Philosophy

by

Bertrand Russell

Originally published by

George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London. May 1j1j.

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

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

incorporating additional corrections, marked in green.

ii Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

[Russell’s blurb from the original dustcover:]

This book is intended for those who have no previous acquain-

tance 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 sym-

bolic 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 un-

derstanding 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 impor-

tant modern science.

CONTENTS

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

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

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

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

II. Deﬁnition of Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction . . . . . . . . zo

IV. The Deﬁnition of Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . zµ

V. Kinds of Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡z

VI. Similarity of Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¸1

VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers . . . . . . . . 6z

VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡6

IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

X. Limits and Continuity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . µ6

XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions . . . . . . . . . . 1o¸

XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom . . . . . . . 11¸

XIII. The Axiomof Inﬁnity and Logical Types . . . . . . . 1zµ

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

XV. Propositional Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1¸z

XVI. Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16¸

XVII. Classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1¡6

XVIII. Mathematics and Logic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18µ

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . zo1

Appendix: Changes to Online Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . zo¸

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 sym-

bolism, in a form oﬀering the minimum of diﬃculty to the begin-

ner. The utmost endeavour has been made to avoid dogmatism

on such questions as are still open to serious doubt, and this en-

deavour has to some extent dominated the choice of topics con-

sidered. The beginnings of mathematical logic are less deﬁnitely

known than its later portions, but are of at least equal philosoph-

ical interest. Much of what is set forth in the following chapters

is not properly to be called “philosophy,” though the matters con-

cerned were included in philosophy so long as no satisfactory sci-

ence 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, can-

not, perhaps, 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, 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 mathematics

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 ac-

iv

Preface v

tually 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 rel-

evant 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 ap-

titude for mathematical symbolism. 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 ad-

vance to a study of the method by which mathematical logic can

be made helpful in investigating the traditional problems of phi-

losophy. But that is a topic with which the following pages have

not attempted to deal.

BERTRAND RUSSELL.

EDITOR’S NOTE

vii [The note belowwas 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 neces-

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

of the ﬁeld of philosophy by the transference from it to mathe-

matics 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 philoso-

phers 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 deﬁni-

tions and discussions seem to be an elaboration and complication

of the simple, it may be well to remind them from the side of phi-

losophy that here, as elsewhere, apparent simplicity may conceal a

complexity which it is the business of somebody, whether philoso-

pher 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 fa-

miliar portions, may be pursued in either of two opposite direc-

tions. The more familiar direction is constructive, towards grad-

ually increasing complexity: from integers to fractions, real num-

bers, complex numbers; from addition and multiplication to dif-

ferentiation 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 di-

rection that characterises mathematical philosophy as opposed to

ordinary mathematics. But it should be understood that the dis-

tinction is one, not in the subject matter, but in the state of mind

of the investigator. Early Greek geometers, passing from the em-

pirical rules of Egyptian land-surveying to the general proposi-

tions 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 employ-

ment, as we ﬁnd it in Euclid, belonged to mathematics in the |

z ordinary sense. The distinction between mathematics and math-

ematical philosophy is one which depends upon the interest in-

spiring the research, and upon the stage which the research has

1

z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

reached; not upon the propositions with which the research is con-

cerned.

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 concep-

tions to grasp are those that are neither very complex nor very sim-

ple (using “simple” in a logical sense). And as we need two sorts

of instruments, the telescope and the microscope, for the enlarge-

ment 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 or-

dinary mathematical notions we acquire fresh insight, new pow-

ers, 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 Math-

ematica;

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 num-

bers,

1, z, ¸, ¡, . . . etc. |

¸ 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

1

Cambridge University Press, vol. i., 1j1o; vol. ii., 1j1z; vol. iii., 1j1¸. By

Whitehead and Russell.

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers ¸

series:

o, 1, z, ¸, . . . 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 from easy. 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 math-

ematical 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 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 prim-

itive 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 def-

inition, 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

¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 geome-

try, may be regarded as consisting wholly of propositions about the

natural numbers. That is to say, the terms which occur can be de-

ﬁned 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 mathe-

matics, 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 1 inch, the number of inches in the diag-

onal 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 arith-

metic to logic, which will be explained in following chapters. For

the present, we shall take for granted the arithmetisation of math-

ematics, though this was a feat of the very greatest importance. |

Having ¸ reduced all traditional pure mathematics to the the-

ory 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 propositions in addition to those of pure logic. These

three ideas and ﬁve propositions thus became, as it were, hostages

for the whole of traditional pure mathematics. If they could be de-

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers ¸

ﬁned and proved in terms of others, so could all pure mathemat-

ics. 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 mem-

bers 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.

(¸) 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

numbers.

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.

z

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

word will be used in a more general sense.

6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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

the natural numbers results from these three ideas and ﬁve propo-

sitions. 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 (¸), this can-

not 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 numbers we reach in the series of successors can be

o. Thus the series of successors gives us an endless series of contin-

ually newnumbers. 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 sumof 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

reducing 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 partic-

ular 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

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers ¸

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 num-

bers. Then all our primitive propositions are satisﬁed, even the

fourth, for, though 1oo is the successor of jj, jj is not a “num-

ber” 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 num-

ber 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.

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

1,

1

z

,

1

¡

,

1

8

,

1

16

, . . .

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

¸

, . . . 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.

8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

(¸) “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 repeti-

tions 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 be-

longs 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 termcan be reached from

the start in a ﬁnite number of steps, is called a progression. Progres-

sions 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 progres-

sion need not be composed of numbers: it may be | j 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 tradi-

tional pure mathematics; all these possible interpretations will be

equally true.

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.

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers j

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

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

dently 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 suf-

ﬁciently 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 philos-

ophy 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 “num-

ber” 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 hav-

ing 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 arith-

metic. 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

1o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 prop-

erties. 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 Arith-

metik.

1

Although 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 un-

known until it was rediscovered by the present author in 1jo1.

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 characteris-

tic 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 ¸, and the number ¸ 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.

Aparticular number is not identical with any collection of terms

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

consisting of Brown, Jones, and Robinson. The number ¸ is some-

thing which all trios have in common, and which distinguishes

them from other collections. A number is something that charac-

1

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

Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, vol. i., 18j¸.

11

1z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

terises 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 seemquite distinct. We may enumerate its members, as when

we say, “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 for-

mula 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 | 1¸ men, and pecu-

liar 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

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 1¸

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, ¸, 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 deﬁni-

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

themselves form an inﬁnite collection, and cannot therefore be de-

ﬁned 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 in-

ﬁnite 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 pos-

sible; thus we must be able to speak of the number of terms in an

inﬁnite collection, and such a collection must be deﬁned by inten-

sion, 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

z

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

1¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

used in place of the class whenever uniqueness is not important.

Returning nowto the deﬁnition of number, it is clear that num-

ber 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 ob-

tain 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 com-

plex operation; moreover it is only available, as a means of discov-

ering how many terms a collection has, when the collection is ﬁ-

nite. 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

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

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

ufactured 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 1¸

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 ¸n. When we are considering only positive num-

bers, 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

deﬁnitions 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 do-

main of the relation of marriage. The relation of wife to husband

16 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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

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, (¸) 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 proper-

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

it possesses the third. It is obvious that a relation which is sym-

metrical 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¸ be-

tween the set of objects counted and the natural numbers (exclud-

ing 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 num-

bers, 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

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 1¸

objects is to showthat 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 sim-

ilarity 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 no-

tion 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 cor-

relate z with 1/z, ¸ with 1/¸, 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 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 def-

inition 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 num-

18 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

bers 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 in-

dubitable 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 ex-

pect 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 | 1j 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” with-

out committing any logical error.

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

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

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

Chap. II. Deﬁnition of Number 1j

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 nowgiven a deﬁnition of numbers which will serve for

ﬁnite collections. It remains to be seen howit 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,” “num-

ber,” and “successor.” But we may go a step farther: we can deﬁne

all the natural numbers if we knowwhat we mean by “o” and “suc-

cessor.” 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

¸o,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 ¸o,ooo, the proof that we can reach it by proceed-

ing step by step in this fashion may be made, if we have the pa-

tience, by actual experiment: we can go on until we actually arrive

at ¸o,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

zo

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction z1

1; ¸, 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.

The key to our problemlies in mathematical induction. It will be

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

itive 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 obey-

ing it are the same as the numbers that can be reached from o by

successive steps fromnext 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 succes-

zz Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

sors 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 pro-

cedure that any assigned natural number, say ¸o,ooo, is a member

of every inductive class.

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

respect to the relation “immediate predecessor” (which is the con-

verse of “successor”) as all those terms that belong to every hered-

itary 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 suc-

cessive 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 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 ex-

plicit 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 |

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

sor”).

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

primitive ideas in terms of the other two. As a result of this deﬁni-

tion, two of his primitive propositions—namely, the one asserting

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction z¸

that o is a number and the one asserting mathematical induction—

become unnecessary, since they result fromthe deﬁnition. The one

asserting that the successor of a natural number is a natural num-

ber 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 Chap-

ter 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 num-

ber 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 deﬁ-

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

1

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

z¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

were when they were only determinate to the extent of obeying

Peano’s ﬁve axioms. We have removed them from the fundamen-

tal 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 diﬃ-

culty 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 mand 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 to-

tal 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 prim-

itive propositions, 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 from the theory

of the natural numbers oﬀers no diﬃculty of principle, as we have

z

See Chapter XIII.

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction z¸

shown elsewhere.

¸

The process of mathematical induction, by means of which we

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

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

the relation of a number to its immediate successor. If we call this

relation N, any number m will have this relation to m+1. A prop-

erty is “hereditary 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 num-

ber n will be said to belong to the “posterity” of m with respect to

the relation N if n has 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:

¡

—

Aproperty 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-heredi-

tary.

Atermx is said to be an “R-ancestor” of the termy 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-ances-

tor.

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

¸

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

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

¡

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

and were published so long ago as 18¸j 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.

z6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

that a person will be included among his own ancestors and pos-

terity. It is, of course, obvious at once that “ancestor” must be ca-

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

his generalised theory of induction, no one could have deﬁned “an-

cestor” 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 “ances-

tor” 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 ade-

quate 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 accord-

ing 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 num-

ber 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 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 knew

why 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

¸

con-

¸

Science and Method, chap. iv.

Chap. III. Finitude and Mathematical Induction z¸

sidered 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 ap-

plied. We deﬁne the “natural numbers” as those to which proofs

by mathematical induction can be applied, i.e. as those that pos-

sess all inductive properties. It follows that such proofs can be

applied to the natural numbers, not in virtue of any mysterious in-

tuition or axiom or principle, but as a purely verbal proposition. If

“quadrupeds” are deﬁned as animals having four legs, it will fol-

low 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 mathe-

matical 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 be-

ginning to move will have noticed how the impulse is communi-

cated 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 in-

ﬁnitely 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 se-

ries of inductive numbers (which, as we shall see, is an instance of

the smallest of inﬁnites), every truck would begin to move sooner

z8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

or later if the engine persevered, though there 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

zj We have now carried our analysis of the series of natural num-

bers 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, ¸, . . . 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 or-

der of lines through a point in a plane, or of planes through a line.

Dimensions, in geometry, are a development of order. The concep-

tion 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 fewin 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 | ¸o 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” num-

zj

¸o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

bers, 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 ¸, then all the multi-

ples of ¸ but not of z or ¸, then all the multiples of ¸ but not of

z or ¸ 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: what we really do is to turn our at-

tention 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 heav-

ens; but just as we may notice among the ﬁxed stars either their

order of brightness or their distribution in the sky, so there are var-

ious 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 | ¸1 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?

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order ¸1

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 order-

ing 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 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 | ¸z our second. A relation having our second

property is called transitive.

(¸) Given any two terms of the class which is to be ordered,

there must be one which precedes and the other which follows. For

example, 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

¸z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

the other. Arelation 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 deﬁni-

tions.

(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.

(¸) 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. |

(¸) ¸¸ 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 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.

1

This term is due to C. S. Peirce.

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order ¸¸

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 ances-

tor is an ancestor; but “father” is not transitive, because a father’s

father is not a father. Atransitive 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 be-

tween 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 transi-

tive 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) | ¸¡ tran-

sitive, and (¸) connected, are mutually independent, since a rela-

tion may have any two without having the third.

We now lay down the following deﬁnition:—

Arelation 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

¸¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

error. For example,

1, z, ¸; 1, ¸, z; z, ¸, 1; z, 1, ¸; ¸, 1, z; ¸, 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 or-

dering relations in the six cases. Given the ordering relation, the

ﬁeld and the order are both determinate. Thus the ordering rela-

tion may be taken to be the series, but the ﬁeld cannot be so taken.

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.

(¸) 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

properties 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 | ¸¸ 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 in-

tegers. This relation is asymmetrical, but not transitive or con-

nected. We can, however, derive from it, by the method of mathe-

matical induction, the “ancestral” relation which we considered in

the preceding chapter. This relation will be the same as “less than

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order ¸¸

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 mis said to be less than another number n

when n possesses every hereditary property possessed by the suc-

cessor 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 re-

sembling 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

successor. This is probably the easiest way, where it is applicable,

of conceiving the generation of a series. In this method we pass

on from each term to the next, as long as there | ¸6 is a next, or back

to the one before, as long as there is one before. This method al-

ways requires the generalised form of mathematical induction in

order to enable us to deﬁne “earlier” and “later” in a series so gen-

erated. 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 re-

lation 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

¸6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 be-

longs 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 possi-

ble, the relation “proper R-ancestor” must be an aliorelative, tran-

sitive, 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 transi-

tive. 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, in-

cluding the person himself, since | ¸¸ 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 aliorela-

tive. 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 an-

cestral 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 ordi-

nary 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.

The question of the circumstances under which series can be

generated by ancestral relations derived from relations of consec-

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order ¸¸

utiveness 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 diversity. 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 consecutive-

ness, 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 interme-

diate 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 ex-

ample, the arithmetic mean of the two. Consequently there is no

such thing as a pair of consecutive fractions. If we depended | ¸8 u-

pon consecutiveness for deﬁning order, we should not be able to

deﬁne the order of magnitude among fractions. But in fact the re-

lations of greater and less among fractions do not demand genera-

tion from relations of consecutiveness, and the relations of greater

and less among fractions have the three characteristics 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 rela-

tion is able to leap over an inﬁnite number of intermediate terms.

The method of consecutiveness, like that of counting for discover-

ing 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 gen-

¸8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

eral. 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

depend upon the ﬁnding or construction of an asymmetrical tran-

sitive 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 introduc-

tion to relations having more than two terms; it is best introduced

in connection with elementary geometry.

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 se-

ries in the strict sense—as opposed to what may be called | ¸j “cyclic”

series, where, as with people at the dinner-table, a suﬃcient jour-

ney 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 (be-

sides a and b themselves):

(1) Points between a and b.

(z) Points x such that a is between x and b.

(¸) Points y such that b is between y and a.

Thus the line (ab) can be deﬁned in terms of the relation “be-

tween.”

z

Cf. Rivista di Matematica, iv. pp. ¸¸ﬀ.; Principles of Mathematics, p. ¸j¡

(§¸¸¸).

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order ¸j

In order that this relation “between” may arrange the points of

the line in an order fromleft 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.

(¸) Anything between a and b is not identical with a (nor, con-

sequently, 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 iden-

tical, 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 rela-

tion which veriﬁes them gives rise to series, as may be seen from

the following deﬁnitions. For the sake of deﬁniteness, let us as-

sume | ¡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; (¸) 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:—

(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;

(¸) 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;

¡o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

(¸) 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 re-

lation “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 “be-

tween” the actual relation of that name which occurs in empiri-

cal 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 cou-

ples.” 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 NewZealand are sep-

arated fromeach 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.

¸

The purpose of the latter half of this chapter has been to sug-

gest the subject which one may call “generation of serial relations.”

¸

Cf. Principles of Mathematics, p. zo¸ (§1j¡), and references there given.

Chap. IV. The Deﬁnition of Order ¡1

When such relations have been deﬁned, the generation of them

from other relations possessing only some of the properties re-

quired for series becomes very important, especially in the phi-

losophy of geometry 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 re-

lations 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 re-

lations 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

converse, is a characteristic of the very greatest interest and im-

portance. In order to develop its functions, we will consider vari-

ous 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 de-

rive the relation husband. Husband is the same as male spouse or

spouse of a female; thus the relation husband can | ¡¸ be derived from

¡z

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations ¡¸

spouse either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the

converse domain to females. We see from this instance that, when

a symmetrical relation is given, it is sometimes possible, without

the help of any further relation, to separate it into two asymmet-

rical 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 be-

tween 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 rela-

tion belongs to the class of males and one to the class of females.

In such a 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 deal-

ing 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. Tran-

sitiveness and connexity are easily constructed in many cases

where the originally given relation does not possess them: for ex-

ample, 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

¡¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

relation greater: the relation greater or less—i.e. unequal—is sym-

metrical, but there is nothing in this relation to show that it is the

sum of two asymmetrical relations. Take such a relation as “dif-

fering 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 im-

plying diversity. Asymmetrical relations imply diversity, but the

converse is not the case. “Unequal,” for example, implies diver-

sity, 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 symmet-

rical relations: those that do not imply diversity, if they are tran-

sitive, may be regarded as asserting a common predicate, while

those that do imply diversity may be regarded as asserting incom-

patible predicates. For example, consider the relation of similarity

between classes, by means of which we deﬁned numbers. This re-

lation is symmetrical and transitive and 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 re-

placing relations by predicates is formally possible (though often

very inconvenient) so long as the relations concerned are symmet-

rical; but it is formally impossible when the relations are asym-

metrical, 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.

Chap. V. Kinds 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 re-

lations 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 re-

lation 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 induc-

tion. Then “proper ancestry” is a one-many relation (one-many will

always be used so as to include one-one), since each number deter-

mines 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 al-

ways 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 sim-

pliﬁcation, and there is every reason to think that it does not rep-

resent a philosophical analysis, if only because classes must be re-

garded 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 de-

scribe 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 whom. There is much to say on the subject of de-

scriptions, but for the present it is relations that we are concerned

¡6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 (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 ex-

tended 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 math-

ematical | ¡¸ 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.

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations ¡¸

Many of the most important notions in the logic of relations are

descriptive functions, for example: converse, domain, converse do-

main, 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 one-many relations: they may be deﬁned as one-many re-

lations which are also the converses of one-many relations, i.e. as

relations which are both one-many and many-one. One-many re-

lations 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 termy, such that x has the relation R

to y and y has the relation S to z. Thus, for example, if R is the rela-

tion 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 ob-

vious 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 character-

istic 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

¡8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 rela-

tive 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 members 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 goes. Thus if x and y are husband and wife,

then, with respect to the relation | ¡j “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 relation 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 rela-

tion 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 inte-

gers (excluding o), and add 1 to each; thus instead of the ﬁrst ten

Chap. V. Kinds of Relations ¡j

integers we now have the integers

z, ¸, ¡, ¸, 6, ¸, 8, j, 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, ¡, j, 16, z¸, ¸6, ¡j, 6¡, 81, 1oo.

On this occasion only three of our original set are left, namely, 1,

¡, j. 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 induc-

tive numbers, the above instances would have illustrated this case.

We may place the numbers concerned in two rows, putting the cor-

relate 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, ¸, ¡, ¸, . . . n . . .

z, ¸, ¡, ¸, 6, . . . n +1 . . .

When the correlator is the relation of a number to its double, we

have the two rows:

1, z, ¸, ¡, ¸, . . . n . . .

z, ¡, 6, 8, 1o, . . . zn . . .

¸o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

When the correlator is the relation of a number to its square, the

rows are:

1, z, ¸, ¡, ¸, . . . n . . .

1, ¡, j, 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 do-

main are identical. Consider, for example, the six possible arrange-

ments 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

philosophy of mathematics, as we have partly seen already, but

shall see much more fully as we proceed. One of its uses will oc-

cupy 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 re-

lations, 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 do-

main of the other, and the converse domain with the converse do-

main; 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 rela-

tion shall hold between the correlates of these two terms. The easi-

est 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 | ¸¸ the country of which it is a map. The space-relations in the

¸1

¸z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

map have “likeness” to the space-relations in the country mapped.

It is this kind of connection between relations that we wish to de-

ﬁne.

We may, in the ﬁrst place, proﬁtably introduce a certain restric-

tion. We will conﬁne ourselves, in deﬁning likeness, to such rela-

tions 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 re-

lation has all classes for its domain, since every class is the domain

of some relation; 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 diﬃ-

cult doctrine of types, but it is well to know when we are abstain-

ing 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 in-

dication of what we mean by a “type,” we may say that individu-

als, classes of individuals, relations between individuals, relations

between classes, relations of classes to individuals, and so on, are

diﬀerent types. Nowthe notion of likeness is not very useful as ap-

plied 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 gen-

erality of our deﬁnition, but the limitation is not of any practical

importance. And having been stated, it need no longer be remem-

bered.

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

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ¸¸

z w

x y

Q

P

S S

terms having the 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 re-

lation Q to w. If this happens with

every pair of terms such as x and y,

and if the converse happens with ev-

ery pair of terms such as z and w, it is

clear that for every instance in which

the relation P holds there is a corre-

sponding instance in which the relation Q holds, and vice versa;

and this is what we desire 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 re-

lation P is the same as the relative product 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 fromwto y. Thus we may set up the following

deﬁnitions:—

A relation S is said to be a “correlator” or an “ordinal correla-

tor” 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.

Two relations P and Q are said to be “similar,” or to have “like-

ness,” 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

¸¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 mathemati-

cal 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

grammar and the syntax, but not the vocabulary, what are the pos-

sible 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 mathe-

matical symbols—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 approxi-

mately 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

properties 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 call the set of all those relations that are

similar to a given relation the “number” of that relation. But in

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ¸¸

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 qual-

iﬁcation, 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 ap-

plicable to series may be | ¸¸ called “serial numbers” (what are com-

monly 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

¸6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 deter-

mined 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 se-

ries is ﬁnite, this cannot happen.

We can deﬁne addition and multiplication for relation-num-

bers as well as for cardinal numbers, and a whole arithmetic of

relation-numbers can be developed. The manner in which this is

to be done is easily seen by considering the case of series. Sup-

pose, 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 re-

lations 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 rela-

tion 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 mem-

ber 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 sumof two relation-numbers.

Similar modiﬁcations are needed for products and powers. The re-

sulting arithmetic does not obey the commutative law: the sum or

product of two relation-numbers generally depends upon the or-

der in which they are taken. But it obeys the associative law, one

formof the distributive law, and two of the formal laws for powers,

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ¸¸

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 geom-

etry 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 systemapplying to another set of terms, then the

geometry of the two sets is indistinguishable from the mathemat-

ical 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 Chap-

ter IV. We there saw that, provided a three-term relation has cer-

tain 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 by the properties we assign to

our between-relation.

1

Now likeness is just as easily | ¸j 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

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. ¸–¸1

(monograph by O. Veblen on “The Foundations of Geometry”).

¸8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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

himself with the particular being or intrinsic nature of his points,

lines, and planes, even when he is speculating as an applied math-

ematician. We may say that there is empirical evidence of the ap-

proximate truth of such parts of geometry as are not matters of def-

inition. But there is no empirical evidence as to what a “point” is

to be. It has to be something 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, con-

struct 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

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations ¸j

term has the relation in question to its second. Take (say) the re-

lation “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 cou-

ples (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 deﬁniteness, 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

d

c

a b

e

terms, no 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 accompanying 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 the above illustra- 61

tion 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

6o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 philos-

ophy which might have been avoided if the importance of struc-

ture, 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 objective counterparts; or that phenomena are sub-

jective, but are caused by things in themselves, which must have

diﬀerences inter se corresponding with the diﬀerences in the phe-

nomena to which they give rise. Where such hypotheses are made,

it is generally supposed that we can know very little about the ob-

jective counterparts. In actual 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 phenom-

ena. 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 nei-

ther: the only diﬀerence must lie in just that essence of individual-

ity which always eludes words and baﬄes description, but which,

for that very reason, is irrelevant to science. Now the only pur-

pose 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 sym-

pathise 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

Chap. VI. Similarity of Relations 61

well as in many others, the notion of structure or relation-number

is important.

CHAPTER VII

RATIONAL, REAL, ANDCOMPLEX

NUMBERS

6¸ We have now seen how to deﬁne cardinal numbers, and also rela-

tion-numbers, of which what are commonly called ordinal num-

bers are a particular species. It will be found that each of these

kinds of number may be inﬁnite just as well as ﬁnite. But nei-

ther is capable, as it stands, of the more familiar extensions of the

idea of number, namely, the extensions to negative, fractional, ir-

rational, 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 in-

tegers. 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 sup-

posed to ﬁnd their place among rational fractions, as being greater

than some of them and less than the others, so that rational and ir-

rational 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 −1, it was thought that real numbers could be re-

garded 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 dis-

carded, as we shall ﬁnd, if correct deﬁnitions are to be given.

6z

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers 6¸

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 suf-

ﬁcient 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 n to n + m. According to this deﬁnition, +m is a rela-

tion 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 inte-

gers. We need fractions for many purposes, but perhaps most ob-

viously 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 deﬁni-

tion 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 dif-

ferent kinds.

z

It will be seen that o/n is always the same relation,

1

Vol. iii. ∗¸ooﬀ., especially ¸o¸.

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 un-

derstood that the ratio 1/1 and the cardinal number 1 are diﬀerent, it is not

6¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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, what-

ever inductive number mmay be. There is not any inductive cardi-

nal 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 mathe-

matics, 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 in-

ﬁnite, 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.

There is not any diﬃculty in deﬁning greater and less among ra-

tios (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 in-

ﬁnity, 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 ra-

tio, and therefore (when zero and inﬁnity are omitted) there is no

smallest or largest, since m/n was chosen arbitrarily. In like man-

ner 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

necessary to be always pedantic in emphasising the diﬀerence.

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers 6¸

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 in-

ﬁnitum, it is obvious that there are an inﬁnite number of ratios

between any two, however nearly equal these two may be.

¸

A se-

ries 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 ob-

serve 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 oc-

casion to mention “incommensurables” and their | 6¸ discovery by

Pythagoras. It was through them, i.e. through geometry, that irra-

tional 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 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 possi-

¸

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.

66 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

ble, 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 mmust be an even num-

ber, 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 diag-

onal of a square whose side is one inch long. This seems like a

challenge thrown out by nature to arithmetic. However the arith-

metician may boast (as Pythagoras did) about the power of num-

bers, nature seems able to baﬄe him by exhibiting lengths which

no numbers can estimate 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 equa-

tions, 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

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers 6¸

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 arith-

metical 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 amount. In this way we seem to be

drawing a cordon round the square root of z, and it may seem dif-

ﬁcult 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 min-

imum 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 min-

imum to the other. Between these two classes, where

√

z ought to

be, there is nothing. Thus our | 6j 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, (¸) there may

¡

Stetigkeit und irrationale Zahlen, znd edition, Brunswick, 18jz.

68 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 sec-

tion 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 ra-

tios 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 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 be-

lief 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, (¸) every member of

the ﬁeld of P which precedes x precedes some member of α. (By

“precedes” we mean “has the relation P to.”)

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers 6j

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 re-

spect 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.

Aseries 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.

¸o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Fromthe habit of being inﬂuenced by spatial imagination, peo-

ple have supposed that series must have limits in cases where it

seems odd if they do not. Thus, perceiving that there was no ra-

tional 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 ax-

iom 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 advan-

tages; 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 “repre-

sents” 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 new

kind of numbers called “real numbers,” of which some will be ra-

tional 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 rep-

resented by an irrational cut, and a cut is represented by its lower

section. Let us conﬁne ourselves to cuts in which the lower sec-

tion 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 pertain-

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸1

ing 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 ex-

tra.

We are now in a position to deﬁne a real number and an irra-

tional number.

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 ¸¸ 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 “con-

¸

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 num-

bers, see ibid., vol. iii. ∗¸1oﬀ., and Principles of Mathematics, chaps. xxxiii. and

xxxiv.

¸z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

struction” as against “postulation,” of which we had another ex-

ample 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 mem-

ber of ν and add them together according to the rule for the addi-

tion of ratios. Form the class of all such sums obtainable by vary-

ing 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.)

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 interpreta-

tion, 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”

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸¸

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 as-

sumption their employment has been found proﬁtable. They are

required less for geometry than for algebra and analysis. We de-

sire, 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

¸

−1 = o has only one. Ev-

ery 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 num-

bers 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 deﬁ-

nition, 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 deﬁ-

nitions 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

¸¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

(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 num-

bers, (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 cou-
**

ple (−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 ra-

tios 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 re-

ally 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 cou-

ple (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 num-

bers in the geometry of the plane. This subject was agreeably ex-

pounded by W. K. Cliﬀord in his Common Sense of the Exact Sci-

ences, 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

Chap. VII. Rational, Real, and Complex Numbers ¸¸

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

¸

, . . . 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, will serve all purposes for which complex numbers

of higher orders are needed.

We have nowcompleted our reviewof those extensions of num-

ber which do not involve inﬁnity. The application of number to

inﬁnite collections must be our next topic.

6

Cf. Principles of Mathematics, §¸6o, p. ¸¸j.

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 num-

ber 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 transﬁ-

nite or inﬁnite cardinal numbers as it results from a combination

of his discoveries with those of Frege on the logical theory of num-

bers.

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 them-

selves 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 in-

ductive number, n is not equal to n +1. Various subtleties arise in

identifying this formof our assumption with | ¸8 the formthat asserts

¸6

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers ¸¸

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 as-

sume 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

themselves. This is a perfectly well-deﬁned class. In the ﬁrst place,

a 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 per-

fectly deﬁnite. By our general deﬁnition of cardinal numbers, the

number of terms in the class of inductive numbers is to be de-

ﬁned 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.

Nowit 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 induc-

tive 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 | ¸j property, and that if n has it so

has n +1, and yet that this new number does not have it. The dif-

ﬁculties that so long delayed the theory of inﬁnite numbers were

¸8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

largely due to the fact that some, at least, of the inductive prop-

erties were wrongly judged to be such as must belong to all num-

bers; 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

inductive 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 nec-

essarily 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 induc-

tive 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 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:

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers ¸j

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 re-

ﬂexive 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. A map, 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 it-

self.

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 induc-

tive numbers is similar to what the same class becomes when we

omit o. Consequently it is a “reﬂexive” class according to the deﬁ-

nition, 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

8o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

“similar,” there is 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, mis-

takenly, 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 ¸ 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 read-

ily 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 pos-

terity of this term with respect to the relation “immediate prede-

cessor.” These characteristics may be summed up in the following

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 81

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 con-

verse 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 “num-

ber.” Taking his ﬁve axioms in turn, we have the following transla-

tions:—

(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.” 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 fol-

lows: 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 termalways contains its own successors,

by the general 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.

(¸) “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). |

(¡) 8¸ “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 mem-

ber of the domain belongs to the posterity of the ﬁrst term,” which

1

Cf. Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗1z¸.

8z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

was part of our deﬁnition.

Thus progressions as we have deﬁned them have the ﬁve for-

mal 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 de-

ﬁne 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 gener-

ators 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 num-

ber, since every class which is similar to the domain of a progres-

sion 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 inﬁ-

nite cardinals is ℵ

o

.

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 obvi-

ous 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

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 8¸

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 formn

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 with-

out increasing their number. Take, for example, ratios. One might

be inclined to think that there must be many more ratios than in-

tegers, since ratios whose denominator is 1 correspond to the in-

tegers, and seem to 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 eas-

ily seen by arranging ratios in a series on the following plan: If the

sumof numerator and denominator in one is less than in the other,

put the one before the other; if the sumis equal in the two, put ﬁrst

the one with the smaller numerator. This gives us the series

1,

1

z

, z,

1

¸

, ¸,

1

¡

,

z

¸

,

¸

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:

8¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 cor-

relation of all the members with some of the sub-classes. Hence it

follows that, if the number of sub-classes is not equal to the num-

ber 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 re-

lation 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 themis (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.

z

This proof is taken from Cantor, with some simpliﬁcations: see Jahresbericht

der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung, i. (18jz), p. ¸¸.

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 8¸

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

.

(This follows from the case of the ratios, for, since a ratio is de-

termined 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, name-

ly, 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 analyti-

cal 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

86 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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.

(¸) All the odd numbers—remainder, all the even numbers,

numbering ℵ

o

terms.

All these are diﬀerent ways of subtracting ℵ

o

from ℵ

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 ¸ or any ﬁnite num-

ber 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 num-

bers. Addition, multiplication, and exponentiation proceed quite

satisfactorily, but the inverse operations—subtraction, division,

and extraction of roots—are ambiguous, and the notions that de-

pend upon them fail when inﬁnite numbers are concerned.

The characteristic by which we deﬁned ﬁnitude was mathemat-

ical induction, i.e. we deﬁned a number as ﬁnite when it obeys

mathematical 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, ¸, . . . But in

the present chapter, the inﬁnite numbers we have discussed have

not merely been non-inductive: they have also been reﬂexive. Can-

tor 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

Chap. VIII. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers 8¸

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

8j 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 re-

ﬂexive 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

examples. Let us ﬁrst consider various diﬀerent kinds of series

which can be made out of the inductive numbers arranged on var-

ious plans. We start with the series

1, z, ¸, ¡, . . . 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 | jo operation of remov-

ing to the end the ﬁrst even number that occurs. We thus obtain in

88

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals 8j

succession the various series:

1, ¸, ¡, ¸, . . . n, . . . z,

1, ¸, ¸, 6, . . . n +1, . . . z, ¡,

1, ¸, ¸, ¸, . . . n +z, . . . z, ¡, 6,

and so on. If we imagine this process carried on as long as possible,

we ﬁnally reach the series

1, ¸, ¸, ¸, . . . zn +1, . . . z, ¡, 6, 8, . . . zn, . . .,

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+

¸, . . . zω. Each of these numbers is “greater” than any of its prede-

cessors, 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, ¸, ¡, . . . n, . . .

1, ¸, ¡, ¸, . . . 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 simi-

lar to any part of the ﬁrst. (This is obvious, but is easily demon-

strated.) 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.

jo Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

The series we ﬁnally reached just now consisted of ﬁrst all the

odd numbers and then all the even numbers, and its serial | j1 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 nei-

ther 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 fac-

tors: a progression of couples gives a series such as

x

1

, y

1

, x

z

, y

z

, x

¸

, y

¸

, . . . 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 nec-

essary 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 inter-

pretation 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, ¸, ¸, ¸, . . .; z, 6, 1o, 1¡, . . .; ¡, 1z, zo, z8, . . .;

8, z¡, ¡o, ¸6, . . .,

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals j1

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 |

jz thinned out as we thinned out our original progression. We can

proceed to ω

¸

, 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 it-

self 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 ordi-

nal 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 ex-

actly 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 se-

ries 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

term next 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 subor-

dinate 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 taken in the reverse order, beginning with

−1, it is well-ordered, being in fact a progression. The deﬁnition

is: |

jz Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

A j¸ “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 mathemati-

cal induction applies. A property may be said to be “transﬁnitely

hereditary” 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 prop-

erty belonging to the ﬁrst term of the series belongs to the whole

series. This makes it possible to prove many propositions concern-

ing 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 in-

clude 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 dec-

imal. 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 in-

tegers 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 digits, 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, | j¡ 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 dif-

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals j¸

ﬁculty 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

ra-

tios, 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 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 | j¸ we have adopted above

as regards the order of the factors in a product) holds in the form

(β +γ)α = βα +γα,

j¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 mul-

tiplication.

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 Mathemat-

ica, ∗1¸z–1¸6.

Ordinal transﬁnite arithmetic was developed by Cantor at an

earlier stage than cardinal transﬁnite arithmetic, because it has

various technical mathematical uses which led him to it. But from

the point of viewof the philosophy of mathematics it is less impor-

tant 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 ac-

count. This does not apply to Frege’s work, in which cardinals,

ﬁnite and transﬁnite, 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 math-

ematicians, like other people, have more diﬃculty in understand-

ing and using notions which are comparatively “simple” in the log-

ical sense than in manipulating more complex notions which are |

j6 more akin to their ordinary practice. For these reasons, it was only

gradually that the true importance of cardinals in mathematical

Chap. IX. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals j¸

philosophy was recognised. The importance 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

j¸ The conception of a “limit” is one of which the importance in

mathematics has been found continually greater than had been

thought. The whole of the diﬀerential and integral calculus, in-

deed 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 ﬁnite 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 oth-

ers 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 hap-

pens to be quantitative). 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. The car-

dinal number ℵ

o

is the limit (in the order of magnitude) of the

cardinal numbers 1, z, ¸, . . . n, . . . , although the numerical diﬀer-

ence 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 j8 are various forms of the notion of “limit,” of increasing

j6

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity j¸

complexity. The simplest and most fundamental form, fromwhich

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.

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 re-

spect 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 maxi-

mum, 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 “bound-

ary” 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 | jj 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 de-

j8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

ﬁned by α consists of all the terms that precede some termor 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

,

¸

¡

,

¸

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 termx (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.”

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, ¸, . . . ω, ω+1, . . . zω, zω+1, . . . ¸ω, . . . ω

z

, . . . ω

¸

, . . . , |

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity jj

the 1oo upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this series are those that

have no immediate predecessors, i.e.

1, ω, zω, ¸ω, . . . ω

z

, ω

z

+ω, . . . zω

z

, . . . ω

¸

. . .

The upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this new series will be

1, ω

z

, zω

z

, . . . ω

¸

, ω

¸

+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 suit-

ably 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 deriva-

tive, and so on.

With regard to limits, we may distinguish various grades of

what may be called “continuity” in a series. The word “continu-

ity” 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 Can-

tor’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,

1oo Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 feel-

ing we have as to what 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 ex-

ample: 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 ex-

ample, 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.

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity 1o1

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 limit-

ing-points and all its limiting-points belong to it. But this def-

inition 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 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 j 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 sec-

ond has no immediate successor. Apart fromsuch 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 1o¸ come now to the second property by which perfection was

to be deﬁned, namely, the property which Cantor calls that of be-

ing “closed” (abgeschlossen). This, as we saw, was ﬁrst deﬁned as

1oz Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 subordi-

nate 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 pro-

gression 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.

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 num-

bers 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 com-

pletely, 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

Chap. X. Limits and Continuity 1o¸

of our series, however near together. This property, added to per-

fection, 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 num-

bers. It is obvious that there cannot be median classes except in

compact series.

We then ﬁnd that Cantor’s deﬁnition is equivalent to the fol-

lowing:—

A series is “continuous” when (1) it is Dedekindian, (z) it con-

tains 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 continu-

ity, but the converse is not the case. All series having Cantorian

continuity are similar, but not all series having Dedekindian con-

tinuity.

The notions of limit and continuity which we have been deﬁning

must not be confounded with the notions of the limit of a func-

tion for approaches to a given argument, or the continuity of a

function in the neighbourhood of a given argument. These are dif-

ferent notions, very important, but derivative from the above and

more complicated. The continuity of motion (if motion is contin-

uous) 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 cau-

tiously) of a kind of continuity which can, by suﬃcient mathemat-

ical | 1o¸ manipulation, be reduced to the continuity of series. In view

of 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,

1o¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

namely, those of Dedekind and Cantor, do not correspond very

closely 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. A fog

gives an impression of vastness without deﬁnite multiplicity or di-

vision. It is this sort of thing that a metaphysician means by “con-

tinuity,” 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 deﬁ-

nitely and uncompromisingly; it does not pass over by impercep-

tible degrees into another; it is a hard, separate unit, and its dis-

tance 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 suit-

able manipulation, if that material is to be called “continuous” in

any precisely deﬁnable sense. It would be quite impossible | 1o6 to jus-

tify 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 1j1¡−¸, 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 or-

der 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 “contin-

uous function.” Both of these ideas are somewhat technical, and

would hardly demand treatment in a mere introduction to mathe-

matical philosophy but for the fact that, especially through the so-

called inﬁnitesimal calculus, wrong views upon our present top-

ics 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 Leib-

niz that the diﬀerential and integral calculus required inﬁnites-

imal quantities. Mathematicians (especially Weierstrass) proved

that this is an error; but errors incorporated, 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 math-

ematics, are deﬁned in terms involving number. This is not essen-

tial, as Dr Whitehead has shown.

1

We will, however, begin with

the deﬁnitions 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

1

See Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗z¸o–z¸¡.

1o¸

1o6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 func-

tion is what we call “continuous,” the rough idea for which we are

seeking a precise deﬁnition is that small diﬀerences in x shall cor-

respond 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 con-

tinuous, that 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 func-

tions of mathematics have this property: it belongs, for example,

to x

z

, x

¸

, . . . logx, sinx, and so on. But it is not at all diﬃcult to

deﬁne discontinuous functions. Take, as a non-mathematical ex-

ample, “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 belowx,” where

x is a real number. This function remains constant from one inte-

ger 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 ex-

ample 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 ¸π/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 mul-

tiple of π/z to another as x becomes smaller and smaller. Conse-

quently sin1/x passes more and more quickly from −1 | 1oj to 1 and

back again, as x grows smaller. In fact, if we take any interval con-

taining o, say the interval from− to + where is some very small

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 1o¸

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 func-

tion 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 nowto 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

“neighbourhood” 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 ar-

gument a; we desire that, if we take a suﬃciently small neighbour-

hood containing a, all values for arguments throughout this neigh-

bourhood 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 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, 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.

z

A number is said to be “numerically less” than when it lies between −

and +.

1o8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

In this deﬁnition, σ ﬁrst deﬁnes a neighbourhood of f (a), name-

ly, the neighbourhood from f (a)−σ to f (a)+σ. The deﬁnition then

proceeds to say that we can (by means of ) deﬁne a neighbour-

hood, namely, that from a − to a +, such that, for all arguments

within this neighbourhood, the value of the function lies within

the neighbourhood from f (a) − σ to f (a) + σ. If this can be done,

however σ may be chosen, the function is “continuous” for the ar-

gument 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 neigh-

bourhood. 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 from a − 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 argu-

ments 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” 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

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 1oj

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 ulti-

mate upper section, we shall say that it belongs to the “ultimate os-

cillation.” 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 ap-

proached from below.

Let us begin with the “ultimate section.” Between − and o,

whatever may be, the function will assume the value 1 for cer-

tain arguments, but will never assume any greater value. Hence

the ultimate section consists of all real numbers, positive and neg-

ative, up to and including 1; i.e. it consists of all negative numbers

together with o, together with the positive numbers up to and in-

cluding 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 func-

tion as the argument approaches a from below consists of all those

numbers 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

11o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 ap-

proaches 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 its “ultimate” values for

approaches from below. Similarly we obtain lower and upper lim-

its 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 def-

inite limit for approaches to a from below, it is necessary and suf-

ﬁcient that, given any small number σ, two values for arguments

suﬃciently near to a (but both less than a) will diﬀer | 11¸ 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.

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 111

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 mem-

bers 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 condi-

tions, 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 con-

verges into the predecessors of this number as the argument ap-

proaches a from below;

(¸) and (¡) Similar conditions for approaches to a from above.

The advantage of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses the

conditions of continuity into four, derived from considering argu-

ments 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 argu-

ment 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 ejacula-

tion, the limit of the policeman’s positions as t approached to t

o

11z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 ade-

quate 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 gen-

eral 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.)

We can easily deﬁne the “ultimate section” and the “ultimate

oscillation.” To deﬁne the “ultimate section” for approaches to the

argument a from below, take any argument y which precedes a

Chap. XI. Limits and Continuity of Functions 11¸

(i.e. has the relation Q to a), take the values of the function for all

arguments up to and including y, and formthe 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 result-

ing 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 re-

placing 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 in-

tervals, growing smaller without any limit short of zero, but they

11¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 succes-

sive bisection does not lead to divisions whose ordinal number is

inﬁnite, since it is essentially a one-by-one process. Thus inﬁnites-

imals are not to be reached in this way. Confusions on such topics

have had much to 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 axiom which can be enun-

ciated, 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 propo-

sitions the subjects in which they occur still exist, though in a

somewhat mutilated form.

Before enunciating the multiplicative axiom, we must ﬁrst ex-

plain 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 pro-

cedure is to construct an actual class (or relation, in the case of

relation-numbers) having the required number of terms. This some-

times 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 sim-

plest: 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 consist-

11¸

116 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

ing 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.

Multiplication when the number of factors is ﬁnite oﬀers no

diﬃculty. 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 or-

dered 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

¸

. 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

¸

); (x

z

, x

1

), (x

z

, x

z

), (x

z

, x

¸

); (x

¸

, x

1

),

(x

¸

, x

z

), (x

¸

, x

¸

).

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 problemof 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. Howshall 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 | 11j κ is not inﬁnite, the method deﬁned above is

just as applicable when its members are inﬁnite as when they are

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom 11¸

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 Prin-

cipia 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 ar-

rive at a class of representatives, who make up our Parliament, one

being selected out of each constituency. How many diﬀerent pos-

sible ways of choosing a Parliament are there? Each constituency

can select any one of its voters, and therefore if there are µ vot-

ers 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 num-

bers of voters in the 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

118 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 over-

lap. For this purpose, instead of deﬁning ﬁrst a class called a “se-

lection,” we will deﬁne ﬁrst a relation which we will call a “selec-

tor.” 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” from a class of classes κ is a one-many relation,

having κ for its converse domain, and such that, if x has the rela-

tion 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 selec-

tors than selections, since a term x which belongs to two classes

α and β may be selected once to represent α and once to repre-

sent 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 ν classes, each of which has µ terms. But there are objections

to this deﬁnition, derived from the fact that the multiplicative ax-

iom (of which we shall speak shortly) is unnecessarily involved if

it is adopted. We adopt instead the following construction:—

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom 11j

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

multiplication and exponentiation. But there is one thing we can-

not 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 fac-

tors 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 exclu-

1zo Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

sive 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 seemobviously 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 assuming that we can know whether

it is true or false. The assumption, loosely worded, is that selec-

tors 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 do-

main 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

| 1z¸ of the null-class, then there is at least one selector from κ. This

is the form in 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

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 1z1

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 formwhich 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 of R and transﬁnite induc-

tion. 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

¸

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 pro-

gression; 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 representa-

tives 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.

1zz Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 multiplica-

tive axiom, except where, owing to some special circumstance, the

existence of certain selectors can be proved. The way the multi-

plicative 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 re-

lation. 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, accord-

ingly, 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

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 sumof ℵ

o

classes each having ℵ

o

members must itself have

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom 1z¸

ℵ

o

members, but this inference is fallacious, since we do not know

that the number of terms in such a sumis ℵ

o

×ℵ

o

, nor consequently

that it is ℵ

o

. This has a bearing upon the theory of transﬁnite or-

dinals. It is easy to prove that an ordinal which has ℵ

o

predeces-

sors 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 or-

dinals 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 sup-

posed 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 view of

the way in which the multiplicative axiom is involved, the propo-

sition 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,

1z¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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, 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

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom 1z¸

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 probleminvolving the multiplicative axiom

is the relation of reﬂexiveness to non-inductiveness. It will be re-

membered 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 multiplica-

tive 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 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 re-

ﬂexive 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

multiplicative 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;

1z6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

one containing two terms, α

z

, say; one containing three, α

¸

, 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 now a progression α

1

, α

z

, α

¸

, . . . of sub-classes of α, instead

of a progression of collections of sub-classes; thus we are one step

nearer to our goal. We now know that, assuming the multiplica-

tive 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 pro-

gression α

1

, α

z

, α

¸

, . . . 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 con-

tain 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

¸

. In this case it is possi-

ble that α

¸

consists of x

1

, x

z

, x

¸

, 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

¸

, . . . α

ν

contain, at the very most, 1 +z +¸ +. . . +ν terms,

i.e. ν(ν+1)/z terms; thus it would be possible, if there were no rep-

etitions in the ﬁrst ν classes, to go on with only repetitions from

the (ν + 1)

th

| 1zj 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 fromour progression α

1

, α

z

, α

¸

, . . . 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

¸

. . . (We shall have α

1

= β

1

and α

z

= β

z

, because

α

1

and α

z

must introduce new terms. We may or may not have

α

¸

= β

¸

, 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

Chap. XII. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom 1z¸

γ

1

, γ

z

, γ

¸

, . . . (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 progres-

sion; i.e. if x

1

is the member of γ

1

, x

z

is a member of γ

z

, x

¸

is a

member of γ

¸

, and so on; then x

1

, x

z

, x

¸

, . . . is a progression, and

is a sub-class of α. Assuming the multiplicative axiom, such a se-

lection can be made. Thus by twice using this axiom we can prove

that, if the axiom is true, every non-inductive cardinal must be re-

ﬂexive. 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 | 1¸o 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 axiomis equivalent to the

assumption that all cardinal numbers are multipliable. But in or-

der to identify the reﬂexive with the non-inductive, or to deal with

the problem of the boots and socks, or to show that any progres-

sion 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 re-

gard to the topics discussed in the present chapter. Cases may be

1z8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

found where propositions which seem to involve the multiplica-

tive 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 having its terms well-ordered, which would prove

the multiplicative 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

1¸1 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 indi-

viduals 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 num-

ber 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 ex-

plained as follows. One of Peano’s assumptions is that no two in-

ductive 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 induc-

tive cardinal, | 1¸z n is not equal to n +1. It might be thought that this

1zj

1¸o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 car-

dinal 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 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 j would be such as we expect,

but 1o (deﬁned as j+1) would be the null-class. It will be remem-

bered 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 deﬁni-

tion, we see that, in the case supposed, j+1 is a class consisting of

no classes, i.e. it is the null-class. The same will be true of j + z,

or generally of j +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 succes-

sor, for j 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, | 1¸¸ multiplication, and expo-

nentiation of ﬁnite integers and of ratios, but we cannot deal with

inﬁnite integers or with irrationals. Thus the theory of the trans-

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1¸1

ﬁnite 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

number of individuals to be j, as we did just now, the number of

classes will be z

j

, i.e. ¸1z. Thus if we take our numbers as being

applied to the counting of classes instead of to the counting of in-

dividuals, our arithmetic will be normal until we reach ¸1z: the

ﬁrst number to be null will be ¸1¸. 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¸¸ 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¸¸ digits; the number of digits in this number will be

about three times 1o

1¸z

. In a time of paper shortage it is unde-

sirable 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 | 1¸¡ inﬁnity, by merely trav-

elling up the hierarchy a suﬃcient distance. If we cannot succeed

by counting individuals, we can try counting classes of individu-

als; if we still do not succeed, we can try classes of classes, and so

on. Ultimately, however fewindividuals there may be in the world,

1

On this subject see Principia Mathematica, vol. ii. ∗1zoﬀ. On the correspond-

ing problems as regards ratio, see ibid., vol. iii. ∗¸o¸ﬀ.

1¸z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

we shall reach a stage where there are many more than µ objects,

whatever inductive number µ may be. Even if there were no indi-

viduals 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¸,¸¸6 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 in-

ductive cardinals or of ratios that the axiom is required. We need

the whole class of inductive cardinals in order to establish the exis-

tence of ℵ

o

, and the whole series in order to establish the existence

of progressions: 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 for-

mer days—that, by means of constructions such as we have been

considering, 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 |

1¸¸ conﬁning ourselves to objects of any one type, we shall certainly

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

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1¸¸

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 impos-

sible to manufacture an inﬁnite collection out of a ﬁnite collection

of individuals, 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 fallacious, 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 “con-

fusion 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 con-

troversial, 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 doc-

trine of types is less doubtful than the precise form the doctrine

should take; and in connection with the axiom of inﬁnity it is par-

ticularly 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 |

1¸6 number of members of the class, and we inferred that there is no

greatest cardinal number. But if we could, as we suggested a mo-

ment ago, add together into one class the individuals, classes of

individuals, classes of classes of individuals, etc., we should ob-

tain 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

1¸¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 1jo1, 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:—

The comprehensive class we are considering, which is to em-

brace everything, must embrace itself as one of its members. In

other words, if there is such a thing as “everything,” then “every-

thing” is something, and is a member of the class “everything.”

But normally a class is not a member of itself. Mankind, for exam-

ple, 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 | 1¸¸ of Math-

ematics

¸

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 “im-

pure” 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 state-

ment which appears to be about a class will only be signiﬁcant

z

Vol. i., Introduction, chap. ii., ∗1z and ∗zo; vol. ii., Prefatory Statement.

¸

“Mathematical Logic as based on the Theory of Types,” vol. xxx., 1jo8, pp.

zzz–z6z.

¡

“Les paradoxes de la logique,” 1jo6, pp. 6z¸–6¸o.

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1¸¸

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 de-

void 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 gener-

ally, to suppose that one class of individuals is a member, or is not

a member, of another class of individuals will be to suppose non-

sense; 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

individuals, we cannot form a new class, consisting of both indi-

viduals 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 in-

ﬁnite numbers and classes by 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, §¸¸j (p. ¸¸¸). | 1¸8 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 in-

vented for it, it would be found that numbers do not have being—

1¸6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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

inclusive) 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 understood 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 Dede-

kind

6

to prove the existence of reﬂexive classes. The argument, in

brief, is this: An object is not identical with the idea of the | 1¸j 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 ob-

jects and the class of ideas are both inﬁnite. This argument is inter-

esting, not only on its own account, but because the mistakes in it

(or what I judge to be 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

¸

Bolzano, Paradoxien des Unendlichen, 1¸.

6

Dedekind, Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen? No. 66.

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1¸¸

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 become 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 under-

stood logically, it may be identical with the object, or it may stand

for a description (in the sense to be explained in a subsequent chap-

ter). 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 cor-

rect descriptions of any given object. Socrates (e.g.) may be de-

scribed as “the master of Plato,” or as “the philosopher who drank

the hemlock,” 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 psycholog-

ical 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 (except 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

1¸8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 ex-

istence of an inﬁnite number of particulars. I do not believe this.

We have no reason except prejudice for believing in the inﬁnite ex-

tent 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 af-

ford proof of continuity, though it might quite possibly aﬀord dis-

proof. 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 conceiv-

able 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

Chap. XIII. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types 1¸j

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 “par-

ticular” have been used without explanation. It would be impos-

sible to explain them adequately without a longer disquisition on

the theory of types than would be appropriate to the present work,

but a fewwords before we leave this topic may do something to di-

minish 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 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 state-

ment, following the rules that should guide philosophical gram-

mar, 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 sub-

1¡o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

stance; but persistence through time, which belonged to that no-

tion, 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 “particu-

lars” 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 desir-

able 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¡¸ 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 enunci-

ate 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 ex-

amination of the idea of class. In the preceding chapter, however,

we found ourselves confronted by problems which make such an

examination imperative. Before we can undertake it, we must con-

sider 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 funda-

mental than anything that we have discussed hitherto. Three top-

ics will concern us before we reach the theory of classes, namely:

(1) the theory of deduction, (z) propositional functions, (¸) de-

scriptions. Of these, the third is not logically presupposed in the

theory of classes, but it is a simpler example of the kind of the-

ory 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, mathemat-

ical 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 de-

fective; 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 common sense. No appeal to common sense, or

1¡1

1¡z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

“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 ap-

peal to the ﬁgure, invented a theory of mathematical reasoning ac-

cording to which the inference is never strictly logical, but always

requires the support of what is called “intuition.” The whole trend

of modern 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 axiomof parallels. What can be known, in mathematics and by

mathematical 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 pre-

misses, 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,

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 1¡¸

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 “incom-

patible,” i.e. that if one is true, the other is false. It may also be in-

ferred from the falsehood of another proposition, in just the same

circumstances in which the truth of the other might have been in-

ferred 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 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 con-

sider 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

1

We shall use the letters p, q, r, s, t to denote variable propositions.

z

This term is due to Frege.

1¡¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 nega-

tions 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 false-

hood 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, conjunc-

tion, incompatibility, and implication. We might have added oth-

ers, 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, conjunc-

tion, 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

statement of the circumstances under which it is true or false.

“Not-p,” 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

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 1¡¸

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 inde-

pendent. We can deﬁne some of them in terms of others. There is

no great diﬃculty in reducing the number to two; the two chosen

in Principia Mathematica are negation and disjunction. Implica-

tion is then deﬁned as “not-p or q”; incompatibility as “not-p or

not-q”; conjunction as the negation of incompatibility. But it has

been shown by Sheﬀer

¸

that we can be content with one primi-

tive 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 “in-

compatibility,” 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 incom-

patibility 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¡j 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.

¸

Trans. Am. Math. Soc., vol. xiv. pp. ¡81–¡88.

¡

Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc., vol. xix., i., January 1j1¸.

1¡6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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

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 de-

duction enumerated in Principia Mathematica. (M. Nicod has re-

duced 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.

(¸) “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 Prin-

cipia 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 con-

clusion. 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 im-

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 1¡¸

plies 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

¸

= p implies r.

Then we have to prove that p

1

implies that p

z

implies p

¸

. 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

¸

.” Call this proposition A.

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

¸

in place of r, this

becomes:

“If p

z

implies that p

1

implies p

¸

, then p

1

implies that p

z

implies

p

¸

.” Call this B. |

1¸1 Now we proved by means of our ﬁfth principle that

“p

z

implies that p

1

implies p

¸

,” 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

¸

,”

which was the proposition to be proved. In this proof, the adapta-

tion of our ﬁfth principle, which yields A, occurs as a substantive

1¡8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

premiss; while the adaptation of our fourth principle, which yields

B, is used to give the formof 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, what-

ever 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 virtually new propositions. The legitimacy of sub-

stitutions of this kind has to be insured by means of a non-formal

principle of inference.

¸

We may nowstate the one formal principle of inference to which

M. Nicod has reduced the ﬁve given above. For this purpose we

will ﬁrst showhowcertain truth-functions can be deﬁned in terms

of incompatibility. We saw already that

p | (q / q) means “p implies q.” |

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 incompati-

bility 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 con-

junction 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).

¸

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 1¡j

Let us write p for the negation of p; thus p / s will mean the

negation 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 corre-

sponding 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 amnot mistaken, a certain confusion in the | 1¸¸ 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

1¸o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

p is false, “not-p or q” is true, but is useless for inference, which

requires that p should 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 know

that 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

practical feasibility of the inference. Professor C. I. Lewis

6

has es-

pecially studied the narrower, formal relation which we may call

“formal deducibility.” He urges that the wider relation, that ex-

pressed by “not-p or q,” should not be called “implication.” That

is, however, a matter of words. | 1¸¡ Provided our use of words is con-

sistent, 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 im-

plication,” which is not the relation expressed by “not-p or q” but a

narrower relation, holding only when there are certain formal con-

nections between p and q. I maintain that, whether or not there be

such a relation as he speaks of, it is in any case one that mathe-

matics does not need, and therefore one that, on general grounds

6

See Mind, vol. xxi., 1j1z, pp. ¸zz–¸¸1; and vol. xxiii., 1j1¡, pp. z¡o–z¡¸.

Chap. XIV. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction 1¸1

of economy, ought not to be admitted into our apparatus of funda-

mental notions; that, whenever the relation of “formal deducibil-

ity” 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 ad-

duces against the view which I advocate can all be met in detail,

and depend for their plausibility upon a covert and unconscious

assumption of the point of view which I reject. I conclude, there-

fore, that there is no need to admit as a fundamental notion any

form of implication not expressible as a truth-function.

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 com-

mon 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 be-

1¸z

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1¸¸

comes a proposition. In other words, it is a function whose val-

ues 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 propo-

sitions are only described: in a propositional function, the values

must actually enunciate propositions.

Examples of propositional functions are easy to give: “x is hu-

man” is a propositional function; so long as x remains undeter-

mined, it is neither true nor false, but when a value is assigned to

x it becomes a true or false proposition. Any mathematical equa-

tion is a propositional function. So long as the variables have no

deﬁnite value, the equation is merely an expression awaiting de-

termination 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 be-

comes false; but if it is an “identity” it will be true when the vari-

able 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 def-

inite classes before such expressions become true or false.

The notion of “cases” or “instances” depends upon proposi-

tional functions. Consider, for example, the kind of process sug-

gested 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 func-

tion: “If x is a ﬂash of lightning, x is followed by thunder.” It will

1¸¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

be found that, in an analogous way, propositional functions are al-

ways 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?” Apropositional function stand-

ing 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 propo-

sition. 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 meaningless 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 be-

ing discussed. (We are not concerned with the truth or falsehood

of what is said, but only 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

¸

is A,” and so on, where x

1

, x

z

, x

¸

are particulars which are not identical one with another. This ap-

plies, e.g., to our previous case of lightning. We say that lightning

(A) is followed by thunder (B). But the separate ﬂashes are par-

ticulars, not identical, but sharing the common property of being

lightning. The only way of expressing a | 1¸8 common property gener-

ally 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 ob-

jects are “instances” of the truth of the propositional 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 “al-

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1¸¸

ways true” or “always false.” When, to return to our example, we

say that A is in every instance followed by B, we mean that, what-

ever 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 nec-

essary 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 mor-

tal” 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¸j that certain propositional

functions are true in all cases. We do not assert the above princi-

ple, 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 of the con-

ditions of signiﬁcance belongs to the doctrine of types, which we

shall not pursue beyond the sketch given in the preceding chap-

ter.

1¸6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Not only the principles of deduction, but all the primitive propo-

sitions of logic, consist of assertions that certain propositional func-

tions 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 assertions 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 proposi-

tions 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 proposi-

tional 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 expres-

sion 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 lan-

guage 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 individu-

als,” which is said to be, in respect of α, sometimes true; and the

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1¸¸

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 sometimes true. And the statement “there are unicorns”

is the negation of the statement that the function “x is not a uni-

corn” 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 “some-

times” 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 rea-

sons connected with the theory of types it seems more correct to

take both “always” and “sometimes” as primitive ideas, and de-

ﬁne by their means the negation of propositions in which they oc-

cur. 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 ap-

parent variables, in terms of the deﬁnitions and primitive ideas

for propositions containing no apparent variables. Propositions

containing no apparent variables are called “elementary proposi-

tions.” Fromthese we can mount up step by step, using such meth-

ods 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

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. ∗j.

1¸8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 knowwhether 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; pro-

vided we know what is meant by being an S and what by being 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 relevant in the statement “all S is P,” but all the terms concern-

ing 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 state-

ments 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 signif-

icant, 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.

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 1¸j

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,” |

16¸ and then we will regard “Socrates” as replaced by a variable x

wherever “Socrates” occurs. The object to be secured is that, al-

though 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 separate 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.

For brevity we say “φx always implies ψx” when we mean that

“φx implies ψx” is always true. Propositions of the form “φx al-

ways 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 tra-

ditional logic treats “all S is P” as a proposition of the same form

16o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 practi-

cal experience soon shows that any diﬀerent deﬁnitions would be

inconvenient and would conceal the important ideas. The propo-

sition “φx always implies ψx, and φx is sometimes true” is essen-

tially 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 form is that

which is derived immediately fromthe 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

Chap. XV. Propositional Functions 161

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 sat-

isfying φx exist.” This is the fundamental meaning of the word

“existence.” Other meanings are either derived from this, or em-

body mere confusion of thought. We may correctly say “men ex-

ist,” meaning that “x is a man” is sometimes 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 func-

tion. 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 it-

self to fall into hopeless confusions through not suﬃciently sepa-

rating propositions and propositional functions are the notions of

“modality”: necessary, possible, and impossible. (Sometimes contin-

gent 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 contra-

dictories were necessary, 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

16z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

will be necessary if the function is always true, possible if it is some-

times 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 pos-

sible; 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 propo-

sitions 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 fromthe waist

down” and not merely in a prison.

We have already had occasion to mention “descriptive func-

tions,” 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

terminology. 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.

16¸

16¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

But we may go further: not only Jones, but no actual man,

enters into my statement. This becomes obvious when the state-

ment 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 asser-

tion, if we know what it would be to be a unicorn or a sea-serpent,

i.e. what is the deﬁnition of 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 proposi-

tion, 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 mistaken lines. They have regarded grammatical form as a

surer guide in analysis than, in fact, it is. And they have not known

what diﬀerences in grammatical formare 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 | 16j 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 lo-

gicians have been driven to the conclusion that there are unreal

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 16¸

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 propositions of which these are the subjects; hence they

must have some kind of logical being, since otherwise the proposi-

tions 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 imagi-

nation, 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 example, 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 de-

gree which is scarcely credible. There is only one world, the “real”

world: Shakespeare’s imagination is part of it, and the thoughts

that 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 read-

ers 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 noth-

ing | 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 ro-

bust sense of reality is very necessary in framing a correct analysis

1

Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, 1jo¡.

166 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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

admit anything unreal? The reply is that, in dealing with proposi-

tions, we are dealing in the ﬁrst instance with symbols, and if we

attribute signiﬁcance to groups of symbols which have no signif-

icance, 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 to-

gether 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. “Aunicorn” is an indeﬁnite description which de-

scribes 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, deﬁnite or indeﬁnite; in that

case the proposition will be true if “x” is a description which de-

scribes nothing. But whether the description “x” describes some-

thing 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 re-

sults 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 nowproceed 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” as our instance of “a so-and-so,” φx will be “x is human.”)

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 16¸

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 deﬁn-

able sense, “unreal.” 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.”

So far as logic goes, this is the same proposition as might be ex-

pressed 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, propo-

sitions verbally about “a so-and-so” are found to contain no con-

stituent represented by this phrase. And that is why such propo-

sitions can be signiﬁcant even when there is no such thing as a

so-and-so.

The deﬁnition of existence, as applied to ambiguous descrip-

tions, results from what was said at the end of the preceding chap-

ter. 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 propo-

sition. The is of “Socrates is human” expresses the relation of sub-

ject and predicate; the is of “Socrates is a man” expresses identity.

168 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 iden-

tity in “Socrates is a man” is identity between an object named (ac-

cepting “Socrates” as a name, subject to qualiﬁcations explained

later) and an object ambiguously described. An object ambigu-

ously 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 am-

biguous (as opposed to deﬁnite) descriptions that there may be any

number of true propositions of the above form—Socrates is a 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 nowto 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 proposi-

tions in which this phrase occurs, not a deﬁnition of the phrase it-

self 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¸¸ Socrates is a man, Plato is a man, Aris-

totle 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 deﬁ-

nite: 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,

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 16j

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 Chap-

ter 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 sep-

arate 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 our-

selves with what may be called “relative individuals,” which will

be terms that, throughout the context in question, are never anal-

ysed 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 abso-

lute names or only relative names, may be ignored, since it con-

cerns 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 capa-

ble 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

1¸o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

a simple symbol, directly designating an individual which is its

meaning, and having this meaning in its own right, independently

of the meanings of all other words; (z) a description, which con-

sists of several words, whose meanings are already ﬁxed, and from

which results whatever is to be taken as the “meaning” of the de-

scription.

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 proposi-

tion 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 proposi-

tion. But, it may be said, our proposition is essentially of the same

form as (say) “Scott is Sir Walter,” in which two names are said to

apply to the same person. The reply is that, if “Scott is Sir Wal-

ter” 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 fre-

quently 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 be a diﬀerent one if we substitute “the person called ‘Sir

Walter.’” But so long as we are using names as names, whether we

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1¸1

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 par-

ticular cases will consist in substituting a name for the letter “x,”

assuming that φ is a function which has individuals for its argu-

ments. Suppose, for example, that φx is “always true”; let it be,

say, the “law of identity,” x = x. Then we may substitute for “x”

any name we choose, and we shall obtain a true proposition. As-

suming for the moment that “Socrates,” “Plato,” and “Aristotle”

are names (a very rash assumption), 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 au-

thor of Waverley. This results | 1¸6 fromwhat we have just proved, that,

if we substitute a name for “the author of Waverley” in a proposi-

tion, 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 “al-

ways true” may become false, if the description describes nothing.

There is no mystery in this as soon as we realise (what was proved

1¸z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 def-

inite 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 inhab-

iting 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” always imply the corresponding proposi-

tions 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 au-

thor 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 propositional 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;

(¸) “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;

(¸) 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.”

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1¸¸

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 ex-

ists.” 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 ref-

erence 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.’”

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

equivalent 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.”

1¸¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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

knowing 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 signiﬁcant, 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¸j —

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 ab-

breviated 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 dis-

tinguish what may be called “primary” and “secondary” occur-

rences. The abstract distinction is as follows. A description has

a “primary” occurrence when the proposition in which it occurs

results from substituting the description for “x” in some propo-

sitional function φx; a description has a “secondary” occurrence

Chap. XVI. Descriptions 1¸¸

when the result of substituting 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 propo-

sition is false. Every proposition in which a description which de-

scribes nothing has a primary occurrence is false. But now con-

sider “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 de-

scriptive 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 sim-

ilar 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 chap-

ter, is of the utmost importance both in logic and in theory of

knowledge. But for purposes of mathematics, the more philo-

sophical 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 plu-

ral: the inhabitants of London, the sons of rich men, and so on. In

other words, we shall be concerned with classes. We saw in Chap-

ter 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 de-

ﬁned 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 ordi-

nary 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 oth-

ers, 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 repre-

senting classes occur, but which will assign a meaning that alto-

gether eliminates all mention of classes from a right analysis | 18z of

such propositions. We shall then be able to say that the symbols

1¸6

Chap. XVII. Classes 1¸¸

for classes are mere conveniences, not representing objects called

“classes,” and that classes are in fact, like descriptions, logical ﬁc-

tions, or (as we say) “incomplete symbols.”

The theory of classes is less complete than the theory of de-

scriptions, and there are reasons (which we shall give in outline)

for regarding the deﬁnition of classes that will be suggested as

not ﬁnally satisfactory. Some further subtlety appears to be re-

quired; but the reasons for regarding the deﬁnition which will be

oﬀered as being approximately correct and on the right lines are

overwhelming.

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

precisely what one means by this statement, but one consequence

which it implies may be used to elucidate its meaning. If we had a

complete symbolic language, with a deﬁnition for everything de-

ﬁnable, 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 main-

taining that no symbols either for “class” in general or for particu-

lar classes would be included in this apparatus of undeﬁned sym-

bols. 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 partic-

ular. But if “a” is a name for the same particular, a proposition in

which “a” occurs is not (as we sawin the preceding chapter) identi-

cal with what this proposition becomes when for “a” we substitute

“the last thing Cæsar sawbefore 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 ex-

pressed by means of “a” as opposed to the one that | 18¸ we expressed

by means of the description. Thus descriptions would not enable a

perfect language to dispense with names for all particulars. In this

1¸8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 under-

stand 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 mathe-

matical 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

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 func-

tion rather than with any other—and given a propositional func-

tion, 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 propo-

sitional functions φx, ψx are “formally equivalent” when φx is al-

ways equivalent to ψx. It is the fact that there are other functions

Chap. XVII. Classes 1¸j

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 there-

fore 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 aggre-

gates, 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 as-

sumption that there are no classes. We merely abstain from both

assumptions. This is an example of Occam’s razor, namely, “en-

tities 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 ag-

nostic 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 ap-

propriate class.

18o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

(z) Two formally equivalent propositional functions must de-

termine the same class, and two which are not formally equivalent

must determine diﬀerent classes. That is, a class is determined by

its membership, 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.)

(¸) 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 elemen-

tary mathematics, “The combinations of n things m at a time” rep-

resents 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 prob-

lems which it raises. The ﬁrst two conditions may be | 186 taken to-

gether. 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

Chap. XVII. Classes 181

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 state-

ments about functions, or (more correctly) functions of functions.

Some of the things that may be said about a function may be

regarded as said about the class deﬁned by the function, whereas

others 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 function. 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 func-

tion (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 un-

changed 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 exten-

sional functions of a function φx may, for practical | 18¸ purposes, be

regarded as functions of the class determined by φx, while inten-

sional 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 ex-

tensional. Thus, for example, the two fundamental functions of

functions are: “φx is always true” and “φx is sometimes true.”

18z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Each of these has its truth-value unchanged if any formally equiv-

alent function is substituted for φx. In the language of classes,

if α is the class determined by φx, “φx is always true” is equiva-

lent 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 condi-

tion 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 ex-

tensional, we can always derive from it a connected and certainly

extensional 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 func-

tion is intensional, the newone is more often true than the old one.

For example, consider again “I believe that all men are mortal,”

regarded as a function of “x is human.” The derived extensional

function is: “There is a function formally equivalent to ‘x is hu-

man’ 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 func-

tion 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

Chap. XVII. Classes 18¸

its argument the class determined by the function φx, and as as-

serting 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 Prin-

cipia Mathematica, but may be taken for granted here. It results

that, but for our ﬁfth condition, we might regard our task as com-

pleted. 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. | 18j 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

“predicative a-functions.” If we now proceed to functions involv-

ing reference to the totality of predicative a-functions, we shall

incur a fallacy if we regard these as of the same type as the pred-

icative a-functions. Take such an every-day statement as “a is a

1

See Principia Mathematica, vol. i. pp. ¸¸–8¡ and ∗zo.

z

The reader who desires a fuller discussion should consult Principia Mathe-

matica, Introduction, chap. ii.; also ∗1z.

18¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

typical Frenchman.” How shall we deﬁne a “typical Frenchman”?

We may deﬁne him as one “possessing all qualities that are pos-

sessed by most Frenchmen.” But unless 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 typ-

ical is essential to a typical Frenchman. This is not a logical con-

tradiction, 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 newobject, this

new object must not be among the values which our previous vari-

able could take, since, if it were, the totality of values over which

the variable 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 “qualities” 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 “predica-

tive functions.” Then when I say “Napoleon had all the qualities,

etc.,” I mean | 1jo “Napoleon satisﬁed all the predicative functions,

etc.” This statement attributes a property to Napoleon, but not a

predicative property; thus we escape the vicious circle. But wher-

ever “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,

Chap. XVII. Classes 18¸

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 func-

tion 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 de-

rived extensional function. We there spoke of “a function formally

equivalent 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 variable, and must be of some determinate type. All

that we know necessarily about the type of φ is that it takes ar-

guments 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 | 1j1 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 embodying an assumption lead-

ing 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 deﬁn-

ing our associated extensional function. Statements about all a-

classes (i.e. all classes deﬁned by a-functions) can be reduced to

186 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 impos-

sible 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 in-

ﬁnity, is necessary for certain results, but not for the bare existence

of deductive reasoning. The theory of deduction, as explained in

Chapter XIV., and the laws for propositions involving “all” and

“some,” are of the very texture of mathematical reasoning: with-

out 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 conse-

quences, 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 | 1jz 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 impossi-

ble as yet to say whether there may not be some way of dispensing

with the axiom of reducibility altogether. 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 predi-

cates are only some among what we called “predicative functions,”

which will include also relations to given terms, and various prop-

Chap. XVII. Classes 18¸

erties not to be reckoned as predicates. Thus Leibniz’s assumption

is a much stricter and narrower one than ours. (Not, of course, ac-

cording to his logic, which regarded all propositions as reducible to

the subject-predicate form.) But there is no good reason for believ-

ing his form, so far as I can see. There might quite well, as a mat-

ter 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 par-

ticulars, owing to spatio-temporal diﬀerentiation: no two partic-

ulars 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 impris-

oned 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 1j¸ from this strictly logical point of view, I do not see any

reason to believe that the axiom of reducibility is logically neces-

sary, which is what would be meant by saying that it is true in all

possible worlds. The admission of this axiominto a systemof 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 nomi-

nally 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 in-

188 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

cluded 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

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

1j¡ 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

logical. The consequence is that it has now become wholly im-

possible 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

mathematics is the manhood of logic. This view is resented by lo-

gicians 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 for-

tunately 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 | 1j¸ deductions of Principia Mathemat-

ica, they consider that logic ends and mathematics begins. It will

18j

1jo Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

then be obvious that any answer must be quite arbitrary.

In the earlier chapters of this book, starting from the natu-

ral numbers, we have ﬁrst deﬁned “cardinal number” and shown

how to generalise the conception of number, and have then anal-

ysed 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 natu-

ral numbers are only reached after a long journey. Such treatment,

though formally 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 se-

cure.

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

replace 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 nothing 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 quan-

tity in the sense of greater and less. On the other hand, through the

deﬁnition of cardinals, through the theory of induction and an-

cestral relations, through the general theory of series, and through

the deﬁnitions of the arithmetical operations, it has become pos-

sible to generalise much that used to be proved only in connec-

tion with numbers. The result is that what was formerly the sin-

gle study of Arithmetic has now become divided into a number of

separate studies, no one of which is specially concerned with num-

bers. The most | 1j6 elementary properties of numbers are concerned

with one-one relations, and similarity between classes. Addition

is concerned with the construction of mutually exclusive classes

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1j1

respectively similar to a set of classes which are not known to be

mutually exclusive. Multiplication is merged in the theory of “se-

lections,” 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 proper-

ties 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 deduc-

tion shall have more widely applicable results; we are, therefore,

in thus generalising the reasoning of arithmetic, merely following

a precept which is universally 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?

Certain characteristics of the subject are clear. To begin with,

we do not, in this subject, deal with particular things or particular

properties: 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 mathematicians or logicians, to mention anything at all,

because, if we do so, | 1j¸ 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

1jz Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 mor-

tal.” 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 partic-

ular 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 indi-

vidual. 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 hap-

pen through the mere desire not to waste our time proving in a par-

ticular case what can be proved generally. It would be ridiculous to

go through a long argument about Socrates, and then go through

precisely 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 | 1j8 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 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

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1j¸

“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 ab-

sence 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

easier to state than to solve. The problem is: “What are the con-

stituents 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 corre-

sponding fact) are simply the two terms and the relation, i.e. Socra-

tes, Aristotle, and before. (I ignore the fact that Socrates and Aristo-

tle 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 formunchanged. This is what we do when we use such

a schema as “xRy,” which stands for any | 1jj 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 asser-

tion 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

1j¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 con-

sidering. 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 formally deﬁne) what we mean by the “form”

of a proposition as follows:—

The “form” of a proposition is that, in it, that remains un-

changed 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)

characteristic of logical or mathematical propositions, that they

are to be such as can be obtained from a proposition containing

no variables (i.e. no such words as all, some, a, the, etc.) by turning

every constituent into a variable and asserting that the result is al-

ways 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 con-

cerned 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 indi-

cates the subject-predicate form. Similarly in “Socrates is earlier

than Aristotle,” “is” and “than” merely indicate form; the propo-

sition is the same as “Socrates precedes Aristotle,” in which these

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1j¸

words have disappeared and the formis otherwise indicated. Form,

as a rule, can be indicated otherwise than by speciﬁc words: the or-

der 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 sawin

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 ar-

rive at a 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 sym-

bols 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 vari-

ables. We should not need to know any words, because they would

only be needed for giving values to the variables, which is the busi-

ness 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 know-

ing a single word of the vocabulary.

But, after all, there are words that express form, such as “is”

1j6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

and “than.” And in every symbolism hitherto invented for mathe-

matical 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 sym-

bols may occur in logic. The question is: How are we to deﬁne

them?

Such words or symbols express what are called “logical con-

stants.” 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 num-

ber 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,” “Well-

ington” for “Aristotle,” and “greater” for “earlier.” Some proposi-

tions 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 relations. We can-

not obtain from the above prototype by term-for-term substitu-

tion such propositions as “Socrates is human” or “the Athenians

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 fromeach other, in the above man-

ner, 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 mathemat-

ics 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 vari-

ous diﬀerent 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

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic 1j¸

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 nec-

essary 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, | zo¸ 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 con-

tradiction is merely one among logical propositions; it has no spe-

cial pre-eminence; and the proof that the contradictory of some

proposition is self-contradictory is likely to require other princi-

ples of deduction besides the law of contradiction. Nevertheless,

the characteristic 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 characteristic, which, for the moment, we may call tautology,

obviously does not belong to the assertion that the number of in-

dividuals 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

1j8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 empiri-

cal observation to determine whether there are as many as n indi-

viduals 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 necessity why there should

be even one individual

1

—why, in fact, there should be any world at

all. The ontological proof of the existence 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 mis-

taken 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 ontologi-

cal | 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 hy-

pothesis, 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 uni-

verse existed.

Logical propositions are such as can be known a priori, without

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 1jj

study of the actual world. We only know from a study of empir-

ical facts that Socrates is a man, but we know the correctness of

the syllogism 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 experience.

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. 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 wholly in terms of variables and logical con-

stants (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 know

of 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 in-

troduction to mathematical philosophy. It is impossible to convey

adequately the ideas that are concerned in this subject so long as

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.

zoo Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

we abstain from the use of logical symbols. Since ordinary lan-

guage 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, af-

ter 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 extraordi-

narily 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 adjective 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 ap-

plied 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 mas-

tery 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.

INDEX

zo¸ [Online edition note: This is a 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, 8¸, jz, j¸, 1z¸.

Aliorelatives, ¸z.

All, 1¸8ﬀ.

Analysis, ¡.

Ancestors, z¸, ¸¸.

Argument of a function, ¡¸,

1o8.

Arithmetising of mathematics,

¡.

Associative law, ¸8, j¡.

Axioms, 1.

Between, ¸8ﬀ., ¸8.

Bolzano, 1¸8n.

Boots and socks, 1z6.

Boundary, ¸o, j8, jj.

Cantor, Georg, ¸¸, ¸j, 8¸n., 86,

8j, j¸, 1oz, 1¸6.

Classes, 1z, 1¸¸, 181ﬀ.;

reﬂexive, 8o, 1z¸, 1¸8;

similar, 1¸, 16.

Cliﬀord, W. K., ¸6.

Collections, inﬁnite, 1¸.

Commutative law, ¸8, j¡.

Conjunction, 1¡¸.

Consecutiveness, ¸¸, ¸8, 81.

Constants, zoz.

Construction, method of, ¸¸.

Continuity, 86, j¸ﬀ.;

Cantorian, 1ozﬀ.;

Dedekindian, 1o1; in

philosophy, 1o¸; of

functions, 1o6ﬀ.

Contradictions, 1¸¸ﬀ.

Convergence, 11¸.

Converse, 16, ¸z, ¡j.

Correlators, ¸¡.

Counterparts, objective, 61.

Counting, 1¡, 16.

zo1

zoz Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Dedekind, 6j, jj, 1¸8n.

Deduction, 1¡¡ﬀ.

Deﬁnition, ¸; extensional and

intensional, 1z.

Derivatives, 1oo.

Descriptions, 1¸j, 1¡¡, 16¸ﬀ.

Dimensions, zj.

Disjunction, 1¡¸.

Distributive law, ¸8, j¡.

Diversity, 8¸.

Domain, 16, ¸z, ¡j.

Equivalence, 18¸.

Euclid, 6¸.

Existence, 16¡, 1¸1, 1¸¸.

Exponentiation, j¡, 1zo.

Extension of a relation, 6o.

Fictions, logical, 1¡n., ¡¸, 1¸¸.

Field of a relation, ¸z, ¸¸.

Finite, z¸.

Flux, 1o¸.

Form, 1j8.

Fractions, ¸¸, 6¡.

Frege, ¸, 1o [11], z¸n., ¸¸, j¸,

1¡6n.

Functions, ¡6; descriptive, ¡6,

18o; intensional and

extensional, 186;

predicative, 18j;

propositional, ¡6, 1¡¡,

1¸¸ﬀ.

Gap, Dedekindian, ¸oﬀ., jj.

Generalisation, 1¸6.

Geometry, zj, ¸j, 6¸, ¸¡, 1oo,

1¡¸; analytical, ¡, 86.

Greater and less, 6¸, jo.

Hegel, 1o¸.

Hereditary properties, z1.

Implication, 1¡6, 1¸¸; formal,

16¸.

Incommensurables, ¡, 66.

Incompatibility, 1¡¸ﬀ., zoo.

Incomplete symbols, 18z.

Indiscernibles, 1jz.

Individuals, 1¸z, 1¡1, 1¸¸.

Induction, mathematical, zoﬀ.,

8¸, j¸, 18¸.

Inductive properties, z1.

Inference, 1¡8ﬀ.

Inﬁnite, z8; of rationals, 6¸;

Cantorian, 6¸; of cardinals,

¸¸ﬀ.; and series and

ordinals, 8jﬀ.

Inﬁnity, axiom of, 66n., ¸¸,

1¸1ﬀ., zoz.

Instances, 1¸6.

Integers, positive and negative,

6¡.

Intervals, 11¸.

Intuition, 1¡¸.

Irrationals, 66, ¸z. |

Kant, zo8 1¡¸.

Leibniz, 8o, 1o¸, 1jz.

Lewis, C. I., 1¸¸, 1¸¡.

Likeness, ¸z.

Index zo¸

Limit, zj, 6jﬀ., j¸ﬀ.; of

functions, 1o6ﬀ.

Limiting points, jj.

Logic, 1¸j, 16j, 1j¡ﬀ.;

mathematical, v, zo1, zo6.

Logicising of mathematics, ¸.

Maps, ¸z, 6oﬀ., 8o.

Mathematics, 1j¡ﬀ.

Maximum, ¸o, j8.

Median class, 1o¡.

Meinong, 16j.

Method, vi.

Minimum, ¸o, j8.

Modality, 16¸.

Multiplication, 118ﬀ.

Multiplicative axiom, jz,

11¸ﬀ.

Names, 1¸¸, 18z.

Necessity, 16¸.

Neighbourhood, 1oj.

Nicod, 1¡8, 1¡j, 1¸1n.

Null-class, z¸, 1¸z.

Number, cardinal, 1oﬀ., ¸6,

¸¸ﬀ., j¸; complex, ¸¡ﬀ.;

ﬁnite, zoﬀ.; inductive, z¸,

¸8, 1¸1; inﬁnite, ¸¸ﬀ.;

irrational, 66, ¸z; maximum

? 1¸¸; multipliable, 1¸o;

natural, zﬀ., zz;

non-inductive, 88, 1z¸; real,

66, ¸z, 8¡; reﬂexive, 8o, 1z¸;

relation, ¸6, j¡; serial, ¸¸.

Occam, 18¡.

Occurrences, primary and

secondary, 1¸j.

Ontological proof, zo¸.

Order, zjﬀ.; cyclic, ¡o.

Oscillation, ultimate, 111.

Parmenides, 1¸8.

Particulars, 1¡oﬀ., 1¸¸.

Peano, ¸ﬀ., z¸, z¡, ¸8, 81, 1¸1,

16¸.

Peirce, ¸zn.

Permutations, ¸o.

Philosophy, mathematical, v,

1.

Plato, 1¸8.

Plurality, 1o.

Poincar´ e, z¸.

Points, ¸j.

Posterity, zzﬀ.; proper, ¸6.

Postulates, ¸1, ¸¸.

Precedent, j8.

Premisses of arithmetic, ¸.

Primitive ideas and

propositions, ¸, zoz.

Progressions, 8, 81ﬀ.

Propositions, 1¸¸; analytic,

zo¡; elementary, 161.

Pythagoras, ¡, 6¸.

Quantity, j¸, 1j¸.

Ratios, 6¡, ¸1, 8¡, 1¸¸.

Reducibility, axiom of, 1j1.

Referent, ¡8.

Relation-numbers, ¸6ﬀ.

Relations, asymmetrical, ¸1,

zo¡ Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

¡z; connected, ¸z;

many-one, 1¸; one-many,

1¸, ¡¸; one-one, 1¸, ¡¸, ¸j;

reﬂexive, 16; serial, ¸¡;

similar, ¸zﬀ.; squares of, ¸z;

symmetrical, 16, ¡¡;

transitive, 16, ¸z.

Relatum, ¡8.

Representatives, 1zo.

Rigour, 1¡¡.

Royce, 8o.

Section, Dedekindian, 6jﬀ.;

ultimate, 111.

Segments, ¸z, j8.

Selections, 11¸ﬀ.

Sequent, j8.

Series, zjﬀ.; closed, 1o¸;

compact, 66, j¸, 1oo;

condensed in itself, 1oz;

Dedekindian, ¸1, ¸¸, 1o1;

generation of, ¡1; inﬁnite,

8jﬀ.; perfect, 1oz, 1o¸;

well-ordered, jz, 1z¸.

Sheﬀer, 1¡8.

Similarity, of classes, 1¸ﬀ.; of

relations, ¸zﬀ., 8¸.

Some, 1¸8ﬀ.

Space, 61, 86, 1¡o.

Structure, 6oﬀ.

Sub-classes, 8¡ﬀ.

Subjects, 1¡z.

Subtraction, 8¸.

Successor of a number, z¸, ¸¸.

Syllogism, 1j¸.

Tautology, zo¸, zo¸.

The, 16¸, 1¸zﬀ.

Time, 61, 86, 1¡o.

Truth-function, 1¡¸.

Truth-value, 1¡6.

Types, logical, ¸¸, 1¸¸ﬀ., 18¸,

188.

Unreality, 168.

Value of a function, ¡¸, 1o8.

Variables, 1o, 161, 1jj.

Veblen, ¸8.

Verbs, 1¡1.

Weierstrass, j¸, 1o¸.

Wells, H. G., 11¡.

Whitehead, 6¡, ¸6, 1o¸, 11j.

Wittgenstein, zo¸n.

Zermelo, 1z¸, 1zj.

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 1jzo

so-called “second edition” published by Allen & Unwin,

which, by contemporary standards, was simply a second printing

of the original 1j1j edition but incorporating various, mostly mi-

nor, 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 1jzo Allen & Unwin edi-

tion, and reprintings thereof, in certain respects. Some are mere

zo¸

zo6 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

stylistic diﬀerences. Others represent corrections based on dis-

crepancies between Russell’s manuscript and the print edition, or

ﬁx small grammatical or typographical errors. The stylistic diﬀer-

ences are these:

• In the original, footnote numbering begins anew with each

page. Since this version uses diﬀerent pagination, it was nec-

essary to number footnotes sequentially through each chap-

ter. Thus, for example, the footnote listed as note z on page

¸ of this edition was listed as note 1 on page ¸ of the original.

• With some exceptions, the Allen &Unwin edition uses linear

fractions of the style “x/y” mid-paragraph, but vertical frac-

tions of the form“

x

y

” in displays. Contrary to this usual prac-

tice, those in the display on page 8¡ of the original (page 8¸

of this edition) were linear, but have been converted to ver-

tical fractions in this edition. Similarly, the mid-paragraph

fractions on pages 1¸, z6, jj and 116 of the original (pages

1¸, z6, j8 and 11¡ here) were printed vertically in the origi-

nal, but here are horizontal.

The following more signiﬁcant changes and revisions are mark-

ed in green in this edition. Most of these result from Ken Black-

well’s comparison with Russell’s manuscript. A few were origi-

nally noted in an early reviewof the book by G. A. Pfeiﬀer (Bulletin

of the American Mathematical Society z¸:z (1jzo), pp. 81–jo).

1. (page zn. / original page zn.) Russell wrote the wrong publi-

cation date (1j11) for the second volume of Principia Mathe-

matica; this has been ﬁxed to 1j1z.

z. (page z1 / 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

1jzo but unﬁxed in Russell’s lifetime.

Changes to Online Edition zo¸

¸. (page ¡¸ / original page ¡¸) “. . . either by limiting the do-

main 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 6¸ / original page 6¡) “. . . provided neither m or 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 8¡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 j¸ / original page j8) “. . . 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 1o8 / original page 11o) “. . . the limit of its value for

approaches either from . . . ” is changed to “. . . the limit of its

values for approaches either from . . . ”, which matches Rus-

sell’s manuscript, and is more appropriate for the meaning

of the passage.

8. (page 111 / original page 11¸) The ungrammatical “. . . ad-

vantages 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.

j. (page 11z / 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 1j6¸ printing.

zo8 Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

1o. (page 1zz / 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 omitted, thereby amalgamating two sentences into one.

The missing words are now restored.

11. (page 1z¸ / original page 1zj) The passage “. . . if x

1

is the

member of y

1

, x

z

is a member of y

z

, x

¸

is a member of y

¸

,

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

¸

is a member of γ

¸

, and so on;

then . . . ” to match Russell’s manuscript, and the obviously

intended meaning of the passage.

1z. (page 1¸¸ / original page 1¸j) The words “and then the idea

of the idea of Socrates” although present in Russell’s man-

uscript, were left out of previous print editions. Note that

Russell mentions “all these ideas” in the next sentence.

1¸. (pages 1¸¸–1¸¸ / original page 16o) The two footnotes on

this page were misplaced. The second, the reference to Prin-

cipia Mathematica ∗j, was attached in previous versions to the

sentence that now refers to the ﬁrst footnote in the chapter.

That footnote was placed three sentences below. The foot-

note references have been returned to where they had been

placed in Russell’s manuscript.

1¡. (page 1¸¸ / original page 161) “. . . the negation of proposi-

tions 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.

1¸. (page 1¸j / 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 obviously intended meaning of the passage, and

the placement of the opening quotation mark in Russell’s

Changes to Online Edition zoj

manuscript (although he here used single quotation marks,

as he did sporadically throughout). Thanks to Christof Gr¨ aber

for spotting this error.

16. (page 16j / original page 1¸¸) “. . . as opposed to speciﬁc

man.” is ﬁxed to “. . . as opposed to speciﬁc men.” Russell

sent this change to Unwin in 1j¸¸, and it was made in the

1j¸8 printing.

1¸. (page 1¸1 / 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 1¸z / 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.

1j. (page 181 / 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 de-

termined 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 18¡ / original page 18j) The Allen & Unwin print-

ings have the sentence as “How shall we deﬁne a “typical”

Frenchman?” Here, the closing quotation mark has been

moved to make it “How shall we deﬁne a “typical French-

man”?” Although 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 18¸ / original page 1j1) “There is a type (r say) . . . ”

has been changed to “There is a type (τ say) . . . ” to match

z1o Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Russell’s manuscript, and conventions followed elsewhere in

the chapter.

zz. (page 1jo / original page 1j¸) “. . . 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 emendation was necessary to make the passage gram-

matical, but the ﬁx adopted here seems more likely what was

meant.

z¸. (page 1jz / original page 1j¸) The passage “the proposi-

tional 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 consis-

tent with the other paraphrase given earlier in the sentence.

Thanks to Christof Gr¨ aber for noticing this error.

z¡. (page 1j¸ / 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 zoz / 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 1jzo printing, but not marked in green.

a) Ellipses have been regularized to three closed dots through-

out.

b) (page ¸z / original page ¸¸) “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.

Changes to Online Edition z11

c) (page ¸z / original page ¸¸) What appears in the 1jzo 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 ¸¸ / 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 Rus-

sell’s manuscript). A similar change is made in the index.

e) (page ¸8 / original page 6o) “. . . and “featherless biped,”—so

two . . . ” is changed to “. . . and “featherless biped”—so two

. . . ”

f) (pages 81–8z / original pages 8z–8¸) One misprint of “pro-

gession” 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 11¸ / original page 11¸) In the Allen &Unwin printing,

the “s” in “y’s” in what appears here as “Form all such sec-

tions for all y’s . . . ” was italicized along with the “y”. Noth-

ing in Russell’s manuscript suggests it should be italicized,

however. (Again thanks to Christof Gr¨ aber.)

h) (page 11j / original page 1z1) In the Allen &Unwin printing,

“Let y be a member of β . . . ” begins a new paragraph, but it

does not in Russell’s manuscript, and clearly should not.

i) (page 1z¸ / original pages 1zj–1¸o) The phrase “well or-

dered” 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 1zj / original page 1¸1) “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 axiomarises 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 1¸¡ / original page 1¸¸) The accent on “M´ etaphysique”,

included in Russell’s manuscript but left oﬀ in print, has

been restored.

z1z Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

l) (page 1¸6 / original page 1¸j) “. . . or what not,—and clearly

. . . ” is changed to “. . . or what not—and clearly . . . ”

m) (page 1¸z / original page 1¸6) Italics have been added to one

occurrence of “Waverley” to make it consistent with the oth-

ers.

n) (page 18o / original page 18¸) “. . . most diﬃcult of fulﬁl-

ment,—it must . . . ” is changed to “. . . most diﬃcult of fulﬁl-

ment—it must . . . ”

o) (page 1jz / original page 1j¸) In the Allen & Unwin print-

ings, “Socrates” was not italicized in “. . . we may substitute

α for men, β for mortals, and x for Socrates, where . . . ” Rus-

sell 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 1jj / 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 zo¡ / original page zo8) Under “Relations” in the in-

dex, “similar, ¸zﬀ;” has been changed to “similar, ¸zﬀ.;” to

match the punctuation elsewhere.

There are, however, a number of other places where the previ-

ous print editions diﬀer from Russell’s manuscript in minor ways

that were left unchanged in this edition. For a detailed examina-

tion of the diﬀerences between Russell’s manuscript and the print

editions, and between the various printings themselves (including

the changes from the 1j1j to the 1jzo printings not documented

here), see Kenneth Blackwell, “Variants, Misprints and a Biblio-

graphical Index for Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy”, Rus-

sell n.s. zj (zooj): ¸¸–6z.

pBertrand Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy is in

the Public Domain.

See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

Changes to Online Edition z1¸

cbaThis typesetting (including L

A

T

E

Xcode) and list of changes

are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution—Share Alike

¸.o United States License.

See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/./us/

ii

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

[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. 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 . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

iii iv vi

iii

Preface

v

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 “philosophy,” 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 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, 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 mathematics 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 aciv

tually dealing with a part of philosophy. It does deal, | however, vi 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 symbolism. 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 traditional problems of philosophy. But that is a topic with which the following pages have not attempted to deal. BERTRAND RUSSELL.

EDITOR’S NOTE

CHAPTER I

**THE SERIES OF NATURAL NUMBERS
**

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 Philosophy 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 elaboration and complication of the simple, it may be well to remind them from the side of philosophy that here, as elsewhere, apparent simplicity 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. Mathematics is a study which, when we start from its most fa- miliar 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 math- ematical philosophy is one which depends upon the interest inspiring the research, and upon the stage which the research has

vi

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy series:

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers

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 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

University Press, vol. i., ; vol. ii., ; vol. iii., . By Whitehead and Russell.

Cambridge

, , , , . . . 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 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

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Chap. I. The Series of Natural Numbers

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 propositions in addition to those of pure logic. These three ideas and ﬁve propositions thus became, as it were, hostages for the whole of traditional pure mathematics. If they could be de-

ﬁned 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: , number, successor. By “successor” he means the next number in the natural order. That is to say, the successor of is , the successor of is , and so on. By “number” he means, in this connection, the class of the natural numbers. 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: () is a number. () The successor of any number is a number. () No two numbers have the same successor. | () is not the successor of any number. () Any property which belongs to , and also to the successor of every number which has the property, belongs to all numbers. 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.

shall use “number” in this sense in the present chapter. Afterwards the word will be used in a more general sense.

We

” and “successor”—are capable of an inﬁnite number of diﬀerent interpretations. and let the “successor” of xn mean xn+ . Let “” mean x .. because. we deﬁne as “the successor of . and let “number” be taken to mean the numbers from onward in the series of natural numbers. but let “number” mean what we usually call “even numbers.e. () “The successor of any number is a number. x . every number that we reach will have a successor.. the series of “numbers” now will be . .e. to that of Frege.” “number. and has no terms that cannot be reached from the beginning in a ﬁnite number of steps. “.” It is obvious that any number may be substituted for in this example. is not a “number” in the sense which we are now giving to the word “number. taking any term xn in the set. x is a member of the set. . All Peano’s ﬁve premisses are satisﬁed still. Taking any number m. for. though the formal proof is somewhat long.” and so on. in virtue of (). but we shall give some of the reasons why Peano’s treatment is less ﬁnal than it appears to be. xn+ is also in the set.” i. It is time now to turn to the considerations which make it nec essary to advance beyond the standpoint of Peano. We will give some examples. who ﬁrst succeeded in “logicising” mathematics. in this chapter. let “number” mean the whole set of terms. In virtue of () all numbers come in this series. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. actually give Frege’s deﬁnition of number and of particular numbers. Suppose we wish to deﬁne the sum of two numbers. has a beginning. and in virtue of () none of the numbers we reach in the series of successors can be . I. . given any series x . () Let “” have its usual meaning. It is clear that such examples might be multiplied indeﬁnitely. In virtue of () this gives a deﬁnition of the sum of m and n. Then all our primitive propositions are satisﬁed.” as “the successor of . In fact. Then () “ is a number. “” will stand for the number four. and so on. x . four. six. . since. Thus the series of successors gives us an endless series of continually new numbers. eight . This is easily seen. x . To begin with. . in virtue of (). and m + (n + ) as the successor of m + n. . Similarly we can deﬁne the product of any two numbers. we have a set of terms verifying Peano’s axioms. . though is the successor of . all of which will satisfy the ﬁve primitive propositions. two. Peano’s three primitive ideas—namely. whence. . and let “successor” mean “half. which begins with and travels on through successive successors: for (a) belongs to this series. in reducing to logic the arithmetical notions which his predecessors had shown to be suﬃcient for mathematics. every number belongs to the series. In the ﬁrst place. . () Let “” be taken to mean . and (b) if a number n belongs to it. so does its successor. contains no repetitions.” and let the “successor” of a number be what results from adding two to it. .” i. The reader can easily convince himself that any ordinary elementary proposition of arithmetic can be proved by means of our ﬁve premisses. We can obviously go on as long as we like with these deﬁnitions.e. we deﬁne m + as m. xn . whatever number n may be. .” Then all Peano’s ﬁve axioms will be true of this set. and. and if he has any diﬃculty he can ﬁnd the proof in Peano. We shall not. . by mathematical induction. if it were. . this cannot be any of the numbers already deﬁned. even the fourth. i. The Series of Natural Numbers Let us consider brieﬂy the kind of way in which the theory of the natural numbers results from these three ideas and ﬁve propositions. let “number” mean the set . Then “” will stand for the number two. . | which is endless. who | represents the last perfection of the “arithmetisation” of mathematics. two diﬀerent numbers would have the same successor. () Let “” mean the number one.

It can be proved. namely.” i. or moments of time. and belongs to xn+ provided it belongs to xn . if xm and xn are two diﬀerent members of the set. We want our numbers not merely to verify mathematical formulæ. A series of the form x . it does not enable us to know whether there are any sets of terms verifying Peano’s axioms. indeed for certain purposes it represents a valuable generalisation. .” terms concerning which we make certain hypotheses. and so on. is important. Hence these ﬁve axioms may be used to deﬁne the class of progressions: “progressions” are “those series which verify these ﬁve axioms. We have already some knowledge (though not sufﬁciently articulate or analytic) of what we mean by “” and “” and so on. () “ is not the successor of any number. The progres sion need not be composed of numbers: it may be | composed of points in space. Progressions are of great importance in the principles of mathematics. if we adopt his method.” It is quite legitimate to say this when we must.” but concerning all sets of terms having certain properties. . but to apply in the right way to common objects. but it is the object of mathematical philosophy to put oﬀ saying it as long as possible. I. belongs to all the x’s. might be all right for pure mathematics. and at some point we all must. If we adopt this plan. .’ though we cannot explain what we mean in terms of other simpler concepts. They will then no longer be terms which have a meaning that is deﬁnite though undeﬁned: they will be “variables. no term in the set comes before x . instead of setting up “” and “number” and “successor” as terms of which we know the meaning although we cannot deﬁne them. but would not suit daily life. but which are otherwise undetermined.” i. and our use of numbers in arithmetic must conform to this knowledge. every progression veriﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. A system in which “” meant . In the ﬁrst place. all these possible interpretations will be equally true. our theorems will not be proved concerning an ascertained set of terms called “the natural numbers. We cannot secure that this shall be the case by Peano’s method. But from two points of view it fails to give an adequate basis for arithmetic. all that we can do. x . It is assumed that we know what is meant by “. Such a procedure is not fallacious. or any other terms of which there is an inﬁnite supply.” Any progression may be taken as the basis of pure mathematics: we may give the name “” to its ﬁrst term. We want “” and “number” and “successor” to have meanings which will give us the right allowance of ﬁngers and eyes and noses. is called a progression. those stated in the ﬁve axioms. and the name “successor” to the next in the progression.” and that we shall not suppose that this symbol means or Cleopatra’s Needle or any of the other things that it might mean. that every series which veriﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms is a progression. and every term can be reached from the start in a ﬁnite number of steps. a successor to each term (so that there is no last term). In Peano’s system there is nothing to enable us to distinguish between these diﬀerent interpretations of his primitive ideas. It might be suggested that. we might let them | stand for any three terms that verify Peano’s ﬁve axioms. this results from the fact that (by hypothesis) there are no repetitions in the set. conversely.e. We want to have ten ﬁngers and two eyes and one nose. As we have just seen. . no repetitions. The Series of Natural Numbers () “No two numbers have the same successor. xn . This point. that “” and “number” and “successor” cannot be deﬁned by means of Peano’s ﬁve axioms. but must be independently understood. By the logical theory of arithmetic we are able to put it oﬀ for a very long time. () This becomes: Any property which belongs to x . x . in which there is a ﬁrst term. is to say “we know what we mean by ‘’ and ‘number’ and ‘successor. This follows from the corresponding property for numbers. . it does not . xm+ and xn+ are diﬀerent.e. Each diﬀerent progression will give rise to a diﬀerent interpretation of all the propositions of traditional pure mathematics. and “” meant . . the name “number” to the whole set of its terms.

A trio of men. Jones. This deﬁnite meaning is deﬁned by the logical theory of arithmetic. In seeking a deﬁnition of number. In the second place.. when attempting to deﬁne number. Although this book is quite short. as already observed. are really setting to work to deﬁne plurality. the ﬁrst thing to be clear about is what we may call the grammar of our inquiry. we want our numbers to be such as can be used for counting common objects. yet it has proved too subtle for the philosophers. The answer was given by Frege in . . 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. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy even give the faintest suggestion of any way of discovering whether there are such sets. is an instance of the number . which is quite a diﬀerent thing. with few exceptions. but has only been correctly answered in our own time. not merely that they should have certain formal properties. CHAPTER II DEFINITION OF NUMBER The question “What is a number?” is one which has been often asked. vol. in his Grundlagen der Arithmetik. as man is what is characteristic of men. and the deﬁnition of number which it contains remained practically unknown until it was rediscovered by the present author in . but of some particular number. it attracted almost no attention. Many philosophers. but the trio is not an instance of number. and this requires that our numbers should have a deﬁnite meaning. and Robinson. and the number is an instance of number. for example. and which distinguishes them from other collections. not diﬃcult. A number is something that characsame answer is given more fully and with more development in his Grundgesetze der Arithmetik. i. The number is something which all trios have in common. A plurality is not an instance of number. The . and of the very highest importance. Number is what is characteristic of numbers. This point may seem elementary and scarcely worth mentioning.

yet a great deal is known about each of these classes. . seems unlikely. A similar treatment can obviously be applied to any other class given in extension. We may enumerate its members. Men | may be deﬁned as featherless bipeds. the collections having a given number of terms themselves presumably form an inﬁnite collection: it is to be presumed. classes may be regarded as logical ﬁctions. numbers themselves form an inﬁnite collection. Jones. though possible. when we are seeking the deﬁnition of number. The vital diﬀerence between the two consists in the fact that there is only one class having a given set of members. Each of these points needs a word of explanation. whereas there are always many diﬀerent characteristics by which a given class may be deﬁned. Consider such a formula as “x is Brown or x is Jones or x is Robinson. which. we wish to deﬁne “number” in such a way that inﬁnite numbers may be possible. thus we must be able to speak of the number of terms in an inﬁnite collection. II. or (more correctly) by the traits by which Swift delineates the Yahoos. .” Other words used in mathematics for the same thing are “aggregate” and “manifold. .” The deﬁnition which enumerates is called a deﬁnition by “extension. or as rational animals. It is this fact that a deﬁning characteristic is never unique which makes classes useful. But there are some remarks that must be made immediately.” and the one which mentions a deﬁning property is called a deﬁnition by “intension. namely. () It is obvious that in practice we can often know a great deal about a class without being able to enumerate its members. For many purposes. For the present.” we shall as a rule speak of a “class. and so on. But when we come to consider inﬁnite classes. and Robinson. for if this were not the case the total number of things in the world would be ﬁnite. in three diﬀerent ways. or all of any other inﬁnite collection. In this respect it resembles a cubic equation with its three roots. that there are an inﬁnite collection of trios in the world. as when we speak of “mankind” or “the inhabitants of London. a class and a deﬁning characteristic of it are practically interchangeable. man- .” Or we may mention a deﬁning property. i. by a property common to all its members and peculiar to them. At some point we must content ourselves with “and so on. as when we say. () Brown. In the third place. In the second place. we will say as little as possible. otherwise we could be content with the properties common and peculiar to their members. the property of being either Brown or Jones or Robinson. Deﬁnition of Number terises certain collections. Instead of speaking of a “collection. the one by intension is logically more fundamental. Any one of these properties can be As will be explained later. This property can be used to give a deﬁnition by intension of the class consisting of Brown and Jones and Robinson. Brown and Jones and Robinson. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. namely. This is shown by two considerations: () that the extensional deﬁnition can always be reduced to an intensional one.” or sometimes a “set.” We shall have much to say later on about classes. or even all the inhabitants of London. and Robinson all of them possess a certain property which is possessed by nothing else in the whole universe. () that the intensional one often cannot even theoretically be reduced to the extensional one. “The collection I mean is Brown. for example. This is enough to show that deﬁnition by extension is not necessary to knowledge about a class. We cannot enumerate all the natural numbers: they are . namely. and cannot therefore be deﬁned by enumeration. we ﬁnd that enumeration is not even theoretically possible for beings who only live for a ﬁnite time. No one man could actually enumerate all men.e. Jones. and such a collection must be deﬁned by intension. Thus our knowledge in regard to all such collections can only be derived from a deﬁnition by intension. those that have that number. In the ﬁrst place. and peculiar to them. These remarks are relevant.” This formula will be true for just three x’s. It may be taken as assigning a property common to the members of the class consisting of these three | men. A class or collection may be deﬁned in two ways that at ﬁrst sight seem quite distinct.” Of these two kinds of deﬁnition.” We cannot enumerate all fractions or all irrational numbers.

though familiar. namely. as a means of discovering how many terms a collection has. is logically a very complex operation. but when negative numbers are admitted. nor do we need to know what is the actual number of husbands and of wives. but that of eldest son to father is one-one. us of this. In fact. Each bundle is a class whose members are collections. The relation of wife to husband . without a vicious circle. Our deﬁnition of number must not assume in advance that all numbers are ﬁnite. We know the number must be the same in both collections. If there were no polygamy or polyandry anywhere in the world. the relation is called “one-many”. it is called “many-one. When we are considering only positive numbers. In actual fact. not only in relation to the deﬁnition of numbers. But for the present it will simplify our exposition to treat classes as if they were real.” But this presupposes that we have deﬁned numbers. and husbands and wives together are the domain of the relation of marriage. and we cannot in any case. and so on. the relation of husband to wife is oneone. We can suppose all couples in one bundle. in Mahometan countries it is one-many. but in many other connections. therefore. no other term x has the same relation to y. each of which is a class of two members. thus each is a class of classes. that of son to father is many-one. so is the relation of n to n or to n. When only the ﬁrst of these two conditions is fulﬁlled. it is simpler logically to ﬁnd out whether two collections have the same number of terms than it is to deﬁne what that number is. Returning now to the deﬁnition of number. because numbers are used in counting. husbands are the domain of the relation of husband to wife. We are so used to the operation of counting that such a presupposition might easily pass unnoticed. those that have a given number of terms. some other method of deciding when two collections have the same number of terms. In Christian countries. An illustration will make this clear. If n is any number. when the collection is ﬁnite. Deﬁnition of Number used in place of the class whenever uniqueness is not important. and many-one relations. which play a great part in the principles of mathematics. however.” A relation is said to be “one-one” when. and put them in the same bundle if they have the same number of members. it is clear that number is a way of bringing together certain collections. because each husband has one wife and each wife has one husband. The relation of father to son is one-many. one-many. In this way we obtain various bundles of collections. when only the second is fulﬁlled. all trios in another. 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.e. and the whole bundle of couples is a class with an inﬁnite number of members. We do not need a census to assure ufactured out of deﬁning characteristics. since n and −n have the same square. counting. These instances should suﬃce to make clear the notions of one-one.” It should be observed that the number is not used in these deﬁnitions. II. in Tibet it is manyone. classes. in the same manner in which the relation of marriage correlates husbands with wives. 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. if x has the relation in question to y. i. The relation of husband and wife is what is called “one-one. the relation of n to n + is one-one. and that we know how to discover how many terms a collection has. the relation of n to n is one-one. it is clear that the number of husbands living at any moment would be exactly the same as the number of wives. A few preliminary deﬁnitions will help us to state this deﬁnition more precisely. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. | use counting to deﬁne numbers. The bundle consisting of all couples. it becomes two-one. is a class of classes: each couple is a class with two members. for example. wives are the domain of the relation of wife to husband. and x does not have the same relation to any term y other than y. each bundle consisting of all the collections that have a certain number of terms. moreover it is only available. We need. 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 we also know that. Generally. but order is not of the essence of number: it is an irrelevant addition. etc. the converse of a given relation is that relation which holds between y and x whenever the given relation holds between x and y. for the number . 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. Hence it follows that the last number used in counting a collection is the number of terms in the collection. besides being only applicable to ﬁnite collections. 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. It is very easy to see that if (for example) a collection has three members. and so on. so long as we conﬁne ourselves to ﬁnite numbers. and so on. and the fractions which have for their numerator on the other hand: it is obvious that we can correlate with /. We may thus use the notion of “similarity” to decide when two collections are to belong to the same bundle. Take. and so on. then α is similar to γ. () that if a class α is similar to a class β. with /. and it is worth while to note that similarity is one of this kind of relations. It is obvious that a relation which is symmetrical and transitive must be reﬂexive throughout its domain. But when we come to the actual deﬁnition of num- . we can deﬁne the bundle it is to belong to as being the class of all those collections that are “similar” to it. Then. The notion of similarity also does not require that the classes which are similar should be ﬁnite. Then we want a bundle of all the classes that have one member: this will be for the number . But this result. Similarly less is the converse of greater. we saw that the number of husbands is the same as the number of wives. () that if α is similar to β and β to γ. The notion of similarity does not demand an order: for example. The notion of similarity is logically presupposed in the operation of counting. We want to make one bundle containing the class that has no members: this will be for the number .. in the sense in which we were asking this question earlier in this chapter. but not otherwise. Deﬁnition of Number is called the converse of the relation of husband to wife. then one of all trios. provided the collection is ﬁnite.” It is obvious that it gives results conformable to usage so long as we conﬁne ourselves to ﬁnite collections. third. And whatever number of terms a collection may have. later is the converse of earlier. and is logically simpler though less familiar. A relation is said to be reﬂexive when it possesses the ﬁrst of these properties. Given any collection. and transitive when it possesses the third. while the other is the converse domain. 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. In counting. thus proving that the two classes are similar. an unnecessary complication from the logical point of view. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. So far we have not suggested anything in the slightest degree paradoxical. for example. 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 relation of which the one class is the domain. as ﬁrst. depends upon and assumes the fact that two classes which are similar have the same number of terms. the natural numbers (excluding ) on the one hand. without having to establish an order of precedence among them. it is necessary to take the objects counted in a certain order. there are just n numbers from up to n. then β is similar to α. It is easy to prove () that every class is similar to itself. 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 . symmetrical when it possesses the second. II. We may take this as a definition of “having the same number of terms. second. the class of all those collections that are similar to it will be the class of trios. those collections that are “similar” to it will have the same number of terms. we want a bundle consisting | of all couples. It is obvious to common sense that two ﬁnite classes have the same number of terms if they are similar.

Accordingly we set up the following deﬁnition:— The number of a class is the class of all those classes that are similar to it. the class of all couples will be the number . Deﬁnitions of this sort are in fact very common. or. Similarly if we want to deﬁne square numbers (say). for example. But there is no doubt about the class of couples: it is indubitable and not diﬃcult to deﬁne. In fact. II. than to hunt for a problematical number which must always remain elusive. therefore we may deﬁne number in general in terms of “the number of a given class” without committing any logical error. Thus the number of a couple will be the class of all couples. . would have to be deﬁned by ﬁrst deﬁning what it is to be the father of somebody. At the expense of a little oddity. and none outside the set are similar to any inside the set. It is therefore more prudent to content ourselves with the class of couples. But ﬁrst we must decide what we mean by “ﬁnite” and “inﬁnite. though this impression will soon wear oﬀ. We may now go on to deﬁne numbers in general as any one of the bundles into which similarity collects classes. we must ﬁrst deﬁne what we mean by saying that one number is the square of another. according to our deﬁnition. and then deﬁne square numbers as those that are the squares of other numbers. in any other sense. then the class of fathers will be all those who are somebody’s father. It remains to be seen how it will serve for inﬁnite collections. and it is important to realise that it is legitimate and even often necessary. a number (in general) is any collection which is the number of one of its members. This kind of procedure is very common. whereas the number .” which cannot be done within the limits of the present chapter. more simply still: A number is anything which is the number of some class. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Deﬁnition of Number bers we cannot avoid what must at ﬁrst sight seem a paradox. The class of fathers. and it is not diﬃcult to prove that numbers so deﬁned have all the properties that we expect numbers to have. A number will be a set of classes such as that any two are similar to each | other. but in fact it is not. which we are sure of. this deﬁnition secures deﬁniteness and indubitableness. is a metaphysical entity about which we can never feel sure that it exists or that we have tracked it down. In other words. We naturally think that the class of couples (for example) is something diﬀerent from the number . We have now given a deﬁnition of numbers which will serve for ﬁnite collections. 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 so on. though we are not yet supposed to know. . What are the numbers that can be reached. so is n + .Chap. and to the successor of any number which has the property. Is there any other way by which this can be proved? Let us consider the question the other way round.” then we deﬁne “” as “the successor of . This was then presented as a principle. the successor of n.. whenever n is a member of the class. say . as we saw in Chapter I. A property is said to be “inductive” when it is a hereditary | property which belongs to . as the successor of . The key to our problem lies in mathematical induction. 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. as the successor of . and why the method by which it is done cannot be extended beyond the ﬁnite. it must belong to all that are not less than . It stated that any property which belongs to . but as the point is important we will set forth the matter in some detail. this was the ﬁfth of the ﬁve primitive propositions which we laid down about the natural numbers.” It will help us to understand the diﬀerence between ﬁnite and inﬁnite to see how this can be done. because a hereditary class contains the succes- .” “number. or it may be that it belongs to all that are not less than . Finitude and Mathematical Induction CHAPTER III FINITUDE AND MATHEMATICAL INDUCTION The series of natural numbers. III.. which will be useful in other connections also. It is easy to see.e. We shall do well to begin with some deﬁnitions..” and “successor. Similarly a class is said to be “hereditary” if. We ﬁrst deﬁne “” as “the successor of . Given a hereditary class of which is a member. 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. such as . but we shall now adopt it as a deﬁnition. or all that are not less than . and show how thence all other natural numbers can be obtained. i. Our deﬁnition must not assume that we know what a ﬁnite number is.e. e.” and therefore we must not use this notion in our deﬁnition. i. Similarly a class is “inductive” when it is a hereditary class of which is a member. it also belongs to n+. 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. the proof that we can reach it by proceeding step by step in this fashion may be made. But although the method of experiment is available for each particular natural number. it follows that is a member of it. 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. It will be remembered that.” and so on. but the problem upon which we are engaged is the problem of deﬁning “ﬁnite number. if we have the patience. by actual experiment: we can go on until we actually arrive at . whenever it belongs to a number n.” But we may go a step farther: we can deﬁne all the natural numbers if we know what we mean by “” and “successor.g. . by proceeding from step by step from each number to its successor. In the case of an assigned number. in Chapter I. It is easy to see that we can reach any assigned number. it is not available for proving the general proposition that all such numbers can be reached in this way. A property is said to be “hereditary” in the natural-number series if. belongs to all the natural numbers. It is this “and so on” that we wish to replace by something less vague and indeﬁnite. given the terms “” and | “successor”? Is there any way by which we can deﬁne the whole class of such numbers? We reach . to all without exception. can all be deﬁned if we know what we mean by the three terms “.. as the successor of .

the number of terms in the nullclass 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. (as is easily proved) the set consisting of the null-class all alone. the null-class. in the second place. but they need not concern us. the one asserting that is a number and the one asserting mathematical induction— become unnecessary. (This is not identical with the null-class: it has one member. let α be a class which has n members. i. ber of terms in a class. on the other hand. namely. Then the class consisting of α with x added on will have n + members. as we shall explain when we come to the theory of classes. say .e.. . It is again easy to see that the posterity of a natural number consists of itself and all greater natural numbers.e. The notion of “those terms that can be reached from by successive steps from next to next” is vague. Finitude and Mathematical Induction sors of its members. namely.) a logical deﬁnition of the num.” By the general deﬁnition of number. i. 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 “successor”).) Thus we have the following purely logical deﬁnition:— is the class whose only member is the null-class. ii. in the class which is called the “null-class. 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. two of his primitive propositions—namely. Similarly. As a result of this deﬁnition. the posterity of will consist of those terms which belong to every inductive class. whereas the null-class itself has no members. It will be remembered that we | have already given (in Chapter II. It is to be observed that we are dealing here with the kind of matter that does not admit of precise proof. as they See Principia Mathematica. is a member of every inductive class. if n belongs to both sets.” We can. Thus we can prove by a step-by-step procedure that any assigned natural number. 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. “the posterity of ” is precise and explicit just where the other idea is hazy. vol. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Certain niceties are required to make this deﬁnition perfect. given a hereditary class of which is a member. though it seems as if it conveyed a deﬁnite meaning. the class whose only member is the null-class. For. where x is any term not belonging to the class. namely. no longer capable of an inﬁnity of diﬀerent meanings. We have thus reduced Peano’s three primitive ideas to ideas of logic: we have given deﬁnitions of them which make them deﬁnite. We have thus arrived at a deﬁnition of one of Peano’s three primitive ideas in terms of the other two.” Given any number n. and let x be a term which is not a member of α. we deﬁned it as the set of all classes that are similar to the given class. The number is the number of terms in a class which has no members. belongs to both these sets (in the sense in which we have deﬁned our terms). A class which has one member is never identical with that one member. the comparison of a relatively vague idea with a relatively precise one. By the above deﬁnitions. so does n + . 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.e. It remains to deﬁne “successor. and is the successor of . and so on. III. i. easily deﬁne “” and “successor” by means of the deﬁnition of number in general which we arrived at in Chapter II. in the ﬁrst place. but this also we do not yet oﬃcially know. of course. since they result from the deﬁnition. 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 follows that is a member of it.

if the number of individuals in the world is not ﬁnite. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. and have thus increased the deductive articulation of mathematics. A class is R-hereditary when its deﬁning property is R-hereditary..) | The “R-posterity” of x is all the terms of which x is an R-ances. the ﬁrst person who ever read it—more than twenty years after its publication. then it belongs to y. except geometry. We have removed them from the fundamental apparatus of terms that must be merely apprehended. see Principles of Mathematics. . and the generalised theory of induction. to the number to which m has the relation N. It will be observed that if we take for R the relation “parent. So would the number . (This is only to exclude trivial cases. Thus we should have two diﬀerent numbers with the same successor. in so far as it is deducible from the theory of the natural numbers. any number m will have this relation to m + . But there is a diﬃculty about the remaining primitive proposition. is capable of generalisation. We deﬁned the natural numbers as the “posterity” of with respect to the relation of a number to its immediate successor. namely. it is easy to prove that we cannot have m + = n + unless we have m = n. Assuming that the number of individuals in the universe is not ﬁnite. if it belongs to a term x. part vii. but in seeing how to prove his ﬁve primitive propositions. ibid. for given two numbers m and n. These deﬁnitions. For Chapter XIII. we have now succeeded not only in deﬁning Peano’s | three primitive ideas. provided x is a term which has the relation R to something or to which something has the relation R. by means of primitive ideas and propositions belonging to logic. we can lay down the following deﬁnitions: — A property is called “R-hereditary” when. And a number n will be said to belong to the “posterity” of m with respect to the relation N if n has every N-hereditary property belonging to m. I was. we have already succeeded in making two of them demonstrable by our deﬁnition of “natural number. I believe. Finitude and Mathematical Induction were when they were only determinate to the extent of obeying Peano’s ﬁve axioms. i.” if.” or simply “N-hereditary. Thus if R is any relation whatever. These deﬁnitions can all be applied to any other relation just as well as to N. are due to Frege. for rational dynamics. by means of which we deﬁned the natural numbers. and x has the relation R to y. 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. in so far as it is not purely analytical. it also belongs to m+. then there would be no class of individuals. 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. Thus we should have = . and that the successor of any number is a number. although would not be the same as . A term x is said to be an “R-ancestor” of the term y if y has every R-hereditary property that x has. It follows that all pure mathematics.. as we have See shown elsewhere. If we call this relation N. The process of mathematical induction. tor.e.” How stands it with the remaining three? It is very easy to prove that is not the successor of any number. therefore the successor of would be the same as the successor of . A property is “hereditary with respect to N. and were published so long ago as in his Begriﬀsschrift. part vi. In spite of the great value of this work. whenever the property belongs to a number m.” The diﬃculty does not arise unless the total number of individuals in the universe is ﬁnite. But let us suppose that the total number of individuals in the universe were (say) . “no two numbers have the same successor. neither of which is the total number of individuals in the universe. III. and the number would be the null-class. is only a prolongation of logic. however. This failure of the third axiom cannot arise. As regards the ﬁve primitive propositions. We shall return to this topic at a later stage.” “ancestor” and “posterity” will have the usual meanings. This is merely for convenience.

but as a purely verbal proposition. and it is simpler to deﬁne the ancestral relation generally at once than to deﬁne it ﬁrst only for the case of the relation of n to n + . The use of mathematical induction in demonstrations was. We deﬁne the “natural numbers” as those to which proofs by mathematical induction can be applied. −/ is an ancestor of /? It will be so according to the beginner’s deﬁnition suggested above. − . of whom B is a child of A. Anyone who has ever | watched a goods train be. in this series. it is a very long time before the last truck moves. in the sense in which that word is used in logic. But.” A brief consideration of this point will serve to show the importance of the theory.e. i. 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. in the past. − . But this deﬁnition is not adequate unless we add that the number of intermediate terms is to be ﬁnite. and the time would never come when the whole train would be in motion. If “quadrupeds” are deﬁned as animals having four legs. C. . of course. there would be an inﬁnite succession of jerks. . who is a parent of Z. ginning to move will have noticed how the impulse is communicated with a jerk from each truck to the next. obvious at once that “ancestor” must be capable of deﬁnition in terms of “parent. It follows that such proofs can be applied to the natural numbers. there are a certain number of people. Here.” but until Frege developed his generalised theory of induction. not in virtue of any mysterious intuition or axiom or principle. it will follow that animals that have four legs are quadrupeds. each is a parent of the next. There seemed no reasonable doubt that it was a valid method of proof. It is. Some believed it to be really a case of induction. until the last. 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. . Nevertheless. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. and then a series of positive fractions with no beginning. is an instance of the smallest of inﬁnites). If the train were inﬁnitely long. Finitude and Mathematical Induction that a person will be included among his own ancestors and posterity. B. as those that possess all inductive properties. . “ﬁnite” is to be deﬁned by means of mathematical induction. not otherwise. For this purpose. . for example. Take. . . − . and that mathematical induction is a deﬁnition. and the case of numbers that obey mathematical induction is exactly similar. chap. but it will not be so according to any deﬁnition which will give the kind of idea that we wish to deﬁne. Shall we say that. will be found in the long run to economise thought and increase logical power. We now know that all such views are mistaken. There are some numbers to which it can be applied. though it may | require more thought at the start. When the train is very long. the essential characteristic by which the ﬁnite is distinguished from the inﬁnite. as we shall see. something of a mystery. every truck would begin to move sooner . no one could have deﬁned “ancestor” precisely in terms of “parent. if there were a series of trucks no longer than the series of inductive numbers (which. Here we have ﬁrst a series of negative fractions with no end. between A and Z. by means of which an inﬁnite number of syllogisms could be condensed into one argument. but no one quite knew why it was valid. . Poincar´ cone Science and Method.” The phrase “inductive numbers” is preferable as aﬀording a reminder that the deﬁnition of this set of numbers is obtained from mathematical induction. generality from the ﬁrst. it is essential that the number of intermediaries should be ﬁnite.) to which it cannot be applied. III. more than anything else. until at last even the hindmost truck is in motion. and then extend it to other cases. . We shall use the phrase “inductive numbers” to mean the same set as we have hitherto spoken of as the “natural numbers. Mathematical induction aﬀords. and there are others (as we shall see in Chapter VIII. such a series as the following:— −. iv. as we saw. as constantly elsewhere. not a principle. . sidered it to be a principle of the utmost importance. .” This is true when the number of intermediate steps between ﬁrst and last is ﬁnite.

The order of points on a line is essential to geometry. . This image will help to elucidate the argument from next to next. in geometry. the almost unconscious use that is made of mathematical induction where ﬁnite numbers are concerned. . . but they are very few in comparison with the parts in which this notion is involved. and its connection with ﬁnitude. the properties of such numbers will help to make clear. though there would always be other trucks further back which had not yet begun to move. There are parts of mathematics which do not depend upon the notion of order. We ordinarily think of the numbers as in this order. the ﬁrst thing to realise is that no set of terms has just one order to the exclusion of others. In seeking a deﬁnition of order. but this is a mistake. 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. . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy or later if the engine persevered. . are a development of order. The natural numbers—or the “inductive” num . A set of terms has all the orders of which it is capable. where arguments from mathematical induction will be no longer valid. so is the slightly more complicated order of lines through a point in a plane. . Not only the integers. The notion of order is one which has enormous importance in mathematics. CHAPTER IV THE DEFINITION OF ORDER We have now carried our analysis of the series of natural num. bers to the point where we have obtained logical deﬁnitions of the members of this series. When we come to inﬁnite numbers. or of planes through a line. by contrast. but also rational fractions and all real numbers have an order of magnitude. which underlies all higher mathematics. The conception of a limit. of the whole class of its members. and it is an essential part of the work of analysing our data to seek a deﬁnition of “order” or “series” in logical terms. We must now consider the serial character of the natural numbers in the order . and this is essential to most of their mathematical properties. and of the relation of a number to its immediate successor. is a serial conception. Dimensions.

on a line. Of two points on a line. but in a relation among | the members of the class. then all the multiples of but not of or . in order that we may be able to use these words in the way in which we should naturally understand them. A relation having our second property is called transitive. that is an inaccurate expression: what we really do is to turn our attention to certain relations between the natural numbers. but of any two complex numbers this is not true. and so on. for the terms themselves have always all the orders of which they are capable. But with serial relations such a thing cannot happen. In all these cases. If x is a brother or sister of y. The Deﬁnition of Order bers. but not to sameness of height. y is not to the left of x. y must not also precede x. since x and z may be the same person. all equally legitimate. The order lies. () If x precedes y and y precedes z. 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.” Now. but they are capable of an inﬁnite number of other arrangements. The relation “father. left of.” on the other hand. The same applies to diﬀerence of height. then all those that have algebraic non-rational co-ordinates. But as instances of relations which do not have this property only two of our previous three instances will serve. which may be simultaneous. one must be earlier than the other. this cannot be said. x may not be brother or sister of z. A relation having this ﬁrst property is called asymmetrical. as we shall also call them—occur to us most readily in order of magnitude. one is smaller and the other greater. and y of z. relations which do not give rise to series often do not have this property. or ﬁrst . This may be illustrated by the same instances as before: less. through any set of complications we please. but others are equally valid. has our ﬁrst property but not | our second. the only thing that is arbitrary about the various orders of a set of terms is our attention. If x is less than y. which has our second property but not our ﬁrst. We can no more “arrange” the natural numbers than we can the starry heavens. take ﬁrst. it also holds between y and x. and which give rise to various diﬀerent orders among numbers. and so on through the whole series of primes. y is not also earlier than x. On the other hand. or fractions. of any two terms in the class which is to be ordered. 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. If x is brother or sister of y. then all the even numbers. there must be one which precedes and the other which follows. then all those that have non-integral rational co-ordinates. If x is earlier in time than y. 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. for example. IV. so there are various relations among numbers which may be observed. we require that the ordering relation should have three properties:— () If x precedes y. but just as we may notice among the ﬁxed stars either their order of brightness or their distribution in the sky. This is an obvious characteristic of the kind of relations that lead to series. but of events. For example. or real numbers. y is of a diﬀerent height from x. 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. If x is to the left of y. then all the odd multiples of . We might. Of any two moments in time. If x is of the same height as y. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. when the relation holds between x and y. of any two integers. all the points that have integral co-ordinates. If x is of a diﬀerent height from y. not in the class of terms. y is of the same height as x. which themselves generate such-and-such an arrangement. since one set of terms has many orders. y is not also less than x. x must precede z. then all the multiples of but not of or or . consider ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all the even numbers. that one “precedes” and the other “follows. We might. earlier. in respect of which some appear as earlier and some as later. y is a brother or sister of x. one must be to the left of . () Given any two terms of the class which is to be ordered. for example. When we say that we “arrange” the numbers in these various orders. The resulting order will be one which the points of the line certainly have. whether we choose to notice it or not.

It might have been thought that a series should be the ﬁeld of a serial relation. | () One relation is said to contain or be implied by another if it holds whenever the other holds. or. Thus “paternal grandfather” is the square of “father. but “equal. though both cannot happen if the relation is asymmetrical). These words have been already deﬁned. and the converse domain consists of all those terms to which something or other has the relation. “spouse” is an aliorelative. all aliorelatives are asymmetrical as well as vice versa. but “father” is not transitive. transitive. The relation “greater or less” among numbers is an aliorelative and is connected. we will introduce a few deﬁnitions.” “greater by ” is the square of “greater by . The relation “less than or equal to. () 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. but is symmetrical. Thus. A transitive aliorelative is one which contains its square and is contained in diversity. because an ancestor’s ancestor is an ancestor. Before illustrating this thesis.” “father” are aliorelatives. it may happen that x and z are the same number. . and connected. if no term has this relation to itself. This From the deﬁnitions it will be seen that a transitive relation is one which is implied by its square. is an aliorelative and transitive. Thus “ancestor” is transitive. “contains” its square. one whose square implies both it and diversity—because. it is of the sort to give rise to an order among the terms between which it holds. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. For example.” “brother. A relation is connected when. A relation having this third property is called connected. or. () A relation is said to be an aliorelative. but not connected. asymmetry is equivalent to being an aliorelative. “greater. It often happens that a relation is an aliorelative without being asymmetrical. When a relation possesses these three properties. and wherever an order exists. A series is the same thing as a serial relation. transitive.” and so on. The Deﬁnition of Order the other. is transitive and connected. not the serial relation itself. sitive. But this would be an term is due to C. but not asymmetrical or an aliorelative.” “dear friend” are not. But among transitive relations. some relation having these three properties can be found generating it. Thus the three properties of being () an aliorelative. and y is greater or less than z. given any two diﬀerent terms of its ﬁeld. as we also say. what is equivalent. Peirce. () | tran. for example. () The domain of a relation consists of all those terms that have the relation to something or other. since a relation may have any two without having the third.” “husband. what comes to the same thing. but are recalled here for the sake of the following deﬁnition:— () The ﬁeld of a relation consists of its domain and converse domain together. because a father’s father is not a father. for if x is greater or less than y.” “diﬀerent in size. It will be seen that the relation “ancestor. IV. are mutually independent. but is not transitive. it is because it is not connected that it does not suﬃce to arrange the human race in a series. or to be contained in or imply diversity. though an asymmetrical relation is always an aliorelative. We now lay down the following deﬁnition:— A relation is serial when it is an aliorelative. S.” for example. when a relation is transitive. 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.” “born of the same parents. since if x is the spouse of y. when it is asymmetrical. It will be seen that an asymmetrical relation is the same thing as a relation whose square is an aliorelative.” among numbers. and connected. or. y is the spouse of x.

” excluding “equal to. by the method of mathematical induction. . i. the relation between consecutive integers. Given any serial relation. that the relation “less than.e. say P.” and this order is the so-called “natural” order. And it will be observed that the deﬁnition is eﬀected in purely logical terms. The three characteristics which P must have in order to be serial are: () We must never have xPx. . we shall have xPy or yPx. . . The relation we assumed in considering the natural numbers was the relation of immediate succession. and not diﬃcult to prove. and connected.” so deﬁned. If the ﬁeld were the series. and has the inductive numbers for its ﬁeld. . which we shall write “xPy” for short. we shall say that. 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. . the “ancestral” relation which we considered in the preceding chapter.” which includes a term in its own posterity. as long as there is one before. . In this method we pass on from each term to the next. What distinguishes the above six series is simply the diﬀerent ordering relations in the six cases. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. () If x and y are two diﬀerent terms in the ﬁeld of P. We are therefore justiﬁed in taking the above as a deﬁnition of order | or series. there could only be one series with a given ﬁeld. () P must imply P. . . the ﬁeld and the order are both determinate. if x precedes y and y precedes z. we want the relation “less than. for example. The generation of series by means of relations more or less resembling that of n to n + is very common. On the analogy of “proper fractions. but the ﬁeld cannot be so taken. and vice versa. but not transitive or connected. For example. or back to the one before. IV. are six diﬀerent series which all have the same ﬁeld. where these three properties are found in an ordering relation. in respect of this relation. . Given the ordering relation.” This is the relation of m to n when m is an ancestor of n but not identical with n. is asymmetrical. x “precedes” y if x has the relation P to y. Although a transitive asymmetrical connected relation always exists wherever there is a series. 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. transitive. It is easy to see. . as long as there | is a next. Reverting to the fundamental deﬁnitions. of conceiving the generation of a series. 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. derive from it. no term must precede itself. x must precede z. The Deﬁnition of Order error. Thus by means of this relation the inductive numbers acquire an order in the sense in which we deﬁned the term “order. Thus the ordering relation may be taken to be the series. The reader can easily convince himself that. i. The natural-number series may serve as an illustration. the characteristics we expect of series will also be found. This relation is asymmetrical. This relation will be the same as “less than or equal to” among inductive integers. . . it is not always the relation which would most naturally be regarded as generating the series. It is to be observed that this deﬁnition has to be so framed as . however. For purposes of generating the series of natural numbers. is generated by relations of each to his successor. one of the two must precede the other.” 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. i. in the sense which we gave before to “posterity. . where it is applicable. This is probably the easiest way. We can. .e.e. 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. The series of the Kings of England. or order of magnitude.e. i. . .

transitive. the arithmetic mean of the two. Here again. namely. When so conﬁned. The generation of order by means of relations of consecutiveness. and including the ancestry of x as well as the posterity. the relation to one’s left-hand neighbour at a round dinner-table at which there are twelve people. though the relation “proper Rancestor” is connected. those in which. and though R itself is an aliorelative. though important in its own sphere. The above was an instance in which the ancestral relation was connected but not contained in diversity. if this method is to be possible. however near together these may be. But in fact the relations of greater and less among fractions do not demand generation from relations of consecutiveness. The method of consecutiveness. Consequently there is no such thing as a pair of consecutive fractions. therefore all that remains to ensure its being serial is that it shall be contained in diversity. but care must be taken to eradicate from the imagination all habits of thought resulting from supposing it gen- . Between any two fractions there are others—for example. This is a generalisation of the instance of the dinnertable. 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 should not be able to deﬁne the order of magnitude among fractions. like that of counting for discovering the number of a collection. Under what circumstances will this occur? It will always be transitive: no matter what sort of relation R may be. This includes everybody at the table. Another generalisation consists in taking R to be a one-one relation.g. An instance where it is contained in diversity but not connected is derived from the ordinary sense of the word “ancestor. Not only so. the relation “proper R-ancestor” must be an aliorelative. If we depended | u. it may even be extended to certain inﬁnite series. since | twelve steps bring us back to our starting-point. If we call this relation R. “R-ancestor” and “proper R-ancestor” are always both transitive. and let us conﬁne our attention to the posterity of some term x. the proper R-posterity of a person consists of all who can be reached by going round the table from right to left. is less general than the method which uses a transitive relation to deﬁne the order. since only such a relation is able to leap over an inﬁnite number of intermediate terms. we see that. The Deﬁnition of Order to be applicable not only when there is only one term to which x has the relation R. we do not get a series because “proper R-ancestor” is not an aliorelative. the one condition required to secure the generation of a series is that the relation “proper R-ancestor” shall be contained in diversity. Thus in such a case. The question of the circumstances under which series can be generated by ancestral relations derived from relations of consec- utiveness is often important. for example. Consider. the number of terms between any two is always ﬁnite. and connected. Some of the most important cases are the following: Let R be a many-one relation. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. but also in cases (as e. 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 it must not be regarded as general. in cluding the person himself. and the relations of greater and less among fractions have the three characteristics which we need for deﬁning serial relations. It often happens in a series that there are an inﬁnite number of intermediate terms between any two that may be selected. the relation “proper R-ancestor” must be connected. Take. fractions in order of magnitude. that of father and child) where there may be many terms to which x has the relation R.” If x is a proper ancestor of y. But it is only under certain circumstances that it will be an aliorelative or connected. We shall speak for short of “R-posterity” and “R-ancestors” when these terms seem more convenient. for instance. x and y cannot be the same person. pon consecutiveness for deﬁning order. IV. but it is not true that of any two persons one must be an ancestor of the other. In all such cases the order must be deﬁned by means of a transitive relation. though the total number of terms is inﬁnite. is appropriate to the ﬁnite. Reverting now to the generation of series by the relation R between consecutive terms.

the following:— () If anything is between a and b. And such series are of vital importance for the understanding of continuity. series in which there are no consecutive terms will remain diﬃcult and puzzling. then b is between a and y. Rivista di Matematica. ﬀ. and y is between a and b or is b or is to the right of b. () If x and y are between a and b. then either x and y are identical. on the line (ab). we shall say that x is “to the left of” y in any of the following cases:— () When x and y are both to the left of a. () If b is between a and x and also between a and y. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. and y is a or b or between a and b or to the right of b.” Cf. and y is between x and a. and may serve as an introduction to relations having more than two terms. a lies—these we will call to the left of a. These seven properties are obviously veriﬁed in the case of points on a straight line in ordinary space. pp. the line (ab) consists of three parts (besides a and b themselves): () Points between a and b. In fact. The Deﬁnition of Order eral. a and b are not identical. b.” This method is very useful in geometry. () b itself. as with people at the dinner-table. the notion “between” is characteristic of open series—or se ries in the strict sense—as opposed to what may be called | “cyclic” series. time. namely. This will not be the case with the points on a circle or any other closed curve. iv. Any three-term relation which veriﬁes them gives rise to series. () Anything between a and b is not identical with a (nor. 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. We may now deﬁne generally that of two points x. in virtue of ()). Some of these ways have considerable importance. Given any three points on a straight line in ordinary space. anything between a and x is also between a and b. () If x is between a and b. Taking any two points a. given any three points on a circle. or x is between a and y. there must be one of them which is between the other two. We may take as illustrative the generation of series by means of a three-term relation which we may call “between. () those between a and b. space. p. then either x and y are identical. () When x is to the left of a. as may be seen from the following deﬁnitions. There are many ways in which series may be generated. IV. This notion of “between” may be chosen as the fundamental notion of ordinary geometry. () a itself. () If x is between a and b. with b.. () When x and y are both between a and b. we need certain assumptions. () Anything between a and b is also between b and a. Then the points of the line (ab) are () those between which and b. a suﬃcient journey brings us back to our starting-point. or y is between b and x. Thus the line (ab) can be deﬁned in terms of the relation “between. For the sake of deﬁniteness. y. consequently. () those between which and a lies b—these we will call to the right of b. let us assume | that a is to the left of b. or x is between y and b. but all depend upon the ﬁnding or construction of an asymmetrical transitive connected relation. In order that this relation “between” may arrange the points of the line in an order from left to right. because. it is best introduced in connection with elementary geometry. and motion. () Points y such that b is between y and a. () When x is a. () Points x such that a is between x and b. If this is not done. where. and y is between x and b. we can travel from any one to any other without passing through the third. and b is between x and y. (§). . or x is between b and y. Principles of Mathematics.

such as that of the points on a circle.” Cf. we can separate them into two couples. () When x and y are both to the right of b and x is between b and y. which may be called “separation of couples. and y is b or to the right of b. we cannot | say deﬁnitely that either of these two places is “between” England and New Zealand.” it can be deduced that the relation “to the left of. say a and b and x and y. is a serial relation as we deﬁned that term. .” We need a relation of four terms. Out of this relation a cyclic order can be generated. One may go from England to New Zealand by way of Suez or by way of San Francisco. do more than make the reader aware that such a subject exists. and references there given. and conversely. in a way resembling that in which we generated an open order from “between. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy () When x is between a and b. The Deﬁnition of Order It will be found that. p.” as above deﬁned. his times in England and New Zealand are separated from each other by his times in Suez and San Francisco. especially in the philosophy of geometry and physics. the generation of them from other relations possessing only some of the properties required for series becomes very important. But we cannot. from the seven properties which we have assigned to the relation “between. When such relations have been deﬁned. within the limits of the present volume. b) are “separated” by the couple (x.” The point may be illustrated by considering a journey round the world. if we take any four points on a circle.” but somewhat more complicated. 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. () When x is b and y is to the right of b. Principles of Mathematics. whichever way round he goes. in order to get from a to b one must pass through either x or y. The purpose of the latter half of this chapter has been to suggest the subject which one may call “generation of serial relations. But if a man chooses that route to go round the world. (§). y). Cyclic order. cannot be generated by means of three-term relations of “between. Under these circumstances we say that the couple (a. such that. and in order to get from x to y one must pass through either a or b. Generalising. Chap. IV.

Transitiveness and connexity are easily constructed in many cases where the originally given relation does not possess them: for example. we can of course obtain a symmetrical relation by adding together the given relation and its converse. except the ﬁrst and last (if these exist). we will consider various examples. We see from this instance that. On the other hand. without the help of any further relation. We will begin by saying something on each of these three. where the domain and converse domain do not overlap. if a is husband of b. For reasons of this description. But the cases where this is possible are rare and exceptional: they are cases where there are two mutually exclusive classes. is a characteristic of the very greatest interest and importance. in the case of spouse. before. for example. but we cannot pass back from this symmetrical relation to the original asymmetrical relation except by the help of some asymmetrical | relation. if R is any relation whatever. Each of the three properties which we combined in deﬁning series—namely. asymmetry. such that whenever the relation holds between two terms. 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. as we have seen. Husband is the same as male spouse or spouse of a female. namely. such as greater. all terms. and connexity—has its own importance. then b is spouse of a. V. But asymmetry is a much more diﬃcult property to secure by construction. not available in the most important cases. and we wish to derive the relation husband. is excluded. to separate it into two asymmetrical relations. The relation husband is asymmetrical. say α and β.Chap. the property of being incompatible with the converse. for in a series. In order to develop its functions. the relation with its domain conﬁned to α will be asymmetrical. and many diﬀerent kinds of relations have diﬀerent kinds of uses. it is well to have in our minds a rough list of the more mathematically serviceable varieties of relations. where domain and converse domain overlap. one of the terms is a member of α and the other is a member of β—as. In all these cases. i. the ancestral relation derived from R by generalised induction is transitive. 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. Take. when a symmetrical relation is given. b cannot be husband of a. Suppose now we are given the relation spouse. belong both to the domain and to the converse domain of the generating relation. Asymmetry. In such a case. We dealt in the preceding chapter with a supremely important class. serial relations. and if R is a manyone relation. and similarly in the case of wife.e. thus the relation husband can | be derived from spouse either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the converse domain to females. But such cases are not of the sort that occur when we are dealing with series of more than two terms. and so is the relation wife.e. it is sometimes possible. It often happens that a property which belongs to all relations is only important as regards relations of certain sorts. the relation “spouse” is symmetrical: if a is spouse of b. to the right of. so that a relation like husband. and so will the relation with its domain conﬁned to β. Kinds of Relations CHAPTER V KINDS OF RELATIONS A great part of the philosophy of mathematics is concerned with relations. the ancestral relation will be connected if conﬁned to the posterity of a given term. i. the . The method by which we derived husband from spouse is. as well as from the intrinsic interest of the subject. transitiveness. one term of the relation belongs to the class of males and one to the class of females.

who for some reason always instinctively conceives of a relation as one-many. but the converse is not the case. and its relation to n is not shared by any other class. formally. Given any number n greater than . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. therefore “the father of John Stuart Mill” described some one person. in the sense in which we spoke of ancestry and posterity in connection with mathematical induction. Asymmetrical relations imply diversity. but for the present it is relations that we are concerned . sine of. 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. and so on. V. are not one-many. if we wished as far as possible to dispense with relational propositions and replace them by such as ascribed predicates to subjects.e.” This is not the sum of an asymmetrical relation and its converse. by means of which we deﬁned numbers. From the point of view of the classiﬁcation of relations. We may call the class of numbers that are less than n the “proper ancestry” of n.” We shall therefore continue to regard one-many relations as a special kind of relations. This is one class. deals in this way with those that are naturally not so. but it is formally impossible when the relations are asymmetrical. Then “proper ancestry” is a one-many relation (one-many will always be used so as to include one-one).” “The King of England. all describe some person by means of a one-many relation to a given term. husband (except in Tibet). Take such a relation as “differing in shape. being asymmetrical is a much more important characteristic than implying diversity.” | “the wife of Socrates. does not represent a technical simpliﬁcation. It would be possible. Such are father.” “the father of John Stuart Mill.e. and there is every reason to think that it does not represent a philosophical analysis. It is possible. may be regarded as asserting a common predicate. Asymmetrical relations are. unequal—is symmetrical. we may say that. Reduction to one-many relations by this method. mother. Kinds of Relations relation greater: the relation greater or less—i. since each number determines a single class of numbers as constituting its proper ancestry. Such a method of replacing relations by predicates is formally possible (though often very inconvenient) so long as the relations concerned are symmetrical. can always formally replace a relation which is not one-many. relations which at most one term can have to a given term. and the most important to the philosopher who wishes to study the ultimate logical nature of relations. square root. if they are transitive. but is symmetrical. For example. consider the relation of similarity between classes. Peano. but we can form the whole class of numbers that are less than n. there will not be only one number having the relation less to n. But parent. to replace all relations by one-many relations by means of a device. 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. but there is nothing in this relation to show that it is the sum of two asymmetrical relations. the most characteristically relational of relations. we could succeed in this so long as we conﬁned ourselves to symmetrical relations: those that do not imply diversity. There is much to say on the subject of descriptions. however. Broadly speaking. though less simple than the procedure we adopted. Thus the relation less than can be replaced by being a member of the proper ancestry of. we may | say. though possible as a matter of form. Take (say) the relation less among the inductive numbers.” for example. i. square of. while those that do imply diversity may be regarded as asserting incompatible predicates.” and so on. if only because classes must be regarded as “logical ﬁctions. and so on. In this way a one-many relation in which the one is a class. This illustrates the fundamental character of asymmetry as a property of relations. A person cannot have more than one father. even if we did not know whom. while two that are not similar will be two that have diﬀerent numerical predicates. One-many relations are involved in all phrases of the form “the so-and-so of such-and-such. This relation is symmetrical and transitive and does not imply diversity. “Unequal. together with membership of this class. since shapes do not form a single series. because both sameness and diﬀerence of predicates are symmetrical. implies diversity. Another class of relations that is of the greatest use is the class of one-many relations.

etc. if x has the relation R to y. and if y is the term which has the relation R to x. we say that x is the “argument” of the function. they may be deﬁned as follows: Given two terms x and x . but it is necessary to be familiar with them. there are functions of a still more general and more fundamental sort. again.” correctly used. Among one-many relations. for short. x and z must be the same person. and there must not be more than one term having the relation R to x. converse domain. It is obvious that x and z must be | the same person. One-many relations may be deﬁned as relations such that. 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. propositional functions. because one may be the father of y and the other the mother. the domain of the relation.e. such that x has the relation R to y and y has the relation S to z. If. This illustrates that it is characteristic of one-many relations when the relative product of a relation and its converse implies identity. We shall say that the R of x “exists” when there is just one term. ﬁeld. Other examples will occur as we proceed. Or. but for the present we shall conﬁne our attention to descriptive functions. such that x is the father of y and y is the son of z.” Functions in this sense are descriptive functions. for example: converse. again. the range of possible arguments to the function is the converse domain of R.e.e.. if x has the relation in question to y. to think of y as being reached from x by an “R-step” or an “R-vector. the converse domain of the relation father. Thus the range of possible arguments to the function “the father of x” is all who have fathers. are. and the range of values is the domain. Thus we may speak of “the father of x” if x is any human being except Adam and Eve. the cosine of x. if x is a parent of y and y is a child of z. and no more. “the term having the relation R to x. 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. Thus if R is a one-many relation. which is not one-many. The notion of function need not be conﬁned to numbers. it can be extended to all cases of one-many relations. we can no longer argue that. Many of the most important notions in the logic of relations are descriptive functions. cosine. they may be deﬁned as relations such that the relative product of one of them and its converse implies identity. one-one relations are a specially important class. Given a relation R.” where R is any one-many relation.” or. and “the father of x” is just as legitimately a function of which x is the argument as is “the logarithm of x. namely. it is convenient. Kinds of Relations with. we take the relation of parent and child. and descriptions are only relevant as exemplifying the uses of one-many relations. if y is the R of x. or to the uses to which mathematicians have accustomed us. and not otherwise. i. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. while the range of possible values for the function is all fathers. “the R of x. We have already had occasion to speak of oneone relations in connection with the deﬁnition of number. etc. must imply uniqueness. Thus. Regarding “the R of x” as a function in the math ematical | sense. for example.) to a given term (x). 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. and not merely to know their formal deﬁnition.e. It should be observed that all mathematical functions result from one-many relations: the logarithm of x. domain. V. as relations which are both one-many and many-one. terms described by means of a one-many relation (logarithm. then y is the “value” of the function for the argument x. i. on the other hand. having the relation R to x. i. i.” In the same case x will be reached from . x must be a term to which something has the relation R. As we shall see later. like the father of x. if R is the relation of father to son. the R of x exists whenever x belongs to the converse domain of R. i. If R is a one-many relation. In the case of one-one relations this happens. and also the relative product of the converse and the relation implies identity. 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. there is no other term x which also has the relation to y. It will be observed that if “the R of x” is to describe a deﬁnite term. the terms to which x has the given relation and those to which x has it have no member in common. since “the. Or.e.

n + . i. . . . . Or we might have replaced each number by its square. . . . . . . which is again a one-one relation. . . . . . namely. . . but with respect to the relation “wife. . thus obtaining the set . the ﬁrst ten integers (excluding ). instead of adding to each of our original ten integers. . but | not the whole. or as one to which it goes. . .” 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. . and add to each. On this occasion only three of our original set are left. We may place the numbers concerned in two rows. like the class of husbands and the class of wives. We say that a relation and its converse have opposite “senses”. Thus if x and y are husband and wife. . . . If. . . There are still ten integers: they are correlated with the previous ten by the relation of n to n + . the relative product of R and S is not in general the same relation as the relative product of S and R. . . Thus when the correlator is the relation of n to n + . putting the correlate directly under the number whose correlate it is. . . . but the relative product of brother and parent is parent. of the domain. The fact that a relation has a “sense” is fundamental. . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. . . Such processes of correlation may be varied endlessly. term for term. . . for example. The most interesting case of the above kind is the case where our one-one relation has a converse domain which is part. But it very often happens that the domain and converse domain of a one-one relation overlap. the above instances would have illustrated this case. . . When the correlator is the relation of a number to its double. . V. E. . The correlating relation in this case is the relation of a number to its double. . . n . . . .” y is referent and x relatum. . the relative product of R and its converse is “self or brother or sister or ﬁrst cousin. . the relative product of parent and brother is uncle. . 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. . except that has been cut oﬀ at the beginning and has been joined on at the end. we have the two rows: . so that each term in either class has its correlate in the other. thus obtaining the integers . Kinds of Relations integers we now have the integers . n . . . for example. . It is convenient to use the word referent for the term from which the relation goes. for in that case we know at once whether a term is to be considered as one from which the correlating relation R goes. . . namely. . . and the term relatum for the term to which it goes. . . . Take. . this is by no means the case. y by a “backward R-step. again. . . which is a one-one relation. Or. thus instead of the ﬁrst ten These are the same as those we had before. . n . with respect to the relation | “husband. instead of conﬁning the domain to the ﬁrst ten integers.” x is referent and y relatum. . the relative product of R and its converse is the relation “self or brother or sister. we have the two rows: . . we could have doubled each of them. if R is the relation of child to parent. Here we still have ﬁve of our previous set of integers. then. . and the class of all possible relata is its converse domain. .” and if R is the relation of grandchild to grandparent. . . and is part of the reason why order can be generated by suitable relations. With other relations. Such correlations are simplest to grasp when the two classes have no members in common. we had considered the whole of the inductive numbers. One-one relations give a correlation of two classes. .e. . . . It will be observed that the class of all possible referents to a given relation is its domain.g.” It will be observed that the relative product of two relations is not in general commutative.

(a. c) and (c. . . c. the place on the map corresponding to the one is above the place on the map corresponding to the other.e. i. for example. the rows are: . that two classes have the same number of terms when they are “similar. . . One of its uses will occupy us in our next chapter. b. . but that is not enough for the sort of resemblance which we desire to have between our two relations. The easiest example of the sort of thing we desire is a map.e. . will occupy us again when we come to deal with inﬁnity. . . Take. . b. when there is a one-one relation whose domain is the one class and whose converse domain is the other. . n . and c with a. a. b. and so on. we wish only to note that they exist and demand consideration. . 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.” These various kinds of correlations have importance in various connections. Consider. a part not the whole). a. for example. some for another. We will call this relation “similarity of relations. c b a c b a | CHAPTER VI SIMILARITY OF RELATIONS We saw in Chapter II. Here a is correlated with c. . some for one purpose. . b. Cases of this sort. When one place is north of another. a). c. but shall see much more fully as we proceed. the six possible arrangements of three letters: a. all inductive numbers occur in the top row.” i.” where the domain and converse domain are identical. The general notion of one-one correlations has boundless importance in the philosophy of mathematics. . .” or “likeness” when it seems desirable to use a diﬀerent word from that which we use for classes. The space-relations in the Each of these can be obtained from any one of the others by means of a correlation. In all these cases. . whenever either relation holds between two terms. In the present chapter we have to deﬁne a relation between relations. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy When the correlator is the relation of a number to its square. n . the place on the map corresponding to the one is to the left of the place on the map corresponding to the other. For the present. as we have partly seen already. In such a case we say that there is a “one-one correlation” between the two classes. What we desire is that. a. c. and only some in the bottom row.e. . the other relation shall hold between the correlates of these two terms. b. . the permutations of a given class form what is called a “group. The structure of the map corresponds with that of | the country of which it is a map. where the converse domain is a “proper part” of the domain (i. . c. which will play the same part for them that similarity of classes plays for classes. and the converse domain with the converse domain. b. b with itself. the ﬁrst and last. when one place is west of another. Another class of correlations which are often important is the class called “permutations. . It is obvious that the combination of two permutations is again a permutation.

These deﬁnitions will be found to yield what we above decided to be necessary. y has the relation S to w. classes of individuals. We will conﬁne ourselves. that a relation only has a “ﬁeld” when it is what we call “homogeneous. in the ﬁrst place.” or to have “likeness. for example. simplify our problem by speaking of the “ﬁeld” of one of the relations concerned. since every class is the domain of some relation. the Q-step from z to w. are diﬀerent types. proﬁtably introduce a certain restriction. if one term has the relation P | to another. Hence if one is serial. and is such that P is the relative product of S and Q and the converse of S. it need no longer be remembered. so is the other. if one is connected.e. when its domain and converse domain are of the same logical type.e. Take. A ﬁgure will make this clearer. We may. This is not always the case. the relation P is the same as the relative product of S and Q and the converse of S.” when there is a one-one relation S whose domain is the ﬁeld of P and whose converse domain is the ﬁeld of Q. relations of classes to individuals. through all the general properties of relations.” i. the other is one-many | or one-one. and so on. has the ﬁeld of Q for its converse domain. by observing that. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy x P Chap.e. But classes and relations cannot be added together to form a new single class. 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.” i. Even statements involving the actual terms of the ﬁeld of a relation. We may say. If this happens with every pair of terms such as x and y. Let x and y be two terms having the relation P. Two relations P and Q are said to be “similar. This somewhat limits the generality of our deﬁnition. VI. when the above conditions are realised. if one implies diversity. so is the other. in deﬁning likeness. when two relations are similar.” i. We may deﬁne two relations P and Q as “similar. Similarity of Relations y map have “likeness” to the space-relations in the country mapped. relations between classes. therefore. so does the other. relations between individuals. such that x has the relation S to z. they share all properties which do not depend upon the actual terms in their ﬁelds. and it has all relations for its converse domain. It will be found that.” when there is at least one correlator of P and Q.” or as having “likeness. and if the converse happens with evz w ery pair of terms such as z and w. the correlate of the one has the relation Q to the correlate of the other. It is this kind of connection between relations that we wish to deﬁne. We can eliminate some redundancies in the above sketch of a deﬁnition. the P-step from x to y may be replaced by the succession of the S-step from x to z. For instance. and vice versa.” We do not need to enter upon the diﬃcult doctrine of types. and z has the reS S lation Q to w. we shall. This relation has all classes for its domain. though they may not be true .e.” we may say that individuals. without entering upon the grounds for the assertion. because they are of diﬀerent logical “types. and vice versa. so is the other. it is Q clear that for every instance in which the relation P holds there is a corresponding instance in which the relation Q holds. Again. Now the notion of likeness is not very useful as applied to relations that are not homogeneous. the relation “domain. to such as permit of the formation of a single class out of the domain and the converse domain. in deﬁning likeness. w. the relation which the domain of a relation has to the relation. if one is one-many or one-one. but it is well to know when we are abstaining from entering upon it. and the backward S-step from w to y. and which is such that. i. and as a rough-and-ready indication of what we mean by a “type. Then there are to be two terms z. and this is what we desire to secure by our deﬁnition. and so on. to such relations as have “ﬁelds. And having been stated. since every relation has a domain. but the limitation is not of any practical importance. if one is transitive.

in mathematical philosophy. a relation-number is a class of relations consisting of all those relations that are similar to one member of the class. there is parallelism between cardinal and relation-numbers. and also certain inﬁnite numbers. a series of (say) terms will have the same relation-number as any other series of ﬁfteen terms. nor. will always be capable of translation into statements that are analogous. in this case. but we are very much at sea as to the interpretation to be put upon the terms which occur in these propositions. or. The relation-numbers applicable to series may be | called “serial numbers” (what are com. much more nearly than might be supposed. VI. Accordingly. their properties are the same except when they depend upon the ﬁelds being composed of just the terms of which they are composed. is as follows:— The “cardinal number” of a given class is the set of all those classes that are similar to the given class. 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. are expressed in mathematical symbols—are more or less true of the world. we will speak. the same relation-number as a relation which is not serial. we shall call them “cardinal numbers. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. an importance by no means adequately recognised hitherto.e. “Relation-numbers” are the set of all those classes of relations that are relation-numbers of various relations. what comes to the same thing. 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. 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. We know that certain scientiﬁc propositions— which. but will not have the same relation-number as a series of or terms. in the quite special case of ﬁnite series. Two ﬁnite series will have the same relationnumber when their ﬁelds have the same cardinal number of terms. which will occupy us again at a later stage. Similarity of Relations as they stand when applied to a similar relation. But in order to avoid confusion with the numbers appropriate to classes. When we speak of “numbers” without qualiﬁcation. Owing to the fact that. Two series may be regarded as equally long when they have the same relation-number. the state of our knowledge of nature.” Thus cardinal numbers are the numbers appropriate to classes. We are led by such considerations to a problem which has. we are to be understood as meaning cardinal numbers. it is desirable to have a nomenclature which collects | together all the relations that are similar to a given relation. The most obvious application of relation-numbers is to series. When it is necessary to speak of the numbers of classes in a way which makes it impossible to confuse them with relation-numbers.” 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 deﬁnition of a cardinal number. in the most advanced sciences. the relation-number of . what are the possible meanings of such a statement. for a moment. For the present we will ignore the general question. and only then—i. of which we shall speak later. but only the grammar and syntax? And this question is the one suggested above. but not the vocabulary. Our problem may be stated as follows:— Given some statement in a language of which we know the grammar and the syntax. an old-fashioned pair of terms) about the form of nature than about the matter. monly called “ordinal numbers” are a sub-class of these). the subject of likeness itself must ﬁrst be further investigated. so we may call the set of all those relations that are similar to a given relation the “number” of that relation. it will be remembered. These include the ordinary integers of daily life. when two relations are similar. If n is a ﬁnite cardinal number. of a “relation-number. Thus. We know much more (to use. Just as we called the set of those classes that are similar to a given class the “number” of that class. of course. 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.

the relation-number of the series is not determined merely by the cardinal number. Thus the sum of P and Q. one form of the distributive law.” which we considered in Chapter IV. may vary without change in the cardinal number. Similarity of Relations a series which has n terms is called the “ordinal” number n. In the ﬁrst place. But it obeys the associative law. and only then. It must not be supposed.e. as we shall see when we come to consider inﬁnite series. When a series is inﬁnite. Thus if P and Q are the generating relations of the two series. W. pp.” Assuming that P and Q do not overlap. merely because series aﬀord the most obvious application of the idea of likeness. Veblen on “The Foundations of Geometry”). Relation-arithmetic. though recent. – (monograph by O. A. but of them we shall speak in a later chapter. it consists of a and b together with all points x. but only to spaces in which the straight . We may illustrate this by the relations of the sort that may be called “between. The manner in which this is to be done is easily seen by considering the case of series. this relation is serial. If B and B are two between-relations. every member of the ﬁeld of P will precede every member of the ﬁeld of Q. indeed an inﬁnite number of relation-numbers exist for one inﬁnite cardinal number. it will give rise to series. 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. is a thoroughly respectable branch of mathematics.) When the cardinal number of terms in the ﬁeld of a series is inﬁnite. It has been shown by O. so that “xB(y. and we might extend our thoughts from this illustration to geometry generally. in fact. Suppose. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. since it does not hold between a member of the ﬁeld of P and a member of the ﬁeld of Q. We can deﬁne addition and multiplication for relation-numbers as well as for cardinal numbers. that there are no other applications that are important. for example. and is such that the relation B holds between three terms when B holds between their S-correlates.e. this cannot happen. in the series which is their sum with P put before Q. And we shall say that B is like B when there is at least one correlator of B with B . z)” means “x is between y and z with respect to B. what we may call its “length. then the geometry of the two sets is indistinguishable from the mathematical point of view. but “P or Q or the relation of any member of the ﬁeld of P to any member of the ﬁeld of Q. and may be called a “between-relation. as above deﬁned. Now likeness is just as easily | deﬁnable between three-term relations as between two-term relations. we can use the between-relation to deﬁne the straight line determined by those two points. that we wish to deﬁne the sum of two nonoverlapping series in such a way that the relation-number of the sum shall be capable of being deﬁned as the sum of the relationnumbers of the two series. Modern Mathematics. but as applied to relationnumbers generally. The line is an open series. b. but when a series is ﬁnite.” we shall call S a correlator of B and B if it has the ﬁeld of B for its converse domain. except for the fact that they are applied in one case to one set of terms and in the other to another. 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 is clear that there is an order involved as between the two series: one of them must be placed before the other. being not connected. and two of the formal laws for powers.” Given any two points. is what we need in order | to deﬁne the sum of two relation-numbers. and deﬁne our geometry by the properties we assign to our between-relation. but “P or Q” is not serial. Thus the serial relation which is to be deﬁned as the sum of P and Q is not “P or Q” simply. (There are also inﬁnite ordinal numbers. x in some order or other. not only as applied to serial numbers.” i. provided a three-term relation has certain formal logical properties. Veblen that we may regard our whole space as the ﬁeld of a three-term betweenrelation. i. We have already mentioned maps. Similar modiﬁcations are needed for products and powers. VI. such that the between-relation holds between the three points a. its relation-number. edited by J. Young. and a whole arithmetic of relation-numbers can be developed. This does not apply to elliptic space. all the propositions are the same. We there saw that.

and the structure may be changed without changing the ﬁeld—for | example. as in the accompanying ﬁgure. when they have the same relation-number.” Given any relation. It follows from this that the mathematician need not concern himself with the particular being or intrinsic nature of his points. Similarity of Relations reader can easily convince himself that. i. We may make a a b “map” of this relation by taking ﬁve points on a plane and connecting them by arrows. For the sake of deﬁniteness. the only thing of importance about the relation “father” is that it deﬁnes this set of ordered couples. so that one of the terms comes ﬁrst and the other second. if it is a suﬃciently simple one. when either can be a map for the other (since every relation can be its own map). we can. let us take a relation of which the extension is the following couples: ab. which will satisfy our geometrical axioms. “man” and “featherless biped”—so two relations which are conceptually diﬀerent may hold in the same set of instances. since this object is enough to vindicate the empirical truth of geometry. out of empirical material. dc. we must only say: “This object we have constructed is suﬃcient for the geometer.” Whether or not it is those things is a matter of indiﬀerence. such that its ﬁrst term has the relation in question to its second. If we can. with an order. We may say that there is empirical evidence of the approximate truth of such parts of geometry as are not matters of definition. bc. when the same map will do for both—or. in so far as geometry is not a matter of deﬁnition. d. there can be no diﬀerence between the geometry generated by B and that generated by B . ce. We may say. And that. ac. if B is like B in this sense. even when he is speculating as an applied mathematician. the couple is to be. as a moment’s reﬂection shows. lines. c. and planes. it may be one of many objects.” This is only an illustration of the general principle that what matters in mathematics.g. so long as it satisﬁes the axioms. and to a very great extent in physical science. Just as a class may be deﬁned by various diﬀerent but co-extensive concepts— e. not its intrinsic nature. that they have the same | “structure. what comes to the same thing. We can now go a step further in the process of abstraction. but the logical nature of their interrelations. From the mathematical point of view. But there is no empirical evidence as to what a “point” is to be. but it does not have to be “very small” or “without parts. construct a map of it. but that is no concern of ours. of two similar relations. two relations have the same structure when they have likeness. y) which are such that x has the relation in question to y.” 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. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap.” We must not say that there is nothing else that could legitimately be called a “point”. It is clear that the “structure” of the rec lation does not depend upon the particular d terms that make up the ﬁeld of the relation. It has to be something that as nearly as possible satisﬁes our axioms. Speaking generally. tion we should alter the structure but not the ﬁeld. ad.” That is to say. that structure may legitimately be called a “point. An “instance” in which a relation holds is to be conceived as a couple of terms. and consider what we mean by “structure. of course. no matter what. is the very same thing as what we have called “likeness. is not the intrinsic nature of our terms. we say: The “extension” of a relation is the class of those ordered couples (x. 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.e. b. Thus what we deﬁned as the “relationnumber” is the very same thing as is obscurely intended by the . where a. VI. The ﬁeld may be changed without change ing the structure. e are ﬁve terms. Two relations have the same “structure. no matter how complicated. What is revealed by the map is what we call the “structure” of the relation. de.” we shall say. construct a logical structure. any of which would be suﬃcient. y) which are such that x is the father of y. if we were to add the couple ae in the above illustra.

or that phenomena are subjective. however. In actual fact. Where such hypotheses are made. so must the other be. and so on. Now the only pur pose 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. There has been a great deal of speculation in traditional philosophy which might have been avoided if the importance of structure. For example. but are caused by things in themselves. In such ways. If they were to pursue the topic. and these escape from the above argument. if the hypotheses as stated were correct. for that very reason. 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. it is generally supposed that we can know very little about the objective counterparts. so must the world behind phenomena. which must have diﬀerences inter se corresponding with the diﬀerences in the phenomena to which they give rise. it will bring about too much of a rapprochement between the real and the phenomenal world. is irrelevant to science. If the phenomenal world has three dimensions. if pursued. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. and the diﬃculty of getting behind it. but which. but we cannot congratulate them on their success. the notion of structure or relation-number is important. It is true that many of them do not assert objective counterparts to phenomena. . VI. it is often said that space and time are subjective. We can all sympathise with their wish to prove such a very desirable proposition. as well as in many others. they could hardly avoid the conclusions which we have been suggesting. is never (so far as we know) deﬁned in precise terms by those who use it. In short. 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. had been realised. if the phenomenal world is Euclidean. important as it is. but they have objective counterparts. very reticent on the subject. Those who do assert counterparts are. Similarity of Relations word “structure”—a word which. probably because they feel instinctively that. as a rule. the objective counterparts would form a world having the same structure as the phenomenal world.

y when xn = ym. and −m will be the relation of n to n + m. the positive integers might be identiﬁed with the original signless integers. +m will be the relation of n + m to n (for any n). N. We need fractions for many purposes. especially .. like the relation +m. of the more familiar extensions of the idea of number. Fractions are more interesting than positive or negative integers. i. Let us begin with positive and negative integers. irrational. All these suppositions were erroneous. as we shall ﬁnd. which is not a relation. it was thought that real numbers could be regarded as those among complex numbers in which the imaginary part (i. this purpose can be achieved by a simpler method. ferent kinds. In the present chapter we shall brieﬂy supply logical deﬁnitions of these various extensions.e. The obvious and sufﬁcient deﬁnition is that + is the relation of n + to n. But if all that is needed is to deﬁne objects having the required purely mathematical properties. According to this deﬁnition. This deﬁnition enables us to prove that m/n is a one-one relation. if correct deﬁnitions are to be given. numbers involving the square root of −. +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. Whitehead has developed a theory of fractions specially adapted for their application to measurement. 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. Indeed. This relation. Rational. But +m is under no circumstances capable of being identiﬁed with m. because a relation and a class of classes are objects | of utterly dif. and Complex Numbers CHAPTER VII RATIONAL. VII. My friend and collaborator Dr A. It will be seen that /n is always the same relation. but a class of classes. called “real numbers. fractional. as it stands. So long as it is understood that the ratio / and the cardinal number are diﬀerent. We shall deﬁne the fraction m/n as being that relation which holds between two inductive numbers x. if m is any inductive number. But neither is capable. and also relation-numbers. and − is the relation of n to n + . Real. 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. of which what are commonly called ordinal numbers are a particular species.e. the extensions to negative. the part | which was a multiple of the square root of −) was zero. and in fact must be each other’s converses. Again it was thought that a fraction whose denominator is may be identiﬁed with the natural number which is its numerator. It was thought that. and must be discarded. were supposed to ﬁnd their place among rational fractions. provided neither m nor n is zero. Generally. which is set forth in Principia Mathematica. which we shall here adopt. AND COMPLEX NUMBERS We have now seen how to deﬁne cardinal numbers. It will be found that each of these kinds of number may be inﬁnite just as well as ﬁnite. is by no means capable of being identiﬁed with the inductive cardinal number m. Of course in practice we shall continue to speak of a fraction as (say) greater iii. And the irrational numbers. meaning greater or less than the ratio /. in dealing with positive and negative integers.” And when the idea of number was further extended so as to include “complex” numbers. as being greater than some of them and less than the others. ∗ ﬀ. namely.Chap. And of course n/m is the converse relation to m/n. so that rational and irrational numbers could be taken together as one class. but perhaps most obviously for purposes of measurement. +m is every bit as distinct from m as −m is. such as the square root of . it is not . Vol. It is obvious on a moment’s consideration that + and − must both be relations. and complex numbers. REAL. or less than .

Conversely. A square of which the side is one inch long will have a diagonal of which the length is the square root of inches. and that is represented by “∞. of which p/q is the greater. This proposition is proved in the tenth book of Euclid. i. the relation of to any other inductive cardinal. zero is the smallest term and inﬁnity is the largest. we shall say that m/n is less than p/q if mq is less than pn. There is not any diﬃculty in deﬁning greater and less among ratios (or fractions). and inﬁnity is many-one. In Chapter I. and we could dispense with it altogether if there were any object in doing so.” Thus the ratios in order of magnitude form a “compact” series. Real. it is not. Then it is easy to see (or to prove) that (m + p)/(n + q) will be greater than m/n and necessary to be always pedantic in emphasising the diﬀerence. 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. For.e. as the ancients discovered. This is not the only possible way of deﬁning positive and negative ratios. this statement. The inﬁnity of rationals does not demand. The Cantorian inﬁnite. so that the ratios form a series in order of magnitude. VII. since m/n was chosen arbitrarily. It was through them. but there are always other terms between any two. and therefore (when zero and inﬁnity are omitted) there is no smallest or largest. without any appeal to space or time or any other empirical datum. We may call this the zero of rational numbers. and it is important to observe that ratios aﬀord an instance of a compact series generated purely logically. Zero is one-many. less than p/q. Positive and negative ratios can be deﬁned in a way analogous to that in which we deﬁned positive and negative integers. In like manner we can prove that however nearly equal two fractions may be. where m/n is any ratio. The proof is extraordinarily simple. the extension to what are called “real” numbers. There is not any inductive cardinal to correspond to m/. there is no longer any smallest or largest ratio.” so deﬁned. it is obvious that there are an inﬁnite number of ratios between any two. If we omit zero and inﬁnity from our series. There is no diﬃculty in proving that the relation “less than. for our purpose. which are the kind that embrace irrationals. but it is a way which. In this series. of course. we had occasion to mention “incommensurables” and their | discovery by Pythagoras. is serial. has the merit of being an obvious adaptation of the way we adopted in the case of integers. it is. so that m/n is neither the smallest | nor the largest ratio. it is obvious that if m/n is any ratio other than zero and inﬁnity. We may call it “the inﬁnity of rationals. however nearly equal these two may be. Strictly . and so on ad inﬁnitum. and Complex Numbers whatever inductive number n may be. for its deﬁnition or use. as well as those following to the end of the paragraph. we deﬁne +p/q as the relation of m/n + p/q to m/n. Having ﬁrst deﬁned the sum of two ratios m/n and p/q as (mq + pn)/nq. i. the understanding of it opens the way to whole new realms of mathematics and philosophy. let m/n and p/q be two fractions.” which will be discussed in a later chapter. there are always other fractions between them. in short. the relation m/ is always the same. m/n is smaller and m/n is larger. Rational. which we shall consider in our next chapter. that irrational numbers were ﬁrst thought of. though neither is zero or inﬁnity. Such series have many important properties. there is no fraction of which the square is . so that no two are consecutive. are not one-one.” This is a totally diﬀerent sort from the true Cantorian inﬁnite. But. on the other hand. Since there are other terms between these others. and −p/q is of course the converse of +p/q. in actual fact. a very important notion. Thus the series of ratios is one in which no two terms are consecutive. is called “compact. It will be observed that zero and inﬁnity. any inﬁnite classes or inﬁnite integers. We come now to a more interesting extension of the idea of number. through geometry. Given two ratios m/n and p/q. It is not. is of the greatest and most fundamental importance. A series having the property that there are always other terms between any two.e.” It is an instance of the sort of inﬁnite that is traditional in mathematics. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. If possispeaking. involves what is called the “axiom of inﬁnity. alone among ratios. whatever inductive number m may be. identical with the cardinal number .

it will be found that all the terms of our series after a certain one. we ﬁnd that. after which all terms would have had squares diﬀering from by less than this still smaller amount. . we shall obtain an unending decimal which. We can equally well form a descending series of fractions whose squares are all greater than . However the arithmetician may boast (as Pythagoras did) about the power of numbers. because the square of an odd number is odd. But the problem did not remain in this geometrical form. in that case. and Complex Numbers ble. where p is half of m. We can. Between these two classes. m = n . Nevertheless. if we divide a number by . they must be. then m = p . it is not by this method that we shall actually reach the square root of . yet we have seen that. by less than any assigned amount. nature seems able to baﬄe him by exhibiting lengths which no numbers can estimate in terms of the unit. according as their squares are less than or not. But then we can repeat the argument: if n = q. Hence p = n . This seems like a challenge thrown out by nature to arithmetic. the same problem arose as regards the solution of equations. Now if m is even. it might have been necessary to go further along the series. () there may Stetigkeit und irrationale Zahlen. Brunswick. In this way we seem to be drawing a cordon round the square root of . If we set to work to extract the square root of by the usual arithmetical rule. all have their squares greater than . VII. let m/n be the square root of . say the tenth. Thus no fraction will express exactly the length of the diagonal of a square whose side is one inch long.e. but greater by continually smaller amounts as we come to later terms of the series. divide all ratios into two classes such that all the terms in one class are less than all in the other. have squares that diﬀer from by less than this amount. where ought to be. It is clear that fractions can be found which approach nearer | and nearer to having their square equal to . Thus there cannot be any fraction m/n whose square is . Thus our | cordon. But this is impossible. Thus we shall have p = n . there is nothing. though here it took on a wider form. and diﬀering. of which the one wholly precedes the other. so that m /n = .” With respect to what happens at the point of section. and is therefore called a “Dedekind cut. among those whose squares are not less than . there are four possibilities: () there may be a maximum to the lower section and a minimum to the upper section. Real. sooner or later. taken to so-and-so many places. there is no maximum to the one class. p/q will also be the square root of . Rational. And if I had assigned a still smaller amount. has been drawn in the wrong place. The above method of dividing all the terms of a series into two classes. If we divide all ratios into two classes. and therefore n/p will also be the square root of . That is to say. . but we should have reached sooner or later a term in the series. and no minimum to those whose square is greater than . and therefore m must be an even number. i. As soon as algebra was invented. since it also involved complex numbers. Or we may put the argument even more simply by assuming that the m/n we start with is in its lowest terms. say the twentieth. and there is no min√ imum to the other. we must reach an odd number after a ﬁnite number of steps. but diﬀering from in their later members by less than any assigned amount. Thus m is an even number. exactly fulﬁls the above conditions. through an unending series of numbers that are each half of its predecessor. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. in short. nd edition. There is no maximum to the ratios whose square is less than . and it may seem difﬁcult to believe that it can permanently escape us. We can form an ascending series of fractions all of which have their squares less than . suppose I assign some small amount in advance. was brought into prominence by Dedekind. though we have drawn it as tight as possible. and so on. () there may be a maximum to the one and no minimum to the other. say one-billionth. 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 . for if m = p. if m /n = . m must divide by . m and n cannot both be even. and has √ not caught . and so on. and then halve the half.

and in our upper section all ratios greater than . If there is neither | a maximum nor a limit. there is no upper boundary. and the “lower limit” with respect to P is the upper limit with respect to the converse of P. upper or lower as the case may be.”) 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. their “maximum” (if any) will be the ﬁrst of the moments. their “maximum” (if any) will be the last of the moments. In the second and third cases. The third case is illustrated if we take for our lower section all ratios less than . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. In this case. For example. but if they are arranged by later and earlier. it is the ﬁrst term after all of them. These deﬁnitions do not demand that the terms to which they are applied should be quantitative. and in our upper section all ratios whose square is greater than . the upper section has a lower boundary. The fourth case. It is also clear that. in the ﬁrst. we see that in the case of the ﬁrst three kinds each section has a boundary (upper or lower as the case may be). if not.” to which we may give the name “upper boundary. but a minimum to the other. (By “precedes” we mean “has the relation P to. The “minimum” of a class with respect to P is its maximum with respect to the converse of P. Of these four cases. but they have few important applications except to cases when the relation is serial or quasi-serial. and before proceeding further it will be well to deﬁne it. A series is called “Dedekindian” when every section has a boundary. Rational. In the third of our four cases. a lower section must end with some number n and the upper section must then begin with n+. the ﬁrst is illustrated by any series in which there are consecutive terms: in the series of integers. In the fourth case. we say that | there is a “gap”: neither the upper section nor the lower has a limit or a last term. 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. The “lower boundary” is the lower limit or minimum. The second case will be illustrated in the series of ratios if we take as our lower section all ratios up to and including . whenever the lower section has an upper boundary. we may also say that we have an “irrational section. but. and Complex Numbers be no maximum to the one. We may neglect the ﬁrst of our four cases. () every member of α which belongs to the ﬁeld of P precedes x. since it only arises in series where there are consecutive terms. they are consecutive terms of the series. the two boundaries are identical. VII. given a series of moments of time arranged by earlier and later. What delayed the true theory of irrationals was a mistaken belief that there must be “limits” of series of ratios. if there is such a term. 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. for instance. The notion of “limit” is of the utmost importance. 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. () every member of the ﬁeld of P which precedes x precedes some member of α. as we have seen. .” since sections of the series of ratios have “gaps” when they correspond to irrationals.” Thus the “upper boundary” of a set of terms chosen out of a series is their last member if they have one. Reverting to the four kinds of Dedekind section. () there may be neither a maximum to the one nor a minimum to the other. we say that the maximum of the lower section is the lower limit of the upper section. Real. A notion which is often important is the notion “upper limit or maximum. and for our upper section all ratios from upward (including itself). while in the fourth kind neither has a boundary. is illustrated if we put in our lower section all ratios whose square is less than . we say that the minimum of the upper section is the upper limit of the lower section. We have seen that the series of ratios in order of magnitude is not Dedekindian. The notions of limit and maximum do not essentially demand that the relation in respect to which they are deﬁned should be serial. In the second of our four cases.

The above deﬁnition of real numbers is an example of “consee Principia Mathematica. they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil. For a fuller treatment of the subject of segments and Dedekindian relations. Segments. Real. we must ﬁnd some way of eliciting from it a precise deﬁnition. since each term will deﬁne a segment having that term for boundary. people have supposed that series must have limits in cases where it seems odd if they do not. Thus. i. which to begin with is no more than a vague feeling. An “irrational number” is a segment of the series of ratios which has no boundary. Thus a rational real number consists of all ratios less than a certain ratio. hence they can all be arranged in a series by the relation of whole and part. For.e.. and it is the rational real number corresponding to that ratio. Let us leave them to others and proceed with our honest toil. is the class of proper fractions. i. we must disabuse our minds of the notion that an irrational must be the limit of a set of ratios. Dedekind. are such that. The method of “postulating” what we want has many advantages. chaps. the truth is that it is the limit of the corresponding set of rational real numbers √ the series of in segments ordered by whole and part. It is for this reason that series where his axiom is veriﬁed are called “Dedekindian. xxxiii. see ibid. . Let us conﬁne ourselves to cuts in which the lower section has no maximum. which was to ﬁll the Dedekind gap. that every section must have a boundary. A “real number” is a segment of the series of ratios in order of magnitude. which is their boundary. will give rise to more segments than it has terms. is the upper limit of all those segments of the series of ratios that correspond √ to ratios whose square is less than . More simply still. is the segment consisting of all those ratios whose square is less than . We are now in a position to deﬁne a real number and an irrational number. both those that have boundaries and those that do not. and in order to do this. of any two pertain- ing to one series. vol. must not be identiﬁed with ratios.” of which some will be rational and some irrational. vol. i. they allowed themselves to “postulate” an irrational limit. in the same kind of way in which the ratio n/ corresponds to the integer n. and then the segments without boundaries will be extra. set up the axiom that the gap must always be ﬁlled. For a fuller treatment of real numbers. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. and Complex Numbers From the habit of being inﬂuenced by spatial imagination. Rational. and a cut is represented by its lower section. In order to decide what they are to be. while those that represent irrationals are those that have no boundary. their boundary will be their logical sum.e. Just as ratios whose denominator is are not identical with integers. the class of all those terms that belong to at least one segment of the set.” But there are an inﬁnite number of series for which it is not veriﬁed. in which there are segments that have no boundary. | In the cases in which we naturally supposed that an irrational must be the limit of a set of ratios. for instance. For example. It is easy to prove that the series of segments of any series is Dedekindian.. ii. A “rational real number” is a segment of the series of ratios which has a boundary. and xxxiv. in this case we will call the lower section a “segment. ∗ –.e. The real number . or can have irrationals as their limits. so those rational | numbers which can be greater or less than irrationals. We have to deﬁne a new kind of numbers called “real numbers. VII. iii. In order to make use of this. but they are not the same as ratios. Those that are rational “correspond” to ratios.” Then those segments that correspond to ratios are those that consist of all ratios less than the ratio they correspond to. let us observe that an irrational is represented by an irrational cut. ∗ ﬀ. It is clear that an irrational Dedekind cut in some way “represents” an irrational. one must be part of the other. A series in which there are Dedekind gaps. perceiving that there was no rational limit to the ratios whose square is less than . given any set of segments. in the above-mentioned work. and Principles of Mathematics.

a number whose square is to be negative has to be a new sort of number. It has been simply assumed that they would obey the usual arithmetical rules. many deﬁnitions are possible. or real. and the second to the second. VII. Complex numbers. 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 every cubic equation has three. and it is to the deﬁnition of complex numbers that we must now turn our attention. since otherwise a − b would be meaningless if a were less than b. 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. and such an equation as x − = has only one. A “complex” number means a number involving the square root of a negative number. We deﬁne it as the sum of µ and ν. There is no diﬃculty in deﬁning addition and multiplication for real numbers as above deﬁned.” of which we had another example in the deﬁnition of cardinal numbers. and that among these we can distinguish a ﬁrst and a second. Since the square of a negative number is positive. where x and y are real.) There is no diﬃculty in extending our deﬁnitions to positive and negative real numbers and their addition and multiplication. fractional. bers are needed in order that extraction of roots and solution of equations may be always possible. each being a class of ratios. but enables us to proceed deductively from the original apparatus of logic. We are to have . Using the letter i for the square root of −. Here. Form the class of all such sums obtainable by varying the selected members of µ and ν. and on this assumption their employment has been found proﬁtable. They are required less for geometry than for algebra and analysis. | We can deﬁne the arithmetical product of two real numbers in exactly the same way. x being the “real” part. any number involving the square root of a negative number can be expressed in the form x + yi. (In all such deﬁnitions. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Real. This gives a new class of ratios. Rational. fractions were needed | in order that division might be always possible. are not demanded by geometry in the same imperative way in which irrationals are demanded. that two real numbers are required to determine a complex number. and Complex Numbers struction” as against “postulation. we secure at once some of the properties required. whether integral. The part yi is called the “imaginary” part of this number. and so on. What is needed further can be secured by deﬁning the rules of addition and multiplication. It remains to give the deﬁnition of complex numbers. In the case of complex numbers. such an equation as x + = has no roots. and complex num. A complex number may be regarded and deﬁned as simply an ordered couple of real numbers. for example. to be able to say that every quadratic equation has two roots. All that is necessary is that the deﬁnitions adopted shall lead to certain properties. We desire. the series of ratios is to be deﬁned as excluding and inﬁnity. if they are deﬁned as ordered couples of real numbers. take any member of µ and any member of ν and add them together according to the rule for the addition of ratios. as elsewhere. But if we are conﬁned to real numbers. in spite of the absence of any precise deﬁnition. But extensions of number are not created by the mere need for them: they are created by the deﬁnition. (The reason for the phrase “real numbers” is that they are contrasted with such as are “imaginary. 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. namely. though capable of a geometrical interpretation. Given two real numbers µ and ν. 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.”) Complex numbers have been for a long time habitually used by mathematicians. and it is easy to prove that this new class is a segment of the series of ratios. The great advantage of this method is that it requires no new assumptions.

Rational. Cf. The application of number to inﬁnite collections must be our next topic. . “yi” may of course be replaced by “i. and the couple (−. though much less useful and important than those what we have been deﬁning. By these deﬁnitions we shall secure that our ordered couples shall have the properties we desire. in the notation x+yi. Now our rules of multiplication make the square of (. ) equal to (−. they are x+i. Thus the square of the couple (. . Just as it is natural (but erroneous) | to identify ratios whose denominator is unity with integers. their sum is to be the couple (x + x . i. but written before the importance of purely logical deﬁnitions had been realised. it is a convenience in practice. This is what we desired to secure. with a suitable rule of multiplication. a book of great merit. Complex numbers of a higher order. Real. xy + x y). take the product of the two couples (. Chap. not necessarily one-one. Thus our deﬁnitions serve all necessary purposes. “x + i” may be replaced simply by “x” and “ + yi” by “yi. so it is natural (but erroneous) to identify complex numbers whose imaginary part is zero with real numbers. in Dr Whitehead’s Universal Algebra. and the correlation is one-many.” provided we remember that the “x” is not really a real number. xn ). . p. and their product is to be the couple (xx − yy . as may be seen. ) will be the couple (−. because xr and xs may be equal when r and s are not equal. We have now completed our review of those extensions of number which do not involve inﬁnity. Although this is an error in theory. have certain uses that are not without importance in geometry. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (x + yi) + (x + y i) = (x + x ) + (y + y )i (x + yi)(x + y i) = (xx − yy ) + (xy + x y)i. x . It is easy to give a geometrical interpretation of complex numbers in the geometry of the plane. given two ordered couples of real numbers. x . And when y is . Cliﬀord in his Common Sense of the Exact Sciences. ) is represented by −. ). . Now those couples in which the second term is are those which. (x. y) and (. y + y ). This is what would ordinarily be indicated by the notation (x . ).” Thus the couple (. ) is represented by i. y ). and Complex Numbers Thus we shall deﬁne that. The above deﬁnition. y ). §. The deﬁnition of complex numbers of order n is obtained by an obvious extension of the deﬁnition we have given. . K. where the suﬃxes denote correlation with the integers used as suﬃxes. ). 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 subject was agreeably expounded by W. For example. by the above rule. but a special case of a complex number. This will.e. y) and (x . according to the usual nomenclature. have their imaginary part zero. Principles of Mathematics. the square of i is −. will serve all purposes for which complex numbers of higher orders are needed. for example. be the couple (−yy . VII. which it is natural to write simply x.

namely n. meaning by the “successor” of n the number n + . chieﬂy by Georg Cantor. for. It cannot be said to be certain that there are in fact any inﬁnite collections in the world. and that if n has it so has n + . then n − and n have the same successor. It may happen that has a certain | property. If n is any inductive number. nor have we inquired whether such collections can be said to have a number at all. for our present purposes. But we have not yet considered collections which do not have an inductive number of terms.” Although various ways suggest themselves by which we might hope to prove this axiom. the number of numbers from to n (both included) is n + . The assumption that there are is what we call the “axiom of inﬁnity. VIII. At the same time. not possessing all inductive properties. therefore the total number of inductive numbers is greater than n. Now it is easy to see that this number is not one of the inductive numbers. For the present we shall merely assume that. every series whose ﬁeld has n terms has a last term. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers CHAPTER VIII INFINITE CARDINAL NUMBERS The deﬁnition of cardinal numbers which we gave in Chapter II. Thus the number of inductive numbers is a new number. and we are therefore justiﬁed. those which possess every property possessed by and by the successors of possessors.e. no matter which of the inductive numbers n may be. This is a perfectly well-deﬁned class.e. a cardinal number is a set of classes which are all similar to each other and are not similar to anything except each other.” because we found that they are to be deﬁned as numbers which obey mathematical induction starting from . this set of classes is the number of the inductive numbers according to our deﬁnitions. if n is any inductive number. 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. in logic. which has been solved in our own day. in investigating the hypothesis that there are such collections. i. but if n is an inductive number. n is not equal to n + . In the ﬁrst place. as it is easy to prove. To these we gave the name “inductive numbers. is the assumption that. i. this series has no last term. 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 difﬁculties that so long delayed the theory of inﬁnite numbers were . The practical form of this hypothesis. By our general deﬁnition of cardinal numbers. and that there is no conclusive logical reason for believing it to be true. to the ordinary natural numbers. in a later chapter. if n = n + . 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. diﬀerent from all of them. Such diﬀerences might be multiplied ad lib.Chap. to ﬁnite numbers. but we will leave these out of account until. This is involved in Peano’s assumption that no two inductive numbers have the same successor. if n is an inductive number. Thus the class of “inductive numbers” is perfectly deﬁnite. there is reason to fear that they are all fallacious. was applied in Chapter III. Various subtleties arise in identifying this form of our assumption with | the form that asserts the existence of inﬁnite collections. we come to consider the axiom of inﬁnity on its own account. there is certainly no logical reason against inﬁnite collections. This is an ancient problem.e. and yet that this new number does not have it. Let us now consider the collection of the inductive numbers themselves. n is not equal to n + . If we arrange the inductive numbers in a series in order of magnitude. Thus we are assuming nothing that was not involved in Peano’s primitive propositions.

has the whole of the inductive numbers for its domain. but need not occupy us at this moment. simply as one which is not an inductive number. must contain a map of the map. which is part. 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. has the whole of the inductive numbers for its domain.e. In fact. Hence the total number of inductive numbers is the same as the number of even inductive numbers. To say that a class has a number which is not altered by the addition of is the same thing as to say that. so that if n is this number. n = n + . at least. it was thought self-contradictory that | “the part should be equal to the whole. which must therefore be a reﬂexive number. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. conﬁned to inductive numbers. but if it is taken to mean what we have called . is in one-one relation with the whole. we can ﬁnd a one-one relation whose domain is the class and whose converse domain is obtained by adding x to the class. (A “proper part” is a part short of 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. We have now to consider this property of reﬂexiveness.” Thus: A “reﬂexive” class is one which is similar to a proper part of itself. This property was used by Leibniz (and many others) as a proof that inﬁnite numbers are impossible. is oneone. Consequently it is a “reﬂexive” class according to the deﬁnition. we shall also have n = n−. we shall do well to pass from picturesque illustrations to such as are more completely deﬁnite. and the number of its terms is a “reﬂexive” number. thus our map. VIII. This point is interesting. if we take a term x which does not belong to the class. i. is one-one. In this case. i. for this reason. and for this purpose we cannot do better than consider the number-series itself. which must in turn contain a map of the map of the map. Nevertheless. | the correlator by which it is done may be said to “reﬂect” the whole class into a part of itself. The fact of being not altered by the addition of is used by Cantor for the deﬁnition of what he calls “transﬁnite” cardinal numbers. if it is accurate. Thus the whole class of inductive numbers is similar to what the same class becomes when we omit . the relation of n to n. 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. but for various reasons. conﬁned to inductive numbers. and we must dwell on it for a time. and must contain the same number of points as the whole. some of which will appear as we proceed. 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.e.) A “reﬂexive” cardinal number is the cardinal number of a reﬂexive class. has a perfect one-one correspondence with its original.e. of the inductive properties were wrongly judged to be such as must belong to all numbers. A map. and all except for its converse domain. and the even inductive numbers alone for its converse domain. Again. and so on ad inﬁnitum. such classes will be called “reﬂexive. the property of being unchanged by the addition of is a very important one. the class is similar to the sum of itself and the term x. to a class having one extra term. The relation of n to n+. it is better to deﬁne an inﬁnite cardinal number as one which does not possess all inductive properties. so that it has the same number as a class with one extra term. For in that case. Royce is interested in the fact that the map. When this can be done. indeed it was thought that they could not be denied without contradiction. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers largely due to the fact that some. if it is correct. The ﬁrst step in understanding inﬁnite numbers consists in realising the mistakenness of this view. i.” But this is one of those phrases that depend for their plausibility upon an unperceived vagueness: the word “equal” has many meanings.

these into the multiples of . ∗ . 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. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. which is given in our deﬁnition. For example. but there is to be just one which has no predecessor. and which only their familiarity makes us regard. since an inﬁnite collection can perfectly well have parts similar to itself.” () “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 equivalent to the existence of such a member. The kind of series which is called a “progression” has already been considered in Chapter I. 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. every member of the domain is a member of the posterity of the ﬁrst term. . attributed to numbers in general properties which can only be proved by mathematical induction. It is easy to see that a progression. This is an abstract analogue to Royce’s problem of the map. we can reﬂect. Principia Mathematica. our “map” would have consisted of all the inductive numbers except . by the same relation (that of n to n) reﬂect the even numbers into the multiples of . the same relation will necessarily reﬂect that part into a smaller part. It is a series which can be generated by a relation of consecutiveness: | every member of the series is to have a successor. vol. VIII. If we had applied the same process to the relation of n to n + . all the inductive numbers into the even numbers. () “No two numbers have the same successor.” there is no contradiction. and every member of the series is to be in the posterity of this term with respect to the relation “immediate predecessor. so deﬁned. Those who regard this as impossible have. the multiples of are a map of the map. which it is by deﬁnition (being one-one). The chief use of such illustrations is in order to become familiar with the idea of reﬂexive classes.” This is proved as follows: By the deﬁnition. unconsciously as a rule. the map of the map would have consisted of all from onward.” which is again an immediate result of the deﬁnition. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers “similar. We will call this member “the ﬁrst term. we can. The even numbers are a “map” of all the inductive numbers. by the general deﬁnition of posterity). mistakenly. in which the air of paradox is much less. and becomes: “Every member of the domain belongs to the posterity of the ﬁrst term.” which Cf. and so on. and so on. () This is mathematical induction. because by the deﬁnition the posterity of the ﬁrst term is the same as the domain. and the domain is identical with the posterity of this one term.” Taking his ﬁve axioms in turn. the multiples of are a map of the map of the map. the map of the map of the map of all from onward. as we have just seen. 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. so that apparently paradoxical arithmetical propositions can be readily translated into the language of reﬂexions and classes. as true beyond the region of the ﬁnite. and therefore a member of the domain.” 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. satisﬁes Peano’s ﬁve axioms. and so on ad inﬁnitum. The term belonging to the domain but not to the converse domain will be what he calls “”. Whenever we can “reﬂect” a class into a part of itself. and so on. ii.” This is only to say that the relation is one-many. It will be useful to give a deﬁnition of the number which is that of the inductive cardinals. | () “ is not the successor of any number” becomes: “The ﬁrst term is not a member of the converse domain. For this purpose we will ﬁrst deﬁne the kind of series exempliﬁed by the inductive cardinals in order of magnitude.

. since every class which is similar to the domain of a progression is easily shown to be itself the domain of a progression. and seem to be only an inﬁnitesimal proportion of ratios. if the sum is equal in the two. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers was part of our deﬁnition. and secondly. ﬁrst. ratios. . for example. The proof of the second is so simple and so instructive that we shall give it: . Of these two propositions. and all ratios occur in it sooner or later. by which he has made it famous. This series is a progression. Since two progressions are similar relations. ℵ . It is not the case. . any selection from a progression is a progression if it has no last term. namely. in fact. namely. that all inﬁnite collections have ℵ terms. which remains ℵ . for the moment. however. But we are concerned. . Take n (say) inductive numbers of the form nn . The domains of progressions form a cardinal number. . and their number is therefore ℵ . since ratios whose denominator is correspond to the integers. which have other suﬃxes. and it is not hard to prove that n is greater than n even when n is inﬁnite. . we can add terms to the inductive numbers without increasing their number. or all except every tenth term or every hundredth term. and is not hard to extend to inﬁnite numbers. and therefore do not diminish the number of its terms. it contains n subclasses—in other words. We can. Take. it follows that their domains (or their ﬁelds. it is the one to which Cantor has appropriated the Hebrew Aleph with the suﬃx . The easiest way of proving this is to prove. It is easy to show that two progressions are “similar” in the sense deﬁned for similarity of relations in Chapter VI. which are the same as their domains) are similar classes. ℵ . But in actual fact the number of ratios (or fractions) is exactly the same as the number of inductive numbers. 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. of course. with cardinal numbers. To say that a class has ℵ terms is the same thing as to say that it is a member of ℵ . however sparsely it may be distributed. . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. for the same reasons for which the corresponding one-one relations are similar. that if a class has n members. VIII. to distinguish it from larger inﬁnite cardinals. that there are n ways | of selecting some of its members (including the extreme cases where we select all or none). In fact. . . The number of real numbers. put ﬁrst the one with the smaller numerator. it is. 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. or nn . The class of all such transitive generators of progressions is a “serial number” in the sense of Chapter VI. the number to which Cantor has given the name ω. . One might be inclined to think that there must be many more ratios than integers. . and this is the same thing as to say | that the members of the class can be arranged in a progression. Two transitive asymmetrical relations which generate progressions are similar. ℵ . It is obvious that any progression remains a progression if we omit a ﬁnite number of terms from it. 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. This cardinal number is the smallest of the inﬁnite cardinal numbers. This gives us the series . . . These methods of thinning out a progression do not make it cease to be a progression. that the number of sub-classes contained in a class is always greater than the number of members of the class. Thus the name of the smallest of inﬁnite cardinals is ℵ . Conversely. Thus progressions as we have deﬁned them have the ﬁve formal properties from which Peano deduces arithmetic. and the relation is that of a term to a member of its proper posterity with respect to the original one-one relation. it is in fact the smallest of inﬁnite serial numbers. the ﬁrst is familiar in the case of ﬁnite numbers. put the one before the other. Hence we can arrange all ratios in a progression.. for example. or every other term. is greater than ℵ .

given any one-one relation whose domain is the members and whose converse domain is contained among the set of sub-classes. i. Since R was any one one correlation of all members | with some sub-classes. VIII. if n is ﬁnite. each of them (by the deﬁnition of β) is correlated with some sub-class of which it is a member. by showing that. it is greater. where n is any inductive number. it follows that there is no correlation of all members with all sub-classes. then ℵ n+ = ℵ = ℵ . again. However great an inﬁnite number n may be. and cannot therefore be employed as they are employed in elementary arithmetic. if the other number is reﬂexive. Thus no member of α is correlated with β. for. by what was said earlier. subtraction gives a perfectly deﬁnite result. ℵ + n = ℵ . ℵ + = ℵ . 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. ℵ is the most important and interesting of inﬁnite cardinal numbers. subtraction and division no longer give deﬁnite results. Assuming space and time to be continuous in this sense (as we commonly do in analytical geometry and kinematics). it is ℵ . as we shall see later. Hence in any case the number of sub-classes is not equal to the number of members. for if ℵ n = ℵ . β say. The arithmetic of inﬁnite numbers is somewhat surprising until one becomes accustomed to it. Now it is easy to prove that the number is not equal. but we saw that it is also ℵ .) ℵ > ℵ . Combining this with the proposition that. (This follows from the case of the ratios. whether | line. it must be greater. taking ﬁrst the members of β. since a ratio is determined by a pair of inductive numbers. ℵ is a very important number. area. Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers In the ﬁrst place. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. . It follows from this proposition that there is no maximum to the inﬁnite cardinal numbers. if n is the number of members. and is therefore not correlated with β.) ℵ n = ℵ . Let us form the whole class. namely. We have. this will be the number of points in space or of instants in time. it may happen that a given member x is correlated with a sub-class of which it is a member. where n is any inductive number. and it is not correlated with any member of α. For. it may happen that x is correlated with a sub-class of which it is not a member.e. This proof is taken from Cantor. But it is otherwise . or volume. it is easy to see that the number of ratios is the square of the number of inductive numbers. for example. ℵ = ℵ . or. it will also be the number of points in any ﬁnite portion of space. i. Taking next the terms which are not members of β. with some simpliﬁcations: see Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung. Take subtraction to begin with: so long as the number subtracted is ﬁnite. p. if the number of sub-classes is not equal to the number of members. n will be still greater. 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. there must be at least one sub-class not belonging to the converse domain. (). But In fact. it remains unchanged. Although addition and multiplication are always possible with inﬁnite cardinals. This is a sub-class of α. and therefore. of those members x which are correlated with sub-classes of which they are not members. all goes well. each of them is (by the deﬁnition of β) correlated with some subclass of which it is not a member. 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. and we thus have a correlation of all the members with some of the sub-classes. (This follows from ℵ = ℵ by induction. we have the theorem that n is always greater than n. and therefore again is not correlated with β. n is the number of sub-classes. even when n is inﬁnite. Thus ℵ −n = ℵ . After ℵ . the number of terms in a series which has “continuity” in the sense in which this word is used by Cantor. so far. since each member constitutes a sub-class.

This may be true. The characteristic by which we deﬁned ﬁnitude was mathematical induction. we deﬁned a number as ﬁnite when it obeys mathematical induction starting from . multiplication. but for the present it is well to preserve an open mind as to whether there are instances. the numbers from to n−. zero. . he believes that every class and every cardinal is either inductive or reﬂexive. but it is not known at present whether all inﬁnite classes and cardinals are reﬂexive. () All the inductive numbers from n onwards—remainder. and exponentiation proceed quite satisfactorily. It follows that ℵ divided by ℵ may have any value from up to ℵ . VIII. i. . of classes and cardinals which are neither reﬂexive nor inductive. take away the following collections of ℵ terms:— () All the inductive numbers—remainder. () All the odd numbers—remainder. All reﬂexive classes and cardinals are inﬁnite. for reasons which will be explained when we come to consider the “multiplicative axiom. . This deﬁnition yields the sort of result that a deﬁnition ought to yield. but the inverse operations—subtraction. All these are diﬀerent ways of subtracting ℵ from ℵ . it is not known whether there are classes and cardinals which are neither reﬂexive nor inductive. numbering ℵ terms. This is easily seen by examples. An inﬁnite class or cardinal is one which is not inductive. . We shall return to this subject in Chapter XII. But in the present chapter. and all give diﬀerent results. hitherto unknown. that is to say. and believes that it is equivalent to non-inductiveness. Meanwhile.e. division. but the proofs hitherto oﬀered by Cantor and others (including the present author in former days) are fallacious. namely. we adopt the following deﬁnitions:— A ﬁnite class or cardinal is one which is inductive. . we should not have n = n + . but n would not be one of the “natural numbers. . Inﬁnite Cardinal Numbers when we subtract ℵ from itself. the inﬁnite numbers we have discussed have not merely been non-inductive: they have also been reﬂexive. we may then get any result. Cantor used reﬂexiveness as the deﬁnition of the inﬁnite. From the inductive numbers. very similar results follow from the fact that ℵ is unchanged when multiplied by or or any ﬁnite number n or by ℵ . all the even numbers. and the notions that depend upon them fail when inﬁnite numbers are concerned. . and extraction of roots—are ambiguous. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Addition. All known inﬁnite classes and cardinals are reﬂexive. from up to ℵ .” and would be lacking in some of the inductive properties. From the ambiguity of subtraction and division it results that negative numbers and ratios cannot be extended to inﬁnite numbers.” At present. If n were such a cardinal. and may very possibly be capable of proof. As regards division. that the ﬁnite | numbers are those that occur in the ordinary number-series . and a class as ﬁnite when its number is ﬁnite. numbering n terms in all.

.Chap. We thus obtain in and so on. . . We start with the series . . Each of these numbers is “greater” than any of its predecessors. . . Let us ﬁrst consider various diﬀerent kinds of series which can be made out of the inductive numbers arranged on various plans. . to add terms without altering the serial number: everything depends upon the way in which they are added. . . . we see that the ﬁrst is similar to the part of the second which omits the last term. in the case of any inﬁnite series it is also possible. . . It is possible to keep the cardinal number of a reﬂexive class unchanged in spite of adding terms to it. . . ω + is greater than ω. . it is possible to change the serial number of a series without adding or taking away any terms. n. (This is obvious. . namely. The serial numbers of these various series are ω + . But if we add a term at the beginning of a progression instead of the end. . . . . . If we imagine this process carried on as long as possible. . in which we have ﬁrst all the odd numbers and then all the even numbers. . it will be best to begin with examples. 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. n. Thus + ω = ω. . n + . . but is easily demonstrated. . . . n + . n + . The most noteworthy characteristic of an inﬁnite series is that its serial number can be altered by merely re-arranging its terms. . . . but the second is not similar to any part of the ﬁrst.. At the same time. . . . .) Thus the second series has a greater serial number than the ﬁrst. . . as we have already seen. the general rule is that µ + ν is not equal to ν + µ. the sort that Cantor calls ω. we still have a progression. . . . . n + . . but no series having the second number contains a part having the ﬁrst number. In this respect there is a certain oppositeness between cardinal and serial numbers. . . We have already had occasion to consider one kind of inﬁnite series. . ω. . is quite exceptional. . . . . n. ω + . .e. according to the deﬁnition—i. . This is characteristic of relation-arithmetic generally: if µ and ν are two relation-numbers. by mere re-arrangement. . . . . . as with cardinals. . on the other hand. The case of ﬁnite ordinals. . . . . . . . . . namely. If we compare the two series . progressions. . . ω + . the number . . In this chapter we shall consider the subject more generally. . In order to make matters clear. . represents the smallest of inﬁnite serial numbers. . .. we ﬁnally reach the series . . . Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals succession the various series: . Thus + ω is not equal to ω + . IX. . . . CHAPTER IX INFINITE SERIES AND ORDINALS An “inﬁnite series” may be deﬁned as a series of which the ﬁeld is an inﬁnite class. . . in which there is equality. . n. . . Let us proceed to thin out this series by repeatedly performing the | operation of removing to the end the ﬁrst even number that occurs. . which. . .

The ordinal number of the series of all ordinals that can be made out of an ℵ . . . . of which the number is ω . . since it is a progression of progressions. xn . compact series. . . and on the other hand series which have no beginning. x . Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals 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. of which we shall treat later. . and has a term next after any selection of its terms. and so on. but taken in the reverse order. is called ω . but the fact that they could be given is essential. We can proceed to ω . All the series we have been considering so far in this chapter have been what is called “well-ordered. or neither is and x is less than y.e. for aught we know.. where n is ﬁnite. . . then the doubles of these. having no beginning. or in which there are subordinate parts having no beginning. is not well-ordered. .) The cardinal number of the class of such ordinals can be shown to be greater than ℵ . The series of all the ordinals that can be obtained in this way. . 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 . We can proceed indeﬁnitely with the process of thinning out the inductive numbers. and so on. we can place ﬁrst the odd numbers. The deﬁnition is: | . . each of these arrangements of integers is to be regarded as resulting from some deﬁnite relation. . ωω . in which there are terms between any two. then their doubles. . and has consecutive terms. This excludes. . . Usage is variable.” A well-ordered series is one which has a beginning. . it is the number which Cantor calls ℵ . The series of negative integers in order of magnitude. . i. . . x . for a progression of couples. Any one of the progressions in this new series can of course be | thinned out as we thinned out our original progression. β” when α and β are relation-numbers: “α . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. This number is greater than ω or ω + n. being in fact a progression. .. and this decision of course governs our general interpretation of “α . . namely. This question is connected with the multiplicative axiom.” We shall not trouble. E. It is not even known whether it is comparable with them in magnitude. . but ending with −. like addition. Thus a series whose ordinal number is ω has a ﬁeld whose cardinal number is ℵ . but a couple of progressions gives a series which is twice as long as a progression. And there is nothing to prevent us from advancing indeﬁnitely in this way to new cardinals and new ordinals.. y . taken in order of magnitude. . . . to give these formulæ in future.” 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. is itself longer than any series that can be obtained by re-arranging the terms of a progression. y . . It is not known whether ℵ is equal to any of the cardinals in the series of Alephs. IX. and either x is odd and y is even or x is less than y and both are odd or both are even. We thus obtain the series . depends upon the order of the factors: a progression of couples gives a series such as x . . it is well-ordered. on the one hand. however far we have gone. . all that can be obtained by thinning out a progression. and its serial | number is ω. It is therefore necessary to distinguish between ω and ω . provided there are any terms after the selection. It is to be observed that. (This is not diﬃcult to prove. . . . For example. β” will have to stand for a suitably constructed sum of α relations each having β terms. . . which is itself a progression. as a rule. is sometimes called ω . ω . the number of a series consisting of two progressions.g. we shall use ω for a couple of progressions and ω. beginning with −. . . .. yn . Multiplication. The number which we have called ω. . it may be neither equal to nor greater nor less than any one of the Alephs. y . the one which merely removes to the end will be deﬁned by the following relation: “x and y are ﬁnite integers. . we can always go further. and either y is and x is not .

a generalised form of mathematical induction applies. the associative law does hold. and exponentiation. there is no diﬃculty. These form a compact series. but not as regards the (n + )th . and. one form may be true and the other false. whether ﬁnite or inﬁnite. but diﬀer at the second digit. III. and those that are obeyed by them are obeyed by all relation-numbers. when it belongs to a certain selection of the terms in a series. For example. but only some are obeyed by transﬁnite ordinals. Omitting these. The commutative law: α + β = β + α and α × β = β × α. all are obeyed by transﬁnite cardinals. The distributive law: α(β + γ) = αβ + αγ. (α β )γ = α βγ . we will transfer to the right any ’s that occur at the beginning of our decimal. as we saw. . All these laws hold for cardinals. but ﬁrst of all the one with no second digit. if two integers agree as regards the ﬁrst n digits. and ratios in order of magnitude form a compact series. II. arranged in order of magnitude. 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 associative law: (α + β) + γ = α + (β + γ) and (α × β) × γ = α × (β × γ). and returning to the ones that have no ’s at the beginning. multiplication. An “ordinal” number means the relation-number of a wellordered series. This rule of arrangement. It is easy to arrange the inductive numbers in series which are not well-ordered. Generally. the above form of the distributive law must be distinguished from (β + γ)α = βα + γα. thus we have here another example. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals A “well-ordered” series is one in which every sub-class (except. and even to arrange them in compact series. But when we come to inﬁnite ordinals. It follows from this example that it is possible to construct compact series having ℵ terms. Of two that do begin with the same digit. If we wish to include those that divide by . but when we remove the dot. Now omit the dot at the beginning of each. In fact. We shall resume this topic in the next chapter. the one with the smaller second digit comes ﬁrst. It is thus a species of serial number. we can adopt the following plan: consider the decimals from · (inclusive) to (exclusive). This makes it possible to prove many propositions concerning well-ordered series which are not true of all series. In a well-ordered series. Of the usual formal laws of addition. or indeed to relation-numbers in general. that one comes ﬁrst which has either no (n + )th digit or a smaller one than the other. and we have a compact series consisting of all ﬁnite integers except such as divide by . | as the reader can easily convince himself. As we shall see immediately. β γ = (αβ)γ . some hold and some do not. we have already seen that there are ℵ ratios. IV. we will include all decimals less than . the null-class) has a ﬁrst term. and for ﬁnite ordinals. When the commutative law does not hold. there is no dif- ﬁculty about including those that are divisible by . it belongs to their immediate successor provided they have one. between any two there are always an inﬁnite number of others. of course. Among well-ordered series. 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 laws of exponentiation: α β . a transﬁnitely hereditary property belonging to the ﬁrst term of the series belongs to the whole series. the one that begins with the smaller digit comes ﬁrst. The commutative law does not hold. instead of starting with ·. IX. gives rise to a compact series containing all the integers not divisible by . and so on. α γ = α β+γ . α γ . A property may be said to be “transﬁnitely hereditary” if. By the “usual formal laws” we mean the following:— I.

but not the law α γ . ∗ –. ﬁnite and transﬁnite. For these reasons. The reader who wishes to know what they are and how the above laws are proved must consult the second volume of Principia Mathematica. in which cardinals. the exponential laws α β . were treated in complete independence of ordinals. The deﬁnitions of multiplication and exponentiation that are assumed in the above propositions are somewhat complicated. And mathematicians. while Frege’s remained almost unknown. 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. 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 practice. but it was Cantor’s work that made the world aware of the subject. it was only gradually that the true importance of cardinals in mathematical philosophy was recognised. and is very largely merged in that of the more general conception of relation-numbers. which is obviously connected with the commutative law for multiplication. because it has various technical mathematical uses which led him to it. The importance of ordinals. and it is a curious historical accident that they ﬁrst appeared as an abstraction from the latter. α γ = α β+γ and (α β )γ = α βγ still hold. This does not apply to Frege’s work. like other people. and only gradually came to be studied on their own account. β γ = (αβ)γ . probably in the main on account of the diﬃculty of his symbolism. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Ordinal transﬁnite arithmetic was developed by Cantor at an earlier stage than cardinal transﬁnite arithmetic. though by no means small. is distinctly less than that of cardinals. . Inﬁnite Series and Ordinals but not in the form α(β + γ) = αβ + αγ. Cardinals are essentially simpler than ordinals.

Thus. If P is serial. has been already deﬁned. X. . What makes ℵ the limit of the ﬁnite numbers is the fact that. indeed practically everything in higher mathematics. The “maxima” with respect to P are the minima with respect to the converse of P. from which the rest are derived. what really occurs is a set of ﬁnite quantities having zero for their lower limit. indeed. 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 whole of the diﬀerential and integral calculus. n.Chap. . in a general form in which they do not demand that the relation concerned shall be serial. The cardinal number ℵ is the limit (in the order of magnitude) of the cardinal numbers . the segment de- . but Weierstrass showed that this is an error: wherever inﬁnitesimals were thought to occur. i. 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. without its being necessary to bring in co-ordinates or measurement or anything quantitative. The simplest and most fundamental form. it has no upper limits. in the series. a class can have at most one maximum. deﬁne ﬁrst the “boundary” of a class α. The “upper limits” of α with respect to P are the sequents provided α has no maximum. depends upon limits. A given point on a line may be the limit of a set of points on the line. every segment in the sense there deﬁned is the segment deﬁned by some class α. When P is a serial relation. not a quantitative fact. etc. in that case. it comes immediately after them. . We can. and then proceed to distinguish the case where the boundary is the limit from the case where it is a maximum. namely. The “lower limits” with respect to P are the upper limits with respect to the converse of P.” 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. | There are various forms of the notion of “limit. . one minimum. in the cases we are concerned with in practice. This will be a segment in the sense deﬁned | in Chapter VII. ﬁnite numbers get no nearer to ℵ as they grow larger. . the notion of a quantity to which others approached nearer and nearer. But in fact the notion of “limit” is a purely ordinal notion. Formerly.. we can greatly simplify the above deﬁnition of a limit. we can speak of “the limit” (if any). 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.e. Limits and Continuity CHAPTER X LIMITS AND CONTINUITY The conception of a “limit” is one of which the importance in mathematics has been found continually greater than had been thought. but if α has a maximum. one sequent. . Whenever P has connexity. . but we will here repeat the deﬁnitions which lead to it. The “sequents” of a class α with respect to a relation P are the minima of the “successors” of α. . which is an ordinal fact. it was supposed that inﬁnitesimals were involved in the foundations of these subjects. The “precedents” with respect to P are the sequents with respect to the converse of P. so that among those others there would be some diﬀering by less than any assigned quantity.” of increasing complexity. although the numerical diﬀerence between ℵ and a ﬁnite cardinal is constant and inﬁnite: from a quantitative point of view. its limit or maximum. For this purpose it is best to use the notion of “segment. .

ω.. . ω + ω. the segment will be all the predecessors of the maximum. A “maximum” of α is a boundary which is a member of α. . ω + . or of what is called a “gap. the class consisting of the fractions .e. ω. . ω . of course. every member of this series is both an upper and a lower limiting-point for suitably chosen sets. . . If we consider. . ω. . . . An “upper limit” of α is a boundary which is not a member of α. ω + ω . . On the other hand. In this case the segment deﬁned consists of all ﬁnite integers. ω . of which one wholly precedes the other. . . . for example.e. . . Assuming that P is serial. With regard to limits. . . If we consider the series of real numbers. . ω. but had remained without any precise deﬁnition until the time of Dedekind and Cantor. it has neither maximum nor limit. Take.” and the limiting-points of the ﬁrst derivative are called the second derivative. . . . . The upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this new series will be . But if α has no maximum. . in the fact that between any two terms of the series there are others. We shall. If a class has no boundary. | . This series of fractions has no maximum. . The limiting-points of a set are called its “ﬁrst derivative. the series of ordinal numbers: . . . of all fractions of the form − /n for diﬀerent ﬁnite values of n. . ω. but is such that every earlier term comes before some of the α’s. X. . ω . If α has a maximum. ω . have to distinguish upper limiting-points from lower limiting-points. and so on. for example.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. again. . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. . . this set (the rationals) will have all the real numbers as upper and lower limiting-points. . ω. But if we consider such a series as the series of ratios. because there are no terms except the last that have no immediate successors. the upper limiting-points of the ﬁeld of this series are those that have no immediate predecessors. the series of ordinals—and indeed every wellordered series—has no lower limiting-points. because of the existence of “gaps” in series such as the series of ratios. Each of these two men gave a precise signiﬁcance to the term. ω . considered as a selection from the cardinals (ﬁnite and inﬁnite) in order of magnitude. . and the whole of α is therefore included in the segment deﬁned by α.” 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. 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. Or. . . Limits and Continuity ﬁned by α consists of all the terms that precede some term or other of α. ω + . that there are innumerable ways in which the series of ratios can be divided into two parts. the “boundary” of a class α will be the term x (if it exists) whose predecessors are the segment deﬁned by α. . . ω . and select out of it the rational real numbers. . we may distinguish various grades of what may be called “continuity” in a series. . ω . The word “continuity” had been used for a long time. ω . . but the converse does not hold. But this would be an inadequate deﬁnition. . This is the case of an “irrational” Dedekind cut. i. . We saw in Chapter VII. but Cantor’s deﬁnition is narrower than Dedekind’s: a series which has Cantorian continuity must have Dedekindian continuity. 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.” i. every member of α precedes some other member of α. . . consider the prime numbers.

for example. The former sort of Dedekindian series is excluded by assuming that our series is compact. It was the needs of geometry. | We come now to the second property by which perfection was to be deﬁned. without specifying which. for example: we wish to be able to say that when two straight lines cross each other they have a point in common. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. But this deﬁnition is still too wide for many purposes. 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 coordinates are rational. or by regressions (which are the converses of progressions). ﬁrst travel through some of Cantor’s conceptions in this subject before giving his deﬁnition of continuity. There is no correction required so far as concerns the property that all its points are to be limiting-points. this deﬁnition somewhat conceals the considerations which have given rise to it. the series in which every point is a limiting-point are compact series. Take geometry. and this is a further property which our deﬁnition does not enable us to deduce. If one of these is assumed. we must distinguish diﬀerent kinds of limiting-points according to the nature of the smallest sub-series by which they can be deﬁned. But if it is only assumed that they are limiting-points one way. as we saw. Thus we are led to the deﬁnition: A series has “Dedekindian continuity” when it is Dedekindian and compact. be ﬁttingly called continuity. | while the second has no ﬁrst term. although. this is a property belonging to compact series. Such a state of aﬀairs seems contrary to the vague feeling we have as to what should characterise “continuity. Apart from such series. was ﬁrst deﬁned as . Cantor deﬁnes a series as “perfect” when all its points are limiting-points and all its limiting-points belong to it. it shows that the series of ratios is not the sort of series that is needed for many mathematical purposes. Suppose. for many purposes. Thus a ﬁnite series or a well-ordered series is Dedekindian. the two lines might cross in a “gap” and have no point in common. or through the existence of limits in the absence of maxima. but if the series of points on a line were similar to the series of ratios. that led to the deﬁnition of “Dedekindian” continuity.) That is to say. Such a series is very nearly compact. what is more. Cantor assumes that they are to be deﬁned by progressions. therefore. the series of decimals in which a decimal ending in a recurring is distinguished from the corresponding terminating decimal and placed immediately before it. or that there is always a lower boundary. This is a crude example. in its simplest form. but has exceptional terms which are consecutive. and of which the ﬁrst has no immediate predecessor. and so is the series of real numbers. namely. The absence of gaps may arise either through terms having successors. the other can be deduced. Limits and Continuity and of which the ﬁrst has no last term. and to no others if all points are to be upper limiting. 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). (It is suﬃcient to assume that there is always an upper boundary. But this definition does not express quite accurately what he means.” and. X. 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. while the second has no immediate successor.or all lower limiting-points. but many others might be given to show that compactness is inadequate as a mathematical deﬁnition of continuity. Although Cantor does not explicitly consider the matter. We shall. there will be other series that will have the property in question— for example. When every member of our series is the limit of a progression or regression. This. Cantor calls our series “condensed in itself” (insichdicht). 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. a series is Dedekindian when there are no gaps. as much as anything. It will be remembered that we deﬁned a series as Dedekindian when every sub-class of the ﬁeld has a boundary. the property which Cantor calls that of being “closed” (abgeschlossen). in that case our series must have a property which may.

every subordinate series which has no maximum has a limit. i. But Cantor does not state this for every subordinate series. if a series is considered simply on its own account. but the converse is not the case. as we saw. . We may slightly simplify his deﬁnition. is ℵ . This class Cantor deﬁnes as that of continuous series. and every progression or regression contained in the series has a limit in the series. and limiting-points are taken in relation to the larger series. 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. but only for progressions and regressions. which is what he means. by suﬃcient mathematical | manipulation. suﬃces to deﬁne a class of series which are all similar and are in fact a serial number. All series having Cantorian continuity are similar. 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. although the number of irrationals is greater than the number of rationals. be reduced to the continuity of series. it cannot fail to contain its limitingpoints. but derivative from the above and more complicated. or (to speak more cautiously) of a kind of continuity which can. () it contains a median class having ℵ terms. i. i. but this subject will be best reserved for a separate chapter. yet there are rationals between any two real numbers.. ﬁnally. The continuity of motion (if motion is continuous) is an instance of the continuity of a function. This property. but not all series having Dedekindian continuity. These are different notions. some are irrational. Otherwise. Thus the rationals are a median class in the series of real numbers. 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. e. every subordinate series has a boundary. X. The deﬁnitions of continuity which we have been considering.) Thus. the continuity of space and time (if they are continuous) is an instance of the continuity of series. on other occasions he says something rather diﬀerent. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. 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.g. In seeking a deﬁnition of continuity. when every term is the limit of a progression or regression. To avoid confusion. We then ﬁnd that Cantor’s deﬁnition is equivalent to the following:— A series is “continuous” when () it is Dedekindian. 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. To begin with. 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. very important. Among the real numbers some are rational. This gives a further property which suﬃces to characterise continuity completely. indeed. In view of the fundamental importance of motion in applied mathematics. (It is not clear how far he recognises that this is a limitation. however | little the two may diﬀer.e. as well as for other reasons. it will be well to deal brieﬂy with the notions of limits and continuity as applied to functions. namely. added to perfection. It is obvious that there cannot be median classes except in compact series. But this only has any eﬀective signiﬁcance if our series is given as contained in some other larger series (as is the case. What Cantor means is not exactly what he says.e.” It will be seen that it implies Dedekindian continuity. or the continuity of a function in the neighbourhood of a given argument. For this purpose we have to add a further property. The number of rationals. but to no others. We then have the further definition:— A series is “perfect” when it is condensed in itself and closed. Limits and Continuity consisting in the fact that all the limiting-points of a series belong to it.e. with a selection of real numbers). on the other hand. we shall speak of this kind as “Cantorian continuity. however near together.

and also with the deﬁnition of what is meant by a “continuous function. but errors incorporated. and would hardly demand treatment in a mere introduction to mathematical philosophy but for the fact that. ii. as well as in parts of Our Knowledge of the External World.e. e. This is not essential. and philosophers have tended to ignore the work of such men as Weierstrass. . I think.g. for example. however. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy namely. it does not pass over by imperceptible degrees into another. in order to return to topics more closely connected with mathematics. 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. and its distance from every other unit is ﬁnite. A fog gives an impression of vastness without deﬁnite multiplicity or division. as Dr Whitehead has shown. when See Principia Mathematica. begin with the deﬁnitions in the text-books. 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 −.” is one which is certainly quite diﬀerent from that which we have been deﬁning. Mathematicians (especially Weierstrass) proved that this is an error. interesting as it is. and proceed afterwards to show how these deﬁnitions can be generalised so as to apply to series in general.” Both of these ideas are somewhat technical.g. very truly. 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. It is this sort of thing that a metaphysician means by “continuity. With these indications. do not correspond very closely to the vague idea which is associated with the word in the mind of the man in the street or the philosopher. the series of real numbers. It is not to be maintained that the two kinds are simply identical. separate unit. They conceive continuity rather as absence of separateness. quite deﬁnitely and uncompromisingly. We will. Take. It has been thought ever since the time of Leibniz that the diﬀerential and integral calculus required inﬁnitesimal quantities. it is a hard. by what we see at a given time. those of Dedekind and Cantor. are deﬁned in terms involving number.” declaring it. to be characteristic of his mental life and of that of children and animals. e. especially through the socalled inﬁnitesimal calculus. die hard. but it may. where | x and f x are both real numbers. in works on ordinary mathematics. vol. is a diﬃcult and intricate one. the sort of general obliteration of distinctions which characterises a thick fog. It would be quite impossible | to justify this thesis within the limits of the present volume. we must leave this problem. and f x is one-valued—i. 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. The question of the relation between the kind of continuity existing among the real numbers and the kind exhibited. though it can be made less than any given ﬁnite amount assigned in advance. and not only to such as are numerical or numerically measurable. Each is what it is. Let us consider any ordinary mathematical function f x. ∗ –. or by the word “ﬂux. if that material is to be called “continuous” in any precisely deﬁnable sense. The general idea vaguely indicated by the word “continuity” when so employed. Limits and continuity of functions. in what Hegel has to say about mathematics.

Now if we consider /x when x is very small. This function remains constant from one integer to the next. diﬀerent from . Conse quently sin /x passes more and more quickly from − | to and back again. . In fact. to x . It is clear that continuity at a given point has to do with what happens in any neighbourhood of that point. in important cases. . number is said to be “numerically less” than and + . as a non-mathematical example. there is only one value that f x can have. or from π/ to π/. though continuous functions are more familiar. Take. and then gives a sudden jump. We do not want. if a function is to be continuous. that there shall be sudden jumps. the diﬀerence f (a + δ) − f (a) is numerically less than σ . but as small as we please. or everywhere. any change. when argument and value are both real numbers. Proceeding now to seek a precise deﬁnition of what is meant by saying that a function is continuous for a given argument. Thus round about the argument the function is discontinuous. will make a change in f x which exceeds some assigned ﬁnite amount. and if we make the diﬀerences in x small enough. no matter how small we may have made α. The ordinary simple functions of mathematics have this property: it belongs. for some value of x. We call x the “argument. “the place of birth of the youngest person living at time t. such that throughout this stretch f x will not diﬀer from f a by more than the prescribed tiny amount. there exists a positive number . sin /x will go through an inﬁnite number of oscillations in this interval. such that. as x grows smaller. A when it lies between − . and we cannot diminish the oscillations by making the interval smaller. Take as an example sin /x. we can make the diﬀerences in f x fall below any assigned amount. Examples will be found in any book on the theory of functions of a real variable. however small. let us ﬁrst deﬁne a neighbourhood (α say) containing the value f a which the function has for the argument a. say the interval from − to + where is some very small number. but continuous for all other values. XI. if we decree that our function is not to diﬀer from f a by more than some very tiny amount. and so on. The function sin θ passes through all values from − to every time that θ passes from −π/ to π/. its value is constant from the time of one person’s birth to the time of the next birth. we can always ﬁnd a stretch of real numbers. will be very small. It is easy to manufacture functions which are discontinuous in several places. we desire that.” This is a function of t. What we desire is this: If a is the argument for which we wish our function to be continuous. An analogous mathematical example would be “the integer next below x. where is some number which. log x. for all values of δ which are numerically | less than . 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. if we take any interval containing .” When a function is what we call “continuous. we see that as x diminishes /x grows faster and faster. And this is to remain true whatever tiny amount we may select. Limits and Continuity of Functions x is given. if we take a suﬃciently small neighbourhood containing a. . where n is any integer. however small. That is to say.” 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 f x the “value for the argument x. so that. having a in the middle of it. Hence we are led to the following deﬁnition:— The function f (x) is said to be “continuous” for the argument a if. and then the value changes suddenly from one birthplace to the other. for every positive number σ . But it is not at all diﬃcult to deﬁne discontinuous functions. or in ℵ places. diﬀerent from . Many functions are discontinuous for one or several values of the variable. all values for arguments throughout this neighbourhood shall be contained in the neighbourhood α. let us ﬁrst deﬁne a “neighbourhood” of a number x as all the numbers from x − to x + . for example. they are the exceptions: there are inﬁnitely more discontinuous functions than continuous ones. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. or generally from (n − )π/ to (n + )π/. x . sin x. The actual fact is that.” where x is a real number.

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. however small. We may apply exactly the same process to upper sections. That is to say. both included. however σ may be chosen. that this value is approached from below.” To say that a number z belongs to the ultimate upper section is to say that. The common part of all these sections we will call the “ultimate section” as the argument approaches a. i. given any neighbourhood of a given argument. So far we have not deﬁned the “limit” of a function for a given argument.e.e. that from a − to a + . positive and negative. To say that a number z belongs to the ultimate section is to say that. But it is only the exceptionally “tame” function that has a deﬁnite limit as the argument approaches a given point. there are values at least as great as this number for arguments between a − and a. however near we come to a. for arguments that fall very little short | of a (if is very small). we shall say that it belongs to the “ultimate oscillation. Hence the ultimate section consists of all real numbers. XI.” We may illustrate the matter by considering once more the function sin /x as x approaches the value . whatever may be. namely. where is some number which. we wish to consider what happens for arguments contained in the interval from a − to a. it consists of all negative numbers together with . in order to ﬁt in with the above deﬁnitions. The ultimate oscillation may contain no terms. the section consisting of those numbers that are not greater than all the values for arguments from a − to a. instead of from the bottom up to some point. σ ﬁrst deﬁnes a neighbourhood of f (a). and that. | We may say generally that the “ultimate oscillation” of a func. Thus the “ultimate oscillation” consists of all real numbers from − to . The deﬁnition then proceeds to say that we can (by means of ) deﬁne a neighbourhood. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Given any number in this section. the value of the function lies within the neighbourhood from f (a) − σ to f (a) + σ . 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. this deﬁnes an upper section which will vary as varies. tion as the argument approaches a from below consists of all those numbers x which are such that. for all arguments within this neighbourhood. Similarly the “ultimate upper section” consists of all positive numbers together with . will be very small. Let us consider what may happen as the argument approaches some value a from below. however small we make . The general rule is that a function oscillates. we obtain the “ultimate upper section. up to and including . namely. together with the positive numbers up to and including . i. Here we take those numbers that are not less than all the values for arguments from a − to a. we shall still ﬁnd values as great as x and values as small as x. the neighbourhood from f (a)−σ to f (a)+σ . or one term. such that. Let us begin with the “ultimate section. or many terms.e. however small we may make . Limits and Continuity of Functions In this deﬁnition. there are arguments between a − and a for which the value of the function is not less than z.” Between − and . As this is the general rule. Let us take all possible ’s and all possible corresponding sections. the function is “continuous” for the argument a. a whole stretch of values will occur for arguments within this neighbourhood. together with the negative numbers down to and including −. there are arguments between a − and a for which the value of the function is not greater than z. We shall assume. namely. the function will assume the value for certain arguments. In the ﬁrst two cases the function has a deﬁnite . in important cases. but will never assume any greater value. to sections that go from some point up to the top. Taking the common part of all such sections for all possible ’s. If a term z belongs both to the ultimate section and to the ultimate upper section. If we had done so. If this can be done. let us consider it ﬁrst. i.

however small. Wells which will illustrate. Similarly we obtain lower and upper limits of the “ultimate” values for approaches from above. just as the earlier deﬁnition of continuity proceeded. for which it has the value f a. the value of the function is a member of the class α. This is to hold for any σ . if is suﬃciently small. it is necessary and sufﬁcient that. in the general case. 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. the lower boundary of the ultimate upper section and the upper boundary of the ultimate section) as the lower and upper limits of its “ultimate” values for approaches from below. and our arguments both lie between a − and a (a excluded). need not be identical. The case of motion is a convenient one to bear in mind. without his knowledge. if it satisﬁes four conditions. But if the ultimate oscillation has many terms. Limits and Continuity of Functions limit for approaches from below. It is only in this last case that we call the function continuous for the argument a. We may now say that a function is continuous for the argument a. 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. in that case the function has a limit for approaches from below. The limit for a given argument a only exists when all these four are equal. four limits to a function for approaches to a given argument. In this case we can take the lower and upper boundaries of the ultimate oscillation (i. and is then their common value. and if they are identical. Thus we have. 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. the boundary of the ultimate section is the same as that of the ultimate upper section. It is equally true if it has none. These two limits. Similarly we deﬁne the case when there is a limit for approaches from above. this is fairly obvious. the function converges into the predecessors of this number as the argument approaches a from below. If the ultimate oscillation has one term. | We may now generalise our deﬁnitions so as to apply to series which are not numerical or known to be numerically measurable. i. they still need not be identical with the value for the argument a. The advantage of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses the conditions of continuity into four. the power of realising his wishes. the diﬀerence between the limit of a function for a given argument and its value for the same argument. for this argument and all arguments greater than this. the limit of the policeman’s positions as t approached to t . who possessed. two values for arguments suﬃciently near to a (but both less than a) will diﬀer | by less than σ . and may be deﬁned as the limit of the function for approaches from below.e. () and () Similar conditions for approaches to a from above. If f (t) was the policeman’s position at time t. for it is not diﬃcult to prove that. namely:— () Given any real number less than f a. The deﬁnition proceeds. If it is also the value for the argument a. () Given any real number greater than f a. if the ultimate oscillation is null. in that case. derived from considering arguments and values respectively greater or less than the argument and value for which continuity is to be deﬁned. there is no deﬁnite limit to the function for approaches from below. given any small number σ . from the case of motion. even when both exist. Let us deﬁne the limit for approaches from below. and t the moment of the ejaculation. the function converges into the successors of this number as the argument approaches a from below. the function is continuous for this argument. The hero of the story. then the diﬀerence between the values for these arguments will be less than σ . was being attacked by a policeman. G. but on ejaculating “Go to——” he found that the policeman disappeared.e. 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. There is a story by H. XI. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap.

It will be seen that the deﬁnitions do not involve inﬁnitesimals. This illustration may be borne in mind throughout our deﬁnitions. so that “the R of a” is its position at time a. though it is not necessary to our deﬁnitions that they should be so. that essentially involves number. that all motions are continuous. whereas the value for the argument t was —. and it is assumed. the ﬁrst is. has the relation Q to a). Let R be a one-many relation whose domain is contained in the ﬁeld of P. Let P and Q be two relations. with x or y themselves. There is thus nothing. if x and y are two members of the ﬁeld of P.) We can easily deﬁne the “ultimate section” and the “ultimate oscillation. take the values of the function for all arguments up to and including y. Both can be deﬁned generally. But such occurrences are supposed to be rare in the real world. and x has the relation P to y. the function has values which are members of α. and take their common part. that we are dealing with a particle moving on a line: let Q be the time-series.e. when so stated. those members of the P-series which are earlier than or identical with some of these values. Limits and Continuity of Functions from below would be in contact with the hero. 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.e. that. but they . this will be the ultimate section. 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.” To deﬁne the “ultimate section” for approaches to the argument a from below. Then R is (in a generalised sense) a function. for example. putting b for the value for the argument a: | Given any term having the relation P to b. XI. Suppose. there is an interval on the Q-series containing a not as an end-point and such that. growing smaller without any limit short of zero. Of the four conditions that a function must fulﬁl in order to be continuous for the argument a. i. and many propositions about them can be proved for any two series (one being the argument-series and the other the value-series). P the series of points on our line from left to right. given any interval α on the P-series containing the value of the function for the argument a. The adaptation of the deﬁnition of convergence and the resulting alternative deﬁnition of continuity oﬀers no diﬃculty of any kind. whose arguments belong to the ﬁeld of Q. the third and fourth are obtained from the ﬁrst and second by replacing Q by its converse. i. throughout this interval. R the relation of the position of our particle on the line at time a to the time a. if f (t) is its position at time t. The deﬁnitions given for the case of functions where argument and value are real numbers can readily be adapted for more general use. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. They involve inﬁnite classes of intervals. f (t) is a continuous function of t. take any argument y which precedes a (i. and form the section of P deﬁned by these values. which it is well to imagine serial. The ultimate upper section and the ultimate oscillation are then deﬁned exactly as in the previous case. while its converse domain is contained in the ﬁeld of Q. i. while its values belong to the ﬁeld of P. We shall say that the function R is continuous for the argument | a if.e. (We mean by an “interval” all the terms between any two.e. though without adequate evidence. Form all such sections for all y’s that precede a. R Q-converges into the successors of b (with respect to P) as the argument approaches a from below. given any body. 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. The second condition is obtained by replacing P by its converse. It is the meaning of “continuity” involved in such statements which we now wish to deﬁne as simply as possible. in the notions of the limit of a function or the continuity of a function.

The process of successive bisection does not lead to divisions whose ordinal number is inﬁnite. in certain portions of mathematics. Before enunciating the multiplicative axiom. and they must not overlap. secondly. 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. since it is essentially a one-by-one process. the only correct procedure is to construct an actual class (or relation. and which is convenient. we must ﬁrst explain the theory of selections. in the case of relation-numbers) having the required number of terms. then. ciated. and so on indeﬁnitely. How shall we deﬁne µ + µ? For this purpose we must have two classes having µ terms. CHAPTER XII SELECTIONS AND THE MULTIPLICATIVE AXIOM In this chapter we have to consider an axiom which can be enun. which it seems natural to suppose true. Thus inﬁnitesimals are not to be reached in this way. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy do not involve any intervals that are not ﬁnite. and the deﬁnition of multiplication when the number of factors may be inﬁnite. This is analogous to the fact that if a line an inch long be halved. in the sense that many interesting propositions. we never reach inﬁnitesimals in this way: after n bisections. Take. and whose second term is the null-class. though not indispensable. because even without those propositions the subjects in which they occur still exist. cannot be proved without its help. It is convenient. In deﬁning the arithmetical operations. the case of addition. and a class α which has µ terms. . then halved again. form all the ordered couples whose ﬁrst term is | the null-class and whose second term is a class consist. but it is essential in order to prove the existence of the number deﬁned. though in a somewhat mutilated form. the length of our bit is /n of an inch. in terms of logic. but it is not indispensable. This sometimes demands a certain amount of ingenuity. We can construct such classes from α in various ways. Confusions on such topics have had much to do with the diﬃculties which have been found in the discussion of inﬁnity and continuity. as the simplest example. and this is ﬁnite whatever ﬁnite number n may be. Suppose we are given a cardinal number µ. but not proved.

x ). (x . How many diﬀerent possible ways of choosing a Parliament are there? Each constituency can select any one of its voters. who make up our Parliament. For example. Let us now set to work to choose one term out of each class to be its representative. it will be applicable whether κ is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. when the total number of constituencies is ﬁnite. i. are merely a question of a suitable technical device. i. important problems arise out of the deﬁnition. Given two classes α and β. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. 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. (x . as a rule. It is to be observed that the problem is to be able to deal with the case when κ is inﬁnite. Let κ be a class of classes. x ). not with the case when its members are. (x . ii. ∗ . except that it cannot be extended to an inﬁnite number of factors. i. i. (x . It will be seen that this deﬁnition does not require that α and β should not overlap. and vol. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom ing of a single member of α. These two classes of couples have no member in common. The following method of deﬁning multiplication generally is due to Dr Whitehead. let α be the class whose members are x . given that µ is the number of some class α and ν is the number of some class β. and therefore if there are µ voters in a constituency. (x . It is explained and treated at length in Principia Mathematica. vol. If | κ is not inﬁnite. of which the ﬁrst has µ terms and the second ν terms. and let us assume to begin with that no two members of κ overlap. No diﬃculty arises as regards this deﬁnition. This is the method by which inﬁnite products are deﬁned.e.. When we do not know whether the number of constituencies is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. x ).e. and if α be any member of κ. (x . and it can be extended step by step to three or four or any ﬁnite number of factors. then no member of the one is a member of the other. even though its members may be ﬁnite. as constituencies do when they elect members of Parliament. suppose the number of terms in each of these classes is given. Then the class which is used to deﬁne the product µ × µ is the class of couples: (x . We shall call a class a “selection” from κ when it consists of just one term from each member of κ. where the number of factors may be inﬁnite. Such deﬁnitions. (x . It is the case when κ is inﬁnite. The choices of the diﬀerent constituencies are independent. We must now drop our illustration. it even remains adequate when α and β are identical. But in the case of multiplication. (x . µ is a “selection” from κ if every member of µ belongs to some member | of κ.e. x . assuming that by law each constituency has to elect a man who is a voter in that constituency. that we have to ﬁnd a way of dealing with. x ). x ). each constituency being considered as a class of voters. the number of possible Parliaments is obtained by multiplying together the numbers of voters in the various constituencies. x ). How shall we deﬁne the product of all these numbers? If we can frame our deﬁnition generally. The number of terms in the multiplicative class of κ. and the logical sum of the two classes will have µ + µ terms. 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. one being selected out of each constituency. XII. x ). thus it is obvious that. x . that if α and β are two diﬀerent members of κ. and proceed to exact statements. 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. The class of all “selections” from κ we shall call the “multiplicative class” of κ. the method deﬁned above is just as applicable when its members are inﬁnite as when they are ﬁnite. µ and α have exactly one term in common. We thus arrive at a class of representatives. the . x ). ∗ ﬀ. This deﬁnition remains applicable when µ or ν or both are inﬁnite. Exactly analogously we can deﬁne µ + ν. Multiplication when the number of factors is ﬁnite oﬀers no diﬃculty. x ). it can make µ choices. we may take the number of possible Parliaments as deﬁning the product of the numbers of the separate constituencies.

and such that. Thus we deﬁne: “The product of the numbers of the members of a class of classes κ” is the number of selectors from κ. since y may be any member of β. of which there will be exactly one having any given member of β for its second term. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. This deﬁnition is equally applicable whether κ is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. The relevance of this to the multiplicative axiom will appear shortly. since our classes of couples are mutually exclusive. will be the class of selections. Before we can be wholly satisﬁed with these deﬁnitions. The formal deﬁnition is: A “selector” from a class of classes κ is a one-many relation. if x has the relation to α. We might deﬁne “µ × ν” as the sum of the numbers of ν classes each having µ terms. If R is a selector from κ. is designed to evade the necessity of assuming the multiplicative axiom. We can deﬁne exponentiation by an adaptation of the above | plan. and α has µ members. if. A “selection” from κ will now be deﬁned as the domain of a selector. and the ﬁrst term may be any member of α.e. we call x the “representative” of α in respect of the relation R. This deﬁnition. giving rise to diﬀerent selectors in the two cases. and α is a member of κ. namely. each of which has µ terms. we obtain altogether ν classes. We deﬁne µν as the number of selectors from the class consisting of these ν classes. But there is one thing we cannot prove: we cannot prove that a product is only zero when one of its factors is zero. given a class of classes none of which is null. but the set is one having a certain structure and a more manageable composition than is the case in general. Thus µν is deﬁned by the selectors from a certain set of ν classes each having µ terms. since a term x which belongs to two classes α and β may be selected once to represent α and once to represent β. and this is to be all that R does. where α has µ terms and β has ν terms. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom number of possible selections from κ. i. we must remove the restriction that no two members of κ are to overlap. derived from the fact that the multiplicative axiom (of which we shall speak shortly) is unnecessarily involved if it is adopted. is deﬁned as the product of the numbers of the members of κ. For this purpose. it is the selectors we require rather than the selections. there may be more selectors than selections. all the couples that can be formed of a variable member of α and a ﬁxed member of β. XII.” A relation R will be called a “selector” from κ if. then x is a member of α. and form the class of all ordered couples that have y for their second term and a member of α for their ﬁrst term. it picks out one term as the representative of that member. also. for. and x is the term which has the relation R to α. and β has ν members. These ν classes are each of them a class of couples. but to the same selection. but not when it is inﬁnite. deﬁne µν as the number of selectors from ν classes. | With our deﬁnitions. But there are objections to this deﬁnition. having κ for its converse domain. there is just one term x which is a member of α and has the relation R to α. We can prove this when the number of factors is ﬁnite. given a class of mutually exclu- . 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. There will be µ such couples for a given y. and β a class having ν terms. we can prove the usual formal laws of multiplication and exponentiation.” we will deﬁne ﬁrst a relation which we will call a “selector. Or we may equally well deﬁne µν as the number of selections. given any member α of κ. What applies to exponentiation applies also to the product of two cardinals. and the multiplicative class. A selection from our class of classes will be a set of ordered couples. the number of selectors is the same as the number of selections. or that. We adopt instead the following construction:— Let α be a class having µ terms. from every member of κ. In other words. there must be selectors from them. But when the members of κ overlap. as before. of course. instead of deﬁning ﬁrst a class called a “selection. since any member of α may be chosen for the ﬁrst term. If we now form all the classes of this sort that result from varying y. we cannot prove that. Let y be a member of β. For purposes of deﬁning multiplication.

of course. We then take away the whole progression. It must be confessed that. they seem obviously true. We have seen that ℵ and ℵ possibly form an instance of such a pair. vol. (The above is.. mathematicians had used it without a qualm. . In this form we shall speak of it as Zermelo’s axiom. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. equal to. it assumes that. . This is the form in which the axiom was ﬁrst brought to the notice of the learned world by Zermelo. if x has the relation R to ξ.) This proposition is called “Zermelo’s theorem. the nullclass). yet reﬂection brings gradually increasing doubt. given any class α. What Zermelo does. one must be the greater. pp.e. there is at least one class which has exactly one term in common with each of the given classes. is to count oﬀ the members of α. ∗ . that. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom sive classes. Then take the representative of the class consisting of all of α except x . and then consider certain ways in which its truth or falsehood is of interest to mathematics. call it x . without assuming that we can know whether it is true or false. The assumption. is that selectors and selections exist when we should expect them. as we register the axiom of parallels. The successive representatives will form a | well-ordered series containing all the members of α. The multiplicative axiom has been shown by Zermelo.” Zermelo regards the axiom as an unquestionable truth. XII. iii. of course.” i. nor greater than ν. and κ all the sub-classes of α with the exception | of the null-class. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the proposition that. let xω be the representative of what is left of α. Annalen. And the credit due to Zermelo for having made it explicit is entirely independent of the question whether it is true or false. xn . loosely worded. and although.e. then there is at least one selector from κ. call it x .” The multiplicative axiom is also equivalent to the assumption that of any two cardinals which are not equal. These things cannot be proved. in his “Beweis. In this way we ﬁrst obtain a progression x . It must be diﬀerent from x . x . until he made it Principia Mathematica. the result cannot be unless one of the numbers concerned is . Mathematische See explicit. vol. It uses the form which we call “Zermelo’s axiom.e. at ﬁrst sight. . because every representative is a member of its class. and let x be the representative of what is left. one by one. of course.” This proposition we will call the “multiplicative axiom. in the above-mentioned proof. Also vol. there must be at least one class consisting of one term out of each of the given classes. There are many equivalent ways of stating it precisely. . it will often happen that two sub-classes have the same representative. We may begin with the following:— “Given any class of mutually exclusive classes. but it is not diﬃcult to see the general principle upon which it proceeds. until at last we become content to register the assumption and its consequences. . dass jede Menge wohlgeordnet werden kann. by means of R and transﬁnite induction. of which none is null. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the proposition that a product is only zero when at least one of its factors is zero. i. . i. then there is at least one one-many relation implying R and having κ for its converse domain. to be equivalent to the proposition that every class can be well-ordered. then x is a member of ξ. –. We put ﬁrst the representative of α. there will be cardinals µ and ν such that µ is neither less than. and x is shut out from this class. lix. if R be any relation. Proceed similarly to take away x . ∗ –. i. and κ any class contained in the converse domain of R. . Such a relation picks out a “representative” from each sub-class. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the assumption that if α be any class. but it would seem that they had done so unconsciously. If the axiom is false. only a hint of the general lines of the proof. 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 this way we can go on until nothing is left. can be arranged in a series in which every sub-class has a ﬁrst term (except. assuming that α is not ﬁnite. in eﬀect.” We will ﬁrst give various equivalent forms of the proposition. The full proof of this proposition is diﬃcult. if any number of cardinal numbers be multiplied together.

if we take any progression of ordinals of the second class. nothing is known at present.” That is to say.” i. But this. and that therefore he had ℵ of each. We naturally think that the sum of ν mutually exclusive classes. This is illustrated by the millionaire who bought a pair of socks whenever he bought a pair of boots. since there are in each case ν classes. one-one correlations of α and β. In order to obtain a one-one correlation of the sum of κ with the sum of λ. and who had such a passion for buying both that at last he had ℵ pairs of boots and ℵ pairs of socks. There are. with the corollary that ω (the smallest ordinal of the third class) is not the limit of any progression. we have to pick out one correlator of α with β. Then if κ and λ are the two sets of classes. As to the truth or falsehood of the axiom in any of its forms. unless the multiplicative axiom is true—that the predecessors of the limit are ℵ in number. but what we want is a one-one relation between their terms. accordingly. It is commonly inferred from this that the sum of ℵ classes each having ℵ members must itself have ℵ members. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap.e. is involved in most of the recognised theory of ordinals of the second class. The trouble is that there are so many. and α is some member of κ. When ν is ﬁnite. The way the multiplicative axiom enters in is as follows: Suppose we have two sets of ν mutually exclusive classes. It is inferred thence—fallaciously. it cannot be proved without the multiplicative axiom. Let us consider some one-one relation S between the classes. The propositions that depend upon the axiom. we know that ℵ = ℵ × ℵ = ℵ . In order to prove this. Now α and β each have µ terms. 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. This proposition. and similarly for every other pair. since we do not know that the number of terms in such a sum is ℵ ×ℵ . All that can be said at present is that we do not know. this can be proved. They may be true. though we can prove that it is sometimes the case. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom Many other forms of the axiom might be given. Take ﬁrst the connection of addition and multiplication. and are therefore similar. since that number is not increased by doubling. and never at any other time. or they may not. Hence we cannot establish the usual kind of connection between addition and multiplication. we cannot in general know that such a selection exists. are numerous and important. the proposition and its corollary cannot be regarded as proved. To begin with. but this inference is fallacious. owing to some special circumstance. Thus the greater part of the theory of ordinals of the second class must be regarded as unproved. the predecessors of their limit form at most the sum of ℵ classes each having ℵ terms. the existence of certain selectors can be proved. such that a series having this ordinal number will have ℵ terms in its ﬁeld. we must establish a one-one relation. This requires a selection from a set of classes | of correlators. each having µ terms. But this is an instance of the diﬃculty. one class of the set being all the oneone correlators of α with β. This fact has various curious consequences. This has a bearing upon the theory of transﬁnite ordinals. . We know that × ℵ = ℵ . must have µ × ν terms. Hence we might suppose that the sum of ℵ pairs must have ℵ terms. already noted. Now. nor consequently that it is ℵ . unless we can know that the multiplicative axiom is true. If κ and λ are inﬁnite. and therefore that the limit is a number of the “second class. there is some one-one relation between the two sets of classes. there will be a member β of λ which will be the correlate of α with respect to S. The problem is: How many boots had he. without being known to be equivalent to it. XII. except where. but the above are the most important of the forms known at present. and we wish to prove that the sum of one set has as many terms as the sum of the other. In view of the way in which the multiplicative axiom is involved. It is also easy to see that. 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. But when ν is inﬁnite. It is easy to prove that an ordinal which has ℵ predecessors must be one of what Cantor calls the “second class. Another illustration may help to make the point clearer. cannot be proved to happen always | unless we assume the multiplicative axiom. each having µ terms.

We thus get a progression of sets of sub-classes. in the case of objects in space. . There is no diﬃculty in doing this with the boots. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. keeping the order of the pair unchanged. each set consisting of all those that have a certain given ﬁnite number of terms. That is to say. we always can ﬁnd some principle of selection. and the case of the socks. one set of µ pairs may not contain the same number of terms as another set of µ pairs. This case illustrates that. must be reﬂexive. a relation which is a selector. In our case it can be done with the boots. Now there is no diﬃculty in showing that a non-inductive class must contain more terms than any inductive class. Within each pair. But there is no theoretical reason why a method of selection such as this should always be possible. (The class may. of course. and therefore as the ﬁeld of a progression. if µ is the number of members of α. but that the converse (so far as is known at present) can only be proved if we assume the multiplicative axiom. i. but we have only proved that the number of collections of sub-classes of α is a reﬂexive number. But with the socks we shall have to choose arbitrarily. we do not know that a selection is even theoretically possible. that. XII. with any | pair. like socks. i. may serve to show how a selection might be impossible. 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. with each pair. α . 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.e. there are sub-classes of α that have ν terms. for. thus we can choose. there are certainly ℵ boots. omitting the sub-class consisting of the null-class alone. then classes having term (as many as there are members of α). we can choose all the right boots or all the left boots. that sock which has its centre of mass nearer to p. and we cannot be sure. that there is any class consisting of one sock out of each pair. so µ that µ is the number of sub-classes of α and is the number µ of collections of sub-classes. or. given ℵ pairs of boots. and an inﬁnite number of arbitrary choices is an impossibility. and therefore that there were not ℵ of them. take the centres of mass of the socks: there will be points p in space such that. but with socks no such principle of selection suggests itself. take the left boot ﬁrst and the right second. from each pair. we must employ the multiplicative axiom. Thus we can form sets of ﬁnite sub-classes of α: First one class having no terms. For example. that. the centres of mass of the two socks are not both at exactly the same distance from p. provided µ is not inductive. given any noninductive class. in this way we obtain a progression of all the boots. In order to advance beyond this point. But this is a long way from what we set out to prove. which to put ﬁrst. From each set of sub-classes let us choose out one. So far we have not used the multiplicative axiom. if µ is an inﬁnite number. what comes to the same thing. sometimes it cannot. except by some very artiﬁcial device. that if α is a non-inductive class and ν is any inductive number. we pointed out that a reﬂexive number must be non-inductive. with a little goodwill on the part of the reader. Hence the problem. The reason for the diﬀerence is this: Among boots we can distinguish right and left. it is necessary and suﬃcient to ﬁnd some way of arranging its terms in a progression. We may put the matter in another way. it would follow that the socks could not be arranged in a progression. we select one sub-class containing one term. namely.e. if it were impossible to select one out of each pair of socks. itself have ℵ terms. Another important problem involving the multiplicative axiom is the relation of reﬂexiveness to non-inductiveness. Unless we can ﬁnd a rule for selecting. Sometimes this can be done. To prove that a class has ℵ terms. say. it is possible to choose a progression out of its terms.) Thus we have to prove. if we can. and so on. and therefore we can make a selection of one out of each pair. then. then classes having | terms. It will be remembered that in Chapter VIII. The pairs are given as forming an ℵ . Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom of connecting the sum of ν classes each having µ terms with µ × ν. unless we assume the multiplicative axiom. Of course. It is to be observed that. but not with the socks.

that the above argument does not demand the universal truth of the multiplicative axiom. and so on. Assuming the multiplicative axiom. i. The class α . But by that time the old terms would no longer be suﬃciently numerous to form a next class with the right number of members. The multiplicative axiom is equivalent to the assumption that all cardinal numbers are multipliable. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. α . every non-inductive cardinal must be reﬂexive. Selections and the Multiplicative Axiom one containing two terms. i. i. we shall still have a progression. + ν terms. i. α . it introduces one new term. α . . . x is a member of γ . may or may not contain x . . then x . We may state this assumption in the form: “ℵ is a multipliable number. and so introduces no new terms. we can be sure that new members keep on coming in from time to time. at the very most. Cases may be . because α and α must introduce new terms. but if α does contain this one member. x . It follows that. let the one term be x .e. . ν(ν +)/+. β . Let γµ be the part of βµ which consists of new members. but. µ must be a reﬂexive number. say βµ .) We have now a progression α . x . x . is a progression. if the axiom is true. . but we cannot prove that any inﬁnite number is so. The ﬁrst ν classes α . γ . which consists of one term. . . all those classes that are composed entirely of members that have occurred in previous classes. The next step is to notice that.e. But in order to identify the reﬂexive with the non-inductive. . + + + . α . It is not improbable that there is much to be discovered in regard to the topics discussed in the present chapter. . for a wellordered series must have either a ﬁnite or a reﬂexive number of terms in its ﬁeld. Thus we get a new progression γ . β . if the axiom is true. . consisting of two terms. (We can do this if the multiplicative axiom is assumed. otherwise. is a new beginning. x . There is one advantage in the above direct argument. if α does not contain the one member of α . ν(ν +)/ terms. we do not know whether we can always do it or not. In this case it is possible that α consists of x . or to show that any progression of numbers of the second class is of the second class. x is a member of γ . say. . if it does. . and is a sub-class of α. and so on. α . we shall have γ = β = α . every class can be well-ordered. and if it does not. α . XII. but in that case α must introduce a new term. We now know that. The class α . to content ourselves with the more restricted assumption. . although we cannot be sure that new members of α come in at any one speciﬁed stage in the progression α . that. α . x . . if x is the member of γ . Thus by twice using this axiom we can prove that. contains members which have not occurred in any of the previous β’s. γ will consist of the other member of α . . it must introduce two new terms. therefore new terms must come in at this point if not sooner. αν contain. We may or may not have α = β . .e. α . of sub-classes of α. say. We can prove that a ﬁnite number is always multipliable. say x . . though not for larger numbers of classes. such a selection can be made. when | it is possible.” where a number ν is deﬁned as “multipliable” when a product of ν factors is never zero unless one of the factors is zero. This could also be deduced from Zermelo’s theorem. . α . if we omit from our progression α . . thus we are one step nearer to our goal. Let us illustrate. βµ will be αν . 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. Hence a selection from them will be a progression. if there were no repetitions in the ﬁrst ν classes. . . Let our new progression be called β . (Again γ will be identical with β and with α . if µ is a non-inductive number. where ν is some number greater than µ.) This new progression of γ’s consists of mutually exclusive classes. speaking generally. to go on with only repetitions from the (ν + )th | class to the ν(ν + )/th class. γ . one containing three. α . assuming the multiplicative axiom. (We shall have α = β and α = β . but only its truth as applied to a set of ℵ classes.e. as against deduction from Zermelo’s theorem. we only need the very much smaller assumption that ℵ is multipliable. . thus it would be possible. the β’s are some of the α’s.) Now these β’s are such that any one of them. For this reason it is better. or to deal with the problem of the boots and socks. instead of a progression of collections of sub-classes. It may happen that the axiom holds for ℵ classes.

unless we assume the multiplicative axiom. that we shall not have m + = n + unless m = n. namely.e. we had occasion to use what is virtually the same as the above assumption of Peano’s. that. One of Peano’s assumptions is that no two inductive cardinals have the same successor. i. In view of what we found in the preceding chapter. in virtue of Zermelo’s theorem. no method of obtaining such results has been discovered. It is conceivable that the multiplicative axiom in its general form may be shown to be false. of course. and the subject remains wrapped in obscurity. which would prove the multiplicative axiom false. But we do know that there are at least ℵ classes of classes. if m and n are inductive cardinals. by the axiom. From this point of view. it follows. 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. it follows that the number of individuals in the world must (if our axiom be true) exceed any inductive number. since the inductive cardinals are classes of classes. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy found where propositions which seem to involve the multiplicative axiom can be proved without it. For. and form a progression if our axiom is true. Since n is any inductive number. But so far. | n is not equal to n + . and that the total number of individuals in the world is not an inductive number. that there are many classes of individuals having n terms. we cannot infer from our axiom that there are at least ℵ individuals.” If this is true. In Chapter VIII. 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. It might be thought that this . there is at least one class of individuals having n terms. 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. about the possibility of cardinals which are neither inductive nor reﬂexive. The way in which the need for this axiom arises may be explained as follows. if n is an inductive cardinal.

it is the null-class. and exponentiation of ﬁnite integers and of ratios. If a ratio µ/ν is to have the expected properties. as we did just now. now. there must be enough objects of whatever sort is being counted to insure that the nullclass does not suddenly obtrude itself. but we cannot deal with inﬁnite integers or with irrationals. Thus and all subsequent inductive cardinals will all be identical. Now applying this deﬁnition. and n is the number of members of α. 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. If. vol. and so on. Now n is always greater than n. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types could be proved.e. Assuming that the number of individuals in the world is n. We can prove that. we suppose the number of individuals to be . On this subject see Principia Mathematica. The same will be true of + . and do not introduce either inﬁnite integers or inﬁnite classes or series of ﬁnite integers or ratios.e. or generally of + n. And if we advance to classes of classes of classes. a number which is so large as to stagger imagination. and might be thought to imply the other. ii.. As regards ratios. In a time of paper shortage it is undesirable to write out this number. In this way any assigned inductive cardinal can be made to ﬁnd its place among numbers which are not null. however few individuals there may be in the world. ing problems as regards ratio. our arithmetic will be normal until we reach : the ﬁrst number to be null will be . the number of classes of individuals will be n . ∗ ﬀ. This proposition is easily proved by induction. by merely trav. ∗ ﬀ. without the axiom of | inﬁnity. On the correspond- .” I must ask the reader to be patient. . Ultimately. (As to what is meant by the word “individual. then n is not equal to n + . nor will it be true that no two have the same successor. since there might be no such class as α. we can deal with the addition.) Then the inductive cardinals from up to would be such as we expect. How these various results come about must now be explained. What it does imply is this: If n is an inductive cardinal such that there is at least one class having n members. | multiplication. Let us illustrate this possibility by an example: Suppose there were exactly nine individuals in the world. for any given ratio µ/ν. unless n is zero. But this can be insured. vol. elling up the hierarchy a suﬃcient distance. Hence the number of classes in the world is greater than the number of individuals. iii. and if we want larger ones we can obtain them by travelling further along the logical hierarchy. and thus enables us to assert that n is not equal to n + . in the case supposed. we can try classes of classes. we have a very similar state of aﬀairs. since it has about digits. This is in virtue of the general proposition mentioned in Chapter VIII. But without this axiom we should be left with the possibility that n and n + might both be the null-class. we see that. i. i. And if we advance to classes of classes we shall do still better: the number of them will be . for and will both be succeeded by the null-class ( being itself the null-class). see ibid. there remains a class of n terms. that the number of classes contained in a class which has n members is n . merely by travelling along the hierarchy for a suﬃcient distance. if α is an inductive class. when x is taken away. the number of digits in this number will be about three times . But in fact it does not. It is in order to prevent such arithmetical catastrophes that we require the axiom of inﬁnity. if we still do not succeed. As a matter of fact. but (deﬁned as + ) would be the null-class. we shall obtain a number represented by raised to a power which has about digits. In such a case the inductive cardinals will not form a progression. That is to say. Thus the theory of the trans- ﬁnite and the theory of real numbers fails us. then n is not equal to n + . XIII. If we cannot succeed by counting individuals. so long as we are content with the arithmetic of ﬁnite integers. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. the number of classes will be . Thus if we take our numbers as being applied to the counting of classes instead of to the counting of individuals. since they will all be the null-class. The axiom of inﬁnity assures us (whether truly or falsely) that there are classes having n members. we can try counting classes of individuals. + is a class consisting of no classes. it is possible to obtain all desired results without the axiom of inﬁnity.

be found to be fallacious. the null-class. But the need of some doctrine of types is less doubtful than the precise form the doctrine should take. for example. classes of classes. etc. 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. and shall therefore not need the axiom of inﬁnity. and not | conﬁning ourselves to objects of any one type. and the whole series in order to establish the existence of progressions: for these results. and obscure. though he may be unable to say where the ﬂaw is in the above construction. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. the number of terms in our whole set will be n + n + . it is necessary that we should be able to make a single class or series in which no inductive cardinal is null. It would be a mistake to lay too much stress on such feelings of hocus-pocus. namely.. the nullclass of classes and the class whose only member is the null-class of individuals). So it might be said. . have a cardinal number which is the . classes. which it cannot be if the total number of ratios.. at the next stage. It may be said: Let us assume that the number of individuals is n. from the “contradiction of the greatest cardinal. where n may be without spoiling our argument. Even if there were no individuals at all. whatever inductive number µ may be. The man who has lent his hat is quite sure there wasn’t a live rabbit in it before. before going into this argument. in my opinion. they may easily lead us astray. confused. isolating. 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. and in connection with the axiom of inﬁnity it is particularly easy to see the necessity of some such doctrine.” To explain the subject of “types” fully would require a whole volume. at the stage concerned. the axiom of inﬁnity could be proved. classes of classes of classes. But they aﬀord a prima facie ground for scrutinising very closely any argument which arouses them. The class consisting of all objects that can be counted. etc. those parts which can be accepted as embodying mathematically ascertained truths. Thus no such assumption as the axiom of inﬁnity is required in order to reach any given ratio or any given inductive cardinal. And when the above argument is scrutinised it will. if there be such a class. for the convenience of beginners. and so on. classes of individuals. which is ℵ . . We need the whole class of inductive cardinals in order to establish the existence of ℵ . But if we could. add together into one class the individuals. at the next stage. and we inferred that there is no greatest cardinal number. that the number of classes contained in a given class is always greater than the | number of members of the class. It is when we wish to deal with the whole class or series of inductive cardinals or of ratios that the axiom is required. we should obtain a class of which its own sub-classes would be members. like other emotions. must.” We saw in Chapter VIII. classes of classes of individuals. by means of constructions such as we have been considering. if he has a robust sense of reality. is ﬁnite. Thus taking all kinds of objects together. but he is at a loss to say how the rabbit got there. So the reader. we shall certainly obtain an inﬁnite class. Now. as we suggested a moment ago. This necessity results. then if we form the complete set of individuals. It would be natural to suppose—as I supposed myself in former days—that. will feel convinced that it is impossible to manufacture an inﬁnite collection out of a ﬁnite collection of individuals. ad inf. the ﬁrst thing to observe is that there is an air of hocus-pocus about it: something reminds n one of the conjurer who brings things out of the hat. The fallacy involved is the fallacy which may be called “confusion of types. . XIII. though the fallacy is a subtle one and by no means easy to avoid consistently. this would still be true. for there would then be one class. classes of classes (namely. it is the purpose of this book to avoid those parts of the subjects which are still obscure and controversial. moreover. all taken together. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types we shall reach a stage where there are many more than µ objects. of whatever sort..

pp.. why there is need of such a doctrine. If it is not. or done more than indicate. “Mathematical Vol. There remain. There is no diﬃculty in manufacturing similar contradictions ad lib. I attempted to discover some ﬂaw in Cantor’s proof that there is no greatest cardinal. it would be found that numbers do not have being— . a member of itself—each implies its contradictory. for example. § (p. In this way the attempt to escape from the need for the axiom of inﬁnity breaks down. in articles by the present author in the American Journal | of Mathematics and in the Revue de M´taphysique et de Morale. suggested by a passage in Plato’s Parmenides. and n classes of individuals. of another class of individuals will be to suppose nonsense. and so on.e. or is not a member. if n is an inductive cardinal. it is a member of itself. ∗ and ∗ .” vol. –. if it is capable of translation into a form in which no mention is made of the class. i. consisting of both individuals and classes and having n + n members. is not a man.e. to the eﬀect that. 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. in rough outline. and therefore there is such a number as . must embrace itself as one of its members.” . chap. The fallacy consists in the formation of what we may call “impure” classes. namely. Thus of the two hypotheses—that it is. and together with and being gives a class of three terms.. ). Prefatory Statement. it is not one of those classes that are not members of themselves. and is a member of the class “everything. ii. Hence we arrive at a contradiction. The solution of such contradictions by the theory of types is set forth fully in Principia Mathematica. –. XIII. more brieﬂy. Applying this proof to the supposed class of all imaginable objects. we cannot form a new class. if a deﬁnite meaning were invented for it.. And more generally. to suppose that one class of individuals is a member. partly because “being” is not a term having any deﬁnite meaning. . the following:— The comprehensive class we are considering. Introduction. if there is such a thing as “everything. Thus if there are n individuals in the world. xxx. This is a contradiction. When I ﬁrst came upon this contradiction. there cannot be more of them than there are members. Mankind. n is not equal to n + . I do not pretend to have explained the doctrine of types. ii. and that it is not. There is an argument. then has being. a member of itself is meaningless in just this way. which we gave in Chapter VIII. For the e present an outline of the solution must suﬃce. and a statement which appears to be about a class will only be signiﬁcant i. In other words. i. if there is such a number as .. I was led to a new and simpler contradiction. but is not identical with being. though not really. it is one of those classes that are not members of themselves. Form now the assemblage of all classes which are not members of themselves. Logic as based on the Theory of Types. it is not a member of itself. which is to embrace everything. 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 such conjurer’s methods as we have been examining. or that it is not. pp.e.” As we shall see in a later chapter. but strictly devoid of meaning. vol. and also. they have been already dealt with. This is a class: is it a member of itself or not? If it is. This argument is fallacious. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. i. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types greatest possible. | In so far as these arguments assume that.” But normally a class is not a member of itself. and still more because.” then “everything” is something. however. Various arguments professing to prove the existence of inﬁnite classes are given in the Principles of Mathematics. classes which are not pure as to “type. and therefore and being are two. names for classes can occur signiﬁcantly: a sentence or set of symbols in which such pseudo-names occur in wrong ways is not false. classes are logical ﬁctions. Since all its sub-classes will be members of it. The supposition that a class is. “Les paradoxes de la logique. This places a limitation upon the ways in which what are nominally. certain other possible methods which must be considered. in the year .

it must be on the basis of some logical theory. But as applied to a number which is too great for the actual world. If the argument is to be upheld. It is. But a few further points should be noted. 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. quite independently of the truth or falsehood of the axiom of inﬁnity.g. it does not mean that. 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. . not only on its own account. is this: An object is not identical with the idea of the | object. proving that it is necessary to a thing that there should be an idea of it. starting (say) with Socrates. 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. There is an argument employed by both Bolzano and Dedekind to prove the existence of reﬂexive classes. in brief. the “ideas” intended must be Platonic ideas laid up in heaven. The main error consists in assuming that there is an idea of every object. as we have seen. Socrates (e.” or as “the husband of Xantippe. Dedekind. If we were concerned to examine fully the relation of idea and object. what are called “logical ﬁctions. As applied to a reﬂexive number. for if n is inductive this will not be the case. and ideas are only some among objects. we shall then ﬁnd this class “similar” to one of n + terms. is quite diﬀerent from the same equation as applied to a reﬂexive number. and then the idea of the idea of Socrates. or it may stand for a description (in the sense to be explained in a subsequent chapter). will not be always true if the axiom of inﬁnity is false. This argument is interesting. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types they are.” but there is not any central entity (except Socrates himself) to bind together various “ideas of Socrates. We certainly cannot obtain this result empirically. Beyond the third or fourth stage they become mythical. to suppose that. XIII. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. but because the mistakes in it (or what I judge to be mistakes) are of a kind which it is instructive to note. to “meine Gedankenwelt”—the world of my thoughts.) may be described as “the master of Plato. but let us assume that we know. it merely means that there is no class of n individuals.” and thus there is not any such one-one relation of idea and object as the argument supposes. this class is “similar” to that obtained by adding another term.” If—to take up the remaining hypothesis—“idea” is to be interpreted psychologically.” as we shall see when we come to consider the deﬁnition of classes. Nor. The argument. Accordingly. But then it at once becomes doubtful whether there are such ideas. in fact. but there is (at least in the realm of being) an idea of any object. if we mount the hierarchy of types suﬃciently far to secure the existence of a class of n terms. of course. It must be understood that the equation n = n + . We are then Bolzano. of course. rect descriptions of any given object. If “idea” is to be understood logically. Hence the relation “idea of” constitutes a reﬂexion of the whole class of objects into a part of itself. Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen? No. into that part which consists of ideas. which might be true for a ﬁnite n if n exceeded the total number of individuals in the world. Paradoxien des Unendlichen.” or as “the philosopher who drank the hemlock. exceedingly diﬃcult to decide what is meant by an “idea”. we should have to enter upon a number of psychological and logical inquiries. for certainly they are not on earth. because the relation of object and description is not | one-one: there are innumerable cor. In the former case the argument fails. which. as Dedekind does. the class of objects and the class of ideas are both inﬁnite. 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. it means that. given a class of n terms. as we have . . which are not relevant to our main purpose. namely. If we are to know that there are. and so on ad inf. because it was essential to the proof of reﬂexiveness that object and idea should be distinct. and no class of n + individuals. The relation of an object to the idea of it is one-one. there is the idea of Socrates. it may be identical with the object. or apply it.

We are thus led to the conception of terms which. that some of the possible worlds are ﬁnite. whether it is true or false in this world. “A gives B to C” is a relation of three terms.” where Cæsar is the grammatical subject. 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. though it might quite possibly aﬀord disproof. as compact. XIII. in that direction. we must conclude that nothing can be known a priori as to whether the number of things in the world is ﬁnite or inﬁnite. however. 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. is that new subjects take their places. If they are valid. since the same occurrence may be expressed in the words “Cæsar was killed by Brutus. whether true or false. and we have no means of knowing to which of these two kinds our actual world belongs.” But in such cases the grammar is misleading. I do not believe this. therefore. not mathematical ﬁctions. can only occur as subjects. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. though it is theoretically conceivable that some day there might be evidence pointing. We have no reason except prejudice for believing in the inﬁnite extent of space and time. but this again is mainly prejudice. “Brutus killed Cæsar” expresses a relation between Brutus and Cæsar. This is part of the old scholastic deﬁnition of sub- . from the substantives which express the subject of the attribute or the terms of the relation. some inﬁnite. as anyone may discover in a cinema. we may say. 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. the above argument in favour of the logical existence of reﬂexive classes must be rejected. also that there is at present no empirical reason to believe the number to be ﬁnite. when they occur in propositions.g. but is also not demonstrable logically. Using the word “subject” in a generalised sense. From the fact that the inﬁnite is not self-contradictory. to adopt a Leibnizian phraseology. We naturally regard space and time as continuous. we may call both Brutus and Cæsar subjects of this proposition: the fact that Brutus is grammatically subject and Cæsar object is logically irrelevant. 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. are quite suﬃcient to prove the actual existence of an inﬁnite number of particulars. the only result of this. the apparent subjects are found to be not really subjects. two or more “subjects” in the extended sense. “Killing is a relation which holds between Brutus and Cæsar. It might be thought that.g. and that there never can be. at least. the diversity of colours. and never in any other way. or. The theory of “quanta” in physics. etc. The conclusion is. though not conclusively. The axiom of inﬁnity will be true in some possible worlds and false in others. the empirical arguments derivable from space and time. Brutus and Cæsar will appear as the subjects and killing as the verb.. whatever may be said of logical arguments. for the present I am merely suggesting them for the reader’s consideration. In an ordinary statement we can distinguish a verb. illustrates the fact that physics can never afford proof of continuity. but to be capable of analysis. Throughout this chapter the synonyms “individual” and “particular” have been used without explanation. | Thus in the simpler sort of proposition we shall have an attribute or relation holding of or between one. at any rate in the sense in which space and time are physical facts. it follows that there is no empirical reason for believing the number of particulars in the world to be inﬁnite. For all these reasons. we cannot tell. (A relation may have more than two terms: e. following the rules that should guide philosophical grammar. on a closer scrutiny. “Cæsar lived” ascribes an attribute to Cæsar. It also happens that the verb may grammatically be made subject: e. The Axiom of Inﬁnity and Logical Types already noted.) Now it often happens that. It would take up too much space to | defend these theses adequately. and in a straightforward statement. expressing an attribute or relation. The senses are not suﬃciently exact to distinguish between continuous motion and rapid discrete succession.

which we have hitherto ignored. () descriptions. In a synthetic treatment. it is true | of classes of them. or . for if we were to rely upon that. If this be the case. we found ourselves confronted by problems which make such an examination imperative. we must consider certain other parts of the philosophy of mathematics. | rather than bring fallacy to the rescue of common sense. Mathematics is a deductive science: starting from certain premisses. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy stance. Before we can undertake it. but in order to do that we should have to plunge deeper into metaphysics than is desirable here. In the preceding chapter. it arrives. in so far as rigour is lacking in a mathematical proof. that part of the philosophy of mathematics which does not demand a critical examination of the idea of class. () propositional functions. but it is a simpler example of the kind of theory that is needed in dealing with classes. there seems no known method of discovering. (It would be better to deﬁne them directly. It is true that. but persistence through time. mathematical deductions were often greatly lacking in rigour. however. possible that there is an endless regress: that whatever appears as a particular is really.) It is. the parts which we shall now be concerned with come ﬁrst: they are more fundamental than anything that we have discussed hitherto. it is true also that perfect rigour is a scarcely attainable ideal. the third is not logically presupposed in the theory of classes. and classes of classes of them. the theory of deduction. it is no defence to urge that common sense shows the result to be correct. it would be better to dispense with argument altogether. Nevertheless. and so on. rather than by means of the kind of symbols by which they are symbolised. forms no part of the notion with which we are concerned. Hence it is natural to enunciate the axiom concerning them rather than concerning any other stage in the hierarchy. on closer scrutiny. CHAPTER XIV INCOMPATIBILITY AND THE THEORY OF DEDUCTION We have now explored. it is false throughout this hierarchy. the axiom of inﬁnity must of course be true. If it is true of them. But if it be not the case. somewhat hastily it is true. at the various theorems which constitute it. similarly if it is false of them. namely: () the theory of deduction. by a strict process of deduction. Three topics will concern us before we reach the theory of classes. the proof is defective. But whether the axiom is true or false. that will concern us in the present chapter. No appeal to common sense.” It is to the number of these that the axiom of inﬁnity is assumed to apply. it must be theoretically possible for analysis to reach ultimate subjects. We shall further deﬁne “individuals” or “particulars” as the objects that can be named by proper names. of course. a class or some kind of complex. It is the ﬁrst topic. We shall deﬁne “proper names” as those terms which can only occur as subjects in propositions (using “subject” in the extended sense just explained). and it is these that give the meaning of “particulars” or “individuals. which belonged to that notion. Of these. in the past.

Thus not-p has the opposite truth-value to p. What can be known. but always requires the support of what is called “intuition. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction “intuition. as its “truth-value” . XIV. and that there is a relation between the two of the sort called “disjunction. Meanwhile. When our minds are ﬁxed upon inference.e.” or anything except strict deductive logic. All these four are cases of inference. and false when p is true. we shall assume that all mathematics is deductive. 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. to amalgamate them into a single proposition. i. when there are originally several premisses. and that there is between the two a relation of the sort called “implication.” i.” i. In deduction.e. a controversial defence of it is given in the Principles of Mathematics. “p and q. Before proceeding to primitive ideas and deﬁnitions. This may be inferred from the truth of another proposition. with its increased pursuit of rigour. let us consider further the various functions of propositions suggested by the above-mentioned relations of propositions.” so that the knowledge that the one is false allows us to infer that the other is true. that if one is true. 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. i. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap.) Or we may know that a certain other proposition is false. in mathematics and by mathematical methods. when q implies p. it will be convenient. But we shall not regard such a process as logical deduction unless it is correct. the conclusion. In order to be able validly to infer the truth of a proposition.e. cannot be known—for example. Kant.” This is that function of p which is true when p is false. ought to be needed in mathematics after the premisses have been laid down. the axiom of parallels. in just the same circumstances in which the truth of the other might have been inferred from the truth of the one. we must know that some other proposition is true. it seems natural to take “implication” as the primitive fundamental relation. not its truth. (We shall deﬁne this relation shortly. but is falsehood when both p and q are false. It is this relation that is chieﬂy of interest in the logical theory of deduction.” expressed by “p or q. that (as we say) the premiss “implies” the conclusion. so as to be able to speak of the premiss as well as of the conclusion. to knowledge of a certain other proposition. . We cannot here do more than refer the reader to those works. since the subject is too vast for hasty treatment. Again. r. the premiss. is what can be deduced from pure logic. For our purposes. 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. i. The things in the mathematics of Kant’s day which cannot be proved. But for technical reasons this is not the best primitive idea to choose. we have one or more propositions called premisses. term is due to Frege.” This has truth for its This We shall use the letters p. through the senses or through experience in some form. what we wish to infer may be the falsehood of some proposition.” This is a function whose truth-value is truth when p is true and also when q is true. since this is the relation which must hold between p and q if we are to be able to infer the truth of q from the truth of p. and proceed to inquire as to what is involved in deduction. the other is false. has been against this Kantian theory. passim. The simplest of such functions is the negative.e. invented a theory of mathematical reasoning according to which the inference is never strictly logical. but not a priori. and falsehood of a false one. s. “not-p. but required an appeal to the ﬁgure. provided we know that the two are “incompatible. having observed that the geometers of his day could not prove their theorems by unaided argument. or its falsehood.” The whole trend of modern mathematics. It is convenient to speak of the truth of a proposition. t to denote variable propositions. | We may take next disjunction. q. Next we may take conjunction. from which we infer a proposition called the conclusion. truth is the “truth-value” of a true proposition. “p or q.e. from the falsehood of p we may infer the falsehood of q.

For example. is a certain truth-function called “incompatibility. Proc. But it has been shown by Sheﬀer that we can be content with one primitive idea for all ﬁve. Camb.” This is the negation of conjunction. We can deﬁne some of them in terms of others. i... but the actual passage from the assertion of p to the assertion of q is a psychological process. Implication is the incompatibility of p and not-q. joint falsehood. i. It is clear that the above ﬁve truth-functions are not all independent. q is true. and false when p is true: there is no further | meaning to be assigned to it. We will choose the former. Take next incompatibility. Given the truth or falsehood of p. i. then q. There is always unavoidably something psychological about inference: inference is a method by which we arrive at new knowledge. conjunction. There is no further meaning in a truth-function over and above the conditions under which it is true or false. vol. i.” or “if p. or of p and q (as the case may be). Math. it is (p /p) | (q /q). Conjunction is the negation of incompatibility.” but the above ﬁve will suﬃce. likewise if q is true. –. disjunction. The same applies to “p or q” and the rest. thus either of these may be deﬁned as the negation of the other. incompatibility. Implication is then deﬁned as “not-p or q”. i. that their truth-value depends only upon that of the propositions which are their arguments. we may take as our one indeﬁnable either incompatibility or joint falsehood. p | (q /q). incompatibility. i. January . and we must not seek to represent it in purely logical terms. For this purpose. or implication. It follows that two truth-functions which have the same truth-value for all values of the argument are indistinguishable. It is obvious that there is no limit to the manufacture of truthfunctions. xix.” (The fact that “implies” is capable of other meanings does not concern us. | If we know that p is true and that p implies q. it is “not-p or not-q.e. “p implies q. But all ﬁve agree in this. and is to be falsehood if p is true and q is false. xiv.e. for example. we can proceed to assert q.) That is to say.” The whole meaning of a truth-function is exhausted by the statement of the circumstances under which it is true or false.” Its truth-value is truth when p is false and likewise when q is false. and implication. i. i.” for example. Thus all our four other functions are deﬁned in terms of incompatibility. . Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction truth-value when p and q are both true.e. We might have added others. Soc. either by introducing more arguments or by repeating arguments. Our primitive idea.e. incompatibility as “not-p or not-q”.. it is also the disjunction of the negations of p and q. There is no great diﬃculty in reducing the number to two. What we are concerned with is the connection of this subject with inference. vol. now. disjunction. conjunction as the negation of incompatibility.. Last take implication. this is the meaning which is convenient for us. the two chosen in Principia Mathematica are negation and disjunction. whereas the others are functions of two.” Disjunction is the incompatibility of not-p and not-q. pp. “not-p” is deﬁned as “p /p. “p and q are not both true. conjunction. We have thus ﬁve functions: negation. “p implies q” is to mean “not-p or q”: its truth-value is to be truth if p is false.” which we will denote by p /q. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Soc. Am. we are given the truth or falsehood of the negation. A function of propositions which has this property is called a “truth-function. Thus we interpret it as meaning: “Unless p is false.e. “Not-p. is simply that function of p which is true when p is false. Phil. it is (p /q) | (p /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. XIV. and what is not psychological about it is the relation which allows us to infer correctly.” or “either p is false or q is true. its truth-value is falsehood when p and q are both true. “not-p and not-q.e. Negation can be at once deﬁned as the incompatibility of a proposition with itself. Negation diﬀers from the other four in being a function of one proposition. 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.e. Trans. otherwise it has falsehood for its truth-value. “p and q” is the negation of “not-p or not-q” and vice versa.

if either p is true or p is true. for p and q.” Writing p in place of p. Put p = p implies q. i. then p implies that p implies p . A formal principle of deduction has a double use.” Hence we arrive at q. p = p implies r. say p and q. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap.” from which we infer q. we are able to drop this part of our original expression.” but also as substantive premisses.” These are the formal principles of deduction employed in Principia Mathematica. | Now we proved by means of our ﬁfth principle that “p implies that p implies p . occurs as a substantive . and p in place of r. That is to say. XIV. not-q. which yields A. Suppose. and assert what is left. becomes: “If p implies that q implies r.” Thus our ﬁfth principle yields: “If q implies r. since A represents the p of our scheme. then ‘p implies q’ implies ‘p implies r. we will begin with the ﬁve. not only as rules. () “p or q” implies “q or p. we need suitable assumptions for showing that the order is irrelevant. (M. We have here a relation of three propositions which state implications.” This would not be required if we had a theoretically more perfect notation. p = q implies r. when we substitute not-p. but as it is a complicated proposition. when we infer. and B represents the “p implies q. namely. the adaptation of our ﬁfth principle.” Call this proposition A. Thus we have here an instance of the schema of inference. and in virtue of the principles of inference.’” i.) | () If q implies r. which is their use for establishing “p implies q. in virtue of its form. Now when we are concerned with the principles of deduction. then “p or q” implies “p or r. In this proof.e. part of the former.” which was what we called A. and a use as establishing the fact that the premiss implies the conclusion. and a proposition “p implies q. in any convenient form. Nicod has reduced these to one. But the fourth of our principles. the disjunction “p or q” is true when one of its alternatives is true. Now take the ﬁfth of our above principles.) These ﬁve propositions are as follows:— () “p or p” implies p—i.e. “p implies that p implies p . we wish to prove that if p implies q. and it is in order to make this clear that we have cited the above ﬁve propositions. then if q implies r it follows that p implies r. as the p of our schema. () q implies “p or q”—i. and remember that “not-p or q” is by deﬁnition the same as “p implies q. then q implies that p implies r. Then we have to prove that p implies that p implies p . This somewhat abstract account may be made clearer by a few examples. we have also some other expression. “p implies that p implies p .e. p in place of q. our rules of deduction are to be used. which is also known to be true for all values of p and q. In the schema of an inference we have a proposition p. then p is true.” Call this B. since in the conception of disjunction there is no order involved. substitute not-p for p. this becomes: “If p implies that p implies p . inevitably introduce an order. (The twist in this proposition serves to increase its deductive power. () If either p is true or “q or r” is true. so that “p or q” and “q or p” should be identical. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction In mathematical practice. It has a use as the premiss of an inference. Let us assume that we know the ﬁve formal principles of deduction enumerated in Principia Mathematica. which is known.e. and remember the deﬁnition of implication. we have always some expression containing variable propositions. for example.” which was the proposition to be proved. our apparatus of primitive propositions has to yield both the p and the “p im- plies q” of our inferences. But since our symbols. to be true for all values of p and q. then either q is true or “p or r” is true.

P implies both π and Q. provided we realise that they are in theory distinct. This principle is: “If p | (r /q) is true. “s implies t. Now. in other words. By means of such substitutions we really obtain sets of special cases of our original proposition. put P = p | (q /r). We may therefore substitute for (say) p any expression whose value is always a proposition. Whenever this is the case. which yields B. The primitive propositions. we can assert q.e.” and so on.” This is a particular case of p | (q /q). The formal and material employments of premisses in the theory of deduction are closely intertwined. s /q is false. He employs in addition one non-formal principle belonging to the theory of types (which need not concern us). except in so far as we are concerned with deduction from or to the existence or the universal truth of “propositional functions. q.e. Observe next that t | (t /t) means “t implies itself. r which occur in them. There is.” From this apparatus the whole theory of deduction follows. The legitimacy of substitutions of this kind has to be insured by means of a non-formal principle of inference. In order that it may be valid to infer q from p. It follows that (s /q) | p /s expresses the incompatibility of s /q with the conjunction of p and s. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction premiss. s and q are both true. whatever they may be. in still simpler words. Nicod’s article mentioned above. but which itself can hardly be called deduction.” For this expression means “p is incompatible with the incompatibility of q and r. But this would seem to be an omission.” i. The earliest method of arriving at new results from a premiss is one which is illustrated in the above deduction. Then M. are to be regarded as asserted for all possible values of the variable propositions p. it states that if p and s are both true. and p is true. not-p. For this purpose we will ﬁrst show how certain truth-functions can be deﬁned in terms of incompatibility. π = t | (t /t). Nicod has reduced the ﬁve given above.” | We now observe that p | (q /r) means “p implies both q and r. given p. it states that p and s jointly imply s and q jointly. We may now state the one formal principle of inference to which M. between propositions. Q = (s /q) | p /s. while the adaptation of our fourth principle. thus p /s will mean the negation of p /s. as we saw. and it is not very important to keep them separated. We saw already that p | (q /q) means “p implies q. No Let us write p for the negation of p.e. e. is used to give the form of the inference. a certain confusion in the | minds of some authors as to the relation. such principle is enunciated in Principia Mathematica or in M. and one corresponding to the principle that. then q is true. but from a practical point of view we obtain what are virtually new propositions. i. XIV. it will mean the conjunction of p and s. 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.g. Whenever . the conjunction of q and r is the negation of their incompatibility. in virtue of which an inference is valid. “p implies that q and r are both true”—for. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. and given that p implies q. it is clear that q must be true.” i.e. i. it is only necessary that p should be true and that the proposition “not-p or q” should be true. if I am not mistaken. “p implies that q and r are not incompatible. in other words.” which we shall consider in the next chapter. Nicod’s sole formal principle of deduction is P | π /Q.

whether or not there be such a relation as he speaks of. then s implies the negation of r. I conclude. formal relation which we may call “formal deducibility. pp. but is useless for inference. “not-p or q” is true. the relation which we perceive between them is one which he calls “strict implication. The essential point of diﬀerence between the theory which I advocate and the theory advocated by Professor Lewis is this: He maintains that. what is required further is only required for the practical feasibility of the inference. whenever the relation of “formal deducibility” holds between two propositions. on general grounds See of economy. and that nothing beyond this fact is necessary to be admitted into our premisses. Whenever q is already known to be true. . we know that if r implies the negation of s. xxiii.. it is the case that we can see that either the ﬁrst is false or the second true. and therefore one that. Professor C. .” He urges that the wider relation. the reasons of detail which Professor Lewis adduces against the view which I advocate can all be met in detail.” That is. that. xxi. Mind. it matters little how we deﬁne them. a matter of words. –.. that there is no need to admit as a fundamental notion any form of implication not expressible as a truth-function. Lewis has especially studied the narrower. holding only when there are certain formal connections between p and q. ﬁnally. 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. I. but is again useless for inference. the circumstances under which this occurs are those in which certain relations of form exist between p and q.” should not be called “implication. pp. ought not to be admitted into our apparatus of fundamental notions. however. and therefore does not need to be inferred. without having ﬁrst to know that the ﬁrst is false or to know that the second is true. –. vol. and depend for their plausibility upon a covert and unconscious assumption of the point of view which I reject. it is in any case one that mathematics does not need. when one proposition q is “formally deducible” from another p. and that. Incompatibility and the Theory of Deduction p is false. that expressed by “not-p or q. which requires that p should be true. “not-p or q” is of course also known to be true. and vol.” which is not the relation expressed by “not-p or q” but a narrower relation. Now. For example. XIV. I maintain that. 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. | Provided our use of words is consistent. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. In fact. since q is already known. therefore. inference only arises when “notp or q” can be known without our knowing already which of the two alternatives it is that makes the disjunction true. It is the truth of “not-p or q” that is required for the validity of the inference. . It is under such circumstances that the relation of implication is practically useful for drawing inferences.

true for values of the co-ordinates belonging to points on the curve or surface. and so will “Socrates is a man” and “Socrates is not a man. 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. Thus “two and two are four” and “two and two are ﬁve” will be propositions. the kind of process suggested by what is called “generalisation.” What are these occurrences “instances” of? They are instances of the propositional function: “If x is a ﬂash of lightning. The notion of “cases” or “instances” depends upon propositional functions.” A “propositional function. so long as x remains undetermined. (a + b) = a + ab + b ” is a proposition. otherwise it becomes false. XV. The former of these is tacitly assumed. The equation to a curve in a plane or to a surface in space is a propositional function. but if it is an “identity” it will be true when the variable is any number. it is a function whose values are propositions. the equation is merely an expression awaiting determination in order to become a true or false proposition. we were discussing propositions.” in fact.” It will . I say “primarily. false for other values.” which are to be the topic of the present chapter. it becomes true when the variable is made equal to a root of the equation. it is necessary to say something as to its meaning. A descriptive function. In other words. in order to avoid the very common confusion with “propositional functions. So long as the variables have no deﬁnite value. which thus become propositions.” But although the word cannot be formally deﬁned.” The statement: “Whatever numbers a and b may be. that a and b are to have all possible values. But in such a case the propositions are only described: in a propositional function. we did not attempt to give a deﬁnition of the word “proposition. since it asserts nothing deﬁnite unless we are further told.” will not be a propositional function. but the bare formula “(a+b) = a +ab+b ” alone is not. the expression be comes a proposition. “the hardest proposition in A’s mathematical treatise. a number of propositions such as: “this is a ﬂash of lightning and is followed by thunder.e. But I think the word “proposition” should be limited to what may. is an expression containing one or more undetermined constituents. “lightning is followed by thunder. in some sense. or led to suppose. Consider. but when a value is assigned to x it becomes a true or false proposition.” We have a number of “instances” of this. say. Any mathematical equation is a propositional function. If it is an equation containing one variable. when values are assigned to these constituents. or are to have such-and-such values. x is followed by thunder. We mean by a “proposition” primarily a form of words which expresses what is either true or false. i.” 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 CHAPTER XV PROPOSITIONAL FUNCTIONS When. e. the values must actually enunciate propositions. as a rule.” and let us take some very primitive example. they would be “propositional functions. or even mere thoughts if they have a symbolic character. in the preceding chapter.” and further to such symbols as give expression to truth and falsehood. x is followed by thunder. be called “symbols. But this latter deﬁnition must be used with caution. but if no such assumption were made. it is neither true nor false. Examples of propositional functions are easy to give: “x is human” is a propositional function. although its values are propositions.Chap. in the enunciation of mathematical formulæ.g.” because I do not wish to exclude other than verbal symbols. for example. | such that.

’” are really assertions | that certain propositional functions are true in all cases. again.” “every. the question: “What is a propositional function?” A propositional function standing all alone may be taken to be a mere schema. 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. but as being true of any p or q concerning which it can be made signiﬁcantly. 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. “all” and “some. a is mortal” is true whether a is human or not.” then φa is to be true. it is followed by a B. broadly speaking. 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. x are particulars which are not identical one with another. we mean that all its values are true.” or “always” (as we shall also say. to our previous case of lightning. however a may have been chosen. or attempt to answer. as involved in the notions “true in all cases” and “true in some cases”. not identical. in fact.” “x is A. There are no instances or cases of “Socrates is a man” or “Napoleon died at St Helena.” and so on.” “a. without any temporal suggestion). only two things that can be done with a propositional function: one is to assert that it is true in all cases.” Sentences involving such words as “all. the other to assert that it is true in at least one case.. but sharing the common property of being lightning. For example. for example. if x is an A. propositional functions are always involved whenever we talk of instances or cases or examples. the sort of thing that is often said when causation is being discussed. e. In this case all the objects are “instances” of the truth of the propositional function—for a propositional function.g. as involved in the theory of classes and relations. every proposition of this form is true. in two ways: ﬁrst. whatever x may be. namely. we are asserting that a certain propositional function is “always true. A proposition is just true or false. XV. assuming that there is to be no necessary implication of a plurality of cases).” These are propositions.” This phrase is only applicable to propositional functions. x . a mere shell. e.” Or. as being true only of this or that particular p or q. followed by B. The study of the conditions of signiﬁcance belongs to the doctrine of types.” it is clear that the “something” involved cannot be a proposition. If “φx” is the function. When we say that something is “always true” or “true in all cases. in every instance. we mean that. . The second of these topics we will postpone to a later chapter. the ﬁrst must occupy us now. When we say that a propositional function is true “in all cases. “‘p or q’ implies ‘q or p. But the separate ﬂashes are particulars.” The assertions in the preceding chapter about propositions. x is mortal” is “always true. where x . and it would be meaningless to speak of their being true “in all cases. though it cannot itself be true or false. A must be some general concept of which it is signiﬁcant to say “x is A. unless it is “al- ways true” or “always false. secondly. and a is the right sort of object to be an argument to “φx. we say that A is in every instance followed by B. to return to our example.) We are told that A is. not something already signiﬁcant. All the other uses of propositional functions can be reduced to these two. “if a is human. Take. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap.” There are. We do not assert the above principle. and there is an end of the matter. We do not need to ask. is true in certain instances and false in certain others. We are concerned with propositional functions.” When.” “x is A. (We are not concerned with the truth or falsehood of what is said. but only with its logical analysis.” “some” require propositional functions for their interpretation. an empty receptacle for meaning. which we shall not pursue beyond the sketch given in the preceding chapter.” “the. We say that lightning (A) is followed by thunder (B). in the last analysis. either true or false. for example.” or “true in all cases. that is.g. or in some cases (as we shall say. Thus the propositional function “if x is human. in an analogous way. The way in which propositional functions occur can be explained by means of two of the above words. Now if there are “instances” of A. This applies. Propositional Functions be found that.

When we say “some men are Greeks. where n is any assigned ﬁnite number. 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. 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.” contains two variables. but all the primitive propositions of logic. Thus if we choose “sometimes” as our primitive idea.” From these we can mount up step by step. ∗ .” “sometimes” as a primitive idea. the above propositional function. We shall return in our ﬁnal chapter to the discussion of propositional functions containing no constant terms. For . and the negation of ‘φx sometimes’ is ‘notφx always. We can. If this were not the case. using such methods as have just been indicated. linguistic reasons. sometimes true.’” In like manner we can re-deﬁne disjunction and the other truth-functions. we deﬁne: “The negation of ‘φx always’ is ‘not-φx sometimes’. The axiom of inﬁnity. Propositions containing no apparent variables are called “elementary propositions. in terms of the deﬁnitions and primitive ideas for propositions containing no apparent variables. and deﬁne by their means the negation of propositions in which they occur. consist of assertions that certain propositional functions are always true.’” But for reasons connected with the theory of types it seems more correct to take both “always” and “sometimes” as primitive ideas. It is part of the deﬁnition of logic (but not the whole of its deﬁnition) that all its propositions are completely general. true in at least one instance. Propositional Functions Not only the principles of deduction. The statement that a function φx is always true is the negation of the statement that not-φx is sometimes true. and the assertion that this happens if n is an inductive number is said to be. two. in the language of propositional functions. is true for certain | values of α. the assertion that it is “sometimes true.e. And the statement “there are unicorns” is the negation of the statement that the function “x is not a unicorn” is always true. always true. . and deﬁne the other by means of the one and negation.” Here there is a subordinate function. three . i. When we say “there are men. When we say “cannibals still exist in Africa.e. i. they would have to mention particular things or concepts—Socrates.e. as applied to propositions containing apparent variables. i. we can deﬁne: “‘φx is always true’ is to mean ‘it is false that not-φx is sometimes true. if we choose. as we may say.” that means that the propositional function “x is a man” is sometimes true. is: “The propositional function ‘if n is an inductive number. 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. vol. Thus the statement “all men are mortals” is the negation of the statement that the function “x is an immortal man” is sometimes true.” that means that the propositional function “x is a cannibal now in Africa” is sometimes true. and the statement that φx is sometimes true is the negation of the statement that notφx is always true. . or east and west. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. to avoid suggesting either the plural or the singular. or redness. it is often convenient to say “φx is not always false” rather than “φx sometimes” or “φx is sometimes true. α and n. For the present we will proceed to the other thing that is to be done with a propositional function. or. in respect of α. XV. which we may shorten to “α is a class of n individuals. namely.” The method of deduction is given in Principia Mathematica. variables. in respect of n. is true for some values of x. to the theory of truth-functions as applied to propositions containing one. For example. That is to say.” that means that the propositional function “x is a man and a Greek” is sometimes true. take one of the pair “always. “α is a class of n individuals. they all consist of the assertion that some propositional function containing no constant terms is always true. assuming that we have already | deﬁned (or adopted as a primitive idea) the negation of propositions of the type to which φx belongs. We say that φx is “never true” or “always false” if not-φx is always true. or any number up to n.” i.” which is said to be. it is true for some values of α that α is a class of n individuals’ is true for all possible values of n.

. Suppose we are considering “all men are mortal”: we will begin with “If Socrates is human.) Every assertion about “all” or “some” thus involves not only the arguments that make a certain function true. In order to understand “all S is P. We may put the matter another way. our statement “all S is P” tells us something about x.” “No S is P” means “‘φx implies not-ψx’ is always true. We assume that S is those terms x for which φx is true. φx will be “x is human”. For brevity we say “φx always implies ψx” when we mean that “φx implies ψx” is always true. whether true or false) are relevant.” What applies to statements about all applies also to statements about some.e.” it is not necessary to be able to enumerate what terms are S’s.” rather than with two separate functions φx and ψx.” Then “all S is P” means: “‘φx implies ψx’ is always true.e.” with which traditional logic begins. all classes are derived in this way from propositional functions. still.” however little we may know of actual instances of either.) Then: “All S is P” means “‘φx implies ψx’ is always true. namely. but from φa and ψa.” “Some S is P” means “‘φx and ψx’ is sometimes true. for if we start with two separate functions we can never secure that the x. This requires that we shall start with a function whose values are such as “φa implies ψa. the whole of the appropriate logical “type. The object to be secured is that. Socrates is mortal. means that “x is human” is true for some values of x. We may now proceed with our interpretation of the traditional forms of the old-fashioned formal logic. together with all the terms that are not S’s—i. and P by a propositional function ψx. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. to begin with. 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.g. whether true or false. all values for which “x is human” is significant. It is typical of the lack of analysis involved that traditional logic treats “all S is P” as a proposition of the same form . The easiest way to conceive of the sort of thing that is intended is to start not from φx and ψx in general. And this is every bit as true when x is not an S as when x is an S. ψx will be “there is a time at which x dies. if S is men.” | and then we will regard “Socrates” as replaced by a variable x wherever “Socrates” occurs. If it were not equally true in both cases.” It is to be observed that “all S is P” does not apply only to those terms that actually are S’s. Propositional Functions The forms which are taken as simplest in traditional formal logic are really far from being so. E.” but all the terms concerning which the supposition that they are S’s is signiﬁcant.e. that if x is an S. and not only those that in fact are human. Take. without any deﬁnite value. but all that make it signiﬁcant. where a is some constant.” “Some S is not P” means “‘φx and not-ψx’ is sometimes true.” e. “all S is P. (As we shall see in a later chapter. This shows that it is not merely the actual terms that are S’s that are relevant in the statement “all S is P.” It will be observed that the propositional functions which are here asserted for all or some values are not φx and ψx themselves. and all involve the assertion of all values or some values of a compound propositional function. and P is those for which ψx is true. the reductio ad absurdum would not be a valid method. if P is mortals. although x remains a variable. it says something equally about terms which are not S’s.g. we can understand completely what is actually aﬃrmed | by “all S is P.” We will take it that S is deﬁned by a propositional function φx. (This becomes obvious if we consider how we could prove such a statement to be false. all the terms that are S’s. Suppose we come across an x of which we do not know whether it is an S or not. then x is a P. while remaining undetermined. shall have the same value in both. but truth-functions of φx and ψx for the same argument x. “There are men. provided we know what is meant by being an S and what by being a P. XV.. yet it is to have the same value in “φx” as in “ψx” when we are asserting that “φx implies ψx” is always true. for the essence of this method consists in using implications in cases where (as it afterwards turns out) the hypothesis is false. Here all values of x (i. all for which it has a value at all.e. i. i. Propositions of the form “φx always implies ψx” are called “formal implications”.

and that the same applies to “some S is P” and “some S is not P. or rather meaningless.” The emphatic separation of these two forms. that such propositions as “all S is P” do not involve the “existence” of S’s. Darapti: “All M is S. For the present let us merely note the fact that.” it is incorrect. like “men. however. but the fundamental form is that which is derived immediately from the notion of “sometimes true. The proposition “φx always implies ψx. therefore some S is P. XV. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. if we adopt the view. this is the same sense in which the roots of an equation are said to satisfy the equation. Generally. | whatever P may be. with our deﬁnitions.” since the ﬁrst allows the nonexistence of S and the second does not.e. i. or embody mere confusion of thought. and impossible. We may correctly say “men exist. if φx is always false. but | in the case of existence it is not obvious.” we are talking nonsense. thus conversion per accidens becomes invalid. one of which will occupy us in the next chapter.” which is always true if not-φx is always true. it .) The traditional view was that. was a very vital advance in symbolic logic. according to the deﬁnition in the last chapter. Socrates is a man.” which is needed a hundred times for once that the other is needed. (Sometimes contingent or assertoric is used instead of possible. those whose contradictories were necessary. and φx is sometimes true” is essentially composite. which was eﬀected by Peano and Frege.” We say that an argument a “satisﬁes” a function φx if φa is true. since “Socrates” is not. e. But if we make a pseudo-syllogism: “Men exist. 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. devoid of signiﬁcance.” while the second is of the form “ψx.” for then we should have no language left for “φx always implies ψx. “φx implies ψx” means “not-φx or ψx. and some moods of the syllogism are fallacious. “terms satisfying φx exist” means “φx is sometimes true”. for reasons which will appear more fully in the next chapter. do not require that there should be terms which are S’s. but “a exists” (where a is a term satisfying φx) is a mere noise or shape. In fact. among true propositions. the ﬁrst is of the form “φx always implies ψx. while others were merely contingent or assertoric. or we may say “arguments satisfying φx exist. though it is correct to say “men exist. The fallacy is closely analogous to that of the argument: “Men are numerous. we may say there are x’s for which it is true. possible. to ascribe existence to a given particular x who happens to be a man. while among false propositions some were impossible. namely.. 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. therefore Socrates is numerous. Propositional Functions as “x is P”—e.” Other meanings are either derived from this. if there are no S’s.” meaning that “x is a man” is sometimes true.” merely an undetermined argument to a given propositional function.” In this case it is obvious that the conclusion is nonsensical. therefore Socrates exists.g. The notion of “existence” has several forms.” This is the fundamental meaning of the word “existence. all M is P.e. then “all S is P” and “no S is P” will both be true. At the ﬁrst moment. But. If “φx” is an undetermined value of a certain propositional function. the threefold division is obvious. It will be found that by bearing in mind this simple fallacy we can solve many ancient philosophical puzzles concerning the meaning of existence.” As we have just seen. For. i. some were necessary.” It should also be observed that the traditional rules of conversion are faulty.” which fails if there is no M. “all S is P” does not imply “some S is P. there was never any clear account of what was added to truth by the conception of necessity.g. which is the only technically tolerable one. The above deﬁnitions lead to the result that. it treats “all men are mortal” as of the same form as “Socrates is mortal. Now if φx is sometimes true. and it would be very awkward to give this as the deﬁnition of “all S is P. In the case of propositional functions. while others merely happened not to be true. 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. Socrates is a man.

namely.” I may say “I met a man. as I should do if when I say I met a | man I really mean that I met Jones. Our question is: What do I really assert when I assert “I met a man”? Let us assume. but it was not Jones”.” This is a situation which is general in probability problems and not uncommon in practical life—e. and that in fact I met Jones. the habit of keeping propositional functions sharply separated from propositions is of the utmost importance.” We are therefore not departing from usage in our terminology.” These are to be deﬁned by ﬁrst deﬁning “descriptions. if none.e.g. For clear thinking. I would give the doctrine of this word if I were “dead from the waist down” and not merely in a prison. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy will be necessary if the function is always true. Let us begin with the former. It is clear that what I assert is not “I met Jones. “x is white” is necessary. if some are white. and the failure to do so in the past has been a disgrace to philosophy. and impossible if it is never true. when a person calls of whom we know nothing except that he brings a letter of introduction from our friend so-and-so. Here all that is known about x is that it satisﬁes a certain propositional function. even if he is a foreigner and has never heard of Jones. In all such | cases.” and a deﬁnite description is a phrase of the form “the so-and-so” (in the singular). . the propositional function is relevant. for the moment. in many very diverse directions. though I lie. and in the next chapter we shall consider the word the in the plural.” A “description” may be of two sorts. it is possible.” “That is a very indeﬁnite description. but to the philosophical mathematician it is a word of very great importance: like Browning’s Grammarian with the enclitic δ . CHAPTER XVI DESCRIPTIONS We dealt in the preceding chapter with the words all and some. in this chapter we shall consider the word the in the singular. “x was a ball in the bag. that my assertion is true. I do not contradict myself. as in regard to modality in general. such expressions as “the father of x” or “the sine of x. It is clear also that the person to whom I am speaking can understand what I say. it is impossible. Suppose a ball x is drawn from a bag which contains a number of balls: if all the balls are white. for example. An indeﬁnite description is a phrase of the form “a so-and-so. deﬁnite and indeﬁnite (or ambiguous). We have already had occasion to mention “descriptive functions. possible if it is sometimes true. It may be thought excessive to devote two chapters to one word. in that case. “Who did you meet?” “I met a man. This sort of situation arises in regard to probability.” i.

A robust sense of reality is very necessary in framing a correct analysis Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie. if we know what it would be to be a unicorn or a sea-serpent. and that there is not. though with its more abstract and general features. there would be nothing | left of him. for logic is concerned with the real world just as truly as zoology. and becomes. To say that unicorns have an existence in heraldry. In the case of “unicorn. and the thoughts that he had in writing Hamlet are real. and whoever juggles with it by pretending that Hamlet has another kind of reality is doing a disservice to thought. in addition to them.” For want of the apparatus of propositional functions. but no actual man. So are the thoughts that we have in reading the play. if no one had thought about Napoleon. The sense of reality is vital in logic. What exists is a picture. though it could not possibly be true.” it is clear that this proposition. Logic. or in literature. Thus it is only what we may call the concept that enters into the proposition. there is a failure of that feeling for reality which ought to be preserved even in the most abstract studies. something unreal which may be called “a unicorn. what is the deﬁnition of these fabulous monsters.” 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.” and so on. must no more admit a unicorn than zoology can.e. we can make true propositions of which these are the subjects. rightly analysed. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. but in actual fact they are of quite diﬀerent forms: the ﬁrst names an actual person. or a description in words. exists in his own world. Indeed the statement would remain signiﬁcant. it is. for example. since otherwise the propositions in which they occur would be meaningless. it seems to me. When you have taken account of all the feelings roused by Napoleon in writers and readers of history.) This proposition is obviously not of the form “I met x. that we can speak about “the golden mountain. but in the case of Hamlet you have come to the end of him. feelings. In such theories.” “the round square. Misled by grammar. an objective Hamlet. i. Jones. namely. made of ﬂesh and blood. somewhere among the shades. many logicians have been driven to the conclusion that there are unreal objects. in the world of Shakespeare’s imagination. in Shakespeare and his readers are real.g.” Therefore. . the “real” world: Shakespeare’s imagination is part of it. etc. is a most pitiful and paltry evasion. in fact.” which confronts us at this point. you have not touched the actual man. “I met Jones” and “I met a man” would count traditionally as propositions of the same form. just as truly as (say) Napoleon existed in the ordinary world. If no one thought about Hamlet. does not contain a constituent “a unicorn. They have regarded grammatical form as a surer guide in analysis than. XVI. And they have not known what diﬀerences in grammatical form are important. is to say something deliberately confusing. “I met a unicorn” or “I met a sea-serpent” is a perfectly signiﬁcant assertion. . when made explicit: “The function ‘I met x and x is human’ is sometimes true. Descriptions But we may go further: not only Jones. There is only one world.” though it does contain the concept “unicorn. there is only the concept: there is not also..” (It will be remembered that we adopted the convention of using “sometimes” as not implying more than once. he would have soon seen to it that some one did. is a very important one. while the second involves a propositional function.” for example. But it is of the very essence of ﬁction that only the thoughts.” The question of “unreality. Similarly. enters into my statement. It is argued. or in imagination. moving and breathing of its own initiative. or else confused to a degree which is scarcely credible. since it is signiﬁcant (though false) to say “I met a unicorn. even if there were no man at all. since then there is no more reason why Jones should be supposed to enter into the proposition than why anyone else should. I should maintain. e. This becomes obvious when the statement is false. hence they must have some kind of logical being. to maintain that Hamlet. by Meinong. What exists in heraldry is not an animal. the great majority of those logicians who have dealt with this question have dealt with it on mistaken lines.

“unreal.” φx will be “x is human.” ψx will be “I met x. propositions verbally about “a so-and-so” are found to contain no constituent represented by this phrase. could we admit anything unreal? The reply is that. The deﬁnition of existence. But.” If it were. which makes it possible for “a so-and-so” to be. XVI. But whether the description “x” describes something or describes nothing.”) Let us now wish to assert the property ψ of “a so-and-so. The is of “Socrates is human” expresses the relation of subject and predicate. if there is nothing unreal. because in the one case there is a suggestion of singularity.” the whole four words together make a signiﬁcant proposition. we ﬁnd ourselves saddled with “a unicorn.”) Now the proposition that “a so-and-so” has the property ψ is not a proposition of the form “ψx. it is not a subordinate group having a meaning of its own. in the only sense in which this is possible. round squares.e. it may be asked. that the statement that a so-and-so has the property ψ is not of the form ψx. This. it is certainly not true in such a case as “a unicorn. . we wish to assert that “a so-and-so” has that property which x has when ψx is true. but rhetorically there is a diﬀerence. this is the same proposition as might be expressed by “some φ’s are ψ’s”. those objects x for which the propositional function φx is true.” and with the problem how there can be such a thing in a world where there are no unicorns. we shall fall into the error of admitting unrealities. as objects described. and in the other case of plurality. and the word “unicorn” by itself is signiﬁcant. but is always signiﬁcant and sometimes true.” So far as logic goes.e. like “a unicorn” just now. “a so-and-so” would have to be identical with x for a suitable x.” 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. namely.g. “A unicorn” is an indeﬁnite description which describes nothing. and generally “a so-andso” exists if “x is so-and-so” is sometimes true. All this results from the fact that. in dealing with propositions. golden mountains. if we take “a man” as our instance of “a so-and-so. when “x” is a description. the is of “Socrates is a man” expresses identity. it is in any case not a constituent of the proposition in which it occurs. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Descriptions of propositions about unicorns. and although (in a sense) this may be true in some cases. We may put this in other language. and other such pseudo-objects. in the analysis of propositions. when rightly analysed. in the case of “I met a man.” but it is not the very same proposition. is not the important point.” where “so-and-so’s” are those objects that have a certain property φ. The important point is that. results from what was said at the end of the preceding chapter. i. (E. in just the same sense as the word “man. And that is why such propositions can be signiﬁcant even when there is no such thing as a so-and-so. and if we attribute signiﬁcance to groups of symbols which have no significance. | We may now proceed to deﬁne generally the meaning of propositions which contain ambiguous descriptions. Suppose we wish to make some statement about “a so-and-so. deﬁnite or indeﬁnite. how. Such a proposition as “x is unreal” only has meaning when “x” is a description. however. as applied to ambiguous descriptions.” i. In the proposition “I met a unicorn. Thus if we falsely attribute meaning to these two words. (E. we are dealing in the ﬁrst instance with symbols. after all. We say that “men exist” or “a man exists” if the | propositional function “x is human” is sometimes true.” But the two words “a unicorn” do not form a subordinate group having a meaning of its own. The proposition “Socrates is a man” is no doubt equivalent to “Socrates is human.” It is just this fact. It is not an indeﬁnite description which describes something unreal. in that case the proposition will be true if “x” is a description which describes nothing.g. “x is unreal” or “x does not exist” is not nonsense. in a certain clearly deﬁnable sense. we shall insist that. In obedience to the feeling of reality. nothing “unreal” is to be admitted.

namely. these parts are not symbols. and do not raise the problem of types. the deﬁnition of descriptions. treat names as capable of being absolute.” From the standpoint of our present problem. but the wording may be a little shortened by it. by a consideration of the diﬀerence between a name and a deﬁnite description. subject to qualiﬁcations explained later) and an object ambiguously described. the corresponding form of proposition. not a deﬁnition of the phrase itself in isolation. i. We may. Aristotle is a man. “Scott is the author of Waverley. therefore. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. “the author of Waverley.’ the quintessential entity that is just an indeﬁnite man without being anybody in particular. which is . Plato is a man. And accordingly it is natural that we do not deﬁne “a man” itself. because. i. or anyone else. 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.” 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. then.” whereas we have to compare such couples as “Scott” and “the author of Waverley.e. which could be deﬁned by itself. whatever seems to be an “individual” is really capable of further analysis. whether these are absolute names or only relative names. but rather more complicated.” and a description. Thus “Scott” is a simple symbol. Plato is a man. Descriptions 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. Nevertheless.e. Take the proposition. we shall have to content ourselves with what may be called “relative individuals. nothing that we shall have to say will depend upon this assumption. the deﬁnition to be sought is a deﬁnition of propositions in which this phrase occurs. when we have enumerated all the men in the world. for the moment. “Scott.” where “x” is a name. can only be true for one value of x at most. something of the kind that. “x is the soand-so” (where “x” is a name). With deﬁnite descriptions. on the other hand. there is nothing left of which we can say.” And a “simple” symbol is one which has no parts that are symbols. because the separate words that compose the phrase are parts which are symbols. though it has parts (namely..” which will be terms that. In the case of “a so-and-so. namely. We may demonstrate that this must be the case. and not only so. An object ambiguously described will “exist” when at least one such proposition is true. We have. throughout the context in question. This brings us to the subject of deﬁnite descriptions. since it concerns diﬀerent stages in the hierarchy of “types. in Chapter XIII. as may be the case. Thus “a man exists” follows from Socrates. the deﬁnition of the word the (in the singular).” We have here a name.” this is fairly obvious: no one could suppose that “a man” was a deﬁnite object. And in that case we shall have correspondingly to content ourselves with “relative names. but it is the ‘a man. In the case of “the so-and-so” this is equally true. 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. are never analysed and never occur | otherwise than as subjects. The identity in “Socrates is a man” is identity between an object named (accepting “Socrates” as a name.” which are asserted to apply to the same person. We come now to the main subject of the present chapter. or Plato. as opposed to speciﬁc men. One very important point about the deﬁnition of “a so-and-so” applies equally to “the so-and-so”. namely. If. 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 man. | Socrates is a man. this problem. “the author of Waverley” is not a simple symbol. two things to compare: () a name. XVI. may be ignored. separate letters). which are to be deﬁned in a way analogous to that employed for ambiguous descriptions. though at ﬁrst sight less obvious. On the other hand. since these three names have diﬀerent meanings.” which both apply to the same object. “This is a man. etc. when there is at least one true proposition of the form “x is a so-and-so. Thus there cannot be such an entity as “a man” to be found in the world. but only the propositions in which it occurs. we deﬁned as an “individual” or a “particular.

it is no part of the fact asserted. That is to say. is being described as the person having that name. merely to indicate what we are speaking about. without further premisses. be nothing in the phraseology to show whether they are being used in this way or as names. In fact. It is false that the present King of France is the present King of France.” our proposition would become false.” no matter what name may be substituted. φx say. it is something for which the actual words are a vehicle. But we shall commit a fallacy if we attempt to infer. that the author of Waverley is the author of Waverley.” in which two names are said to apply to the same person. There is no mystery in this as soon as we realise (what was proved . and there will. On the other hand. independently of the meanings of all other words. “Scott is Sir Walter” is the same trivial proposition as “Scott is Scott. The reply is that. if we substitute a name for “the author of Waverley” in a proposition. instead of being named. 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.’” the actual name “Scott” enters into what we are asserting. when we make a proposition about “the person called ‘Scott. Descriptions a simple symbol. Suppose. () a description. propositional functions which are “always true” may become false.’” then the names are being used as descriptions: i. say. let it be. directly designating an individual which is its meaning. even if the name names the same object as the description describes. When we use a variable. and not merely into the language used in making the assertion. and speak of a propositional function.e. Thus from the fact that all propositions of the form “x = x” are true we cannot infer.’” But so long as we are using names as names. applying the result to our present case: If “x” is a name. the process of applying general statements about φx to particular cases will consist in substituting a name for the letter “x. “Scott is the author of Waverley” is obviously a diﬀerent proposition from “Scott is Scott”: the ﬁrst is a fact in literary history.” assuming that φ is a function which has individuals for its arguments. 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 may be said. as a rule.” 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. Our proposition will now be a diﬀerent one if we substitute “the person called ‘Sir Walter. but of which they are no part. Thus so long as names are used as names. that φx is “always true”. When a name is used directly. the “law of identity.” and “Aristotle” are names (a very rash assumption).” no matter what name “x” may be. “x = x” is not the same proposition as “the author of Waverley is the author of Waverley. without more ado. This results | from what we have just proved. the individual. But. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. or that the round square is the round square. Assuming for the moment that “Socrates. we can infer from the law of identity that Socrates is Socrates. and would therefore certainly no longer be the same proposition. which consists of several words. if the description describes nothing. and we shall obtain a true proposition. This is a way in which names are fre quently used | in practice. the second a trivial truism. What we want to express is something which might (for example) be translated into a foreign language. Then we may substitute for “x” any name we choose.” “Plato. Plato is Plato. and from which results whatever is to be taken as the “meaning” of the description. for example. if “Scott is Sir Walter” really means “the person named ‘Scott’ is the person named ‘Sir Walter. And if we put anyone other than Scott in place of “the author of Waverley. and having this meaning in its own right. and Aristotle is Aristotle. our proposition is essentially of the same form as (say) “Scott is Sir Walter.” x = x. When we substitute a description for a name. or of the falsehood if our assertion happens to be false: it is merely part of the symbolism by which we express our thought. XVI. whose meanings are already ﬁxed. that. the proposition we obtain is a diﬀerent one. A proposition containing a description is not identical with what that proposition becomes when a name is substituted. that the author of Waverley is the author of Waverley.

two functions of x. “There is a term c such that ‘x wrote Waverley’ is always equivalent to ‘x is c. We cannot speak of “the inhabitant of London. or if several people had written it. that it is true for at least one value of c.” Thus propositions about “the so-and-so” always imply the corresponding propositions about “a so-and-so. We are now in a position to deﬁne propositions in which a definite description occurs. We cannot speak about “the present King of France.’ () c is Scotch. that which deﬁnes the property that makes a thing a so-and-so.” because there is none. Such a proposition as “Scott is the author of Waverley” could not be true if Waverley had never been written.” We may now deﬁne “the term satisfying the function φx exists. involves: () “x wrote Waverley” is not always false. XVI.e.” In other words. and no more could any other proposition resulting from a propositional function φx by the substitution of “the author of Waverley” for “x.’ () ψc 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.’” In order to deﬁne “the author of Waverley was Scotch.” we have still to take account of the third of our three propositions.” This is the general form of which the above is a particular case.’” And “the so-and-so” will | always involve ref.’” (Two propositions are “equivalent” when both are true or both are false. 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. we then proceed to assert that the resulting function of c is “sometimes true. x and y are identical” is always true. x was Scotch” is always true.) We have here. “x wrote Waverley” and “x is c. Hence the three together may be taken as deﬁning what is meant by the proposition “the author of Waverley was Scotch.” for example. (It obviously cannot be true for more than one value of c.” Conversely.” We may say that “the author of Waverley” means “the value of x for which ‘x wrote | Waverley’ is true.” . These three propositions. namely.” 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. namely. the three together (but no two of them) imply that the author of Waverley was Scotch.” and we form a function of c by considering the equivalence of these two functions of x for all values of x.” This will be satisﬁed by merely adding that the c in question is to be Scotch. Descriptions in the preceding paragraph) that when we substitute a description the result is not a value of the propositional function in question. () at most one person wrote Waverley.” because inhabiting London is an attribute which is not unique. “The author of Waverley” is “the term satisfying the function ‘x wrote Waverley. () whoever wrote Waverley was Scotch. translated into ordinary language. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. to begin with. erence to some propositional function.” i. “Whoever wrote Waverley was Scotch. but we can speak about “the present King of England. () “if x wrote Waverley. state: () at least one person wrote Waverley.) These two conditions together are deﬁned as giving the meaning of “the author of Waverley exists.” We may somewhat simplify these three propositions. () “if x and y wrote Waverley. The only thing that distinguishes “the so-and-so” from “a so-and-so” is the implication of uniqueness.” with the addendum that there is not more than one so-and-so.” Thus the proposition “the author of Waverley was Scotch. All these three are implied by “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.

It is possible to have much knowledge concerning a term described. in the hope that ultimately they will suﬃce to demonstrate that it was A who did the deed. and the proposition is false. like “the present King of France. The theory of descriptions. the occurrence of “the present King of France” is secondary and our proposition is true. for. and ‘x begat y’ is always equivalent to ‘x is c. It obviously cannot be true for more than one value.” The same considerations apply to almost all uses of what look like proper names. whereas a description. We may even go so far as to say that.” without actually knowing what the so-and-so is. If we are ﬁrst to take “x is bald. we are using the word “Homer” as an abbreviated description: we may replace it by (say) “the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. It is only of descriptions | — deﬁnite or indeﬁnite—that existence can be signiﬁcantly asserted. the words “a exists” are meaningless. We may inquire signiﬁcantly whether Homer existed. i. An instance will make this clearer.’” is “sometimes true. The proposition “the so-and-so exists” is signiﬁcant. i. but if we are to take “x is not bald” and substitute “the present King of France” for “x. is a symbol devoid of meaning. it is necessary to distinguish what may be called “primary” and “secondary” occurrences. Consider “the present King of France is bald. Confusion of primary and secondary occurrences is a ready source of fallacies where descriptions are concerned. brieﬂy outlined in the present chapter. Every proposition in which a description which describes nothing has a primary occurrence is false. the more philosophical parts of the theory are not essential. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. A description has a “primary” occurrence when the proposition in which it occurs results from substituting the description for “x” in some propositional function φx.e.” then substitute “the present King of France” for “x.” for example. XVI. if “a” is a name. the reason being that it is a complex symbol.” and then deny the result. when we ask whether Homer existed.” Here “the present King of France” has a primary occurrence. To say “the father of y is rich. The abstract distinction is as follows. if intended to be a name. .” This is ambiguous. of which the meaning is derived from that of its constituent symbols. i. a description has a “secondary” occurrence when the result of substituting the description for x in φx gives only part of the proposition concerned. and have therefore been omitted in the above account. which we could not do if “Homer” were a name.” where “x” is a name. In a detective story propositions about “the man who did the deed” are accumulated.” i. is to say that the following propositional function of c: “c is rich.e. scriptive functions. it must name something: what does not name anything is not a name. to know many propositions concerning “the so-andso. and therefore. which has conﬁned itself to the barest mathematical requisites. And so. but if a is the so-and-so (where “a” is a name).” then “the present King of France” has a primary occurrence and the proposition is false. But now consider “the present King of France is not bald. occur. | Descriptions occur in mathematics chieﬂy in the form of de. whether true or false. “the term having the relation R to y. Descriptions This is the deﬁnition of propositions in which descriptions occur.e. is of the utmost importance both in logic and in theory of knowledge.e. But for purposes of mathematics. in the strict sense. but what seem like names are really descriptions.” does not become incapable of occurring signiﬁcantly merely on the ground that it describes nothing. on the analogy of “the father of y” and similar phrases. is true for at least one value of c.” or “the R of y” as we may say. 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. When descriptions occur in propositions. without knowing any proposition of the form “x is the so-and-so.

In this . If we had a complete symbolic language. that a cardinal number is to be deﬁned as a class of classes. Take (say) “the last thing Cæsar saw before he died. like descriptions.e. We shall then be able to say that the symbols for classes are mere conveniences. or (as we say) “incomplete symbols.Chap. Classes CHAPTER XVII CLASSES In the present chapter we shall be concerned with the in the plural: the inhabitants of London. 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. i. and an undeﬁned symbol for everything indeﬁnable. we shall be concerned with classes.. 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. that the number is to be 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. i. 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. the undeﬁned symbols in this language would represent symbolically what I mean by “the ultimate furniture of the world. The ﬁrst thing is to realise why classes cannot be regarded as part of the ultimate furniture of the world. they are deﬁned in a way closely analogous to that used for descriptions.” If our language does not contain the name “a.” This is a description of some particular. logical ﬁctions. We must seek a deﬁnition on the same lines as the deﬁnition of descriptions. We saw in Chapter II. we might use it as (in one perfectly legitimate sense) a deﬁnition of that particular. a deﬁnition which will assign a meaning to propositions in whose verbal or symbolic expression words or symbols apparently representing classes occur. of all that have just one member. “unit classes” must be deﬁned so as not to assume that we know what is meant by “one”. not representing objects called “classes. In other words. i.” and that classes are in fact. and so on. in dealing with arithmetic. Of course. but the reasons for regarding the deﬁnition which will be oﬀered as being approximately correct and on the right lines are overwhelming. if there is a term c such that x will be a member of α when x is c but not otherwise. in more ordinary language. XVII. in fact. and there are reasons (which we shall give in outline) for regarding the deﬁnition of classes that will be suggested as not ﬁnally satisfactory. Some further subtlety appears to be required.e. when the number is deﬁned as the class of all unit classes.e. but which will assign a meaning that alto gether eliminates all mention of classes from a right analysis | of such propositions.” The theory of classes is less complete than the theory of descriptions. all the particular things there are in the world would have to have names which would be included among undeﬁned symbols.” or some other name for the same particular. the sons of rich men. We might try to avoid this conclusion by the use of descriptions. Hitherto we have. as we should say but for the vicious circle.. and in Chapter III. we cannot accept “class” as a primitive idea. But. but one consequence which it implies may be used to elucidate its meaning. if for no others. But if “a” is a name for the same particular.” I am maintaining that no symbols either for “class” in general or for particular classes would be included in this apparatus of undeﬁned symbols. treated “class” as a primitive idea. It is diﬃcult to explain precisely what one means by this statement. On the other hand. with a deﬁnition for everything deﬁnable. Thus descriptions would not enable a perfect language to dispense with names for all particulars. for the reasons set forth in Chapter XIII.

We are merely agnostic as regards them: like Laplace. And if we can ﬁnd any way of dealing with them as symbolic ﬁctions. that there are such entities as “heaps. We cannot take classes in the pure extensional way as simply heaps or conglomerations. for we wish classes to be such that no two distinct classes have exactly the same members. we can say. But if a class can be deﬁned by one propositional function. there are always many others which are true when it is true and false when it is false. some of these substitutions will give a true proposition and some a false one. Two propositions are | “equivalent” when both are true or both false. if they are to be more than symbolic ﬁctions. and that every propositional function determines an appropriate class. say about Socrates.” But when we refuse to assert that there are classes. I think the following conditions will be found necessary and suﬃcient:— () Every propositional function must determine a class. We merely abstain from both assumptions. we must not be supposed to be asserting dogmatically that there are none. we cannot identify them with the classes composed of their constituents. ψx are “formally equivalent” when φx is always equivalent to ψx. and also that they cannot be identiﬁed with propositional functions. We shall come much nearer to a satisfactory theory if we try to identify classes with propositional functions. XVII. The class determined will consist of all those substitutions that give a true one. I am not called upon to have an opinion on this point. etc. If we were to attempt to do that.” All that | we are observing at present is that a class is rendered determinate by a propositional function. 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. is deﬁned by some propositional function which is true of the members of the class and false of other things. we should ﬁnd it impossible to understand how there can be such a class as the null-class. we increase the logical security of our position. “je n’ai pas besoin de cette hypoth`se. it becomes very diﬃcult to see what they can be. Every class. Classes respect. Of course. and because we can prove that the number of classes is greater than the number of individuals. 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. we are maintaining. which has no members at all and cannot be regarded as a “heap”. or to deny. This is an example of Occam’s razor. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. We have already seen that classes cannot be regarded as a species of individuals. . Our ﬁrst business is to give the reasons for this opinion. For this reason the class cannot be identiﬁed with any one such propositional function rather than with any other—and given a 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. as we explained in Chapter II. Given any proposition (true or false). and need not be represented by undeﬁned symbols. two propositional functions φx. I do not mean to assert.. “entities are not to be multiplied without necessity.). All that I am maintaining is that. namely. that they cannot be just heaps or aggregates.” e Let us set forth the conditions that a symbol must fulﬁl if it is to serve as a class. We say that two propositional functions are “formally equivalent” when this happens. consisting of those arguments for which the function is true. When we have decided that classes cannot be things of the same sort as their members. In general. on account of the contradiction about classes which are not members of themselves (explained in Chapter XIII. and therefore two formally equivalent functions will have to determine the same class.” As a mathematical logician. we have still to decide what we mean by “all those which. if there are such things as heaps. since we avoid the need of assuming that there are classes without being compelled to make the opposite assumption that there are no classes. classes diﬀer from particulars. 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.

or.” so that “I believe that all men are mortal” is an intensional function of “x is human” or “x is mortal.) () We must ﬁnd some way of deﬁning not only classes. and this requires the sort of totality that is in question. many uses of classes would go astray—for example. 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. 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 no two diﬀerent classes can have the same membership. and when a function of a function is not extensional. This results from the contradiction which we discussed in Chapter XIII. We will. we will call it “intensional. no more and no less. () 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. and two which are not formally equivalent must determine diﬀerent classes. when we say that two formally equivalent propositional functions may be not identical. to begin with. The ordinary phrase of elementary mathematics. that cardinal numbers are to be deﬁned as classes of classes. a class is determined by its membership. “The combinations of n things m at a time” represents a class of classes. Some of the things that may be said about a function may be regarded as said about the class deﬁned by the function. whereas others cannot. while “I believe that all rational animals are mortal” may be false. Classes () Two formally equivalent propositional functions must determine the same class.g. the class of all classes of m terms that can be selected out of a given class of n terms. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. Thus we are led to consider statements about functions. The statement “all men are mortal” involves the functions “x is human” and “x is mortal”. mathematical induction. the two fundamental functions of functions are: “φx is always true” and “φx is sometimes true.” i. we can say that it involves the classes men and mortals.” Thus extensional functions of a function φx may. or (more correctly) functions of functions. Without some symbolic method of dealing with classes of classes. because its truth-value is unchanged if we substitute for “x is human” or for “x is mortal” any formally equivalent function. 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. be regarded as functions of the class determined by φx. “I believe that all men are mortal” may be true. while intensional functions cannot be so regarded. In deﬁning the posterity of a given term. We saw in Chapter II. although they deﬁne the same class. () It must under all circumstances be meaningless (not false) to suppose a class a member of itself or not a member of itself. ignore this last condition and the prob lems which it raises. or about all the classes that are composed of objects of any one logical “type. XVII. the statement “I believe that all men are mortal” cannot be regarded as being about the class determined by either function. Now. since I may believe falsely that the Phœnix is an immortal rational animal.g.” If this were not the case.” . mathematical logic would break down. We can interpret the statement in either way. The ﬁrst two conditions may be | taken together. we say that a is a “member” of the class if φa is true. We will call a statement involving a function φx an “extensional” function of the function φx. That is. if its truth-value is unchanged by the substitution of any formally equivalent function. namely.e. but classes of classes. e. 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. But. e. They state that there is to be one class. for practical | purposes. because its truth-value may be changed by the substitution of a formally equivalent function (which leaves the class unchanged). if we choose. for each group of formally equivalent propositional functions. as we have just seen. for example. It is to be observed that all the speciﬁc functions of functions that we have occasion to introduce in mathematical logic are extensional. if it is like “all men are mortal. (If a class is determined by a function φx. Thus.

vol. i. The way in which it secures the third and fourth. XVII. But this condition—at once the most important and the most diﬃcult—is not fulﬁlled in virtue of anything we have said as yet. we can always derive from it a connected and certainly extensional function of the same function. chap. I. but for our ﬁfth condition. Introduction. It is equivalent to the assertion that the class deﬁned by the function φx is a unit class. it is true when our original statement is true. namely. The diﬃculty is connected with the theory of types.” This remains true when we substitute “x is a rational animal” | for “x is human. but may be taken for granted here. 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.. reader who desires a fuller discussion should consult Principia Mathematica. We give the name of “derived extensional function” to the function constructed as above. by the following plan: Let our original function of a function be one which attributes to φx the property f . Given a function of a function which may or may not be extensional. This may be taken as the deﬁnition of a proposition about a class. For example.e. then consider the assertion “there is a function having the property f and formally equivalent to φx. in other words. the possibility of classes of classes. also ∗ . we might regard our task as completed. It results that. for the existence of “the term satisfying φx. and it will be found that technically it yields the results which are required in order to make a theory symbolically satisfactory. ii. and must be brieﬂy discussed. i.” even if I believe falsely that the Phœnix is rational and immortal. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. to the function: “There is a function having the property f and formally equivalent to φx. we shall incur a fallacy if we regard these as of the same type as the predicative a-functions. namely. In the language of classes.” where the original function was “the function φx has the property f. the condition. and the impossibility of a class being or not being a member of itself. consider again “I believe that all men are mortal. it is explained in Principia Mathematica.” The derived extensional function is: “There is a function formally equivalent to ‘x is human’ and such that I believe that whatever satisﬁes it is mortal. dealt with in the preceding chapter. What we have said just now as regards the deﬁnition of classes is suﬃcient to satisfy our ﬁrst four conditions. the new one is more often true than the old one. The See .” If we now proceed to functions involving reference to the totality of predicative a-functions.” Take. and that it is a fallacy to allow an object belonging to one of these to be substituted for an object belonging to another. 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. Take such an every-day statement as “a is a Principia Mathematica. again. This gives a meaning to any statement about a class which can be made signiﬁcantly about a function. is somewhat technical.” and “φx is sometimes true” is equivalent to “α has members” or (better) “α has at least one member. a class which is a member of .” This is an extensional function of φx. “φx is always true” is equivalent to “everything is a member of α. if α is the class determined by φx. these we will call “predicative a-functions.e. We saw in Chapter XIII.” The condition is that there is a term c such that φx is always equivalent to “x is c. – and ∗ .” We may regard the derived extensional function as having for its argument the class determined by the function φx. but when the original function is intensional. Let us call them all a-functions.” regarded as a function of “x is human.” This is obviously extensional. Classes Each of these has its truth-value unchanged if any formally equivalent function is substituted for φx. a class having one member. We may take ﬁrst those among them which do not involve reference to any collection of functions. and it is formally equivalent to the original function of φx if this original function is extensional. and as asserting f of this class. that there is a hierarchy of logical types.

For example. but some decision is unavoidable. As applied to a-functions. such that any afunction is formally | equivalent to some a-function of the nth type. We call predicative a-functions the ﬁrst type of a-functions. No variable a-function can run through all these diﬀerent types: it must stop short at some deﬁnite one.” I must deﬁne “qualities” in such a way that it will not include what I am now saying. but we cannot construct a variable which will run through them all. Let us call the supposed formally equivalent function ψ. These considerations are relevant to our deﬁnition of the derived extensional function. if I say “Napoleon had all the qualities that make a great general. 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. If this is the case.” and may be stated as follows:— “There is a type (τ say) of a-functions such that. We could. construct a variable which would run through the ﬁrst n of these types. if we could. and must be of some determinate type.” Then when I say “Napoleon had all the qualities. by statements about “all” or “some” of the values that a variable can signiﬁcantly take. This is not a logical contradiction. Any decision will do. if it were. but not a predicative property. where n is ﬁnite.” It is necessary to decide upon the type of our function. This is fairly obvious. The assumption is called the “axiom of reducibility. “having all the qualities that make a great general” must not be itself a quality in the sense supposed. 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.” This statement attributes a property to Napoleon.” If this axiom is assumed. Classes typical Frenchman. and would set the whole process going again. Statements about all aclasses (i. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. etc. all classes deﬁned by a-functions) can be reduced to . XVII. Whenever. given any afunction.” I mean | “Napoleon satisﬁed all the predicative functions. and therefore the deﬁnition shows that to be not typical is essential to a typical Frenchman. It would require a much fuller discussion to set forth this point fully. and so on. the functions in question must be limited to one type if a vicious circle is to be avoided. We there spoke of “a function formally equivalent to φx. afunctions involving reference to the totality of the ﬁrst type we call the second type. But wherever “all functions which” occurs. it is formally equivalent to some function of the type in question.. as Napoleon and the typical Frenchman have shown. It is chieﬂy as a technical means of embodying an assumption leading to this result that classes are useful. as we have just seen. that mere fact would at once generate a new type of function with the same arguments. etc. but it illustrates the need for separating oﬀ qualities that involve reference to a totality of qualities from those that do not. we must be able to deﬁne all such classes by means of functions of some one type. thus we escape the vicious circle. say the nth . there must be some type of a-function.” How shall we deﬁne a “typical Frenchman”? We may deﬁne him as one “possessing all qualities that are possessed by most Frenchmen. this new object must not be among the values which our previous variable could take. then any extensional function which holds of all a-functions of the nth type will hold of any a-function whatever. i. we use functions of this type in deﬁning our associated extensional function. we shall have to observe that most Frenchmen are not typical in the above sense. Then ψ appears as a variable. and. 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. since. we generate a new object. by various technical devices.e. that is to say. and is the principle which leads to the theory of types by which vicious-circle paradoxes are avoided.” But unless we conﬁne “all qualities” to such as do not involve a reference to any totality of qualities. But this. we may suppose that “qualities” is to mean “predicative functions. does not determine its type. the totality of values over which the variable could range would only be deﬁnable in terms of itself. and. since there is no reason why there should be any typical Frenchmen. the type is not rendered determinate by that of the argument.e. and we should be involved in a vicious circle.

and various prop- erties not to be reckoned as predicates. it would seem. in the narrow sense in which we have been using the word “predicate. However. Now predicates are only some among what we called “predicative functions. be two things which had exactly the same predicates. which regarded all propositions as reducible to the subject-predicate form. is necessary for certain results.” 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. that two diﬀerent subjects must diﬀer as to predicates. On the other hand. This axiom. not only in this higgledy-piggledy job-lot of a world in which chance has imprisoned us. Pure logic. like our two previous mathematical axioms. which is what would be meant by saying that it is true in all possible worlds. be sound in principle. | Viewed from this strictly logical point of view. we should not merely not obtain the same results. But this is.” One particular region where this is vital is mathematical induction. and of the uncertainty of all except its most general principles. aims at being true. i. it is impossible as yet to say whether there may not be some way of dispensing with the axiom of reducibility altogether. Thus Leibniz’s assumption is a much stricter and narrower one than ours. in Leibnizian phraseology. but we should not obtain any results at all. in its reduction of propositions nominally about classes to propositions about their deﬁning functions. and pure mathematics (which is the same thing). for they are rules of deduction as well as premisses. We can deduce | its consequences hypothetically. So long as only extensional functions of functions are involved. not necessary. It is for this reason that the theory of classes cannot be regarded as being as complete as the theory of descriptions.e. according to his logic. Leibniz assumed. There might quite well. Classes statements about all a-functions of the type τ. the axiom of reducibility. instead of being assumed to be actually true. we may observe. even if the axiom is empirically true. We cannot use them as hypotheses. in the hope of arriving at a doctrine of classes which does not require such a dubious assumption. There is a certain lordliness which the logician should preserve: he must not condescend to derive arguments from the things he sees about him. a fact about the world in which we happen to ﬁnd ourselves. so far as I can see. It is because this seems indubitable that we have in- . It is therefore only convenient. as it were. But it is reasonable to regard the theory outlined in the present chapter as right in its main lines. but not for the bare existence of deductive reasoning. as a logical principle. They must be absolutely true. And in view of the complication of the theory of types.. an accident. as explained in Chapter XIV. like the multiplicative axiom and the axiom of inﬁnity. however the detail may still require adjustment. The axiom of reducibility involves all that is really essential in the theory of classes. XVII. could perfectly well be stated as an hypothesis whenever it is used. and deduce hypothetical consequences. this gives us in practice results which would otherwise have required the impossible notion of “all a-functions. There is need of further work on the theory of types. The admission of this axiom into a system of logic is therefore a defect. or else what we deduce according to them does not even follow from the premisses. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. I do not see any reason to believe that the axiom of reducibility is logically necessary. The avoidance of classes as entities by this method must.” which will include also relations to given terms.” are of the very texture of mathematical reasoning: without them. what can we say as to the truth or falsehood of the axiom? The axiom. is a generalised form of Leibniz’s identity of indiscernibles. (Not. or something like them. The theory of deduction. in all possible worlds. owing to spatio-temporal diﬀerentiation: no two particulars have exactly the same spatial and temporal relations to all other particulars. we can also deduce the consequences of supposing it false. and the laws for propositions involving “all” and “some.) But there is no good reason for believing his form. of course. as a matter of abstract logical possibility. It is therefore worth while to ask whether there is any reason to suppose it true. assuming the correctness of the theory outlined above.

Mathematics has been connected with science. then to say that the class determined by φ has the property f is to say that there is a function of type τ. Both types are now fortunately growing rarer. The deﬁnition is: If φ is a function which can take a given object a as argument. It will . then there is a function ψ of the type τ which is formally equivalent to φ. having spent their time in the study of classical texts. The proof of their identity is. The axiom is: There is a type τ such that if φ is a function which can take a given object a as argument. as above outlined. and by mathematicians who have learnt a technique without troubling to inquire into its meaning or justiﬁcation. The consequence is that it has now become wholly impossible to draw a line between the two. historically speaking. are incapable of following a piece of symbolic reasoning. formally equivalent to φ. and having the property f. 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. For the sake of deﬁniteness. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy cluded the theory of classes. with logic to the left and mathematics to the right. as far as possible. CHAPTER XVIII MATHEMATICS AND LOGIC Mathematics and logic. so much of modern logic is symbolic and formal. logic with Greek. in fact. the two are one. they consider that logic ends and mathematics begins. in the successive deﬁnitions and | deductions of Principia Mathemat. we ﬁnd that there is no point at which a sharp line can be drawn. This view is resented by logicians who. The theory of classes. whatever seemed open to serious doubt. that the very close relationship of logic and mathematics has become obvious to every instructed student. of course. we may challenge them to indicate at what point. reduces itself to one axiom and one deﬁnition. we will here repeat them. ica. in spite of our desire to exclude. But both have developed in modern times: logic has become more mathematical and mathematics has become more logical. and τ the type mentioned in the above axiom. If there are still those who do not admit the identity of logic and mathematics. have been entirely distinct studies. They diﬀer as boy and man: logic is the youth of mathematics and mathematics is the manhood of logic. So much of modern mathematical work is obviously on the border-line of logic.

In a synthetic. no one of which is specially concerned with num bers. since we thereby secure that a given process of deduction shall have more widely applicable results. therefore. but not that Socrates and Plato are two. Also they represent the present frontier of knowledge. To begin with. in our capacity of logicians or pure mathematicians.e. Multiplication is merged in the theory of “selections. down to the point at which co-ordinates are introduced. and the elements of the theory of continuity of functions and the limits of functions. because. In the earlier chapters of this book. in which traditional arithmetic is at once dissolved and enlarged. and the natural numbers are only reached after a long journey. and have then analysed the conceptions involved in the deﬁnition. beyond which is the still unknown. the theory of selections—is to be said to belong to logic or to arithmetic is entirely arbitrary. which may be called indiﬀerently either mathematics or logic? Is there any way in which we can deﬁne it? Certain characteristics of the subject are clear. It is a principle. though formally more correct than that which we have adopted. to generalise to the utmost. through the general theory of series. deal with particular things or particular properties: we deal formally with what can be said about any thing or any property. and incapable of being decided rationally. is more diﬃcult for the reader. until we found ourselves dealing with the fundamentals of logic. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. we do not. we have never heard of Socrates and Plato. it has become possible to generalise much that used to be proved only in connection with numbers. starting from the natural numbers. merely following a precept which is universally admitted in mathematics. in all formal reasoning. as pure mathematicians or logicians. in eﬀect. because. Such treatment. 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. because the ultimate logical concepts and propositions with which it starts are remote and unfamiliar as compared with the natural numbers. | we introduce something irrelevant and not formal. The ordinal properties of the various kinds of number-series. but for the sake of argument we may replace it by the word “number. The most | elementary properties of numbers are concerned with one-one relations. there are recognised branches of mathematics which have nothing to do with number—all geometry that does not use co-ordinates or measurement. Traditional logic says: “All men are mortal. and through the deﬁnitions of the arithmetical operations. can be generalised so as no longer to involve any essential reference to numbers.” The statement that mathematics is the science of number would be untrue in two diﬀerent ways.” Now it is clear that what we . but whether any one of these new deductive systems— for example. through the deﬁnition of cardinals. We are thus brought face to face with the question: What is this subject.” i. A world in which there were no such individuals would still be a world in which one and one are two. in this subject. And in thus generalising we have. We may make this clear by applying it to the case of the syllogism. to mention anything at all. of a certain kind of one-many relations. we have ﬁrst deﬁned “cardinal number” and shown how to generalise the conception of number. in thus generalising the reasoning of arithmetic. which yields the whole theory of mathematical induction. XVIII. we are. We are prepared to say that one and one are two. The result is that what was formerly the single study of Arithmetic has now become divided into a number of separate studies. It used to be said that mathematics is the science of “quantity. for example: projective and descriptive geometry. does not have to do with number. It is not open to us.” “Quantity” is a vague word. if we do so. On the one hand. created a set of new deductive systems. and similarity between classes. through the theory of induction and ancestral relations. deductive treatment these fundamentals come ﬁrst. Finitude is merged in the general study of ancestral relations. and the dominion of knowledge over them is not as yet very secure. Socrates is a man. On the other hand. Mathematics and Logic then be obvious that any answer must be quite arbitrary. or even with quantity in the sense of greater and less. therefore Socrates is mortal.

But when. is only that the premisses imply the conclusion. Neither of these facts is relevant to the present issue. even the most traditional logic points out that the actual truth of the premisses is irrelevant to logic. and that the constituents of the proposition (as well as of the corresponding fact) are simply the two terms and the relation. We . to begin with. this will happen through the mere desire not to waste our time proving in a particular case what can be proved generally. then Socrates is mortal. the argument is formal. β for mortals. or “φx” where φ is any propositional function of some assigned type.” with the hypothesis “if x is a man. But now we shall ﬁnd that our argument would still be valid if. Socrates.” we have certain constituents and also a certain form. then x is a β”.” where α is any class of individuals. turn all the constituents of a proposition into variables. but I propose to explain how the problem arises. We can. Thus we may substitute α for men. and x is any individual.” which may be read “x has the relation R to y. such as “xRy is sometimes true”—i. if all α’s are β’s and x is an α.” which stands for any | one of a certain class of propositions. We can proceed to general assertions. in other words. Mathematics and Logic mean to assert. We then arrive at the statement: “No matter what possible values x and α and β may have. but no particular instance of it can occur. XVIII. Take (say) the proposition “Socrates was before Aristotle. only admissible because Socrates is in fact a man. It is clear that. and before. not in virtue of the particular terms occurring in it.” We may now observe that it is intended to convey that this argument is valid in virtue of its form. But in this assertion we do not mention any particular things or particular relations. in which no actual things or properties are mentioned. we shall prove it concerning “x. not that premisses and conclusion are actually true. we shall always arrive ultimately at statements like the above.” At this point we ﬁnd ourselves faced with a problem which is easier to state than to solve. “purely formal. instead of supposing x to be a man. if formal reasoning is what we are aiming at. This assertion will belong to logic (or mathematics) in the sense in which we are using the word. It would be ridiculous to go through a long argument about Socrates. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap.” Here it seems obvious that we have a relation between two terms. no particular things or relations can ever enter into a proposition of pure logic. namely. i.e. 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. 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. we should have had a non-formal argument. also the fact that what appear to be their names are really truncated descriptions.e. in that case we could not have generalised the argument. where α and β are any classes whatever. the argument will retain its hypothetical validity even when x is not a man. and then go through precisely the same argument again about Plato. Aristotle.” This general form may occur in logical propositions. and x for Socrates. (I ignore the fact that Socrates and Aristotle are not simple. Are we to infer that the general form itself is a constituent of such logical propositions? Given a proposition. we should need a new form to embrace both it and the other constituents. We shall therefore not waste our time taking as our premiss “x is a man” but shall take “x is an α. then x is a β’ is always true. as above. as we say. those asserting relations between two terms. But the form is not itself a new constituent. “the propositional function ‘if all α’s are β’s and x is an α. such as “Socrates is before Aristotle. we were to suppose him to be a monkey or a goose or a Prime Minister.” With | this hypothesis. in fact. there are cases where dual relations hold. while keeping the form unchanged. If our argument is one (say) which holds of all men.” 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. This is what we do when we use such a schema as “xRy. The problem is: “What are the constituents of a logical proposition?” I do not know the answer. if it were.) We may represent the general form of such propositions by “xRy. nothing depends upon the terms that occur in it. If we had omitted “Socrates is a man” from our premisses.

” in which these words have disappeared and the form is otherwise indicated. XVIII. We may thus lay down. or that it is always true in respect of some of the variables that the result is sometimes true in respect of the others. as a ﬁrst approximation. the. We cannot embark upon this question now. with conﬂicting considerations on the one side and on the other. Mathematics and Logic are left with pure forms as the only possible constituents of logical propositions. such as “is” . is not the point that is important for our present purpose. no such words as all. In such a language we could express all the propositions of mathematics even if we did not know one single word of the language. if it were perfected. that remains unchanged when every constituent of the proposition is replaced by another. after all.” arranged in various ways. The question of the analysis of such propositions is a diﬃcult one. some. And another way of stating the same thing is to say that logic (or mathematics) is concerned only with forms. because they would only be needed for giving values to the variables. Similarly in “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle.” though every constituent of the two propositions is diﬀerent. There are in every language some words whose sole function is to indicate form. These words. Form. can be indicated otherwise than by speciﬁc words: the order of the words can do most of what is wanted.g. but if. there are words that express form. which is the business of the applied mathematician. probably in theory it is never indispensable. we should arrive at a language in which everything formal belonged to syntax and not to vocabulary. even when no word or symbol in that proposition designates the form. namely. as a necessary (though not suﬃcient) characteristic of logical or mathematical propositions. a. 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. broadly speaking. What is important for us is to observe that form may be the one concern of a general proposition. This. what we call “truth-functions”) without any word at all. it is diﬃcult to see how we could conveniently express molecular forms of propositions (i. It is one of the marks of a proposition of logic that. in it. the view that forms are what enter into logical propositions as their constituents. But this principle must not be pressed. 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. the proposition is the same as “Socrates precedes Aristotle. a word or symbol expressing incompatibility.e.e. I do not wish to assert positively that pure forms—e. that they are to be such as can be obtained from a proposition containing no variables (i. The language of | mathematical logic. If we wish to speak about the form itself. are commonest in languages having fewest inﬂections. But. or any variant of these forms. We saw in Chapter XIV. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. For example. but we may accept. But without even one we should ﬁnd ourselves in diﬃculties. given a suitable language. And we may explain (though not formally deﬁne) what we mean by the “form” of a proposition as follows:— The “form” of a proposition is that. Take “Socrates is human. the form “xRy”—do actually enter into propositions of the kind we are considering. we wish to speak about all propositions that have the form. as a rule. as in mathematics.) by turning every constituent into a variable and asserting that the result is always true or sometimes true. etc. such as “x” and “R” and “y. We should have symbols for variables. however. Thus “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” has the same form as “Napoleon is greater than Wellington. but merely indicates the subject-predicate form. not of the pure mathematician or logician. and the way of arrangement would indicate that something was being said to be true of all values or some values of the variables.” Here “is” is not a constituent of the proposition. we must have a word for it.” “is” and “than” merely indicate form. would be such a language. We should not need to know any words. 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. a word for the form will usually be found not indispensable. that one word or symbol is enough for this purpose.

” Logical constants may be deﬁned exactly as we deﬁned forms. and various diﬀerent propositions result from giving diﬀerent values to φ. whatever number n may be. in the above manner.e. This characteristic. the characteristic of logical propositions that we are in search of is the one which was felt. 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). or even . Nevertheless. which.” “Wellington” for “Aristotle. express dual relations. but not of the primitive propositions from which all the propositions of mathematics can be deduced. where n is any ﬁnite integer. But for the diversity of types. We may take as an example the symbol for incompatibility which is employed in building up truth-functions. We have suﬃciently deﬁned the character of the primitive ideas in terms of which all the ideas of mathematics can be deﬁned. XVIII. But although all logical (or mathematical) propositions can be expressed wholly in terms of logical constants together with variables. We have found so far a necessary but not a suﬃcient criterion of mathematical propositions.” because the ﬁrst is of the subject. and only when.” In this sense all the “constants” that occur in pure mathematics are logical constants. it would be possible to prove logically that there are classes of n terms. all propositions that can be expressed in this way are logical. as to which it is not yet known what the full answer is. they are in essence the same thing. however. 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. A fundamental logical constant will be that which is in common among a number of propositions.” and “greater” for “earlier. in fact. And the same will be found to be the case with all mathematical constants: all are logical constants. what is in common among a group of propositions derivable from each other. and intended to be deﬁned. For example.” This is a function of φ. x is c. propositions in which occurs acquire a meaning which is derived from a certain constant logical form.” And in every symbolism hitherto invented for mathematical logic there are symbols having constant formal meanings. Such words or symbols may occur in logic. The law of contradiction is merely one among logical propositions.| predicate form and the second expresses a three-term relation. | cannot be asserted by logic to be true. it is not the case that. it has no special pre-eminence. Mathematics and Logic and “than. If we are to have any words in our pure logical language. is not satisfactory. “Napoleon is greater than Wellington” results from “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” by the substitution of “Napoleon” for “Socrates. obviously does not belong to the assertion that the number of individuals in the universe is n. or be derived from. 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.” i. or symbolic abbreviations whose full use in a proper context is deﬁned by means of logical constants.” and “logical constants” will always either be. by those who said that it consisted in deducibility from the law of contradiction. This is a more diﬃcult matter.” Some propositions can be obtained in this way from the prototype “Socrates is earlier than Aristotle” and some cannot. We may take the axiom of inﬁnity as an example of a proposition which. conversely. The number . All the propositions of logic have a characteristic which used to be expressed by saying that they were analytic. for example. is derivative from propositions of the form: “There is a term c such that φx is true when. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Chap. The question is: How are we to deﬁne them? Such words or symbols express what are called “logical constants. they must be such as express “logical constants. by term-for-term substitution. we may call tautology. or that their contradictories were self-contradictory. though it can be enunciated in logical terms. those that can are those that are of the form “xRy. for the moment. And this which is in common is what we call “form. any one of which can result from any other by substitution of terms one for another. In this way. This mode of statement.

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Chap. XVIII. Mathematics and Logic

that there are classes of ℵ 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 necessity why there should be even one individual —why, in fact, there should be any world at all. The ontological proof of the existence 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 ontologi cal | 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

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.

The

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 syllogism 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 experience. 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. 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, | combined with the fact that they can be expressed 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.” It would be easy to oﬀer a deﬁnition which might seem satisfactory for a while; but I know of 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 introduction to mathematical philosophy. It is impossible to convey adequately the ideas that are concerned in this subject so long as

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.

The

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

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 might be thought to be an adjective 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, | 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.

INDEX

[Online edition note: This is a 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, . Alephs, , , , . Aliorelatives, . All, ﬀ. Analysis, . Ancestors, , . Argument of a function, , . Arithmetising of mathematics, . Associative law, , . Axioms, . Between, ﬀ., . Bolzano, n. Boots and socks, . Boundary, , , . Cantor, Georg, , , n., , , , , . Classes, , , ﬀ.; reﬂexive, , , ; similar, , . Cliﬀord, W. K., . Collections, inﬁnite, . Commutative law, , . Conjunction, . Consecutiveness, , , . Constants, . Construction, method of, . Continuity, , ﬀ.; Cantorian, ﬀ.; Dedekindian, ; in philosophy, ; of functions, ﬀ. Contradictions, ﬀ. Convergence, . Converse, , , . Correlators, . Counterparts, objective, . Counting, , .

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Geometry, , , , , , ; analytical, , . Greater and less, , . Hegel, . Hereditary properties, . Implication, , ; formal, . Incommensurables, , . Incompatibility, ﬀ., . Incomplete symbols, . Indiscernibles, . Individuals, , , . Induction, mathematical, ﬀ., , , . Inductive properties, . Inference, ﬀ. Inﬁnite, ; of rationals, ; Cantorian, ; of cardinals, ﬀ.; and series and ordinals, ﬀ. Inﬁnity, axiom of, n., , ﬀ., . Instances, . Integers, positive and negative, . Intervals, . Intuition, . Irrationals, , . | Kant, . Leibniz, , , . Lewis, C. I., , . Likeness, .

Index Limit, , ﬀ., ﬀ.; of functions, ﬀ. Limiting points, . Logic, , , ﬀ.; mathematical, v, , . Logicising of mathematics, . Maps, , ﬀ., . Mathematics, ﬀ. Maximum, , . Median class, . Meinong, . Method, vi. Minimum, , . Modality, . Multiplication, ﬀ. Multiplicative axiom, , ﬀ. Names, , . Necessity, . Neighbourhood, . Nicod, , , n. Null-class, , . Number, cardinal, ﬀ., , ﬀ., ; complex, ﬀ.; ﬁnite, ﬀ.; inductive, , , ; inﬁnite, ﬀ.; irrational, , ; maximum ? ; multipliable, ; natural, ﬀ., ; non-inductive, , ; real, , , ; reﬂexive, , ; relation, , ; serial, . Occam, . Occurrences, primary and secondary, . Ontological proof, . Order, ﬀ.; cyclic, . Oscillation, ultimate, .

Dedekind, , , n. Deduction, ﬀ. Deﬁnition, ; extensional and intensional, . Derivatives, . Descriptions, , , ﬀ. Dimensions, . Disjunction, . Distributive law, , . Diversity, . Domain, , , . Equivalence, . Euclid, . Existence, , , . Exponentiation, , . Extension of a relation, . Fictions, logical, n., , . Field of a relation, , . Finite, . Flux, . Form, . Fractions, , . Frege, , [], n., , , n. Functions, ; descriptive, , ; intensional and extensional, ; predicative, ; propositional, , , ﬀ. Gap, Dedekindian, ﬀ., . Generalisation, .

Parmenides, . Particulars, ﬀ., . Peano, ﬀ., , , , , , . Peirce, n. Permutations, . Philosophy, mathematical, v, . Plato, . Plurality, . Poincar´ , . e Points, . Posterity, ﬀ.; proper, . Postulates, , . Precedent, . Premisses of arithmetic, . Primitive ideas and propositions, , . Progressions, , ﬀ. Propositions, ; analytic, ; elementary, . Pythagoras, , . Quantity, , . Ratios, , , , . Reducibility, axiom of, . Referent, . Relation-numbers, ﬀ. Relations, asymmetrical, ,

. . Veblen. Dedekindian. . H. . . squares of. and some new ﬁxes. . and providing other valuable advice and assistance. ﬀ. inﬁnite. ﬀ. . . connected. Wells. . . ﬀ. . Some are mere . .. . perfect. . Successor of a number. of classes. ﬀ. Value of a function. . n. . Tautology. Segments. as are other additions to the text not penned by Russell. Some. many-one. The. . this is version . well-ordered. ultimate.. compact. . Subjects. . ﬀ. . . Relatum. Pierre Grenon. . The online edition diﬀers from the Allen & Unwin edition. . . .. Thanks to members of the Russell-l and HEAPS-l mailing lists for help in checking and proofreading the version. . Klement. serial. McMaster University. Zermelo. Representatives. Syllogism. ﬀ. . mostly minor. Space. .. . was simply a second printing of the original edition but incorporating various. especially. Sheﬀer. symmetrical. . Dedekindian. transitive. (February .. . Weierstrass. CHANGES TO ONLINE EDITION This Online Corrected Edition was created by Kevin C. If you discover any. Verbs. Types. logical. in certain respects. . Another large debt of gratitude is owed to Christof Gr¨ ber who compared this a version to the print versions and showed remarkable aptitude in spotting discrepancies. ﬀ. ﬁxes. Brandon Young. Truth-function. Sub-classes. including Adam Killian. . John Ongley. . . ﬀ. and reprintings thereof. . ﬀ. ﬀ. These are in red.umass. Subtraction. Whitehead. . . . . . . ). Zero. Sequent. . . Royce. . . ﬀ. . mentioned below. . by contemporary standards. similar. of relations. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Structure. Variables. . closed. . and. . please email me at klement@philos. . Unreality. . . . . Similarity. G. . The pagination of the Allen & Unwin edition is given in the margins. .. David Blitz. reﬂexive. . . checking it against Russell’s handwritten manuscript. This edition incorporates ﬁxes from later printings as well. . one-many. with page breaks marked with the sign “|”. . Section. . . Wittgenstein. It is based on the April so-called “second edition” published by Allen & Unwin. . which. . for proofreading the bulk of the edition. Rigour. I take full responsibility for any remaining errors. A tremendous debt of thanks is owed to Kenneth Blackwell of the Bertrand Russell Archives/Research Centre. one-one. . . . .. generation of. Series. Rosalind Carey. Truth-value. Selections.edu. condensed in itself. . . Time. ﬀ. .. . .

. and is more appropriate for the meaning of the passage.” is ﬁxed to “. .e. . . . . pp. . and then . Since this version uses diﬀerent pagination. –). . ” Russell himself hand-corrected this in his manuscript. . / original page n. . but not in a clear way. i. but vertical fracx tions of the form “ y ” in displays. the mid-paragraph fractions on pages . Contrary to this usual practice. ” is ﬁxed to “. which is how it read in Russell’s manuscript. . . . Thus. . . . footnote numbering begins anew with each page. all terms z such that x has the relation P to z and z has the relation P to y . (page / original page ) “. . and here) were printed vertically in the original. . . A few were originally noted in an early review of the book by G. . .e. . either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the converse to females” is changed to “. it was necessary to number footnotes sequentially through each chapter. .” Thanks to John Ongley for spotting this error. (page / original page ) “. . . (page / original page ) The ungrammatical “. ” is changed to “. and the apparent meaning of the passage. . or ﬁx small grammatical or typographical errors. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Changes to Online Edition stylistic diﬀerences. . the limit of its value for approaches either from . . Pfeiﬀer (Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society : (). (page n. / original page n.) Russell wrote the wrong publication date () for the second volume of Principia Mathematica. ”. advantages of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses . . . Others represent corrections based on discrepancies between Russell’s manuscript and the print edition. (page / original page ) “. but have been converted to vertical fractions in this edition. of a class α. . (page / original page ) “. its limits or maximum. i. and of the original (pages . . which exists even in Russell’s manuscript. 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. A. either by limiting the domain to males or by limiting the converse domain to females”. (page / original page ) “. provided neither m nor n is zero. of a class α. for example. . . ” is changed to “. ” to match Russell’s manuscript and the obviously intended meaning of the passage. . . The stylistic diﬀerences are these: • In the original. . ” to match Russell’s manuscript. but here are horizontal. all terms z such that x has the relation P to x and z has the relation P to y . . . . the Allen & Unwin edition uses linear fractions of the style “x/y” mid-paragraph. . . . ” is changed to “. . . it was changed in the printing. • With some exceptions. . (page n. . . or all that are not less than . . or all that are less than . . . the limit of its values for approaches either from . Most of these result from Ken Blackwell’s comparison with Russell’s manuscript. . those in the display on page of the original (page of this edition) were linear. the footnote listed as note on page of this edition was listed as note on page of the original. This error was noted by Pfeiﬀer in but unﬁxed in Russell’s lifetime. . advantage of this form of deﬁnition is that it analyses . and seems better to ﬁt the context. which matches Russell’s manuscript. its limit or maximum. and then . (page / original page ) “. Similarly. ” to match Russell’s manuscript. . and at his request. ” is changed to “. The following more signiﬁcant changes and revisions are marked in green in this edition. . . this has been ﬁxed to . . .

. ” were omitted from previous published versions. . ” was excluded from previous published versions. ”. . . the negation of propositions of the type to which φx belongs . . . x is a member of y . (page / original page ) The “φ” in “. . . . and the placement of the opening quotation mark in Russell’s manuscript (although he here used single quotation marks. for practical purposes. . and has been restored. The footnote references have been returned to where they had been placed in Russell’s manuscript. and it also seems to make more sense in context. (page / original page ) “Suppose we are considering all “men are mortal”: we will . which had also been noted by Pfeiﬀer. and similarly for every other pair. (page / original page ) “. . . .” Russell sent this change to Unwin in . while intensional functions cannot . (page / original pages –) The two occurrences of “φ” in “. . the reference to Principia Mathematica ∗ . Thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber a for spotting this error. ” is changed to “. . . . if x is the member of γ . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Changes to Online Edition . . The second. . was attached in previous versions to the sentence that now refers to the ﬁrst footnote in the chapter. Note that Russell mentions “all these ideas” in the next sentence. ” to match Russell’s manuscript. . The missing words are now restored. . . were left out of previous print editions. present in Russell’s manuscript. . x is a member of y . . if x is the member of y . This is another error noted by Pfeiﬀer. (page / original page ) The words “correlator of α with β. ” has been changed to “There is a type (τ say) . which constitute exactly one line of Russell’s manuscript. 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. . (page / original page ) The passage “. ” is changed to “. . . ” to match . and it was made in the printing. (pages – / original page ) The two footnotes on this page were misplaced. the negation of propositions of the type to which x belongs .” is ﬁxed to “. though it does appear in Russell’s manuscript. the process of applying general statements about φx to particular cases . . (page / original page ) “. as opposed to speciﬁc man. . it appears the latter was intended. thereby amalgamating two sentences into one. ” to match the obviously intended meaning of the passage. (page / original page ) “There is a type (r say) . as he did sporadically throughout). . were omitted. (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 . was excluded from the Allen & Unwin printings. and seems necessary for the passage to make sense. . . but do appear in Russell’s manuscript. x is a member of γ . . This requires a”. as opposed to speciﬁc men. be regarded as functions of the class determined by φx. and the obviously intended meaning of the passage. then . . extensional functions of a function φx may. . and so on. . . and so on. then . . . . . resulting from a propositional function φx by the substitution of . . . Again thanks to John Ongley. . . . . (page / original page ) The “φ” in “. . (page / original page ) The Allen & Unwin printings have the sentence as “How shall we deﬁne a “typical” Frenchman?” Here. Thanks to John Ongley for spotting this error. That footnote was placed three sentences below. ” to match Russell’s manuscript. . . ” is changed to “Suppose we are considering “all men are mortal”: we will . .

” is changed to “The way in which the need for this axiom arises may be explained as follows. ” did not start a new paragraph in previous editions. Thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber for noticing this error. . . . and “[]” inserted. .”—so two . . and one misprint of “progessions” for “progressions”. . and “featherless biped”—so two . . . . . . then x is a β’ is always true” to match Russell’s manuscript. ” was italicized along with the “y”. the “s” in “y’s” in what appears here as “Form all such sections for all y’s . . is the ﬁeld of Q. as well as to make it consistent with the other paraphrase given earlier in the sentence. (page / original page ) The passage “the propositional function ‘if all α’s are β and x is an α. have been corrected. . . Nothing in Russell’s manuscript suggests it should be italicized. which matches Russell’s manuscript and seems to ﬁt better in the context. “” is crossed out. .) a g) (page / original page ) In the Allen & Unwin printing. . but does in Russell’s manuscript. . divided into numbers of separate studies . Some very minor corrections to punctuation have been made to the Allen & Unwin printing. . . . . as it did in Russell’s manuscript. . (Thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber for noticing these errors in the original. ” d) (page / original page ) “. . has been restored. . Some emendation was necessary to make the passage grammatical. ” is changed to “. (page / original page ) The original index listed a reference to Frege on page . “Let y be a member of β . (page / original page ) “. and which is . c) (page / original page ) What appears in the and later printings as “..” f) (pages – / original pages –) One misprint of “progession” for “progression”. and is changed to do so. . ” has been changed to “. e) (page / original page ) “. and clearly should not. a relation-number is a class of . . without any special word for forms . ” Russell’s manuscript just had “number”. . . and “featherless biped. is the ﬁeld of Q. ”. j) (page / original page ) “The way in which the need for this axiom arises may be explained as follows:—One of Peano’s . e included in Russell’s manuscript but left oﬀ in print. . . Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Russell’s manuscript. but the ﬁx adopted here seems more likely what was meant. . . . but in fact. Here. . ” is changed to “.) a h) (page / original page ) In the Allen & Unwin printing. ” and has been made to start a new paragraph. 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). . ” has been changed to “. a . . . One of Peano’s . ” is changed to “. . but not marked in green. . and conventions followed elsewhere in the chapter. b) (page / original page ) “We may deﬁne two relations . 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. . but it does not in Russell’s manuscript. a relation number is a class of . . . the discussion of Frege occurs on page . without any special words for forms . . ” to match the hyphenation in the rest of the book (and in Russell’s manuscript). . ” begins a new paragraph. . in the singular. divided into a number of separate studies . (Again thanks to Christof Gr¨ ber. . (page / original page ) “. however. . k) (page / original page ) The accent on “M´taphysique”. . and which is . a) Ellipses have been regularized to three closed dots throughout. . .. without the indeﬁnite article. . Changes to Online Edition . A similar change is made in the index.

. or what not. . . See http://creativecommons. but was marked to be in Russell’s manuscript./us/ p Bertrand Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy is in the Public Domain.—it must . . . ﬀ. There are. .” to match the punctuation elsewhere. n) (page / original page ) “. ” o) (page / original page ) In the Allen & Unwin printings. and between the various printings themselves (including the changes from the to the printings not documented here). ” in the Allen & Unwin editions.. ﬀ. so it has been italicized. See http://creativecommons. . cba This typesetting (including LTEX code) and list of changes are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution—Share Alike . Russell n. . see Kenneth Blackwell. ” is changed to “.org/licenses/publicdomain/ . most diﬃcult of fulﬁlment. a deﬁnition which might seem satisfactory for a while . β for mortals.” has been changed to “similar. (): –. “Variants.s. For a detailed examination of the diﬀerences between Russell’s manuscript and the print editions. . p) (page / original page ) The word “seem” was not italicized in “. . however. . . . United States License. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy Changes to Online Edition A l) (page / original page ) “. . it is italicized here. . “Socrates” was not italicized in “. ” Russell had marked it for italicizing in the manuscript. . . . . ” m) (page / original page ) Italics have been added to one occurrence of “Waverley” to make it consistent with the others. . . . q) (page / original page ) Under “Relations” in the index.—and clearly .org/licenses/by-sa/. Misprints and a Bibliographical Index for Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy”. and it seems natural to do so for the sake of consistency. . or what not—and clearly . most diﬃcult of fulﬁlment—it must . we may substitute α for men. where . 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. “similar. . ” is changed to “. and x for Socrates.

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