of which they are no part. On the other hand, when

we make a proposition about “the person called ‘Scott,’” the actual

name “Scott” enters into what we are asserting, and not merely into

the language used in making the assertion. Our proposition will now

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1j1

be a diﬀerent one if we substitute “the person called ‘Sir Walter.’” But

so long as we are using names as names, whether we say “Scott” or

whether we say “Sir Walter” is as irrelevant to what we are asserting

as whether we speak English or French. Thus so long as names are

used as names, “Scott is Sir Walter” is the same trivial proposition

as “Scott is Scott.” This completes the proof that “Scott is the author

of Waverley” is not the same proposition as results from substituting

a name for “the author of Waverley,” no matter what name may be

substituted.

When we use a variable, and speak of a propositional function, φx

say, the process of applying general statements about φx to particular

cases will consist in substituting a name for the letter “x,” assuming

that φ is a function which has individuals for its arguments. Suppose,

for example, that φx is “always true”; let it be, say, the “law of iden-

tity,” x = x. Then we may substitute for “x” any name we choose, and

we shall obtain a true proposition. Assuming for the moment that

“Socrates,” “Plato,” and “Aristotle” are names (a very rash assump-

tion), we can infer from the law of identity that Socrates is Socrates,

Plato is Plato, and Aristotle is Aristotle. But we shall commit a fallacy

if we attempt to infer, without further premisses, that the author of

Waverley is the author of Waverley. This results | 1;6 from what we have

just proved, that, if we substitute a name for “the author of Waverley”

in a proposition, the proposition we obtain is a diﬀerent one. That is

to say, applying the result to our present case: If “x” is a name, “x = x”

is not the same proposition as “the author of Waverley is the author of

Waverley,” no matter what name “x” may be. Thus from the fact that

all propositions of the form “x = x” are true we cannot infer, without

more ado, that the author of Waverley is the author of Waverley. In

fact, propositions of the form “the so-and-so is the so-and-so” are not

always true: it is necessary that the so-and-so should exist (a term

which will be explained shortly). It is false that the present King

of France is the present King of France, or that the round square

is the round square. When we substitute a description for a name,

propositional functions which are “always true” may become false,

if the description describes nothing. There is no mystery in this as

soon as we realise (what was proved in the preceding paragraph)

that when we substitute a description the result is not a value of the

propositional function in question.

We are now in a position to deﬁne propositions in which a deﬁnite

description occurs. The only thing that distinguishes “the so-and-

so” from “a so-and-so” is the implication of uniqueness. We cannot

speak of “the inhabitant of London,” because inhabiting London is an

attribute which is not unique. We cannot speak about “the present

King of France,” because there is none; but we can speak about “the

present King of England.” Thus propositions about “the so-and-so”

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1jz

always imply the corresponding propositions about “a so-and-so,”

with the addendum that there is not more than one so-and-so. Such

a proposition as “Scott is the author of Waverley” could not be true

if Waverley had never been written, or if several people had written

it; and no more could any other proposition resulting from a propo-

sitional function φx by the substitution of “the author of Waverley”

for “x.” We may say that “the author of Waverley” means “the value

of x for which ‘x wrote | 1;; Waverley’ is true.” Thus the proposition “the

author of Waverley was Scotch,” for example, involves:

(1) “x wrote Waverley” is not always false;

(z) “if x and y wrote Waverley, x and y are identical” is always true;

(j) “if x wrote Waverley, x was Scotch” is always true.

These three propositions, translated into ordinary language, state:

(1) at least one person wrote Waverley;

(z) at most one person wrote Waverley;

(j) whoever wrote Waverley was Scotch.

All these three are implied by “the author of Waverley was Scotch.”

Conversely, the three together (but no two of them) imply that the

author of Waverley was Scotch. Hence the three together may be taken

as deﬁning what is meant by the proposition “the author of Waverley

was Scotch.”

We may somewhat simplify these three propositions. The ﬁrst

and second together are equivalent to: “There is a term c such that

‘x wrote Waverley’ is true when x is c and is false when x is not c.” In

other words, “There is a term c such that ‘x wrote Waverley’ is always

equivalent to ‘x is c.’” (Two propositions are “equivalent” when both

are true or both are false.) We have here, to begin with, two functions

of x, “x wrote Waverley” and “x is c,” and we form a function of c

by considering the equivalence of these two functions of x for all

values of x; we then proceed to assert that the resulting function of c

is “sometimes true,” i.e. that it is true for at least one value of c. (It

obviously cannot be true for more than one value of c.) These two

conditions together are deﬁned as giving the meaning of “the author

of Waverley exists.”

We may now deﬁne “the term satisfying the function φx exists.”

This is the general form of which the above is a particular case. “The

author of Waverley” is “the term satisfying the function ‘x wrote

Waverley.’” And “the so-and-so” will | 1;8 always involve reference to

some propositional function, namely, that which deﬁnes the property

that makes a thing a so-and-so. Our deﬁnition is as follows:—

“The term satisfying the function φx exists” means:

“There is a term c such that φx is always equivalent to ‘x is c.’”

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1jj

In order to deﬁne “the author of Waverley was Scotch,” we have

still to take account of the third of our three propositions, namely,

“Whoever wrote Waverley was Scotch.” This will be satisﬁed by merely

adding that the c in question is to be Scotch. Thus “the author of

Waverley was Scotch” is:

“There is a term c such that (1) ‘x wrote Waverley’ is always equiv-

alent to ‘x is c,’ (z) c is Scotch.”

And generally: “the term satisfying φx satisﬁes ψx” is deﬁned as

meaning:

“There is a term c such that (1) φx is always equivalent to ‘x is c,’

(z) ψc is true.”

This is the deﬁnition of propositions in which descriptions occur.

It is possible to have much knowledge concerning a term de-

scribed, i.e. to know many propositions concerning “the so-and-so,”

without actually knowing what the so-and-so is, i.e. without know-

ing any proposition of the form “x is the so-and-so,” where “x” is a

name. In a detective story propositions about “the man who did the

deed” are accumulated, in the hope that ultimately they will suﬃce to

demonstrate that it was A who did the deed. We may even go so far as

to say that, in all such knowledge as can be expressed in words—with

the exception of “this” and “that” and a few other words of which the

meaning varies on diﬀerent occasions—no names, in the strict sense,

occur, but what seem like names are really descriptions. We may

inquire signiﬁcantly whether Homer existed, which we could not do

if “Homer” were a name. The proposition “the so-and-so exists” is sig-

niﬁcant, whether true or false; but if a is the so-and-so (where “a” is a

name), the words “a exists” are meaningless. It is only of descriptions

| 1;o —deﬁnite or indeﬁnite—that existence can be signiﬁcantly asserted;

for, if “a” is a name, it must name something: what does not name

anything is not a name, and therefore, if intended to be a name, is a

symbol devoid of meaning, whereas a description, like “the present

King of France,” does not become incapable of occurring signiﬁcantly

merely on the ground that it describes nothing, the reason being that

it is a complex symbol, of which the meaning is derived from that of

its constituent symbols. And so, when we ask whether Homer existed,

we are using the word “Homer” as an abbreviated description: we

may replace it by (say) “the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey.” The

same considerations apply to almost all uses of what look like proper

names.

When descriptions occur in propositions, it is necessary to distin-

guish what may be called “primary” and “secondary” occurrences.

The abstract distinction is as follows. A description has a “primary”

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1j±

occurrence when the proposition in which it occurs results from sub-

stituting the description for “x” in some propositional function φx; a

description has a “secondary” occurrence when the result of substi-

tuting the description for x in φx gives only part of the proposition

concerned. An instance will make this clearer. Consider “the present

King of France is bald.” Here “the present King of France” has a

primary occurrence, and the proposition is false. Every proposition

in which a description which describes nothing has a primary occur-

rence is false. But now consider “the present King of France is not

bald.” This is ambiguous. If we are ﬁrst to take “x is bald,” then

substitute “the present King of France” for “x,” and then deny the

result, the occurrence of “the present King of France” is secondary

and our proposition is true; but if we are to take “x is not bald” and

substitute “the present King of France” for “x,” then “the present

King of France” has a primary occurrence and the proposition is false.

Confusion of primary and secondary occurrences is a ready source of

fallacies where descriptions are concerned. |

Descriptions 18o occur in mathematics chieﬂy in the form of descrip-

tive functions, i.e. “the term having the relation R to y,” or “the R

of y” as we may say, on the analogy of “the father of y” and similar

phrases. To say “the father of y is rich,” for example, is to say that

the following propositional function of c: “c is rich, and ‘x begat y’ is

always equivalent to ‘x is c,’” is “sometimes true,” i.e. is true for at

least one value of c. It obviously cannot be true for more than one

value.

The theory of descriptions, brieﬂy outlined in the present chapter,

is of the utmost importance both in logic and in theory of knowledge.

But for purposes of mathematics, the more philosophical parts of

the theory are not essential, and have therefore been omitted in the

above account, which has conﬁned itself to the barest mathematical

requisites.

CHAPTER XVII

CLASSES

181 In the present chapter we shall be concerned with the in the plural:

the inhabitants of London, the sons of rich men, and so on. In other

words, we shall be concerned with classes. We saw in Chapter II.

that a cardinal number is to be deﬁned as a class of classes, and in

Chapter III. that the number 1 is to be deﬁned as the class of all

unit classes, i.e. of all that have just one member, as we should say

but for the vicious circle. Of course, when the number 1 is deﬁned

as the class of all unit classes, “unit classes” must be deﬁned so as

not to assume that we know what is meant by “one”; in fact, they

are deﬁned in a way closely analogous to that used for descriptions,

namely: A class α is said to be a “unit” class if the propositional

function “‘x is an α’ is always equivalent to ‘x is c’” (regarded as a

function of c) is not always false, i.e., in more ordinary language, if

there is a term c such that x will be a member of α when x is c but

not otherwise. This gives us a deﬁnition of a unit class if we already

know what a class is in general. Hitherto we have, in dealing with

arithmetic, treated “class” as a primitive idea. But, for the reasons set

forth in Chapter XIII., if for no others, we cannot accept “class” as

a primitive idea. We must seek a deﬁnition on the same lines as the

deﬁnition of descriptions, i.e. a deﬁnition which will assign a meaning

to propositions in whose verbal or symbolic expression words or

symbols apparently representing classes occur, but which will assign

a meaning that altogether eliminates all mention of classes from a

right analysis | 18z of such propositions. We shall then be able to say

that the symbols for classes are mere conveniences, not representing

objects called “classes,” and that classes are in fact, like descriptions,

logical ﬁctions, or (as we say) “incomplete symbols.”

The theory of classes is less complete than the theory of descrip-

tions, and there are reasons (which we shall give in outline) for re-

garding the deﬁnition of classes that will be suggested as not ﬁnally

satisfactory. Some further subtlety appears to be required; but the

reasons for regarding the deﬁnition which will be oﬀered as being

approximately correct and on the right lines are overwhelming.

1j¸

Chap. XVII. Classes 1j6

The ﬁrst thing is to realise why classes cannot be regarded as part

of the ultimate furniture of the world. It is diﬃcult to explain pre-

cisely what one means by this statement, but one consequence which

it implies may be used to elucidate its meaning. If we had a com-

plete symbolic language, with a deﬁnition for everything deﬁnable,

and an undeﬁned symbol for everything indeﬁnable, the undeﬁned

symbols in this language would represent symbolically what I mean

by “the ultimate furniture of the world.” I am maintaining that no

symbols either for “class” in general or for particular classes would

be included in this apparatus of undeﬁned symbols. On the other

hand, all the particular things there are in the world would have to

have names which would be included among undeﬁned symbols. We

might try to avoid this conclusion by the use of descriptions. Take

(say) “the last thing Cæsar saw before he died.” This is a description

of some particular; we might use it as (in one perfectly legitimate

sense) a deﬁnition of that particular. But if “a” is a name for the same

particular, a proposition in which “a” occurs is not (as we saw in

the preceding chapter) identical with what this proposition becomes

when for “a” we substitute “the last thing Cæsar saw before he died.”

If our language does not contain the name “a,” or some other name

for the same particular, we shall have no means of expressing the

proposition which we expressed by means of “a” as opposed to the

one that | 18j we expressed by means of the description. Thus descrip-

tions would not enable a perfect language to dispense with names for

all particulars. In this respect, we are maintaining, classes diﬀer from

particulars, and need not be represented by undeﬁned symbols. Our

ﬁrst business is to give the reasons for this opinion.

We have already seen that classes cannot be regarded as a species

of individuals, on account of the contradiction about classes which

are not members of themselves (explained in Chapter XIII.), and

because we can prove that the number of classes is greater than the

number of individuals.

We cannot take classes in the pure extensional way as simply heaps

or conglomerations. If we were to attempt to do that, we should ﬁnd

it impossible to understand how there can be such a class as the

null-class, which has no members at all and cannot be regarded as a

“heap”; we should also ﬁnd it very hard to understand how it comes

about that a class which has only one member is not identical with

that one member. I do not mean to assert, or to deny, that there are

such entities as “heaps.” As a mathematical logician, I am not called

upon to have an opinion on this point. All that I am maintaining is

that, if there are such things as heaps, we cannot identify them with

the classes composed of their constituents.

We shall come much nearer to a satisfactory theory if we try to

identify classes with propositional functions. Every class, as we

Chap. XVII. Classes 1j;

explained in Chapter II., is deﬁned by some propositional function

which is true of the members of the class and false of other things.

But if a class can be deﬁned by one propositional function, it can

equally well be deﬁned by any other which is true whenever the ﬁrst

is true and false whenever the ﬁrst is false. For this reason the class

cannot be identiﬁed with any one such propositional function rather

than with any other—and given a propositional function, there are

always many others which are true when it is true and false when

it is false. We say that two propositional functions are “formally

equivalent” when this happens. Two propositions are | 18± “equivalent”

when both are true or both false; two propositional functions φx, ψx

are “formally equivalent” when φx is always equivalent to ψx. It is

the fact that there are other functions formally equivalent to a given

function that makes it impossible to identify a class with a function;

for we wish classes to be such that no two distinct classes have exactly

the same members, and therefore two formally equivalent functions

will have to determine the same class.

When we have decided that classes cannot be things of the same

sort as their members, that they cannot be just heaps or aggregates,

and also that they cannot be identiﬁed with propositional functions,

it becomes very diﬃcult to see what they can be, if they are to be

more than symbolic ﬁctions. And if we can ﬁnd any way of dealing

with them as symbolic ﬁctions, we increase the logical security of our

position, since we avoid the need of assuming that there are classes

without being compelled to make the opposite assumption that there

are no classes. We merely abstain from both assumptions. This is an

example of Occam’s razor, namely, “entities are not to be multiplied

without necessity.” But when we refuse to assert that there are classes,

we must not be supposed to be asserting dogmatically that there are

none. We are merely agnostic as regards them: like Laplace, we can

say, “je n’ai pas besoin de cette hypoth` ese.”

Let us set forth the conditions that a symbol must fulﬁl if it is

to serve as a class. I think the following conditions will be found

necessary and suﬃcient:—

(1) Every propositional function must determine a class, con-

sisting of those arguments for which the function is true. Given

any proposition (true or false), say about Socrates, we can imagine

Socrates replaced by Plato or Aristotle or a gorilla or the man in the

moon or any other individual in the world. In general, some of these

substitutions will give a true proposition and some a false one. The

class determined will consist of all those substitutions that give a

true one. Of course, we have still to decide what we mean by “all

those which, etc.” All that | 18¸ we are observing at present is that a class

is rendered determinate by a propositional function, and that every

propositional function determines an appropriate class.

Chap. XVII. Classes 1j8

(z) Two formally equivalent propositional functions must deter-

mine the same class, and two which are not formally equivalent must

determine diﬀerent classes. That is, a class is determined by its mem-

bership, and no two diﬀerent classes can have the same membership.

(If a class is determined by a function φx, we say that a is a “member”

of the class if φa is true.)

(j) We must ﬁnd some way of deﬁning not only classes, but classes

of classes. We saw in Chapter II. that cardinal numbers are to be

deﬁned as classes of classes. The ordinary phrase of elementary

mathematics, “The combinations of n things m at a time” represents

a class of classes, namely, the class of all classes of m terms that can

be selected out of a given class of n terms. Without some symbolic

method of dealing with classes of classes, mathematical logic would

break down.

(±) It must under all circumstances be meaningless (not false) to

suppose a class a member of itself or not a member of itself. This

results from the contradiction which we discussed in Chapter XIII.

(¸) Lastly—and this is the condition which is most diﬃcult of

fulﬁlment—it must be possible to make propositions about all the

classes that are composed of individuals, or about all the classes

that are composed of objects of any one logical “type.” If this were

not the case, many uses of classes would go astray—for example,

mathematical induction. In deﬁning the posterity of a given term, we

need to be able to say that a member of the posterity belongs to all

hereditary classes to which the given term belongs, and this requires

the sort of totality that is in question. The reason there is a diﬃculty

about this condition is that it can be proved to be impossible to speak

of all the propositional functions that can have arguments of a given

type.

We will, to begin with, ignore this last condition and the problems

which it raises. The ﬁrst two conditions may be | 186 taken together. They

state that there is to be one class, no more and no less, for each group

of formally equivalent propositional functions; e.g. the class of men

is to be the same as that of featherless bipeds or rational animals or

Yahoos or whatever other characteristic may be preferred for deﬁning

a human being. Now, when we say that two formally equivalent

propositional functions may be not identical, although they deﬁne

the same class, we may prove the truth of the assertion by pointing

out that a statement may be true of the one function and false of the

other; e.g. “I believe that all men are mortal” may be true, while “I

believe that all rational animals are mortal” may be false, since I may

believe falsely that the Phœnix is an immortal rational animal. Thus

we are led to consider statements about functions, or (more correctly)

functions of functions.

Some of the things that may be said about a function may be re-

garded as said about the class deﬁned by the function, whereas others

Chap. XVII. Classes 1jo

cannot. The statement “all men are mortal” involves the functions

“x is human” and “x is mortal”; or, if we choose, we can say that it

involves the classes men and mortals. We can interpret the statement

in either way, because its truth-value is unchanged if we substitute

for “x is human” or for “x is mortal” any formally equivalent func-

tion. But, as we have just seen, the statement “I believe that all men

are mortal” cannot be regarded as being about the class determined

by either function, because its truth-value may be changed by the

substitution of a formally equivalent function (which leaves the class

unchanged). We will call a statement involving a function φx an

“extensional” function of the function φx, if it is like “all men are

mortal,” i.e. if its truth-value is unchanged by the substitution of any

formally equivalent function; and when a function of a function is

not extensional, we will call it “intensional,” so that “I believe that

all men are mortal” is an intensional function of “x is human” or

“x is mortal.” Thus extensional functions of a function φx may, for

practical | 18; purposes, be regarded as functions of the class determined

by φx, while intensional functions cannot be so regarded.

It is to be observed that all the speciﬁc functions of functions that

we have occasion to introduce in mathematical logic are extensional.

Thus, for example, the two fundamental functions of functions are:

“φx is always true” and “φx is sometimes true.” Each of these has its

truth-value unchanged if any formally equivalent function is substi-

tuted for φx. In the language of classes, if α is the class determined

by φx, “φx is always true” is equivalent to “everything is a member

of α,” and “φx is sometimes true” is equivalent to “α has members”

or (better) “α has at least one member.” Take, again, the condition,

dealt with in the preceding chapter, for the existence of “the term

satisfying φx.” The condition is that there is a term c such that φx

is always equivalent to “x is c.” This is obviously extensional. It is

equivalent to the assertion that the class deﬁned by the function φx

is a unit class, i.e. a class having one member; in other words, a class

which is a member of 1.

Given a function of a function which may or may not be exten-

sional, we can always derive from it a connected and certainly ex-

tensional function of the same function, by the following plan: Let

our original function of a function be one which attributes to φx the

property f ; then consider the assertion “there is a function having

the property f and formally equivalent to φx.” This is an extensional

function of φx; it is true when our original statement is true, and it

is formally equivalent to the original function of φx if this original

function is extensional; but when the original function is intensional,

the new one is more often true than the old one. For example, con-

sider again “I believe that all men are mortal,” regarded as a function

of “x is human.” The derived extensional function is: “There is a func-

Chap. XVII. Classes 1±o

tion formally equivalent to ‘x is human’ and such that I believe that

whatever satisﬁes it is mortal.” This remains true when we substitute

“x is a rational animal” | 188 for “x is human,” even if I believe falsely that

the Phœnix is rational and immortal.

We give the name of “derived extensional function” to the function

constructed as above, namely, to the function: “There is a function

having the property f and formally equivalent to φx,” where the

original function was “the function φx has the property f.”

We may regard the derived extensional function as having for its

argument the class determined by the function φx, and as asserting

f of this class. This may be taken as the deﬁnition of a proposition

about a class. I.e. we may deﬁne:

To assert that “the class determined by the function φx has the

property f ” is to assert that φx satisﬁes the extensional function

derived from f.

This gives a meaning to any statement about a class which can

be made signiﬁcantly about a function; and it will be found that

technically it yields the results which are required in order to make a

theory symbolically satisfactory.

1

What we have said just now as regards the deﬁnition of classes

is suﬃcient to satisfy our ﬁrst four conditions. The way in which

it secures the third and fourth, namely, the possibility of classes of

classes, and the impossibility of a class being or not being a member

of itself, is somewhat technical; it is explained in Principia Mathe-

matica, but may be taken for granted here. It results that, but for

our ﬁfth condition, we might regard our task as completed. But this

condition—at once the most important and the most diﬃcult—is not

fulﬁlled in virtue of anything we have said as yet. The diﬃculty is

connected with the theory of types, and must be brieﬂy discussed.

z

We saw in Chapter XIII. that there is a hierarchy of logical types,

and that it is a fallacy to allow an object belonging to one of these

to be substituted for an object belonging to another. | 18o Now it is not

diﬃcult to show that the various functions which can take a given

object a as argument are not all of one type. Let us call them all a-

functions. We may take ﬁrst those among them which do not involve

reference to any collection of functions; these we will call “predica-

tive a-functions.” If we now proceed to functions involving reference

to the totality of predicative a-functions, we shall incur a fallacy if we

regard these as of the same type as the predicative a-functions. Take

such an every-day statement as “a is a typical Frenchman.” How shall

we deﬁne a “typical Frenchman”? We may deﬁne him as one “possess-

ing all qualities that are possessed by most Frenchmen.” But unless

1

See Principia Mathematica, vol. i. pp. ;¸–8± and ∗zo.

z

The reader who desires a fuller discussion should consult Principia Mathematica,

Introduction, chap. ii.; also ∗1z.

Chap. XVII. Classes 1±1

we conﬁne “all qualities” to such as do not involve a reference to any

totality of qualities, we shall have to observe that most Frenchmen

are not typical in the above sense, and therefore the deﬁnition shows

that to be not typical is essential to a typical Frenchman. This is not

a logical contradiction, since there is no reason why there should be

any typical Frenchmen; but it illustrates the need for separating oﬀ

qualities that involve reference to a totality of qualities from those

that do not.

Whenever, by statements about “all” or “some” of the values that

a variable can signiﬁcantly take, we generate a new object, this new

object must not be among the values which our previous variable

could take, since, if it were, the totality of values over which the vari-

able could range would only be deﬁnable in terms of itself, and we

should be involved in a vicious circle. For example, if I say “Napoleon

had all the qualities that make a great general,” I must deﬁne “quali-

ties” in such a way that it will not include what I am now saying, i.e.

“having all the qualities that make a great general” must not be itself

a quality in the sense supposed. This is fairly obvious, and is the

principle which leads to the theory of types by which vicious-circle

paradoxes are avoided. As applied to a-functions, we may suppose

that “qualities” is to mean “predicative functions.” Then when I say

“Napoleon had all the qualities, etc.,” I mean | 1oo “Napoleon satisﬁed all

the predicative functions, etc.” This statement attributes a property

to Napoleon, but not a predicative property; thus we escape the vi-

cious circle. But wherever “all functions which” occurs, the functions

in question must be limited to one type if a vicious circle is to be

avoided; and, as Napoleon and the typical Frenchman have shown,

the type is not rendered determinate by that of the argument. It

would require a much fuller discussion to set forth this point fully,

but what has been said may suﬃce to make it clear that the functions

which can take a given argument are of an inﬁnite series of types. We

could, by various technical devices, construct a variable which would

run through the ﬁrst n of these types, where n is ﬁnite, but we cannot

construct a variable which will run through them all, and, if we could,

that mere fact would at once generate a new type of function with

the same arguments, and would set the whole process going again.

We call predicative a-functions the ﬁrst type of a-functions; a-

functions involving reference to the totality of the ﬁrst type we call

the second type; and so on. No variable a-function can run through

all these diﬀerent types: it must stop short at some deﬁnite one.

These considerations are relevant to our deﬁnition of the derived

extensional function. We there spoke of “a function formally equiva-

lent to φx.” It is necessary to decide upon the type of our function.

Any decision will do, but some decision is unavoidable. Let us call

the supposed formally equivalent function ψ. Then ψ appears as a

Chap. XVII. Classes 1±z

variable, and must be of some determinate type. All that we know

necessarily about the type of φ is that it takes arguments of a given

type—that it is (say) an a-function. But this, as we have just seen,

does not determine its type. If we are to be able (as our ﬁfth requisite

demands) to deal with all classes whose members are of the same type

as a, we must be able to deﬁne all such classes by means of functions

of some one type; that is to say, there must be some type of a-function,

say the n

th

, such that any a-function is formally | 1o1 equivalent to some

a-function of the n

th

type. If this is the case, then any extensional

function which holds of all a-functions of the n

th

type will hold of

any a-function whatever. It is chieﬂy as a technical means of embody-

ing an assumption leading to this result that classes are useful. The

assumption is called the “axiom of reducibility,” and may be stated

as follows:—

“There is a type (τ say) of a-functions such that, given any a-

function, it is formally equivalent to some function of the type in

question.”

If this axiom is assumed, we use functions of this type in deﬁning

our associated extensional function. Statements about all a-classes (i.e.

all classes deﬁned by a-functions) can be reduced to statements about

all a-functions of the type τ. So long as only extensional functions of

functions are involved, this gives us in practice results which would

otherwise have required the impossible notion of “all a-functions.”

One particular region where this is vital is mathematical induction.

The axiom of reducibility involves all that is really essential in the

theory of classes. It is therefore worth while to ask whether there is

any reason to suppose it true.

This axiom, like the multiplicative axiom and the axiom of inﬁn-

ity, is necessary for certain results, but not for the bare existence of

deductive reasoning. The theory of deduction, as explained in Chap-

ter XIV., and the laws for propositions involving “all” and “some,”

are of the very texture of mathematical reasoning: without them,

or something like them, we should not merely not obtain the same

results, but we should not obtain any results at all. We cannot use

them as hypotheses, and deduce hypothetical consequences, for they

are rules of deduction as well as premisses. They must be absolutely

true, or else what we deduce according to them does not even follow

from the premisses. On the other hand, the axiom of reducibility, like

our two previous mathematical axioms, could perfectly well be stated

as an hypothesis whenever it is used, instead of being assumed to be

actually true. We can deduce | 1oz its consequences hypothetically; we

can also deduce the consequences of supposing it false. It is therefore

only convenient, not necessary. And in view of the complication

of the theory of types, and of the uncertainty of all except its most

general principles, it is impossible as yet to say whether there may

Chap. XVII. Classes 1±j

not be some way of dispensing with the axiom of reducibility alto-

gether. However, assuming the correctness of the theory outlined

above, what can we say as to the truth or falsehood of the axiom?

The axiom, we may observe, is a generalised form of Leibniz’s

identity of indiscernibles. Leibniz assumed, as a logical principle, that

two diﬀerent subjects must diﬀer as to predicates. Now predicates are

only some among what we called “predicative functions,” which will

include also relations to given terms, and various properties not to be

reckoned as predicates. Thus Leibniz’s assumption is a much stricter

and narrower one than ours. (Not, of course, according to his logic,

which regarded all propositions as reducible to the subject-predicate

form.) But there is no good reason for believing his form, so far as

I can see. There might quite well, as a matter of abstract logical

possibility, be two things which had exactly the same predicates, in

the narrow sense in which we have been using the word “predicate.”

How does our axiom look when we pass beyond predicates in this

narrow sense? In the actual world there seems no way of doubting

its empirical truth as regards particulars, owing to spatio-temporal

diﬀerentiation: no two particulars have exactly the same spatial and

temporal relations to all other particulars. But this is, as it were, an

accident, a fact about the world in which we happen to ﬁnd ourselves.

Pure logic, and pure mathematics (which is the same thing), aims

at being true, in Leibnizian phraseology, in all possible worlds, not

only in this higgledy-piggledy job-lot of a world in which chance

has imprisoned us. There is a certain lordliness which the logician

should preserve: he must not condescend to derive arguments from

the things he sees about him. |

Viewed 1oj from this strictly logical point of view, I do not see any

reason to believe that the axiom of reducibility is logically necessary,

which is what would be meant by saying that it is true in all possible

worlds. The admission of this axiom into a system of logic is therefore

a defect, even if the axiom is empirically true. It is for this reason

that the theory of classes cannot be regarded as being as complete

as the theory of descriptions. There is need of further work on the

theory of types, in the hope of arriving at a doctrine of classes which

does not require such a dubious assumption. But it is reasonable to

regard the theory outlined in the present chapter as right in its main

lines, i.e. in its reduction of propositions nominally about classes to

propositions about their deﬁning functions. The avoidance of classes

as entities by this method must, it would seem, be sound in principle,

however the detail may still require adjustment. It is because this

seems indubitable that we have included the theory of classes, in

spite of our desire to exclude, as far as possible, whatever seemed

open to serious doubt.

The theory of classes, as above outlined, reduces itself to one

Chap. XVII. Classes 1±±

axiom and one deﬁnition. For the sake of deﬁniteness, we will here

repeat them. The axiom is:

There is a type τ such that if φ is a function which can take a given

object a as argument, then there is a function ψ of the type τ which is

formally equivalent to φ.

The deﬁnition is:

If φ is a function which can take a given object a as argument, and

τ the type mentioned in the above axiom, then to say that the class

determined by φ has the property f is to say that there is a function of type

τ, formally equivalent to φ, and having the property f.

CHAPTER XVIII

MATHEMATICS ANDLOGIC

1o± Mathematics and logic, historically speaking, have been entirely

distinct studies. Mathematics has been connected with science, logic

with Greek. But both have developed in modern times: logic has

become more mathematical and mathematics has become more log-

ical. The consequence is that it has now become wholly impossible

to draw a line between the two; in fact, the two are one. They diﬀer

as boy and man: logic is the youth of mathematics and mathemat-

ics is the manhood of logic. This view is resented by logicians who,

having spent their time in the study of classical texts, are incapable

of following a piece of symbolic reasoning, and by mathematicians

who have learnt a technique without troubling to inquire into its

meaning or justiﬁcation. Both types are now fortunately growing

rarer. So much of modern mathematical work is obviously on the

border-line of logic, so much of modern logic is symbolic and formal,

that the very close relationship of logic and mathematics has become

obvious to every instructed student. The proof of their identity is, of

course, a matter of detail: starting with premisses which would be

universally admitted to belong to logic, and arriving by deduction

at results which as obviously belong to mathematics, we ﬁnd that

there is no point at which a sharp line can be drawn, with logic to

the left and mathematics to the right. If there are still those who do

not admit the identity of logic and mathematics, we may challenge

them to indicate at what point, in the successive deﬁnitions and |

1o¸ deductions of Principia Mathematica, they consider that logic ends

and mathematics begins. It will then be obvious that any answer

must be quite arbitrary.

In the earlier chapters of this book, starting from the natural

numbers, we have ﬁrst deﬁned “cardinal number” and shown how

to generalise the conception of number, and have then analysed

the conceptions involved in the deﬁnition, until we found ourselves

dealing with the fundamentals of logic. In a synthetic, deductive

treatment these fundamentals come ﬁrst, and the natural numbers are

only reached after a long journey. Such treatment, though formally

1±¸

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1±6

more correct than that which we have adopted, is more diﬃcult for

the reader, because the ultimate logical concepts and propositions

with which it starts are remote and unfamiliar as compared with

the natural numbers. Also they represent the present frontier of

knowledge, beyond which is the still unknown; and the dominion of

knowledge over them is not as yet very secure.

It used to be said that mathematics is the science of “quantity.”

“Quantity” is a vague word, but for the sake of argument we may re-

place it by the word “number.” The statement that mathematics is the

science of number would be untrue in two diﬀerent ways. On the one

hand, there are recognised branches of mathematics which have noth-

ing to do with number—all geometry that does not use co-ordinates

or measurement, for example: projective and descriptive geometry,

down to the point at which co-ordinates are introduced, does not have

to do with number, or even with quantity in the sense of greater and

less. On the other hand, through the deﬁnition of cardinals, through

the theory of induction and ancestral relations, through the general

theory of series, and through the deﬁnitions of the arithmetical op-

erations, it has become possible to generalise much that used to be

proved only in connection with numbers. The result is that what

was formerly the single study of Arithmetic has now become divided

into a number of separate studies, no one of which is specially con-

cerned with numbers. The most | 1o6 elementary properties of numbers

are concerned with one-one relations, and similarity between classes.

Addition is concerned with the construction of mutually exclusive

classes respectively similar to a set of classes which are not known

to be mutually exclusive. Multiplication is merged in the theory of

“selections,” i.e. of a certain kind of one-many relations. Finitude is

merged in the general study of ancestral relations, which yields the

whole theory of mathematical induction. The ordinal properties of

the various kinds of number-series, and the elements of the theory of

continuity of functions and the limits of functions, can be generalised

so as no longer to involve any essential reference to numbers. It is a

principle, in all formal reasoning, to generalise to the utmost, since

we thereby secure that a given process of deduction shall have more

widely applicable results; we are, therefore, in thus generalising the

reasoning of arithmetic, merely following a precept which is univer-

sally admitted in mathematics. And in thus generalising we have, in

eﬀect, created a set of new deductive systems, in which traditional

arithmetic is at once dissolved and enlarged; but whether any one of

these new deductive systems—for example, the theory of selections—

is to be said to belong to logic or to arithmetic is entirely arbitrary,

and incapable of being decided rationally.

We are thus brought face to face with the question: What is this

subject, which may be called indiﬀerently either mathematics or

logic? Is there any way in which we can deﬁne it?

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1±;

Certain characteristics of the subject are clear. To begin with, we

do not, in this subject, deal with particular things or particular prop-

erties: we deal formally with what can be said about any thing or any

property. We are prepared to say that one and one are two, but not

that Socrates and Plato are two, because, in our capacity of logicians

or pure mathematicians, we have never heard of Socrates and Plato. A

world in which there were no such individuals would still be a world

in which one and one are two. It is not open to us, as pure mathemati-

cians or logicians, to mention anything at all, because, if we do so,

| 1o; we introduce something irrelevant and not formal. We may make

this clear by applying it to the case of the syllogism. Traditional logic

says: “All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is

mortal.” Now it is clear that what we mean to assert, to begin with, is

only that the premisses imply the conclusion, not that premisses and

conclusion are actually true; even the most traditional logic points

out that the actual truth of the premisses is irrelevant to logic. Thus

the ﬁrst change to be made in the above traditional syllogism is to

state it in the form: “If all men are mortal and Socrates is a man, then

Socrates is mortal.” We may now observe that it is intended to convey

that this argument is valid in virtue of its form, not in virtue of the

particular terms occurring in it. If we had omitted “Socrates is a man”

from our premisses, we should have had a non-formal argument, only

admissible because Socrates is in fact a man; in that case we could not

have generalised the argument. But when, as above, the argument is

formal, nothing depends upon the terms that occur in it. Thus we may

substitute α for men, β for mortals, and x for Socrates, where α and β

are any classes whatever, and x is any individual. We then arrive at

the statement: “No matter what possible values x and α and β may

have, if all α’s are β’s and x is an α, then x is a β”; in other words, “the

propositional function ‘if all α’s are β’s and x is an α, then x is a β’

is always true.” Here at last we have a proposition of logic—the one

which is only suggested by the traditional statement about Socrates

and men and mortals.

It is clear that, if formal reasoning is what we are aiming at,

we shall always arrive ultimately at statements like the above, in

which no actual things or properties are mentioned; this will happen

through the mere desire not to waste our time proving in a particu-

lar case what can be proved generally. It would be ridiculous to go

through a long argument about Socrates, and then go through pre-

cisely the same argument again about Plato. If our argument is one

(say) which holds of all men, we shall prove it concerning “x,” with

the hypothesis “if x is a man.” With | 1o8 this hypothesis, the argument

will retain its hypothetical validity even when x is not a man. But

now we shall ﬁnd that our argument would still be valid if, instead

of supposing x to be a man, we were to suppose him to be a monkey

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1±8

or a goose or a Prime Minister. We shall therefore not waste our time

taking as our premiss “x is a man” but shall take “x is an α,” where

α is any class of individuals, or “φx” where φ is any propositional

function of some assigned type. Thus the absence of all mention

of particular things or properties in logic or pure mathematics is

a necessary result of the fact that this study is, as we say, “purely

formal.”

At this point we ﬁnd ourselves faced with a problem which is eas-

ier to state than to solve. The problem is: “What are the constituents

of a logical proposition?” I do not know the answer, but I propose to

explain how the problem arises.

Take (say) the proposition “Socrates was before Aristotle.” Here it

seems obvious that we have a relation between two terms, and that

the constituents of the proposition (as well as of the corresponding

fact) are simply the two terms and the relation, i.e. Socrates, Aristotle,

and before. (I ignore the fact that Socrates and Aristotle are not simple;

also the fact that what appear to be their names are really truncated

descriptions. Neither of these facts is relevant to the present issue.)

We may represent the general form of such propositions by “xRy,”

which may be read “x has the relation R to y.” This general form

may occur in logical propositions, but no particular instance of it can

occur. Are we to infer that the general form itself is a constituent of

such logical propositions?

Given a proposition, such as “Socrates is before Aristotle,” we

have certain constituents and also a certain form. But the form is

not itself a new constituent; if it were, we should need a new form

to embrace both it and the other constituents. We can, in fact, turn

all the constituents of a proposition into variables, while keeping the

form unchanged. This is what we do when we use such a schema as

“xRy,” which stands for any | 1oo one of a certain class of propositions,

namely, those asserting relations between two terms. We can proceed

to general assertions, such as “xRy is sometimes true”—i.e. there

are cases where dual relations hold. This assertion will belong to

logic (or mathematics) in the sense in which we are using the word.

But in this assertion we do not mention any particular things or

particular relations; no particular things or relations can ever enter

into a proposition of pure logic. We are left with pure forms as the

only possible constituents of logical propositions.

I do not wish to assert positively that pure forms—e.g. the form

“xRy”—do actually enter into propositions of the kind we are consid-

ering. The question of the analysis of such propositions is a diﬃcult

one, with conﬂicting considerations on the one side and on the other.

We cannot embark upon this question now, but we may accept, as a

ﬁrst approximation, the view that forms are what enter into logical

propositions as their constituents. And we may explain (though not

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1±o

formally deﬁne) what we mean by the “form” of a proposition as

follows:—

The “form” of a proposition is that, in it, that remains unchanged

when every constituent of the proposition is replaced by another.

Thus “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” has the same form as

“Napoleon is greater than Wellington,” though every constituent of

the two propositions is diﬀerent.

We may thus lay down, as a necessary (though not suﬃcient) char-

acteristic of logical or mathematical propositions, that they are to

be such as can be obtained from a proposition containing no vari-

ables (i.e. no such words as all, some, a, the, etc.) by turning every

constituent into a variable and asserting that the result is always true

or sometimes true, or that it is always true in respect of some of the

variables that the result is sometimes true in respect of the others,

or any variant of these forms. And another way of stating the same

thing is to say that logic (or mathematics) is concerned only with

forms, and is concerned with them only in the way of stating that they

are always or | zoo sometimes true—with all the permutations of “always”

and “sometimes” that may occur.

There are in every language some words whose sole function is

to indicate form. These words, broadly speaking, are commonest

in languages having fewest inﬂections. Take “Socrates is human.”

Here “is” is not a constituent of the proposition, but merely indicates

the subject-predicate form. Similarly in “Socrates is earlier than

Aristotle,” “is” and “than” merely indicate form; the proposition is

the same as “Socrates precedes Aristotle,” in which these words have

disappeared and the form is otherwise indicated. Form, as a rule,

can be indicated otherwise than by speciﬁc words: the order of the

words can do most of what is wanted. But this principle must not be

pressed. For example, it is diﬃcult to see how we could conveniently

express molecular forms of propositions (i.e. what we call “truth-

functions”) without any word at all. We saw in Chapter XIV. that

one word or symbol is enough for this purpose, namely, a word or

symbol expressing incompatibility. But without even one we should

ﬁnd ourselves in diﬃculties. This, however, is not the point that is

important for our present purpose. What is important for us is to

observe that form may be the one concern of a general proposition,

even when no word or symbol in that proposition designates the form.

If we wish to speak about the form itself, we must have a word for

it; but if, as in mathematics, we wish to speak about all propositions

that have the form, a word for the form will usually be found not

indispensable; probably in theory it is never indispensable.

Assuming—as I think we may—that the forms of propositions can

be represented by the forms of the propositions in which they are

expressed without any special words for forms, we should arrive at a

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1¸o

language in which everything formal belonged to syntax and not to

vocabulary. In such a language we could express all the propositions

of mathematics even if we did not know one single word of the

language. The language of | zo1 mathematical logic, if it were perfected,

would be such a language. We should have symbols for variables,

such as “x” and “R” and “y,” arranged in various ways; and the way

of arrangement would indicate that something was being said to be

true of all values or some values of the variables. We should not

need to know any words, because they would only be needed for

giving values to the variables, which is the business of the applied

mathematician, not of the pure mathematician or logician. It is one

of the marks of a proposition of logic that, given a suitable language,

such a proposition can be asserted in such a language by a person who

knows the syntax without knowing a single word of the vocabulary.

But, after all, there are words that express form, such as “is” and

“than.” And in every symbolism hitherto invented for mathematical

logic there are symbols having constant formal meanings. We may

take as an example the symbol for incompatibility which is employed

in building up truth-functions. Such words or symbols may occur in

logic. The question is: How are we to deﬁne them?

Such words or symbols express what are called “logical constants.”

Logical constants may be deﬁned exactly as we deﬁned forms; in fact,

they are in essence the same thing. A fundamental logical constant

will be that which is in common among a number of propositions,

any one of which can result from any other by substitution of terms

one for another. For example, “Napoleon is greater than Wellington”

results from “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” by the substitution of

“Napoleon” for “Socrates,” “Wellington” for “Aristotle,” and “greater”

for “earlier.” Some propositions can be obtained in this way from the

prototype “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” and some cannot; those

that can are those that are of the form “xRy,” i.e. express dual rela-

tions. We cannot obtain from the above prototype by term-for-term

substitution such propositions as “Socrates is human” or “the Atheni-

ans gave the hemlock to Socrates,” because the ﬁrst is of the subject- |

zoz predicate form and the second expresses a three-term relation. If we

are to have any words in our pure logical language, they must be such

as express “logical constants,” and “logical constants” will always

either be, or be derived from, what is in common among a group

of propositions derivable from each other, in the above manner, by

term-for-term substitution. And this which is in common is what we

call “form.”

In this sense all the “constants” that occur in pure mathematics

are logical constants. The number 1, for example, is derivative from

propositions of the form: “There is a term c such that φx is true when,

and only when, x is c.” This is a function of φ, and various diﬀerent

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1¸1

propositions result from giving diﬀerent values to φ. We may (with

a little omission of intermediate steps not relevant to our present

purpose) take the above function of φ as what is meant by “the class

determined by φ is a unit class” or “the class determined by φ is a

member of 1” (1 being a class of classes). In this way, propositions

in which 1 occurs acquire a meaning which is derived from a certain

constant logical form. And the same will be found to be the case

with all mathematical constants: all are logical constants, or symbolic

abbreviations whose full use in a proper context is deﬁned by means

of logical constants.

But although all logical (or mathematical) propositions can be

expressed wholly in terms of logical constants together with vari-

ables, it is not the case that, conversely, all propositions that can be

expressed in this way are logical. We have found so far a necessary

but not a suﬃcient criterion of mathematical propositions. We have

suﬃciently deﬁned the character of the primitive ideas in terms of

which all the ideas of mathematics can be deﬁned, but not of the

primitive propositions from which all the propositions of mathematics

can be deduced. This is a more diﬃcult matter, as to which it is not

yet known what the full answer is.

We may take the axiom of inﬁnity as an example of a proposi-

tion which, though it can be enunciated in logical terms, | zoj cannot

be asserted by logic to be true. All the propositions of logic have a

characteristic which used to be expressed by saying that they were

analytic, or that their contradictories were self-contradictory. This

mode of statement, however, is not satisfactory. The law of contra-

diction is merely one among logical propositions; it has no special

pre-eminence; and the proof that the contradictory of some propo-

sition is self-contradictory is likely to require other principles of

deduction besides the law of contradiction. Nevertheless, the char-

acteristic of logical propositions that we are in search of is the one

which was felt, and intended to be deﬁned, by those who said that

it consisted in deducibility from the law of contradiction. This char-

acteristic, which, for the moment, we may call tautology, obviously

does not belong to the assertion that the number of individuals in

the universe is n, whatever number n may be. But for the diversity of

types, it would be possible to prove logically that there are classes of

n terms, where n is any ﬁnite integer; or even that there are classes

of ℵ

o

terms. But, owing to types, such proofs, as we saw in Chapter

XIII., are fallacious. We are left to empirical observation to determine

whether there are as many as n individuals in the world. Among

“possible” worlds, in the Leibnizian sense, there will be worlds having

one, two, three, . . . individuals. There does not even seem any logical

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1¸z

necessity why there should be even one individual

1

—why, in fact,

there should be any world at all. The ontological proof of the exis-

tence of God, if it were valid, would establish the logical necessity of

at least one individual. But it is generally recognised as invalid, and

in fact rests upon a mistaken view of existence—i.e. it fails to realise

that existence can only be asserted of something described, not of

something named, so that it is meaningless to argue from “this is the

so-and-so” and “the so-and-so exists” to “this exists.” If we reject the

ontological | zo± argument, we seem driven to conclude that the existence

of a world is an accident—i.e. it is not logically necessary. If that be so,

no principle of logic can assert “existence” except under a hypothesis,

i.e. none can be of the form “the propositional function so-and-so is

sometimes true.” Propositions of this form, when they occur in logic,

will have to occur as hypotheses or consequences of hypotheses, not as

complete asserted propositions. The complete asserted propositions

of logic will all be such as aﬃrm that some propositional function

is always true. For example, it is always true that if p implies q and

q implies r then p implies r, or that, if all α’s are β’s and x is an α

then x is a β. Such propositions may occur in logic, and their truth

is independent of the existence of the universe. We may lay it down

that, if there were no universe, all general propositions would be true;

for the contradictory of a general proposition (as we saw in Chapter

XV.) is a proposition asserting existence, and would therefore always

be false if no universe existed.

Logical propositions are such as can be known a priori, without

study of the actual world. We only know from a study of empirical

facts that Socrates is a man, but we know the correctness of the syllo-

gism in its abstract form (i.e. when it is stated in terms of variables)

without needing any appeal to experience. This is a characteristic,

not of logical propositions in themselves, but of the way in which we

know them. It has, however, a bearing upon the question what their

nature may be, since there are some kinds of propositions which it

would be very diﬃcult to suppose we could know without experi-

ence.

It is clear that the deﬁnition of “logic” or “mathematics” must be

sought by trying to give a newdeﬁnition of the old notion of “analytic”

propositions. Although we can no longer be satisﬁed to deﬁne logical

propositions as those that follow from the law of contradiction, we

can and must still admit that they are a wholly diﬀerent class of

propositions from those that we come to know empirically. They

all have the characteristic which, a moment ago, we agreed to call

“tautology.” This, | zo¸ combined with the fact that they can be expressed

1

The primitive propositions in Principia Mathematica are such as to allow the

inference that at least one individual exists. But I now view this as a defect in

logical purity.

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1¸j

wholly in terms of variables and logical constants (a logical constant

being something which remains constant in a proposition even when

all its constituents are changed)—will give the deﬁnition of logic or

pure mathematics. For the moment, I do not know how to deﬁne

“tautology.”

z

It would be easy to oﬀer a deﬁnition which might seem

satisfactory for a while; but I knowof none that I feel to be satisfactory,

in spite of feeling thoroughly familiar with the characteristic of which

a deﬁnition is wanted. At this point, therefore, for the moment, we

reach the frontier of knowledge on our backward journey into the

logical foundations of mathematics.

We have now come to an end of our somewhat summary intro-

duction to mathematical philosophy. It is impossible to convey ad-

equately the ideas that are concerned in this subject so long as we

abstain from the use of logical symbols. Since ordinary language

has no words that naturally express exactly what we wish to express,

it is necessary, so long as we adhere to ordinary language, to strain

words into unusual meanings; and the reader is sure, after a time if

not at ﬁrst, to lapse into attaching the usual meanings to words, thus

arriving at wrong notions as to what is intended to be said. Moreover,

ordinary grammar and syntax is extraordinarily misleading. This is

the case, e.g., as regards numbers; “ten men” is grammatically the

same form as “white men,” so that 1o might be thought to be an ad-

jective qualifying “men.” It is the case, again, wherever propositional

functions are involved, and in particular as regards existence and

descriptions. Because language is misleading, as well as because it

is diﬀuse and inexact when applied to logic (for which it was never

intended), logical symbolism is absolutely necessary to any exact or

thorough treatment of our subject. Those readers, | zo6 therefore, who

wish to acquire a mastery of the principles of mathematics, will, it is

to be hoped, not shrink from the labour of mastering the symbols—a

labour which is, in fact, much less than might be thought. As the

above hasty survey must have made evident, there are innumerable

unsolved problems in the subject, and much work needs to be done.

If any student is led into a serious study of mathematical logic by this

little book, it will have served the chief purpose for which it has been

written.

z

The importance of “tautology” for a deﬁnition of mathematics was pointed out

to me by my former pupil Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was working on the problem.

I do not know whether he has solved it, or even whether he is alive or dead.

INDEX

zo; [Online edition note: This is a hyperlinked recreation of the original

index. The page numbers listed are for the original edition, i.e., those

marked in the margins of this edition.]

Aggregates, 1z.

Alephs, 8j, oz, o;, 1z¸.

Aliorelatives, jz.

All, 1¸8ﬀ.

Analysis, ±.

Ancestors, z¸, jj.

Argument of a function, ±;,

1o8.

Arithmetising of mathematics,

±.

Associative law, ¸8, o±.

Axioms, 1.

Between, j8ﬀ., ¸8.

Bolzano, 1j8n.

Boots and socks, 1z6.

Boundary, ;o, o8, oo.

Cantor, Georg, ;;, ;o, 8¸n., 86,

8o, o¸, 1oz, 1j6.

Classes, 1z, 1j;, 181ﬀ.; reﬂexive,

8o, 1z;, 1j8; similar, 1¸, 16.

Cliﬀord, W. K., ;6.

Collections, inﬁnite, 1j.

Commutative law, ¸8, o±.

Conjunction, 1±;.

Consecutiveness, j;, j8, 81.

Constants, zoz.

Construction, method of, ;j.

Continuity, 86, o;ﬀ.; Cantorian,

1ozﬀ.; Dedekindian, 1o1; in

philosophy, 1o¸; of functions,

1o6ﬀ.

Contradictions, 1j¸ﬀ.

Convergence, 11¸.

Converse, 16, jz, ±o.

Correlators, ¸±.

Counterparts, objective, 61.

Counting, 1±, 16.

Dedekind, 6o, oo, 1j8n.

Deduction, 1±±ﬀ.

Deﬁnition, j; extensional and

intensional, 1z.

Derivatives, 1oo.

Descriptions, 1jo, 1±±, 16;ﬀ.

Dimensions, zo.

Disjunction, 1±;.

Distributive law, ¸8, o±.

Diversity, 8;.

Domain, 16, jz, ±o.

Equivalence, 18j.

Euclid, 6;.

Existence, 16±, 1;1, 1;;.

Exponentiation, o±, 1zo.

Extension of a relation, 6o.

Fictions, logical, 1±n., ±¸, 1j;.

1¸±

Index 1¸¸

Field of a relation, jz, ¸j.

Finite, z;.

Flux, 1o¸.

Form, 1o8.

Fractions, j;, 6±.

Frege, ;, 1o [11], z¸n., ;;, o¸,

1±6n.

Functions, ±6; descriptive, ±6,

18o; intensional and

extensional, 186; predicative,

18o; propositional, ±6, 1±±,

1¸¸ﬀ.

Gap, Dedekindian, ;oﬀ., oo.

Generalisation, 1¸6.

Geometry, zo, ¸o, 6;, ;±, 1oo,

1±¸; analytical, ±, 86.

Greater and less, 6¸, oo.

Hegel, 1o;.

Hereditary properties, z1.

Implication, 1±6, 1¸j; formal,

16j.

Incommensurables, ±, 66.

Incompatibility, 1±;ﬀ., zoo.

Incomplete symbols, 18z.

Indiscernibles, 1oz.

Individuals, 1jz, 1±1, 1;j.

Induction, mathematical, zoﬀ.,

8;, oj, 18¸.

Inductive properties, z1.

Inference, 1±8ﬀ.

Inﬁnite, z8; of rationals, 6¸;

Cantorian, 6¸; of cardinals,

;;ﬀ.; and series and ordinals,

8oﬀ.

Inﬁnity, axiom of, 66n., ;;,

1j1ﬀ., zoz.

Instances, 1¸6.

Integers, positive and negative,

6±.

Intervals, 11¸.

Intuition, 1±¸.

Irrationals, 66, ;z. |

Kant, zo8 1±¸.

Leibniz, 8o, 1o;, 1oz.

Lewis, C. I., 1¸j, 1¸±.

Likeness, ¸z.

Limit, zo, 6oﬀ., o;ﬀ.; of

functions, 1o6ﬀ.

Limiting points, oo.

Logic, 1¸o, 16o, 1o±ﬀ.;

mathematical, v, zo1, zo6.

Logicising of mathematics, ;.

Maps, ¸z, 6oﬀ., 8o.

Mathematics, 1o±ﬀ.

Maximum, ;o, o8.

Median class, 1o±.

Meinong, 16o.

Method, vi.

Minimum, ;o, o8.

Modality, 16¸.

Multiplication, 118ﬀ.

Multiplicative axiom, oz, 11;ﬀ.

Names, 1;j, 18z.

Necessity, 16¸.

Neighbourhood, 1oo.

Nicod, 1±8, 1±o, 1¸1n.

Null-class, zj, 1jz.

Number, cardinal, 1oﬀ., ¸6, ;;ﬀ.,

o¸; complex, ;±ﬀ.; ﬁnite,

zoﬀ.; inductive, z;, ;8, 1j1;

inﬁnite, ;;ﬀ.; irrational, 66,

;z; maximum ? 1j¸;

multipliable, 1jo; natural,

zﬀ., zz; non-inductive, 88,

1z;; real, 66, ;z, 8±; reﬂexive,

8o, 1z;; relation, ¸6, o±;

serial, ¸;.

Occam, 18±.

Occurrences, primary and

secondary, 1;o.

Ontological proof, zoj.

Order, zoﬀ.; cyclic, ±o.

Oscillation, ultimate, 111.

Index 1¸6

Parmenides, 1j8.

Particulars, 1±oﬀ., 1;j.

Peano, ¸ﬀ., zj, z±, ;8, 81, 1j1,

16j.

Peirce, jzn.

Permutations, ¸o.

Philosophy, mathematical, v, 1.

Plato, 1j8.

Plurality, 1o.

Poincar´ e, z;.

Points, ¸o.

Posterity, zzﬀ.; proper, j6.

Postulates, ;1, ;j.

Precedent, o8.

Premisses of arithmetic, ¸.

Primitive ideas and propositions,

¸, zoz.

Progressions, 8, 81ﬀ.

Propositions, 1¸¸; analytic, zo±;

elementary, 161.

Pythagoras, ±, 6;.

Quantity, o;, 1o¸.

Ratios, 6±, ;1, 8±, 1jj.

Reducibility, axiom of, 1o1.

Referent, ±8.

Relation-numbers, ¸6ﬀ.

Relations, asymmetrical, j1, ±z;

connected, jz; many-one, 1¸;

one-many, 1¸, ±¸; one-one,

1¸, ±;, ;o; reﬂexive, 16; serial,

j±; similar, ¸zﬀ.; squares of,

jz; symmetrical, 16, ±±;

transitive, 16, jz.

Relatum, ±8.

Representatives, 1zo.

Rigour, 1±±.

Royce, 8o.

Section, Dedekindian, 6oﬀ.;

ultimate, 111.

Segments, ;z, o8.

Selections, 11;ﬀ.

Sequent, o8.

Series, zoﬀ.; closed, 1oj;

compact, 66, oj, 1oo;

condensed in itself, 1oz;

Dedekindian, ;1, ;j, 1o1;

generation of, ±1; inﬁnite,

8oﬀ.; perfect, 1oz, 1oj;

well-ordered, oz, 1zj.

Sheﬀer, 1±8.

Similarity, of classes, 1¸ﬀ.; of

relations, ¸zﬀ., 8j.

Some, 1¸8ﬀ.

Space, 61, 86, 1±o.

Structure, 6oﬀ.

Sub-classes, 8±ﬀ.

Subjects, 1±z.

Subtraction, 8;.

Successor of a number, zj, j¸.

Syllogism, 1o;.

Tautology, zoj, zo¸.

The, 16;, 1;zﬀ.

Time, 61, 86, 1±o.

Truth-function, 1±;.

Truth-value, 1±6.

Types, logical, ¸j, 1j¸ﬀ., 18¸,

188.

Unreality, 168.

Value of a function, ±;, 1o8.

Variables, 1o, 161, 1oo.

Veblen, ¸8.

Verbs, 1±1.

Weierstrass, o;, 1o;.

Wells, H. G., 11±.

Whitehead, 6±, ;6, 1o;, 11o.

Wittgenstein, zo¸n.

Zermelo, 1zj, 1zo.

Zero, 6¸.

CHANGES TOONLINE EDITION

This Online Corrected Edition was created by Kevin C. Klement;

this is version 1.o (February ¸, zo1o). It is based on the April 1ozo

so-called “second edition” published by Allen & Unwin, which, by

contemporary standards, was simply a second printing of the original

1o1o edition but incorporating various, mostly minor, ﬁxes. This

edition incorporates ﬁxes from later printings as well, and some new

ﬁxes, mentioned below. The pagination of the Allen & Unwin edition

is given in the margins, with page breaks marked with the sign “|”.

These are in red, as are other additions to the text not penned by

Russell.

Thanks to members of the Russell-l and HEAPS-l mailing lists

for help in checking and proofreading the version, including Adam

Killian, Pierre Grenon, David Blitz, Brandon Young, Rosalind Car-

ey, and, especially, John Ongley. A tremendous debt of thanks is

owed to Kenneth Blackwell of the Bertrand Russell Archives/Re-

search Centre, McMaster University, for proofreading the bulk of the

edition, checking it against Russell’s handwritten manuscript, and

providing other valuable advice and assistance. Another large debt

of gratitude is owed to Christof Gr¨ aber who compared this version

to the print versions and showed remarkable aptitude in spotting

discrepancies. I take full responsibility for any remaining errors. If

you discover any, please email me at klement@philos.umass.edu.

The online edition diﬀers from the 1ozo Allen & Unwin edition,

and reprintings thereof, in certain respects. Some are mere stylistic

diﬀerences. Others represent corrections based on discrepancies

between Russell’s manuscript and the print edition, or ﬁx small

grammatical or typographical errors. The stylistic diﬀerences are

these:

• In the original, footnote numbering begins anew with each page.

Since this version uses diﬀerent pagination, it was necessary to

number footnotes sequentially through each chapter. Thus, for

example, the footnote listed as note z on page ± of this edition

was listed as note 1 on page ¸ of the original.

1¸;

Changes to Online Edition 1¸8

• With some exceptions, the Allen & Unwin edition uses linear

fractions of the style “x/y” mid-paragraph, but vertical fractions

of the form “

x

y

” in displays. Contrary to this usual practice,

those in the display on page 8± of the original (page 6j of

this edition) were linear, but have been converted to vertical

fractions in this edition. Similarly, the mid-paragraph fractions

on pages 1;, z6, oo and 116 of the original (pages 1z, 1o, ;±

and 86 here) were printed vertically in the original, but here

are horizontal.

The following more signiﬁcant changes and revisions are marked

in green in this edition. Most of these result from Ken Blackwell’s

comparison with Russell’s manuscript. A fewwere originally noted in

an early review of the book by G. A. Pfeiﬀer (Bulletin of the American

Mathematical Society z;:z (1ozo), pp. 81–oo).

1. (page zn. / original page zn.) Russell wrote the wrong publica-

tion date (1o11) for the second volume of Principia Mathematica;

this has been ﬁxed to 1o1z.

z. (page 16 / original page z1) “. . . or all that are less than 1ooo . . . ”

is changed to “. . . or all that are not less than 1ooo . . . ” to match

Russell’s manuscript and the obviously intended meaning of the

passage. This error was noted by Pfeiﬀer in 1ozo but unﬁxed in

Russell’s lifetime.

j. (page jz / original page ±j) “. . . either by limiting the domain

to males or by limiting the converse to females” is changed to

“. . . either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the

converse domain to females”, which is how it read in Russell’s

manuscript, and seems better to ﬁt the context.

±. (page ±8 / original page 6±) “. . . provided neither mor n is zero.”

is ﬁxed to “. . . provided neither m nor n is zero.” Thanks to John

Ongley for spotting this error, which exists even in Russell’s

manuscript.

¸. (page 6±n. / original page 8¸n.) The word “deutschen” in the

original’s (and the manuscript’s) “Jahresbericht der deutschen

Mathematiker-Vereinigung” has been capitalized.

6. (page ;± / original page o8) “. . . of a class α, i.e. its limits or

maximum, and then . . . ” is changed to “. . . of a class α, i.e. its

limit or maximum, and then . . . ” to match Russell’s manuscript,

and the apparent meaning of the passage.

;. (page 8z / original page 11o) “. . . the limit of its value for ap-

proaches either from . . . ” is changed to “. . . the limit of its

Changes to Online Edition 1¸o

values for approaches either from . . . ”, which matches Russell’s

manuscript, and is more appropriate for the meaning of the

passage.

8. (page 8¸ / original page 11j) The ungrammatical “. . . advan-

tages of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses . . . ” is changed

to “. . . advantage of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses

. . . ” to match Russell’s manuscript.

o. (page 8¸ / original page 11¸) “. . . all terms z such that x has

the relation P to x and z has the relation P to y . . . ” is ﬁxed to

“. . . all terms z such that x has the relation P to z and z has the

relation P to y . . . ” Russell himself hand-corrected this in his

manuscript, but not in a clear way, and at his request, it was

changed in the 1o6; printing.

1o. (page oj / original page 1z±) The words “correlator of α with

β, and similarly for every other pair. This requires a”, which

constitute exactly one line of Russell’s manuscript, were omit-

ted, thereby amalgamating two sentences into one. The missing

words are now restored.

11. (page o; / original page 1zo) The passage “. . . if x

1

is the mem-

ber of y

1

, x

z

is a member of y

z

, x

j

is a member of y

j

, and so on;

then . . . ” is changed to “. . . if x

1

is the member of γ

1

, x

z

is a

member of γ

z

, x

j

is a member of γ

j

, and so on; then . . . ” to

match Russell’s manuscript, and the obviously intended mean-

ing of the passage.

1z. (page 1o¸ / original page 1jo) The words “and then the idea

of the idea of Socrates” although present in Russell’s manu-

script, were left out of previous print editions. Note that Russell

mentions “all these ideas” in the next sentence.

1j. (page 1zo / original page 16o) The two footnotes on this page

were misplaced. The second, the reference to Principia Math-

ematica ∗o, was attached in previous versions to the sentence

that now refers to the ﬁrst footnote in the chapter. That foot-

note was placed three sentences below. The footnote references

have been returned to where they had been placed in Russell’s

manuscript.

1±. (page 1zo / original page 161) “. . . the negation of propositions

of the type to which x belongs . . . ” is changed to “. . . the

negation of propositions of the type to which φx belongs . . . ”

to match Russell’s manuscript. This is another error noted by

Pfeiﬀer.

Changes to Online Edition 16o

1¸. (page 1z1 / original page 16z) “Suppose we are considering all

“men are mortal”: we will . . . ” is changed to “Suppose we are

considering “all men are mortal”: we will . . . ” to match the ob-

viously intended meaning of the passage, and the placement of

the opening quotation mark in Russell’s manuscript (although

he here used single quotation marks, as he did sporadically

throughout). Thanks to Christof Gr¨ aber for spotting this error.

16. (page 1zo / original page 1;j) “. . . as opposed to speciﬁc man.”

is ﬁxed to “. . . as opposed to speciﬁc men.” Russell sent this

change to Unwin in 1oj;, and it was made in the 1oj8 printing.

1;. (page 1j1 / original page 1;¸) The “φ” in “. . . the process of

applying general statements about φx to particular cases . . . ”,

present in Russell’s manuscript, was excluded from the Allen &

Unwin printings, and has been restored.

18. (page 1jz / original page 1;6) The “φ” in “. . . resulting from

a propositional function φx by the substitution of . . . ” was

excluded from previous published versions, though it does

appear in Russell’s manuscript, and seems necessary for the

passage to make sense. Thanks to John Ongley for spotting this

error, which had also been noted by Pfeiﬀer.

1o. (page 1jo / original pages 186–8;) The two occurrences of “φ”

in “. . . extensional functions of a function φx may, for practical

purposes, be regarded as functions of the class determined

by φx, while intensional functions cannot . . . ” were omitted

from previous published versions, but do appear in Russell’s

manuscript. Again thanks to John Ongley.

zo. (page 1±o / original page 18o) The Allen & Unwin printings

have the sentence as “How shall we deﬁne a “typical” French-

man?” Here, the closing quotation mark has been moved to

make it “How shall we deﬁne a “typical Frenchman”?” Al-

though Russell’s manuscript is not entirely clear here, it appears

the latter was intended, and it also seems to make more sense

in context.

z1. (page 1±z / original page 1o1) “There is a type (r say) . . . ” has

been changed to “There is a type (τ say) . . . ” to match Russell’s

manuscript, and conventions followed elsewhere in the chapter.

zz. (page 1±6 / original page 1o¸) “. . . divided into numbers of

separate studies . . . ” has been changed to “. . . divided into a

number of separate studies . . . ” Russell’s manuscript just had

“number”, in the singular, without the indeﬁnite article. Some

Changes to Online Edition 161

emendation was necessary to make the passage grammatical,

but the ﬁx adopted here seems more likely what was meant.

zj. (page 1±; / original page 1o;) The passage “the propositional

function ‘if all α’s are β and x is an α, then x is a β’ is always true”

has been changed to “the propositional function ‘if all α’s are

β’s and x is an α, then x is a β’ is always true” to match Russell’s

manuscript, as well as to make it consistent with the other

paraphrase given earlier in the sentence. Thanks to Christof

Gr¨ aber for noticing this error.

z±. (page 1±o / original page zoo) “. . . without any special word for

forms . . . ” has been changed to “. . . without any special words

for forms . . . ”, which matches Russell’s manuscript and seems

to ﬁt better in the context.

z¸. (page 1¸¸ / original page zo;) The original index listed a ref-

erence to Frege on page 1o, but in fact, the discussion of Frege

occurs on page 11. Here, “1o” is crossed out, and “[11]” in-

serted.

Some very minor corrections to punctuation have been made to the

Allen & Unwin 1ozo printing, but not marked in green.

a) Ellipses have been regularized to three closed dots throughout.

b) (page ±o / original page ¸j) “We may deﬁne two relations . . . ”

did not start a new paragraph in previous editions, but does in

Russell’s manuscript, and is changed to do so.

c) (page ±o / original page ¸j) What appears in the 1ozo and later

printings as “. . . is the ﬁeld of Q. and which is . . . ” is changed

to “. . . is the ﬁeld of Q, and which is . . . ”

d) (page ±z / original page ¸6) “. . . a relation number is a class of

. . . ” is changed to “. . . a relation-number is a class of . . . ” to

match the hyphenation in the rest of the book (and in Russell’s

manuscript). A similar change is made in the index.

e) (page ±± / original page 6o) “. . . and “featherless biped,”—so

two . . . ” is changed to “. . . and “featherless biped”—so two . . . ”

f) (pages 61–6z / original pages 8z–8j) One misprint of “proges-

sion” for “progression”, and one misprint of “progessions” for

“progressions”, have been corrected. (Thanks to Christof Gr¨ aber

for noticing these errors in the original.)

g) (page 86 / original page 11¸) In the Allen & Unwin printing,

the “s” in “y’s” in what appears here as “Form all such sections

for all y’s . . . ” was italicized along with the “y”. Nothing in

Russell’s manuscript suggests it should be italicized, however.

(Again thanks to Christof Gr¨ aber.)

Changes to Online Edition 16z

h) (page o1 / original page 1z1) In the Allen & Unwin printing,

“Let y be a member of β . . . ” begins a newparagraph, but it does

not in Russell’s manuscript, and clearly should not.

i) (page o; / original pages 1zo–1jo) The phrase “well ordered”

has twice been changed to “well-ordered” to match Russell’s

manuscript (in the ﬁrst case) and the rest of the book (in the

second).

j) (page oo / original page 1j1) “The way in which the need for

this axiom arises may be explained as follows:—One of Peano’s

. . . ” is changed to “The way in which the need for this axiom

arises may be explained as follows. One of Peano’s . . . ” and

has been made to start a new paragraph, as it did in Russell’s

manuscript.

k) (page 1oj / original page 1j;) The accent on “M´ etaphysique”,

included in Russell’s manuscript but left oﬀ in print, has been

restored.

l) (page 11o / original page 1¸o) “. . . or what not,—and clearly

. . . ” is changed to “. . . or what not—and clearly . . . ”

m) (page 1jz / original page 1;6) Italics have been added to one

occurrence of “Waverley” to make it consistent with the others.

n) (page 1j8 / original page 18¸) “. . . most diﬃcult of fulﬁlment,—

it must . . . ” is changed to “. . . most diﬃcult of fulﬁlment—it

must . . . ”

o) (page 1±; / original page 1o;) In the Allen & Unwin printings,

“Socrates” was not italicized in “. . . we may substitute α for men,

β for mortals, and x for Socrates, where . . . ” Russell had marked

it for italicizing in the manuscript, and it seems natural to do

so for the sake of consistency, so it has been italicized.

p) (page 1¸j / original page zo¸) The word “seem” was not ital-

icized in “. . . a deﬁnition which might seem satisfactory for a

while . . . ” in the Allen & Unwin editions, but was marked to be

in Russell’s manuscript; it is italicized here.

q) (page 1¸6 / original page zo8) Under “Relations” in the index,

“similar, ¸zﬀ;” has been changed to “similar, ¸zﬀ.;” to match the

punctuation elsewhere.

There are, however, a number of other places where the previous

print editions diﬀer from Russell’s manuscript in minor ways that

were left unchanged in this edition. For a detailed examination of

the diﬀerences between Russell’s manuscript and the print editions,

and between the various printings themselves (including the changes

from the 1o1o to the 1ozo printings not documented here), see Ken-

neth Blackwell, “Variants, Misprints and a Bibliographical Index for

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy”, Russell n.s. zo (zooo): ¸;–6z.

Changes to Online Edition 16j

pBertrand Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy is in

the Public Domain.

See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

cbaThis typesetting (including L

A

T

E

X code) and list of changes

are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution—Share Alike

j.o United States License.

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ii

[Russell’s blurb from the original dustcover:] This book is intended for those who have no previous acquaintance with the topics of which it treats, and no more knowledge of mathematics than can be acquired at a primary school or even at Eton. It sets forth in elementary form the logical deﬁnition of number, the analysis of the notion of order, the modern doctrine of the inﬁnite, and the theory of descriptions and classes as symbolic ﬁctions. The more controversial and uncertain aspects of the subject are subordinated to those which can by now be regarded as acquired scientiﬁc knowledge. These are explained without the use of symbols, but in such a way as to give readers a general understanding of the methods and purposes of mathematical logic, which, it is hoped, will be of interest not only to those who wish to proceed to a more serious study of the subject, but also to that wider circle who feel a desire to know the bearings of this important modern science.

CONTENTS

Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editor’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I. The Series of Natural Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . II. Deﬁnition of Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

iii iv vi

III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction . . . . . . . . . IV. The Deﬁnition of Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . V. Kinds of Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VI. Similarity of Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers . . . . . . . . . VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X. Limits and Continuity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions . . . . . . . . . . . XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom . . . . . . . . XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types . . . . . . . . XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction . . . . . XV. Propositional Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . XVI. Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . XVII. Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . XVIII. Mathematics and Logic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Appendix: Changes to Online Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

iii

to be actually dealing with a part of philosophy. but belongs now to mathematics. as to which comparative certainty is not yet attained. as well as on account of the intrinsic importance of the subject. therefore. | however. to those who accept it. In this way. But speculation on such questions is hardly likely to be fruitful unless the more scientiﬁc parts of the principles of mathematics are known. some purpose may be served by a succinct account of the main results of mathematical logic in a form requiring neither a knowledge of mathematics nor an aptitude for mathematical symiv . It does deal. It seemed desirable to set forth certain results. Much of what is set forth in the following chapters is not properly to be called “philosophy.” and does not v aim at giving an exhaustive discussion of the problems with which it deals. in the strict sense. though it can hardly claim. but are of at least equal philosophical interest. The nature of inﬁnity and continuity. and this endeavour has to some extent dominated the choice of topics considered. and even a good deal of what is current in the present day. except where it steps outside its province.PREFACE This book is intended essentially as an “Introduction. perhaps. appears to invalidate much traditional philosophy. hitherto only available to those who have mastered logical symbolism. belonged in former days to philosophy. be held to include such deﬁnite scientiﬁc results as have been obtained in this region. the philosophy of mathematics will naturally be expected to deal with questions on the frontier of knowledge. The utmost endeavour has been made to avoid dogmatism on such questions as are still open to serious doubt. A book dealing with those parts may. claim to be an introduction to mathematical philosophy. as well as by its bearing on still unsolved problems. mathematical logic is relevant to philosophy. in a form oﬀering the minimum of diﬃculty to the beginner. for example. The beginnings of mathematical logic are less deﬁnitely known than its later portions.” though the matters concerned were included in philosophy so long as no satisfactory science of them existed. For this reason. vi with a body of knowledge which. Mathematical philosophy. cannot.

and the method cannot well be explained within the framework of such a book as the following. as elsewhere. from the point of view of further research. . however. It is to be hoped that some readers may be suﬃciently interested to advance to a study of the method by which mathematical logic can be made helpful in investigating the traditional problems of philosophy. Here. BERTRAND RUSSELL. But that is a topic with which the following pages have not attempted to deal. the method is more important than the results.Preface v bolism.

there be mathematicians to whom these deﬁnitions and discussions seem to be an elaboration and complication of the simple. vi . that they should know the precise meaning that the science of mathematics. It is not necessary to agree with what he there suggests as to the readjustment of the ﬁeld of philosophy by the transference from it to mathematics of such problems as those of class. If. on the other hand. inﬁnity. at any rate. may be referred to what the author himself says on this head in the Preface.EDITOR’S NOTE [The note below was written by J.D. in which these concepts play so large a part. it is essential.” If philosophers cannot consent to relegate the criticism of these categories to any of the special sciences. like the author of this volume.] Those who.. it may be well to remind them from the side of philosophy that here. in order to perceive the bearing of the deﬁnitions and discussions that follow on the work of “traditional philosophy. both in one. as elsewhere. LL. apparent simplicity may conceal a complexity which it is the business of somebody. relying on the distinction between Mathematical Philosophy and the Philosophy of Mathematics. think that this book is out of place in the present Library. whether philosopher or mathematician. H. editor of the vii Library of Philosophy series in which Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy was originally published. or. assigns to them. continuity. Muirhead. to unravel.

CHAPTER I

**THE SERIES OF NATURAL NUMBERS
**

Mathematics is a study which, when we start from its most familiar portions, may be pursued in either of two opposite directions. The more familiar direction is constructive, towards gradually increasing complexity: from integers to fractions, real numbers, complex numbers; from addition and multiplication to diﬀerentiation and integration, and on to higher mathematics. The other direction, which is less familiar, proceeds, by analysing, to greater and greater abstractness and logical simplicity; instead of asking what can be deﬁned and deduced from what is assumed to begin with, we ask instead what more general ideas and principles can be found, in terms of which what was our starting-point can be deﬁned or deduced. It is the fact of pursuing this opposite direction that characterises mathematical philosophy as opposed to ordinary mathematics. But it should be understood that the distinction is one, not in the subject matter, but in the state of mind of the investigator. Early Greek geometers, passing from the empirical rules of Egyptian land-surveying to the general propositions by which those rules were found to be justiﬁable, and thence to Euclid’s axioms and postulates, were engaged in mathematical philosophy, according to the above deﬁnition; but when once the axioms and postulates had been reached, their deductive employment, as we ﬁnd it in Euclid, belonged to mathematics in the | ordinary sense. The distinction between mathematics and mathe- matical philosophy is one which depends upon the interest inspiring the research, and upon the stage which the research has reached; not upon the propositions with which the research is concerned. We may state the same distinction in another way. The most obvious and easy things in mathematics are not those that come logically at the beginning; they are things that, from the point of view of logical deduction, come somewhere in the middle. Just as the easiest bodies to see are those that are neither very near nor very far, neither very small nor very great, so the easiest conceptions to grasp are those that are neither very complex nor very simple (using “simple” in a logical sense). And as we need two sorts of instruments, the telescope and

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers

the microscope, for the enlargement of our visual powers, so we need two sorts of instruments for the enlargement of our logical powers, one to take us forward to the higher mathematics, the other to take us backward to the logical foundations of the things that we are inclined to take for granted in mathematics. We shall ﬁnd that by analysing our ordinary mathematical notions we acquire fresh insight, new powers, and the means of reaching whole new mathematical subjects by adopting fresh lines of advance after our backward journey. It is the purpose of this book to explain mathematical philosophy simply and untechnically, without enlarging upon those portions which are so doubtful or diﬃcult that an elementary treatment is scarcely possible. A full treatment will be found in Principia Mathematica; the treatment in the present volume is intended merely as an introduction. To the average educated person of the present day, the obvious starting-point of mathematics would be the series of whole numbers, , , , , . . . etc. | Probably only a person with some mathematical knowledge would think of beginning with instead of with , but we will presume this degree of knowledge; we will take as our starting-point the series: , , , , . . . n, n + , . . . and it is this series that we shall mean when we speak of the “series of natural numbers.” It is only at a high stage of civilisation that we could take this series as our starting-point. It must have required many ages to discover that a brace of pheasants and a couple of days were both instances of the number : the degree of abstraction involved is far from easy. And the discovery that is a number must have been diﬃcult. As for , it is a very recent addition; the Greeks and Romans had no such digit. If we had been embarking upon mathematical philosophy in earlier days, we should have had to start with something less abstract than the series of natural numbers, which we should reach as a stage on our backward journey. When the logical foundations of mathematics have grown more familiar, we shall be able to start further back, at what is now a late stage in our analysis. But for the moment the natural numbers seem to represent what is easiest and most familiar in mathematics. But though familiar, they are not understood. Very few people are prepared with a deﬁnition of what is meant by “number,” or “,” or “.” It is not very diﬃcult to see that, starting from , any other of the

University Press, vol. i., ; vol. ii., ; vol. iii., . By Whitehead and Russell.

Cambridge

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers

natural numbers can be reached by repeated additions of , but we shall have to deﬁne what we mean by “adding ,” and what we mean by “repeated.” These questions are by no means easy. It was believed until recently that some, at least, of these ﬁrst notions of arithmetic must be accepted as too simple and primitive to be deﬁned. Since all terms that are deﬁned are deﬁned by means of other terms, it is clear that human knowledge must always be content to accept some terms as intelligible without deﬁnition, in order | to have a starting-point for its deﬁnitions. It is not clear that there must be terms which are incapable of deﬁnition: it is possible that, however far back we go in deﬁning, we always might go further still. On the other hand, it is also possible that, when analysis has been pushed far enough, we can reach terms that really are simple, and therefore logically incapable of the sort of deﬁnition that consists in analysing. This is a question which it is not necessary for us to decide; for our purposes it is suﬃcient to observe that, since human powers are ﬁnite, the deﬁnitions known to us must always begin somewhere, with terms undeﬁned for the moment, though perhaps not permanently. All traditional pure mathematics, including analytical geometry, may be regarded as consisting wholly of propositions about the natural numbers. That is to say, the terms which occur can be deﬁned by means of the natural numbers, and the propositions can be deduced from the properties of the natural numbers—with the addition, in each case, of the ideas and propositions of pure logic. That all traditional pure mathematics can be derived from the natural numbers is a fairly recent discovery, though it had long been suspected. Pythagoras, who believed that not only mathematics, but everything else could be deduced from numbers, was the discoverer of the most serious obstacle in the way of what is called the “arithmetising” of mathematics. It was Pythagoras who discovered the existence of incommensurables, and, in particular, the incommensurability of the side of a square and the diagonal. If the length of the side is inch, the number of inches in the diagonal is the square root of , which appeared not to be a number at all. The problem thus raised was solved only in our own day, and was only solved completely by the help of the reduction of arithmetic to logic, which will be explained in following chapters. For the present, we shall take for granted the arithmetisation of mathematics, though this was a feat of the very greatest importance. | Having reduced all traditional pure mathematics to the theory of the natural numbers, the next step in logical analysis was to reduce this theory itself to the smallest set of premisses and undeﬁned terms from which it could be derived. This work was accomplished by Peano. He showed that the entire theory of the natural numbers could be derived from three primitive ideas and ﬁve primitive propo-

() Any property which belongs to . provided. is equal to that of the whole series of sciences that have been deduced from the theory of the natural numbers. We can obviously go on as long as we like with these deﬁnitions. in virtue of ().Chap. We shall have much to say concerning mathematical induction in the sequel. this cannot be any of the numbers already deﬁned. so could all pure mathematics. and so on. By “number” he means. () The successor of any number is a number. for the present. We . successor. These three ideas and ﬁve propositions thus became. the class of the natural numbers.” though we do not know all men individually.” if one may use such an expression. that there is nothing erroneous in the purely logical apparatus which is also involved. of course. If they could be deﬁned and proved in terms of others. and. we deﬁne as “the successor of . the successor of is . Let us consider brieﬂy the kind of way in which the theory of the natural numbers results from these three ideas and ﬁve propositions. | () is not the successor of any number. That is to say. the successor of is . but only that we know what we mean when we say that this or that is a number. in virtue of (). every number that we reach will have a successor. and also to the successor of every number which has the property. hostages for the whole of traditional pure mathematics. By “successor” he means the next number in the natural order. because. () No two numbers have the same successor. The last of these is the principle of mathematical induction.” and so on. The Series of Natural Numbers sitions in addition to those of pure logic. I. we are concerned with it only as it occurs in Peano’s analysis of arithmetic. belongs to all numbers. Their logical “weight. Afterwards the word will be used in a more general sense. The work of analysing mathematics is extraordinarily facilitated by this work of Peano’s. and in virtue of () none of the shall use “number” in this sense in the present chapter. The ﬁve primitive propositions which Peano assumes are: () is a number. number. To begin with. just as we know what we mean when we say “Jones is a man. if it were. since. He is not assuming that we know all the members of this class. as it were. two diﬀerent numbers would have the same successor. in this connection. The three primitive ideas in Peano’s arithmetic are: .” as “the successor of . the truth of this whole series is assured if the truth of the ﬁve primitive propositions is guaranteed.

whatever number n may be. who | represents the last perfection of the “arithmetisation” of mathematics. I. In virtue of () this gives a deﬁnition of the sum of m and n.” and “successor”—are capable of an inﬁnite number of diﬀerent interpretations. and (b) if a number n belongs to it. “. The Series of Natural Numbers numbers we reach in the series of successors can be . The reader can easily convince himself that any ordinary elementary proposition of arithmetic can be proved by means of our ﬁve premisses. even the fourth. eight . four. which begins with and travels on through successive successors: for (a) belongs to this series. six. in this chapter. () Let “” have its usual meaning. for. but we shall give some of the reasons why Peano’s treatment is less ﬁnal than it appears to be. who ﬁrst succeeded in “logicising” mathematics. All Peano’s ﬁve premisses are satisﬁed still. but let “number” mean what we usually call “even numbers. . . whence. is not a “number” in the sense which we are now giving to the word “number. all of which will satisfy the ﬁve primitive propositions. in reducing to logic the arithmetical notions which his predecessors had shown to be suﬃcient for mathematics. () Let “” mean the number one. . Similarly we can deﬁne the product of any two numbers. We shall not.” and let the “successor” of a number be what results from adding two to it.” “number. In virtue of () all numbers come in this series.. every number belongs to the series. and if he has any diﬃculty he can ﬁnd the proof in Peano. .e. two. Taking any number m. and m + (n + ) as the successor of m + n. so does its successor. Thus the series of successors gives us an endless series of continually new numbers.Chap.. We will give some examples. . by mathematical induction. It is time now to turn to the considerations which make it necessary to advance beyond the standpoint of Peano. the series of “numbers” now will be . and so on. and let “number” be taken to mean the numbers from onward in the series of natural numbers. let “number” mean the set . Peano’s three primitive ideas—namely. () Let “” be taken to mean . Suppose we wish to deﬁne the sum of two numbers. . actually give Frege’s deﬁnition of number and of particular numbers. to that of Frege. i. .” It is obvious that any number may be substituted for in this example. Then “” will stand for the number two. “” will stand for the number four. . Then all our primitive propositions are satisﬁed. In the ﬁrst place. we deﬁne m + as m. though is the successor of .

e. . has a beginning. given any series x . The Series of Natural Numbers and let “successor” mean “half. Progressions are of great importance in the principles of mathematics. Let “” mean x .” i. x . . is called a progression. x . no repetitions. and has no terms that cannot be reached from the beginning in a ﬁnite number of steps. x . () “ is not the successor of any number. or any other terms of which there is an inﬁnite supply.e. () This becomes: Any property which belongs to x . taking any term xn in the set. all these possible interpretations will be equally true. In fact. we have a set of terms verifying Peano’s axioms. xn . Each diﬀerent progression will give rise to a diﬀerent interpretation of all the propositions of traditional pure mathematics. and every term can be reached from the start in a ﬁnite number of steps. . conversely. A series of the form x . let “number” mean the whole set of terms. The progression need not be composed of numbers: it may be | composed of points in space.e. () “The successor of any number is a number. if xm and xn are two diﬀerent members of the set. belongs to all the x’s. in which there is a ﬁrst term.” Then all Peano’s ﬁve axioms will be true of this set. . or moments of time.” Any progression may be taken as the basis of pure mathematics: we may give the name “” to its ﬁrst term. It is clear that such examples might be multiplied indeﬁnitely. Then () “ is a number. the name “number” to the whole set of its terms. xn+ is also in the set. and the name “successor” to the next in the progression.” i. | which is endless. It can be proved. xn . This is easily seen. . As we have just seen. . though the formal proof is somewhat long. no term in the set comes before x . this results from the fact that (by hypothesis) there are no repetitions in the set. and let the “successor” of xn mean xn+ . contains no repetitions. x . This follows from the corresponding property for numbers. I. x is a member of the set. a successor to each term (so that there is no last term). . xm+ and xn+ are diﬀerent.” i. . every progression veriﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms.” i. and belongs to xn+ provided it belongs to xn .e. x . () “No two numbers have the same successor. . . Hence these ﬁve axioms may be used to deﬁne the class of progressions: “progressions” are “those series which verify these ﬁve axioms. that every series which veriﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms is a progression. . .Chap. .

In the ﬁrst place. those stated in the ﬁve axioms. The Series of Natural Numbers In Peano’s system there is nothing to enable us to distinguish between these diﬀerent interpretations of his primitive ideas. and “” meant . is important. namely. In the second place. is to say “we know what we mean by ‘’ and ‘number’ and ‘successor. all that we can do. I. By the logical theory of arithmetic we are able to put it oﬀ for a very long time. if we adopt his method. but which are otherwise undetermined. not merely that they should have certain formal properties.” terms concerning which we make certain hypotheses. but it is the object of mathematical philosophy to put oﬀ saying it as long as possible. We want “” and “number” and “successor” to have meanings which will give us the right allowance of ﬁngers and eyes and noses. and this requires that our numbers should have a deﬁnite meaning. we might let them | stand for any three terms that verify Peano’s ﬁve axioms. If we adopt this plan. But from two points of view it fails to give an adequate basis for arithmetic. indeed for certain purposes it represents a valuable generalisation.Chap. but to apply in the right way to common objects.” and that we shall not suppose that this symbol means or Cleopatra’s Needle or any of the other things that it might mean. but must be independently understood. It is assumed that we know what is meant by “. We want to have ten ﬁngers and two eyes and one nose. and so on. might be all right for pure mathematics. We cannot secure that this shall be the case by Peano’s method. as already observed. It might be suggested that. This point. instead of setting up “” and “number” and “successor” as terms of which we know the meaning although we cannot deﬁne them. We want our numbers not merely to verify mathematical formulæ. we want our numbers to be such as can be used for counting common objects. Such a procedure is not fallacious. that “” and “number” and “successor” cannot be deﬁned by means of Peano’s ﬁve axioms.” but concerning all sets of terms having certain properties. They will then no longer be terms which have a meaning that is deﬁnite though undeﬁned: they will be “variables. . We have already some knowledge (though not suﬃciently articulate or analytic) of what we mean by “” and “” and so on.” It is quite legitimate to say this when we must. but would not suit daily life. This deﬁnite meaning is deﬁned by the logical theory of arithmetic.’ though we cannot explain what we mean in terms of other simpler concepts. our theorems will not be proved concerning an ascertained set of terms called “the natural numbers. and our use of numbers in arithmetic must conform to this knowledge. it does not enable us to know whether there are any sets of terms verifying Peano’s axioms. and at some point we all must. it does not even give the faintest suggestion of any way of discovering whether there are such sets. A system in which “” meant .

Although this book is quite short. The . those that have that number. For the present.” or sometimes a “set. But there are some remarks that must be made immediately. is an instance of the number . are really setting to work to deﬁne plurality. but of some particular number. and the number is an instance of number. which is quite a diﬀerent thing. for example. it attracted almost no attention. with few exceptions.” Other words used in mathematics for the same thing are “aggregate” and “manifold. In seeking a deﬁnition of number. This point may seem elementary and scarcely worth mentioning. The number is something which all trios have in common. and Robinson. the ﬁrst thing to be clear about is what we may call the grammar of our inquiry. Many philosophers. and which distinguishes them from other collections.” we shall as a rule speak of a “class. A number is something that characterises certain collections. and of the very highest importance. A trio of men.. Jones.CHAPTER II DEFINITION OF NUMBER The question “What is a number?” is one which has been often asked. yet it has proved too subtle for the philosophers. Instead of speaking of a “collection. in his Grundlagen der Arithmetik. namely. but the trio is not an instance of number. as man is what is characteristic of men. vol. as when we say. A particular number is not identical with any collection of terms having that number: the number is not identical with | the trio consisting of Brown. A plurality is not an instance of number. i. we will say as little as possible. We may enumerate its members. same answer is given more fully and with more development in his Grundgesetze der Arithmetik. when attempting to deﬁne number. .” We shall have much to say later on about classes. not diﬃcult. A class or collection may be deﬁned in two ways that at ﬁrst sight seem quite distinct. and the deﬁnition of number which it contains remained practically unknown until it was rediscovered by the present author in . Number is what is characteristic of numbers. The answer was given by Frege in . but has only been correctly answered in our own time.

which.” and the one which mentions a deﬁning property is called a deﬁnition by “intension. for if this were not the case the total number of things in the world would be ﬁnite. the collections having a given number of terms themselves presumably form an inﬁnite collection: it is to be presumed. In the second place. Brown and Jones and Robinson. namely. These remarks are relevant. () Brown. . () that the intensional one often cannot even theoretically be reduced to the extensional one.” This formula will be true for just three x’s. Jones. or all of any other inﬁnite collection. In the third place.” Or we may mention a deﬁning property. and Robinson all of them possess a certain property which is possessed by nothing else in the whole universe. when we are seeking the deﬁnition of number. the property of being either Brown or Jones or Robinson. thus we must be able to . or even all the inhabitants of London. In this respect it resembles a cubic equation with its three roots. We cannot enumerate all the natural numbers: they are . In the ﬁrst place. and so on.” Of these two kinds of deﬁnition. and cannot therefore be deﬁned by enumeration. the one by intension is logically more fundamental.Chap. as when we speak of “mankind” or “the inhabitants of London. It may be taken as assigning a property common to the members of the class consisting of these three | men. Thus our knowledge in regard to all such collections can only be derived from a deﬁnition by intension. . Consider such a formula as “x is Brown or x is Jones or x is Robinson. Jones. No one man could actually enumerate all men. Deﬁnition of Number “The collection I mean is Brown. At some point we must content ourselves with “and so on. yet a great deal is known about each of these classes. and Robinson. numbers themselves form an inﬁnite collection. But when we come to consider inﬁnite classes. seems unlikely. A similar treatment can obviously be applied to any other class given in extension. Each of these points needs a word of explanation. we wish to deﬁne “number” in such a way that inﬁnite numbers may be possible.” The deﬁnition which enumerates is called a deﬁnition by “extension. II. in three diﬀerent ways. This is shown by two considerations: () that the extensional deﬁnition can always be reduced to an intensional one. This property can be used to give a deﬁnition by intension of the class consisting of Brown and Jones and Robinson. we ﬁnd that enumeration is not even theoretically possible for beings who only live for a ﬁnite time. . and peculiar to them. for example. though possible. () It is obvious that in practice we can often know a great deal about a class without being able to enumerate its members. that there are an inﬁnite collection of trios in the world. This is enough to show that deﬁnition by extension is not necessary to knowledge about a class.” We cannot enumerate all fractions or all irrational numbers. namely.

Our deﬁnition of number must not assume in advance that all numbers are ﬁnite. each of which is a class of two members. moreover it is only available. i. however. otherwise we could be content with the properties common and peculiar to their members. namely. though familiar. But for the present it will simplify our exposition to treat classes as if they were real. We need. i. It is this fact that a deﬁning characteristic is never unique which makes classes useful. without a vicious circle. manufactured out of deﬁning characteristics. is a class of classes: each couple is a class with two members. II. those that have a given number of terms. and the whole bundle of couples is a class with an inﬁnite number of members. and so on. and put them in the same bundle if they have the same number of members. In this way we obtain various bundles of collections. by a property common to all its members and peculiar to them. We are so used to the operation of counting that such a presupposition might easily pass unnoticed. classes. a class and a deﬁning characteristic of it are practically interchangeable. Deﬁnition of Number speak of the number of terms in an inﬁnite collection. and we cannot in any case. The vital diﬀerence between the two consists in the fact that there is only one class having a given set of members. | use counting to deﬁne numbers. classes may be regarded as logical ﬁctions.e. whereas there are always many diﬀerent characteristics by which a given class may be deﬁned. In actual fact. because numbers are used in counting.Chap. all trios in another. In fact. For many purposes. thus each is a class of classes. is logically a very complex operation. when the collection is ﬁnite. Each bundle is a class whose members are collections. Returning now to the deﬁnition of number. Men | may be deﬁned as featherless bipeds. counting. some other method of deciding when two collections have the same number of terms.” But this presupposes that we have deﬁned numbers. or as rational animals.e. How shall we decide whether two collections are to belong to the same bundle? The answer that suggests itself is: “Find out how many members each has. Any one of these properties can be used in place of the class whenever uniqueness is not important. therefore. as a means of discovering how many terms a collection has. or (more correctly) by the traits by which Swift delineates the Yahoos. each bundle consisting of all the collections that have a certain number of terms. it is clear that number is a way of bringing together certain collections. for example. As . it is simpler logically to ﬁnd out whether two collections have the same number of terms than it is to deﬁne what will be explained later. and that we know how to discover how many terms a collection has. The bundle consisting of all couples. We can suppose all couples in one bundle. and such a collection must be deﬁned by intension.

We do not need a census to assure us of this. A few preliminary deﬁnitions will help us to state this deﬁnition more precisely. the relation of n to n + is one-one. not only in relation to the deﬁnition of numbers. in Mahometan countries it is one-many. it is clear that the number of husbands living at any moment would be exactly the same as the number of wives. and many-one relations. when only the second is fulﬁlled. in the same manner in which the relation of marriage correlates husbands with wives. because each husband has one wife and each wife has one husband. The relation of wife to husband is called the converse of the relation of husband to wife. When we are considering only positive numbers. Similarly less is the converse of greater. These instances should suﬃce to make clear the notions of one-one.” A relation is said to be “one-one” when. but when negative numbers are admitted. the relation of n to n is one-one. it becomes two-one. but in many other connections. When only the ﬁrst of these two conditions is fulﬁlled. if x has the relation in question to y. We may now state our deﬁnition of similarity as follows:— One class is said to be “similar” to another when there is a one-one . it is called “many-one. and so on.Chap. If there were no polygamy or polyandry anywhere in the world. The relation of husband and wife is what is called “one-one. in Tibet it is many-one. one-many. which play a great part in the principles of mathematics. since n and −n have the same square. and husbands and wives together are the domain of the relation of marriage. In Christian countries. wives are the domain of the relation of wife to husband. The converse domain of a relation is the domain of its converse: thus the class of wives is the converse domain of the relation of husband to wife. II. If n is any number. An illustration will make this clear. Two classes are said to be “similar” when there is a one-one | relation which correlates the terms of the one class each with one term of the other class.” It should be observed that the number is not used in these deﬁnitions. so is the relation of n to n or to n. Deﬁnition of Number that number is. later is the converse of earlier. The relation of father to son is one-many. Generally. and x does not have the same relation to any term y other than y. but that of eldest son to father is one-one. no other term x has the same relation to y. the converse of a given relation is that relation which holds between y and x whenever the given relation holds between x and y. the relation of husband to wife is one-one. nor do we need to know what is the actual number of husbands and of wives. We know the number must be the same in both collections. The class of those terms that have a given relation to something or other is called the domain of that relation: thus fathers are the domain of the relation of father to child. the relation is called “onemany”. husbands are the domain of the relation of husband to wife. that of son to father is many-one.

It is easy to prove () that every class is similar to itself. The act of counting consists in establishing a one-one correlation | between the set of objects counted and the natural numbers (excluding ) that are used up in the process.Chap. It is obvious that a relation which is symmetrical and transitive must be reﬂexive throughout its domain. depends upon and assumes the fact that two classes which are similar have the same number of terms. Deﬁnition of Number relation of which the one class is the domain. and it is worth while to note that similarity is one of this kind of relations. it is necessary to take the objects counted in a certain order. () that if a class α is similar to a class β. as ﬁrst. symmetrical when it possesses the second.. we saw that the number of husbands is the same as the number of wives. And we also know that. Take. so long as we conﬁne ourselves to ﬁnite numbers. The notion of similarity is logically presupposed in the operation of counting. etc. A relation is said to be reﬂexive when it possesses the ﬁrst of these properties. then β is similar to α. and so on. an unnecessary complication from the logical point of view. It is obvious to common sense that two ﬁnite classes have the same number of terms if they are similar. in the sense in which we were asking this question earlier in this chapter. We may thus use the notion of “similarity” to decide when two collections are to belong to the same bundle. Relations which possess these properties are an important kind. for what we do when we count (say) objects is to show that the set of these objects is similar to the set of numbers to . second. We want to make one bundle containing the class that has no members: this will be for the number . while the other is the converse domain. with /. but not otherwise. for example. there are just n numbers from up to n. provided the collection is ﬁnite. and transitive when it possesses the third. Hence it follows that the last number used in counting a collection is the number of terms in the collection. The notion of similarity also does not require that the classes which are similar should be ﬁnite. then α is similar to γ. thus proving that the two classes are similar. () that if α is similar to β and β to γ. In counting. third. Accordingly common sense concludes that there are as many objects in the set to be counted as there are numbers up to the last number used in the counting. and is logically simpler though less familiar. The notion of similarity does not demand an order: for example. Then we want a bundle of all the classes that have one . the natural numbers (excluding ) on the one hand. but order is not of the essence of number: it is an irrelevant addition. besides being only applicable to ﬁnite collections. II. without having to establish an order of precedence among them. But this result. and the fractions which have for their numerator on the other hand: it is obvious that we can correlate with /.

Then. than to hunt for a problematical number which must always remain elusive. those collections that are “similar” to it will have the same number of terms. So far we have not suggested anything in the slightest degree paradoxical.” It is obvious that it gives results conformable to usage so long as we conﬁne ourselves to ﬁnite collections. Given any collection. for example. a number (in general) is any collection which is the number of one of its members. which we are sure of. we want a bundle consisting | of all couples. II. In fact. therefore we may deﬁne number in general in terms of “the number of a given class” without committing any logical error. or. though this impression will soon wear oﬀ. for the number . It is therefore more prudent to content ourselves with the class of couples. We may now go on to deﬁne numbers in general as any one of the bundles into which similarity collects classes. Deﬁnitions of this sort are in fact very common. In other words. The class of fathers. A number will be a set of classes such as that any two are similar to each | other. Thus the number of a couple will be the class of all couples. Deﬁnition of Number member: this will be for the number .Chap. but in fact it is not. the class of all couples will be the number . We naturally think that the class of couples (for example) is something diﬀerent from the number . At the expense of a little oddity. And whatever number of terms a collection may have. the class of all those collections that are similar to it will be the class of trios. It is very easy to see that if (for example) a collection has three members. is a metaphysical entity about which we can never feel sure that it exists or that we have tracked it down. Accordingly we set up the following deﬁnition:— The number of a class is the class of all those classes that are similar to it. then one of all trios. would have to be deﬁned by ﬁrst deﬁning what . this deﬁnition secures deﬁniteness and indubitableness. We deﬁne “the number of a given class” without using the notion of number in general. Such a deﬁnition has a verbal appearance of being circular. and it is not diﬃcult to prove that numbers so deﬁned have all the properties that we expect numbers to have. whereas the number . according to our deﬁnition. more simply still: A number is anything which is the number of some class. in any other sense. But there is no doubt about the class of couples: it is indubitable and not diﬃcult to deﬁne. and so on. we can deﬁne the bundle it is to belong to as being the class of all those collections that are “similar” to it. We may take this as a deﬁnition of “having the same number of terms. and none outside the set are similar to any inside the set. But when we come to the actual deﬁnition of numbers we cannot avoid what must at ﬁrst sight seem a paradox.

This kind of procedure is very common. Deﬁnition of Number it is to be the father of somebody. Similarly if we want to deﬁne square numbers (say). But ﬁrst we must decide what we mean by “ﬁnite” and “inﬁnite. and then deﬁne square numbers as those that are the squares of other numbers. It remains to be seen how it will serve for inﬁnite collections.” which cannot be done within the limits of the present chapter. then the class of fathers will be all those who are somebody’s father. .Chap. we must ﬁrst deﬁne what we mean by saying that one number is the square of another. II. and it is important to realise that it is legitimate and even often necessary. We have now given a deﬁnition of numbers which will serve for ﬁnite collections.

” and so on. and show how thence all other natural numbers can be obtained. In the case of an assigned number. What are the numbers that can be reached. if we have the patience.. . such as . But although the method of experiment is available for each particular natural number. but the problem upon which we are engaged is the problem of deﬁning “ﬁnite number.. the proof that we can reach it by proceeding step by step in this fashion may be made. as the successor of .” “number.” then we deﬁne “” as “the successor of .” and “successor. .” But we may go a step farther: we can deﬁne all the natural numbers if we know what we mean by “” and “successor. given the terms “” and | “successor”? Is there any way by which we can deﬁne the whole class of such numbers? We reach . We ﬁrst deﬁne “” as “the successor of . It is this “and so on” that we wish to replace by something less vague and indeﬁnite. Our deﬁnition must not assume that we know what a ﬁnite number is. i.” and therefore we must not use this notion in our deﬁnition. and why the method by which it is done cannot be extended beyond the ﬁnite. it is not available for proving the general proposition that all such numbers can be reached in this way.CHAPTER III FINITUDE AND MATHEMATICAL INDUCTION The series of natural numbers. by proceeding from step by step from each number to its successor... say . We might be tempted to say that “and so on” means that the process of proceeding to the successor may be repeated any ﬁnite number of times.” It will help us to understand the diﬀerence between ﬁnite and inﬁnite to see how this can be done. and so on. We will not yet consider how “” and “successor” are to be deﬁned: we will for the moment assume that we know what these terms mean. by actual experiment: we can go on until we actually arrive at . as we saw in Chapter I. can all be deﬁned if we know what we mean by the three terms “. It is easy to see that we can reach any assigned number. . as the successor of . as the successor of . Is there any other way by which this can be proved? Let us consider the question the other way round.e.

. the comparison of a relatively vague idea . this was the ﬁfth of the ﬁve primitive propositions which we laid down about the natural numbers. in the ﬁrst place. the successor of n. which will be useful in other connections also. A property is said to be “inductive” when it is a hereditary | property which belongs to . and to the successor of any number which has the property. it must belong to all that are not less than . i. It will be remembered that. and so on. that to say a property is hereditary is equivalent to saying that it belongs to all the natural numbers not less than some one of them. but this also we do not yet oﬃcially know. whenever it belongs to a number n. belongs to all the natural numbers. namely. in the second place. so is n + . Similarly a class is said to be “hereditary” if. Similarly a class is “inductive” when it is a hereditary class of which is a member. Given a hereditary class of which is a member.e. it follows that is a member of it. given a hereditary class of which is a member. but as the point is important we will set forth the matter in some detail. It is now not diﬃcult to make it obvious that the posterity of is the same set as those terms that can be reached from by successive steps from next to next. This was then presented as a principle.g. it follows that is a member of it. III. though we are not yet supposed to know. whenever n is a member of the class.Chap. It is not diﬃcult to see that the terms obeying it are the same as the numbers that can be reached from by successive steps from next to next. Similarly. We will deﬁne the “posterity” of a given natural number with respect to the relation “immediate predecessor” (which is the converse of “successor”) as all those terms that belong to every hereditary class to which the given number belongs. It is again easy to see that the posterity of a natural number consists of itself and all greater natural numbers. to all without exception. the posterity of will consist of those terms which belong to every inductive class. is a member of every inductive class. By the above deﬁnitions. Finitude and Mathematical Induction The key to our problem lies in mathematical induction. so does n + . A property is said to be “hereditary” in the natural-number series if. or all that are not less than . It stated that any property which belongs to . Thus we can prove by a step-by-step procedure that any assigned natural number. belongs to both these sets (in the sense in which we have deﬁned our terms). it also belongs to n + . but we shall now adopt it as a deﬁnition. We shall do well to begin with some deﬁnitions. For. e.. or it may be that it belongs to all that are not less than . because a hereditary class contains the successors of its members. if n belongs to both sets. say . and is the successor of . It is easy to see. It is to be observed that we are dealing here with the kind of matter that does not admit of precise proof. in Chapter I.

but they need not concern us. the one asserting that is a number and the one asserting mathematical induction—become unnecessary. “the posterity of ” is precise and explicit just where the other idea is hazy.” By the general deﬁnition of number. whereas the null-class itself has no members. two of his primitive propositions—namely. namely.” We can. We have thus reduced Peano’s three primitive ideas to ideas of logic: we have given deﬁnitions of them which make them deﬁnite. The number is the number of terms in a class which has no members. Then the class consisting of α with x added on will have n + members.) a logical deﬁnition of the number of terms in a class. let α be a class which has n members.e. (This is not identical with the null-class: it has one member. See Principia Mathematica. The notion of “those terms that can be reached from by successive steps from next to next” is vague. ii. on the other hand. where x is any term not belonging to the class. III. namely. though it seems as if it conveyed a deﬁnite meaning. . It remains to deﬁne “successor. the null-class. the class whose only member is the null-class. Thus we have the following deﬁnition:— The successor of the number of terms in the class α is the number of terms in the class consisting of α together with x.) Thus we have the following purely logical deﬁnition:— is the class whose only member is the null-class. of course.e. the number of terms in the null-class is the set of all classes similar to the null-class. It may be taken as giving what we meant to mean when we spoke of the terms that can be reached from by successive steps. i. As a result of this deﬁnition.Chap. (as is easily proved) the set consisting of the null-class all alone. and let x be a term which is not a member of α.” Given any number n. in the class which is called the “null-class. sor”).e. It will be remembered that we | have already given (in Chapter II. we deﬁned it as the set of all classes that are similar to the given class. i. since they result from the deﬁnition. vol. easily deﬁne “” and “successor” by means of the deﬁnition of number in general which we arrived at in Chapter II. Finitude and Mathematical Induction with a relatively precise one. ∗ . i. We have thus arrived at a deﬁnition of one of Peano’s three primitive ideas in terms of the other two. Certain niceties are required to make this deﬁnition perfect. The one asserting that the successor of a natural number is a natural number is only needed in the weakened form “every natural number has a successor. A class which has one member is never identical with that one member. as we shall explain when we come to the theory of classes. We now lay down the following deﬁnition:— The “natural numbers” are the posterity of with respect to the | relation “immediate predecessor” (which is the converse of “succes.

Thus we should have two diﬀerent numbers with the same successor.” The diﬃculty does not arise unless the total number of individuals in the universe is ﬁnite.e. by means of which we deﬁned the natural numbers. if the number of individuals in the world is not ﬁnite.” if. Finitude and Mathematical Induction no longer capable of an inﬁnity of diﬀerent meanings. namely. neither of which is the total number of individuals in the universe. for given two numbers m and n. But let us suppose that the total number of individuals in the universe were (say) . We deﬁned the natural numbers as the “posterity” of with respect to the relation of a number to its immediate successor. we have now succeeded not only in deﬁning Peano’s | three primitive ideas. “no two numbers have the same successor. but in seeing how to prove his ﬁve primitive propositions. And a number n will be said to belong to the “posterity” of m with respect to the relation N if n has See For geometry.” or simply “N-hereditary.” How stands it with the remaining three? It is very easy to prove that is not the successor of any number. So would the number . We shall return to this topic at a later stage. The extension of this result to those modern branches of mathematics which are not deducible from the theory of the natural numbers oﬀers no diﬃculty of principle. and that the successor of any number is a number. and the number would be the null-class. however. although would not be the same as . But there is a diﬃculty about the remaining primitive proposition. therefore the successor of would be the same as the successor of . i. it also belongs to m + . to the number to which m has the relation N.. . in so far as it is deducible from the theory of the natural numbers. As regards the ﬁve primitive propositions. Thus we should have = .Chap. we have already succeeded in making two of them demonstrable by our deﬁnition of “natural number. ibid. for rational dynamics. If we call this relation N. It follows that all pure mathematics. part vii. III. This failure of the third axiom cannot arise. in so far as it is not purely analytical. A property is “hereditary with respect to N. as we have shown elsewhere. then there would be no class of individuals. part vi. Assuming that the number of individuals in the universe is not ﬁnite. Chapter XIII. see Principles of Mathematics. it is easy to prove that we cannot have m + = n + unless we have m = n. is capable of generalisation. any number m will have this relation to m + . as they were when they were only determinate to the extent of obeying Peano’s ﬁve axioms.. We have removed them from the fundamental apparatus of terms that must be merely apprehended. is only a prolongation of logic. The process of mathematical induction. by means of primitive ideas and propositions belonging to logic. whenever the property belongs to a number m. and have thus increased the deductive articulation of mathematics.

. Take. Shall we say that. and x has the relation R to y. These deﬁnitions can all be applied to any other relation just as well as to N. who is a parent of Z. But. It is. . . For this purpose. A person confronted for the ﬁrst time with the problem of deﬁning “ancestor” in terms of “parent” would naturally say that A is an ancestor of Z if. . C. I was. provided x is a term which has the relation R to something or to which something has the relation R. In spite of the great value of this work. III. of course. Here we have ﬁrst a series of negative fractions with no end. in this series. of whom B is a child of A.” “ancestor” and “posterity” will have the usual meanings. are due to Frege. but it will not be so according to any deﬁnition which will give the kind of idea that we wish to deﬁne.) | The “R-posterity” of x is all the terms of which x is an R-ancestor. These . and it is simpler to deﬁne the ancestral relation generally at once than to deﬁne it ﬁrst deﬁnitions. B. . − . It will be observed that if we take for R the relation “parent. A class is R-hereditary when its deﬁning property is R-hereditary. the ﬁrst person who ever read it—more than twenty years after its publication. such a series as the following:— −. . Thus if R is any relation whatever. and were published so long ago as in his Begriﬀsschrift. This is merely for convenience. . and the generalised theory of induction. −/ is an ancestor of /? It will be so according to the beginner’s deﬁnition suggested above. Finitude and Mathematical Induction every N-hereditary property belonging to m. A term x is said to be an “R-ancestor” of the term y if y has every R-hereditary property that x has. − . between A and Z. there are a certain number of people. we can lay down the following deﬁnitions: — A property is called “R-hereditary” when. and then a series of positive fractions with no beginning. I believe. except that a person will be included among his own ancestors and posterity. (This is only to exclude trivial cases. . . it is essential that the number of intermediaries should be ﬁnite. then it belongs to y. . “ﬁnite” is to be deﬁned by means of mathematical induction. each is a parent of the next.” A brief consideration of this point will serve to show the importance of the theory. − . But this deﬁnition is not adequate unless we add that the number of intermediate terms is to be ﬁnite.” but until Frege developed his generalised theory of induction.Chap. for example. until the last. as we saw. obvious at once that “ancestor” must be capable of deﬁnition in terms of “parent. We have framed the above deﬁnitions so that if a term is the ancestor of anything it is its own ancestor and belongs to its own posterity. . if it belongs to a term x. no one could have deﬁned “ancestor” precisely in terms of “parent.

Finitude and Mathematical Induction only for the case of the relation of n to n + . though there Science and Method. Some believed it to be really a case of induction. and there are others (as we shall see in Chapter VIII. but as a purely verbal proposition. but no one quite knew why it was valid. Here. it is a very long time before the last truck moves. III. and then extend it to other cases. chap.” This is true when the number of intermediate steps between ﬁrst and last is ﬁnite. the essential characteristic by which the ﬁnite is distinguished from the inﬁnite. We deﬁne the “natural numbers” as those to which proofs by mathematical induction can be applied. iv. if there were a series of trucks no longer than the series of inductive numbers (which. it will follow that animals that have four legs are quadrupeds. not in virtue of any mysterious intuition or axiom or principle. in the past. though it may | require more thought at the start. If “quadrupeds” are deﬁned as animals having four legs. Mathematical induction aﬀords. Anyone who has ever | watched a goods train beginning to move will have noticed how the impulse is communicated with a jerk from each truck to the next. The principle of mathematical induction might be stated popularly in some such form as “what can be inferred from next to next can be inferred from ﬁrst to last. is an instance of the smallest of inﬁnites). We shall use the phrase “inductive numbers” to mean the same set as we have hitherto spoken of as the “natural numbers. There seemed no reasonable doubt that it was a valid method of proof. Nevertheless.” The phrase “inductive numbers” is preferable as aﬀording a reminder that the deﬁnition of this set of numbers is obtained from mathematical induction. more than anything else. every truck would begin to move sooner or later if the engine persevered.e. There are some numbers to which it can be applied. When the train is very long. It follows that such proofs can be applied to the natural numbers. We now know that all such views are mistaken. will be found in the long run to economise thought and increase logical power. as those that possess all inductive properties. there would be an inﬁnite succession of jerks. i. and the case of numbers that obey mathematical induction is exactly similar. not a principle.Chap. and the time would never come when the whole train would be in motion. Poincar´ considered it to be a principle e of the utmost importance. until at last even the hindmost truck is in motion. . in the sense in which that word is used in logic. not otherwise. If the train were inﬁnitely long. as we shall see.) to which it cannot be applied. as constantly elsewhere. something of a mystery. generality from the ﬁrst. The use of mathematical induction in demonstrations was. by means of which an inﬁnite number of syllogisms could be condensed into one argument. and that mathematical induction is a deﬁnition.

by contrast. the properties of such numbers will help to make clear. This image will help to elucidate the argument from next to next. Finitude and Mathematical Induction would always be other trucks further back which had not yet begun to move. III. and its connection with ﬁnitude. When we come to inﬁnite numbers. . where arguments from mathematical induction will be no longer valid. the almost unconscious use that is made of mathematical induction where ﬁnite numbers are concerned.Chap.

The order of points on a line is essential to geometry. then all the even numbers. Dimensions. The notion of order is one which has enormous importance in mathematics. so is the slightly more complicated order of lines through a point in a plane. consider ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all the even numbers. but this is a mistake. The natural numbers—or the “inductive” numbers. . then all the multiples of but not of or . and so on through the whole series of primes. A set of terms has all the orders of which it is capable. are a development of order. but they are very few in comparison with the parts in which this notion is involved. There are parts of mathematics which do not depend upon the notion of order. for example. which underlies all higher mathematics. We ordinarily think of the numbers as in this order. .CHAPTER IV THE DEFINITION OF ORDER We have now carried our analysis of the series of natural numbers to the point where we have obtained logical deﬁnitions of the members of this series. The conception of a limit. In seeking a deﬁnition of order. Sometimes one order is so much more familiar and natural to our | thoughts that we are inclined to regard it as the order of that set of terms. Not only the integers. or ﬁrst . . of the whole class of its members. . but they are capable of an inﬁnite number of other arrangements. and it is an essential part of the work of analysing our data to seek a deﬁnition of “order” or “series” in logical terms. as we shall also call them—occur to us most readily in order of magnitude. We must now consider the serial character of the natural numbers in the order . . is a serial conception. and of the relation of a number to its immediate successor. and this is essential to most of their mathematical properties. or of planes through a line. . We might. the ﬁrst thing to realise is that no set of terms has just one order to the exclusion of others. When we say that we “arrange” the numbers in these various orders. that is an inaccurate expression: . then all the multiples of but not of or or . but also rational fractions and all real numbers have an order of magnitude. then all the odd multiples of . in geometry.

The resulting order will be one which the points of the line certainly have. On the other hand. If x is a brother or sister of y. since one set of terms has many orders. What properties must a relation have in order to give rise to an order? The essential characteristics of a relation which is to give rise to order may be discovered by considering that in respect of such a relation we must be able to say. for the terms themselves have always all the orders of which they are capable. y is of a diﬀerent height from x. in order that we may be able to use these words in the way in which we should naturally understand them. y is not also earlier than x. and which give rise to various diﬀerent orders among numbers. y is not also less than x. This is an obvious characteristic of the kind of relations that lead to series. And what is true of numbers is equally true of points on a line or of the moments of time: one order is more familiar. If x is less than y. y is a brother or sister of x. which themselves generate such-and-such an arrangement. () If x precedes y and y precedes z. We can no more “arrange” the natural numbers than we can the starry heavens. If x is of the same height as y. But with serial relations such a thing cannot happen. then all those that have non-integral rational co-ordinates. but in a relation among | the members of the class. the only thing that is arbitrary about the various orders of a set of terms is our attention. x must precede z. y must not also precede x. y is not to the left of x. that one “precedes” and the other “follows. on a line. take ﬁrst. when the relation holds between x and y. But . If x is of a diﬀerent height from y. relations which do not give rise to series often do not have this property. all equally legitimate. IV. all the points that have integral co-ordinates. This may be illustrated by the same instances as before: less. through any set of complications we please.Chap. In all these cases. If x is to the left of y. If x is earlier in time than y.” Now. The fact that a class may have many orders is due to the fact that there can be many relations holding among the members of one single class. of any two terms in the class which is to be ordered. A relation having this ﬁrst property is called asymmetrical. so there are various relations among numbers which may be observed. whether we choose to notice it or not. not in the class of terms. it also holds between y and x. earlier. we require that the ordering relation should have three properties:— () If x precedes y. in respect of which some appear as earlier and some as later. but others are equally valid. The order lies. The Deﬁnition of Order what we really do is to turn our attention to certain relations between the natural numbers. y is of the same height as x. We might. One important result of this consideration is that we must not look for the deﬁnition of order in the nature of the set of terms to be ordered. and so on. left of. then all those that have algebraic non-rational co-ordinates. for example. but just as we may notice among the ﬁxed stars either their order of brightness or their distribution in the sky.

It often happens that a relation is an aliorelative without being asymmetrical. for example. but of any two complex numbers this is not true. but not to sameness of height. | () One relation is said to contain or be implied by another if it holds whenever the other holds. if no term has this relation to itself.” “greater by ” is the square of “greater by . and y of z. () Given any two terms of the class which is to be ordered. or fractions. some relation having these three properties can be found generating it. Thus. of any two integers. one is smaller and the other greater. there must be one which precedes and the other which follows. When a relation possesses these three properties. it is of the sort to give rise to an order among the terms between which it holds. A relation having our second property is called transitive. one must be to the left of the other. IV. () The square of a relation is that relation which holds between two terms x and z when there is an intermediate term y such that the given relation holds between x and y and between y and z. and wherever an order exists.” “father” are aliorelatives. The relation “father. x may not be brother or sister of z.” “diﬀerent in size. For example. The same applies to diﬀerence of height. or to be contained in or imply diversity.Chap. since x and z may be the same person. but are recalled here for the sake of the following deﬁnition:— () The ﬁeld of a relation consists of its domain and converse domain together. this cannot be said. but of events. has our ﬁrst property but not | our second. Before illustrating this thesis. or real numbers. which has our second property but not our ﬁrst. “greater. we will introduce a few deﬁnitions. one must be earlier than the other.” “brother. A relation having this third property is called connected. . S. though an This term is due to C. It will be seen that an asymmetrical relation is the same thing as a relation whose square is an aliorelative.” on the other hand. If x is brother or sister of y. () A relation is said to be an aliorelative.” “born of the same parents. Thus “paternal grandfather” is the square of “father. Of any two moments in time.” and so on.” “husband. The Deﬁnition of Order as instances of relations which do not have this property only two of our previous three instances will serve. Of two points on a line. which may be simultaneous.” “dear friend” are not. Peirce. These words have been already deﬁned. but “equal. () The domain of a relation consists of all those terms that have the relation to something or other. and the converse domain consists of all those terms to which something or other has the relation.

it is because it is not connected that it does not suﬃce to arrange the human race in a series. But among transitive relations. But this would be an error. when a relation is transitive. () | transi. . and () connected. the relation holds between the ﬁrst and the second or between the second and the ﬁrst (not excluding the possibility that both may happen. If the ﬁeld were the series. are six diﬀerent series which all have the same ﬁeld. but not asymmetrical or an aliorelative. We now lay down the following deﬁnition:— A relation is serial when it is an aliorelative. are mutually independent.” among numbers. and y is greater or less than z. . or. A transitive aliorelative is one which contains its square and is contained in diversity. . or. For example. but “father” is not transitive. . The relation “less than or equal to. transitive. Given the ordering relation. . is an aliorelative and transitive. it may happen that x and z are the same number. is transitive and connected. . as we also say. Thus the three properties of being () an aliorelative. . for if x is greater or less than y. transitive. It will be seen that the relation “ancestor. but not connected. asymmetry is equivalent to being an aliorelative. since a relation may have any two without having the third. A series is the same thing as a serial relation. From the deﬁnitions it will be seen that a transitive relation is one which is implied by its square. because an ancestor’s ancestor is an ancestor. not the serial relation itself. Thus the ordering relation may be taken to be the series. IV.Chap. tive. because a father’s father is not a father. What distinguishes the above six series is simply the diﬀerent ordering relations in the six cases. . . . since if x is the spouse of y. and connected. . all aliorelatives are asymmetrical as well as vice versa. . . “contains” its square. For example. though both cannot happen if the relation is asymmetrical). Thus “ancestor” is transitive. The Deﬁnition of Order asymmetrical relation is always an aliorelative. but the ﬁeld cannot be so taken. what comes to the same thing. . given any two diﬀerent terms of its ﬁeld. or. and connected. one whose square implies both it and diversity—because. . A relation is connected when. the ﬁeld and the order are both determinate. there could only be one series with a given ﬁeld.” for example. “spouse” is an aliorelative. . what is equivalent. . The relation “greater or less” among numbers is an aliorelative and is connected. y is the spouse of x. but is symmetrical. but is not transitive. . It might have been thought that a series should be the ﬁeld of a serial relation. when it is asymmetrical.

We can. however. for example.e. and has the inductive numbers for its ﬁeld. or (what comes to the same thing) when the successor of m is an ancestor of n in the sense in which a number is its own ancestor. the relation between consecutive integers. or order of magnitude. For purposes of generating the series of natural numbers. () P must imply P. we want the relation “less than. one of the two must precede the other. where these three properties are found in an ordering relation.” excluding “equal to.e. And it will be observed that the deﬁnition is eﬀected in purely logical terms. The reader can easily convince himself that. derive from it. we shall have xPy or yPx. which we shall write “xPy” for short. The three characteristics which P must have in order to be serial are: () We must never have xPx. and connected. i. The Deﬁnition of Order Given any serial relation.Chap. no term must precede itself. where it is applicable. say P.” This is the relation of m to n when m is an ancestor of n but not identical with n. This relation is asymmetrical. that the relation “less than. we shall say that.e. transitive. the characteristics we expect of series will also be found. The relation we assumed in considering the natural numbers was the relation of immediate succession. if x precedes y and y precedes z.” and this order is the so-called “natural” order. In this method we pass on from . () If x and y are two diﬀerent terms in the ﬁeld of P. the “ancestral” relation which we considered in the preceding chapter. x “precedes” y if x has the relation P to y. we shall lay down the following deﬁnition:— An inductive number m is said to be less than another number n when n possesses every hereditary property possessed by the successor of m. x must precede z.e. by the method of mathematical induction. The generation of series by means of relations more or less resembling that of n to n + is very common. and not diﬃcult to prove. This is probably the easiest way. is asymmetrical. Although a transitive asymmetrical connected relation always exists wherever there is a series. it is not always the relation which would most naturally be regarded as generating the series. is generated by relations of each to his successor. The natural-number series may serve as an illustration. It is easy to see. IV. That is to say. i. The series of the Kings of England. but not transitive or connected. This relation will be the same as “less than or equal to” among inductive integers. We are therefore justiﬁed in taking the above as a deﬁnition of order | or series. i. and vice versa. Thus by means of this relation the inductive numbers acquire an order in the sense in which we deﬁned the term “order. in respect of this relation. i. of conceiving the generation of a series.” so deﬁned.

The Deﬁnition of Order each term to the next. IV. We shall speak for short of “R-posterity” and “R-ancestors” when these terms seem more convenient. If we call this relation R. or back to the one before. Thus in such a case. This includes everybody at the table. It is to be observed that this deﬁnition has to be so framed as to be applicable not only when there is only one term to which x has the relation R. This method always requires the generalised form of mathematical induction in order to enable us to deﬁne “earlier” and “later” in a series so generated. we see that. though the relation “proper R-ancestor” is connected. Reverting to the fundamental deﬁnitions. we ﬁnd that the “proper posterity” may be deﬁned as follows:— The “proper posterity” of x with respect to R consists of all terms that possess every R-hereditary property possessed by every term to which x has the relation R. for example. in the sense which we gave before to “posterity. x and y cannot be the same person. if this method is to be possible. But it is only under certain circumstances that it will be an aliorelative or connected. “Rancestor” and “proper R-ancestor” are always both transitive. On the analogy of “proper fractions.” If x is a proper ancestor of y. as long as there | is a next. we do not get a series because “proper R-ancestor” is not an aliorelative. Under what circumstances will this occur? It will always be transitive: no matter what sort of relation R may be. The above was an instance in which the ancestral relation was connected but not contained in diversity. An instance where it is contained in diversity but not connected is derived from the ordinary sense of the word “ancestor. that of father and child) where there may be many terms to which x has the relation R. We deﬁne further: A term x is a “proper ancestor” of y with respect to R if y belongs to the proper posterity of x with respect to R. the relation “proper R-ancestor” must be an aliorelative. and connected.” which includes a term in its own posterity. and though R itself is an aliorelative. including the person himself. It is for this reason that we cannot say that one person comes before another with respect to the relation “right of” or to its ancestral derivative. but also in cases (as e. as long as there is one before. transitive. the proper R-posterity of a person consists of all who can be reached by going round the table from right to left. the relation to one’s left-hand neighbour at a round dinner-table at which there are twelve people. Consider. Reverting now to the generation of series by the relation R between consecutive terms. . but it is not true that of any two persons one must be an ancestor of the other.g. since | twelve steps bring us back to our starting-point.Chap.” let us give the name “proper posterity of x with respect to R” to the class of those terms that belong to the R-posterity of some term to which x has the relation R.

If this is not done. series in which there are no consecutive terms will remain diﬃcult and puzzling. Not only so. the one condition required to secure the generation of a series is that the relation “proper R-ancestor” shall be contained in diversity. Between any two fractions there are others—for example. those in which. it may even be extended to certain inﬁnite series.Chap. The Deﬁnition of Order The question of the circumstances under which series can be generated by ancestral relations derived from relations of consecutiveness is often important. Here again. though the total number of terms is inﬁnite. fractions in order of magnitude. and including the ancestry of x as well as the posterity. however near together these may be. the relation “proper R-ancestor” must be connected. namely. we should not be able to deﬁne the order of magnitude among fractions. like that of counting for discovering the number of a collection. Another generalisation consists in taking R to be a one-one relation. Take. the number of terms between any two is always ﬁnite. time. It often happens in a series that there are an inﬁnite number of intermediate terms between any two that may be selected. therefore all that remains to ensure its being serial is that it shall be contained in diversity. it is best introduced in connection with elementary geometry. Consequently there is no such thing as a pair of consecutive fractions. since only such a relation is able to leap over an inﬁnite number of intermediate terms. and may serve as an introduction to relations having more than two terms. There are many ways in which series may be generated. But in fact the relations of greater and less among fractions do not demand generation from relations of consecutiveness. . but it must not be regarded as general.” This method is very useful in geometry. but care must be taken to eradicate from the imagination all habits of thought resulting from supposing it general. This is a generalisation of the instance of the dinner-table. The generation of order by means of relations of consecutiveness. IV. the arithmetic mean of the two. for instance. Some of these ways have considerable importance. space. though important in its own sphere. and let us conﬁne our attention to the posterity of some term x. is less general than the method which uses a transitive relation to deﬁne the order. When so conﬁned. The method of consecutiveness. And such series are of vital importance for the understanding of continuity. is appropriate to the ﬁnite. Some of the most important cases are the following: Let R be a many-one relation. If we depended | upon consecutiveness for deﬁning order. and motion. but all depend upon the ﬁnding or construction of an asymmetrical transitive connected relation. and the relations of greater and less among fractions have the three characteristics which we need for deﬁning serial relations. We may take as illustrative the generation of series by means of a three-term relation which we may call “between. In all such cases the order must be deﬁned by means of a transitive relation.

then b is between a and y.” In order that this relation “between” may arrange the points of the line in an order from left to right. a and b are not identical. as with people at the dinner-table. () Anything between a and b is not identical with a (nor. ﬀ. () a itself. a lies—these we will call to the left of a. consequently. We may now deﬁne generally that of two points x. () Anything between a and b is also between b and a. Any three-term relation which veriﬁes them gives rise to series. but for the present we will only consider its application to a single straight line and to the ordering of the points on a straight line. the notion “between” is characteristic of open series—or series in the strict sense— as opposed to what may be called | “cyclic” series. let us assume | that a is to the left of b. () If x and y are between a and b. For the sake of deﬁniteness. These seven properties are obviously veriﬁed in the case of points on a straight line in ordinary space. the following:— () If anything is between a and b. In fact. on the line (ab). we need certain assumptions. or y is between b and x. then either x and y are identical. Thus the line (ab) can be deﬁned in terms of the relation “between. anything between a and x is also between a and b. This notion of “between” may be chosen as the fundamental notion of ordinary geometry. a suﬃcient journey brings us back to our starting-point. . pp. () If b is between a and x and also between a and y. p. This will not be the case with the points on a circle or any other closed curve. where. because. with b. or x is between y and b. () those between which and a lies b—these we will call to the right of b. () Points y such that b is between y and a. (§). Then the points of the line (ab) are () those between which and b. as may be seen from the following deﬁnitions. or x is between b and y. given any three points on a circle. iv. we can travel from any one to any other without passing through the third. () b itself. Taking any two points a. we shall say that x is “to the left of” y in any of the following cases:— Cf. The Deﬁnition of Order Given any three points on a straight line in ordinary space. the line (ab) consists of three parts (besides a and b themselves): () Points between a and b. and b is between x and y. or x is between a and y. in virtue of ()). there must be one of them which is between the other two. () those between a and b. then either x and y are identical. () If x is between a and b.Chap. Principles of Mathematics. y. b. () Points x such that a is between x and b. namely. () If x is between a and b. IV. Rivista di Matematica..

() When x and y are both between a and b. and conversely. () When x is between a and b. (§). . The Deﬁnition of Order () When x and y are both to the left of a.” The point may be illustrated by considering a journey round the world. () When x is to the left of a.” When such relations have been deﬁned.” but somewhat more complicated. Under these circumstances we say that the couple (a. in a way resembling that in which we generated an open order from “between. Out of this relation a cyclic order can be generated. his times in England and New Zealand are separated from each other by his times in Suez and San Francisco.” it can be deduced that the relation “to the left of. from the seven properties which we have assigned to the relation “between. and y is between x and a. we can separate them into two couples. whichever way round he goes. and in order to get from x to y one must pass through either a or b. such as that of the points on a circle. especially in the philosophy of geometry Cf.” as above deﬁned. and y is between a and b or is b or is to the right of b. b) are “separated” by the couple (x. One may go from England to New Zealand by way of Suez or by way of San Francisco. and references there given. if we take any four points on a circle. Generalising. It is important to notice that nothing in the deﬁnitions or the argument depends upon our meaning by “between” the actual relation of that name which occurs in empirical space: any three-term relation having the above seven purely formal properties will serve the purpose of the argument equally well. y). IV. Principles of Mathematics. Cyclic order. () When x is a. p. () When x and y are both to the right of b and x is between b and y.” We need a relation of four terms. The purpose of the latter half of this chapter has been to suggest the subject which one may call “generation of serial relations. which may be called “separation of couples. and y is a or b or between a and b or to the right of b. and y is between x and b. the generation of them from other relations possessing only some of the properties required for series becomes very important. is a serial relation as we deﬁned that term.Chap. say a and b and x and y. But if a man chooses that route to go round the world. and y is b or to the right of b. in order to get from a to b one must pass through either x or y. such that. we cannot | say deﬁnitely that either of these two places is “between” England and New Zealand. It will be found that. () When x is b and y is to the right of b. cannot be generated by means of three-term relations of “between.

But we cannot. within the limits of the present volume. do more than make the reader aware that such a subject exists.Chap. The Deﬁnition of Order and physics. IV. .

Each of the three properties which we combined in deﬁning series—namely. On the other hand. Asymmetry. to separate it into two asymmetrical relations. serial relations. one of the terms is a member of α and the other is a member of β—as. But the cases where this is possible are rare and exceptional: they are cases where there are two mutually exclusive classes. we will consider various examples. and many diﬀerent kinds of relations have diﬀerent kinds of uses. then b is spouse of a.CHAPTER V KINDS OF RELATIONS A great part of the philosophy of mathematics is concerned with relations. the relation “spouse” is symmetrical: if a is spouse of b. when a symmetrical relation is given. without the help of any further relation. asymmetry. say α and β. such that whenever the relation holds between two terms. transitiveness. and similarly in the case of wife. i. it is sometimes possible. We see from this instance that. if a is husband of b. and so is the relation wife. The relation husband is asymmetrical. Husband is the same as male spouse or spouse of a female. one term of the relation belongs to the class of males and one to the class of females. In order to develop its functions. in these cases the reader will not see the bearing of the proposition asserting such a property unless he has in mind the sorts of relations for which it is useful. i. the property of being incompatible with the converse. in the case of spouse. is a characteristic of the very greatest interest and importance.e. It often happens that a property which belongs to all relations is only important as regards relations of certain sorts. For reasons of this description. We will begin by saying something on each of these three. In such a . as well as from the intrinsic interest of the subject. namely. We dealt in the preceding chapter with a supremely important class. thus the relation husband can | be derived from spouse either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the converse domain to females.e. and connexity—has its own importance. b cannot be husband of a. Suppose now we are given the relation spouse. and we wish to derive the relation husband. it is well to have in our minds a rough list of the more mathematically serviceable varieties of relations.

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations

case, the relation with its domain conﬁned to α will be asymmetrical, and so will the relation with its domain conﬁned to β. But such cases are not of the sort that occur when we are dealing with series of more than two terms; for in a series, all terms, except the ﬁrst and last (if these exist), belong both to the domain and to the converse domain of the generating relation, so that a relation like husband, where the domain and converse domain do not overlap, is excluded. The question how to construct relations having some useful property by means of operations upon relations which only have rudiments of the property is one of considerable importance. Transitiveness and connexity are easily constructed in many cases where the originally given relation does not possess them: for example, if R is any relation whatever, the ancestral relation derived from R by generalised induction is transitive; and if R is a many-one relation, the ancestral relation will be connected if conﬁned to the posterity of a given term. But asymmetry is a much more diﬃcult property to secure by construction. The method by which we derived husband from spouse is, as we have seen, not available in the most important cases, such as greater, before, to the right of, where domain and converse domain overlap. In all these cases, we can of course obtain a symmetrical relation by adding together the given relation and its converse, but we cannot pass back from this symmetrical relation to the original asymmetrical relation except by the help of some asymmetrical | relation. Take, for example, the relation greater: the relation greater or less—i.e. unequal—is symmetrical, but there is nothing in this relation to show that it is the sum of two asymmetrical relations. Take such a relation as “diﬀering in shape.” This is not the sum of an asymmetrical relation and its converse, since shapes do not form a single series; but there is nothing to show that it diﬀers from “differing in magnitude” if we did not already know that magnitudes have relations of greater and less. This illustrates the fundamental character of asymmetry as a property of relations. From the point of view of the classiﬁcation of relations, being asymmetrical is a much more important characteristic than implying diversity. Asymmetrical relations imply diversity, but the converse is not the case. “Unequal,” for example, implies diversity, but is symmetrical. Broadly speaking, we may say that, if we wished as far as possible to dispense with relational propositions and replace them by such as ascribed predicates to subjects, we could succeed in this so long as we conﬁned ourselves to symmetrical relations: those that do not imply diversity, if they are transitive, may be regarded as asserting a common predicate, while those that do imply diversity may be regarded as asserting incompatible predicates. For example, consider the relation of similarity between classes, by means of which we deﬁned numbers. This relation is symmetrical and transitive and

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations

does not imply diversity. It would be possible, though less simple than the procedure we adopted, to regard the number of a collection as a predicate of the collection: then two similar classes will be two that have the same numerical predicate, while two that are not similar will be two that have diﬀerent numerical predicates. Such a method of replacing relations by predicates is formally possible (though often very inconvenient) so long as the relations concerned are symmetrical; but it is formally impossible when the relations are asymmetrical, because both sameness and diﬀerence of predicates are symmetrical. Asymmetrical relations are, we may | say, the most characteristically relational of relations, and the most important to the philosopher who wishes to study the ultimate logical nature of relations. Another class of relations that is of the greatest use is the class of one-many relations, i.e. relations which at most one term can have to a given term. Such are father, mother, husband (except in Tibet), square of, sine of, and so on. But parent, square root, and so on, are not one-many. It is possible, formally, to replace all relations by one-many relations by means of a device. Take (say) the relation less among the inductive numbers. Given any number n greater than , there will not be only one number having the relation less to n, but we can form the whole class of numbers that are less than n. This is one class, and its relation to n is not shared by any other class. We may call the class of numbers that are less than n the “proper ancestry” of n, in the sense in which we spoke of ancestry and posterity in connection with mathematical induction. Then “proper ancestry” is a one-many relation (one-many will always be used so as to include one-one), since each number determines a single class of numbers as constituting its proper ancestry. Thus the relation less than can be replaced by being a member of the proper ancestry of. In this way a onemany relation in which the one is a class, together with membership of this class, can always formally replace a relation which is not onemany. Peano, who for some reason always instinctively conceives of a relation as one-many, deals in this way with those that are naturally not so. Reduction to one-many relations by this method, however, though possible as a matter of form, does not represent a technical simpliﬁcation, and there is every reason to think that it does not represent a philosophical analysis, if only because classes must be regarded as “logical ﬁctions.” We shall therefore continue to regard one-many relations as a special kind of relations. One-many relations are involved in all phrases of the form “the so-and-so of such-and-such.” “The King of England,” | “the wife of Socrates,” “the father of John Stuart Mill,” and so on, all describe some person by means of a one-many relation to a given term. A person cannot have more than one father, therefore “the father of John Stuart Mill” described some one person, even if we did not know

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations

whom. There is much to say on the subject of descriptions, but for the present it is relations that we are concerned with, and descriptions are only relevant as exemplifying the uses of one-many relations. It should be observed that all mathematical functions result from onemany relations: the logarithm of x, the cosine of x, etc., are, like the father of x, terms described by means of a one-many relation (logarithm, cosine, etc.) to a given term (x). The notion of function need not be conﬁned to numbers, or to the uses to which mathematicians have accustomed us; it can be extended to all cases of one-many relations, and “the father of x” is just as legitimately a function of which x is the argument as is “the logarithm of x.” Functions in this sense are descriptive functions. As we shall see later, there are functions of a still more general and more fundamental sort, namely, propositional functions; but for the present we shall conﬁne our attention to descriptive functions, i.e. “the term having the relation R to x,” or, for short, “the R of x,” where R is any one-many relation. It will be observed that if “the R of x” is to describe a deﬁnite term, x must be a term to which something has the relation R, and there must not be more than one term having the relation R to x, since “the,” correctly used, must imply uniqueness. Thus we may speak of “the father of x” if x is any human being except Adam and Eve; but we cannot speak of “the father of x” if x is a table or a chair or anything else that does not have a father. We shall say that the R of x “exists” when there is just one term, and no more, having the relation R to x. Thus if R is a one-many relation, the R of x exists whenever x belongs to the converse domain of R, and not otherwise. Regarding “the R of x” as a function in the mathematical | sense, we say that x is the “argument” of the function, and if y is the term which has the relation R to x, i.e. if y is the R of x, then y is the “value” of the function for the argument x. If R is a one-many relation, the range of possible arguments to the function is the converse domain of R, and the range of values is the domain. Thus the range of possible arguments to the function “the father of x” is all who have fathers, i.e. the converse domain of the relation father, while the range of possible values for the function is all fathers, i.e. the domain of the relation. Many of the most important notions in the logic of relations are descriptive functions, for example: converse, domain, converse domain, ﬁeld. Other examples will occur as we proceed. Among one-many relations, one-one relations are a specially important class. We have already had occasion to speak of one-one relations in connection with the deﬁnition of number, but it is necessary to be familiar with them, and not merely to know their formal deﬁnition. Their formal deﬁnition may be derived from that of onemany relations: they may be deﬁned as one-many relations which are also the converses of one-many relations, i.e. as relations which are

if x has the relation in question to y. Or.e. it is convenient.” Thus we may state the characteristic of one-many relations with which we have been dealing by saying that an R-step followed by a backward R-step must bring us back to our starting-point. such that x is the father of y and y is the son of z. It is convenient to use the word referent for the term from which the relation goes. the relative product of R and its converse is “self or brother or sister or ﬁrst cousin. the relative product of R and its converse will be the relation which holds between x and a man z when there is a person y. Thus. the relative product of R and S is not in general the same relation as the relative product of S and R. Such correlations are simplest to grasp when the two classes have no members in common. but the relative product of brother and parent is parent. where the “relative product” of two relations R and S is that relation which holds between x and z when there is an intermediate term y. they may be deﬁned as relations such that the relative product of one of them and its converse implies identity. This illustrates that it is characteristic of one-many relations when the relative product of a relation and its converse implies identity. and also the relative product of the converse and the relation implies identity. if R is the relation of child to parent.” In the same case x will be reached from y by a “backward R-step. i. In the case of one-one relations this happens.” It will be observed that the relative product of two relations is not in general commutative. for example. and the term relatum for the term to which it . With other relations.” and if R is the relation of grandchild to grandparent. there is no other term x which also has the relation to y. again. so that each term in either class has its correlate in the other. Or. or as one to which it goes. they may be deﬁned as follows: Given two terms x and x . Kinds of Relations both one-many and many-one.g. because one may be the father of y and the other the mother. we take the relation of parent and child. x and z must be the same person. One-one relations give a correlation of two classes. V. One-many relations may be deﬁned as relations such that. on the other hand. if R is the relation of father to son. such that x has the relation R to y and y has the relation S to z. if x is a parent of y and y is a child of z. the relative product of R and its converse is the relation “self or brother or sister. to think of y as being reached from x by an “R-step” or an “R-vector. like the class of husbands and the class of wives. again. for example. If. for in that case we know at once whether a term is to be considered as one from which the correlating relation R goes. term for term.Chap. It is obvious that x and z must be | the same person. this is by no means the case. Given a relation R. we can no longer argue that. the relative product of parent and brother is uncle. if x has the relation R to y. the terms to which x has the given relation and those to which x has it have no member in common. E. which is not one-many.

. . except that has been cut oﬀ at the beginning and has been joined on at the end.” x is referent and y relatum. . If. . There are still ten integers: they are correlated with the previous ten by the relation of n to n + . and add to each. . . . Such processes of correlation may be varied endlessly. . These are the same as those we had before. n . . . . . thus instead of the ﬁrst ten integers we now have the integers . . . n + . . . . . . thus obtaining the integers . which is again a one-one relation. . . The correlating relation in this case is the relation of a number to its double. . Here we still have ﬁve of our previous set of integers. . instead of adding to each of our original ten integers. But it very often happens that the domain and converse domain of a one-one relation overlap. . . . .Chap. . . and the class of all possible relata is its converse domain. The most interesting case of the above kind is the case where our one-one relation has a converse domain which is part. Thus if x and y are husband and wife. the ﬁrst ten integers (excluding ). . On this occasion only three of our original set are left. . and is part of the reason why order can be generated by suitable relations. We may place the numbers concerned in two rows. . with respect to the relation | “husband. the above instances would have illustrated this case. . . then. . . . we could have doubled each of them. thus the “sense” of a relation that goes from x to y is the opposite of that of the corresponding relation from y to x. thus obtaining the set . Or. . Take. namely. namely. V. putting the correlate directly under the number whose correlate it is. . which is a one-one relation. . . . . . instead of conﬁning the domain to the ﬁrst ten integers. We say that a relation and its converse have opposite “senses”. . . . again. . Kinds of Relations goes. . It will be observed that the class of all possible referents to a given relation is its domain. Or we might have replaced each number by its square.” y is referent and x relatum. . . . for example. we had considered the whole of the inductive numbers. Thus when the correlator is the relation of n to n + . we have the two rows: . . . but | not the whole. of the domain. The fact that a relation has a “sense” is fundamental. but with respect to the relation “wife. .

When the correlator is the relation of a number to its square. c. and only some in the bottom row. the six possible arrangements of three letters: a. In all these cases. . . . . and c with a. a. It is obvious that the combination of two permutations is again a permutation. Here a is correlated with c. n .e. V. n . b. . as we have partly seen already. the ﬁrst and last. all inductive numbers occur in the top row. c. the permutations of a given class form what is called a “group. . . n . . b. c) and (c. some for one purpose. a.Chap. . The general notion of one-one correlations has boundless importance in the philosophy of mathematics. . c.” where the domain and converse domain are identical. Kinds of Relations When the correlator is the relation of a number to its double. . . will occupy us again when we come to deal with inﬁnity. c b a c b a | Each of these can be obtained from any one of the others by means of a correlation. . For the present. Another class of correlations which are often important is the class called “permutations. . Consider. . . . . b. a). b. .” These various kinds of correlations have importance in various connections. . . some for another. c. Cases of this sort.e. n . . . . we wish only to note that they exist and demand consideration. . . . for example. . a. . Take. we have the two rows: . . the rows are: . . . . One of its uses will occupy us in our next chapter. b. . . where the converse domain is a “proper part” of the domain (i. . a part not the whole). . b with itself. . i. for example. but shall see much more fully as we proceed. b. . (a.

In the present chapter we have to deﬁne a relation between relations. .e. This is not always the case. We may. the place on the map corresponding to the one is to the left of the place on the map corresponding to the other. What we desire is that. the place on the map corresponding to the one is above the place on the map corresponding to the other. that two classes have the same number of terms when they are “similar. This relation has all classes for its domain.” or “likeness” when it seems desirable to use a diﬀerent word from that which we use for classes. We will conﬁne ourselves. when there is a one-one relation whose domain is the one class and whose converse domain is the other.” i. the relation “domain. We will call this relation “similarity of relations. proﬁtably introduce a certain restriction. the relation which the domain of a relation has to the relation. whenever either relation holds between two terms. to such as permit of the formation of a single class out of the domain and the converse domain. Take. and the converse domain with the converse domain. and so on. How is likeness to be deﬁned? We shall employ still the notion of correlation: we shall assume that the domain of the one relation can be correlated with the domain of the other.” i. since every class is the domain of some relation.e. the other relation shall hold between the correlates of these two terms. but that is not enough for the sort of resemblance which we desire to have between our two relations. In such a case we say that there is a “one-one correlation” between the two classes. The easiest example of the sort of thing we desire is a map. to such relations as have “ﬁelds.” i.CHAPTER VI SIMILARITY OF RELATIONS We saw in Chapter II.e. which will play the same part for them that similarity of classes plays for classes. in the ﬁrst place. It is this kind of connection between relations that we wish to deﬁne. in deﬁning likeness. The space-relations in the map have “likeness” to the space-relations in the country mapped. for example. The structure of the map corresponds with that of | the country of which it is a map. When one place is north of another. when one place is west of another.

that a relation only has a “ﬁeld” when it is what we call “homogeneous. but it is well to know when we are abstaining from entering upon it. such that x has the relation x y P S to z. the Q-step from z to w. and vice versa. without entering upon the grounds for the assertion. we shall.” or as having “likeness.” when there is a one-one relation S whose domain is the ﬁeld of P and whose converse domain is the ﬁeld of Q. and this is what we desire to secure by our deﬁnition. VI. . are diﬀerent types. y has the relation S to w. classes of individuals. it need no longer be remembered. and the backward S-step from w to y. and z has the relation Q to w. and as a rough-and-ready indication of what we mean by a “type. We may say. therefore. w. in deﬁning likeness. because they are of diﬀerent logical “types. And having been stated. Thus we may set up the following deﬁnitions:— A relation S is said to be a “correlator” or an “ordinal correlator” of two relations P and Q if S is one-one. We can eliminate some redundancies in the above sketch of a deﬁnition.” We do not need to enter upon the diﬃcult doctrine of types. the relation P is the same as the relative product of S and Q and the converse of S. since every relation has a domain. relations between classes. and vice versa. But classes and relations cannot be added together to form a new single class. Similarity of Relations and it has all relations for its converse domain. if one term has the relation P | to another. i. If this happens with every pair of terms such as x and y. Now the notion of likeness is not very useful as applied to relations that are not homogeneous. relations of classes to individuals. the P-step from x to y may be replaced by the succession of the S-step from x to z. it is clear that for every instance in which the rez w lation P holds there is a corresponding Q instance in which the relation Q holds. This somewhat limits the generality of our deﬁnition. Then there are to be two terms z. and is such that P is the relative product of S and Q and the converse of S. We may deﬁne two relations P and Q as “similar. but the limitation is not of any practical importance.” i. the correlate of the one has the relation Q to the correlate of the other. and so on. A ﬁgure will make this clearer. has the ﬁeld of Q for its converse domain. simplify our problem by speaking of the “ﬁeld” of one of the relations concerned.Chap. when the above conditions are realised.e. Let x and y be two terms having the relation P. S S and if the converse happens with every pair of terms such as z and w. relations between individuals.” we may say that individuals. when its domain and converse domain are of the same logical type.e. by observing that. and which is such that.

in the most advanced sciences. will always be capable of translation into statements that are analogous. if one is connected. though they may not be true as they stand when applied to a similar relation. their properties are the same except when they depend upon the ﬁelds being composed of just the terms of which they are composed. if one is transitive. Thus great importance attaches to the question: What are the possible meanings of a law expressed in terms of which we do not know the substantive meaning.Chap. but we are very much at sea as to the interpretation to be put upon the terms which occur in these propositions. Just as we called the set of those classes that are similar to a given class the “number” of that class. Even statements involving the actual terms of the ﬁeld of a relation. which will occupy us again at a later stage. they share all properties which do not depend upon the actual terms in their ﬁelds. For instance. for a moment. an importance by no means adequately recognised hitherto. an old-fashioned pair of terms) about the form of nature than about the matter. in mathematical philosophy. These deﬁnitions will be found to yield what we above decided to be necessary. so is the other. so we may .” when there is at least one correlator of P and Q. what we really know when we enunciate a law of nature is only that there is probably some interpretation of our terms which will make the law approximately true. VI. the state of our knowledge of nature. Again. Hence if one is serial.” or to have “likeness. Our problem may be stated as follows:— Given some statement in a language of which we know the grammar and the syntax. so is the other. Accordingly. through all the general properties of relations. but only the grammar and syntax? And this question is the one suggested above. For the present we will ignore the general question. Owing to the fact that. when two relations are similar. if one implies diversity. if one is one-many or one-one. it is desirable to have a nomenclature which collects | together all the relations that are similar to a given relation. but not the vocabulary. when two relations are similar. We know much more (to use. so does the other. Similarity of Relations Two relations P and Q are said to be “similar. the subject of likeness itself must ﬁrst be further investigated. We are led by such considerations to a problem which has. We know that certain scientiﬁc propositions—which. It will be found that. and what are the meanings of the unknown words that would make it true? The reason that this question is important is that it represents. the other is one-many | or one-one. what are the possible meanings of such a statement. so is the other. much more nearly than might be supposed. are expressed in mathematical symbols—are more or less true of the world. and so on.

we shall call them “cardinal numbers. VI. the relationnumber of the series is not determined merely by the cardinal number. what we may call its “length. thus a ﬁnite serial number is determinate when we know the cardinal number of terms in the ﬁeld of a series having the serial number in question. a series of (say) terms will have the same relation-number as any other series of ﬁfteen terms. or. and also certain inﬁnite numbers.” i.) When the cardinal number of terms in the ﬁeld of a series is inﬁnite. The deﬁnition of a cardinal number. “Relation-numbers” are the set of all those classes of relations that are relation-numbers of various relations. this cannot happen. in this case. what comes to the same thing. When it is necessary to speak of the numbers of classes in a way which makes it impossible to confuse them with relation-numbers. We can deﬁne addition and multiplication for relation-numbers as well as for cardinal numbers.Chap. These include the ordinary integers of daily life. (There are also inﬁnite ordinal numbers.e. Two ﬁnite series will have the same relationnumber when their ﬁelds have the same cardinal number of terms. but will not have the same relation-number as a series of or terms.” Thus cardinal numbers are the numbers appropriate to classes. we are to be understood as meaning cardinal numbers. If n is a ﬁnite cardinal number. and a whole arithmetic of relation- . as we shall see when we come to consider inﬁnite series. it will be remembered. When we speak of “numbers” without qualiﬁcation. we will speak. Thus. When a series is inﬁnite.” Thus we have the following deﬁnitions:— The “relation-number” of a given relation is the class of all those relations that are similar to the given relation. The most obvious application of relation-numbers is to series. Two series may be regarded as equally long when they have the same relation-number. indeed an inﬁnite number of relation-numbers exist for one inﬁnite cardinal number. but of them we shall speak in a later chapter. may vary without change in the cardinal number. The relation-numbers applicable to series may be | called “serial numbers” (what are commonly called “ordinal numbers” are a sub-class of these). the same relation-number as a relation which is not serial. nor. but when a series is ﬁnite. of which we shall speak later. Similarity of Relations call the set of all those relations that are similar to a given relation the “number” of that relation. of a “relation-number. its relation-number. and only then—i. in the quite special case of ﬁnite series. But in order to avoid confusion with the numbers appropriate to classes. is as follows:— The “cardinal number” of a given class is the set of all those classes that are similar to the given class. the relation-number of a series which has n terms is called the “ordinal” number n. there is parallelism between cardinal and relation-numbers. a relation-number is a class of relations consisting of all those relations that are similar to one member of the class. of course.e.

But it obeys the associative law. i. one form of the distributive law. all the propositions are the same. We there saw that. that we wish to deﬁne the sum of two non-overlapping series in such a way that the relation-number of the sum shall be capable of being deﬁned as the sum of the relation-numbers of the two series. x in some order or other. Veblen that we may regard our whole space as the ﬁeld of a three-term between-relation. but “P or Q” is not serial. in fact.” Assuming that P and Q do not overlap. in the series which is their sum with P put before Q. Suppose. Similarity of Relations numbers can be developed. is what we need in order | to deﬁne the sum of two relation-numbers. not only as applied to serial numbers. except for the fact that they are applied in one case to one set of terms and in the other to another. we can use the between-relation to deﬁne the straight line determined by those two points. is a thoroughly respectable branch of mathematics. merely because series aﬀord the most obvious application of the idea of likeness. but “P or Q or the relation of any member of the ﬁeld of P to any member of the ﬁeld of Q. and deﬁne our geometry . VI. it consists of a and b together with all points x. it is clear that there is an order involved as between the two series: one of them must be placed before the other. as above deﬁned. In the ﬁrst place. and may be called a “betweenrelation.Chap. since it does not hold between a member of the ﬁeld of P and a member of the ﬁeld of Q. Thus if P and Q are the generating relations of the two series.” Given any two points. Similar modiﬁcations are needed for products and powers. If the system of relations by which a geometry is applied to a certain set of terms can be brought fully into relations of likeness with a system applying to another set of terms. It has been shown by O. but as applied to relation-numbers generally. this relation is serial. every member of the ﬁeld of P will precede every member of the ﬁeld of Q. It must not be supposed.” which we considered in Chapter IV. such that the between-relation holds between the three points a. b.e. provided a three-term relation has certain formal logical properties. The resulting arithmetic does not obey the commutative law: the sum or product of two relation-numbers generally depends upon the order in which they are taken. it will give rise to series. and we might extend our thoughts from this illustration to geometry generally. for example. though recent. then the geometry of the two sets is indistinguishable from the mathematical point of view. Relation-arithmetic. We may illustrate this by the relations of the sort that may be called “between. We have already mentioned maps. and two of the formal laws for powers. Thus the serial relation which is to be deﬁned as the sum of P and Q is not “P or Q” simply. The manner in which this is to be done is easily seen by considering the case of series. that there are no other applications that are important. being not connected. Thus the sum of P and Q.

and to a very great extent in physical science. We may say that there is empirical evidence of the approximate truth of such parts of geometry as are not matters of deﬁnition. in so far as geometry is not a matter of deﬁnition. so long as it satisﬁes the axioms. no matter how complicated. It has to be something that as nearly as possible satisﬁes our axioms. An “instance” in which a relation holds is to be conceived as a couple of terms. “man” and “featherless biped”—so two relations which are conceptually diﬀerent may hold in the same set of instances. construct a logical structure. This . Just as a class may be deﬁned by various diﬀerent but co-extensive concepts—e. that structure may legitimately be called a “point. such that its ﬁrst term has the relation in does not apply to elliptic space. but only to spaces in which the straight line is an open series. since this object is enough to vindicate the empirical truth of geometry. not its intrinsic nature. If we can. Young. which will satisfy our geometrical axioms. But there is no empirical evidence as to what a “point” is to be. but that is no concern of ours.” For mathematical purposes (though not for those of pure philosophy) the only thing of importance about a relation is the cases in which it holds. is not the intrinsic nature of our terms. z)” means “x is between y and z with respect to B. the couple is to be. even when he is speculating as an applied mathematician. but the logical nature of their interrelations. there can be no diﬀerence between the geometry generated by B and that generated by B .” We must not say that there is nothing else that could legitimately be called a “point”. lines. Now likeness is just as easily | deﬁnable between three-term relations as between two-term relations. if B is like B in this sense. and planes. Veblen on “The Foundations of Geometry”).” we shall call S a correlator of B and B if it has the ﬁeld of B for its converse domain. It follows from this that the mathematician need not concern himself with the particular being or intrinsic nature of his points.Chap. And we shall say that B is like B when there is at least one correlator of B with B . and is such that the relation B holds between three terms when B holds between their S-correlates. of course. The reader can easily convince himself that. Similarity of Relations by the properties we assign to our between-relation. VI.” This is only an illustration of the general principle that what matters in mathematics.g. that they have the same | “structure. Modern Mathematics. so that “xB(y. If B and B are two between-relations. – (monograph by O. of two similar relations. We may say.” Whether or not it is those things is a matter of indiﬀerence. so that one of the terms comes ﬁrst and the other second. edited by J. W. it may be one of many objects. any of which would be suﬃcient. out of empirical material. and only then. we must only say: “This object we have constructed is suﬃcient for the geometer. with an order. A. but it does not have to be “very small” or “without parts. pp.

b. ac. y) which are such that x has the relation in question to y. no matter what. Thus what we deﬁned as the “relation-number” is the very same thing as is obscurely intended by the word “structure”— a word which. de. For example. when either can be a map for the other (since every relation can be its own map). bc. it is often said that space and time are subjective.” we shall say. but they have objective counterparts. as a moment’s reﬂection shows. i. We can now go a step further in the process of abstraction. We may make a “map” of this a b relation by taking ﬁve points on a plane and connecting them by arrows. is the very same thing as what we have called “likeness.” That is to say. had been realised. Take (say) the relation “father”: we can deﬁne what we may call the “extension” of this relation as the class of all ordered couples (x. and the diﬃculty of getting behind it. it is generally supposed that we can know very little about the objective counterparts. we say: The “extension” of a relation is the class of those ordered couples (x.Chap.” Given any relation.e. From the mathematical point of view. what comes to the same thing. if we were to add the couple ae in the above illustration we should alter the structure but not the ﬁeld. c. which must have diﬀerences inter se corresponding with the diﬀerences in the phenomena to which they give rise. but are caused by things in themselves. It is clear that the “structure” of the relation does not depend upon the particular c terms that make up the ﬁeld of the relation. There has been a great deal of speculation in traditional philosophy which might have been avoided if the importance of structure. In actual . d The ﬁeld may be changed without changing the structure. if it is a suﬃciently simple one. Speaking generally. when the same map will do for both—or. as in the accompanying ﬁgure. and the structure may be e changed without changing the ﬁeld—for | example. the only thing of importance about the relation “father” is that it deﬁnes this set of ordered couples. For the sake of definiteness. ad. important as it is. Where such hypotheses are made. dc. and consider what we mean by “structure. we can. And that. or that phenomena are subjective. Similarity of Relations question to its second. Two relations have the same “structure. e are ﬁve terms. d. two relations have the same structure when they have likeness. construct a map of it. is never (so far as we know) deﬁned in precise terms by those who use it. What is revealed by the map is what we call the “structure” of the relation. where a. ce. y) which are such that x is the father of y. when they have the same relation-number. let us take a relation of which the extension is the following couples: ab. VI.

if the phenomenal world is Euclidean. but which. however. It is true that many of them do not assert objective counterparts to phenomena. Similarity of Relations fact. In short. Those who do assert counterparts are. every proposition having a communicable signiﬁcance must be true of both worlds or of neither: the only diﬀerence must lie in just that essence of individuality which always eludes words and baﬄes description. probably because they feel instinctively that. and allowing us to infer from phenomena the truth of all propositions that can be stated in abstract terms and are known to be true of phenomena. so must the world behind phenomena. so must the other be. for that very reason. the objective counterparts would form a world having the same structure as the phenomenal world. very reticent on the subject. Now the only purpose that philosophers | have in view in condemning phenomena is in order to persuade themselves and others that the real world is very diﬀerent from the world of appearance. In such ways. We can all sympathise with their wish to prove such a very desirable proposition. they could hardly avoid the conclusions which we have been suggesting. and these escape from the above argument. the notion of structure or relation-number is important. and so on. if pursued. VI. If the phenomenal world has three dimensions. as well as in many others. if the hypotheses as stated were correct. is irrelevant to science.Chap. it will bring about too much of a rapprochement between the real and the phenomenal world. but we cannot congratulate them on their success. If they were to pursue the topic. as a rule. .

CHAPTER VII

**RATIONAL, REAL, AND COMPLEX NUMBERS
**

We have now seen how to deﬁne cardinal numbers, and also relation- numbers, of which what are commonly called ordinal numbers are a particular species. It will be found that each of these kinds of number may be inﬁnite just as well as ﬁnite. But neither is capable, as it stands, of the more familiar extensions of the idea of number, namely, the extensions to negative, fractional, irrational, and complex numbers. In the present chapter we shall brieﬂy supply logical deﬁnitions of these various extensions. One of the mistakes that have delayed the discovery of correct deﬁnitions in this region is the common idea that each extension of number included the previous sorts as special cases. It was thought that, in dealing with positive and negative integers, the positive integers might be identiﬁed with the original signless integers. Again it was thought that a fraction whose denominator is may be identiﬁed with the natural number which is its numerator. And the irrational numbers, such as the square root of , were supposed to ﬁnd their place among rational fractions, as being greater than some of them and less than the others, so that rational and irrational numbers could be taken together as one class, called “real numbers.” And when the idea of number was further extended so as to include “complex” numbers, i.e. numbers involving the square root of −, it was thought that real numbers could be regarded as those among complex numbers in which the imaginary part (i.e. the part | which was a multiple of the square root of −) was zero. All these suppositions were erroneous, and must be discarded, as we shall ﬁnd, if correct deﬁnitions are to be given. Let us begin with positive and negative integers. It is obvious on a moment’s consideration that + and − must both be relations, and in fact must be each other’s converses. The obvious and suﬃcient deﬁnition is that + is the relation of n + to n, and − is the relation of n to n + . Generally, if m is any inductive number, +m will be the relation of n + m to n (for any n), and −m will be the relation of

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers

n to n + m. According to this deﬁnition, +m is a relation which is one-one so long as n is a cardinal number (ﬁnite or inﬁnite) and m is an inductive cardinal number. But +m is under no circumstances capable of being identiﬁed with m, which is not a relation, but a class of classes. Indeed, +m is every bit as distinct from m as −m is. Fractions are more interesting than positive or negative integers. We need fractions for many purposes, but perhaps most obviously for purposes of measurement. My friend and collaborator Dr A. N. Whitehead has developed a theory of fractions specially adapted for their application to measurement, which is set forth in Principia Mathematica. But if all that is needed is to deﬁne objects having the required purely mathematical properties, this purpose can be achieved by a simpler method, which we shall here adopt. We shall deﬁne the fraction m/n as being that relation which holds between two inductive numbers x, y when xn = ym. This deﬁnition enables us to prove that m/n is a one-one relation, provided neither m nor n is zero. And of course n/m is the converse relation to m/n. From the above deﬁnition it is clear that the fraction m/ is that relation between two integers x and y which consists in the fact that x = my. This relation, like the relation +m, is by no means capable of being identiﬁed with the inductive cardinal number m, because a relation and a class of classes are objects | of utterly diﬀerent kinds. It will be seen that /n is always the same relation, whatever inductive number n may be; it is, in short, the relation of to any other inductive cardinal. We may call this the zero of rational numbers; it is not, of course, identical with the cardinal number . Conversely, the relation m/ is always the same, whatever inductive number m may be. There is not any inductive cardinal to correspond to m/. We may call it “the inﬁnity of rationals.” It is an instance of the sort of inﬁnite that is traditional in mathematics, and that is represented by “∞.” This is a totally diﬀerent sort from the true Cantorian inﬁnite, which we shall consider in our next chapter. The inﬁnity of rationals does not demand, for its deﬁnition or use, any inﬁnite classes or inﬁnite integers. It is not, in actual fact, a very important notion, and we could dispense with it altogether if there were any object in doing so. The Cantorian inﬁnite, on the other hand, is of the greatest and most fundamental importance; the understanding of it opens the way to whole new realms of mathematics and philosophy. It will be observed that zero and inﬁnity, alone among ratios, are not one-one. Zero is one-many, and inﬁnity is many-one.

iii. ∗ ﬀ., especially . course in practice we shall continue to speak of a fraction as (say) greater or less than , meaning greater or less than the ratio /. So long as it is understood that the ratio / and the cardinal number are diﬀerent, it is not necessary to be always pedantic in emphasising the diﬀerence.

Of Vol.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers

There is not any diﬃculty in deﬁning greater and less among ratios (or fractions). Given two ratios m/n and p/q, we shall say that m/n is less than p/q if mq is less than pn. There is no diﬃculty in proving that the relation “less than,” so deﬁned, is serial, so that the ratios form a series in order of magnitude. In this series, zero is the smallest term and inﬁnity is the largest. If we omit zero and inﬁnity from our series, there is no longer any smallest or largest ratio; it is obvious that if m/n is any ratio other than zero and inﬁnity, m/n is smaller and m/n is larger, though neither is zero or inﬁnity, so that m/n is neither the smallest | nor the largest ratio, and therefore (when zero and inﬁnity are omitted) there is no smallest or largest, since m/n was chosen arbitrarily. In like manner we can prove that however nearly equal two fractions may be, there are always other fractions between them. For, let m/n and p/q be two fractions, of which p/q is the greater. Then it is easy to see (or to prove) that (m + p)/(n + q) will be greater than m/n and less than p/q. Thus the series of ratios is one in which no two terms are consecutive, but there are always other terms between any two. Since there are other terms between these others, and so on ad inﬁnitum, it is obvious that there are an inﬁnite number of ratios between any two, however nearly equal these two may be. A series having the property that there are always other terms between any two, so that no two are consecutive, is called “compact.” Thus the ratios in order of magnitude form a “compact” series. Such series have many important properties, and it is important to observe that ratios aﬀord an instance of a compact series generated purely logically, without any appeal to space or time or any other empirical datum. Positive and negative ratios can be deﬁned in a way analogous to that in which we deﬁned positive and negative integers. Having ﬁrst deﬁned the sum of two ratios m/n and p/q as (mq + pn)/nq, we deﬁne +p/q as the relation of m/n + p/q to m/n, where m/n is any ratio; and −p/q is of course the converse of +p/q. This is not the only possible way of deﬁning positive and negative ratios, but it is a way which, for our purpose, has the merit of being an obvious adaptation of the way we adopted in the case of integers. We come now to a more interesting extension of the idea of number, i.e. the extension to what are called “real” numbers, which are the kind that embrace irrationals. In Chapter I. we had occasion to mention “incommensurables” and their | discovery by Pythagoras. It was through them, i.e. through geometry, that irrational numbers were ﬁrst thought of. A square of which the side is one inch long will have a diagonal of which the length is the square root of inches. But, as the ancients discovered, there is no fraction of which the square

speaking, this statement, as well as those following to the end of the paragraph, involves what is called the “axiom of inﬁnity,” which will be discussed in a later chapter.

Strictly

they must be. and then halve the half. so that m /n = . sooner or later. but greater by continually smaller amounts as we come to later terms of the series. for if m = p. and so on. yet we have seen that. by less than any assigned . Or we may put the argument even more simply by assuming that the m/n we start with is in its lowest terms. since it also involved complex numbers. VII. then m = p . Thus there cannot be any fraction m/n whose square is . We can form an ascending series of fractions all of which have their squares less than . If possible. m and n cannot both be even. That is to say. taken to so-and-so many places. This proposition is proved in the tenth book of Euclid. Thus no fraction will express exactly the length of the diagonal of a square whose side is one inch long. As soon as algebra was invented. after which all terms would have had squares diﬀering from by less than this still smaller amount. and therefore m must be an even number. However the arithmetician may boast (as Pythagoras did) about the power of numbers. say the twentieth. suppose I assign some small amount in advance. which is one of those books that schoolboys supposed to be fortunately lost in the days when Euclid was still used as a text-book. though here it took on a wider form. it will be found that all the terms of our series after a certain one. but we should have reached sooner or later a term in the series. Thus m is an even number. We can equally well form a descending series of fractions whose squares are all greater than . and Complex Numbers is . exactly fulﬁls the above conditions. say the tenth. The proof is extraordinarily simple. m = n . where p is half of m. And if I had assigned a still smaller amount. Hence p = n .Chap. through an unending series of numbers that are each half of its predecessor. Rational. If we set to work to extract the square root of by the usual arithmetical rule. But this is impossible. But then we can repeat the argument: if n = q. have squares that diﬀer from by less than this amount. but diﬀering from in their later members by less than any assigned amount. it might have been necessary to go further along the series. and therefore n/p will also be the square root of . p/q will also be the square root of . in that case. because the square of an odd number is odd. we must reach an odd number after a ﬁnite number of steps. i. if m /n = . the same problem arose as regards the solution of equations. Real. if we divide a number by . let m/n be the square root of . we shall obtain an unending decimal which. This seems like a challenge thrown out by nature to arithmetic. and so on. It is clear that fractions can be found which approach nearer | and nearer to having their square equal to . nature seems able to baﬄe him by exhibiting lengths which no numbers can estimate in terms of the unit. say one-billionth. Now if m is even. m must divide by .e. But the problem did not remain in this geometrical form. and diﬀering. Thus we shall have p = n .

and no minimum to those whose square is greater than . In this way we seem to be drawing a cordon round the square root of . Real. The second case will be illustrated in the series of ratios if we take as our lower section all ratios up to and including . since it only arises in series where there are consecutive terms. among those whose squares are not less than . though we have drawn it as tight√ possible. divide all ratios into two classes such that all the terms in one class are less than all in the other. Rational. () there may be no maximum to the one. We can. Brunswick. There is no lower limit short of zero to the diﬀerence between the numbers whose square is a little less than and the numbers whose square is a little greater than . as we have seen. and has not caught .Chap. We may neglect the ﬁrst of our four cases. according as their squares are less than or not. we ﬁnd that. a lower section must end with some number n and the upper section must then begin with n + . all have their squares greater than . . There is no maximum to the ratios whose square is less than . but a minimum to the other. . The above method of dividing all the terms of a series into two classes. in short. and for our upper section all ratios from upward (including itself). of which the one wholly precedes the other. and is therefore called a “Dedekind cut. Of these four cases. The third case is illustrated if we take for our lower section all ratios less than . and in our upper section all ratios whose square is greater than . for instance. Nevertheless. is illustrated if we put in our lower section all ratios whose square is less than . there is nothing. Between these √ two classes. () there may be a maximum to the one and no minimum to the other. the ﬁrst is illustrated by any series in which there are consecutive terms: in the series of integers. where ought to be. The fourth case. () there may be neither a maximum to the one nor a minimum to the other. Thus our | cordon. has been drawn in the as wrong place. VII. or of any set of terms chosen out of the upper section in such a way that no term of the upper section is before all of them. In the second of our four cases.” With respect to what happens at the point of section. it is not by this method that we shall actually reach the square root of . and it may seem diﬃcult to believe that it can permanently escape us. was brought into prominence by Dedekind. If we divide all ratios into two classes. In the third of our four cases. and there is no minimum to the other. and in our upper section all ratios greater than . we say that the minimum of the Stetigkeit und irrationale Zahlen. there are four possibilities: () there may be a maximum to the lower section and a minimum to the upper section. there is no maximum to the one class. nd edition. we say that the maximum of the lower section is the lower limit of the upper section. and Complex Numbers amount.

it is the ﬁrst term after all of them. In the second and third cases. Real. (By “precedes” we mean “has the relation P to. we see that in the case of the ﬁrst three kinds each section has a boundary (upper or lower as the case may be). In this case. For example. VII. the two boundaries are identical. and before proceeding further it will be well to deﬁne it. while in the fourth kind neither has a boundary. we may also say that we have an “irrational section. Rational. we say that | there is a “gap”: neither the upper section nor the lower has a limit or a last term. the upper section has a lower boundary. The “lower boundary” is the lower limit or minimum. It is also clear that. but they have few important applications except to cases when the relation is serial or quasi-serial. () every member of the ﬁeld of P which precedes x precedes some member of α. they are consecutive terms of the series. there is no upper boundary. their “maximum” (if any) will be the ﬁrst of the moments. but if they are arranged by later and earlier. but. and Complex Numbers upper section is the upper limit of the lower section. These deﬁnitions do not demand that the terms to which they are applied should be quantitative. and the “lower limit” with respect to P is the upper limit with respect to the converse of P. In the fourth case. () every member of α which belongs to the ﬁeld of P precedes x. Reverting to the four kinds of Dedekind section. whenever the lower section has an upper boundary.Chap. their “maximum” (if any) will be the last of the moments. A term x is said to be an “upper limit” of a class α with respect to a relation P if () α has no maximum in P. if there is such a term. The “minimum” of a class with respect to P is its maximum with respect to the converse of P.” Thus the “upper boundary” of a set of terms chosen out of a series is their last member if they have one. if not. What delayed the true theory of irrationals was a mistaken belief that there must be “limits” of series of ratios. The notion of “limit” is of the utmost importance. A notion which is often important is the notion “upper limit or maximum.”) This presupposes the following deﬁnition of a “maximum”:— A term x is said to be a “maximum” of a class α with respect to a relation P if x is a member of α and of the ﬁeld of P and does not have the relation P to any other member of α. in the ﬁrst. given a series of moments of time arranged by earlier and later. . The notions of limit and maximum do not essentially demand that the relation in respect to which they are deﬁned should be serial. If there is neither | a maximum nor a limit.” to which we may give the name “upper boundary. or of any set of terms chosen out of the lower section in such a way that no term of the lower section is after all of them.” since sections of the series of ratios have “gaps” when they correspond to irrationals.

Dedekind. From the habit of being inﬂuenced by spatial imagination. Rational. will give rise to more segments than it has terms. i. Segments. since each term will deﬁne a segment having that term for boundary.” of which some will be rational and some irrational. of any two pertaining to one series. which to begin with is no more than a vague feeling. that every section must have a boundary. in the above-mentioned work. We have to deﬁne a new kind of numbers called “real numbers. or can have irrationals as their limits. we must disabuse our minds of the notion that an irrational must be the limit of a set of ratios. and in order to do this. both those that have boundaries and those that do not. so those rational | numbers which can be greater or less than irrationals. hence they can all be arranged in a series by the relation of whole and part. but they are not the same as ratios. must not be identiﬁed with ratios. perceiving that there was no rational limit to the ratios whose square is less than . We have seen that the series of ratios in order of magnitude is not Dedekindian. in which there are segments that have no boundary.” Then those segments that correspond to ratios are those that consist of all ratios less than the ratio they correspond to. upper or lower as the case may be. Let us leave them to others and proceed with our honest toil.e. i. in this case we will call the lower section a “segment. let us observe that an irrational is represented by an irrational cut. Just as ratios whose denominator is are not identical with integers.” But there are an inﬁnite number of series for which it is not veriﬁed. while those that represent irrationals are those that have no boundary. The method of “postulating” what we want has many advantages. Real. We are now in a position to deﬁne a real number and an irrational number. VII. A series in which there are Dedekind gaps. and Complex Numbers A series is called “Dedekindian” when every section has a boundary. Thus. . Let us conﬁne ourselves to cuts in which the lower section has no maximum. and then the segments without boundaries will be extra. It is for this reason that series where his axiom is veriﬁed are called “Dedekindian. are such that. In order to make use of this.e. we must ﬁnd some way of eliciting from it a precise deﬁnition. they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil. Those that are rational “correspond” to ratios. which was to ﬁll the Dedekind gap. one must be part of the other.Chap. and a cut is represented by its lower section. they allowed themselves to “postulate” an irrational limit. in the same kind of way in which the ratio n/ corresponds to the integer n. set up the axiom that the gap must always be ﬁlled. people have supposed that series must have limits in cases where it seems odd if they do not. which is their boundary. It is clear that an irrational Dedekind cut in some way “represents” an irrational. In order to decide what they are to be.

but enables us to proceed deductively from the original apparatus of logic.e. More simply still. and xxxiv. see ibid. each being a class of ratios. It is easy to prove that the series of segments of any series is Dedekindian. For example. There is no diﬃculty in deﬁning addition and multiplication for real numbers as above deﬁned. . We deﬁne it as the sum of µ and ν. iii. i. is the class of proper fractions. | In the cases in which we naturally supposed that an irrational must be the limit of a set of ratios. vol.Chap. The real number .” of which we had another example in the deﬁnition of cardinal numbers. The above deﬁnition of real numbers is an example of “construction” as against “postulation. ∗ ﬀ. Real. xxxiii. and Complex Numbers A “real number” is a segment of the series of ratios in order of magnitude. The class of ratios thus generated is deﬁned as the product of the two real numbers. vol. For. given any set of segments. and it is easy to prove that this new class is a segment of the series of ratios. take any member of µ and any member of ν and add them together according to the rule for the addition of ratios.) For a fuller treatment of the subject of segments and Dedekindian relations. The great advantage of this method is that it requires no new assumptions. | We can deﬁne the arithmetical product of two real numbers in exactly the same way. is the segment consisting of all those ratios whose square is less than . (In all such deﬁnitions.. for instance. ∗ –. the class of all those terms that belong to at least one segment of the set. An “irrational number” is a segment of the series of ratios which has no boundary.. see Principia Mathematica. For a fuller treatment of real numbers. their boundary will be their logical sum. Rational. We may state the deﬁnition more shortly as follows:— The arithmetical sum of two real numbers is the class of the arithmetical sums of a member of the one and a member of the other chosen in all possible ways. This gives a new class of ratios. and Principles of Mathematics. ii. Form the class of all such sums obtainable by varying the selected members of µ and ν. the truth is that it is the limit of the corresponding set of rational real numbers in the series of segments √ ordered by whole and part. Thus a rational real number consists of all ratios less than a certain ratio. chaps. by multiplying a member of the one by a member of the other in all possible ways. is the upper limit of all those segments of the series of ratios that correspond to ratios whose √ square is less than . Given two real numbers µ and ν. A “rational real number” is a segment of the series of ratios which has a boundary. VII. the series of ratios is to be deﬁned as excluding and inﬁnity. and it is the rational real number corresponding to that ratio.

a number whose square is to be negative has to be a new sort of number. Here. The part yi is called the “imaginary” part of this number. and that two complex numbers are only identical when the ﬁrst real number involved in the one is equal to the ﬁrst involved in the other. We are to have . A “complex” number means a number involving the square root of a negative number. In the case of complex numbers. that two real numbers are required to determine a complex number. and every cubic equation has three. namely. are not demanded by geometry in the same imperative way in which irrationals are demanded. Every generalisation of number has ﬁrst presented itself as needed for some simple problem: negative numbers were needed in order that subtraction might be always possible. Real. fractional. We desire. and such an equation as x − = has only one.Chap. and so on. Rational. if they are deﬁned as ordered couples of real numbers. and the second to the second. and on this assumption their employment has been found proﬁtable. we secure at once some of the properties required. many deﬁnitions are possible.”) Complex numbers have been for a long time habitually used by mathematicians. (The reason for the phrase “real numbers” is that they are contrasted with such as are “imaginary. They are required less for geometry than for algebra and analysis. any number involving the square root of a negative number can be expressed in the form x + yi. x being the “real” part. and complex numbers are needed in order that extraction of roots and solution of equations may be always possible. whether integral. It has been simply assumed that they would obey the usual arithmetical rules. But extensions of number are not created by the mere need for them: they are created by the deﬁnition. Using the letter i for the square root of −. and it is to the deﬁnition of complex numbers that we must now turn our attention. where x and y are real. as elsewhere. since otherwise a−b would be meaningless if a were less than b. such an equation as x + = has no roots. to be able to say that every quadratic equation has two roots. What is needed further can be secured by deﬁning the rules of addition and multiplication. Complex numbers. fractions were needed | in order that division might be always possible. A complex number may be regarded and deﬁned as simply an ordered couple of real numbers. for example. in spite of the absence of any precise deﬁnition. It remains to give the deﬁnition of complex numbers. But if we are conﬁned to real numbers. or real. VII. All that is necessary is that the deﬁnitions adopted shall lead to certain properties. and that among these we can distinguish a ﬁrst and a second. and Complex Numbers There is no diﬃculty in extending our deﬁnitions to positive and negative real numbers and their addition and multiplication. Since the square of a negative number is positive. though capable of a geometrical interpretation.

take the product of the two couples (. Rational. . their sum is to be the couple (x + x . Thus we shall deﬁne that. By these deﬁnitions we shall secure that our ordered couples shall have the properties we desire. i. by the above rule. have their imaginary part zero. given two ordered couples of real numbers. y) and (. but written before the importance of purely logical deﬁnitions had been realised. because xr and xs may be equal when r and s are not equal. §. it is a convenience in practice. the square of i is −. in Dr Whitehead’s Universal Algebra. Cf. ) will be the couple (−. y + y ). Thus the square of the couple (. (x. and their product is to be the couple (xx − yy . K. in the notation x + yi. Principles of Mathematics. x . which it is natural to write simply x.e. Although this is an error in theory. y ). . It is easy to give a geometrical interpretation of complex numbers in the geometry of the plane. ) is represented by i. The above deﬁnition. but a special case of a complex number. This subject was agreeably expounded by W. they are x + i. And when y is . This will.” provided we remember that the “x” is not really a real number. This is what would ordinarily be indicated by the notation (x . and the correlation is one-many. Cliﬀord in his Common Sense of the Exact Sciences. ) is represented by −. as may be seen. p. ). ). . a book of great merit. xn ). y ).” Thus the couple (. The deﬁnition of complex numbers of order n is obtained by an obvious extension of the deﬁnition we have given. though much less useful and important than those what we have been deﬁning. and the couple (−. For example. be the couple (−yy . ) equal to (−. VII. not necessarily one-one. have certain uses that are not without importance in geometry. Now our rules of multiplication make the square of (. Real. y) and (x .Chap. xy + x y). so it is natural (but erroneous) to identify complex numbers whose imaginary part is zero with real numbers. Thus our deﬁnitions serve all necessary purposes. We deﬁne a complex number of order n as a one-many relation whose domain consists of certain real numbers and whose converse domain consists of the integers from to n. This is what we desired to secure. according to the usual nomenclature. . with a suitable rule of multiplication. where the suﬃxes denote correlation with the integers used as suﬃxes. ). x . for example. and Complex Numbers (x + yi) + (x + y i) = (x + x ) + (y + y )i (x + yi)(x + y i) = (xx − yy ) + (xy + x y)i. Just as it is natural (but erroneous) | to identify ratios whose denominator is unity with integers. “yi” may of course be replaced by “i. . “x + i” may be replaced simply by “x” and “ + yi” by “yi. Now those couples in which the second term is are those which. Complex numbers of a higher order.

We have now completed our review of those extensions of number which do not involve inﬁnity. VII. .Chap. Rational. Real. The application of number to inﬁnite collections must be our next topic. and Complex Numbers will serve all purposes for which complex numbers of higher orders are needed.

and that there is no conclusive logical reason for believing it to be true. if n = n + . for. n is not equal to n + .e. But we have not yet considered collections which do not have an inductive number of terms. for our present purposes. In the ﬁrst place. chieﬂy by Georg Cantor. which has been solved in our own day. was applied in Chapter III. To these we gave the name “inductive numbers. For the present we shall merely assume that.” Although various ways suggest themselves by which we might hope to prove this axiom. if n is any inductive number. to ﬁnite numbers. Various subtleties arise in identifying this form of our assumption with | the form that asserts the existence of inﬁnite collections. Thus we are assuming nothing that was not involved in Peano’s primitive propositions. This is an ancient problem. if n is an inductive number. At the same time. there is certainly no logical reason against inﬁnite collections. The practical form of this hypothesis. we come to consider the axiom of inﬁnity on its own account. in a later chapter. This is involved in Peano’s assumption that no two inductive numbers have the same successor. This is a perfectly well-deﬁned class.” because we found that they are to be deﬁned as numbers which obey mathematical induction starting from . in logic. In the present chapter we shall attempt to explain the theory of transﬁnite or inﬁnite cardinal numbers as it results from a combination of his discoveries with those of Frege on the logical theory of numbers. Let us now consider the collection of the inductive numbers themselves. namely n. a . The assumption that there are is what we call the “axiom of inﬁnity. but we will leave these out of account until. and we are therefore justiﬁed. n is not equal to n + . nor have we inquired whether such collections can be said to have a number at all. then n − and n have the same successor. It cannot be said to be certain that there are in fact any inﬁnite collections in the world. is the assumption that.CHAPTER VIII INFINITE CARDINAL NUMBERS The deﬁnition of cardinal numbers which we gave in Chapter II. to the ordinary natural numbers. there is reason to fear that they are all fallacious. i. in investigating the hypothesis that there are such collections.

Chap. the number of terms in the class of inductive numbers is to be deﬁned as “all those classes that are similar to the class of inductive numbers”—i. By our general deﬁnition of cardinal numbers. and we must dwell on it for a time. VIII.e. The diﬃculties that so long delayed the theory of inﬁnite numbers were largely due to the fact that some. therefore the total number of inductive numbers is greater than n. it is better to deﬁne an inﬁnite cardinal number as one which does not possess all inductive properties. The ﬁrst step in understanding inﬁnite numbers consists in realising the mistakenness of this view. We then deﬁne as the “inductive numbers” those among cardinals which belong to the posterity of with respect to the relation of n to n + . The most noteworthy and astonishing diﬀerence between an inductive number and this new number is that this new number is unchanged by adding or subtracting or doubling or halving or any of a number of other operations which we think of as necessarily making a number larger or smaller. of the inductive properties were wrongly judged to be such as must belong to all numbers. For in that case. Thus the class of “inductive numbers” is perfectly deﬁnite. those which possess every property possessed by and by the successors of possessors.e.e. as it is easy to prove. no matter which of the inductive numbers n may be. If we arrange the inductive numbers in a series in order of magnitude. if we take a term x which does not belong to the class. but if n is an inductive number. at least. the property of being unchanged by the addition of is a very important one. Such diﬀerences might be multiplied ad lib. diﬀerent from all of them. some of which will appear as we proceed. i. simply as one which is not an inductive number. but for various reasons. i. Thus the number of inductive numbers is a new number. meaning by the “successor” of n the number n + . we can ﬁnd a one-one relation whose domain is the class and whose converse domain is obtained by adding x to the class. the class is similar to the sum . Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers cardinal number is a set of classes which are all similar to each other and are not similar to anything except each other. not possessing all inductive properties. indeed it was thought that they could not be denied without contradiction. the number of numbers from to n (both included) is n + . It may happen that has a certain | property. The fact of being not altered by the addition of is used by Cantor for the deﬁnition of what he calls “transﬁnite” cardinal numbers. every series whose ﬁeld has n terms has a last term. this series has no last term. this set of classes is the number of the inductive numbers according to our deﬁnitions. To say that a class has a number which is not altered by the addition of is the same thing as to say that. If n is any inductive number. Now it is easy to see that this number is not one of the inductive numbers. Nevertheless. and yet that this new number does not have it. and that if n has it so has n + .

conﬁned to inductive numbers. it was thought self-contradictory that | “the part should be equal to the whole. if it is accurate. It can be shown that the cases in which this happens are the same as the apparently more general cases in which some part (short of the whole) can be put into one-one relation with the whole. there will be one-one relations whose domains consist of the whole class and whose converse domains consist of just one term short of the whole class. must contain a map of the map.” But this is one of those phrases that depend for their plausibility upon an unperceived vagueness: the word “equal” has many meanings. and so on ad inﬁnitum. n = n + . but need not occupy us at this moment. and all except for its converse domain. and the number of its terms is a “reﬂexive” number. has a perfect one-one correspondence with its original. for this reason.e. which must therefore be a reﬂexive number. so that it has the same number as a class with one extra term. is oneone. so that if n is this number. to a class having one extra term. but if it is taken to mean what we have called “similar. we shall also have n = n − . The relation of n to n + . When this can be done. which must in turn contain a map of the map of the map.e. the relation of n to n. is in one-one relation with the whole. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers of itself and the term x. and the even inductive numbers alone for its converse domain. Royce is interested in the fact that the map.) A “reﬂexive” cardinal number is the cardinal number of a reﬂexive class. Hence the total number of inductive numbers is the same as the number of even inductive numbers. which is part. conﬁned to inductive numbers. | the correlator by which it is done may be said to “reﬂect” the whole class into a part of itself. A map. we shall do well to pass from picturesque illustrations to such as are more completely deﬁnite. has the whole of the inductive numbers for its domain. In fact. thus our map. i. We have now to consider this property of reﬂexiveness. is one-one. has the whole of the inductive numbers for its domain. This point is interesting. (A “proper part” is a part short of the whole.” there is . i. if it is correct.” Thus: A “reﬂexive” class is one which is similar to a proper part of itself. and for this purpose we cannot do better than consider the number-series itself. such classes will be called “reﬂexive. One of the most striking instances of a “reﬂexion” is Royce’s illustration of the map: he imagines it decided to make a map of England upon a part of the surface of England. Consequently it is a “reﬂexive” class according to the deﬁnition. In this case. Thus the whole class of inductive numbers is similar to what the same class becomes when we omit .Chap. and must contain the same number of points as the whole. This property was used by Leibniz (and many others) as a proof that inﬁnite numbers are impossible. Again. VIII.

our “map” would have consisted of all the inductive numbers except . Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers no contradiction. the term to which a term has the one-one relation will be the “successor” of the term.” These characteristics may be summed up in the following deﬁnition:— A “progression” is a one-one relation such that there is just one term belonging to the domain but not to the converse domain. so deﬁned. and so on ad inﬁnitum.Chap. Whenever we can “reﬂect” a class into a part of itself. It will be useful to give a deﬁnition of the number which is that of the inductive cardinals. and the domain is identical with the posterity of this one term. so that apparently paradoxical arithmetical propositions can be readily translated into the language of reﬂexions and classes. as we have just seen. ii. ∗ . vol. as true beyond the region of the ﬁnite. This is an abstract analogue to Royce’s problem of the map. and which only their familiarity makes us regard. the map of the map of the map of all from onward. in which the air of paradox is much less. and every member of the series is to be in the posterity of this term with respect to the relation “immediate predecessor. we can. unconsciously as a rule. . It is a series which can be generated by a relation of consecutiveness: | every member of the series is to have a successor. the map of the map would have consisted of all from onward. and so on. If we had applied the same process to the relation of n to n + . Those who regard this as impossible have. by the same relation (that of n to n) reﬂect the even numbers into the multiples of .” Cf. we can reﬂect. The term belonging to the domain but not to the converse domain will be what he calls “”.” Taking his ﬁve axioms in turn. the multiples of are a map of the map of the map. since an inﬁnite collection can perfectly well have parts similar to itself. and so on. attributed to numbers in general properties which can only be proved by mathematical induction. The chief use of such illustrations is in order to become familiar with the idea of reﬂexive classes. Principia Mathematica. For example. the same relation will necessarily reﬂect that part into a smaller part. For this purpose we will ﬁrst deﬁne the kind of series exempliﬁed by the inductive cardinals in order of magnitude. VIII. The even numbers are a “map” of all the inductive numbers. mistakenly. It is easy to see that a progression. these into the multiples of . but there is to be just one which has no predecessor. and so on. all the inductive numbers into the even numbers. we have the following translations:— () “ is a number” becomes: “The member of the domain which is not a member of the converse domain is a member of the domain. satisﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms. The kind of series which is called a “progression” has already been considered in Chapter I. the multiples of are a map of the map. and the domain of the one-one relation will be what he calls “number.

We will call this member “the ﬁrst term. for the same reasons for which the corresponding one-one relations are similar.. with cardinal numbers. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers This is equivalent to the existence of such a member. Two transitive asymmetrical relations which generate progressions are similar. which it is by deﬁnition (being one-one). and therefore a member of the domain. which are the same as their domains) are similar classes. and becomes: “Every member of the domain belongs to the posterity of the ﬁrst term.. by the general deﬁnition of posterity).” () “The successor of any number is a number” becomes: “The term to which a given member of the domain has the relation in question is again a member of the domain. it is the one to which Cantor has appropriated the Hebrew Aleph with the suﬃx . which have other suﬃxes. since every class which is similar to the domain of a progression is easily shown to be itself the domain of a progression. The class of all such transitive generators of progressions is a “serial number” in the sense of Chapter VI. hence the successor of a member of the domain must be a member of the posterity of the ﬁrst term (because the posterity of a term always contains its own successors. But we are concerned.” This is only to say that the relation is one-many. Since two progressions are similar relations. Thus progressions as we have deﬁned them have the ﬁve formal properties from which Peano deduces arithmetic. Thus the name of the smallest of inﬁnite cardinals is ℵ . () “No two numbers have the same successor. to distinguish it from larger inﬁnite cardinals. . We can. derive a relation which is serial from the one-one relation by which we deﬁne a progression: the method used is that explained in Chapter IV. It is easy to show that two progressions are “similar” in the sense deﬁned for similarity of relations in Chapter VI.” which is again an immediate result of the deﬁnition. of course. and the relation is that of a term to a member of its proper posterity with respect to the original one-one relation.Chap. This cardinal number is the smallest of the inﬁnite cardinal numbers. because by the deﬁnition the posterity of the ﬁrst term is the same as the domain.” This is proved as follows: By the deﬁnition. The domains of progressions form a cardinal number. | () “ is not the successor of any number” becomes: “The ﬁrst term is not a member of the converse domain. every member of the domain is a member of the posterity of the ﬁrst term. VIII. it follows that their domains (or their ﬁelds. for the moment. by which he has made it famous. it is in fact the smallest of inﬁnite serial numbers. () This is mathematical induction.” which was part of our deﬁnition. which is given in our deﬁnition. the number to which Cantor has given the name ω.

in fact. ﬁrst. The easiest way of proving this is to prove. which remains ℵ . The number of real numbers. . One might be inclined to think that there must be many more ratios than integers. .Chap. since each member constitutes a sub-class. This is easily seen by arranging ratios in a series on the following plan: If the sum of numerator and denominator in one is less than in the other. Take (say) inductive numbers of the form nn . for example. that all inﬁnite collections have ℵ terms. it is. Conversely. Of these two propositions. It is not the case. however sparsely it may be distributed. or n nn . and is not hard to extend to inﬁnite numbers. These methods of thinning out a progression do not make it cease to be a progression. . if the sum is equal in the two. for example. namely. . is greater than ℵ . and this is the same thing as to say | that the members of the class can be arranged in a progression. and their number is therefore ℵ . we can add terms to the inductive numbers without increasing their number. and therefore do not diminish the number of its terms. any selection from a progression is a progression if it has no last term. Hence it follows that. it is clear that the number of sub-classes of a given class (say α) is at least as great as the number of members. or every other term. and we thus have a correlation of all the members with some of the sub-classes. ℵ . . namely. Take. and it is not hard to prove that n is greater than n even when n is inﬁnite. . . it contains n subclasses—in other words. This series is a progression. Such numbers grow very rare in the higher parts of the number series. and secondly. . This gives us the series . ℵ . since ratios whose denominator is correspond to the integers. . that if a class has n members. . The proof of the second is so simple and so instructive that we shall give it: In the ﬁrst place. Hence we can arrange all ratios in a progression. In fact. and all ratios occur in it sooner or later. and yet there are just as many of them as there are inductive numbers altogether. . however. put the one before the other. . or all except every tenth term or every hundredth term. that the number of sub-classes contained in a class is always greater than the number of members of the class. VIII. ℵ . the ﬁrst is familiar in the case of ﬁnite numbers. that there are n ways | of selecting some of its members (including the extreme cases where we select all or none). But in actual fact the number of ratios (or fractions) is exactly the same as the number of inductive numbers. and seem to be only an inﬁnitesimal proportion of ratios. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers To say that a class has ℵ terms is the same thing as to say that it is a member of ℵ . ratios. put ﬁrst the one with the smaller numerator. It is obvious that any progression remains a progression if we omit a ﬁnite number of terms from it. .

. even when n is inﬁnite. It does not matter to the proof if β has no members: all that happens in that case is that the sub-class which is shown to be omitted is the null-class. proof is taken from Cantor. and it is not correlated with any member of α. β say. each of them (by the deﬁnition of β) is correlated with some sub-class of which it is a member. ℵ = ℵ . p. (). taking ﬁrst the members of β. ℵ + n = ℵ . This is a sub-class of α. ℵ + = ℵ . where n is any inductive number. given any one-one relation whose domain is the members and whose converse domain is contained among the set of sub-classes. it must be greater. by what was said earlier. it may happen that x is correlated with a sub-class of which it is not a member. However great an inﬁnite number n may be. we have the theorem that n is always greater than n. and therefore. For. We have. n will be still greater. it may happen that a given member x is correlated with a sub-class of which it is a member. if n is the number of members. by showing that. it is greater. The arithmetic of inﬁnite numbers is somewhat surprising until one becomes accustomed to it. with some simpliﬁcations: see Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung. Combining this with the proposition that. for example. i. each of them is (by the deﬁnition of β) correlated with some sub-class of which it is not a member. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers if the number of sub-classes is not equal to the number of members. VIII.Chap. of those members x which are correlated with sub-classes of which they are not members. there must be at least one sub-class not belonging to the converse domain. and therefore again is not correlated with β. Hence in any case the number of sub-classes is not equal to the number of members. again. Since R was any one-one correlation of all members | with some sub-classes. it follows that there is no correlation of all members with all sub-classes. n is the number of sub-classes. Let us form the whole class. Now it is easy to prove that the number is not equal. and is therefore not correlated with β. or. The proof is as follows: When a one-one correlation R is established between all the members of α and some of the sub-classes. Thus no member of α is correlated with β. This . Taking next the terms which are not members of β. It follows from this proposition that there is no maximum to the inﬁnite cardinal numbers.

but we saw that it is also ℵ . or volume. multiplication. for. zero. This is easily seen by examples.) But ℵ > ℵ . In fact. But it is otherwise when we subtract ℵ from itself. from up to ℵ . but the inverse operations—subtraction. () All the odd numbers—remainder.) ℵ n = ℵ . All these are diﬀerent ways of subtracting ℵ from ℵ . very similar results follow from the fact that ℵ is unchanged when multiplied by or or any ﬁnite number n or by ℵ . and exponentiation proceed quite satisfactorily. Addition. all goes well. Although addition and multiplication are always possible with inﬁnite cardinals. all the even numbers. then ℵ n+ = ℵ = ℵ . numbering n terms in all. VIII. it is easy to see that the number of ratios is the square of the number of inductive numbers. take away the following collections of ℵ terms:— () All the inductive numbers—remainder. if n is ﬁnite. for if ℵ n = ℵ . ℵ is a very important number. and extraction of roots—are ambiguous. and all give diﬀerent results. it will also be the number of points in any ﬁnite portion of space. subtraction gives a perfectly deﬁnite result. subtraction and division no longer give deﬁnite results. this will be the number of points in space or of instants in time. where n is any inductive number. it remains unchanged. and cannot therefore be employed as they are employed in elementary arithmetic. It follows that ℵ divided by ℵ may have any value from up to ℵ .e. as we shall see later. Assuming space and time to be continuous in this sense (as we commonly do in analytical geometry and kinematics). From the ambiguity of subtraction and division it results that negative numbers and ratios cannot be extended to inﬁnite numbers. since a ratio is determined by a pair of inductive numbers. namely. From the inductive numbers. Take subtraction to begin with: so long as the number subtracted is ﬁnite. area. numbering ℵ terms. After ℵ . and the notions that depend upon them fail when inﬁnite numbers are concerned. so far. ℵ is the most important and interesting of inﬁnite cardinal numbers. the numbers from to n−. if the other number is reﬂexive. division. i. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers (This follows from the case of the ratios. Thus ℵ − n = ℵ . . whether | line. As regards division. () All the inductive numbers from n onwards—remainder. the number of terms in a series which has “continuity” in the sense in which this word is used by Cantor. (This follows from ℵ = ℵ by induction.Chap. we may then get any result. it is ℵ .

If n were such a cardinal. This deﬁnition yields the sort of result that a deﬁnition ought to yield. and may very possibly be capable of proof. Meanwhile. and believes that it is equivalent to non-inductiveness. we adopt the following deﬁnitions:— A ﬁnite class or cardinal is one which is inductive. we should not have n = n + . that is to say. we deﬁned a number as ﬁnite when it obeys mathematical induction starting from .Chap. of classes and cardinals which are neither reﬂexive nor inductive. and a class as ﬁnite when its number is ﬁnite. All reﬂexive classes and cardinals are inﬁnite. . An inﬁnite class or cardinal is one which is not inductive. This may be true. it is not known whether there are classes and cardinals which are neither reﬂexive nor inductive. hitherto unknown. the inﬁnite numbers we have discussed have not merely been noninductive: they have also been reﬂexive. but for the present it is well to preserve an open mind as to whether there are instances.” and would be lacking in some of the inductive properties.” At present. . but the proofs hitherto oﬀered by Cantor and others (including the present author in former days) are fallacious. . All known inﬁnite classes and cardinals are reﬂexive. but n would not be one of the “natural numbers. . . But in the present chapter. for reasons which will be explained when we come to consider the “multiplicative axiom. but it is not known at present whether all inﬁnite classes and cardinals are reﬂexive. . he believes that every class and every cardinal is either inductive or reﬂexive. . VIII. We shall return to this subject in Chapter XII. namely. that the ﬁnite | numbers are those that occur in the ordinary number-series .e. i. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers The characteristic by which we deﬁned ﬁnitude was mathematical induction. Cantor used reﬂexiveness as the deﬁnition of the inﬁnite.

. . . . represents the smallest of inﬁnite serial numbers. . . In this respect there is a certain oppositeness between cardinal and serial numbers. n + . n. as with cardinals. . n. . . to add terms without altering the serial number: everything depends upon the way in which they are added. . . on the other hand. .. In order to make matters clear. If we imagine this process carried on as long as possible. . At the same time. . . as we have already seen. n + . . . Let us ﬁrst consider various diﬀerent kinds of series which can be made out of the inductive numbers arranged on various plans. . . .. we ﬁnally reach the series . Let us proceed to thin out this series by repeatedly performing the | operation of removing to the end the ﬁrst even number that occurs. . . . We thus obtain in succession the various series: . We start with the series . . . . . . . namely. . . . . . . . which. . . . the sort that Cantor calls ω. . . We have already had occasion to consider one kind of inﬁnite series. . . . progressions. it is possible to change the serial number of a series without adding or taking away any terms. . . . . In this chapter we shall consider the subject more generally. .CHAPTER IX INFINITE SERIES AND ORDINALS An “inﬁnite series” may be deﬁned as a series of which the ﬁeld is an inﬁnite class. . The most noteworthy characteristic of an inﬁnite series is that its serial number can be altered by merely re-arranging its terms. by mere re-arrangement. . . It is possible to keep the cardinal number of a reﬂexive class unchanged in spite of adding terms to it. . . n. in the case of any inﬁnite series it is also possible. . and so on. it will be best to begin with examples. . . . . . . . . . n + .

Each of these numbers is “greater” than any of its predecessors. the general rule is that µ + ν is not equal to ν + µ. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals in which we have ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all the even numbers. .Chap. ω + . The serial numbers of these various series are ω + . and either x is odd and y is even or x is less than y and both are odd or both are even. The series we ﬁnally reached just now consisted of ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all the even numbers. in accordance with the general deﬁnition of order. The number which we have called ω. . the one which merely removes to the end will be deﬁned by the following relation: “x and y are ﬁnite integers. like addition. . but no series having the second number contains a part having the ﬁrst number. but a couple of progressions gives a series which is twice as long as a progression. . the number . but the second is not similar to any part of the ﬁrst. to give these formulæ in future. . This is characteristic of relation-arithmetic generally: if µ and ν are two relation-numbers. . . . ω. ω + is greater than ω. . .” The one which puts ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all the even ones will be deﬁned by: “x and y are ﬁnite integers.e. yn . and its serial | number is ω. namely. But if we add a term at the beginning of a progression instead of the end. Thus + ω = ω. y . is quite exceptional. . y . xn . . is sometimes called ω . x . y . IX. . . It is therefore necessary . . The case of ﬁnite ordinals. . Thus + ω is not equal to ω + . . n + . namely. If we compare the two series . and either y is and x is not . E.” We shall not trouble. This number is greater than ω or ω + n. It is to be observed that. but is easily demonstrated. . where n is ﬁnite. Multiplication. . . as a rule. each of these arrangements of integers is to be regarded as resulting from some deﬁnite relation.) Thus the second series has a greater serial number than the ﬁrst. . . x . which is itself a progression. . in which there is equality. . . n. but the fact that they could be given is essential. we still have a progression. . . (This is obvious. we see that the ﬁrst is similar to the part of the second which omits the last term. in the following sense:— One serial number is said to be “greater” than another if any series having the ﬁrst number contains a part having the second number. . the number of a series consisting of two progressions. . or neither is and x is less than y. . according to the deﬁnition—i. depends upon the order of the factors: a progression of couples gives a series such as x . .g. ω + .

. For example. . is itself longer than any series that can be obtained by re-arranging the terms of a progression. Usage is variable. then their doubles. . The ordinal number of the series of all ordinals that can be made out of an ℵ . Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals to distinguish between ω and ω . since it is a progression of progressions. . . and on the other hand series which have no beginning. . (This is not diﬃcult to prove. . . It is not even known whether it is comparable with them in magnitude. . Thus a series whose ordinal number is ω has a ﬁeld whose cardinal number is ℵ . . The series of all the ordinals that can be obtained in this way. And there is nothing to prevent us from advancing indeﬁnitely in this way to new cardinals and new ordinals. We can proceed from ω and ℵ to ω and ℵ by a process exactly analogous to that by which we advanced from ω and ℵ to ω and ℵ . . of which the number is ω . and so on. or in which there are subordinate parts having no beginning. We can proceed indeﬁnitely with the process of thinning out the inductive numbers. We thus obtain the series . of which we shall treat later. for aught we know. . Any one of the progressions in this new series can of course be | thinned out as we thinned out our original progression. we shall use ω for a couple of progressions and ω . . all that can be obtained by thinning out a progression. This excludes. but ending with −. however far we have gone. . we can place ﬁrst the odd numbers. . We can proceed to ω .. it is the number which Cantor calls ℵ .β” when α and β are relation-numbers: “α . . on the one hand. it may be neither equal to nor greater nor less than any one of the Alephs. and so on. .. The series of negative integers in order of magnitude. but . . .. and has a term next after any selection of its terms. we can always go further. and this decision of course governs our general interpretation of “α. β” will have to stand for a suitably constructed sum of α relations each having β terms. . . is called ω .) The cardinal number of the class of such ordinals can be shown to be greater than ℵ . .Chap.. . . taken in order of magnitude. . . provided there are any terms after the selection. IX. ωω . It is not known whether ℵ is equal to any of the cardinals in the series of Alephs.” A well-ordered series is one which has a beginning. for a progression of couples. This question is connected with the multiplicative axiom. i. . . All the series we have been considering so far in this chapter have been what is called “well-ordered. compact series. ω .e. then the doubles of these. having no beginning. . . . is not well-ordered. in which there are terms between any two. and has consecutive terms.

| as the reader can easily convince himself. it is well-ordered. we can adopt the following plan: consider the decimals from · (inclusive) to (exclusive). and exponentiation. we will include all decimals less than . and ratios in order of magnitude form a compact series. In a well-ordered series. and we have a compact series consisting of all ﬁnite integers except such as divide by .Chap. Of two that do begin with the same digit. when it belongs to a certain selection of the terms in a series. as we saw. but diﬀer at the second digit. An “ordinal” number means the relation-number of a well-ordered series. IX. Among well-ordered series. a transﬁnitely hereditary property belonging to the ﬁrst term of the series belongs to the whole series. a generalised form of mathematical induction applies. and returning to the ones that have no ’s at the beginning. It follows from this example that it is possible to construct compact series having ℵ terms. and so on. beginning with −. thus we have here another example. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals taken in the reverse order. It is thus a species of serial number. but not as regards the (n + )th . It is easy to arrange the inductive numbers in series which are not well-ordered. of course. between any two there are always an inﬁnite number of others. and even to arrange them in compact series. Omitting these. we will transfer to the right any ’s that occur at the beginning of our decimal. Of the usual formal laws of addition. the one that begins with the smaller digit comes ﬁrst. there is no diﬃculty. we can state the rule for the arrangement of our integers as follows: Of two integers that do not begin with the same digit. the one with the smaller second digit comes ﬁrst. we have already seen that there are ℵ ratios. The deﬁnition is: | A “well-ordered” series is one in which every sub-class (except. instead of starting with ·. and. there is no diﬃculty about including those that are divisible by . that one comes ﬁrst which has either no (n + )th digit or a smaller one than the other. and those that are obeyed by them are . gives rise to a compact series containing all the integers not divisible by . but ﬁrst of all the one with no second digit. This rule of arrangement. if two integers agree as regards the ﬁrst n digits. A property may be said to be “transﬁnitely hereditary” if. For example. multiplication. the null-class) has a ﬁrst term. arranged in order of magnitude. If we wish to include those that divide by . These form a compact series. but only some are obeyed by transﬁnite ordinals. all are obeyed by transﬁnite cardinals. We shall resume this topic in the next chapter. but when we remove the dot. it belongs to their immediate successor provided they have one. Now omit the dot at the beginning of each. Generally. In fact. This makes it possible to prove many propositions concerning well-ordered series which are not true of all series. being in fact a progression.

the above form of the distributive law must be distinguished from (β + γ)α = βα + γα. β γ = (αβ)γ . III. α γ = α β+γ . but not the law α γ . Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals obeyed by all relation-numbers. The distributive law: α(β + γ) = αβ + αγ. By the “usual formal laws” we mean the following:— I. ∗ –. The reader who wishes to know what they are and how the above laws are proved must consult the second volume of Principia Mathematica. which is obviously connected with the commutative law for multiplication. one form may be true and the other false. the exponential laws α β . the associative law does hold. II. α γ = α β+γ and (α β )γ = α βγ still hold. All these laws hold for cardinals. the distributive law (adopting the convention | we have adopted above as regards the order of the factors in a product) holds in the form (β + γ)α = βα + γα. The laws of exponentiation: α β . but not in the form α(β + γ) = αβ + αγ. (α β )γ = α βγ .Chap. α γ . When the commutative law does not hold. The associative law: (α + β) + γ = α + (β + γ) and (α × β) × γ = α × (β × γ). some hold and some do not. The commutative law does not hold. whether ﬁnite or inﬁnite. The commutative law: α + β = β + α and α × β = β × α. As we shall see immediately. β γ = (αβ)γ . and for ﬁnite ordinals. IV. The deﬁnitions of multiplication and exponentiation that are assumed in the above propositions are somewhat complicated. But when we come to inﬁnite ordinals. or indeed to relation-numbers in general. IX. .

because it has various technical mathematical uses which led him to it. Cardinals are essentially simpler than ordinals. tice. and is very largely merged in that of the more general conception of relation-numbers. . And mathematicians. were treated in complete independence of ordinals. The importance of ordinals. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals Ordinal transﬁnite arithmetic was developed by Cantor at an earlier stage than cardinal transﬁnite arithmetic. while Frege’s remained almost unknown. This does not apply to Frege’s work. and only gradually came to be studied on their own account. have more diﬃculty in understanding and using notions which are comparatively “simple” in the logical sense than in manipulating more complex notions which are | more akin to their ordinary prac.Chap. and it is a curious historical accident that they ﬁrst appeared as an abstraction from the latter. is distinctly less than that of cardinals. For these reasons. ﬁnite and transﬁnite. in which cardinals. it was only gradually that the true importance of cardinals in mathematical philosophy was recognised. like other people. though by no means small. IX. But from the point of view of the philosophy of mathematics it is less important and less fundamental than the theory of transﬁnite cardinals. probably in the main on account of the diﬃculty of his symbolism. but it was Cantor’s work that made the world aware of the subject.

not a quantitative fact. in a general form in which they do not demand that the relation concerned shall be serial. it comes immediately after them. although the numerical diﬀerence between ℵ and a ﬁnite cardinal is constant and inﬁnite: from a quantitative point of view. . . from which the rest are derived. . it was supposed that inﬁnitesimals were involved in the foundations of these subjects. . | There are various forms of the notion of “limit. indeed practically everything in higher mathematics. not involving quantity at all (except by accident when the series concerned happens to be quantitative). It used to be thought that “limit” was an essentially quantitative notion. but Weierstrass showed that this is an error: wherever inﬁnitesimals were thought to occur. n.” of increasing complexity. But in fact the notion of “limit” is a purely ordinal notion. Formerly. The whole of the diﬀerential and integral calculus. what really occurs is a set of ﬁnite quantities having zero for their lower limit. A given point on a line may be the limit of a set of points on the line. . without its being necessary to bring in co-ordinates or measurement or anything quantitative. so that among those others there would be some diﬀering by less than any assigned quantity.CHAPTER X LIMITS AND CONTINUITY The conception of a “limit” is one of which the importance in math. The cardinal number ℵ is the limit (in the order of magnitude) of the cardinal numbers . The “maxima” with respect to P are the minima with respect to the converse of P. The deﬁnitions are as follows:— The “minima” of a class α with respect to a relation P are those members of α and the ﬁeld of P (if any) to which no member of α has the relation P. in the series. . namely. . . depends upon limits. ematics has been found continually greater than had been thought. but we will here repeat the deﬁnitions which lead to it. What makes ℵ the limit of the ﬁnite numbers is the fact that. . . ﬁnite numbers get no nearer to ℵ as they grow larger. the notion of a quantity to which others approached nearer and nearer. which is an ordinal fact. The simplest and most fundamental form. has been already deﬁned.

This series of fractions has no maximum. consider the prime numbers.Chap. If α has a maximum. we can speak of “the limit” (if any). one minimum. every segment in the sense there deﬁned is the segment deﬁned by some class α. in that case. and the “successors” of α are those members of the ﬁeld of P to which every member of the common part of α and the ﬁeld of P has the relation P. . again. The “upper limits” of α with respect to P are the sequents provided α has no maximum. a class can have at most one maximum. but if α has a maximum.e. and it is clear that the segment which it deﬁnes (in the whole series of fractions in order of magnitude) is the class of all proper fractions. In this case the segment deﬁned consists of all ﬁnite integers. If a class has no boundary. A “maximum” of α is a boundary which is a member of α. it has no upper limits. or of what is called a “gap. considered as a selection from the cardinals (ﬁnite and inﬁnite) in order of magnitude. every member of α precedes some other member of α. in the cases we are concerned with in practice. etc. we can greatly simplify the above deﬁnition of a limit.. Or. Thus. When P is a serial relation. . This will be a segment in the sense deﬁned | in Chapter VII. For this purpose it is best to use the notion of “segment. . But if α has no maximum. indeed. the segment will be all the predecessors of the maximum. i. The “precedents” with respect to P are the sequents with respect to the converse of P. the “boundary” of a class α will be the term x (if it exists) whose predecessors are the segment deﬁned by α. for example. the segment deﬁned by α consists of all the terms that precede some term or other of α.” We will speak of the “segment of P deﬁned by a class α” as all those terms that have the relation P to some one or more of the members of α. Whenever P has connexity. its limit or maximum. one sequent. Assuming that P is serial. and the whole of α is therefore included in the segment deﬁned by α. and then proceed to distinguish the case where the boundary is the limit from the case where it is a maximum. We can. Take. it has neither maximum nor limit. This is the case of an “irrational” Dedekind cut. If P is serial. .. . Limits and Continuity The “sequents” of a class α with respect to a relation P are the minima of the “successors” of α. deﬁne ﬁrst the “boundary” of a class α. the class consisting of the fractions .e. An “upper limit” of α is a boundary which is not a member of α. of all fractions of the form − /n for diﬀerent ﬁnite values of n. The “lower limits” with respect to P are the upper limits with respect to the converse of P. X. .” . i.

. we may distinguish various grades of what may be called “continuity” in a series. . ω . . . the series of ordinals—and indeed every wellordered series—has no lower limiting-points. . On the other hand. . . . . because of the existence of “gaps” in series such as the series of ratios. If we consider. every member of this series is both an upper and a lower limiting-point for suitably chosen sets. . . i. ω . . but is such that every earlier term comes before some of the α’s. With regard to limits. ω. . but the converse does not hold. . . and of which the ﬁrst has no last term. ω + .” and the limiting-points of the ﬁrst derivative are called the second derivative. but had remained without any precise deﬁnition until the time of Dedekind and Cantor. . ω. . and so on. ω. in the fact that between any two terms of the series there are others. . But this would be an inadequate deﬁnition. Such a state of aﬀairs seems contrary to the vague feeling we have as to what . . . ω . . have to distinguish upper limiting-points from lower limiting-points. . The limiting-points of a set are called its “ﬁrst derivative.Chap. ω + ω. ω + ω . . ω . The ﬁrst deﬁnition that would naturally occur to a man seeking a precise meaning for the continuity of series would be to deﬁne it as consisting in what we have called “compactness. . ω .e. . . We may deﬁne all the “upper limiting-points” of a set of terms β as all those that are the upper limits of sets of terms chosen out of β. If we consider the series of real numbers. the series of ordinal numbers: . ω . The upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this new series will be . ω . But if we consider such a series as the series of ratios. . We shall. because there are no terms except the last that have no immediate successors. of which one wholly precedes the other. . We saw in Chapter VII. . The word “continuity” had been used for a long time. . . Each of these two men gave a precise signiﬁcance to the term. but Cantor’s deﬁnition is narrower than Dedekind’s: a series which has Cantorian continuity must have Dedekindian continuity. and select out of it the rational real numbers. | the upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this series are those that have no immediate predecessors. | while the second has no ﬁrst term. . ω + . ω. . X. Limits and Continuity Thus the “upper limit” of a set of terms α with respect to a series P is that term x (if it exists) which comes after all the α’s. .e.” i. . ω. ω. . for example. this set (the rationals) will have all the real numbers as upper and lower limiting-points. ω . of course. that there are innumerable ways in which the series of ratios can be divided into two parts. . .

in its simplest form. but if the series of points on a line were similar to the series of ratios. Take geometry. that led to the deﬁnition of “Dedekindian” continuity. a series is Dedekindian when there are no gaps. This is a crude example. Thus we are led to the deﬁnition: A series has “Dedekindian continuity” when it is Dedekindian and compact. We shall. for many purposes. The absence of gaps may arise either through terms having successors. this deﬁnition somewhat conceals the considerations which have given rise to it. It was the needs of geometry. this is a property belonging to compact series. Limits and Continuity should characterise “continuity.) That is to say. If one of these is assumed. This investigation was made by Cantor and formed the basis of his deﬁnition of continuity.” and. But this deﬁnition does not express quite accurately what he means. We want to be sure that every point which cannot be speciﬁed by rational co-ordinates can be speciﬁed as the limit of a progression of points | whose co-ordinates are rational. the two lines might cross in a “gap” and have no point in common. what is more. or that there is always a lower boundary. the other can be deduced. for example. although. or through the existence of limits in the absence of maxima. There is no correction required so far as concerns the property that all its points are to be limiting-points. and so is the series of real numbers. therefore. It will be remembered that we deﬁned a series as Dedekindian when every sub-class of the ﬁeld has a boundary. but many others might be given to show that compactness is inadequate as a mathematical deﬁnition of continuity. as much as anything. X. be ﬁttingly called continuity. and this is a further property which our deﬁnition does not enable us to deduce. Cantor deﬁnes a series as “perfect” when all its points are limitingpoints and all its limiting-points belong to it. in that case our series must have a property which may. (It is suﬃcient to assume that there is always an upper boundary. that we desire to be able to assign such properties to geometrical space as shall make it certain that every point can be speciﬁed by means of co-ordinates which are real numbers: this is not insured by Dedekindian continuity alone. Suppose. The former sort of Dedekindian series is excluded by assuming that our series is compact. and to . We are thus led to a closer investigation of series with respect to limits. ﬁrst travel through some of Cantor’s conceptions in this subject before giving his deﬁnition of continuity. it shows that the series of ratios is not the sort of series that is needed for many mathematical purposes. Thus a ﬁnite series or a well-ordered series is Dedekindian.Chap. But this deﬁnition is still too wide for many purposes. for example: we wish to be able to say that when two straight lines cross each other they have a point in common.

if a series is considered simply on its own account. What Cantor means is not exactly what he says. the series of decimals in which a decimal ending in a recurring is distinguished from the corresponding terminating decimal and placed immediately before it. Apart from such series. This. | We come now to the second property by which perfection was to be deﬁned. every subordinate series which has no maximum has a limit. When every member of our series is the limit of a progression or regression. Cantor assumes that they are to be deﬁned by progressions.e. and of which the ﬁrst has no immediate predecessor. and every progression or regression contained in the series has a limit in the series. with a selection of real numbers). ﬁnally.e. was ﬁrst deﬁned as consisting in the fact that all the limiting-points of a series belong to it. every subordinate series has a boundary. e. the series in which every point is a limiting-point are compact series. on other occasions he says something rather diﬀerent. (It is not clear how far he recognises that this is a limitation. but has exceptional terms which are consecutive. while the second has no immediate successor. as we saw. . and this holds without qualiﬁcation if it is speciﬁed that every point is to be an upper limiting-point (or that every point is to be a lower limiting-point). But if it is only assumed that they are limiting-points one way. it cannot fail to contain its limiting-points. or by regressions (which are the converses of progressions). which is what he means. But Cantor does not state this for every subordinate series. Such a series is very nearly compact. when every term is the limit of a progression or regression. But this only has any eﬀective signiﬁcance if our series is given as contained in some other larger series (as is the case. there will be other series that will have the property in question—for example.. Cantor calls our series “condensed in itself” (insichdicht). i. namely. but only for progressions and regressions. indeed. the property which Cantor calls that of being “closed” (abgeschlossen).g.Chap. and limiting-points are taken in relation to the larger series. X. Otherwise.e. Although Cantor does not explicitly consider the matter.) Thus. without specifying which. i. we ﬁnd that the deﬁnition we want is the following:— A series is said to be “closed” (abgeschlossen) when every progression or regression contained in the series has a limit in the series. we must distinguish diﬀerent kinds of limiting-points according to the nature of the smallest sub-series by which they can be deﬁned. i. We then have the further definition:— A series is “perfect” when it is condensed in itself and closed. Limits and Continuity no others if all points are to be upper limiting. What he really means is that every subordinate series which is of the sort that might be expected to have a limit does have a limit within the given series.or all lower limitingpoints.

although the number of irrationals is greater than the number of rationals. These are diﬀerent notions. some are irrational. the property of containing a class of ℵ members in such a way that some of this class occur between any two terms of our series. we say: A “median class” of a series is a sub-class of the ﬁeld such that members of it are to be found between any two terms of the series. We then ﬁnd that Cantor’s deﬁnition is equivalent to the following:— A series is “continuous” when () it is Dedekindian. The deﬁnitions of continuity which we have been considering. be reduced to the continuity of series.” It will be seen that it implies Dedekindian continuity. as we saw. This gives a further property which suﬃces to characterise continuity completely. on the other hand. is ℵ . The continuity of motion (if motion is continuous) is an instance of the continuity of a function. () it contains a median class having ℵ terms. added to perfection. what Cantor has in mind is the search for a deﬁnition which shall apply to the series of real numbers and to any series similar to that. To begin with. but the converse is not the case. namely. however | little the two may diﬀer. do not correspond very closely . but to no others. very important.Chap. Thus the rationals are a median class in the series of real numbers. it will be well to deal brieﬂy with the notions of limits and continuity as applied to functions. by suﬃcient mathematical | manipulation. the continuity of space and time (if they are continuous) is an instance of the continuity of series. It is obvious that there cannot be median classes except in compact series. This property. those of Dedekind and Cantor. or (to speak more cautiously) of a kind of continuity which can. X. For this purpose we have to add a further property. as well as for other reasons. To avoid confusion. or the continuity of a function in the neighbourhood of a given argument. but derivative from the above and more complicated. All series having Cantorian continuity are similar. This class Cantor deﬁnes as that of continuous series. namely. but not all series having Dedekindian continuity. We may slightly simplify his deﬁnition. but this subject will be best reserved for a separate chapter. however near together. suﬃces to deﬁne a class of series which are all similar and are in fact a serial number. yet there are rationals between any two real numbers. Limits and Continuity In seeking a deﬁnition of continuity. Among the real numbers some are rational. In view of the fundamental importance of motion in applied mathematics. The number of rationals. The notions of limit and continuity which we have been deﬁning must not be confounded with the notions of the limit of a function for approaches to a given argument. we shall speak of this kind as “Cantorian continuity.

and its distance from every other unit is ﬁnite.Chap. X. we must leave this problem. I think. interesting as it is. e. Each is what it is. though it can be made less than any given ﬁnite amount assigned in advance. A fog gives an impression of vastness without deﬁnite multiplicity or division. to be characteristic of his mental life and of that of children and animals. It is this sort of thing that a metaphysician means by “continuity. . very truly. but it may.” is one which is certainly quite diﬀerent from that which we have been deﬁning. With these indications. it does not pass over by imperceptible degrees into another. Take. quite deﬁnitely and uncompromisingly.” declaring it. Limits and Continuity to the vague idea which is associated with the word in the mind of the man in the street or the philosopher. be very well maintained that the mathematical conception which we have been considering in this chapter gives the abstract logical scheme to which it must be possible to bring empirical material by suitable manipulation. for example. separate unit. if that material is to be called “continuous” in any precisely deﬁnable sense. by what we see at a given time. The general idea vaguely indicated by the word “continuity” when so employed. is a diﬃcult and intricate one. it is a hard. It would be quite impossible | to justify this thesis within the limits of the present volume. in order to return to topics more closely connected with mathematics.g. or by the word “ﬂux. the sort of general obliteration of distinctions which characterises a thick fog. It is not to be maintained that the two kinds are simply identical. The question of the relation between the kind of continuity existing among the real numbers and the kind exhibited. They conceive continuity rather as absence of separateness. The reader who is interested may read an attempt to justify it as regards time in particular by the present author in the Monist for −. as well as in parts of Our Knowledge of the External World. the series of real numbers.

especially through the so-called inﬁnitesimal calculus. we can make the diﬀerences in f x fall below any assigned amount. We will. ∗ –. and proceed afterwards to show how these deﬁnitions can be generalised so as to apply to series in general. and not only to such as are numerical or numerically measurable. and if we make the diﬀerences in x small enough. if a function is to be continuous. however. . Limits and continuity of functions.g.” and f x the “value for the argument x. in works on ordinary mathematics. where | x and f x are both real numbers. when x is given. as Dr Whitehead has shown. and philosophers have tended to ignore the work of such men as Weierstrass. Let us consider any ordinary mathematical function f x. but errors incorporated. and would hardly demand treatment in a mere introduction to mathematical philosophy but for the fact that. vol.” When a function is what we call “continuous.CHAPTER XI LIMITS AND CONTINUITY OF FUNCTIONS In this chapter we shall be concerned with the deﬁnition of the limit of a function (if any) as the argument approaches a given value. This is not essential. and also with the deﬁnition of what is meant by a “continuous function. wrong views upon our present topics have become so ﬁrmly embedded in the minds of professional philosophers that a prolonged and considerable eﬀort is required for their uprooting.” the rough idea for which we are seeking a precise deﬁnition is that small diﬀerences in x shall correspond to small diﬀerences in f x. We call x the “argument. that See Principia Mathematica. are deﬁned in terms involving number. in what Hegel has to say about mathematics. It has been thought ever since the time of Leibniz that the diﬀerential and integral calculus required inﬁnitesimal quantities.” Both of these ideas are somewhat technical. die hard. there is only one value that f x can have. and f x is one-valued—i. begin with the deﬁnitions in the text-books. We do not want.e. ii. Mathematicians (especially Weierstrass) proved that this is an error. e.

XI. we desire that. though continuous functions are more familiar. Now if we consider /x when x is very small. . so that. In fact. for some value of x. Thus round about the argument the function is discontinuous. if we take a suﬃciently small neighbourhood containing a. It is clear that continuity at a given point has to do with what happens in any neighbourhood of that point. when argument and value are both real numbers. Take as an example sin /x. in important cases. . This function remains constant from one integer to the next. The ordinary simple functions of mathematics have this property: it belongs. say the interval from − to + where is some very small number. let us ﬁrst deﬁne a “neighbourhood” of a number x as all the numbers from x − to x + . sin /x will go through an inﬁnite number of oscillations in this interval. or in ℵ places. or from π/ to π/. however small. will make a change in f x which exceeds some assigned ﬁnite amount.” This is a function of t. Limits and Continuity of Functions there shall be sudden jumps. x . Proceeding now to seek a precise deﬁnition of what is meant by saying that a function is continuous for a given argument. or everywhere. and so on. however small. The function sin θ passes through all values from − to every time that θ passes from −π/ to π/. but continuous for all other values. “the place of birth of the youngest person living at time t. they are the exceptions: there are inﬁnitely more discontinuous functions than continuous ones. where is some number which. let us ﬁrst deﬁne a neighbourhood (α say) containing the value f a which the function has for the argument a. we see that as x diminishes /x grows faster and faster. What we desire is this: If a is the argument for which we wish our function to be continuous. But it is not at all diﬃcult to deﬁne discontinuous functions. as x grows smaller. will be very small.” where x is a real number. where n is any integer. or generally from (n − )π/ to (n + )π/. An analogous mathematical example would be “the integer next below x. . It is easy to manufacture functions which are discontinuous in several places. and then gives a sudden jump. any change. for example. and we cannot diminish the oscillations by making the interval smaller. as a non-mathematical example. Many functions are discontinuous for one or several values of the variable. if we take any interval containing . Consequently sin /x passes more and more quickly from − | to and back again.Chap. log x. its value is constant from the time of one person’s birth to the time of the next birth. and then the value changes suddenly from one birthplace to the other. Take. Examples will be found in any book on the theory of functions of a real variable. to x . The actual fact is that. sin x. all values for arguments throughout this neighbourhood . so that it passes more and more quickly through the cycle of values from one multiple of π/ to another as x becomes smaller and smaller.

the diﬀerence f (a + δ) − f (a) is numerically less than σ . for arguments that fall very little short | of a (if is very small). Given any number in this section. The general rule is that a function oscillates. Let us consider what may happen as the argument approaches some value a from below. there exists a positive number . for all values of δ which are numerically | less than . So far we have not deﬁned the “limit” of a function for a given argument. That is to say. a whole stretch of values will occur for arguments within this neighbourhood. If this can be done. where is some number which. diﬀerent from . If we had done so. we could have deﬁned the continuity of a function diﬀerently: a function is continuous at a point where its value is the same as the limit of its values for approaches either from above or from below. let us consider it ﬁrst. σ ﬁrst deﬁnes a neighbourhood of f (a). but as small as we please. in important cases. we can always ﬁnd a stretch of real numbers. the value of the function lies within the neighbourhood from f (a) − σ to f (a) + σ . that from a − to a + . for all arguments within this neighbourhood. The values of the function for arguments from a − to a (a excluded) will be a set of real numbers which will deﬁne a certain section of the set of real numbers. there are values at least as great as this number for arguments between a − and a. namely. however σ may be chosen. we wish to consider what happens for arguments contained in the interval from a− to a. however small. diﬀerent from .Chap. In this deﬁnition. having a in the middle of it. for every positive number σ . The common part of all these sections we will call the “ultimate section” A number is said to be “numerically less” than when it lies between − and + . That is to say. namely. . the neighbourhood from f (a) − σ to f (a) + σ . As this is the general rule. The deﬁnition then proceeds to say that we can (by means of ) deﬁne a neighbourhood. if we decree that our function is not to diﬀer from f a by more than some very tiny amount. the section consisting of those numbers that are not greater than all the values for arguments from a − to a. i. And this is to remain true whatever tiny amount we may select. Hence we are led to the following deﬁnition:— The function f (x) is said to be “continuous” for the argument a if. namely.e. no matter how small we may have made α. such that. such that throughout this stretch f x will not diﬀer from f a by more than the prescribed tiny amount. and that. Limits and Continuity of Functions shall be contained in the neighbourhood α. Let us take all possible ’s and all possible corresponding sections. will be very small. given any neighbourhood of a given argument. the function is “continuous” for the argument a. XI. But it is only the exceptionally “tame” function that has a deﬁnite limit as the argument approaches a given point. such that.

together with the negative numbers down to and including −. we shall still ﬁnd values as great as x and values as small as x. It is equally true if it has none. But if the ultimate oscillation has many terms. i. in order to ﬁt in with the above deﬁnitions.” Between − and . together with the positive numbers up to and including . up to and including . To say that a number z belongs to the ultimate section is to say that. i. but will never assume any greater value. In this case we can take the lower and upper boundaries of the ultimate oscillation (i. if the ultimate oscillation is null. and may be deﬁned as the limit of the function for approaches from below. the lower boundary of the ultimate upper section and the upper boundary of the ultimate section) as the lower and upper limits of .e. the boundary of the ultimate section is the same as that of the ultimate upper section. Similarly the “ultimate upper section” consists of all positive numbers together with . however small we make . The ultimate oscillation may contain no terms. Taking the common part of all such sections for all possible ’s. positive and negative. however near we come to a. the function will assume the value for certain arguments. | We may say generally that the “ultimate oscillation” of a function as the argument approaches a from below consists of all those numbers x which are such that. Thus the “ultimate oscillation” consists of all real numbers from − to . however small we may make . In the ﬁrst two cases the function has a deﬁnite limit for approaches from below. Limits and Continuity of Functions as the argument approaches a. XI. both included. this is fairly obvious. If the ultimate oscillation has one term. there are arguments between a − and a for which the value of the function is not greater than z. there is no deﬁnite limit to the function for approaches from below. If a term z belongs both to the ultimate section and to the ultimate upper section. or one term. this deﬁnes an upper section which will vary as varies. We shall assume. instead of from the bottom up to some point. Here we take those numbers that are not less than all the values for arguments from a − to a. we obtain the “ultimate upper section. or many terms. we shall say that it belongs to the “ultimate oscillation. We may apply exactly the same process to upper sections. Let us begin with the “ultimate section. that this value is approached from below.” To say that a number z belongs to the ultimate upper section is to say that.e.e.” We may illustrate the matter by considering once more the function sin /x as x approaches the value . whatever may be. to sections that go from some point up to the top. Hence the ultimate section consists of all real numbers. it consists of all negative numbers together with . there are arguments between a − and a for which the value of the function is not less than z.Chap. for it is not diﬃcult to prove that.

Similarly we obtain lower and upper limits of the “ultimate” values for approaches from above. the function converges into the successors of this number as the argument approaches a from below.Chap.e. If it is also the value for the argument a. () Given any real number greater than f a. however small. four limits to a function for approaches to a given argument. the value of the function is a member of the class α. it is necessary and suﬃcient that. and if they are identical. for which it has the value f a. We can deﬁne the limit of a function for a given argument (if it exists) without passing through the ultimate oscillation and the four limits of the general case. for this argument and all arguments greater than this. then the diﬀerence between the values for these arguments will be less than σ . () and () Similar conditions for approaches to a from above. even when both exist. This is to hold for any σ . the function converges into the predecessors of this number as the argument approaches a from below. need not be identical. Limits and Continuity of Functions its “ultimate” values for approaches from below. The limit for a given argument a only exists when all these four are equal. two values for arguments suﬃciently near to a (but both less than a) will diﬀer | by less than σ . XI. given any small number σ . These two limits. This may be taken as deﬁning continuity: it is equivalent to our former deﬁnition. A function is called “continuous” (without qualiﬁcation) when it is continuous for every argument. If there is to be a deﬁnite limit for approaches to a from below. in that case the function has a limit for approaches from below. Let us deﬁne the limit for approaches from below. It is only in this last case that we call the function continuous for the argument a. Another slightly diﬀerent method of reaching the deﬁnition of continuity is the following:— Let us say that a function “ultimately converges into a class α” if there is some real number such that. Similarly we deﬁne the case when there is a limit for approaches from above. in the general case. they still need not be identical with the value for the argument a. namely:— () Given any real number less than f a. Thus we have. i. in that case. if it satisﬁes four conditions. . the function is continuous for this argument. and our arguments both lie between a − and a (a excluded). The deﬁnition proceeds. if is suﬃciently small. Similarly we shall say that a function “converges into α as the argument approaches x from below” if there is some argument y less than x such that throughout the interval from y (included) to x (excluded) the function has values which are members of α. We may now say that a function is continuous for the argument a. and is then their common value. just as the earlier deﬁnition of continuity proceeded.

whose arguments belong to the ﬁeld of Q. Wells which will illustrate. that. if f (t) is its position at time t. We shall say that the function R is continuous for the argument | a if. Limits and Continuity of Functions The advantage of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses the conditions of continuity into four. so that “the R of a” is its position at time a. which it is well to imagine serial.) . But such occurrences are supposed to be rare in the real world. XI. It is the meaning of “continuity” involved in such statements which we now wish to deﬁne as simply as possible. throughout this interval. that all motions are continuous. from the case of motion. who possessed. without his knowledge. P the series of points on our line from left to right.e. The hero of the story. There is a story by H. R the relation of the position of our particle on the line at time a to the time a. This illustration may be borne in mind throughout our deﬁnitions. Suppose. when so stated. (We mean by an “interval” all the terms between any two. Let P and Q be two relations.Chap. though without adequate evidence. The case of motion is a convenient one to bear in mind.e. while its converse domain is contained in the ﬁeld of Q. i. if x and y are two members of the ﬁeld of P. Let R be a one-many relation whose domain is contained in the ﬁeld of P. and t the moment of the ejaculation. The deﬁnitions given for the case of functions where argument and value are real numbers can readily be adapted for more general use. the power of realising his wishes. | We may now generalise our deﬁnitions so as to apply to series which are not numerical or known to be numerically measurable. given any body. and it is assumed. but on ejaculating “Go to——” he found that the policeman disappeared. there is an interval on the Q-series containing a not as an end-point and such that. If f (t) was the policeman’s position at time t. though it is not necessary to our deﬁnitions that they should be so. Then R is (in a generalised sense) a function. f (t) is a continuous function of t. derived from considering arguments and values respectively greater or less than the argument and value for which continuity is to be deﬁned. that we are dealing with a particle moving on a line: let Q be the time-series. whereas the value for the argument t was —. the function has values which are members of α. and x has the relation P to y. the diﬀerence between the limit of a function for a given argument and its value for the same argument. we shall mean by the “P-interval x to y” all terms z such that x has the relation P to z and z has the relation P to y—together. for example. i. the limit of the policeman’s positions as t approached to t from below would be in contact with the hero. was being attacked by a policeman. while its values belong to the ﬁeld of P. given any interval α on the P-series containing the value of the function for the argument a. with x or y themselves. G.

since it is essentially a one-by-one process. then halved again. i. The adaptation of the deﬁnition of convergence and the resulting alternative deﬁnition of continuity oﬀers no diﬃculty of any kind. and this is ﬁnite whatever ﬁnite number n may be. putting b for the value for the argument a: | Given any term having the relation P to b. take any argument y which precedes a (i. and take their common part. the ﬁrst is. this will be the ultimate section. in the notions of the limit of a function or the continuity of a function. we never reach inﬁnitesimals in this way: after n bisections. Of the four conditions that a function must fulﬁl in order to be continuous for the argument a. but they do not involve any intervals that are not ﬁnite. that essentially involves number. There is thus nothing.Chap.e. and many propositions about them can be proved for any two series (one being the argument-series and the other the value-series). the length of our bit is /n of an inch. We say that R “Q-converges into α as the argument approaches a given argument a” if there is a term y having the relation Q to a and belonging to the converse domain of R and such that the value of the function for any argument in the Q-interval from y (inclusive) to a (exclusive) belongs to α. XI. has the relation Q to a). take the values of the function for all arguments up to and including y. Form all such sections for all y’s that precede a.e. The process of successive bisection does not lead to divisions whose ordinal number is inﬁnite. Both can be deﬁned generally. R Q-converges into the successors of b (with respect to P) as the argument approaches a from below. This is analogous to the fact that if a line an inch long be halved. We say that a function R is “ultimately Q-convergent into α” if there is a member y of the converse domain of R and the ﬁeld of Q such that the value of the function for the argument y and for any argument to which y has the relation Q is a member of α. Confusions on such topics have had much to . Limits and Continuity of Functions We can easily deﬁne the “ultimate section” and the “ultimate oscillation.” To deﬁne the “ultimate section” for approaches to the argument a from below. growing smaller without any limit short of zero. The ultimate upper section and the ultimate oscillation are then deﬁned exactly as in the previous case. They involve inﬁnite classes of intervals. those members of the P-series which are earlier than or identical with some of these values. the third and fourth are obtained from the ﬁrst and second by replacing Q by its converse. It will be seen that the deﬁnitions do not involve inﬁnitesimals. and form the section of P deﬁned by these values. and so on indeﬁnitely. The second condition is obtained by replacing P by its converse. Thus inﬁnitesimals are not to be reached in this way.

Chap. XI. . Limits and Continuity of Functions do with the diﬃculties which have been found in the discussion of inﬁnity and continuity.

but it is essential in order to prove the existence of the number deﬁned. and whose second term is the null-class. in terms of logic. But in the case of multiplication.CHAPTER XII SELECTIONS AND THE MULTIPLICATIVE AXIOM In this chapter we have to consider an axiom which can be enunciated. but not proved. form all the ordered couples whose ﬁrst term is | the null. though not indispensable. important problems arise out of the deﬁnition. where the number of factors may be inﬁnite. the case of addition. Exactly analogously we can deﬁne µ + ν. cannot be proved without its help. then. and the logical sum of the two classes will have µ + µ terms. In deﬁning the arithmetical operations. Take. in the sense that many interesting propositions. because even without those propositions the subjects in which they occur still exist. the only correct procedure is to construct an actual class (or relation. How shall we deﬁne µ + µ? For this purpose we must have two classes having µ terms. and they must not overlap. are merely a question of a suitable technical device. Suppose we are given a cardinal number µ. in the case of relationnumbers) having the required number of terms. and a class α which has µ terms. Such deﬁnitions. secondly. These two classes of couples have no member in common. given that µ is the number of some class α and ν is the number of some class β. It is convenient. We can construct such classes from α in various ways. as the simplest example. This sometimes demands a certain amount of ingenuity. Before enunciating the multiplicative axiom. as a rule. . and the deﬁnition of multiplication when the number of factors may be inﬁnite. but it is not indispensable. class and whose second term is a class consisting of a single member of α. of which the following is perhaps the simplest: Form ﬁrst all the ordered couples whose ﬁrst term is a class consisting of a single member of α. and which is convenient. though in a somewhat mutilated form. we must ﬁrst explain the theory of selections. in certain portions of mathematics. which it seems natural to suppose true.

It is explained and treated at length in Principia Mathematica. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom Multiplication when the number of factors is ﬁnite oﬀers no diﬃculty. x ). the number of possible Parliaments is obtained by multiplying together the numbers of voters in the .Chap. vol. who make up our Parliament. XII. except that it cannot be extended to an inﬁnite number of factors. and vol. and it can be extended step by step to three or four or any ﬁnite number of factors. x ). (x . it will be applicable whether κ is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. i. How many diﬀerent possible ways of choosing a Parliament are there? Each constituency can select any one of its voters. x ). and therefore if there are µ voters in a constituency. as constituencies do when they elect members of Parliament. (x . (x . Given two classes α and β.. the method deﬁned above is just as applicable when its members are inﬁnite as when they are ﬁnite. thus it is obvious that. it can make µ choices. ∗ . The problem of multiplication when the number of factors may be inﬁnite arises in this way: Suppose we have a class κ consisting of classes. we can deﬁne µ × ν as the number of ordered couples that can be formed by choosing the ﬁrst term out of α and the second out of β. (x . let α be the class whose members are x . that we have to ﬁnd a way of dealing with. If | κ is not inﬁnite. This deﬁnition remains applicable when µ or ν or both are inﬁnite. x ). x . not with the case when its members are. Let us now set to work to choose one term out of each class to be its representative. x ). It will be seen that this deﬁnition does not require that α and β should not overlap. x ). (x . one being selected out of each constituency. ∗ ﬀ. Then the class which is used to deﬁne the product µ × µ is the class of couples: (x . ii. it even remains adequate when α and β are identical. It is the case when κ is inﬁnite. each constituency being considered as a class of voters. It is to be observed that the problem is to be able to deal with the case when κ is inﬁnite. assuming that by law each constituency has to elect a man who is a voter in that constituency. suppose the number of terms in each of these classes is given. x ). when the total number of constituencies is ﬁnite. x . (x . x ). The following method of deﬁning multiplication generally is due to Dr Whitehead. No diﬃculty arises as regards this deﬁnition. of which the ﬁrst has µ terms and the second ν terms. For example. We thus arrive at a class of representatives. How shall we deﬁne the product of all these numbers? If we can frame our deﬁnition generally. (x . even though its members may be ﬁnite. (x . Let us suppose to begin with that κ is a class of classes no two of which overlap—say the constituencies in a country where there is no plural voting. The choices of the diﬀerent constituencies are independent. x ).

The formal deﬁnition is: A “selector” from a class of classes κ is a one-many relation. we call x the “representative” of α in respect of the relation R. Thus we deﬁne: “The product of the numbers of the members of a class of classes κ” is the number of selectors from κ. we must remove the restriction that no two members of κ are to overlap. since a term x which belongs to two classes α and β may be selected once to represent α and once to represent β. XII. We can deﬁne exponentiation by an adaptation of the above | plan. we may take the number of possible Parliaments as deﬁning the product of the numbers of the separate constituencies.” A relation R will be called a “selector” from κ if. and this is to be all that R does. there may be more selectors than selections. and such that. and if α be any member of κ. of course. This deﬁnition is equally applicable whether κ is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. and let us assume to begin with that no two members of κ overlap. and the multiplicative class. but to the same selection. If R is a selector from κ. and x is the term which has the relation R to α. For this purpose. For purposes of deﬁning multiplication. µ is a “selection” from κ if every member of µ belongs to some member | of κ.e. Let κ be a class of classes. as before. it is the selectors we require rather than the selections. We might. A “selection” from κ will now be deﬁned as the domain of a selector. it picks out one term as the representative of that member. deﬁne µν as the number of selectors from .e. i. and proceed to exact statements. i. that if α and β are two diﬀerent members of κ. having κ for its converse domain. i. Before we can be wholly satisﬁed with these deﬁnitions. We shall call a class a “selection” from κ when it consists of just one term from each member of κ. given any member α of κ. if x has the relation to α.Chap. µ and α have exactly one term in common. and α is a member of κ. then x is a member of α. This is the method by which inﬁnite products are deﬁned. When we do not know whether the number of constituencies is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. from every member of κ. instead of deﬁning ﬁrst a class called a “selection. if. is deﬁned as the product of the numbers of the members of κ. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom various constituencies. will be the class of selections. i. We must now drop our illustration. giving rise to diﬀerent selectors in the two cases. then no member of the one is a member of the other. there is just one term x which is a member of α and has the relation R to α. The class of all “selections” from κ we shall call the “multiplicative class” of κ. the number of possible selections from κ.e.e. But when the members of κ overlap. The number of terms in the multiplicative class of κ.” we will deﬁne ﬁrst a relation which we will call a “selector.

derived from the fact that the multiplicative axiom (of which we shall speak shortly) is unnecessarily involved if it is adopted. and form the class of all ordered couples that have y for their second term and a member of α for their ﬁrst term. and α has µ members. The relevance of this to the multiplicative axiom will appear shortly. until at last we become content to register the assumption and its consequences. and although. the number of selectors is the same as the number of selections. and β has ν members. and the ﬁrst term may be any member of α. since y may be any member of β. Let y be a member of β. as we register the axiom of parallels. yet reﬂection brings gradually increasing doubt. . plication and exponentiation. all the couples that can be formed of a variable member of α and a ﬁxed member of β. These things cannot be proved. since our classes of couples are mutually exclusive. In other words. What applies to exponentiation applies also to the product of two cardinals. A selection from our class of classes will be a set of ordered couples. We can prove this when the number of factors is ﬁnite. each of which has µ terms. since any member of α may be chosen for the ﬁrst term. we cannot prove that. where α has µ terms and β has ν terms. without assuming that we can know whether it is true or false. XII. given a class of classes none of which is null. But there is one thing we cannot prove: we cannot prove that a product is only zero when one of its factors is zero. If we now form all the classes of this sort that result from varying y. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom ν classes. These ν classes are each of them a class of couples. for. and β a class having ν terms. Or we may equally well deﬁne µν as the number of selections. But there are objections to this deﬁnition. of which there will be exactly one having any given member of β for its second term. but the set is one having a certain structure and a more manageable composition than is the case in general. The assumption. We deﬁne µν as the number of selectors from the class consisting of these ν classes.Chap. but we prefer to deﬁne it as the number of ordered couples to be formed consisting of a member of α followed by a member of β. We might deﬁne “µ × ν” as the sum of the numbers of ν classes each having µ terms. is designed to evade the necessity of assuming the multiplicative axiom. namely. This deﬁnition. at ﬁrst sight. Thus µν is deﬁned by the selectors from a certain set of ν classes each having µ terms. | With our deﬁnitions. there must be selectors from them. also. but not when it is inﬁnite. or that. given a class of mutually exclusive classes. We adopt instead the following construction:— Let α be a class having µ terms. we obtain altogether ν classes. there must be at least one class consisting of one term out of each of the given classes. There will be µ such couples for a given y. they seem obviously true. we can prove the usual formal laws of multi.

i. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom loosely worded. is to count oﬀ the members of α. until he made it explicit.e. in his “Beweis. but it is not diﬃcult to see the general principle upon which it proceeds. dass jede Menge wohlgeordnet werden kann. in the above-mentioned proof. can be arranged in a series in which every sub-class has a ﬁrst term (except. given any class α. there is at least one class which has exactly one term in common with each of the given classes.” This proposition we will call the “multiplicative axiom. of which none is null. i. It uses the form which we call “Zermelo’s axiom. iii. What Zermelo does. Annalen. ∗ –. mathematicians had used it without a qualm. the null-class). one by one. The full proof of this proposition is diﬃcult. there is at least one one-many relation R whose converse domain consists of all existent sub-classes of α and which is such that. in eﬀect. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the proposition that. pp. This is the form in which the axiom was ﬁrst brought to the notice of the learned world by Zermelo. of course.e. it will often happen that two sub-classes have the same representative. then there is at least one one-many relation implying R and having κ for its converse domain. vol. vol. Also vol. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the proposition that a product is only zero when at least one of its factors is zero. and κ all the sub-classes of α with the exception | of the null-class. The multiplicative axiom has been shown by Zermelo. the result cannot be unless one of the numbers concerned is . it assumes that.Chap. if x has the relation R to ξ. And the credit due to Zermelo for having made it explicit is entirely independent of the question whether it is true or false.e. In this form we shall speak of it as Zermelo’s axiom. Mathematische See . –. if R be any relation. if any number of cardinal numbers be multiplied together. of course. that. to be equivalent to the proposition that every class can be well-ordered.” i. XII. by means Principia Mathematica. lix. i. but it would seem that they had done so unconsciously. There are many equivalent ways of stating it precisely.” We will ﬁrst give various equivalent forms of the proposition. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the assumption that if α be any class. and then consider certain ways in which its truth or falsehood is of interest to mathematics. We may begin with the following:— “Given any class of mutually exclusive classes.” Zermelo regards the axiom as an unquestionable truth. then x is a member of ξ. ∗ . Such a relation picks out a “representative” from each sub-class. then there is at least one selector from κ. is that selectors and selections exist when we should expect them. It must be confessed that. and κ any class contained in the converse domain of R.

We naturally think that the sum of ν mutually exclusive classes. let xω be the representative of what is left of α. If the axiom is false. this can be proved.Chap. and α is some member of κ. XII. In this way we can go on until nothing is left. are numerous and important. nothing is known at present. The trouble is that there are so many. we cannot in . . except where. . The successive representatives will form a | well-ordered series containing all the members of α.) This proposition is called “Zermelo’s theorem. there will be a member β of λ which will be the correlate of α with respect to S. Now α and β each have µ terms. it cannot be proved without the multiplicative axiom. but the above are the most important of the forms known at present. there is some one-one relation between the two sets of classes. accordingly. If κ and λ are inﬁnite. Now. must have µ × ν terms. (The above is. . we must establish a one-one relation. In order to obtain a one-one correlation of the sum of κ with the sum of λ. Let us consider some one-one relation S between the classes. each having µ terms. call it x .” The multiplicative axiom is also equivalent to the assumption that of any two cardinals which are not equal. xn . . of course. As to the truth or falsehood of the axiom in any of its forms. In order to prove this. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom of R and transﬁnite induction. each having µ terms. but what we want is a one-one relation between their terms. This requires a selection from a set of classes | of correlators. because every representative is a member of its class. x . assuming that α is not ﬁnite. Then take the representative of the class consisting of all of α except x .. and we wish to prove that the sum of one set has as many terms as the sum of the other. nor greater than ν. . owing to some special circumstance. the existence of certain selectors can be proved. and let x be the representative of what is left. . But when ν is inﬁnite. Many other forms of the axiom might be given. and are therefore similar. Then if κ and λ are the two sets of classes. call it x . The way the multiplicative axiom enters in is as follows: Suppose we have two sets of ν mutually exclusive classes. We then take away the whole progression. The propositions that depend upon the axiom. we have to pick out one correlator of α with β. equal to. there will be cardinals µ and ν such that µ is neither less than. without being known to be equivalent to it. one must be the greater. one-one correlations of α and β. and x is shut out from this class. only a hint of the general lines of the proof. and similarly for every other pair. Proceed similarly to take away x . When ν is ﬁnite. since there are in each case ν classes. We put ﬁrst the representative of α. one class of the set being all the one-one correlators of α with β. In this way we ﬁrst obtain a progression x . We have seen that ℵ and ℵ possibly form an instance of such a pair. There are. It must be diﬀerent from x . Take ﬁrst the connection of addition and multiplication.

This has a bearing upon the theory of transﬁnite ordinals. already noted. but this inference is fallacious. it is supposed to be proved that any progression of ordinals of the second class has a limit which is again an ordinal of the second class.e. . This is illustrated by the millionaire who bought a pair of socks whenever he bought a pair of boots. of connecting the sum of ν classes each having µ terms with µ × ν. such that a series having this ordinal number will have ℵ terms in its ﬁeld. but not with the socks. The reason for the diﬀerence is this: Among boots we can distinguish right and left. But this is an instance of the diﬃculty. All that can be said at present is that we do not know.Chap.” That is to say. It is commonly inferred from this that the sum of ℵ classes each having ℵ members must itself have ℵ members. if we take any progression of ordinals of the second class. It is also easy to see that. In view of the way in which the multiplicative axiom is involved. and how many socks? One would naturally suppose that he had twice as many boots and twice as many socks as he had pairs of each. They may be true. since we do not know that the number of terms in such a sum is ℵ × ℵ . and therefore we can make a selection of one out of each pair. We know that × ℵ = ℵ . with the corollary that ω (the smallest ordinal of the third class) is not the limit of any progression. unless the multiplicative axiom is true—that the predecessors of the limit are ℵ in number. cannot be proved to happen always | unless we assume the multiplicative axiom. It is inferred thence—fallaciously. except by some very artiﬁcial device. Sometimes this can be done. is involved in most of the recognised theory of ordinals of the second class. or they may not. since that number is not increased by doubling. sometimes it cannot. This proposition. XII. The problem is: How many boots had he. This fact has various curious consequences. Hence we might suppose that the sum of ℵ pairs must have ℵ terms. Thus the greater part of the theory of ordinals of the second class must be regarded as unproved. It is easy to prove that an ordinal which has ℵ predecessors must be one of what Cantor calls the “second class. In our case it can be done with the boots. the proposition and its corollary cannot be regarded as proved. and that therefore he had ℵ of each.” i. and therefore that the limit is a number of the “second class. and never at any other time. unless we can know that the multiplicative axiom is true. But this. nor consequently that it is ℵ . we know that ℵ = ℵ × ℵ = ℵ . though we can prove that it is sometimes the case. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom general know that such a selection exists. To begin with. the predecessors of their limit form at most the sum of ℵ classes each having ℵ terms. Hence we cannot establish the usual kind of connection between addition and multiplication. and who had such a passion for buying both that at last he had ℵ pairs of boots and ℵ pairs of socks. Another illustration may help to make the point clearer.

given ℵ pairs of boots. there are certainly ℵ boots. XII. (The class may. Of course. and we cannot be sure. with any | pair. if µ is an inﬁnite number. and the case of the socks. For example. if we can. for. and therefore that there were not ℵ of them. and therefore as the ﬁeld of a progression. But with the socks we shall have to choose arbitrarily. but we cannot be sure of this in the case of the socks unless we assume the multiplicative axiom or fall back upon some fortuitous geometrical method of selection such as the above. we do not know that a selection is even theoretically possible. Now there is no diﬃculty in showing that a non-inductive class must contain more terms than any inductive class. Another important problem involving the multiplicative axiom is the relation of reﬂexiveness to non-inductiveness. and an inﬁnite number of arbitrary choices is an impossibility. This case illustrates that. with a little goodwill on the part of the reader. from each pair. with each pair. given any noninductive class. but that the converse (so far as is known at present) can only be proved if we assume the multiplicative axiom. The way in which this comes about is as follows:— It is easy to prove that a reﬂexive class is one which contains sub-classes having ℵ terms. it is necessary and suﬃcient to ﬁnd some way of arranging its terms in a progression. take the left boot ﬁrst and the right second. we pointed out that a reﬂexive number must be non-inductive. keeping the order of the pair unchanged. like socks. It will be remembered that in Chapter VIII. It is to be observed that. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom namely. that sock which has its centre of mass nearer to p. it is possible to choose a progression out of its terms. the centres of mass of the two socks are not both at exactly the same distance from p. in this way we obtain a progression of all the boots. unless we assume the multiplicative axiom. thus we can choose. we always can ﬁnd some principle of selection. Unless we can ﬁnd a rule for selecting. But there is no theoretical reason why a method of selection such as this should always be possible.e. we can choose all the right boots or all the left boots. i. if it were impossible to select one out of each pair of socks. There is no diﬃculty in doing this with the boots. The pairs are given as forming an ℵ . a relation which is a selector. what comes to the . take the centres of mass of the socks: there will be points p in space such that. itself have ℵ terms.Chap. one set of µ pairs may not contain the same number of terms as another set of µ pairs. it would follow that the socks could not be arranged in a progression. To prove that a class has ℵ terms. which to put ﬁrst. or. in the case of objects in space. of course. may serve to show how a selection might be impossible. Within each pair. but with socks no such principle of selection suggests itself.) Thus we have to prove. that there is any class consisting of one sock out of each pair. We may put the matter in another way. Hence the problem. that.

i. x . αν contain. we do not know whether we can always do it or not. .e. . we must employ the multiplicative axiom. The class α . that if α is a non-inductive class and ν is any inductive number. α . . if µ is a non-inductive number. α . β . Thus we can form sets of ﬁnite sub-classes of α: First one class having no terms. say. there are sub-classes of α that have ν terms. and so on. . and if it does not. α . ν(ν + )/ terms. but we have only proved that the number of collections of sub-classes of α is a reﬂexive number. although we cannot be sure that new members of α come in at any one speciﬁed stage in the progression α . one containing three. otherwise. therefore new terms must come in at this point if not sooner. x . to go on with only repetitions from the (ν + )th | class to the ν(ν + )/th class. α . α . may or may not contain x . . thus we are one step nearer to our goal. + + + . assuming the multiplicative axiom. . We may . must be reﬂexive. and so introduces no new terms. say x . at the very most. ν(ν + )/ + . if it does.) We have now a progression α . consisting of two terms. omitting the sub-class consisting of the null-class alone. is a new beginning. say. if µ is the number of µ members of α. α . . which consists of one term. i. α . . β . The ﬁrst ν classes α . then. It follows that. let the one term be x . . We now know that. if there were no repetitions in the ﬁrst ν classes. but in that case α must introduce a new term. (We shall have α = β and α = β . that. . provided µ is not µ inductive. α . if we omit from our progression α . The class α . all those classes that are composed entirely of members that have occurred in previous classes. . we select one sub-class containing one term. That is to say. We thus get a progression of sets of sub-classes. and so on.e. α . each set consisting of all those that have a certain given ﬁnite number of terms.e. From each set of sub-classes let us choose out one. x . we can be sure that new members keep on coming in from time to time. Let us illustrate.Chap. so that µ is the number of sub-classes of α and is the number of collections of sub-classes. XII. i. instead of a progression of collections of sub-classes. But by that time the old terms would no longer be suﬃciently numerous to form a next class with the right number of members. In order to advance beyond this point. α . Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom same thing. then classes having term (as many as there are members of α). of sub-classes of α. . because α and α must introduce new terms. then classes having | terms. it must introduce two new terms. . say. The next step is to notice that. one containing two terms. Let our new progression be called β . So far we have not used the multiplicative axiom. (We can do this if the multiplicative axiom is assumed. we shall still have a progression. . + ν terms. . thus it would be possible. it introduces one new term. µ must be a reﬂexive number. α . . But this is a long way from what we set out to prove. In this case it is possible that α consists of x .

The assumption made in the above direct argument is that a product of ℵ factors is never zero unless one of the factors is zero. we shall have γ = β = α . but only its truth as applied to a set of ℵ classes. every class can be well-ordered. which would prove the multiplicative . as against deduction from Zermelo’s theorem. then x . when | it is possible. Thus by twice using this axiom we can prove that. and so on. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the assumption that all cardinal numbers are multipliable. if the axiom is true. the β’s are some of the α’s. Cases may be found where propositions which seem to involve the multiplicative axiom can be proved without it. if α does not contain the one member of α .” where a number ν is deﬁned as “multipliable” when a product of ν factors is never zero unless one of the factors is zero. . From this point of view. (Again γ will be identical with β and with α . though not for larger numbers of classes. γ . and is a sub-class of α. This could also be deduced from Zermelo’s theorem. that the above argument does not demand the universal truth of the multiplicative axiom. x .Chap.) This new progression of γ’s consists of mutually exclusive classes. But in order to identify the reﬂexive with the non-inductive. such a selection can be made. It is conceivable that the multiplicative axiom in its general form may be shown to be false. . We may state this assumption in the form: “ℵ is a multipliable number. x . every non-inductive cardinal must be reﬂexive. Let γµ be the part of βµ which consists of new members.e. where ν is some number greater than µ. for a well-ordered series must have either a ﬁnite or a reﬂexive number of terms in its ﬁeld. Hence a selection from them will be a progression. but if α does contain this one member. Thus we get a new progression γ . but we cannot prove that any inﬁnite number is so. . We can prove that a ﬁnite number is always multipliable. say βµ . but. or to show that any progression of numbers of the second class is of the second class. to content ourselves with the more restricted assumption. is a progression. γ will consist of the other member of α . γ . It is not improbable that there is much to be discovered in regard to the topics discussed in the present chapter. There is one advantage in the above direct argument. we only need the very much smaller assumption that ℵ is multipliable. i. βµ will be αν . speaking generally. x is a member of γ .e. . . contains members which have not occurred in any of the previous β’s. i. XII. x is a member of γ . if the axiom is true. . Assuming the multiplicative axiom. if x is the member of γ . It may happen that the axiom holds for ℵ classes. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom or may not have α = β .) Now these β’s are such that any one of them. For this reason it is better. that. or to deal with the problem of the boots and socks. Zermelo’s theorem oﬀers the best hope: the continuum or some still more dense series might be proved to be incapable of having its terms well-ordered.

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom

axiom false, in virtue of Zermelo’s theorem. But so far, no method of obtaining such results has been discovered, and the subject remains wrapped in obscurity.

CHAPTER XIII

**THE AXIOM OF INFINITY AND LOGICAL TYPES
**

The axiom of inﬁnity is an assumption which may be enunciated as follows:— “If n be any inductive cardinal number, there is at least one class of individuals having n terms.” If this is true, it follows, of course, that there are many classes of individuals having n terms, and that the total number of individuals in the world is not an inductive number. For, by the axiom, there is at least one class having n + terms, from which it follows that there are many classes of n terms and that n is not the number of individuals in the world. Since n is any inductive number, it follows that the number of individuals in the world must (if our axiom be true) exceed any inductive number. In view of what we found in the preceding chapter, about the possibility of cardinals which are neither inductive nor reﬂexive, we cannot infer from our axiom that there are at least ℵ individuals, unless we assume the multiplicative axiom. But we do know that there are at least ℵ classes of classes, since the inductive cardinals are classes of classes, and form a progression if our axiom is true. The way in which the need for this axiom arises may be explained as follows. One of Peano’s assumptions is that no two inductive cardinals have the same successor, i.e. that we shall not have m + = n + unless m = n, if m and n are inductive cardinals. In Chapter VIII. we had occasion to use what is virtually the same as the above assumption of Peano’s, namely, that, if n is an inductive cardinal, | n is not equal to n + . It might be thought that this could be proved. We can prove that, if α is an inductive class, and n is the number of members of α, then n is not equal to n + . This proposition is easily proved by induction, and might be thought to imply the other. But in fact it does not, since there might be no such class as α. What it does imply is this: If n is an inductive cardinal such that there is at least one class having n members, then n is not equal to n + . The axiom of inﬁnity assures us (whether truly or falsely) that there are classes

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types

having n members, and thus enables us to assert that n is not equal to n + . But without this axiom we should be left with the possibility that n and n + might both be the null-class. Let us illustrate this possibility by an example: Suppose there were exactly nine individuals in the world. (As to what is meant by the word “individual,” I must ask the reader to be patient.) Then the inductive cardinals from up to would be such as we expect, but (deﬁned as + ) would be the null-class. It will be remembered that n + may be deﬁned as follows: n + is the collection of all those classes which have a term x such that, when x is taken away, there remains a class of n terms. Now applying this deﬁnition, we see that, in the case supposed, + is a class consisting of no classes, i.e. it is the null-class. The same will be true of + , or generally of + n, unless n is zero. Thus and all subsequent inductive cardinals will all be identical, since they will all be the null-class. In such a case the inductive cardinals will not form a progression, nor will it be true that no two have the same successor, for and will both be succeeded by the null-class ( being itself the null-class). It is in order to prevent such arithmetical catastrophes that we require the axiom of inﬁnity. As a matter of fact, so long as we are content with the arithmetic of ﬁnite integers, and do not introduce either inﬁnite integers or inﬁnite classes or series of ﬁnite integers or ratios, it is possible to obtain all desired results without the axiom of inﬁnity. That is to say, we can deal with the addition, | multiplication, and exponentiation of ﬁnite integers and of ratios, but we cannot deal with inﬁnite integers or with irrationals. Thus the theory of the transﬁnite and the theory of real numbers fails us. How these various results come about must now be explained. Assuming that the number of individuals in the world is n, the number of classes of individuals will be n . This is in virtue of the general proposition mentioned in Chapter VIII. that the number of classes contained in a class which has n members is n . Now n is always greater than n. Hence the number of classes in the world is greater than the number of individuals. If, now, we suppose the number of individuals to be , as we did just now, the number of classes will be , i.e. . Thus if we take our numbers as being applied to the counting of classes instead of to the counting of individuals, our arithmetic will be normal until we reach : the ﬁrst number to be null will be . And if we advance to classes of classes we shall do still better: the number of them will be , a number which is so large as to stagger imagination, since it has about digits. And if we advance to classes of classes of classes, we shall obtain a number represented by raised to a power which has about digits; the number of digits in this number will be about three times . In a

ii. ad inf. we can try counting classes of individuals.. at the next stage. It would be natural to suppose—as I supposed myself in former days—that. and if we want larger ones we can obtain them by travelling further along the logical hierarchy.. we can try classes of classes. But this can be insured. . we have a very similar state of aﬀairs. On . Ultimately. namely. however few individuals there may be in the world. and so on. It may be said: Let us assume that the number of individuals is n. iii. the number of terms in our whole set will be n + n + . classes. XIII. without the axiom of | inﬁnity. is ﬁnite. n which is ℵ . classes of classes. We need the whole class of inductive cardinals in order to establish the existence of ℵ . there must be enough objects of whatever sort is being counted to insure that the null-class does not suddenly obtrude itself. then if we form the complete set of individuals. . The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types time of paper shortage it is undesirable to write out this number. we shall reach a stage where there are many more than µ objects. On the corresponding problems as regards ratio. and so on. and not | conﬁning ourselves to objects of any one type. Thus no such assumption as the axiom of inﬁnity is required in order to reach any given ratio or any given inductive cardinal.Chap. vol. vol. ∗ ﬀ. whatever inductive number µ may be. for any given ratio µ/ν. classes of classes of classes. the null-class of classes and the class whose only member is the null-class of individuals). and the whole series in order to establish the existence of progressions: for these results. Thus taking all kinds of objects together. . Even if there were no individuals at all. In this way any assigned inductive cardinal can be made to ﬁnd its place among numbers which are not null. where n may be without spoiling our argument. by merely travelling up the hierarchy a suﬃcient distance. which it cannot be if the total number of ratios. at the next stage. classes of classes (namely. We need the whole series of ratios in order of magnitude in order to deﬁne real numbers as segments: this deﬁnition will not give the desired result unless the series of ratios is compact.. by means of constructions such as we have been considering. the null-class. if we still do not succeed. merely by travelling along the hierarchy for a suﬃcient distance. etc. for there would then be one class. we shall certainly this subject see Principia Mathematica. the axiom of inﬁnity could be proved. this would still be true. at the stage concerned. all taken together. If a ratio µ/ν is to have the expected properties. it is necessary that we should be able to make a single class or series in which no inductive cardinal is null. As regards ratios. It is when we wish to deal with the whole class or series of inductive cardinals or of ratios that the axiom is required. If we cannot succeed by counting individuals. ∗ ﬀ. see ibid.

Applying this proof to the supposed class of all imaginable objects. And when the above argument is scrutinised it will. though the fallacy is a subtle one and by no means easy to avoid consistently. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types obtain an inﬁnite class. that the number of classes contained in a given class is always greater than the | number of members of the class. confused. The man who has lent his hat is quite sure there wasn’t a live rabbit in it before. It would be a mistake to lay too much stress on such feelings of hocus-pocus. we should obtain a class of which its own sub-classes would be members. classes of individuals. classes of classes of individuals. like other emotions. XIII. though he may be unable to say where the ﬂaw is in the above construction. it is the purpose of this book to avoid those parts of the subjects which are still obscure and controversial. The class consisting of all objects that can be counted. namely. and obscure.. must. But they aﬀord a prima facie ground for scrutinising very closely any argument which arouses them. in the year . for example. When I ﬁrst came upon this contradiction. for the convenience of beginners. and in connection with the axiom of inﬁnity it is particularly easy to see the necessity of some such doctrine. isolating. as we suggested a moment ago. Hence we arrive at a contradiction. from the “contradiction of the greatest cardinal. add together into one class the individuals. moreover. if there be such a class. and we inferred that there is no greatest cardinal number. have a cardinal number which is the greatest possible. etc. those parts which can be accepted as embodying mathematically ascertained truths. So the reader. But the need of some doctrine of types is less doubtful than the precise form the doctrine should take. in my opinion. the following:— . if he has a robust sense of reality. before going into this argument. Now the theory of types emphatically does not belong to the ﬁnished and certain part of our subject: much of this theory is still inchoate. they may easily lead us astray.” To explain the subject of “types” fully would require a whole volume. The fallacy involved is the fallacy which may be called “confusion of types. but he is at a loss to say how the rabbit got there. of whatever sort. will feel convinced that it is impossible to manufacture an inﬁnite collection out of a ﬁnite collection of individuals. there cannot be more of them than there are members. But if we could. I was led to a new and simpler contradiction. This necessity results. Since all its sub-classes will be members of it. the ﬁrst thing to observe is that there is an air of hocus-pocus about it: something reminds one of the conjurer who brings things out of the hat. which we gave in Chapter VIII. So it might be said.Chap. and shall therefore not need the axiom of inﬁnity. be found to be fallacious. Now. I attempted to discover some ﬂaw in Cantor’s proof that there is no greatest cardinal.” We saw in Chapter VIII.

in rough outline. classes are logical ﬁctions. This is a class: is it a member of itself or not? If it is. ii. The fallacy consists in the formation of what we may call “impure” classes.e. This places a limitation upon the ways in which what are nominally. i. and that it is not. Prefatory Statement. pp. it is not one of those classes that are not members of themselves. it is a member of itself. Form now the assemblage of all classes which are not members of themselves.. though not really. which is to embrace everything. ii. or is not a member.” . and a statement which appears to be about a class will only be signiﬁcant if it is capable of translation into a form in which no mention is made of the class. If it is not. and to construct symbolically any class whose members are not all of the same grade in the logical hierarchy is to use symbols in a way which makes them no longer symbolise anything. and also. In other words. This is a contradiction.. chap. The supposition that a class is. to suppose that one class of individuals is a member. is not a man. Introduction. Thus if there are n individuals in the world. For the present an outline of e the solution must suﬃce.. Logic as based on the Theory of Types. classes which are not pure as to “type.” vol.Chap.” then “everything” is something. I have aimed only at saying just so much as was required in order to show that we cannot prove the existence of inﬁnite numbers and classes by i. –. consisting of both individuals and classes and having n + n members. pp. Thus of the two hypotheses—that it is.” As we shall see in a later chapter.e. i. for example. The solution of such contradictions by the theory of types is set forth fully in Principia Mathematica. There is no diﬃculty in manufacturing similar contradictions ad lib. Mankind. “Les paradoxes de la logique. And more generally. i. in articles by the present author in the American Journal | of Mathematics and in the Revue de M´taphysique et de Morale. but strictly devoid of meaning. a member of itself is meaningless in just this way. In this way the attempt to escape from the need for the axiom of inﬁnity breaks down. why there is need of such a doctrine. and n classes of individuals.” But normally a class is not a member of itself. we cannot form a new class. it is one of those classes that are not members of themselves. if there is such a thing as “everything. and is a member of the class “everything. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types The comprehensive class we are considering. of another class of individuals will be to suppose nonsense. vol. . or that it is not. it is not a member of itself. must embrace itself as one of its members. I do not pretend to have explained the doctrine of types. “Mathematical Vol. . a member of itself—each implies its contradictory.. –. XIII. or done more than indicate. more brieﬂy. names for classes can occur signiﬁcantly: a sentence or set of symbols in which such pseudo-names occur in wrong ways is not false. ∗ and ∗ .e. xxx.

but because the mistakes in it (or what I judge to be Dedekind. and still more because.Chap. will not be always true if the axiom of inﬁnity is false. however. if there is such a number as . in brief. and ideas are only some among objects. and together with and being gives a class of three terms. but there is (at least in the realm of being) an idea of any object. which. It must be understood that the equation n = n + . if n is an inductive cardinal. The argument. But as applied to a number which is too great for the actual world. There remain. into that part which consists of ideas. and so on. it does not mean that. namely. This argument is interesting. and therefore there is such a number as . not only on its own account. XIII. As applied to a reﬂexive number. n is not equal to n + . in fact. as we have seen. . Paradoxien des Unendlichen. it merely means that there is no class of n individuals. § (p. and therefore and being are two. is this: An object is not identical with the idea of the | object. if we mount the hierarchy of types suﬃciently far to secure the existence of a class of n terms. it would be found that numbers do not have being—they are. suggested by a passage in Plato’s Parmenides. and no class of n + individuals. to the eﬀect that. which might be true for a ﬁnite n if n exceeded the total number of individuals in the world. they have been already dealt with. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types such conjurer’s methods as we have been examining. There is an argument employed by both Bolzano and Dedekind to prove the existence of reﬂexive classes. it means that. . This argument is fallacious. Accordingly. quite independently of the truth or falsehood of the axiom of inﬁnity. | In so far as these arguments assume that. ).” as we shall see when we come to consider the deﬁnition of classes. The argument that the number of numbers from to n (both inclusive) is n + depends upon the assumption that up to and including n no number is equal to its successor. this class is “similar” to that obtained by adding another term. The relation of an object to the idea of it is one-one. Bolzano. if a deﬁnite meaning were invented for it. but is not identical with being. we shall then ﬁnd this class “similar” to one of n + terms. then has being. certain other possible methods which must be considered. partly because “being” is not a term having any deﬁnite meaning. Hence the relation “idea of” constitutes a reﬂexion of the whole class of objects into a part of itself. There is an argument. is quite diﬀerent from the same equation as applied to a reﬂexive number. the class of objects and the class of ideas are both inﬁnite. Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen? No. . for if n is inductive this will not be the case. given a class of n terms. what are called “logical ﬁctions. Various arguments professing to prove the existence of inﬁnite classes are given in the Principles of Mathematics.

which are not relevant to our main purpose. the above argument in favour of the logical existence of reﬂexive classes must be rejected. If “idea” is to be understood logically. or it may stand for a description (in the sense to be explained in a subsequent chapter). starting (say) with Socrates.” or as “the philosopher who drank the hemlock. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types mistakes) are of a kind which it is instructive to note. there is the idea of Socrates. Socrates (e. is it true psychologically that there are ideas (in however extended a sense) of more than a tiny proportion of the things in the world. the diversity of colours. exceedingly diﬃcult to decide what is meant by an “idea”. because it was essential to the proof of reﬂexiveness that object and idea should be distinct. XIII. But then it at once becomes doubtful whether there are such ideas. each of which could be called an idea of the object in the sense in which we might say “my idea of Socrates is quite diﬀerent from yours. and so on ad inf. In the second case the argument also fails. it must be maintained that there is not any one deﬁnite psychological entity which could be called the idea of the object: there are innumerable beliefs and attitudes. to “meine Gedankenwelt”—the world of my thoughts.” and thus there is not any such one-one relation of idea and object as the argument supposes.) may be described as “the master of Plato. and then the idea of the idea of Socrates. If the argument is to be upheld. It is.” If—to take up the remaining hypothesis—“idea” is to be interpreted psychologically. as we have already noted. etc. the “ideas” intended must be Platonic ideas laid up in heaven. whatever may be said of logical arguments. proving that it is necessary to a thing that there should be an idea of it. the empirical arguments derivable from space and time. But a few further points should be noted. as Dedekind does.g. Now it is plain that this is not the case in the sense that all these ideas have actual empirical existence in people’s minds. of course. If we were concerned to examine fully the relation of idea and object. it may be identical with the object. but let us assume that we know.” or as “the husband of Xantippe. or apply it. We are then to suppose that. are quite suﬃcient to prove the actual exis- . The main error consists in assuming that there is an idea of every object. Beyond the third or fourth stage they become mythical. For all these reasons.. In the former case the argument fails. we should have to enter upon a number of psychological and logical inquiries. We certainly cannot obtain this result empirically. of course. It might be thought that. it must be on the basis of some logical theory. If we are to know that there are. scriptions of any given object. because the relation of object and description is not | one-one: there are innumerable correct de.Chap.” but there is not any central entity (except Socrates himself) to bind together various “ideas of Socrates. for certainly they are not on earth. Nor.

expressing an attribute or relation. XIII. illustrates the fact that physics can never aﬀord proof of continuity. “Cæsar lived” ascribes an attribute to Cæsar. we must conclude that nothing can be known a priori as to whether the number of things in the world is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. Throughout this chapter the synonyms “individual” and “particular” have been used without explanation. The axiom of inﬁnity will be true in some possible worlds and false in others. We naturally regard space and time as continuous. It would take up too much space to | defend these theses adequately. since the same occurrence may be expressed in the words “Cæsar was killed by Brutus. I do not believe this. The conclusion is. Using the word “subject” in a generalised sense. We have no reason except prejudice for believing in the inﬁnite extent of space and time. or. “Brutus killed Cæsar” expresses a relation between Brutus and Cæsar. but this again is mainly prejudice. In an ordinary statement we can distinguish a verb. but a few words before we leave this topic may do something to diminish the obscurity which would otherwise envelop the meaning of these words. for the present I am merely suggesting them for the reader’s consideration. If they are valid. at least. we may call both Brutus and Cæsar subjects of this proposition: the fact that Brutus is grammatically subject and Cæsar object is logically irrelevant. from the substantives which express the subject of the attribute or the terms of the relation. some inﬁnite. it follows that there is no empirical reason for believing the number of particulars in the world to be inﬁnite. we cannot tell. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types tence of an inﬁnite number of particulars. It would be impossible to explain them adequately without a longer disquisition on the theory of types than would be appropriate to the present work. but is also not demonstrable logically. whether true or false. though it is theoretically conceivable that some day there might be evidence pointing. whether it is true or false in this world. therefore. as anyone may discover in a cinema.Chap. though not conclusively. to adopt a Leibnizian phraseology. also that there is at present no empirical reason to believe the number to be ﬁnite. A world in which all motion consisted of a series of small ﬁnite jerks would be empirically indistinguishable from one in which motion was continuous. not mathematical ﬁctions. that some of the possible worlds are ﬁnite. at any rate in the sense in which space and time are physical facts. The senses are not suﬃciently exact to distinguish between continuous motion and rapid discrete succession. as compact. From the fact that the inﬁnite is not self-contradictory. in that direction. The theory of “quanta” in physics. though it might quite possibly aﬀord disproof. and we have no means of knowing to which of these two kinds our actual world belongs.” where Cæsar . and that there never can be.

But whether the axiom is true or false. rather than by means of the kind of symbols by which they are symbolised. and in a straightforward statement. a class or some kind of complex. and never in any other way. “Killing is a relation which holds between Brutus and Cæsar. (It would be better to deﬁne them directly.g. it is false throughout this hierarchy. on a closer scrutiny. Hence it is natural to enunciate the axiom concerning them rather than concerning any other stage in the hierarchy. . and classes of classes of them. the only result of this. “A gives B to C” is a relation of three terms. it must be theoretically possible for analysis to reach ultimate subjects. following the rules that should guide philosophical grammar.) Now it often happens that. If it is true of them. of course. and it is these that give the meaning of “particulars” or “individuals. but in order to do that we should have to plunge deeper into metaphysics than is desirable here. two or more “subjects” in the extended sense. can only occur as subjects. similarly if it is false of them. This is part of the old scholastic deﬁnition of substance. It also happens that the verb may grammatically be made subject: e. but to be capable of analysis. there seems no known method of discovering. forms no part of the notion with which we are concerned. Brutus and Cæsar will appear as the subjects and killing as the verb. the apparent subjects are found to be not really subjects. but persistence through time.Chap. We are thus led to the conception of terms which. when they occur in propositions.g. (A relation may have more than two terms: e. it is true | of classes of them. We shall further deﬁne “individuals” or “particulars” as the objects that can be named by proper names. We shall deﬁne “proper names” as those terms which can only occur as subjects in propositions (using “subject” in the extended sense just explained). XIII.” It is to the number of these that the axiom of inﬁnity is assumed to apply. we may say.” But in such cases the grammar is misleading. the axiom of inﬁnity must of course be true. and so on. If this be the case. on closer scrutiny. is that new subjects take their places. | Thus in the simpler sort of proposition we shall have an attribute or relation holding of or between one. which belonged to that notion.) It is. possible that there is an endless regress: that whatever appears as a particular is really. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types is the grammatical subject. But if it be not the case. however.

Nevertheless. it arrives. It is true that. that will concern us in the present chapter. it is true also that perfect rigour is a scarcely attainable ideal. invented a theory of mathematical reasoning according to which the inference is never strictly logical.CHAPTER XIV INCOMPATIBILITY AND THE THEORY OF DEDUCTION We have now explored. which we have hitherto ignored. at the various theorems which constitute it. for if we were to rely upon that. mon sense. () descriptions. In a synthetic treatment. however. () propositional functions. the theory of deduction. Mathematics is a deductive science: starting from certain premisses. mathematical deductions were often greatly lacking in rigour.” or anything except strict deductive logic. Of these. the parts which we shall now be concerned with come ﬁrst: they are more fundamental than anything that we have discussed hitherto. by a strict process of deduction. namely: () the theory of deduction. Three topics will concern us before we reach the theory of classes. but required an appeal to the ﬁgure. No appeal to common sense. we found ourselves confronted by problems which make such an examination imperative. we must consider certain other parts of the philosophy of mathematics. having observed that the geometers of his day could not prove their theorems by unaided argument. the third is not logically presupposed in the theory of classes. It is the ﬁrst topic. in so far as rigour is lacking in a mathematical proof. | rather than bring fallacy to the rescue of com. Before we can undertake it. Kant. it is no defence to urge that common sense shows the result to be correct. in the past. ought to be needed in mathematics after the premisses have been laid down. somewhat hastily it is true. that part of the philosophy of mathematics which does not demand a critical examination of the idea of class. it would be better to dispense with argument altogether.” The whole trend of modern . the proof is defective. but it is a simpler example of the kind of theory that is needed in dealing with classes. or “intuition. but always requires the support of what is called “intuition. In the preceding chapter.

that (as we say) the premiss “implies” the conclusion. This may be inferred from the truth of another proposition. the conclusion. r. provided we know that the two are “incompatible. s. in just the same circumstances in which the truth of the other might have been inferred from the truth of the one. the premiss.e. to amalgamate them into a single proposition. Again. XIV.e. We cannot here do more than refer the reader to those works. (We shall deﬁne this relation shortly. what we wish to infer may be the falsehood of some proposition. All these four are cases of inference. q.e.” i. In deduction. For our purposes. so as to be able to speak of the premiss as well as of the conclusion. it will be convenient. not its truth. The things in the mathematics of Kant’s day which cannot be proved. cannot be known—for example. What can be known. and that there is between the two a relation of the sort called “implication. It is this relation that is chieﬂy of interest in the logical theory of deduction. from which we infer a proposition called the conclusion. and that there is a relation between the two of the sort called “disjunction. The positive grounds for this thesis are to be found in Principia Mathematica. What else is to belong to human knowledge must be ascertained otherwise— empirically. since this is the relation which must We shall use the letters p. in mathematics and by mathematical methods. when there are originally several premisses. i.” i. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction mathematics. i. with its increased pursuit of rigour. . a controversial defence of it is given in the Principles of Mathematics. passim. when q implies p. it seems natural to take “implication” as the primitive fundamental relation. through the senses or through experience in some form.” expressed by “p or q. from the falsehood of p we may infer the falsehood of q. t to denote variable propositions.” so that the knowledge that the one is false allows us to infer that the other is true. the other is false. but not a priori. to knowledge of a certain other proposition. In order to be able validly to infer the truth of a proposition. is what can be deduced from pure logic. we have one or more propositions called premisses.Chap.) Or we may know that a certain other proposition is false. When our minds are ﬁxed upon inference. the axiom of parallels. But we shall not regard such a process as logical deduction unless it is correct. and proceed to inquire as to what is involved in deduction. we shall assume that all mathematics is deductive. has been against this Kantian theory. It may also be inferred from the falsehood of another proposition. Thus we may regard deduction as a process by which we pass from knowledge of a certain proposition.e. since the subject is too vast for hasty treatment. that if one is true. Meanwhile. we must know that some other proposition is true. unless there is such a relation between premiss and conclusion that we have a right to believe the conclusion | if we know the premiss to be true.

Before proceeding to primitive ideas and deﬁnitions. Negation diﬀers from the other four in being a function of one proposition.e. “not-p and not-q.” This has truth for its truth-value when p and q are both true. and false when p is true. It is convenient to speak of the truth of a proposition. conjunction.e. this is the meaning which is convenient for us.” Its truth-value is truth when p is false and likewise when q is false.Chap. “Not-p. but is falsehood when both p and q are false. The simplest of such functions is the negative.” This is to be understood in the widest sense that will allow us to infer the truth of q if we know the truth of p. for example.e. Thus not-p has the opposite truth-value to p.) That is to say. But all ﬁve agree in this. or of p and q (as the case may be). We have thus ﬁve functions: negation.” This term is due to Frege. or implication. that their truth-value depends only upon that of the propositions which are their arguments. . “p implies q. “p and q are not both true.” This is the negation of conjunction. then q. incompatibility.” This is that function of p which is true when p is false. We might have added others. disjunction. we are given the truth or falsehood of the negation.” This is a function whose truth-value is truth when p is true and also when q is true. it is also the disjunction of the negations of p and q. i.” or “if p. Thus we interpret it as meaning: “Unless p is false. But for technical reasons this is not the best primitive idea to choose. A function of propositions which has this property is called a “truth-function. let us consider further the various functions of propositions suggested by the above-mentioned relations of propositions. it is “not-p or not-q. and is to be falsehood if p is true and q is false. i. XIV. its truth-value is falsehood when p and q are both true. “not-p. truth is the “truth-value” of a true proposition.” but the above ﬁve will suﬃce. and implication. whereas the others are functions of two.” or “either p is false or q is true. “p and q. Take next incompatibility. Next we may take conjunction. likewise if q is true. i.” (The fact that “implies” is capable of other meanings does not concern us. otherwise it has falsehood for its truth-value. “p or q. and falsehood of a false one. conjunction. q is true.” The whole meaning of a truth-function is exhausted by the statement of the circumstances under which it is true or false. | We may take next disjunction. as its “truth-value” . Last take implication.e. joint falsehood. or its falsehood. incompatibility. disjunction. Given the truth or falsehood of p. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction hold between p and q if we are to be able to infer the truth of q from the truth of p. “p implies q” is to mean “not-p or q”: its truth-value is to be truth if p is false. i.

” which we will denote by p /q. we can proceed to assert q. which is Trans. vol. What we are concerned with is the connection of this subject with inference. “not-p” is deﬁned as “p /p. Soc.e. i. Math. in virtue of its form. There is always unavoidably something psychological about inference: inference is a method by which we arrive at new knowledge.. pp. xiv. Implication is the incompatibility of p and not-q.. It is obvious that there is no limit to the manufacture of truthfunctions. is simply that function of p which is true when p is false. we may take as our one indeﬁnable either incompatibility or joint falsehood.. is a certain truth-function called “incompatibility.. –. part of the former. For example. XIV. which is known. i. either by introducing more arguments or by repeating arguments. Conjunction is the negation of incompatibility. For this purpose. but the actual passage from the assertion of p to the assertion of q is a psychological process. when we infer. and what is not psychological about it is the relation which allows us to infer correctly. There is no further meaning in a truth-function over and above the conditions under which it is true or false. to be true for all values of p and q. xix. say p and q. it is (p /p) | (q /q). we have also some other expression.Chap. i. The same applies to “p or q” and the rest. It is clear that the above ﬁve truth-functions are not all independent. .” Disjunction is the incompatibility of not-p and not-q. p | (q /q). conjunction as the negation of incompatibility. thus either of these may be deﬁned as the negation of the other. “p and q” is the negation of “not-p or not-q” and vice versa. | If we know that p is true and that p implies q. January . Am. There is no great diﬃculty in reducing the number to two. and we must not seek to represent it in purely logical terms. incompatibility as “not-p or not-q”. vol. Our primitive idea. But it has been shown by Sheffer that we can be content with one primitive idea for all ﬁve. It follows that two truth-functions which have the same truth-value for all values of the argument are indistinguishable.e. and by Nicod that this enables us to reduce the primitive propositions required in the theory of deduction to two non-formal principles and one formal one. we have always some expression containing variable propositions. Negation can be at once deﬁned as the incompatibility of a proposition with itself. it is (p /q) | (p /q). and false when p is true: there is no further | meaning to be assigned to it. Camb. i. We will choose the former. the two chosen in Principia Mathematica are negation and disjunction. Implication is then deﬁned as “not-p or q”.e. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction for example. Proc. Phil. Soc.e. Thus all our four other functions are deﬁned in terms of incompatibility. We can deﬁne some of them in terms of others. In mathematical practice. now. i.

then “p or q” implies “p or r. and a use as establishing the fact that the premiss implies the conclusion.e. which is their use for establishing “p implies q. for example. so that “p or q” and “q or p” should be identical.e.’” i. We have here a relation of three propositions which state implications. then if q implies r it follows that p implies r. and remember that “not-p or q” is by deﬁnition the same as “p implies q. our apparatus of primitive propositions has to yield both the p and the “p implies q” of our inferences. the disjunction “p or q” is true when one of its alternatives is true.” These are the formal principles of deduction employed in Principia Mathematica. () “p or q” implies “q or p.Chap.” from which we infer q. (The twist in this proposition serves to increase its deductive power. Now when we are concerned with the principles of deduction.” Thus our ﬁfth principle yields: “If q implies r. That is to say. if either p is true or p is true. This somewhat abstract account may be made clearer by a few examples. In the schema of an inference we have a proposition p. we are able to drop this part of our original expression. (M. not only as rules. “p implies that p implies p . p = p implies r. .e.) | () If q implies r.” Call this proposition A. since in the conception of disjunction there is no order involved.” This would not be required if we had a theoretically more perfect notation. as the p of our schema. Suppose. Then we have to prove that p implies that p implies p . and in virtue of the principles of inference. we will begin with the ﬁve.e. and a proposition “p implies q. XIV. and assert what is left. It has a use as the premiss of an inference. then ‘p implies q’ implies ‘p implies r. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction also known to be true for all values of p and q. p = q implies r. Nicod has reduced these to one. () q implies “p or q”—i. we wish to prove that if p implies q. Now take the ﬁfth of our above principles. () If either p is true or “q or r” is true.) These ﬁve propositions are as follows:— () “p or p” implies p—i. Put p = p implies q. then either q is true or “p or r” is true. Let us assume that we know the ﬁve formal principles of deduction enumerated in Principia Mathematica. in any convenient form. then p is true. But since our symbols. substitute not-p for p. but as it is a complicated proposition. and it is in order to make this clear that we have cited the above ﬁve propositions. A formal principle of deduction has a double use. inevitably introduce an order. we need suitable assumptions for showing that the order is irrelevant. our rules of deduction are to be used. i.” but also as substantive premisses.

namely.Chap. while the adaptation of our fourth principle. but which itself can hardly be called deduction. and remember the deﬁnition of implication. since A represents the p of our scheme. then q implies that p implies r.g. not-p. The primitive propositions. are to be regarded as asserted for all possible values of the variable propositions p. “p implies that p implies p . occurs as a substantive premiss. this becomes: “If p implies that p implies p . for p and q. which yields A. “s implies t. but from a practical point of view we obtain what are virtually new propositions. Nicod has reduced the ﬁve given above. | Now we proved by means of our ﬁfth principle that “p implies that p implies p . The formal and material employments of premisses in the theory of deduction are closely intertwined. e. not-q.” | such principle is enunciated in Principia Mathematica or in M. and it is not very important to keep them separated. whatever they may be. q. We may therefore substitute for (say) p any expression whose value is always a proposition. For this purpose we will ﬁrst show how certain truth-functions can be deﬁned in terms of incompatibility.” which was the proposition to be proved. then p implies that p implies p . Thus we have here an instance of the schema of inference.” Call this B.” Writing p in place of p. But this would seem to be an omission. The legitimacy of substitutions of this kind has to be insured by means of a non-formal principle of inference. is used to give the form of the inference. the adaptation of our ﬁfth principle. and p in place of r. when we substitute not-p.” which was what we called A. which yields B.” Hence we arrive at q. r which occur in them. becomes: “If p implies that q implies r. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction But the fourth of our principles. p in place of q. Nicod’s article mentioned above. We may now state the one formal principle of inference to which M. and B represents the “p implies q. We saw already that p | (q /q) means “p implies q. By means of such substitutions we really obtain sets of special cases of our original proposition. XIV.” and so on. No . provided we realise that they are in theory distinct. The earliest method of arriving at new results from a premiss is one which is illustrated in the above deduction. In this proof.

in other words. the conjunction of q and r is the negation of their incompatibility. as we saw. Observe next that t | (t /t) means “t implies itself. and p is true. π = t | (t /t). Then M. put P = p | (q /r).Chap. s /q is false. and given that p implies q. Nicod’s sole formal principle of deduction is P | π /Q. and one corresponding to the principle that. “not-p or q” is true. it states that p and s jointly imply s and q jointly. except in so far as we are concerned with deduction from or to the existence or the universal truth of “propositional functions. a certain confusion in the | minds of some authors as to the relation. P implies both π and Q. given p.” i. in other words. in virtue of which an inference is valid. if I am not mistaken. Let us write p for the negation of p.e. Whenever this is the case. Now. it states that if p and s are both true. between propositions.” which we shall consider in the next chapter.” For this expression means “p is incompatible with the incompatibility of q and r. which requires that p should . it will mean the conjunction of p and s. i.” i. In order that it may be valid to infer q from p. Q = (s /q) | p /s. It follows that (s /q) | p /s expresses the incompatibility of s /q with the conjunction of p and s. This principle is: “If p | (r /q) is true. XIV. then q is true. “p implies that q and r are not incompatible.” This is a particular case of p | (q /q).e. He employs in addition one non-formal principle belonging to the theory of types (which need not concern us). But inference will only in fact take place when the proposition “not-p or q” is known otherwise than through knowledge of not-p or knowledge of q. Whenever p is false. it is only necessary that p should be true and that the proposition “not-p or q” should be true. but is useless for inference. it is clear that q must be true. thus p /s will mean the negation of p /s. There is.” From this apparatus the whole theory of deduction follows.e. i. s and q are both true. in still simpler words. we can assert q. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction We now observe that p | (q /r) means “p implies both q and r. “p implies that q and r are both true”—for.e.

whether or not there be such a relation as he speaks of. and depend for their plausibility upon a covert and unconscious assumption of the point of view which I reject. | Provided our use of words is consistent. and therefore one that. pp. xxi. XIV. I conclude. and that nothing beyond this fact is necessary to be admitted into our premisses. holding only when there are certain formal connections between p and q.” That is. Professor C..” He urges that the wider relation.” which is not the relation expressed by “not-p or q” but a narrower relation. it is in any case one that mathematics does not need. But this formal relation is only required in order that we may be able to know that either the premiss is false or the conclusion is true. and vol. therefore. whenever the relation of “formal deducibility” holds between two propositions. Lewis has especially studied the narrower. Between “r implies not-s” and “s implies not-r” there is a formal relation which enables us to know that the ﬁrst implies the second. In fact. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction be true. –. xxiii. ought not to be admitted into our apparatus of fundamental notions. Whenever q is already known to be true. then s implies the negation of r. and therefore does not need to be inferred.. that expressed by “not-p or q. since q is already known. the relation which we perceive between them is one which he calls “strict implication. the circumstances under which this occurs are those in which certain relations of form exist between p and q. and that. . Now. when one proposition q is “formally deducible” from another p. that. I maintain that. The essential point of diﬀerence between the theory which I advocate and the theory advocated by Professor Lewis is this: He maintains that. formal relation which we may call “formal deducibility. the reasons of detail which Professor Lewis adduces against the view which I advocate can all be met in detail. It is the truth of “not-p or q” that is required for the validity of the inference. See Mind. I. without having ﬁrst to know that the ﬁrst is false or to know that the second is true. that there is no need to admit as a fundamental notion any form of implication not expressible as a truth-function.” should not be called “implication. what is required further is only required for the practical feasibility of the inference. –. . a matter of words. It is under such circumstances that the relation of implication is practically useful for drawing inferences. on general grounds of economy. inference only arises when “not-p or q” can be known without our knowing already which of the two alternatives it is that makes the disjunction true. we know that if r implies the negation of s. “not-p or q” is of course also known to be true. pp. it matters little how we deﬁne them. it is the case that we can see that either the ﬁrst is false or the second true. . ﬁnally. however. vol. For example.Chap. but is again useless for inference.

is an expression containing one or more undetermined constituents. A descriptive function. or even mere thoughts if they have a symbolic character. since it asserts nothing deﬁnite unless we are further told. We mean by a “proposition” primarily a form of words which expresses what is either true or false. they would be “propositional functions. (a + b) = a + ab + b ” is a proposition.g.” because I do not wish to exclude other than verbal symbols. it is . But this latter deﬁnition must be used with caution. “the hardest proposition in A’s mathematical treatise. The former of these is tacitly assumed.” and further to such symbols as give expression to truth and falsehood. in the enunciation of mathematical formulæ.” The statement: “Whatever numbers a and b may be. so long as x remains undetermined. the expression becomes a proposition. it is necessary to say something as to its meaning. or are to have such-and-such values. In other words. we were discussing propositions. although its values are propositions. but if no such assumption were made. But in such a case the propositions are only described: in a propositional function. and so will “Socrates is a man” and “Socrates is not a man. Examples of propositional functions are easy to give: “x is human” is a propositional function. when values are assigned to these constituents. in the preceding chapter. but the bare formula “(a + b) = a + ab + b ” alone is not. which thus become propositions.” A “propositional function.” will not be a propositional function.CHAPTER XV PROPOSITIONAL FUNCTIONS When. | such that. it is a function whose values are propositions. Thus “two and two are four” and “two and two are ﬁve” will be propositions. e.” But although the word cannot be formally deﬁned. in some sense. or led to suppose.” in fact. be called “symbols. we did not attempt to give a deﬁnition of the word “proposition. I say “primarily. as a rule. that a and b are to have all possible values. in order to avoid the very common confusion with “propositional functions. But I think the word “proposition” should be limited to what may.” which are to be the topic of the present chapter. the values must actually enunciate propositions.

for example. in two ways: ﬁrst. in an analogous way. x is followed by thunder.” These are propositions. an empty receptacle for meaning. XV. or attempt to answer. a mere shell. secondly. true for values of the co-ordinates belonging to points on the curve or surface.” The process of generalisation (with whose validity we are | fortunately not concerned) consists in passing from a number of such instances to the universal truth of the propositional function: “If x is a ﬂash of lightning. propositional functions are always involved whenever we talk of instances or cases or examples. false for other values.” It will be found that.” and let us take some very primitive example. A proposition is just true or false. We are concerned with propositional functions. The notion of “cases” or “instances” depends upon propositional functions. the equation is merely an expression awaiting determination in order to become a true or false proposition. “lightning is followed by thunder. Any mathematical equation is a propositional function. the sort of thing that is often said when causation is being discussed. When we say that something is “always true” or “true in all cases. If it is an equation containing one variable. the ﬁrst must occupy us now. So long as the variables have no deﬁnite value.” What are these occurrences “instances” of? They are instances of the propositional function: “If x is a ﬂash of lightning.” This phrase is only applicable to propositional functions. and there is an end of the matter. as involved in the notions “true in all cases” and “true in some cases”. i. Take. We do not need to ask. There are no instances or cases of “Socrates is a man” or “Napoleon died at St Helena.e.Chap. a number of propositions such as: “this is a ﬂash of lightning and is followed by thunder. but only . The equation to a curve in a plane or to a surface in space is a propositional function. Consider. for example. (We are not concerned with the truth or falsehood of what is said. broadly speaking.” We have a number of “instances” of this. but if it is an “identity” it will be true when the variable is any number. Propositional Functions neither true nor false. the kind of process suggested by what is called “generalisation. say. and it would be meaningless to speak of their being true “in all cases. Expressions of traditional logic such as “all A is B” are propositional functions: A and B have to be determined as deﬁnite classes before such expressions become true or false. the question: “What is a propositional function?” A propositional function standing all alone may be taken to be a mere schema. not something already signiﬁcant. The second of these topics we will postpone to a later chapter. but when a value is assigned to x it becomes a true or false proposition. x is followed by thunder. as involved in the theory of classes and relations. it becomes true when the variable is made equal to a root of the equation.” it is clear that the “something” involved cannot be a proposition. otherwise it becomes false.

we mean that. We do not assert the above principle.” “some” require propositional functions for their interpretation. XV. A must be some general concept of which it is signiﬁcant to say “x is A. and a is the right sort of object to be an argument to “φx. This applies. only two things that can be done with a propositional function: one is to assert that it is true in all cases. or in some cases (as we shall say. either true or false. we say that A is in every instance followed by B. whatever x may be. for example. “‘p or q’ implies ‘q or p. Now if there are “instances” of A.” then φa is to be true.” “x is A. however a may have been chosen. again.. The condition that a function is to be signiﬁcant for a given argument is the same as the condition that it shall have a value for that argument. “all” and “some. in the last analysis. Propositional Functions with its logical analysis.” or “true in all cases. to our previous case of lightning.Chap. “if a is human.” When. unless it is “always true” or “always false. followed by B. in fact. We say that lightning (A) is followed by thunder (B). x . When we say that a propositional function is true “in all cases. But the separate ﬂashes are particulars. if x is an A. that is.” or “always” (as we shall also say.g. not identical. we are asserting that a certain propositional function is “always true. but sharing the common property of being lightning.’” are really assertions | that certain propositional functions are true in all cases.” “x is A.” “every. Thus the propositional function “if x is human. The only way of expressing a | common property generally is to say that a common property of a number of objects is a propositional function which becomes true when any one of these objects is taken as the value of the variable. namely. The way in which propositional functions occur can be explained by means of two of the above words. the statement “there are no unicorns” is the same as the statement “the propositional function ‘x is not a unicorn’ is true in all cases. it is followed by a B. assuming that there is to be no necessary implication of a plurality of cases).) We are told that A is. For example. in every instance.” and so on. The study . x is mortal” is “always true. we mean that all its values are true. but as being true of any p or q concerning which it can be made signiﬁcantly.” “the. x are particulars which are not identical one with another.” Or.” The assertions in the preceding chapter about propositions. every proposition of this form is true.” “a. the other to assert that it is true in at least one case.” There are. If “φx” is the function. is true in certain instances and false in certain others.” Sentences involving such words as “all. where x . a is mortal” is true whether a is human or not. to return to our example. without any temporal suggestion). In this case all the objects are “instances” of the truth of the propositional function—for a propositional function. though it cannot itself be true or false. e.g. All the other uses of propositional functions can be reduced to these two. e. as being true only of this or that particular p or q.

namely. is true for certain | values of α. For the present we will proceed to the other thing that is to be done with a propositional function. is: “The propositional function ‘if n is an inductive number. i. The statement that a function φx is always true is the negation of the statement that not-φx is sometimes true. the assertion that it is “sometimes true. sometimes true. consist of assertions that certain propositional functions are always true.” i. and the statement that φx is sometimes true is the negation of the statement that not-φx is always true. Not only the principles of deduction. in respect of n. and the assertion that this happens if n is an inductive number is said to be. i. Thus the statement “all men are mortals” is the negation of the statement that the function “x is an immortal man” is sometimes true. or redness.” that means that the propositional function “x is a man and a Greek” is sometimes true.” that means that the propositional function “x is a man” is sometimes true. The axiom of inﬁnity. as we may say. When we say “cannibals still exist in Africa. but all the primitive propositions of logic.Chap. If this were not the case. true in at least one instance. For example. which we shall not pursue beyond the sketch given in the preceding chapter. XV. it is true for some values of α that α is a class of n individuals’ is true for all possible values of n. “α is a class of n individuals. or what not—and clearly it is not the province of logic to make assertions which are true concerning one such thing or concept but not concerning another. or east and west.” Here there is a subordinate function. And the statement “there are unicorns” is the negation of . α and n. Propositional Functions of the conditions of signiﬁcance belongs to the doctrine of types. is true for some values of x. or.e. It is part of the deﬁnition of logic (but not the whole of its deﬁnition) that all its propositions are completely general. in respect of α. To say “there are at least n individuals in the world” is to say that the propositional function “α is a class of individuals and a member of the cardinal number n” is sometimes true. We shall return in our ﬁnal chapter to the discussion of propositional functions containing no constant terms. When we say “there are men. they would have to mention particular things or concepts—Socrates. always true. they all consist of the assertion that some propositional function containing no constant terms is always true.” contains two variables. When we say “some men are Greeks. This form of expression is more convenient when it is necessary to indicate which is the variable constituent which we are taking as the argument to our propositional function.” which is said to be.” that means that the propositional function “x is a cannibal now in Africa” is sometimes true. which we may shorten to “α is a class of n individuals.e. the above propositional function.e. in the language of propositional functions.

For . Propositional Functions the statement that the function “x is not a unicorn” is always true. and deﬁne by their means the negation of propositions in which they occur.” It is to be observed that “all S is P” does not apply only to those terms that actually are S’s. namely. The forms which are taken as simplest in traditional formal logic are really far from being so.’” But for reasons connected with the theory of types it seems more correct to take both “always” and “sometimes” as primitive ideas. and P by a propositional function ψx. We may put the matter another way. Take. provided we know what is meant by being an S and what by being linguistic reasons. Propositions containing no apparent variables are called “elementary propositions.g. our statement “all S is P” tells us something about x. to the theory of truth-functions as applied to propositions containing one. to begin with. And this is every bit as true when x is not an S as when x is an S. three . if P is mortals.” it is not necessary to be able to enumerate what terms are S’s. Suppose we come across an x of which we do not know whether it is an S or not. where n is any assigned ﬁnite number. it is often convenient to say “φx is not always false” rather than “φx sometimes” or “φx is sometimes true.” From these we can mount up step by step. we deﬁne: “The negation of ‘φx always’ is ‘not-φx sometimes’.” We will take it that S is deﬁned by a propositional function φx. and the negation of ‘φx sometimes’ is ‘not-φx always. the reductio ad absurdum would not be a valid method. assuming that we have already | deﬁned (or adopted as a primitive idea) the negation of propositions of the type to which φx belongs. We can. ∗ . that if x is an S. two.” Then “all S is P” means: “‘φx implies ψx’ is always true. we can deﬁne: “‘φx is always true’ is to mean ‘it is false that not-φx is sometimes true. variables. If it were not equally true in both cases. for the essence of this method consists in using implications in cases where (as it afterwards turns out) the hypothesis is false. φx will be “x is human”.” “sometimes” as a primitive idea.. vol.’” In like manner we can re-deﬁne disjunction and the other truth-functions. and deﬁne the other by means of the one and negation. to avoid suggesting either the plural or the singular.” The method of deduction is given in Principia Mathematica. . and all involve the assertion of all values or some values of a compound propositional function. in terms of the deﬁnitions and primitive ideas for propositions containing no apparent variables. In order to understand “all S is P. it says something equally about terms which are not S’s. E. That is to say. We say that φx is “never true” or “always false” if not-φx is always true. take one of the pair “always. “all S is P. as applied to propositions containing apparent variables. . or any number up to n. if we choose. i. XV.Chap. ψx will be “there is a time at which x dies. using such methods as have just been indicated. then x is a P. if S is men. Thus if we choose “sometimes” as our primitive idea. still.

shall have the same value in both. “There are men.e. all values for which “x is human” is signiﬁcant. all for which it has a value at all. the whole of the appropriate logical “type. (As we shall see in a later chapter. means that “x is human” is true for some values of x. We assume that S is those terms x for which φx is true.e. together with all the terms that are not S’s—i. . Suppose we are considering “all men are mortal”: we will begin with “If Socrates is human. i.e. all classes are derived in this way from propositional functions. yet it is to have the same value in “φx” as in “ψx” when we are asserting that “φx implies ψx” is always true. and not only those that in fact are human.) Then: “All S is P” means “‘φx implies ψx’ is always true. where a is some constant. ever “Socrates” occurs. without any deﬁnite value. but all that make it signiﬁcant.” “Some S is P” means “‘φx and ψx’ is sometimes true. This requires that we shall start with a function whose values are such as “φa implies ψa. i.” “Some S is not P” means “‘φx and not-ψx’ is sometimes true.Chap.” What applies to statements about all applies also to statements about some. The object to be secured is that. XV. we can understand completely what is actually aﬃrmed | by “all S is P. but truth-functions of φx and ψx for the same argument x. although x remains a variable. We may now proceed with our interpretation of the traditional forms of the old-fashioned formal logic. for if we start with two separate functions we can never secure that the x. The easiest way to conceive of the sort of thing that is intended is to start not from φx and ψx in general. and P is those for which ψx is true.e.” e.” however little we may know of actual instances of either. Propositional Functions a P.” | and then we will regard “Socrates” as replaced by a variable x wher. but from φa and ψa.g.) Every assertion about “all” or “some” thus involves not only the arguments that make a certain function true. Socrates is mortal. This shows that it is not merely the actual terms that are S’s that are relevant in the statement “all S is P. whether true or false.” but all the terms concerning which the supposition that they are S’s is signiﬁcant. while remaining undetermined.. all the terms that are S’s. (This becomes obvious if we consider how we could prove such a statement to be false. Here all values of x (i.” “No S is P” means “‘φx implies not-ψx’ is always true.” It will be observed that the propositional functions which are here asserted for all or some values are not φx and ψx themselves.” rather than with two separate functions φx and ψx. whether true or false) are relevant.

and φx is sometimes true” is essentially composite. was a very vital advance in symbolic logic. For. i. e. which was eﬀected by Peano and Frege.” which is needed a hundred times for once that the other is needed.” for then we should have no language left for “φx always implies ψx. i. but a little practical experience soon shows that any diﬀerent deﬁnitions would be inconvenient and would conceal the important ideas. The above deﬁnitions show how far removed from the simplest forms are such propositions as “all S is P.” We say that an argument a “satisﬁes” a function φx if φa is true. “all S is P” does not imply “some S is P. if φx is always false.” with which traditional logic begins. one of which will occupy us in the next chapter. It will be seen that “all S is P” and “no S is P” do not really diﬀer in form. with our deﬁnitions. then “all S is P” and “no S is P” will both be true. therefore some S is P. Propositions of the form “φx always implies ψx” are called “formal implications”.g.e. it treats “all men are mortal” as of the same form as “Socrates is mortal. The above deﬁnitions lead to the result that.” This is the fundamental meaning of the word “existence. The proposition “φx always implies ψx. and it would be very awkward to give this as the deﬁnition of “all S is P. and some moods of the syllogism are fallacious. this result might lead the reader to desire diﬀerent deﬁnitions.e. this is the same sense in which the roots of an equation are said to satisfy the equation.” The emphatic separation of these two forms. and that the same applies to “some S is P” and “some S is not P.” As we have just seen.” Other meanings .” while the second is of the form “ψx. XV.. Propositional Functions For brevity we say “φx always implies ψx” when we mean that “φx implies ψx” is always true. It is typical of the lack of analysis involved that traditional logic treats “all S is P” as a proposition of the same form as “x is P”— e.” which fails if there is no M. all M is P. Darapti: “All M is S. according to the deﬁnition in the last chapter. that such propositions as “all S is P” do not involve the “existence” of S’s. “φx implies ψx” means “not-φx or ψx. but the fundamental form is that which is derived immediately from the notion of “sometimes true.Chap.” It should also be observed that the traditional rules of conversion are faulty. if we adopt the view. Now if φx is sometimes true. | whatever P may be. At the ﬁrst moment.” which is always true if not-φx is always true.g. if there are no S’s. But. except by the substitution of not-ψx for ψx. do not require that there should be terms which are S’s. which is the only technically tolerable one. we may say there are x’s for which it is true. this name is given equally if there are several variables. or we may say “arguments satisfying φx exist.” since the ﬁrst allows the non-existence of S and the second does not. thus conversion per accidens becomes invalid. The notion of “existence” has several forms. the ﬁrst is of the form “φx always implies ψx.

while others were merely contingent or assertoric. This sort of situation arises in regard to probability. if none.” we are talking nonsense. among true propositions. some were necessary. however.” it is incorrect. namely. but | in the case of existence it is not obvious.” In this case it is obvious that the conclusion is nonsensical. “x was a ball in the bag. there was never any clear account of what was added to truth by the conception of necessity. We may correctly say “men exist. it is impossible. For clear thinking. the propositional function is relevant. and impossible. In the case of propositional functions. But if we make a pseudo-syllogism: “Men exist. Socrates is a man. and impossible if it is never true. to ascribe existence to a given particular x who happens to be a man.” meaning that “x is a man” is sometimes true. therefore Socrates exists. or embody mere confusion of thought. XV. the habit of keeping propositional functions sharply separated from propositions .” merely an undetermined argument to a given propositional function. as in regard to modality in general.) The traditional view was that.g. namely. when a person calls of whom we know nothing except that he brings a letter of introduction from our friend so-and-so. or rather meaningless. while among false propositions some were impossible. possible if it is sometimes true. like “men. The fallacy is closely analogous to that of the argument: “Men are numerous. while others merely happened not to be true. if some are white.” This is a situation which is general in probability problems and not uncommon in practical life—e. Here all that is known about x is that it satisﬁes a certain propositional function. Suppose a ball x is drawn from a bag which contains a number of balls: if all the balls are white. It will be found that by bearing in mind this simple fallacy we can solve many ancient philosophical puzzles concerning the meaning of existence. “terms satisfying φx exist” means “φx is sometimes true”. In all such | cases. possible. Socrates is a man. since “Socrates” is not. the threefold division is obvious. in many very diverse directions. (Sometimes contingent or assertoric is used instead of possible. for reasons which will appear more fully in the next chapter. devoid of signiﬁcance. In fact. For the present let us merely note the fact that. it will be necessary if the function is always true. “x is white” is necessary. Another set of notions as to which philosophy has allowed itself to fall into hopeless confusions through not suﬃciently separating propositions and propositional functions are the notions of “modality”: necessary. If “φx” is an undetermined value of a certain propositional function. therefore Socrates is numerous. it is possible.Chap. for example. Generally. those whose contradictories were necessary. though it is correct to say “men exist. Propositional Functions are either derived from this. but “a exists” (where a is a term satisfying φx) is a mere noise or shape.

Chap. . and the failure to do so in the past has been a disgrace to philosophy. XV. Propositional Functions is of the utmost importance.

such expressions as “the father of x” or “the sine of x.” A “description” may be of two sorts.” and a deﬁnite description is a phrase of the form “the so-and-so” (in the singular). This becomes obvious when the statement is false. that my assertion is true.CHAPTER XVI DESCRIPTIONS We dealt in the preceding chapter with the words all and some. deﬁnite and indeﬁnite (or ambiguous). i. Indeed the statement would remain signiﬁcant. I do not contradict myself. but it was not Jones”.” I may say “I met a man.” “That is a very indeﬁnite description. in that case.” i.” These are to be deﬁned by ﬁrst deﬁning “descriptions. “I met a unicorn” or “I met a sea-serpent” is a perfectly signiﬁcant assertion. though it could not possibly be true. It is clear also that the person to whom I am speaking can understand what I say. Our question is: What do I really assert when I assert “I met a man”? Let us assume. It may be thought excessive to devote two chapters to one word. for the moment. in this chapter we shall consider the word the in the singular.” We are therefore not departing from usage in our terminology. It is clear that what I assert is not “I met Jones. and in the next chapter we shall consider the word the in the plural. since then there is no more reason why Jones should be supposed to enter into the proposition than why anyone else should. I would give the doctrine of this word if I were “dead from the waist down” and not merely in a prison. but no actual man. But we may go further: not only Jones.e. but to the philosophical mathematician it is a word of very great importance: like Browning’s Grammarian with the enclitic δ . even if there were no man at all. if we know what it would be to be a unicorn or a sea-serpent. An indeﬁnite description is a phrase of the form “a so-and-so. enters into my statement. Let us begin with the former. as I should do if when I say I met a | man I really mean that I met Jones. even if he is a foreigner and has never heard of Jones. though I lie.e. We have already had occasion to mention “descriptive functions. “Who did you meet?” “I met a man. what is the deﬁnition of . and that in fact I met Jones.

many logicians have been driven to the conclusion that there are unreal objects. In such theories. somewhere among the shades. though with its more abstract and general features. or else confused to a degree which is scarcely credible.” which confronts us at this point. What exists in heraldry is not an animal.” for example. I should maintain. while the second involves a propositional function. e. when made explicit: “The function ‘I met x and x is human’ is sometimes true. Logic. or in imagination. since it is signiﬁcant (though false) to say “I met a unicorn. or in literature. moving and breathing of its own initiative. made of ﬂesh and blood. is to say something deliberately confusing. there is only the concept: there is not also. for logic is concerned with the real world just as truly as zoology. and the thoughts that Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie.” “the round square.” though it does contain the concept “unicorn. Descriptions these fabulous monsters. the great majority of those logicians who have dealt with this question have dealt with it on mistaken lines. in the world of Shakespeare’s imagination. is a most pitiful and paltry evasion. does not contain a constituent “a unicorn. Similarly. And they have not known what diﬀerences in grammatical form are important. rightly analysed. since otherwise the propositions in which they occur would be meaningless. but in actual fact they are of quite diﬀerent forms: the ﬁrst names an actual person. we can make true propositions of which these are the subjects. by Meinong.” it is clear that this proposition. or a description in words. the “real” world: Shakespeare’s imagination is part of it. Jones.” which accounts | for the existence of the proposition “I met a unicorn” in spite of the fact that there is no such thing as “a unicorn. What exists is a picture. that we can speak about “the golden mountain. hence they must have some kind of logical being. Thus it is only what we may call the concept that enters into the proposition. and becomes.g. There is only one world. .Chap. for example. something unreal which may be called “a unicorn. it is. is a very important one. must no more admit a unicorn than zoology can.” (It will be remembered that we adopted the convention of using “sometimes” as not implying more than once. “I met Jones” and “I met a man” would count traditionally as propositions of the same form. They have regarded grammatical form as a surer guide in analysis than. . It is argued.” The question of “unreality. it seems to me. To say that unicorns have an existence in heraldry. namely. Misled by grammar.” and so on. to maintain that Hamlet. in fact. just as truly as (say) Napoleon existed in the ordinary world. there is a failure of that feeling for reality which ought to be preserved even in the most abstract studies.) This proposition is obviously not of the form “I met x. exists in his own world. XVI.” For want of the apparatus of propositional functions.” Therefore. In the case of “unicorn.

and other such pseudo-objects. It is not an indeﬁnite description which describes something unreal. we are dealing in the ﬁrst instance with symbols. you have not touched the actual man. and if we attribute signiﬁcance to groups of symbols which have no signiﬁcance. if we take “a man” . “x is unreal” or “x does not exist” is not nonsense. in Shakespeare and his readers are real. sitions which contain ambiguous descriptions. deﬁnite or indeﬁnite. and whoever juggles with it by pretending that Hamlet has another kind of reality is doing a disservice to thought. as objects described. feelings. All this results from the fact that. “A unicorn” is an indeﬁnite description which describes nothing..Chap. like “a unicorn” just now. If no one thought about Hamlet. etc. When you have taken account of all the feelings roused by Napoleon in writers and readers of history.” But the two words “a unicorn” do not form a subordinate group having a meaning of its own. In obedience to the feeling of reality. but is always signiﬁcant and sometimes true. So are the thoughts that we have in reading the play. But it is of the very essence of ﬁction that only the thoughts. in dealing with propositions.g. golden mountains. it is not a subordinate group having a meaning of its own. in just the same sense as the word “man. In the proposition “I met a unicorn. could we admit anything unreal? The reply is that.” where “so-and-so’s” are those objects that have a certain property φ. XVI. we ﬁnd ourselves saddled with “a unicorn. but in the case of Hamlet you have come to the end of him. if no one had thought about Napoleon. Thus if we falsely attribute meaning to these two words. it may be asked. and that there is not. how. there would be nothing | left of him. Suppose we wish to make some statement about “a so-and-so. round squares. | We may now proceed to deﬁne generally the meaning of propo. in the analysis of propositions. A robust sense of reality is very necessary in framing a correct analysis of propositions about unicorns. Such a proposition as “x is unreal” only has meaning when “x” is a description. The sense of reality is vital in logic.” and with the problem how there can be such a thing in a world where there are no unicorns. an objective Hamlet.” the whole four words together make a signiﬁcant proposition. i. (E. when “x” is a description. namely. nothing “unreal” is to be admitted. But whether the description “x” describes something or describes nothing. after all. But. and the word “unicorn” by itself is signiﬁcant. we shall insist that. in that case the proposition will be true if “x” is a description which describes nothing.e. in the only sense in which this is possible. we shall fall into the error of admitting unrealities. Descriptions he had in writing Hamlet are real. it is in any case not a constituent of the proposition in which it occurs. if there is nothing unreal. in addition to them. he would have soon seen to it that some one did. those objects x for which the propositional function φx is true.

“unreal.” It is just this fact. The deﬁnition of existence. results from what was said at the end of the preceding chapter. which makes it possible for “a so-and-so” to be. the is of “Socrates is a man” expresses identity. when rightly analysed. We say that “men exist” or “a man exists” if the | propositional function “x is human” is sometimes true. in the case of “I met a man. The proposition “Socrates is a man” is no doubt equivalent to “Socrates is human. in a certain clearly deﬁnable sense. and although (in a sense) this may be true in some cases.e.g. however. We may put this in other language. this is the same proposition as might be expressed by “some φ’s are ψ’s”.” If it were.” The deﬁnition is as follows:— The statement that “an object having the property φ has the property ψ” means: “The joint assertion of φx and ψx is not always false. And that is why such propositions can be signiﬁcant even when there is no such thing as a so-and-so.Chap.” So far as logic goes. XVI. The identity in “Socrates is a man” is identity between an object named (accepting “Socrates” as a name.” where “x” is a name. when there is at least one true proposition of the form “x is a so-and-so. (E. and in the other case of plurality. i. because in the one case there is a suggestion of singularity. An object ambiguously described will “exist” when at least one such proposition is true. It is a disgrace to the human race that it has chosen to employ the same word “is” for these two entirely diﬀerent ideas—a disgrace which a symbolic logical language of course remedies. we wish to assert that “a so-and-so” has that property which x has when ψx is true.e.” ψx will be “I met x.” but it is not the very same proposition. as applied to ambiguous descriptions. This. It is characteristic of ambiguous (as opposed to deﬁnite) descriptions that there may be any number of true propositions of the above form—Socrates is a . that the statement that a so-and-so has the property ψ is not of the form ψx. propositions verbally about “a so-and-so” are found to contain no constituent represented by this phrase.” φx will be “x is human.”) Now the proposition that “a so-and-so” has the property ψ is not a proposition of the form “ψx.”) Let us now wish to assert the property ψ of “a so-and-so. but rhetorically there is a diﬀerence. “a so-and-so” would have to be identical with x for a suitable x. and generally “a so-and-so” exists if “x is so-and-so” is sometimes true. Descriptions as our instance of “a so-and-so. The important point is that. it is certainly not true in such a case as “a unicorn. subject to qualiﬁcations explained later) and an object ambiguously described. is not the important point.” i. The is of “Socrates is human” expresses the relation of subject and predicate.

namely. when we have enumerated all the men in the world. In the case of “the so-and-so” this is equally true. Aristotle is a man. by a consideration of the diﬀerence between a name and a deﬁnite description. Plato is a man. We may demonstrate that this must be the case. and not only so.e. but only the propositions in which it occurs. Descriptions man. namely. Thus there cannot be such an entity as “a man” to be found in the world. “Scott. but rather more complicated. In the case of “a so-and-so. etc. as opposed to speciﬁc men. not a deﬁnition of the phrase itself in isolation. On the other hand.” And a “simple” symbol is one which has no parts that are symbols.” which are asserted to apply to the same person. With deﬁnite descriptions. | Socrates is a man. “x is the soand-so” (where “x” is a name). in Chapter XIII. which are to be deﬁned in a way analogous to that employed for ambiguous descriptions. we shall have to content ourselves with what may be . “Scott is the author of Waverley. Nevertheless. separate letters).Chap. XVI. Take the proposition. Thus “a man exists” follows from Socrates. or anyone else.. the corresponding form of proposition. We come now to the main subject of the present chapter. This brings us to the subject of deﬁnite descriptions. “This is a man.” this is fairly obvious: no one could suppose that “a man” was a deﬁnite object. since these three names have diﬀerent meanings. we deﬁned as an “individual” or a “particular. “the author of Waverley. but it is the ‘a man. but we cannot infer that “a man” means the same as “Socrates” means and also the same as “Plato” means and also the same as “Aristotle” means. And accordingly it is natural that we do not deﬁne “a man” itself. on the other hand. the deﬁnition of the word the (in the singular). because. these parts are not symbols. One very important point about the deﬁnition of “a so-and-so” applies equally to “the so-and-so”. If. or Plato. i. something of the kind that.” It is of course quite clear that whatever there is in the world is deﬁnite: if it is a man it is one deﬁnite man and not any other. which could be deﬁned by itself.” and a description. the deﬁnition to be sought is a deﬁnition of propositions in which this phrase occurs. because the separate words that compose the phrase are parts which are symbols. Plato is a man. though it has parts (namely. there is nothing left of which we can say.’ the quintessential entity that is just an indeﬁnite man without being anybody in particular. “the author of Waverley” is not a simple symbol.” We have here a name. can only be true for one value of x at most. as may be the case. The distinction between a name and all other symbols may be explained as follows:— A name is a simple symbol whose meaning is something that can only occur as subject. Thus “Scott” is a simple symbol. though at ﬁrst sight less obvious. whatever seems to be an “individual” is really capable of further analysis.

nothing that we shall have to say will depend upon this assumption. namely. When a name is used directly. this problem. treat names as capable of being absolute. directly designating an individual which is its meaning.e.’” the actual name “Scott” enters into what we are asserting. the second a trivial truism. the deﬁnition of descriptions.” whereas we have to compare such couples as “Scott” and “the author of Waverley. XVI. which consists of several words. This is a way in which names are frequently used | in practice.” From the standpoint of our present problem. it is something for which the actual words are a vehicle. may be ignored.” in which two names are said to apply to the same person. Descriptions called “relative individuals. since it concerns diﬀerent stages in the hierarchy of “types. merely to indicate what we are speaking about. and not merely into the language used in making the assertion. and would therefore certainly no longer be the same proposition. our proposition is essentially of the same form as (say) “Scott is Sir Walter. But.” our proposition would become false. Our proposition will now . and there will.” which will be terms that. And in that case we shall have correspondingly to content ourselves with “relative names. it may be said.’” then the names are being used as descriptions: i. We have. whether these are absolute names or only relative names. if “Scott is Sir Walter” really means “the person named ‘Scott’ is the person named ‘Sir Walter. the individual. or of the falsehood if our assertion happens to be false: it is merely part of the symbolism by which we express our thought. it is no part of the fact asserted.” which both apply to the same object. and from which results whatever is to be taken as the “meaning” of the description. which is a simple symbol. A proposition containing a description is not identical with what that proposition becomes when a name is substituted. even if the name names the same object as the description describes. () a description. “Scott is the author of Waverley” is obviously a diﬀerent proposition from “Scott is Scott”: the ﬁrst is a fact in literary history. and having this meaning in its own right. as a rule. independently of the meanings of all other words. then. two things to compare: () a name. And if we put anyone other than Scott in place of “the author of Waverley. throughout the context in question. whose meanings are already ﬁxed. be nothing in the phraseology to show whether they are being used in this way or as names. for the moment. are never analysed and never occur | otherwise than as subjects. but of which they are no part. but the wording may be a little shortened by it. The reply is that. What we want to express is something which might (for example) be translated into a foreign language. instead of being named. We may. when we make a proposition about “the person called ‘Scott. On the other hand. is being described as the person having that name. therefore. and do not raise the problem of types.Chap.

if the description describes nothing. We cannot speak about “the present King of France. the proposition we obtain is a diﬀerent one. and Aristotle is Aristotle. That is to say. “Scott is Sir Walter” is the same trivial proposition as “Scott is Scott. that the author of Waverley is the author of Waverley. The only thing that distinguishes “the so-andso” from “a so-and-so” is the implication of uniqueness. whether we say “Scott” or whether we say “Sir Walter” is as irrelevant to what we are asserting as whether we speak English or French.” This completes the proof that “Scott is the author of Waverley” is not the same proposition as results from substituting a name for “the author of Waverley. the process of applying general statements about φx to particular cases will consist in substituting a name for the letter “x. propositions of the form “the so-and-so is the so-and-so” are not always true: it is necessary that the so-and-so should exist (a term which will be explained shortly). that φx is “always true”. We are now in a position to deﬁne propositions in which a deﬁnite description occurs. φx say. Thus so long as names are used as names. let it be. But we shall commit a fallacy if we attempt to infer. Then we may substitute for “x” any name we choose.Chap.” and “Aristotle” are names (a very rash assumption).” because inhabiting London is an attribute which is not unique. This results | from what we have just proved. Suppose. There is no mystery in this as soon as we realise (what was proved in the preceding paragraph) that when we substitute a description the result is not a value of the propositional function in question.” Thus propositions about “the so-and-so” . and speak of a propositional function. we can infer from the law of identity that Socrates is Socrates. Descriptions be a diﬀerent one if we substitute “the person called ‘Sir Walter. that the author of Waverley is the author of Waverley. “x = x” is not the same proposition as “the author of Waverley is the author of Waverley. the “law of identity. or that the round square is the round square. but we can speak about “the present King of England. say. Assuming for the moment that “Socrates. In fact. We cannot speak of “the inhabitant of London. if we substitute a name for “the author of Waverley” in a proposition. Thus from the fact that all propositions of the form “x = x” are true we cannot infer. Plato is Plato. When we use a variable. without more ado. and we shall obtain a true proposition. When we substitute a description for a name. XVI.” no matter what name may be substituted.” assuming that φ is a function which has individuals for its arguments. It is false that the present King of France is the present King of France.” x = x. propositional functions which are “always true” may become false.” no matter what name “x” may be. without further premisses.” “Plato.’” But so long as we are using names as names. that. applying the result to our present case: If “x” is a name. for example.” because there is none.

The ﬁrst and second together are equivalent to: “There is a term c such that ‘x wrote Waverley’ is true when x is c and is false when x is not c. “The author of Waverley” is “the term satisfying the function ‘x wrote Waverley. () “if x and y wrote Waverley.” We may say that “the author of Waverley” means “the value of x for which ‘x wrote | Waverley’ is true. Our deﬁnition is as follows:— “The term satisfying the function φx exists” means: “There is a term c such that φx is always equivalent to ‘x is c. translated into ordinary language. All these three are implied by “the author of Waverley was Scotch.” We may now deﬁne “the term satisfying the function φx exists.’” And “the so-and-so” will | always involve reference to some propositional function.’” (Two propositions are “equivalent” when both are true or both are false.” and we form a function of c by considering the equivalence of these two functions of x for all values of x. or if several people had written it.” This is the general form of which the above is a particular case. () “if x wrote Waverley. () whoever wrote Waverley was Scotch.” with the addendum that there is not more than one so-and-so.” for example.” We may somewhat simplify these three propositions. XVI. These three propositions.) We have here. involves: () “x wrote Waverley” is not always false. x and y are identical” is always true. we then proceed to assert that the resulting function of c is “sometimes true.” In other words.) These two conditions together are deﬁned as giving the meaning of “the author of Waverley exists. two functions of x. x was Scotch” is always true.” i. that which deﬁnes the property that makes a thing a so-and-so. that it is true for at least one value of c.’” . “There is a term c such that ‘x wrote Waverley’ is always equivalent to ‘x is c. state: () at least one person wrote Waverley. (It obviously cannot be true for more than one value of c. namely. “x wrote Waverley” and “x is c. () at most one person wrote Waverley.” Conversely.e. and no more could any other proposition resulting from a propositional function φx by the substitution of “the author of Waverley” for “x.Chap. the three together (but no two of them) imply that the author of Waverley was Scotch. Such a proposition as “Scott is the author of Waverley” could not be true if Waverley had never been written. to begin with.” Thus the proposition “the author of Waverley was Scotch. Descriptions always imply the corresponding propositions about “a so-and-so. Hence the three together may be taken as deﬁning what is meant by the proposition “the author of Waverley was Scotch.

Thus “the author of Waverley was Scotch” is: “There is a term c such that () ‘x wrote Waverley’ is always equivalent to ‘x is c.’ () c is Scotch. like “the present King of France.” where “x” is a name. if intended to be a name. without knowing any proposition of the form “x is the so-and-so. the reason being that it is a complex symbol. In a detective story propositions about “the man who did the deed” are accumulated.Chap. for. but if a is the so-and-so (where “a” is a name). which we could not do if “Homer” were a name. i. It is possible to have much knowledge concerning a term described.” without actually knowing what the so-and-so is. The proposition “the so-and-so exists” is signiﬁcant. The abstract distinction is as follows. we are using the word “Homer” as an abbreviated description: we may replace it by (say) “the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. We may even go so far as to say that.” does not become incapable of occurring signiﬁcantly merely on the ground that it describes nothing. to know many propositions concerning “the so-and-so.’ () ψc is true. in the hope that ultimately they will suﬃce to demonstrate that it was A who did the deed. is a symbol devoid of meaning. and therefore. XVI. occur. “Whoever wrote Waverley was Scotch. when we ask whether Homer existed. namely. if “a” is a name. it must name something: what does not name anything is not a name. whereas a description. Descriptions In order to deﬁne “the author of Waverley was Scotch. It is only of descriptions | —deﬁnite or indeﬁnite—that existence can be signiﬁcantly asserted.e. whether true or false. the words “a exists” are meaningless.” This is the deﬁnition of propositions in which descriptions occur. in the strict sense. i. of which the meaning is derived from that of its constituent symbols. And so.” The same considerations apply to almost all uses of what look like proper names.” This will be satisﬁed by merely adding that the c in question is to be Scotch. We may inquire signiﬁcantly whether Homer existed. A description has a “primary” . When descriptions occur in propositions. but what seem like names are really descriptions.” And generally: “the term satisfying φx satisﬁes ψx” is deﬁned as meaning: “There is a term c such that () φx is always equivalent to ‘x is c. in all such knowledge as can be expressed in words—with the exception of “this” and “that” and a few other words of which the meaning varies on diﬀerent occasions—no names.” we have still to take account of the third of our three propositions. it is necessary to distinguish what may be called “primary” and “secondary” occurrences.e.

is of the utmost importance both in logic and in theory of knowledge.” then “the present King of France” has a primary occurrence and the proposition is false. To say “the father of y is rich. is true for at least one value of c. But now consider “the present King of France is not bald.” and then deny the result.” then substitute “the present King of France” for “x. XVI. . It obviously cannot be true for more than one value. and ‘x begat y’ is always equivalent to ‘x is c. the more philosophical parts of the theory are not essential. Descriptions occurrence when the proposition in which it occurs results from substituting the description for “x” in some propositional function φx.” for example.’” is “sometimes true. Every proposition in which a description which describes nothing has a primary occurrence is false. “the term having the relation R to y. Consider “the present King of France is bald. and have therefore been omitted in the above account.” or “the R of y” as we may say. i.e. is to say that the following propositional function of c: “c is rich. An instance will make this clearer. a description has a “secondary” occurrence when the result of substituting the description for x in φx gives only part of the proposition concerned.Chap.” Here “the present King of France” has a primary occurrence.” i. But for purposes of mathematics. If we are ﬁrst to take “x is bald. brieﬂy outlined in the present chapter. on the analogy of “the father of y” and similar phrases. The theory of descriptions. but if we are to take “x is not bald” and substitute “the present King of France” for “x. Confusion of primary and secondary occurrences is a ready source of fallacies where descriptions are concerned.” This is ambiguous. | Descriptions occur in mathematics chieﬂy in the form of descrip. which has conﬁned itself to the barest mathematical requisites. the occurrence of “the present King of France” is secondary and our proposition is true. and the proposition is false.e. tive functions.

e.” and that classes are in fact. for the reasons set forth in Chapter XIII.” The theory of classes is less complete than the theory of descriptions. not representing objects called “classes.. but which will assign a meaning that altogether eliminates all mention of classes from a right analysis | of such propositions. i. but the reasons for regarding the deﬁnition which will be oﬀered as being approximately correct and on the right lines are overwhelming. if for no others. treated “class” as a primitive idea. like descriptions.e.e. Hitherto we have. they are deﬁned in a way closely analogous to that used for descriptions. We shall then be able to say that the symbols for classes are mere conveniences. logical ﬁctions. i. a deﬁnition which will assign a meaning to propositions in whose verbal or symbolic expression words or symbols apparently representing classes occur. But.. if there is a term c such that x will be a member of α when x is c but not otherwise. and there are reasons (which we shall give in outline) for regarding the deﬁnition of classes that will be suggested as not ﬁnally satisfactory. or (as we say) “incomplete symbols. namely: A class α is said to be a “unit” class if the propositional function “‘x is an α’ is always equivalent to ‘x is c’” (regarded as a function of c) is not always false. “unit classes” must be deﬁned so as not to assume that we know what is meant by “one”. and in Chapter III. and so on. in fact.CHAPTER XVII CLASSES In the present chapter we shall be concerned with the in the plural: the inhabitants of London. as we should say but for the vicious circle. Some further subtlety appears to be required. In other words. we shall be concerned with classes. the sons of rich men. . we cannot accept “class” as a primitive idea. We must seek a deﬁnition on the same lines as the deﬁnition of descriptions. i. Of course. We saw in Chapter II. that the number is to be deﬁned as the class of all unit classes. that a cardinal number is to be deﬁned as a class of classes. in dealing with arithmetic. in more ordinary language. of all that have just one member. when the number is deﬁned as the class of all unit classes. This gives us a deﬁnition of a unit class if we already know what a class is in general.

and because we can prove that the number of classes is greater than the number of individuals. Thus descrip. we shall have no means of expressing the proposition which we expressed by means of “a” as opposed to the one that | we expressed by means of the description. all the particular things there are in the world would have to have names which would be included among undeﬁned symbols. with a deﬁnition for everything deﬁnable.” If our language does not contain the name “a. we should also ﬁnd it very hard to understand how it comes about that a class which has only one member is not identical with that one member. or to deny. We might try to avoid this conclusion by the use of descriptions. as we . Our ﬁrst business is to give the reasons for this opinion. tions would not enable a perfect language to dispense with names for all particulars. On the other hand. We have already seen that classes cannot be regarded as a species of individuals. that there are such entities as “heaps. classes diﬀer from particulars. We cannot take classes in the pure extensional way as simply heaps or conglomerations. if there are such things as heaps.” or some other name for the same particular. It is diﬃcult to explain precisely what one means by this statement. we are maintaining. But if “a” is a name for the same particular. and an undeﬁned symbol for everything indeﬁnable. which has no members at all and cannot be regarded as a “heap”.). In this respect. we should ﬁnd it impossible to understand how there can be such a class as the null-class. I am not called upon to have an opinion on this point.” I am maintaining that no symbols either for “class” in general or for particular classes would be included in this apparatus of undeﬁned symbols. Classes The ﬁrst thing is to realise why classes cannot be regarded as part of the ultimate furniture of the world. Take (say) “the last thing Cæsar saw before he died. on account of the contradiction about classes which are not members of themselves (explained in Chapter XIII.” This is a description of some particular. XVII. we cannot identify them with the classes composed of their constituents. the undeﬁned symbols in this language would represent symbolically what I mean by “the ultimate furniture of the world. If we had a complete symbolic language. we might use it as (in one perfectly legitimate sense) a deﬁnition of that particular. a proposition in which “a” occurs is not (as we saw in the preceding chapter) identical with what this proposition becomes when for “a” we substitute “the last thing Cæsar saw before he died.” As a mathematical logician. but one consequence which it implies may be used to elucidate its meaning. and need not be represented by undeﬁned symbols. All that I am maintaining is that. If we were to attempt to do that. We shall come much nearer to a satisfactory theory if we try to identify classes with propositional functions.Chap. I do not mean to assert. Every class.

and therefore two formally equivalent functions will have to determine the same class. Given any proposition (true or false). is deﬁned by some propositional function which is true of the members of the class and false of other things. say about Socrates. Of course. ψx are “formally equivalent” when φx is always equivalent to ψx.” But when we refuse to assert that there are classes. And if we can ﬁnd any way of dealing with them as symbolic ﬁctions. It is the fact that there are other functions formally equivalent to a given function that makes it impossible to identify a class with a function. But if a class can be deﬁned by one propositional function. since we avoid the need of assuming that there are classes without being compelled to make the opposite assumption that there are no classes. The class determined will consist of all those substitutions that give a true one.Chap.” All that | we are observing at present is that a class is rendered determinate by a propositional function. we have still to decide what we mean by “all those which. we increase the logical security of our position. . XVII. we can say. that they cannot be just heaps or aggregates. When we have decided that classes cannot be things of the same sort as their members.. “entities are not to be multiplied without necessity.” e Let us set forth the conditions that a symbol must fulﬁl if it is to serve as a class. Two propositions are | “equivalent” when both are true or both false. there are always many others which are true when it is true and false when it is false. “je n’ai pas besoin de cette hypoth`se. we must not be supposed to be asserting dogmatically that there are none. etc. I think the following conditions will be found necessary and suﬃcient:— () Every propositional function must determine a class. it can equally well be deﬁned by any other which is true whenever the ﬁrst is true and false whenever the ﬁrst is false. some of these substitutions will give a true proposition and some a false one. Classes explained in Chapter II. We are merely agnostic as regards them: like Laplace. and also that they cannot be identiﬁed with propositional functions. and that every propositional function determines an appropriate class. namely. For this reason the class cannot be identiﬁed with any one such propositional function rather than with any other—and given a propositional function. two propositional functions φx. We merely abstain from both assumptions. we can imagine Socrates replaced by Plato or Aristotle or a gorilla or the man in the moon or any other individual in the world. for we wish classes to be such that no two distinct classes have exactly the same members. consisting of those arguments for which the function is true. This is an example of Occam’s razor. it becomes very diﬃcult to see what they can be. if they are to be more than symbolic ﬁctions. We say that two propositional functions are “formally equivalent” when this happens. In general.

g. We will. for each group of formally equivalent propositional functions. the class of all classes of m terms that can be selected out of a given class of n terms. e.” If this were not the case. This results from the contradiction which we discussed in Chapter XIII. and two which are not formally equivalent must determine diﬀerent classes. and this requires the sort of totality that is in question. we need to be able to say that a member of the posterity belongs to all hereditary classes to which the given term belongs. we say that a is a “member” of the class if φa is true. since I may believe falsely that the Phœnix is an immortal rational animal. Some of the things that may be said about a function may be regarded as said about the class deﬁned by the function. “I believe that all men are mortal” may be true. () It must under all circumstances be meaningless (not false) to suppose a class a member of itself or not a member of itself. Now. We saw in Chapter II. that cardinal numbers are to be deﬁned as classes of classes. (If a class is determined by a function φx. () Lastly—and this is the condition which is most diﬃcult of fulﬁlment—it must be possible to make propositions about all the classes that are composed of individuals. while “I believe that all rational animals are mortal” may be false. no more and no less. That is. e. mathematical induction. many uses of classes would go astray—for example. or about all the classes that are composed of objects of any one logical “type.Chap. In deﬁning the posterity of a given term. ignore this last condition and the problems which it raises. XVII. mathematical logic would break down.) () We must ﬁnd some way of deﬁning not only classes. They state that there is to be one class. and no two diﬀerent classes can have the same membership. Classes () Two formally equivalent propositional functions must determine the same class. whereas others . or (more correctly) functions of functions. although they deﬁne the same class. to begin with. but classes of classes. when we say that two formally equivalent propositional functions may be not identical. Thus we are led to consider statements about functions. The ﬁrst two conditions may be | taken together. we may prove the truth of the assertion by pointing out that a statement may be true of the one function and false of the other.g. The reason there is a diﬃculty about this condition is that it can be proved to be impossible to speak of all the propositional functions that can have arguments of a given type. “The combinations of n things m at a time” represents a class of classes. namely. a class is determined by its membership. The ordinary phrase of elementary mathematics. Without some symbolic method of dealing with classes of classes. the class of men is to be the same as that of featherless bipeds or rational animals or Yahoos or whatever other characteristic may be preferred for deﬁning a human being.

be regarded as functions of the class determined by φx.” i.” This is obviously extensional. because its truth-value may be changed by the substitution of a formally equivalent function (which leaves the class unchanged). while intensional functions cannot be so regarded. if we choose.” regarded as a function of “x is human.” so that “I believe that all men are mortal” is an intensional function of “x is human” or “x is mortal. The statement “all men are mortal” involves the functions “x is human” and “x is mortal”.” Take.” Each of these has its truth-value unchanged if any formally equivalent function is substituted for φx. but when the original function is intensional. We will call a statement involving a function φx an “extensional” function of the function φx. For example. “φx is always true” is equivalent to “everything is a member of α. in other words.” Thus extensional functions of a function φx may. if it is like “all men are mortal. it is true when our original statement is true.” The derived extensional function is: “There is a func- . we can always derive from it a connected and certainly extensional function of the same function. for the existence of “the term satisfying φx.e. a class which is a member of . then consider the assertion “there is a function having the property f and formally equivalent to φx. we will call it “intensional. for example. dealt with in the preceding chapter. we can say that it involves the classes men and mortals. It is equivalent to the assertion that the class deﬁned by the function φx is a unit class. In the language of classes. XVII. the new one is more often true than the old one.” The condition is that there is a term c such that φx is always equivalent to “x is c. a class having one member. Classes cannot. or. Thus.Chap. We can interpret the statement in either way. consider again “I believe that all men are mortal. i. and when a function of a function is not extensional.” This is an extensional function of φx. It is to be observed that all the speciﬁc functions of functions that we have occasion to introduce in mathematical logic are extensional. again.e. because its truth-value is unchanged if we substitute for “x is human” or for “x is mortal” any formally equivalent function. if its truth-value is unchanged by the substitution of any formally equivalent function. if α is the class determined by φx. the statement “I believe that all men are mortal” cannot be regarded as being about the class determined by either function. as we have just seen. the condition.” and “φx is sometimes true” is equivalent to “α has members” or (better) “α has at least one member. But. for practical | purposes. and it is formally equivalent to the original function of φx if this original function is extensional. the two fundamental functions of functions are: “φx is always true” and “φx is sometimes true. Given a function of a function which may or may not be extensional. by the following plan: Let our original function of a function be one which attributes to φx the property f .

. and as asserting f of this class. the possibility of classes of classes. We saw in Chapter XIII. we shall incur a fallacy if we regard these as of the same type as the predicative a-functions. What we have said just now as regards the deﬁnition of classes is suﬃcient to satisfy our ﬁrst four conditions. We may take ﬁrst those among them which do not involve reference to any collection of functions. but for our ﬁfth condition.” How shall we deﬁne a “typical Frenchman”? We may deﬁne him as one “possessing all qualities that are possessed by most Frenchmen. and it will be found that technically it yields the results which are required in order to make a theory symbolically satisfactory. Take such an every-day statement as “a is a typical Frenchman. namely. It results that.” where the original function was “the function φx has the property f. I. and that it is a fallacy to allow an object belonging to one of these to be substituted for an object belonging to another. This gives a meaning to any statement about a class which can be made signiﬁcantly about a function. pp. . | Now it is not diﬃcult to show that the various functions which can take a given object a as argument are not all of one type. – and ∗ . we may deﬁne: To assert that “the class determined by the function φx has the property f ” is to assert that φx satisﬁes the extensional function derived from f. but may be taken for granted here.” But unless The reader who desires a fuller discussion should consult Principia Mathematica. The diﬃculty is connected with the theory of types. these we will call “predicative a-functions.e. and the impossibility of a class being or not being a member of itself. Let us call them all afunctions. vol. See Principia Mathematica. we might regard our task as completed. namely.” This remains true when we substitute “x is a rational animal” | for “x is human. that there is a hierarchy of logical types.” We may regard the derived extensional function as having for its argument the class determined by the function φx. Introduction. But this condition—at once the most important and the most diﬃcult—is not fulﬁlled in virtue of anything we have said as yet. Classes tion formally equivalent to ‘x is human’ and such that I believe that whatever satisﬁes it is mortal. i. ii. to the function: “There is a function having the property f and formally equivalent to φx. also ∗ . and must be brieﬂy discussed. chap. XVII. We give the name of “derived extensional function” to the function constructed as above.” If we now proceed to functions involving reference to the totality of predicative a-functions. is somewhat technical. The way in which it secures the third and fourth. This may be taken as the deﬁnition of a proposition about a class.Chap. it is explained in Principia Mathematica.” even if I believe falsely that the Phœnix is rational and immortal.

and. where n is ﬁnite. but we cannot construct a variable which will run through them all. as Napoleon and the typical Frenchman have shown. i. afunctions involving reference to the totality of the ﬁrst type we call the second type. we generate a new object.e. Any decision will do. since there is no reason why there should be any typical Frenchmen. XVII. the type is not rendered determinate by that of the argument. by various technical devices. we may suppose that “qualities” is to mean “predicative functions. by statements about “all” or “some” of the values that a variable can signiﬁcantly take. Then ψ appears as a . It would require a much fuller discussion to set forth this point fully. but it illustrates the need for separating oﬀ qualities that involve reference to a totality of qualities from those that do not. As applied to a-functions. if I say “Napoleon had all the qualities that make a great general. and would set the whole process going again. This is not a logical contradiction. No variable a-function can run through all these diﬀerent types: it must stop short at some deﬁnite one. but what has been said may suﬃce to make it clear that the functions which can take a given argument are of an inﬁnite series of types. we shall have to observe that most Frenchmen are not typical in the above sense. etc. thus we escape the vicious circle. “having all the qualities that make a great general” must not be itself a quality in the sense supposed. and therefore the deﬁnition shows that to be not typical is essential to a typical Frenchman.” It is necessary to decide upon the type of our function. and so on.. the functions in question must be limited to one type if a vicious circle is to be avoided. that mere fact would at once generate a new type of function with the same arguments. and. this new object must not be among the values which our previous variable could take. Let us call the supposed formally equivalent function ψ. For example. and is the principle which leads to the theory of types by which vicious-circle paradoxes are avoided. This is fairly obvious. Classes we conﬁne “all qualities” to such as do not involve a reference to any totality of qualities.” Then when I say “Napoleon had all the qualities. But wherever “all functions which” occurs. etc. and we should be involved in a vicious circle. These considerations are relevant to our deﬁnition of the derived extensional function.Chap. but some decision is unavoidable. the totality of values over which the variable could range would only be deﬁnable in terms of itself. We could. but not a predicative property.” I must deﬁne “qualities” in such a way that it will not include what I am now saying. construct a variable which would run through the ﬁrst n of these types.” I mean | “Napoleon satisﬁed all the predicative functions.” This statement attributes a property to Napoleon. Whenever. if it were. if we could. We call predicative a-functions the ﬁrst type of a-functions. since. We there spoke of “a function formally equivalent to φx.

” One particular region where this is vital is mathematical induction. But this. If we are to be able (as our ﬁfth requisite demands) to deal with all classes whose members are of the same type as a. as explained in Chapter XIV. as we have just seen. such that any a-function is formally | equivalent to some a-function of the nth type. not necessary.” If this axiom is assumed. it is formally equivalent to some function of the type in question. It is therefore only convenient. This axiom. It is chieﬂy as a technical means of embodying an assumption leading to this result that classes are useful. They must be absolutely true. we should not merely not obtain the same results. for they are rules of deduction as well as premisses. and of the uncertainty of all except its most general principles. If this is the case. could perfectly well be stated as an hypothesis whenever it is used. We cannot use them as hypotheses. On the other hand. the axiom of reducibility.” are of the very texture of mathematical reasoning: without them. is necessary for certain results. We can deduce | its consequences hypothetically.” and may be stated as follows:— “There is a type (τ say) of a-functions such that. Classes variable. like the multiplicative axiom and the axiom of inﬁnity. but not for the bare existence of deductive reasoning. The assumption is called the “axiom of reducibility. and deduce hypothetical consequences. and the laws for propositions involving “all” and “some. that is to say. like our two previous mathematical axioms. All that we know necessarily about the type of φ is that it takes arguments of a given type—that it is (say) an a-function..Chap. there must be some type of a-function.e. we must be able to deﬁne all such classes by means of functions of some one type. we use functions of this type in deﬁning our associated extensional function. instead of being assumed to be actually true. The theory of deduction. and must be of some determinate type. then any extensional function which holds of all a-functions of the nth type will hold of any a-function whatever. XVII. So long as only extensional functions of functions are involved. Statements about all a-classes (i. it is impossible as yet to say whether there may . given any afunction. say the nth . all classes deﬁned by a-functions) can be reduced to statements about all a-functions of the type τ. or something like them. this gives us in practice results which would otherwise have required the impossible notion of “all a-functions. does not determine its type. we can also deduce the consequences of supposing it false. It is therefore worth while to ask whether there is any reason to suppose it true. And in view of the complication of the theory of types. The axiom of reducibility involves all that is really essential in the theory of classes. or else what we deduce according to them does not even follow from the premisses. but we should not obtain any results at all.

I do not see any reason to believe that the axiom of reducibility is logically necessary. in spite of our desire to exclude. as above outlined. There is a certain lordliness which the logician should preserve: he must not condescend to derive arguments from the things he sees about him. what can we say as to the truth or falsehood of the axiom? The axiom. Now predicates are only some among what we called “predicative functions. is a generalised form of Leibniz’s identity of indiscernibles. in all possible worlds. The admission of this axiom into a system of logic is therefore a defect. a fact about the world in which we happen to ﬁnd ourselves. and pure mathematics (which is the same thing). There might quite well. in the hope of arriving at a doctrine of classes which does not require such a dubious assumption. There is need of further work on the theory of types. It is for this reason that the theory of classes cannot be regarded as being as complete as the theory of descriptions. The avoidance of classes as entities by this method must.e. it would seem. in its reduction of propositions nominally about classes to propositions about their deﬁning functions. The theory of classes. (Not. Classes not be some way of dispensing with the axiom of reducibility altogether. as a logical principle. Pure logic. according to his logic.Chap. we may observe. owing to spatio-temporal diﬀerentiation: no two particulars have exactly the same spatial and temporal relations to all other particulars. however the detail may still require adjustment. be sound in principle. in the narrow sense in which we have been using the word “predicate. as a matter of abstract logical possibility. assuming the correctness of the theory outlined above.” How does our axiom look when we pass beyond predicates in this narrow sense? In the actual world there seems no way of doubting its empirical truth as regards particulars. of course.” which will include also relations to given terms. | Viewed from this strictly logical point of view. aims at being true. which is what would be meant by saying that it is true in all possible worlds. an accident. as it were. reduces itself to one . not only in this higgledy-piggledy job-lot of a world in which chance has imprisoned us. in Leibnizian phraseology. that two diﬀerent subjects must diﬀer as to predicates. But this is. which regarded all propositions as reducible to the subject-predicate form. be two things which had exactly the same predicates. Thus Leibniz’s assumption is a much stricter and narrower one than ours. even if the axiom is empirically true. so far as I can see. But it is reasonable to regard the theory outlined in the present chapter as right in its main lines. Leibniz assumed.) But there is no good reason for believing his form. whatever seemed open to serious doubt. XVII. and various properties not to be reckoned as predicates. However. It is because this seems indubitable that we have included the theory of classes. as far as possible. i.

.Chap. For the sake of deﬁniteness. Classes axiom and one deﬁnition. The axiom is: There is a type τ such that if φ is a function which can take a given object a as argument. we will here repeat them. then there is a function ψ of the type τ which is formally equivalent to φ. then to say that the class determined by φ has the property f is to say that there is a function of type τ. and τ the type mentioned in the above axiom. XVII. and having the property f. The deﬁnition is: If φ is a function which can take a given object a as argument. formally equivalent to φ.

of course. In a synthetic. have been entirely distinct studies. and have then analysed the conceptions involved in the deﬁnition. until we found ourselves dealing with the fundamentals of logic. are incapable of following a piece of symbolic reasoning. with logic to the left and mathematics to the right. Such treatment. It will then be obvious that any answer must be quite arbitrary. historically speaking. we ﬁnd that there is no point at which a sharp line can be drawn. This view is resented by logicians who. The consequence is that it has now become wholly impossible to draw a line between the two. a matter of detail: starting with premisses which would be universally admitted to belong to logic. they consider that logic ends and mathematics begins. that the very close relationship of logic and mathematics has become obvious to every instructed student. If there are still those who do not admit the identity of logic and mathematics. so much of modern logic is symbolic and formal. though formally . In the earlier chapters of this book. having spent their time in the study of classical texts. we have ﬁrst deﬁned “cardinal number” and shown how to generalise the conception of number. The proof of their identity is.CHAPTER XVIII MATHEMATICS AND LOGIC Mathematics and logic. in fact. logic with Greek. But both have developed in modern times: logic has become more mathematical and mathematics has become more logical. and by mathematicians who have learnt a technique without troubling to inquire into its meaning or justiﬁcation. So much of modern mathematical work is obviously on the border-line of logic. we may challenge them to indicate at what point. the two are one. and arriving by deduction at results which as obviously belong to mathematics. and the natural numbers are only reached after a long journey. Mathematics has been connected with science. deductive treatment these fundamentals come ﬁrst. in the successive deﬁnitions and | deductions of Principia Mathematica. Both types are now fortunately growing rarer. starting from the natural numbers. They diﬀer as boy and man: logic is the youth of mathematics and mathematics is the manhood of logic.

XVIII. through the theory of induction and ancestral relations. through the general theory of series. Also they represent the present frontier of knowledge. The result is that what was formerly the single study of Arithmetic has now become divided into a number of separate studies. for example: projective and descriptive geometry. and similarity between classes. to generalise to the utmost.” The statement that mathematics is the science of number would be untrue in two diﬀerent ways. no one of which is specially concerned with numbers.” “Quantity” is a vague word. in which traditional arithmetic is at once dissolved and enlarged. the theory of selections— is to be said to belong to logic or to arithmetic is entirely arbitrary. down to the point at which co-ordinates are introduced.Chap. beyond which is the still unknown. Addition is concerned with the construction of mutually exclusive classes respectively similar to a set of classes which are not known to be mutually exclusive. The most | elementary properties of numbers are concerned with one-one relations. in eﬀect. and through the deﬁnitions of the arithmetical operations. in thus generalising the reasoning of arithmetic. through the deﬁnition of cardinals. And in thus generalising we have. we are. does not have to do with number. and the dominion of knowledge over them is not as yet very secure. Multiplication is merged in the theory of “selections. or even with quantity in the sense of greater and less. which may be called indiﬀerently either mathematics or logic? Is there any way in which we can deﬁne it? . which yields the whole theory of mathematical induction. Mathematics and Logic more correct than that which we have adopted. The ordinal properties of the various kinds of number-series. and the elements of the theory of continuity of functions and the limits of functions. of a certain kind of one-many relations. It is a principle. On the other hand. therefore. can be generalised so as no longer to involve any essential reference to numbers. created a set of new deductive systems. in all formal reasoning. On the one hand. and incapable of being decided rationally. merely following a precept which is universally admitted in mathematics. it has become possible to generalise much that used to be proved only in connection with numbers. It used to be said that mathematics is the science of “quantity. there are recognised branches of mathematics which have nothing to do with number—all geometry that does not use co-ordinates or measurement.e. because the ultimate logical concepts and propositions with which it starts are remote and unfamiliar as compared with the natural numbers. is more diﬃcult for the reader.” i. but for the sake of argument we may replace it by the word “number. Finitude is merged in the general study of ancestral relations. but whether any one of these new deductive systems—for example. We are thus brought face to face with the question: What is this subject. since we thereby secure that a given process of deduction shall have more widely applicable results.

in our capacity of logicians or pure mathematicians.” Here at last we have a proposition of logic—the one which is only suggested by the traditional statement about Socrates and men and mortals. To begin with.” with the hypothesis “if x is a man. not in virtue of the particular terms occurring in it.Chap. we shall prove it concerning “x. because. but not that Socrates and Plato are two. But when. instead of supposing x to be a man. if all α’s are β’s and x is an α. Thus the ﬁrst change to be made in the above traditional syllogism is to state it in the form: “If all men are mortal and Socrates is a man. not that premisses and conclusion are actually true. as above. and x for Socrates. Mathematics and Logic Certain characteristics of the subject are clear. we have never heard of Socrates and Plato. We may make this clear by applying it to the case of the syllogism. in which no actual things or properties are mentioned. we should have had a non-formal argument. if formal reasoning is what we are aiming at. But now we shall ﬁnd that our argument would still be valid if. Traditional logic says: “All men are mortal. in this subject. We are prepared to say that one and one are two. It would be ridiculous to go through a long argument about Socrates. is only that the premisses imply the conclusion. | we introduce something irrelevant and not formal. It is not open to us. It is clear that. β for mortals. If we had omitted “Socrates is a man” from our premisses. and x is any individual. “the propositional function ‘if all α’s are β’s and x is an α. to mention anything at all. Socrates is a man. XVIII. we do not. this will happen through the mere desire not to waste our time proving in a particular case what can be proved generally.” We may now observe that it is intended to convey that this argument is valid in virtue of its form. and then go through precisely the same argument again about Plato.” Now it is clear that what we mean to assert. as pure mathematicians or logicians. A world in which there were no such individuals would still be a world in which one and one are two. deal with particular things or particular properties: we deal formally with what can be said about any thing or any property. we shall always arrive ultimately at statements like the above. to begin with. then x is a β’ is always true. nothing depends upon the terms that occur in it. the argument is formal. then Socrates is mortal. even the most traditional logic points out that the actual truth of the premisses is irrelevant to logic. we were to suppose him to be a monkey . If our argument is one (say) which holds of all men. because. Thus we may substitute α for men. the argument will retain its hypothetical validity even when x is not a man. We then arrive at the statement: “No matter what possible values x and α and β may have.” With | this hypothesis. in other words. therefore Socrates is mortal. only admissible because Socrates is in fact a man. where α and β are any classes whatever. then x is a β”. in that case we could not have generalised the argument. if we do so.

” This general form may occur in logical propositions. And we may explain (though not . The question of the analysis of such propositions is a diﬃcult one. the form “xRy”—do actually enter into propositions of the kind we are considering. if it were. Thus the absence of all mention of particular things or properties in logic or pure mathematics is a necessary result of the fact that this study is. But the form is not itself a new constituent. We shall therefore not waste our time taking as our premiss “x is a man” but shall take “x is an α.” we have certain constituents and also a certain form. We are left with pure forms as the only possible constituents of logical propositions.g. but we may accept. turn all the constituents of a proposition into variables. This assertion will belong to logic (or mathematics) in the sense in which we are using the word. We can proceed to general assertions.” At this point we ﬁnd ourselves faced with a problem which is easier to state than to solve. as we say. (I ignore the fact that Socrates and Aristotle are not simple. there are cases where dual relations hold. no particular things or relations can ever enter into a proposition of pure logic.) We may represent the general form of such propositions by “xRy. but no particular instance of it can occur. Mathematics and Logic or a goose or a Prime Minister. Are we to infer that the general form itself is a constituent of such logical propositions? Given a proposition. Neither of these facts is relevant to the present issue. Aristotle. We can.Chap. We cannot embark upon this question now. in fact. with conﬂicting considerations on the one side and on the other. The problem is: “What are the constituents of a logical proposition?” I do not know the answer. and that the constituents of the proposition (as well as of the corresponding fact) are simply the two terms and the relation. the view that forms are what enter into logical propositions as their constituents.e. while keeping the form unchanged. and before. I do not wish to assert positively that pure forms—e. as a ﬁrst approximation. Socrates. XVIII.” which may be read “x has the relation R to y. “purely formal. also the fact that what appear to be their names are really truncated descriptions. Take (say) the proposition “Socrates was before Aristotle.” which stands for any | one of a certain class of propositions.” where α is any class of individuals. This is what we do when we use such a schema as “xRy. we should need a new form to embrace both it and the other constituents. those asserting relations between two terms. But in this assertion we do not mention any particular things or particular relations.” Here it seems obvious that we have a relation between two terms. namely.e. i. or “φx” where φ is any propositional function of some assigned type. such as “xRy is sometimes true”—i. such as “Socrates is before Aristotle. but I propose to explain how the problem arises.

some. What is important for us is to observe that form may be the one concern of a general proposition. but merely indicates the subject-predicate form. broadly speaking. XVIII. These words. even when no word or symbol in that proposition designates the form. This. Assuming—as I think we may—that the forms of propositions can be represented by the forms of the propositions in which they are expressed without any special words for forms. Thus “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” has the same form as “Napoleon is greater than Wellington. are commonest in languages having fewest inﬂections. as in mathematics.” though every constituent of the two propositions is diﬀerent.) by turning every constituent into a variable and asserting that the result is always true or sometimes true.” Here “is” is not a constituent of the proposition. as a necessary (though not suﬃcient) characteristic of logical or mathematical propositions. however. we wish to speak about all propositions that have the form.” “is” and “than” merely indicate form. Similarly in “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle. in it. We may thus lay down. that they are to be such as can be obtained from a proposition containing no variables (i. etc. but if. If we wish to speak about the form itself. or any variant of these forms. what we call “truthfunctions”) without any word at all.Chap.e. a word for the form will usually be found not indispensable. can be indicated otherwise than by speciﬁc words: the order of the words can do most of what is wanted. But this principle must not be pressed. Mathematics and Logic formally deﬁne) what we mean by the “form” of a proposition as follows:— The “form” of a proposition is that. it is diﬃcult to see how we could conveniently express molecular forms of propositions (i. probably in theory it is never indispensable.e. the.” in which these words have disappeared and the form is otherwise indicated. namely. or that it is always true in respect of some of the variables that the result is sometimes true in respect of the others. There are in every language some words whose sole function is to indicate form. Take “Socrates is human. we should arrive at a . For example. But without even one we should ﬁnd ourselves in diﬃculties. we must have a word for it. no such words as all. as a rule. that one word or symbol is enough for this purpose. that remains unchanged when every constituent of the proposition is replaced by another. a word or symbol expressing incompatibility. and is concerned with them only in the way of stating that they are always or | sometimes true—with all the permutations of “always” and “sometimes” that may occur. is not the point that is important for our present purpose. Form. the proposition is the same as “Socrates precedes Aristotle. We saw in Chapter XIV. a. And another way of stating the same thing is to say that logic (or mathematics) is concerned only with forms.

The language of | mathematical logic. for example. such as “x” and “R” and “y.” And in every symbolism hitherto invented for mathematical logic there are symbols having constant formal meanings. We should have symbols for variables. express dual relations. We may take as an example the symbol for incompatibility which is employed in building up truth-functions. such as “is” and “than.Chap. Mathematics and Logic language in which everything formal belonged to syntax and not to vocabulary.” because the ﬁrst is of the subject. x is c. In such a language we could express all the propositions of mathematics even if we did not know one single word of the language.| predicate form and the second expresses a three-term relation. there are words that express form. because they would only be needed for giving values to the variables.” This is a function of φ. and the way of arrangement would indicate that something was being said to be true of all values or some values of the variables.” and “greater” for “earlier.” i. those that can are those that are of the form “xRy. or be derived from.” arranged in various ways. We cannot obtain from the above prototype by term-for-term substitution such propositions as “Socrates is human” or “the Athenians gave the hemlock to Socrates. is derivative from propositions of the form: “There is a term c such that φx is true when. would be such a language. For example. A fundamental logical constant will be that which is in common among a number of propositions. “Napoleon is greater than Wellington” results from “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” by the substitution of “Napoleon” for “Socrates. The question is: How are we to deﬁne them? Such words or symbols express what are called “logical constants. given a suitable language. If we are to have any words in our pure logical language. XVIII. The number .” and “logical constants” will always either be. they are in essence the same thing. they must be such as express “logical constants. and various diﬀerent .e. in fact. in the above manner. which is the business of the applied mathematician. Such words or symbols may occur in logic. But.” In this sense all the “constants” that occur in pure mathematics are logical constants. We should not need to know any words. It is one of the marks of a proposition of logic that. what is in common among a group of propositions derivable from each other.” “Wellington” for “Aristotle. and only when. by term-for-term substitution.” Logical constants may be deﬁned exactly as we deﬁned forms.” Some propositions can be obtained in this way from the prototype “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” and some cannot. not of the pure mathematician or logician. after all. if it were perfected. any one of which can result from any other by substitution of terms one for another. such a proposition can be asserted in such a language by a person who knows the syntax without knowing a single word of the vocabulary. And this which is in common is what we call “form.

XVIII. is not satisfactory. such proofs. We may take the axiom of inﬁnity as an example of a proposition which. or that their contradictories were self-contradictory. but not of the primitive propositions from which all the propositions of mathematics can be deduced. two. and intended to be deﬁned. though it can be enunciated in logical terms. Nevertheless. owing to types. and the proof that the contradictory of some proposition is self-contradictory is likely to require other principles of deduction besides the law of contradiction. Among “possible” worlds. we may call tautology. We have found so far a necessary but not a suﬃcient criterion of mathematical propositions. There does not even seem any logical . as we saw in Chapter XIII. are fallacious.. it would be possible to prove logically that there are classes of n terms. This is a more diﬃcult matter. But although all logical (or mathematical) propositions can be expressed wholly in terms of logical constants together with variables. where n is any ﬁnite integer. All the propositions of logic have a characteristic which used to be expressed by saying that they were analytic. We are left to empirical observation to determine whether there are as many as n individuals in the world. in the Leibnizian sense. propositions in which occurs acquire a meaning which is derived from a certain constant logical form. We may (with a little omission of intermediate steps not relevant to our present purpose) take the above function of φ as what is meant by “the class determined by φ is a unit class” or “the class determined by φ is a member of ” ( being a class of classes). This mode of statement. We have suﬃciently deﬁned the character of the primitive ideas in terms of which all the ideas of mathematics can be deﬁned. for the moment. all propositions that can be expressed in this way are logical. But. whatever number n may be. In this way. The law of contradiction is merely one among logical propositions. . But for the diversity of types. or symbolic abbreviations whose full use in a proper context is deﬁned by means of logical constants. three. individuals. which. And the same will be found to be the case with all mathematical constants: all are logical constants. . . as to which it is not yet known what the full answer is. however. This characteristic.Chap. there will be worlds having one. conversely. the characteristic of logical propositions that we are in search of is the one which was felt. Mathematics and Logic propositions result from giving diﬀerent values to φ. it is not the case that. obviously does not belong to the assertion that the number of individuals in the universe is n. by those who said that it consisted in deducibility from the law of contradiction. | cannot be asserted by logic to be true. it has no special pre-eminence. or even that there are classes of ℵ terms.

Such propositions may occur in logic. for the contradictory of a general proposition (as we saw in Chapter XV. The ontological proof of the existence of God.e. if all α’s are β’s and x is an α then x is a β. not as complete asserted propositions. Although we can no longer be satisﬁed to deﬁne logical propositions as those that follow from the law of contradiction. so that it is meaningless to argue from “this is the so-and-so” and “the so-and-so exists” to “this exists. without study of the actual world. For example. will have to occur as hypotheses or consequences of hypotheses.Chap. and in fact rests upon a mistaken view of existence—i. not of something named. not of logical propositions in themselves. but of the way in which we know them. all general propositions would be true. would establish the logical necessity of at least one individual. but we know the correctness of the syllogism in its abstract form (i.) is a proposition asserting existence. we can and must still admit that they are a wholly diﬀerent class of propositions from those that we come to know empirically. there should be any world at all. If that be so. XVIII. when they occur in logic. and their truth is independent of the existence of the universe.” This. and would therefore always be false if no universe existed.e. But I now view this as a defect in logical purity. i. Logical propositions are such as can be known a priori. we agreed to call “tautology. if there were no universe. none can be of the form “the propositional function so-and-so is sometimes true. it is always true that if p implies q and q implies r then p implies r. no principle of logic can assert “existence” except under a hypothesis. a bearing upon the question what their nature may be. This is a characteristic. But it is generally recognised as invalid. however. | combined with the fact that they can be expressed primitive propositions in Principia Mathematica are such as to allow the inference that at least one individual exists. The complete asserted propositions of logic will all be such as aﬃrm that some propositional function is always true. in fact. if it were valid. Mathematics and Logic necessity why there should be even one individual —why. or that. It is clear that the deﬁnition of “logic” or “mathematics” must be sought by trying to give a new deﬁnition of the old notion of “analytic” propositions. a moment ago.” Propositions of this form.” If we reject the ontological | argument. since there are some kinds of propositions which it would be very diﬃcult to suppose we could know without experience. It has.e. it is not logically necessary. we seem driven to conclude that the existence of a world is an accident—i.e. when it is stated in terms of variables) without needing any appeal to experience. They all have the characteristic which. The . We may lay it down that. We only know from a study of empirical facts that Socrates is a man. it fails to realise that existence can only be asserted of something described.

e. importance of “tautology” for a deﬁnition of mathematics was pointed out to me by my former pupil Ludwig Wittgenstein. again. logical symbolism is absolutely necessary to any exact or thorough treatment of our subject. as regards numbers. This is the case. Moreover.Chap. it is necessary. therefore. wherever propositional functions are involved. and the reader is sure. thus arriving at wrong notions as to what is intended to be said. I do not know how to deﬁne “tautology. As the above hasty survey must have made evident. much less than might be thought. Because language is misleading. Mathematics and Logic wholly in terms of variables and logical constants (a logical constant being something which remains constant in a proposition even when all its constituents are changed)—will give the deﬁnition of logic or pure mathematics. “ten men” is grammatically the same form as “white men. Those readers. after a time if not at ﬁrst. Since ordinary language has no words that naturally express exactly what we wish to express. it is to be hoped. or even whether he is alive or dead. in fact. For the moment. | therefore. XVIII. who was working on the problem.g. to strain words into unusual meanings. I do not know whether he has solved it. it will have served the chief purpose for which it has been written. At this point.” It is the case.. It is impossible to convey adequately the ideas that are concerned in this subject so long as we abstain from the use of logical symbols. in spite of feeling thoroughly familiar with the characteristic of which a deﬁnition is wanted. ordinary grammar and syntax is extraordinarily misleading. for the moment. and in particular as regards existence and descriptions. as well as because it is diﬀuse and inexact when applied to logic (for which it was never intended). there are innumerable unsolved problems in the subject. and much work needs to be done. so long as we adhere to ordinary language. will. The . to lapse into attaching the usual meanings to words. not shrink from the labour of mastering the symbols—a labour which is.” It would be easy to oﬀer a deﬁnition which might seem satisfactory for a while. who wish to acquire a mastery of the principles of mathematics.” so that might be thought to be an adjective qualifying “men. If any student is led into a serious study of mathematical logic by this little book. we reach the frontier of knowledge on our backward journey into the logical foundations of mathematics. We have now come to an end of our somewhat summary introduction to mathematical philosophy. but I know of none that I feel to be satisfactory.

Deduction. . . . . Arithmetising of mathematics. . Diversity. intensional. . . . Commutative law. i. Classes. inﬁnite. . . . Equivalence. . . . . All.. . Descriptions. in philosophy. . Analysis. Boundary. . Georg. . . . . Alephs. .. . . . . . Derivatives. ﬀ. objective. Existence. . . n. . . method of. . ﬀ. Contradictions. logical. . Construction. Associative law. Euclid. . . Aliorelatives. W. Correlators. Extension of a relation. of functions. . . those marked in the margins of this edition.. reﬂexive. Counterparts. . Disjunction. . . . . . . Converse.. Distributive law.. Ancestors. Counting.] Aggregates. . . . ﬀ. Fictions.INDEX [Online edition note: This is a hyperlinked recreation of the original index. Dedekindian. ﬀ. . . Exponentiation.. . Domain. .. Boots and socks. Consecutiveness. Cliﬀord. ﬀ. . extensional and Between. Convergence. . ﬀ. Bolzano. . ﬀ. Constants. . . . . . ﬀ. . n. . Dedekind. Cantorian. . . . . Collections. . . Continuity. K. . Axioms. similar.e. ﬀ.. The page numbers listed are for the original edition. Argument of a function. . . . Cantor. Deﬁnition. . Dimensions. . n. . . n. . . Conjunction. . . .

[]. . . . . . descriptive. mathematical. . Fractions. Form. Hegel. . relation. . Gap. Geometry. . . .. . Oscillation.. . ﬀ. .Index Field of a relation. . . . complex. ultimate. propositional. ﬀ. . and series and ordinals. . . of rationals. . . ﬀ. . . ﬁnite. . . . formal. . inﬁnite. Names. . . ﬀ.. Minimum. . Order. Mathematics. . Necessity. Neighbourhood. ﬀ.. Incomplete symbols. . C. .. . . . ﬀ. . .. Frege. . . Implication. . n. ﬀ. Lewis. ﬀ. . Modality. . . ﬀ. ﬀ.. Flux. Median class. Logicising of mathematics. . Greater and less.. Individuals.. . Number. . . Dedekindian.. analytical. . . . . Intervals. ﬀ. ﬀ. ﬀ. Occurrences.. . . . . intensional and extensional. Leibniz. Inﬁnite. of cardinals. Logic. . . ﬀ. Nicod. serial. . . .. positive and negative.. Meinong. . Limit.. . . . Maximum. . cyclic. . ﬀ. Cantorian. Hereditary properties.. ﬀ. ﬀ. . . . Indiscernibles. . n. Generalisation. reﬂexive. Incompatibility. . . inductive. Occam. . Instances. . ﬀ. Likeness. Integers. vi. . . Inference. ﬀ.. . v. irrational. Null-class. . . axiom of. I. . Finite.. . Irrationals. . . ﬀ. . real. . Limiting points. . Maps. Multiplicative axiom. Intuition. . . . Method. . n. . primary and secondary. ﬀ. . non-inductive. . multipliable. Multiplication. . . . | Kant. Functions. . . . mathematical. . natural. of functions. predicative. maximum ? . Inﬁnity. . . . . . . Ontological proof. cardinal. Inductive properties.. ﬀ.. . . . Induction. n. Incommensurables. ﬀ. . . .

Quantity. Rigour. ﬀ. Propositions. . generation of. . . Reducibility. compact. many-one. Peirce. . . Premisses of arithmetic. . Sequent. . . . . Value of a function.. . Weierstrass. . . ﬀ. . .. symmetrical.. ultimate. . . . serial. Referent. . . . Truth-value.. reﬂexive. Precedent. H. Progressions. . e Points. . ﬀ. ﬀ. Unreality. . . . ﬀ. . . . . Wittgenstein. . ﬀ. . . analytic. . Posterity. connected. . Series. . . . . ﬀ. . Structure. Dedekindian. Veblen. . . . ﬀ. Relation-numbers. . Sub-classes. . one-one. transitive. ﬀ. Pythagoras. . . Zermelo. . . . . . .Index Parmenides. Similarity. Ratios. ﬀ.. Relatum. . Syllogism. . asymmetrical. . . logical. . . ... Poincar´ . . . . . . well-ordered. Relations. Selections... . squares of. . ﬀ. of classes. Verbs. . . Zero. Whitehead. . . . condensed in itself. Plurality. G. Plato. Some. Section. Truth-function. . ﬀ. . ﬀ. elementary. Segments. . . proper. Types. . ﬀ. Subtraction. . perfect. . . .. . . ﬀ. . Successor of a number. mathematical. Space. . v. Representatives. Wells. . Sheﬀer. . Particulars. Royce. Time. similar. . Permutations. . . . . . ﬀ. . . Postulates. . n. Philosophy. Dedekindian. . Subjects. . . . . Peano. . of relations. axiom of.. closed. n. Variables. . . . inﬁnite. The. . . . Primitive ideas and propositions. Tautology. . ﬀ. one-many. . . .

by contemporary standards. with page breaks marked with the sign “|”. Since this version uses diﬀerent pagination. Rosalind Carey. It is based on the April so-called “second edition” published by Allen & Unwin. A tremendous debt of thanks is owed to Kenneth Blackwell of the Bertrand Russell Archives/Research Centre. for example. checking it against Russell’s handwritten manuscript. ﬁxes. This edition incorporates ﬁxes from later printings as well. the footnote listed as note on page of this edition was listed as note on page of the original.umass.CHANGES TO ONLINE EDITION This Online Corrected Edition was created by Kevin C. . Klement. in certain respects. ). Another large debt of gratitude is owed to Christof Gr¨ ber who compared this version a to the print versions and showed remarkable aptitude in spotting discrepancies. mostly minor. The online edition diﬀers from the Allen & Unwin edition. (February . for proofreading the bulk of the edition. John Ongley. footnote numbering begins anew with each page. and some new ﬁxes. was simply a second printing of the original edition but incorporating various. Pierre Grenon. McMaster University. Thus. I take full responsibility for any remaining errors. The stylistic diﬀerences are these: • In the original. which. and. mentioned below. including Adam Killian. or ﬁx small grammatical or typographical errors. and providing other valuable advice and assistance. The pagination of the Allen & Unwin edition is given in the margins. Brandon Young. it was necessary to number footnotes sequentially through each chapter. Thanks to members of the Russell-l and HEAPS-l mailing lists for help in checking and proofreading the version. Others represent corrections based on discrepancies between Russell’s manuscript and the print edition. especially. this is version . These are in red. David Blitz. Some are mere stylistic diﬀerences. If you discover any. and reprintings thereof. please email me at klement@philos. as are other additions to the text not penned by Russell.edu.

” to match Russell’s manuscript and the obviously intended meaning of the passage. . ” is changed to “. . . . and then . . i. and of the original (pages . . This error was noted by Pfeiﬀer in but unﬁxed in Russell’s lifetime. of a class α. . . or all that are not less than . –). (page / original page ) “. . . Contrary to this usual practice. . . Pfeiﬀer (Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society : (). the limit of its value for approaches either from . the Allen & Unwin edition uses linear fractions of the style “x/y” mid-paragraph. (page n. . . ” to match Russell’s manuscript. but have been converted to vertical fractions in this edition. of a class α. either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the converse domain to females”. which exists even in Russell’s manuscript. . Similarly.” is ﬁxed to “.e. / original page n. . and then . The following more signiﬁcant changes and revisions are marked in green in this edition. . . A. . and seems better to ﬁt the context. . provided neither m or n is zero.) The word “deutschen” in the original’s (and the manuscript’s) “Jahresbericht der deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung” has been capitalized.) Russell wrote the wrong publication date () for the second volume of Principia Mathematica. Most of these result from Ken Blackwell’s comparison with Russell’s manuscript. . the mid-paragraph fractions on pages . (page / original page ) “. (page / original page ) “. . . pp. this has been ﬁxed to . / original page n. A few were originally noted in an early review of the book by G. . or all that are less than . . those in the display on page of the original (page of this edition) were linear. . its limit or maximum.e. .Changes to Online Edition • With some exceptions. . . . . but vertical fractions x of the form “ y ” in displays. .” Thanks to John Ongley for spotting this error. ” is changed to “. . either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the converse to females” is changed to “. . (page n. . (page / original page ) “. and the apparent meaning of the passage. its limits or maximum. . ” is changed to “. provided neither m nor n is zero. the limit of its . and here) were printed vertically in the original. . . . but here are horizontal. which is how it read in Russell’s manuscript. i. (page / original page ) “.

This is another error noted by Pfeiﬀer. . . (page / original page ) The ungrammatical “. (page / original page ) The two footnotes on this page were misplaced. . advantage of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses .Changes to Online Edition values for approaches either from . (page / original page ) The passage “. . . x is a member of y . and so on. . then . which constitute exactly one line of Russell’s manuscript. all terms z such that x has the relation P to z and z has the relation P to y . That footnote was placed three sentences below. . ” to match Russell’s manuscript. and at his request. . ” is changed to “. . but not in a clear way. the negation of propositions of the type to which x belongs . . The footnote references have been returned to where they had been placed in Russell’s manuscript. (page / original page ) The words “and then the idea of the idea of Socrates” although present in Russell’s manuscript. x is a member of γ . . were omitted. thereby amalgamating two sentences into one. . . . . advantages of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses . The missing words are now restored. . ” is changed to “. ” is changed to “. . ” to match Russell’s manuscript. . . . which matches Russell’s manuscript. . . . . . were left out of previous print editions. x is a member of y . . This requires a”. was attached in previous versions to the sentence that now refers to the ﬁrst footnote in the chapter. . . The second. . (page / original page ) “. all terms z such that x has the relation P to x and z has the relation P to y . ” is ﬁxed to “. ”. and the obviously intended meaning of the passage. . Note that Russell mentions “all these ideas” in the next sentence. ” to match Russell’s manuscript. . (page / original page ) The words “correlator of α with β. (page / original page ) “. it was changed in the printing. then . . . . and so on. . . the reference to Principia Mathematica ∗ . . . . . . and similarly for every other pair. the negation of propositions of the type to which φx belongs . . x is a member of γ . ” Russell himself hand-corrected this in his manuscript. if x is the member of γ . if x is the member of y . and is more appropriate for the meaning of the passage.

.” Russell sent this change to Unwin in . and it also seems to make more sense in context. for practical purposes. . . . ” was excluded from previous published versions. . and conventions followed elsewhere in the chapter. the process of applying general statements about φx to particular cases . (page / original page ) “There is a type (r say) . . (page / original pages –) The two occurrences of “φ” in “. . .Changes to Online Edition . in the singular. present in Russell’s manuscript. (page / original page ) “Suppose we are considering all “men are mortal”: we will . ”. (page / original page ) The Allen & Unwin printings have the sentence as “How shall we deﬁne a “typical” Frenchman?” Here. . (page / original page ) The “φ” in “. . . Again thanks to John Ongley. Some . . . (page / original page ) “. . and it was made in the printing. . ” Russell’s manuscript just had “number”. . . . while intensional functions cannot . . ” has been changed to “There is a type (τ say) . and has been restored. . (page / original page ) The “φ” in “. extensional functions of a function φx may. as opposed to speciﬁc men. the closing quotation mark has been moved to make it “How shall we deﬁne a “typical Frenchman”?” Although Russell’s manuscript is not entirely clear here. it appears the latter was intended. ” were omitted from previous published versions. be regarded as functions of the class determined by φx. as he did sporadically throughout). . divided into numbers of separate studies . . . ” to match the obviously intended meaning of the passage. as opposed to speciﬁc man. . . . . . though it does appear in Russell’s manuscript. . a . but do appear in Russell’s manuscript. . . ” is changed to “Suppose we are considering “all men are mortal”: we will . . ” to match Russell’s manuscript. . (page / original page ) “. which had also been noted by Pfeiﬀer. and seems necessary for the passage to make sense. . without the indeﬁnite article. was excluded from the Allen & Unwin printings. resulting from a propositional function φx by the substitution of . . Thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber for spotting this error. ” has been changed to “. . . Thanks to John Ongley for spotting this error. . divided into a number of separate studies . and the placement of the opening quotation mark in Russell’s manuscript (although he here used single quotation marks.” is ﬁxed to “.

(Thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber a for noticing these errors in the original. a relation-number is a class of . as well as to make it consistent with the other paraphrase given earlier in the sentence. . which matches Russell’s manuscript and seems to ﬁt better in the context. then x is a β’ is always true” to match Russell’s manuscript. have been corrected. a . ”. then x is a β’ is always true” has been changed to “the propositional function ‘if all α’s are β’s and x is an α. ” to match the hyphenation in the rest of the book (and in Russell’s manuscript). . . a) Ellipses have been regularized to three closed dots throughout. and one misprint of “progessions” for “progressions”. b) (page / original page ) “We may deﬁne two relations . A similar change is made in the index. . . . . . ” d) (page / original page ) “.Changes to Online Edition emendation was necessary to make the passage grammatical. Some very minor corrections to punctuation have been made to the Allen & Unwin printing. and “[]” inserted. . . is the ﬁeld of Q. . . the discussion of Frege occurs on page . however. but does in Russell’s manuscript. . (page / original page ) “. . . . . the “s” in “y’s” in what appears here as “Form all such sections for all y’s . . (page / original page ) The original index listed a reference to Frege on page . but not marked in green. . . Thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber for noticing this error. and is changed to do so.”—so two . without any special word for forms . .) g) (page / original page ) In the Allen & Unwin printing. . and “featherless biped. ” did not start a new paragraph in previous editions. but in fact. . . ” is changed to “. ” is changed to “. . and “featherless biped”—so two . . (page / original page ) The passage “the propositional function ‘if all α’s are β and x is an α. ” is changed to “. without any special words for forms . and which is . . . . c) (page / original page ) What appears in the and later printings as “. “” is crossed out. . e) (page / original page ) “.) a . ” f) (pages – / original pages –) One misprint of “progession” for “progression”. is the ﬁeld of Q. ” was italicized along with the “y”. but the ﬁx adopted here seems more likely what was meant. Nothing in Russell’s manuscript suggests it should be italicized. . Here. . and which is . . . ” has been changed to “. . . (Again thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber. a relation number is a class of . . .

.” to match the punctuation elsewhere. or what not—and clearly . “Let y be a member of β . and it seems natural to do so for the sake of consistency.s. . i) (page / original pages –) The phrase “well ordered” has twice been changed to “well-ordered” to match Russell’s manuscript (in the ﬁrst case) and the rest of the book (in the second). One of Peano’s . . . . most diﬃcult of fulﬁlment. For a detailed examination of the diﬀerences between Russell’s manuscript and the print editions. ” o) (page / original page ) In the Allen & Unwin printings. . . . k) (page / original page ) The accent on “M´taphysique”. . ” is changed to “. ” and has been made to start a new paragraph. a deﬁnition which might seem satisfactory for a while . . . has been restored. “Variants. ” is changed to “. and between the various printings themselves (including the changes from the to the printings not documented here). ﬀ. .—and clearly . . q) (page / original page ) Under “Relations” in the index. ” begins a new paragraph. ” Russell had marked it for italicizing in the manuscript. so it has been italicized. . . n) (page / original page ) “. . as it did in Russell’s manuscript. e included in Russell’s manuscript but left oﬀ in print. p) (page / original page ) The word “seem” was not italicized in “. and clearly should not. . Russell n. or what not. j) (page / original page ) “The way in which the need for this axiom arises may be explained as follows:—One of Peano’s . “Socrates” was not italicized in “. where . . see Kenneth Blackwell. There are. . . ” m) (page / original page ) Italics have been added to one occurrence of “Waverley” to make it consistent with the others. ﬀ. l) (page / original page ) “. . ” in the Allen & Unwin editions. . it is italicized here. . . “similar. but was marked to be in Russell’s manuscript. Misprints and a Bibliographical Index for Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy”. and x for Socrates. . . . most diﬃcult of fulﬁlment—it must . but it does not in Russell’s manuscript. .— it must . . a number of other places where the previous print editions diﬀer from Russell’s manuscript in minor ways that were left unchanged in this edition. ” is changed to “The way in which the need for this axiom arises may be explained as follows.” has been changed to “similar. however.. we may substitute α for men. . β for mortals.Changes to Online Edition h) (page / original page ) In the Allen & Unwin printing. (): –. .

org/licenses/by-sa/.org/licenses/publicdomain/ A are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution—Share Alike . See http://creativecommons./us/ cba This typesetting (including LTEX code) and list of changes .Changes to Online Edition p Bertrand Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy is in the Public Domain. See http://creativecommons. United States License.

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