Knowledge, Language and Silence: Selected Papers 9789004312678, 9004312676

Izydora Dąmbska (1904-1982) was a Polish philosopher; a student of Kazimierz Twardowski, and his last assistant. Her out

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Table of contents :
105 Knowledge, Language and Silence
Knowledge, Language and Silence: Selected Papers
Editorial Foreword
1. On the Need to Philosophize
2. On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy
3. On Duality in the Aspect of Being and Cognition
and on the Tendency to Overcome this Duality
as the Basis for Philosophical Trends and Standpoints
4. A Few Remarks on Cognitive Values
5. Is Intersubjective Similarity of Sensory Impressions a Necessary
Assumption in Natural Sciences?
6. Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition
7. Conventionalism and Relativism
8. Skepticism and Agnosticism in Contemporary Epistemology
9. On the Kinds of Skepticism
10. Philosophical Skepticism and the Scientific Method
11. On Some Methods of Justifying Sentences about Future Events
12. A Few Remarks on Reasoning by Analogy
13. Laws of Physics and the Postulate of Truthfulness of Scientific
14. On Prospective Definitions
15. Logical Division and Definition
16. Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic
17. On Semiotic Conventions
18. Symbol
19. On the Philosophy of Proper Names
20. Regarding the So-Called Empty Names
21. On the Semantics of Adjectives
22. On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences
23. The Conception of Language and Truth
24. On Namelessness
25. Silence as an Expression and as a Value
26. On the Semiotic Functions of Silence
27. On the Notion of Understanding
28. When I Think of the Word “Freedom”
Editorial Afterword:
Izydora Dąmbska – A Steadfast Thinker
Name Index
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Knowledge, Language and Silence

Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities Founding Editor Leszek Nowak (1943–2009) Editor-in-Chief Katarzyna Paprzycka (University of Warsaw) Editors Tomasz Bigaj (University of Warsaw) – Krzysztof Brzechczyn (Adam Mickiewicz University) – Jerzy Brzeziński (Adam Mickiewicz University) – Krzysztof Łastowski (Adam Mickiewicz University) – Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska (University of Warsaw) – Piotr Przybysz (Adam Mickiewicz University) – Mieszko Tałasiewicz (University of Warsaw) – Krzysztof Wójtowicz (University of Warsaw) Advisory Committee Joseph Agassi (Tel-Aviv) – Wolfgang Balzer (München) – Mario Bunge (Montreal) – Robert S. Cohen (Boston) – Francesco Coniglione (Catania) – Dagfinn Føllesdal (Oslo, Stanford) – Jaakko Hintikka✝ (Boston) – Jacek J. Jadacki (Warszawa) – Andrzej Klawiter (Poznań) – Theo A.F. Kuipers (Groningen) – Witold Marciszewski (Warszawa) – Thomas Müller (Konstanz) – Ilkka Niiniluoto (Helsinki) – Jacek Paśniczek (Lublin) – David Pearce (Madrid) – Jan Such (Poznań) – Max Urchs (Wiesbaden) – Jan Woleński (Kraków) – Ryszard Wójcicki (Warszawa) VOLUME 105

Polish Analytical Philosophy Editor-in-Chief Jacek Juliusz Jadacki (University of Warsaw) Editors Jacek Paśniczek (Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin) – Jan Woleński (Professor Emeritus, Jagiellonian University, Kraków) – Ryszard Wójcicki (Professor Emeritus, Polish Academy of Sciences) The titles published in this series are listed at

Knowledge, Language and Silence Selected Papers By

Izydora Dąmbska Edited by

Anna Brożek Jacek Jadacki Translated from the Polish by

Katarzyna Cullen

leiden | boston

The book was prepared within the project 11H 11 004280, Polish Philosophy of 19th and 20th centuries (research module 11.1. of National Program for the Development of Humanities of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education). Poznań Studies is sponsored by the University of Warsaw. Cover illustration: Izydora Dąmbska (ca. 1960). Photo from the private archive of Jacek Jadacki (given to him by Dąmbska’s pupil Jerzy Perzanowski).

ISSN 1389-6768 isbn 978-90-04-31266-1 (hardback) isbn 978-90-04-31267-8 (e-book) Copyright 2016 by Koninklijke Brill nv, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill nv incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Hes & De Graaf, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Rodopi and Hotei Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill nv provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, ma 01923, usa. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper and produced in a sustainable manner.


CONTENTS Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki, Editorial Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 INTRODUCTION

1. On the Need to Philosophize. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 2. On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy . . . . . 17 EPISTEMOLOGY

3. On Duality in the Aspect of Being and Cognition and on the Tendency to Overcome this Duality as the Basis for Philosophical Trends and Standpoints. . . . . . . . 33 4. A Few Remarks on Cognitive Values. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 5. Is Intersubjective Similarity of Sensory Impressions a Necessary Assumption in Natural Sciences?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 6. Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 7. Conventionalism and Relativism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 8. Skepticism and Agnosticism in Contemporary Epistemology. . . 117 9. On the Kinds of Skepticism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 10. Philosophical Skepticism and the Scientific Method . . . . . . . . . 125 METHODOLOGY

11. On Some Methods of Justifying Sentences about Future Events. 129 12. A Few Remarks on Reasoning by Analogy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 13. Laws of Physics and the Postulate of Truthfulness of Scientific Statements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 14. On Prospective Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 15. Logical Division and Definition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 GRAMMAR AND LOGIC

16. Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 17. On Semiotic Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189 18. Symbol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201


19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

On the Philosophy of Proper Names . . . . . . . Regarding the So-Called Empty Names. . . . . On the Semantics of Adjectives. . . . . . . . . . . On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences. . The Conception of Language and Truth. . . . .

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281 . 311 319 331


24. 25. 26. 27.

On Namelessness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Silence as an Expression and as a Value. On the Semiotic Functions of Silence . . . On the Notion of Understanding  . . . . . . .

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28. When I Think of the Word “Freedom”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343 Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki, Editorial Afterword: Izydora Dąmbska – A Steadfast Thinker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373 Name Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 399

Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki EDITORIAL FOREWORD

1. The selection of Izydora Dąmbska’s1 papers inserted in this volume was made with respect to the following criteria. Firstly, we inserted in this volume neither texts of Dąmbska’s books2 nor even of these books’ fragments. Secondly, we did not incorporate here works that belong to the history of philosophy sensu stricto. Thirdly, we did not use the already existing English translations of Dąmbska’s articles. These negative criteria have a certain positive background. Firstly, the books of Dąmbska, are on the one hand, too broad to be included to this volume and on the other hand, too taut to choose any exemplary part. By the way, we are convinced that these books are of a great theoretical value and should be translated into English independently; we hope that the publication of this volume will convince potential translators and editors to undertake this idea. Secondly, similarly as with Dąmbska’s master, Kazimierz Twardowski, we are convinced that: It is not only the case that in order to occupy oneself seriously with the history of philosophy, one has to associate with philosophical problems; but it is also the case that the familiarity with the history of philosophy is a necessary tool in formulating and resolving philosophical problems.3

Since this book is addressed, first of all, to readers that do not speak Polish, we give a simplifying pronunciation of Dąmbska’s name: dompska . 2 Dąmbska published – not counting books on the history of philosophy and logic and a volume containing a selection of her articles – four books: O prawach w nauce [On Laws in Science] (Dąmbska 1933b), Dwa studia z naukowego poznania [Two Studies on Scientific Cognition] (Dąmbska 1962b), O narzędziach i przedmiotach poznania [On Tools and Objects of Cognition] (Dąmbska 1967b) i O konwencjach i konwencjonalizmie [On Conventions and Conventionalism] (Dąmbska 1975d). 3 Cf. (Twardowski 1919–1920, pp. 433–434). 1

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 7–10. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

Dąmbska’s texts on the history of philosophy contain many original thoughts of the author. However, in this volume, we would like to present the English reader, first of all, with a possibly complete picture of her original philosophical views, since they have – in our opinion – lasting scientific value. Thirdly, new translations of three of Dąmbska’s texts which already had been translated into English, are provided. The reasons are as follows: one of these texts (“On the Philosophy of Proper Names”) was translated only fragmentarily, and the two remaining (“Regarding the So-Called Empty Names” and “The Conception of Language and Truth”), are translated once again in order to equip the whole volume with uniform terminology (which is an important factor in the case of the Lvov-Warsaw School).4 2. Terminological precision, which is characteristic for the members of the Lvov-Warsaw School was a great challenge for the translator – especially because it is not always easy to find adequate counterparts of Dąmbska’s terms in English. Peculiar difficulties are caused by the semantic layer of the term “sign” and its semiotic connections. That is why we are presenting here a set of Polish terms necessary to this discussion with the English equivalents which we have chosen for them. For the sake of the readers’ convenience, they are in alphabetic order and placed in two columns: for the Polish and for the English language. • • • • • • • • •


denotacja – denotation; denotować – to denote; desygnat – designatum; desygnować – to desigante; nazywać – to name; objaw – manifestation; objawiać – to manifest; odnosić się [do] – to refer; oznaczać – to signify;

• • • • • • • • •

denotation – denotacja; designatum – desygnat; index – wskaźnik; judgement – sąd; manifestation – objaw; mark – oznaka; meaning – znaczenie; presentation – przedstawienie; proposition – powiedzenie;

The article “On the Semiotic Functions of Silence” appeared in its French version as “Sur les fonctions sémiotiques du silence” (Dąmbska 1970e), but its later Polish version, which was the basis of the translation, is a little bit different from the earlier French one. The texts “Sur le concept de compréhension” (Dąmbska 1960b) and “Concept de langue et vérité” (1964a) – are only summaries of the articles included here (“The Conception of Language and Truth” and “On the Notion of Understanding”).

Editorial Foreword

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

oznaka – mark; powiedzenie – proposition; przedstawienie – presentation; sąd – judgment; sądzić, że – to judge that; sens – sense; sygnał – signal; symptom – symptom; twierdzenie – statement; wskazywać – to indicate; wskaźnik – index; zdanie – sentence; znaczenie – meaning; znak – sign;

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


sense – sens; sentence – zdanie; sign – znak; signal – sygnał; statement – twierdzenie; symptom – symptom; to denote – denotować; to designate – desygnować; to indicate – wskazywać; to judge that – sądzić, że; to manifest – objawiać; to name – nazywać; to refer – odnosić się [do]; to signify – oznaczać.

3. The editor’s interventions in the texts of the translated articles have been limited to the necessary minimum. Besides corrections of evident print errors of the original articles, these interventions consisted in modifications of some of Dąmbska’s examples taken from the Polish language – in order to make them correspond to the spirit of the English language – as well as explanations of some Dąmbska’s allusions to Polish culture which could be hardly understandable, or not understandable at all, for the English reader. We have also unified, modernized and supplemented the bibliographical descriptions; the whole list of literature cited by Dąmbska is placed at the end of the book in order to avoid unnecessary repetitions. Quotations from ancient authors5, from the Bible6 and from belle-lettres7 – which are

5 In the case of works of Aristotle, Cicero, Diogenes, Epictetus, Euripides, Plato, Plotinus, Sextus Empiricus, Seneca and Theognis, we localize quotations according to commonly accepted symbols, with no reference to “Bibliography.” 6 These are quotations from the Genesis, from the Gospels of St John and St Matthew as well as from Psalter of Jakub Wujek and Rozmyślanie przemyskie [The Przemyśl Meditation]. 7 In this way, the following authors are quoted: the Austrian writer, Stefan Zweig, the French writers: Paul Claudel, François de La Rochefoucauld and Edmond Rostand, as well as the Polish writers: Antoni Malczewski, Adam Mickiewicz, Czesław Miłosz, Artur Oppman, Mikołaj Rej, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Piotr Skarga, Stanisław Tarnowski and Stefan Żeromski. This does not include Cyprian Kamil Norwid, since Dąmbska cites his philosophical treatise and not his poetry.

sometimes free translations proposed by Dąmbska in order not to devoid them of the original expression which is often lost in translations in verse form – are left without any specific bibliographical metrics. Latin quotations are marked in italics. After the titles of works in the Polish language, we have put their English translation. A referential function is played by the dates of first editions; if a given work is cited by Dąmbska from later editions – or if we make use of them – the dates of these editions are placed inside the bibliographical entry. The only exceptions are references to the works of authors from before the 19th century; here, the references are the dates of the cited editions. The footnotes of the editors are marked by initials “AB&JJ,” whereas our interjections to Dąmbska’s texts are in square brackets […]. 4. With this volume, we would like to commemorate Professor Jerzy Perzanowski, a student of Dąmbska who passed too soon, one of the most significant Polish philosophers of his generation. Anna Brożek & Jacek Jadacki. Warsaw, the 18th of June, 2015.



O potrzebie filozofowania (Dąmbska 1977d) In reference to the remarks on the presently common pejorative assessment on the importance of philosophy included in the invitation1 and in response to the invitation to comment on this issue, I take the liberty to say a few words about why philosophy does not seem “a luxury,” or an unnecessary “burden,” neither today, nor tomorrow, and probably not as long as people will seek truth for its own sake. For, critical reflection and assessment of the sense of questions posed by people and of the rationality of the answers to these questions is always ancillarly necessary for human cognition. The background for this criticism and assessment is provided by logic and the theory of cognition, which is a par excellence philosophical science. Another necessary thing for our cognition is precision of language and of other instrumental means used to search, formulate and communicate the results of the research, which is supported by the broadly understood semiotics and methodology. Still, philosophy is also, or even primarily, indispensable as a specific research activity directed at human beings and their world, the world of signs, meanings and values. It is necessary for a thinking man – again ancillarly, that is for the sake of benefits for other sciences and practices – to make a disinterested search for answers to questions concerning the structure of the world and the meaning of life, although I believe these questions have never been fully resolved.

1 This is the Professor’s response to a letter of invitation to the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Student Research Association of the Catholic University of Lublin [note of the editors of RoF].

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 13–16. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


Izydora Dąmbska

I think that despite all obstacles and difficulties, philosophy serves these purposes, which correspond to the more profound nature of man, and should continue to serve them. As a supplement to this short statement, let me add as a personal recollection the initial sentences of the first lecture after a seven-year-long break, which concerned the main problems in philosophical sciences, which I gave in 1957 at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. Here it is: I have never believed the proverb “primum vivere, deinde philosophari,” to make much sense. This is why I paraphrased an old sailor’s motto instead, thus creating the following maxim for my own use: “non est necesse vivere – necesse est philosophari.” After all, what would be the worth of human life if we removed philosophy from it? As Descartes wrote in the preface to his work entitled Principia philosophiae: To live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them.2

This thought has kept coming back in the last few years, which have been unfavorable for philosophy [in Poland]. This year, upon returning to university classes after a seven-year-long break, I began to ponder the substance of our meetings with philosophy, that is, lectures and workshops on the main problems and directions in philosophy, I cannot help but think that this maxim on the necessity to philosophize in life was again confirmed. I said “again,” as the awareness of the significance of philosophy in life is very old and has often come to the fore. When I was working on today’s lecture, I remembered two events from the history of ancient philosophy which, among other events, speak volumes of this awareness. One of them is an event of Plato’s life. In accordance with his view which stated that “mankind shall be free from evil no sooner than when philosophers take power, or those who rule other people miraculously begin to philosophize,” Plato went from Athens to Syracuse invited by his friend and disciple Dion, who was so enamored with Plato’s philosophy that he attempted to persuade Dionysus the Younger, the ruler of Syracuse, to become a follower. Plato obviously realized the danger he was in. After all, his previous journey to Syracuse almost ended with his imprisonment, which he survived almost miraculously. He did not share Dion’s hope that the Titan of Syracuse would be concerned with the rules of his philosophy. Despite all that, he went to Syracuse, which he did in order not to betray friendship and philosophy. This is what he himself writes in an autobiographical letter on the motives of his decision:


Cf. (Descartes 1644, p. 95).

On the Need to Philosophize


I sailed from home, in the spirit which some imagined, but principally through a feeling of shame with regard to myself. […] If therefore anything should happen to Dion, and coming to us as exile addressed this question to me: ‘Plato, I have come to you as a fugitive, not for want of hoplites, nor because I had no cavalry for defense against my enemies, but for want of words and power of persuasion, which I knew to be a special gift of yours, enabling you to lead young men into the path of goodness and justice, and to establish in every case relations of friendship and comradeship among them. It is for the want of this assistance on your part that I […] am here now. And the disgrace attached to your treatment of me is a small matter. But philosophy – whose praises you are always singing – has it not been betrayed along with me?3

Plato writes further: To reproaches of this kind what creditable reply could I have made? Surely none. I took my departure, therefore, acting, so far as a man can act, in obedience to reason and justice, and for these reasons leaving my own occupations, to put myself under a tyranny […]. By my departure [...] I made myself clear of any charge on the part of philosophy, which would have been exposed to detraction, if any disgrace had come upon me for faint-heartedness and cowardice.4

This was in 367 BC, when Plato was 60 years old. Another event which I was reminded of in connection with the awareness of the importance of philosophy took place in the year 525. Boëthius, a Roman philosopher and senator imprisoned by the order of Theodoric, awaiting his death sentence in prison, wrote a treatise on the consolation which philosophy brings, De consolatione philosophiae. This stoical-platonic testament of ancient philosophy, written in the form of a dialogue between Boëthius and philosophy, is on the one hand an account of the philosophical view on the world and life, and on the other hand, a psychological document which clearly testifies to the significance of philosophy in the final encounter with death. Four years after Boëthius’ death, emperor Justinian commanded the Platonic Academy in Athens to be closed down, so that “philosophy was never again taught in Athens,” as the emperor’s edict stated. The Platonic School, which housed researchers and students who philosophized together for nine centuries, emptied, but the last members of the school scattered all over the world and continued to serve philosophy and the truth. I end my letter with this memory and wish the Association all the best: “Quod felix, faustum, fortunatumque sit.” Cracow, 29th April 1971.

3 4

Cf. Plato, ‘The Seventh Letter” 328d. Cf. Plato, “The Seventh Letter” 329a-b.


O znaczeniu historii nauki dla filozofii (Dąmbska 1974e) The history of science, meant not as the history of achievements made in particular disciplines of science, but as the history of science as a whole, its internal development, its structure and methods, various circumstances and connections with other branches of culture, is a relatively young discipline. It arose from the idea of historicism, so characteristic for 19th century thought. A specific concept of philosophy represented by the French positivism of the first half of the 19th century played a significant role in outlining its problems and program. If the task of philosophy was to generalize and synthesize the achievements of particular sciences as well as to classify and integrate these sciences, as Comte claimed, then understanding the laws governing the development of science, which requires some knowledge of its history, would also be among the essential tasks of positivist philosophy. Even at the beginning of the 20th century prominent originators and organizers of research in the scope of philosophy of science, that is: Henri Berr and George Sarton, intentionally referenced Comte’s thought and tradition. Henri Berr, whose doctoral dissertation was entitled La synthèse des connaissances et l’histoire. Essai sur l’avenir de la philosophie1 – as the founder of Centre International de Synthèse in Paris, the chief editor of the series Bibliothèque de Synthèse Historique, the founder and chief editor of Revue de Synthèse Historique and the organizer of many Semaines de Synthèse, during his vastly extensive and


Cf. (Berr 1898).

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 17–30. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


Izydora Dąmbska

over half-a-century-long activity put a lot of effort into accomplishing the task consisting in: [...] promouvoir cette synthèse, qui devait donner l’authentique explication des choses, et de suivre, dans une histoire scientifique synthétique, elle-même, la pensée de la vie, l’évolution de la mentalité humaine, la montée de l’esprit.2

Sarton wrote in 1913 in his programmatic article printed in the magazine entitled Isis devoted to the history of science, which is still issued nowadays: Nos efforts tendent […] au point de vue philosophique: à refaire, sur des bases scientifiques et historiques, plus profondes et plus solides, l’œuvre de Comte.

He added in another fragment: L’histoire n’est pour nous qu’un moyen, un instrument indispensable – dont nous nous proposons de faire ressortir sans cesse toute l’efficacité – mais non pas un but. Le but, c’est la philosophie des sciences; le but c’est d’acquérir une connaissance plus parfaite de la nature et de l’homme.3

Thus, the history of science would have to be an auxiliary science for philosophy interpreted in the spirit of Comte’s views. Although it is not at all hard to demonstrate that the concept of philosophy represented by Comte is not correct and that it could not withstand critique, as it denies the specificity of philosophical research on the one hand and sets philosophy a scientifically impracticable task on the other,4 the question itself of the significance of history of science for philosophy seems reasonable and interesting from the point of view of the theory of science, and it begs closer examination. The aim of the present work is to attempt to formulate, at least partly, an answer to the question and to consider potential consequences of this answer for issues connected with practicing philosophy. Given the notorious ambiguity of the term “philosophy” and the associated changeability of the scope of fields of knowledge labeled with this term, in order to avoid misunderstanding I shall hereby approach the question of interest as a question about the meaning of the history of science for particular, in a certain sense determined philosophical sciences. Thus, I shall in turn discuss the meaning of the history of science for (1) the history of philosophy, (2) the logic of knowledge and epistemology,

Cf. (Berr 1955, p. 138). Cf. (Sarton 1913, p. 45), and Sarton’s “Discours préliminaire” sent to the potential subscribers of Isis and reprinted in (Sarton 1963, p. 7). 4 A detailed critique of this concept in philosophy was presented by Roman Ingarden, among others, in his dissertation (Ingarden 1936b, p. 352 ff.). 2 3

On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy


(3) ontology, and (4) philosophical anthropology and axiology, especially moral axiology. This choice of philosophical disciplines was dictated by the conviction that the history of science constitutes an auxiliary discipline for them, albeit in various terms and to various degrees. I believe that the general history of science draws from the achievements of the mentioned philosophical sciences in various ways, and may not be usefully and competently practiced without knowledge of the former. However, the question of whether this is indeed true, and why, does not fall within the scope of the topic which I am investigating at present. By discussing the meaning of the history of science for the history of philosophy I expose myself to the objection of deviating from the issue proper. After all, as some may remark, the history of philosophy is philosophy to an equally small degree as the history of mathematics is mathematics, or the history of biology is biology. Yet, while admitting that the history of a science is not this science, one may still claim that in certain fields of human knowledge the study of their historical development is so closely connected with the systematic aspect of the research that the research of one compliments and supports the other. This is precisely the case with philosophy and its history, especially when the history of philosophy is interpreted as the history of philosophical notions and standpoints whose cognitive value is valued and assessed by a historian of philosophy, if only by the choice and arrangement of the content. Admittedly, a philosophy historian’s relationship to philosophical notions and views is substantially different from that of a theoretical philosopher (a historian does not study their adequacy or truthfulness, but rather, he considers them and compares them as products of the human spirit struggling with philosophical themes), and yet, as Władysław Tatarkiewicz rightly observed: It is not sufficient for a historian of philosophy to be familiar with philosophy; he must also be a philosopher.5

And, as Swieżawski attempts to substantiate in detail, the history of philosophy is very closely connected with the philosophy of the history of philosophy, which constitutes a part of the philosophy of man.6 Thus, counting the history of philosophy within the scope of philosophical sciences is a justified convention; one may not overlook the history of philosophy in the context of the considered question of the meaning of the history

5 6

Cf. (Tatarkiewicz 1954, p. 85). Cf. (Swieżawski 1966, part II).


Izydora Dąmbska

of science for science.7 On the other hand, if we agree that the history of science as described at the beginning of this work is, among other things, the history of the process of scientific cognition, of building science and its methods, then we must also accept, at least partly, that its object is also the object of the history of philosophy. In the respect that the history of science deals with the history of metascience (that is, the history of the development of the notion of science itself and its methods), it is the history of philosophical reflection upon cognition, the history of at least some of the problems and notions of logic and of epistemology, which constitute an important sphere of research for a historian of philosophy. Moreover, the history of philosophy and the history of science, when they concern a time when particular sciences had only begun to emerge, essentially discuss the same collection of preserved works by various thinkers, and only later do they put more or less emphasis on specific lines of reasoning and theorems included in these works in the light of subsequently formed notions in philosophy and particular sciences. It is enough to compare some chapters of any of the noted contemporary works devoted to the general history of knowledge with the corresponding parts of books on the history of ancient philosophy to observe a large degree of similarity between their presentations. It is not only chapters on Pythagoreanism or the Ionic philosophy of nature, where practically the same preserved fragments of the works are discussed, but also some chapters concerning later periods, which demonstrate that the formal object of research, and sometimes even the point of view of both histories, partly overlap.8 Naturally, the differences be-

7 On the other hand, I purposefully omit another concept of classification, which rightly considers the history of philosophy to be a part of the history of science. Indeed, if we assume a fairly broad meaning of the term “science,” without limiting it to the meaning of the English term “science” ( mathematical and natural sciences) or the meaning of “particular sciences,” the history of philosophy constitutes one chapter in the history of science. This is presented by the authors of the outstanding Critical Bibliography of the History of Science and its Cultural Influences which appears periodically in the magazine Isis (Bibliography 1955-), specifically in part three of the work, entitled “Histories of the Special Sciences,” where they primarily register works from the scope of the history of philosophy. Similarly, comprehensive encyclopedic handbooks on the history of science cannot overlook the history of philosophy. Still, speaking of the general history of science we do not mean a historiographic set of all fields of knowledge, but a specifically understood history of science as such. We are concerned with its relationship to the history of philosophy practiced autonomously and understood as the history of philosophical notions and standpoints. 8 I shall use as an example the excellent L’Histoire générale des sciences, edited by R. Taton (1957). Here is a fragment of a treatise on Aristotle written by P.H. Michel: “Il n’y a pas pour Aristote de science du singulier mais seulement de l’universel. Il est une science de l’être humain et non de l’homme qui s’appelle Calhas. Toute science repose sur la définition et la démonstration: telles sont les seules méthodes qui lui sont appropriées. Les Analytica

On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy


gin where the history of science emphasizes the development of research within the scope of particular sciences, or the shaping of organization and technology of scientific research; issues which are of lesser concern to the history of philosophy. What is then the meaning of the history of science for the history of philosophy? It seems twofold. First of all, in the case when a historian of philosophy studies his subject as a current of a great river of thought and a pursuit which makes up the spiritual culture of humanity, rather than in isolation from other issues such as the history of philosophical notions and standpoints, the knowledge of the history of science in general and the history of all particular sciences, as well as the knowledge of the history of religion, art or technology, allows this historian to better understand and demonstrate the role of philosophical systems and ideas in this great procession of thought and pursuit. A beautiful example of such practices in the history of philosophy is the work by Werner Jaeger entitled Paideia (Jaeger 1933–1947), devoted to i.a. Plato’s philosophy, which presents the sense and function of this philosophy within the dynamic development of Greek science. Secondly, even when the history of philosophy is limited to the history of philosophical notions and standpoints, the knowledge of metascientific notions and reflections upon science and the interrelations of different sciences often enables us to verify the accuracy of our own analyses concerning philosophical epistemological standpoints. For instance, the theory of synthetic a priori judgments in Kant’s work, which he attempted to substantiate with the results of his analyses concerning the character of mathematics and pure natural science, becomes more comprehensible historically if we know which conception of axioms and which conception of scientific law was assumed in a more or less clearly explained manner in mathematics and physics of the 17th and 18th centuries. Similarly, the understanding of Hume’s criticism of a causal relationship becomes fuller

posteriora, les Physica, le traité De anima disent et redisent que la connaissance sensible se distingue absolument de la connaissance scientifique. La première porte sur des faits contingents, situés dans le temps et dans le lieu; la seconde est celle d’objets qui sont en dehors de l’espace et du temps. [...] Tout cela est bien dans la ligne du platonisme. Et cependant les conceptions méthodologiques d’Aristote diffèrent profondément de celles de Platon, car ces notions universelles auxquelles s’attachera la définition et qui seront les principes de la démonstration ne surgissent plus en nous, selon Aristote, par réminiscence ou par une saisie directe de l’idée. Nous y accédons par la sensation. La sensation, certes, n’est pas la science; elle lui est même tout à fait étrangère, mais elle en est le point de départ” etc. (Michel 1957, 259 ff.). The same sentiment put in slightly different words may be read in any handbook of ancient history. This is how it must be if we take into consideration the object, which is common for them.


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if a historian of philosophy who researches the development of physics in 17th century realizes the shift from substantialist to phenomenological approach to its subject which took place then. In brief, the history of philosophy, which is also, although not only, a history of science (after all, philosophy is a science, although it differs in its tasks and methods from particular sciences), used the results which the history of science attains, and especially the history of scientific methods, in order to expand its research and to interpret the development of a given discipline. A similar, albeit more general, approach is presented by G. Sarton, who writes: L’étude de la pensée des grands philosophes – qui sera toujours la partie essentielle et la plus excitatrice de l’histoire de la philosophie – est évidemment trop incomplète, si l’on néglige d’étudier le patrimoine scientifique qu’ils ont utilisé, le milieu scientifique dans lequel ils ont vécu et l’influence qu’ils ont exercée sur la marche de la science.9

Let us finally add that the history of particular disciplines of science is often substantially connected with the history of other branches of knowledge. For instance, the history of logic is connected to the history of mathematics through the object of its research, the history of aesthetics makes use of historical research of the development of theories of literature or visual arts, and the history of ethics draws from the history of social sciences. How is it in the case of systematic, rather than historical, research in the field of philosophy, which is broadly understood, logic and epistemology? Can they also treat the history of science as their auxiliary discipline? It seems doubtless that a historian of science must be very familiar with the issues of logic (in the meaning of the theory of knowledge), and that the logical analysis of theoretical notions discussed within their historical development is a significant element of his work.10 Thus, we owe the most

Cf. (Sarton 1913, p. 5). This point, often raised by distinguished historians of science (Koyré, Crombie, Toulmin and others), is illustrated in an interesting way by J.T. Clark in his dissertation “The Philosophy of Science and the History of Science” (Clark 1959, p. 103 ff.), which is a beautiful example of the application of conceptual apparatus developed by logic and epistemology in historical research. The author calls his method “die von oben bis unten geistesgeschichtliche Methode” and demonstrates its mechanism in the following manner. In the first part of his study: (1) he describes the logical structure of a scientific theory understood as a hypothetical-deductive system; (2) he determines what logical functions of mathematics consist of in the process of scientific discovery; (3) finally, he isolates and defines the substance of the correlation between a model of a given mathematical theory and a domain of experience. 9


On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy


notable works on the history of science to those researchers who are not only competent in a given field of knowledge, but who are also excellent at philosophical reflection on science. Let us mention as an example Mach, Duhem, Meyerson, Poincaré, and among contemporary names de Broglie or Heisenberg who, while doing creative work in the field of mathematics or physics, also practiced the theory of these sciences, and thus compiled a history of these disciplines in a very competent manner. “History of science without philosophy of science is blind,” as N.R. Hanson rightly claims. 11 Still, we are interested in the reverse form of this relationship: whether the history of science can be useful for logic in the meaning of the theory of science, and if so, in what sense. In order to answer these questions, we must first demonstrate what interpretation of the theory of science is meant here. Let us agree that the components of a formal theory of science are: (1) formulating a notion and indicating the conditions for the logical scientific legitimacy of a theory; (2) indicating the criteria of its assertiveness, or at least its hypothetic acceptability; (3) indicating the ways to apply these criteria, that is, indicating effective ways to construct a logically correct theory and to ensure its assertiveness or at least its hypothetic acceptability. Let us agree further that what is understood by science in this case are certain sets of sentences in the logical sense, that is, sentences equipped with ideal meanings and interpreted in their formal (syntactic) and semantic properties, that is, in isolation from specific spatial-temporal and subjective ways to use them, as well as in isolation from their detailed interpretations. With these assumptions, the theory of science is independent from the history of science in the logical sense. That is, no historical statement may perform the function of a premise for its statements. This is probably what the above mentioned N.R. Hanson meant by saying that “the logical relevance of history of science to philosophy of science is nil,” yet, he did not hesitate to simultaneously claim that “philosophy of science without history of science is empty,” and that: The philosopher of science, who does not know intimately the history of the scientific problem with which he is exercised is not even airborne12.

His claims are not self-contradictory. After all, the case is different from the point of view of logic in the sense of formal theory and methodology

Then, based on the first of his analyses, he describes Copernicus’ work in astronomy and, based on the second of his analyses, he describes De habitudinibus formarum by Oresme, whereas the third proves useful to explain the discussion on the falling of bodies between Beckhman and Descartes. 11 Cf. (Hanson 1962, p. 580). 12 Cf. (Hanson 1962, p. 585, 580, 586).


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of science, in the aspect of its own development and in the aspect of its theoretical uses in the pragmatic interpretation of cognition. It is a fact that even though various logical theories on the basis of purely formal-linguistic conventions can be and are created a priori, still, in their actual development, numerous logical theories are formal systems constructed in such a way that they may find a model in various domains of reality studied by science. Therefore, it seems that the knowledge of their historical development may sometimes be the incentive to formalize the theory of these domains, as well as to build corresponding logical systems. Besides, logic formulates its methodological statements taking into account the actual needs of science and its applications, as it is a theory of ways to achieve assertive, or at least hypothetically rationally acceptable cognition. It is easy to demonstrate that the development of the logical theory of induction, or the development of the theory of the calculus of probability in the 17th century was the answer to the needs of empirical natural science and the theory of gambling games. Similarly, logical theories of measurement and experiment in 19th and 20th century owe much of their inspiration to the revolutions in classical physics and to the birth of relativistic and quantum physics. An example from another domain is the contemporary intense development of the logic of decisions or of deontic logic, which are responses to the methodological needs of economic and socio-legal studies. If this is the case, then we must admit that logic and methodology may expand the scope of their research and application through good knowledge of the history of science, because of their subject matter, which is in part a formal idealization of real cognitive operations and their products, even though in the logical sense they are independent from the history of science. Someone might remark that in order to achieve it, a theoretician of science does not need knowledge of the history of science; it is sufficient for this theoretician to be well versed in the current state of contemporary knowledge. Yet, is “the current state of contemporary knowledge” not a historical fact at the point when it is able to undergo methodological reflection? I believe it is. Still, regardless of this denomination, for a person who reflects upon it, “the current state of knowledge” may not be fully isolated (what are its limits?) from the factors which have shaped it and which primarily include past processes and products of science. Such historical interpretation of the subject of consideration of the theory of science, which in itself also undergoes transformations and development, is particularly stressed by Robert S. Cohen in his dissertation entitled “Is the Philosophy of Science Germane to the History of Science? The work of Meyerson and Needham,” when he writes that, while avoiding the mistake of identifying the genetic problems with the issues of the legitimacy of logical substantiations, the theory of science fully embraces its subject matter only when it realizes

On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy


that not only theoretical but also metatheoretical notions are subject to evolution, that “ideas have their own history;” and he concludes: “only the historian can provide such working material for the philosopher.” 13 Ernest Nagel speaks in a similar vein.14 On the other hand, Stephen Toulmin goes much further in emphasizing the significance of history for the theory of science, as he writes: The merits of our scientific theories and patterns of thought can be analyzed only to a very limited extent in formal, timeless terms, and that in many respects they are essentially dependent – one might say, at the mercy – of history and experience.15

This is why, he adds, historical research is in the very center of logic.16 This attempt to obliterate the differences between the a priori character of logical theories and their historically conditioned concretizations rightly provoked criticism on the part of R. Hanson, presented in the article cited before.17 Just as in the case of logic as a formal theory of science, the history of science also adds to the field of research of the epistemology of science, as well as general epistemology. Admittedly, seeking the answer to the question of what cognition essentially is and what its origins, boundaries and qualities are, epistemology studies this phenomenon in the aspect of its essential nature, apart from its psychological and historical spatial-temporal substantiations. Yet, their philosophical analysis allows us to extract various new aspects essential for the problems of epistemology. Let us take as an example a central problem for epistemology, that is, the problem of the subject and the object of cognition and their mutual relationships. The analysis of the interaction within the field of physical cognition as a result of an unavoidable interference and the influence of the subject of cognition on the field of the researched objects as a result of using measuring apparatus and other instrumental means of discovery brings a veritable multitude of data for epistemological reflection. Classical physics assumed that the function of the subject of cognition is a passive-receptive state of observation and abstracted from the fact that the subject of cognition is

Cf. (Cohen 1964, p. 217). He writes, i.a.: “Many of us are interested in the history of science partly because it provides knowledge about ideas not already familiar to us, and partly because it supplies information about the genesis of ideas and the chains of their influence and use. These interests are not readily satisfied if we pursue historical study with the sole intent of using the materials of the past as illustrations for currently recognized methodological principles” (Nagel 1959, p. 155 ff.). 15 Cf. (Toulmin 1964, p. 226). 16 Ibidem. 17 Cf. (Hanson 1962, p. 111 and note 10). 13 14


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not only a contemplative consciousness, but also a causative one, actively intervening in events in the cognized field. This problem of real interaction taking place in the world between the researched system and the system of instrumental cognitive intervention of the subject became particularly meaningful in the theory of measuring the phenomena of the microphysical world, forcing us to accept that since “in quantum physics, it is necessary to account for the functioning of the measuring instrument in order to describe phenomena,” we must make a distinction “between the subject and the object so that in every case it ensures unambiguous use of elementary physical notions used in the description.” Thus, a fairly concrete situation from within the development of science imposes on a theoretician of cognition the need to review and extend the analysis of the problem of whether there is a point in differentiating between the subject and the object of cognition.18 Another example of the influence of research within the history of science on expanding the problems of epistemology, concerning the function of the subject of cognition, is provided by the history of attempts to prove the independence of the Euclidean axiom about parallel lines, and the history of the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries connected to these attempts. The fact of the logical equality of various geometrical systems revealed by this discovery contributed to a more lively discussion over of the nature of the axioms of geometry and to stressing the formative function of the subject in creating the basic for mathematics. Similarly, the history of the origins and development of the humanities, especially historical sciences, proved to be an important source of problems significant to the controversy over the subjectivity and objectivity of cognition, which is paramount to the theory of cognition. This controversy has been going on since time immemorial and independently from the issues of the historical development of these sciences, but the facts revealed by this development, requiring interpretation on the grounds of epistemology, certainly contributed to a better exploration of the mentioned problems. Let us add that every particular science contains in its theoretical part the conceptual apparatus and general assumptions which are subject to analysis on the part of a philosopher. The problem does not only lie in the issues mentioned above, which are of interest mainly to logic and epistemology, but also in certain basic concepts and assumptions of an ontological and metaphysical nature. Leibniz was the first to realize the need for philosophy to work out a general, formal theory of objects, which would find its substantial interpretation in particular sciences studying various


Cf. (Bohr 1955, p. 91).

On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy


spheres of reality. The assumptions of particular sciences include both general concepts of formal ontology (such as the concept of an object, a relationship, a process, etc.), and their more detailed versions of various kinds and degrees. At times, the internal development of a given science forces us to undertake or resume a philosophical analysis of these concepts. For instance, in the development of mathematical sciences at the turn of the 19th century, thanks to the works of Cantor, set theory was created and its basic character and role in mathematics was discovered. The chief concept in set theory is the notion of a set: consistently a subject of ontological analysis and worry since the times of Plato’s concept of ideas. An analysis of this chief concept and attempts to solve the paradoxes and antinomies which arose in connection to it within set theory are within the scope of both logic and ontology. The same can be said of the notions of infinity, time, space, causality, event, value, etc., which are either assumed or discussed in the fields of exact sciences and concern the subjects of ontology in the sense of a general theory which studies the world of possible subjective structures. The claims of the history of science do not provide any premises to draw any inductive conclusions in the field of ontology. Still, insight into these basic concepts of particular sciences and the history of their development broadens the scope of the research, and in consequence, also of its theoretical resolutions and uses. The logical and epistemological, and even ontological, problems discussed so far are often included in the philosophy of science. Therefore, we may consider the previous discussion of the relationship of the history of science to systematic philosophical disciplines as seeking the answer to the question of the meaning of the history of science for the philosophy of science. These questions were included in our discussion, but they extended beyond their scope, as they also posed questions of the meaning of the history of science for the mentioned disciplines, not only in the metascientific scope of their research but also in the scope of general epistemology or ontology. Conversely, this discussion does not exhaust the issue of the relationship of the history of science to the philosophy of science, with a definition of the word science differing from the previous one. After all, if science is understood not only as sets of sentences in the logical sense corresponding to certain formal and cognitive requirements and forms of cognitive operations which condition them, but also the whole rich world of scientific culture, together with their creators, means of communication, ethnic and geopolitical conditions, ethical problems tied to them, etc., just as the history of science defines it, then the philosophical problems concerning these fields will also grow exponentially, and in consequence, new


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aspects of the relationship between the history of science and the philosophy of science will emerge. However, considering the main theme of this article, that is, the meaning of the history of science for philosophy, I believe that the initial idea to confront the history of science with chosen philosophical disciplines, rather than just with the philosophy of science, should be retained despite the otherwise interesting concept of philosophy as a theory of science. We shall see that in such a case matters connected with this broader understanding of science will still19 come to the surface. This is how we must view science when we move on to considering the question of the meaning of the history of science for philosophical anthropology. If the task of philosophical anthropology is to learn the essential nature of man, as a sui generis of a being which develops in time and has its own history, as well as to learn its place and role in the universe, then all research concerning what and how human beings create, what values they seek, how they present the world and express themselves in it, may be useful in learning their nature. On the other hand, if we view science as the manifestation of a basic human aspiration, that is, striving to know the world, understand its meaning and humans’ existence and role within it, then the history of science, which reveals the most significant forms and peripeteia, successes and failures of this striving, also indirectly reveals the subject who inquires and searches, who creates the tools of cognition and the means to transfer and perpetuate it, who creates works doomed in the race against time and death. Philosophical anthropology in the history of culture in general, and especially in the history of science, can follow, like you follow a colour movie, the projection of this drama of human conscious life in one of its essential functions: asking questions about what and why something is and searching for answers to these questions in the name of achieving the basic value of cognition. Achieving this value requires a lot of dedication as well as courage and internal honesty, as it creates a situation of conflict, forces people to abandon other values and puts a burden of great moral responsibility on people. Unlike the natural world, the world of humankind is characterized by being experienced in the categories of sense and value; thence the connection between philosophical anthropology, the general theory of values and ethics. For these philosophical disciplines, knowledge of the history of science, considered in this case as a form of action and expression of a person achieving the values of cognition, may be of great importance.

19 I say “still,” as it was mentioned before in connection with the problem of relationship of the history of philosophy to the history of science.

On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy


If ethics is understood as a basic branch of practical philosophy in the Aristotelian sense, and thus as a theory of moral values, making use of the achievements of philosophical anthropology on the one hand and a hypothetical-deductive system of moral deontology based on this theory on the other hand, rather than a descriptive discipline within sociology rather than philosophy, which relates what people consider as right and wrong and under what conditions, and what ethical norms and directives of conduct they form in connection with these evaluations, then it is clear that, analogously with ontological research, also for the analysis within the theoretical branch of ethics, the history of science may become an auxiliary science. It provides valuable material for reflection upon what insight it allows in the development of specific, axiologically (in the moral sense) conditioned actions which inevitably fall within the scope of the scientific process, as well as insight into the situations where various systems of values intersect and the subject is often forced to make tough choices. Regardless of what the history of science is for philosophical anthropology and for ethics, as it reveals the cognitive and moral peripetia of the subject who does science, the knowledge of the history of some specific scientific disciplines which concern man, whether they be biological, psychological, or social, demonstrating how philosophical assumptions and methods of these sciences changed and how the very understanding of their tasks and objectives changed, provides interesting material for anthropophilosophical and axiological reflection upon the question of what determines our knowledge about ourselves, of what value this knowledge is and to what degree the image of man created by particular science reveals or obscures what he truly is. Also, to what degree it contributes to what man considers himself to be in various periods, what standards to follow, or what masks to put on. How different was the image of man created or assumed by the psychology of “faculties of the soul” in the 17th century from the image emerging in the 20th century from depth psychology or psychoanalysis? How different are the concepts concerning an individual in its relationship with humankind in the relatively short history of sociology? “Homo sapiens,” “l’homme machine,” “homo faber,” “homo oeconomicus,” “homo ludens,” “homo viator,” “homo spiritualis,” “homo patiens”; what a multitude of images or aspects, shaped or assumed by various disciplines dealing with man, are revealed in the history of these sciences, providing data for anthropological philosophy which demand reliable interpretations as well as ontological and axiological analyses, even if their result were to be the conviction that man is still “an unknown being.” The analyses outlined above, while far from pretending to provide a comprehensive overview of the importance of the history of science for philosophical sciences, can still provide affirmative answers to the initial


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question of the present study. They demonstrate that the history of science provides necessary data of philosophical reflection for the history of philosophy, logic, epistemology, ontology and axiology, thus becoming an important auxiliary discipline for them.


Izydora Dąmbska 3. ON DUALITY IN THE ASPECT OF BEING AND COGNITION AND ON THE TENDENCY TO OVERCOME THIS DUALITY AS THE BASIS FOR PHILOSOPHICAL TRENDS AND STANDPOINTS O dwoistości w aspekcie bytu i poznania i o tendencji do przezwyciężania tej dwoistości jako podstawie kierunków i stanowisk filozoficznych (Dąmbska 1953/1954) The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that certain duality is inherently outlined and imposed on us, both in the construction of the reality being presented by ourselves and in the forms of cognition, and that at the same time there is a tendency in a conscious subject to reduce and remove this duality and replace it with some kind of unity. Therefore, there have been attempts to: (1) (2) (3)

indicate some typical forms of the duality mentioned above; consider whether they may be reduced to certain primary dualities; characterize the aforementioned monist tendency by distinguishing its typical varieties.

We must distinguish ontic duality from Gnostic duality. The word “Gnosis” is used in such a broad sense that it can refer both to cognitive attitudes in the narrower meaning and to axiological attitudes (evaluations and norms). By ontic duality we understand such a duality which occurs in an object, different from its objective approaches, and by Gnostic duality we understand a duality of conscious cognitive or axiological approaches to objects. Ontic duality is either the duality of an ready entity or the duality of a produced entity. Gnostic duality is either the duality of cognition (epistemological), or an axiological and normative duality.

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 33–38. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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This discussion is limited to the ontic duality of the first type, that is, the duality of an existing entity, and the Gnostic duality of the first type, that is, the duality of cognition. Typical forms of the ontic duality of a ready entity in philosophy include: • • • • •

the the the the the

duality duality duality duality duality

of of of of of

a subject and an object; ideal and real objects; spirit and matter; infinity and finiteness; God and the world.

Gnostic duality of cognition is expressed in the duality of: • the abstraction and the conceivability; • a priori and a posteriori; • transcendence and immanence. Naturally, the mentioned ontic and epistemological dualities do not exhaust the topic in its entirety. The above examples concern certain general dualities which a human mind encounters when practicing philosophy. However, it also encounters them in the field of particular sciences, albeit usually where their basic assumptions are concerned. Thence the duality of space and number in mathematics, the duality of organic and inorganic matter in natural sciences, the duality of matter and energy in physics, the duality of particle and wave in quantum theory, etc. It seems that there occurs a certain correspondence or correlation between those ontic dualities and dualities of the epistemological type, that is, certain ontological dualities are usually associated with specific epistemological dualities. For instance, the ontic duality of an object and a subject corresponds to the epistemological duality of transcendence and immanence. The ontic duality of a real and ideal being corresponds to the epistemological duality of a posteriori and a priori, etc. These correlations and their boundaries will probably be more clearly manifested in the analysis of overcoming duality for unity. This is when choosing one element of an ontic relationship as the only real one is connected to a specific choice of elements of ontological dualities. There still arises the question of whether the multiplicity of existing ontological or Gnostic dualities is primary, or if at least some of them may be considered to be specifications derived from some general basic duality. It might seem that this is the duality of being and not-being, or nothingness. However, being and not-being do not make an ontic duality, since ex definitione the issue is duality in the aspect of what is, and therefore, the duality of being. The duality of being – not-being is more of an ultimate than

On Duality in the Aspect of Being and Cognition


basic duality, a borderline duality, which encounters the monistic tendency of overcoming ready dualities. Having rejected all dualities as apparent, it faces the alternatives of being and not-being. If it is overcome, it is in the spirit of Parmenides’ concept of eternal, single, unchangeable being, or in the Buddhist concept of Nirvana, or existential nothingness of the type favored by Sartre. Yet, it seems that for many specific dualities the basic duality is the duality of form and material, in the sense of essence and what it is expressed in, as well as what it embodies or shapes. This is how we can interpret Plato’s dualism of ideas-models and empirical temporary objects in which these ideas are reflected, as well as Aristotle’s concept of the soul as a form of the organic body and God as pure form as opposed to matter, or the dualism of abstract notional constructs in physics and the data coming from sensory experience which “signal” the former, or the dualism of pure numericality and their spatial interpretation in mathematics, etc. As for epistemological dualities, the fundamental basic correlative kind could probably be the duality of intelligibility and sensuality, which takes precedence over the abstract and the conceivability, the duality of notional and imagined cognition, a priori and a posteriori, immanent and transcendent. This ready aspect of ontic duality and Gnostic duality is the principal problem of philosophy and is either the point of departure for the systems of ontology, metaphysics and the theory of cognition which accept these dualities as real, or is rejected when these dualities are recognized as apparent, which becomes the point of departure for monistic concepts of being and thought. Aristotelian philosophy, Thomism and Cartesianism are examples of philosophical systems following the idea of accepting fundamental ontic and Gnostic dualities. The basis of these philosophical standpoints is made of ideal and real objects, spirit and matter, God and the world, etc. Cognition is divided onto a priori and a posteriori, notional and imagined, abstract and conceivable. These systems have always had plenty of proponents amongst intellectuals as they seem to explore and theoretically explain what is evident for the human mind in common experience. At this point there may arise an objection against the main initial thesis of this article. Someone might say: ontic and Gnostic duality is not something ready, imposed upon an unbiased human mind. Primitive man, or a small child, does not notice these dualities, as for them there is only a multitude of phenomena of the world of senses and matter. The author does not believe this objection to be valid. Children very quickly discover the duality of a subject and an object, even if they do not conceptually determine the duality, and primitive man is prone to distinguishing forms-essences from their embodiment in his magical thinking. Juxtaposing God and man, or the world, seems very pre-philosophical. Still, without getting into this discussion, we may speak of aspects of duality imposed on a human mind


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at a certain stage of its development, that is, when it is capable of notional thinking and a reflection on its own consciousness, and when it is not preoccupied only with the world of sensory experience. This psychological fact of at least some dualities being imposed on people was noted and elaborated on by Pascal, who described the notion of being caught between a finite man and infinity – man conscious of his spiritual nature burdened with physicality, suspended between nothingness and eternity, trapped within the outside world, yet longing for God. Monism is a way out of this problem, as it removes the source of the tragic cognitive situation, described by Pascal so poignantly. The desire to overcome this problem and this inner conflict is probably not the only source of monistic tendencies in a cognizing subject. Yet, it seems to be one of the most significant. In ontology, overcoming duality in favor of monistic concepts means either accepting one argument of the dual relation as a real factor and deeming the other one to be an insignificant phenomenon, accidental or deceptive in relation to the first one, or denying reality to both arguments of the duality and deeming them both as phenomenal aspects of an ontic reality different from both. For instance, in the first alternative rejecting ideal objects as deceptive leads to nominalism, rejecting spiritual substance leads to materialism, and rejecting God leads to atheism, etc. Conversely, denying the reality of empirical sensory entities leads to idealistic realism in the Platonic style, negation of reality of matter leads to spiritualist monism, negation of the reality of the world leads to pantheism, etc. Deeming both real sensory objects and ideal objects to be unreal may lead to existentialism (there is no essence, there is only existence), while deeming matter and spirit to be unreal may lead to various forms of neutral monism (Spinoza, Fechner, Mach). Analogously, breaking away from the duality of cognition in epistemology consists in denying one of the ready manners of cognition the quality of legitimacy in favor of the other one, or in rejecting both and contrasting it with another manner of cognition. The first case produces radical empiricism through negating the value of a priori cognition or radical apriorism by rejecting the cognitive value of a posteriori judgments; epistemological idealism is the result of the negation of the transcendence of cognition, and sensualist realism is the result of the negation of the immanence of cognition. In the second variant, both the value of empirical cognition and a priori cognition may be rejected in favor of a completely different form of cognition. This is how various forms of epistemological irrationalism arise. It may be worth noting that in all of the above examples the monistic tendency usually only moves the opposed duality to another platform, especially within the scope of ontic duality. The duality of a real and

On Duality in the Aspect of Being and Cognition


phenomenal entity, that is, what is and what seems to be, takes the place of the duality of ontically equivalent arguments. We may say that the monistic tendency overcomes ontic metaphysical duality and replaces it with the duality of the entity in itself and the phenomenon of being and not-being. The original duality of the subject and the object of cognition remains. Eventual overcoming of this reduced dualism leads to a paradoxical form of Gorgias’ agnosticism and nihilism or to the less paradoxical thesis of solipsism. There arises the question of whether the monistic overcoming of the duality of a certain kind determines a certain monistic reduction of another duality. For instance, does rejecting the duality of spirit and matter entail rejecting infinity in favor of finiteness, or God in favor of the world, or an ideal entity in favor a real entity, etc., and whether this entailment also extends to the domain of monistic reduction of Gnostic dualities. Therefore, to stick to the chosen example, by choosing materialist monism do we not thereby choose empiricism over apriorism, transcendence of cognition over immanence, the visible aspect of cognition over the abstract aspect, realism over idealism? Conversely, if we choose spiritualism, does it entail pantheism, infinity, idealism, immanentism? The history of philosophy does not recognize such an correlation as actual in its entirety. Gassendi’s materialism goes hand in hand with theism, whereas Berkeley’s spiritualism goes hand in hand with nominalism and empiricism. At most, we may speak of a generally more frequent correlation of certain standpoints resulting from overcoming the aspect of duality. Thus, generally, only materialism is combined with atheism, nominalism and empiricism, whereas spiritualism is combined with theism, apriorism and universalism. Another generalization seems true: monism which is consistent in overcoming ontic duality is usually combined with a certain form of epistemological monism. What is the philosophical sense of the above discussion, if it is legitimate? Does the fact that the aspect of ontic and epistemological duality is naturally presupposed and that attempts to overcome it monistically do not lead to complete elimination of this aspect, but instead, to moving it to another plain, lead to the conclusion that this aspect is real, that is, that it reveals the real nature of being and cognition? It seems that such a conclusion would not be properly justified, just as the claim that since there is a tendency to overcome duality in a cognitive subject, it is because this duality is in fact only apparent is unjustified. It is similar with the third, and most tempting, conclusion, which states that if an aspect of duality is imposed on us, and there is a tendency to overcome it, then perhaps duality is really in the object, and the individual unity in the subject of cognition. None of these conclusions seems satisfactorily justified, as they


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all contain a mistake of inferring from the properties of cognition about the properties of the objects of cognition. The “aspect” may be only apparent and the “tendency” may lead us astray. However, perhaps the following reasoning is possible. If a certain aspect of ontic and Gnostic duality is presupposed in our own intuition of subjective reality, that is, if we necessarily appear to ourselves as a subject as opposed to an object, as an entity in itself as opposed to an entity outside of ourselves, if we are aware that we learn a posteriori and a priori and if attempts to deny it lead to new aspects of duality or to paradoxes, then perhaps at least in the objective immanent duality this original aspect can be explained. Thus, something may at least be inferred about the subject of cognition and about the styles of philosophical thinking from it. If the distinctions are legitimate, we may also conduct a typology of worldviews based on it, or demonstrate that the choice of the kind of monism to follow has its motivational basis in the person’s spiritual type. It seems that we can also distinguish the monism which results from overemphasizing one of the arguments of ontic or Gnostic duality resulting from an inability to pay sufficient attention to the second argument of the dual relationship (this is true for, e.g., the primitive materialism of people at a low level of spiritual culture, preoccupied with the sphere of vegetative and sensivite phenomena) from a monism which results from realizing the difficulties inherent to the dual aspect of being, and critique of this duality (this was, e.g., Spinoza’s monism, born of realizing the difficulties inherent to Cartesian dualism), and from monism at all costs, which results from a clear need for unity, and thus, from a pure monistic tendency (for instance, the monism of neo-Platonists who seek a solution to the troubling issue of the ontic duality of spirit and matter, an ideal entity and an empirical entity). We may elaborate on the history of human thought (both in philosophy and in particular sciences) to the benefit of everyone using the historiographical guideline of the following problem: the creators of philosophical systems or scientific theories reckon with the ready aspect of ontic and Gnostic duality, and tend to overcome this aspect by creating monistic concepts of being and cognition.

Izydora Dąmbska 4. A FEW REMARKS ON COGNITIVE VALUES Kilka uwag w sprawie wartości poznawczych (Dąmbska 1965b) Both in his work entitled Kulturwissenschaft und Naturwissenschaft (Rickert 1898) and in Die Grenzen der naturwissenschaftlichen Begriffsbildung (Ricert 1896–1902), Rickert attempted to characterize the specificity of the tasks posed by the humanities for themselves and stressed the fact that they discuss the world of phenomena in the aspect of values. After all, the subject of interest for a researcher-humanist is culture, which is composed of spiritual processes and their products, such as art, religion, social institutions, etc., which are subject to evaluation and which are shaped for the sake of realization of certain values. If this is true, then, as some claim, judgments on value and evaluations must also be included in the humanities along with descriptive sentences. The second part of this conclusion, which is the one pertaining to evaluations, does not result from the premises. After all, we might assume that the task of the humanities is merely to describe and explain phenomena of culture, and thus, values accepted or created throughout history, rather than to formulate judgments on what is de facto valuable, or to issue judgments on the legitimacy, or the lack thereof, of axiological findings which appear in the process of forming products of culture. Yet, it is hard not to agree with the idea that if referring phenomena to the world of values is characteristic of what we call culture, then humanities must make use of the results of axiological research. Therefore, some of them, for instance the science of art, clearly contain or assume an axiological element, if only in the form of the philosophy of art. What is more, all sciences, not only specifically humanities, are the result of complex research processes, one of the most important being the choice of the questions which the researcher will pursue. This choice presupposes a kind of evaluation, that is, the evaluation of their cognitive In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 39–46. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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value. What is more, all sciences, both humanities and natural sciences, both a priori and a posteriori, can also be examined as components of human culture, and thus as phenomena where an realization of certain values is made, or as a reference of processes and products of cognition to the world of values. Thus, the theory of scientific cognition, or even more broadly, the theory of cognition in general, must pose certain questions of an axiological nature. Henri Poincaré entitled one of his books La valeur de la science (Poincaré 1905) – the value of science, where he opposed utilitarists’ and pragmatists’ tendencies and claimed that we should not seek the value of science only in that fact that its results are practically applicable and contribute to the development of technology and economical life. The value of science is not merely instrumental but is also autonomous, like in the case of the value of a work of art. Scientific cognition has value regardless of its practical applications. But what does that mean? Here we arrive at the core theme which, it seems to me, calls for a more detailed study: What are the axiological assumptions of the theory of science? For instance, if the postulate of uniformity of science, interpreted as the postulate of unity of scientific language, is so often put forward nowadays, then what lies behind this postulate is a certain assumption of an axiological nature which states that this uniformity of language, interpreted in various ways (for instance, Leibniz interprets it differently from neo-positivists), is a certain value, or rather, that it has certain value. Here we may ask again what sort of value is meant. When apparent problems or badly formulated questions, or illegitimate reasoning is mentioned in the methodology of science, what is meant again is a certain lack of something. We are prone to recognize it as a lack of values or as negative value. These and similar axiological elements of the theory of science seem to assume theories of certain values, which may sometimes be called cognitive values. They are mentioned at times in general axiology, but sometimes they hardly fit within the assumed classifications. Yet, there does not seem to exist a satisfactory theory of them. Even in reference to the most basic notions connected to cognition there is great dissent as to their axiological qualifications. It is customary to speak of truth and falsity as logical values in logic. In his Formale Ethik (Scheler 1913–1916), Scheler greatly stresses the view that truth is not a value. Yet, many people think that it is an autonomous and, in fact, the greatest cognitive value. It seems to me that none of the questions of whether truth is a value and what kind, or similar questions of probability, solvability of a question, clarity, distinctness and adequacy of notions, etc., may be reasonably answered before we establish, at least provisionally, the notion of values on the one hand and before we inspect the whole class of expressions which would be described as denoting certain cognitive values on

A Few Remarks on Cognitive Values


the other hand. Sentences where these expressions function as predicates may, but do not have to, have an evaluative sense (of approving or disapproving). Sentences where these expressions are the subject may, but do not have to, be evaluative sentences, albeit that they are always sentences about values.1 The sentence “Question X is resolvable” has an evaluative sense if it is equivalent to the conjunction of the sentences: “Question X fulfills the formal conditions in order to be deemed answerable, and it is good that X fulfills these conditions” and is a descriptive sentence when it contains only the first argument of the conjunction. The sentence “Resolvability is not inherent to incoherent expressions” is a sentence about values, but it is not an evaluative sentence, just as the sentence which states that “cognitive values can be divided into positive and negative,” whereas the sentence “Resolvability is the basic advantage of scientific questions” is of an evaluative character. How do we decide whether a certain expression designates some value? Let us consider the following example: expression x designates positive value when a general normative declarative sentence, where expression x is the predicate and the name which designates objects about which x can be predicated is the subject, is right; whereas x designates negative value when it performs this syntactic function in a right normative negative sentence. According to this suggestion, the word “resolvable” denotes positive value, as the normative declarative sentences claiming that “all scientific questions should be resolvable” is right, whereas the word “irresolvable” denotes negative value, as the normative

1 Here I distinguish three kinds of sentences in which terms denoting values occur. Evaluative sentences, that is, sentences in which denotata of these terms are qualified as values; evaluations, where we predicate about certain objects whether they are valuable; and finally, sentences about values, which may but do not have to have the character of evaluative sentences. Sentences from within the theory of values, where we establish what value is, what kinds of it there are, etc., falls into this category. I am inclined to call this sort of sentences axiological sentences in the narrower meaning, whereas the entirety of the sentences where terms denoting values occur could be called axiological sentences in the broader meaning. Thus, we would obtain the following classification:

Axiological sentences in the broader meaning ↙

sentences about values ↙

axiological sentences evaluative sentences in the narrower meaning



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negative sentence “No scientific question should be irresolvable” is right. The predicate “five-word” does not designate any cognitive value, as the following normative sentence is inaccurate: “All scientific questions should be a five-word questions,” and neither is this one: “No scientific question should be a five-word question.” Still, this criterion may be questioned by demonstrating that not every predicate which denotes value may perform the function in a normative sentence mentioned above and that more than one predicate which performs this function does not designate value. Let us assume that “genius” is an expression which designates a certain positive cognitive value. Yet, the sentence “All scientific theories should be genius” does not seem to be an accurate normative sentence. Similarly, a rule which used to be in operation in the army which stated that “every recruit should have a short haircut” does not determine that the phrase “a short haircut” designates some value. The latter objection could be removed by stating that we are interested only in right or not right normative sentences, rather than any rules or thetic norms applicable solely on the basis of an established law. We should also probably start a discussion about what kind of rightness or non-rightness we are dealing with. After all, thetic norms also aspire to fulfill certain needs, which for some constitutes a criterion for their rightness or non-rightness. I only wish to note at this point that the rightness or non-rightness of norms, which is the point here, is in some way established by the theory of objects which the norms refer to. When creating general concepts in a certain field, we construct the models or standard schemata designated by corresponding sets of individuals. Based on these schemata, we believe that every object which we classify under this concept should have specific properties congruent with this model. Rightness or non-rightness of norms is conditioned on whether the predicate denotes those properties which are fixed by a given conceptual scheme. If it were possible to remove the second objection in this, the first objection (that certain expressions denoting value cannot perform the function of predicates of norms) would still hold. We might remove it by proposing to adopt a criterion of expressions indicating values not only in their predicative functions in normative sentences, but alternatively in normative and optative sentences, such as, “Let every scientific theory be genius.” Yet, even with such a modified criterion, one may put forward an objection that a certain expression may function as a predicate of a right normative or optative sentence only because it denotes value. It is an evasion to look for a criterion for resolutions of an ontic or even a semantic nature in a syntactic function. Still, the proposed syntactic approach to the problem makes a certain methodological sense, at least because when we consider the role of expressions in certain types of sentences, we may

A Few Remarks on Cognitive Values


discover the field of the applicability of a given expression, and thus, indicate a class of objects about which they can be predicated. The idea of which objects as their vehicles they can be granted to is not irrelevant for the characteristic of values. As for cognitive values of interest to us here, their vehicles are either acts or products of cognition. These values must be distinguished from intellectual values inherent to subjects of cognition: from dianoetic virtues mentioned by Aristotle. At the same time, we must examine their interrelationships. It seems quite probable that certain cognitive values (of acts or products) are founded on or conditioned by certain properties of the subject, which in turn can be described as values of a person. Another difficult issue is distinguishing certain value qualities of acts (e.g. the sharpness of an act of judging, the acuteness of the process of observation) from positive features of the person who fulfills or is able to fulfill such acts. It seems that the axiological part of the theory of science should primarily be focused around an analysis of values predicated about products of cognition objectivized in language. We may attempt to make a list of them when considering the properties of various kinds of products: terms, sentences of various types (interrogative, descriptive, formal), reasoning, and finely theories. We may, and must, ask ourselves the question of what the character of these values is, whether they are instrumental in relation to others or autonomous, whether they are specific or reducible to others. If they are specific, then we must consider what their relationship is towards values of a different order (ethical, aesthetic, hedonist), and finally, what their position is in the hierarchy of values, if it is at all possible to establish. I shall attempt to discuss some of these problems on a very narrow example of the axiological aspects of scientific theory, or even more narrowly, physical theory. It is variously described; often (e.g. Campbell, Destouches, Mehlberg) as a deductive system connected through empirical interpretation to a system of descriptive sentences which register the results of observations and measurements concerning a specific field of physical phenomena. Specific theoretical terms, introduced to the system through postulates, are not, as some radical empiricists claim, reducible to descriptive terms, whose sense is designated by appropriate acts of measuring, without the remainder. Therefore, what may be considered to be the a priori backbone of the theory is not exhausted in its logical formalism, but is also included in what Mehlberg defines as metaphysical formalism, and which I would rather call specific a priori assumptions of a theory. 2


Cf. (Mehlberg 1962).


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In the case of both a priori and empirical aspects of the physical theory, the philosophy of science attempts to indicate conditions which must be fulfilled in order to be able to deem a given theory proper. Let us skip at this moment the issue of conditions put on the theory as a formal deductive system (the condition of non-contradiction and independence of axioms); the physical theory is required to perform certain functions, often characterized as functions of explaining and predicting facts. These functions can be subordinated to the function of informing about a certain domain of phenomena. Informing, as well as explaining and predicting are pragmatic functions of a theory, that is, those which a theory performs when we assume the role of its users wanting to expand their knowledge, to understand and to predict. At this point I abstract from pragmatic functions which a theory performs in reference to the cognitive subject which creates it. However, I would like to note a function which could be described as a semantic function of a theory. In order for a theory to be good and for it to fulfill the mentioned pragmatic functions, it must be coherently and adequately associated with a certain sphere of experience. This property results from the given definition of theory, which transposes it onto the syntactic relationship between a formal system and a set of descriptive sentences which register the results of instrumental operations. This condition, often interpreted as the confirmability or verifiability of a theory, must be fulfilled in order for a theory to be informative and in order to be able to explain and predict phenomena with its help.3 Even if we accept it that a theory which fulfills the given set of conditions is valuable, or has value, there still remains the question of what this value in fact is. There are plenty of hasty answers to this question: the value of a theory lies in its utility. A theory which leads to new inventions, which in turn increase people’s wellbeing and vital power, is a valuable theory. This is what Bacon claimed. The value of a theory is evident in its coherence, harmony, and specific intellectual beauty. This is what Poincaré believed.4 The value of science lies in its ability to fulfill man’s deep intellectual needs; this was Łukasiewicz’s response to our question. The

3 K.R. Popper speaks in this vein in his article “Some Comments on Truth and the Growth of Knowledge” (Popper 1962), when he writes how the value of a theory is determined: “to a higher degree of empirical content or of testability.” 4 At times he seemed to directly identify cognitive values with aesthetic values, when he wrote: “Le savant [...] éprouve en face de son œuvre la même impression que l’artiste; sa jouissance est aussi grande et de même nature [...]; nous travaillons pour ressentir cette émotion esthétique et la communiquer à ceux qui sont capables de l’éprouver” (Poincaré 1890a, p. 60). This is also how the English physicist Campbell put it. He wrote: “Science in its highest form is not opposed to art: it is a form of art” (Campbell 1912, p. 28).

A Few Remarks on Cognitive Values


first of the answers, which reduces cognitive value to a value instrumental with respect to hedonist value does not hold. The same theory can be an instrument of actions aiming at increase or destroy life and therefore, it is neither a good nor a bad theory. There are also theories which are not practically applicable, even though they fulfill the conditions mentioned before and are valuable in some way. Is their value within the class of aesthetic values? The manner in which this value is established seems to speak against it. If the conditioned mentioned before are the basis for the valence of a theory and if aesthetically valuable objects, such as works of art, do not fulfill these conditions, and yet they fulfill other conditions which may also be found in at least some scientific theories (clarity, originality, economy of means, harmony, etc.), then perhaps aesthetic value is inherent to scientific theories regardless of, or besides, their cognitive value. This is probably what is meant in the third definition (Łukasiewicz’s), but it settles for indicating a relational value property of a theory, the value of fulfilling intellectual needs, but it does not state which objective conditions within the theory itself must be fulfilled in order for this possibility to occur. If these are the ones I mentioned before, then perhaps the value of this theory can be characterized as its accuracy5 or functionality. Accuracy is not the same as veracity. There are better or worse theories, more or less functional, whereas veracity is not gradable. No physical theory can be deemed true with all confidence. Yet, if it is coherent, confirmable, adequately informative, explanatory and prognostic, then it fulfills its specific value, which consists in providing an accurate, that is, the best answer that the human mind can offer under the given conditions of cognition to questions concerning a given field of phenomena. What the human mind wants and what it aims to attain in cognition is truth, the highest value. What it can achieve in the course of practicing science, aware of all the limitations to which cognition is subject, is an accurate result of cognitive acts, or in our example, a functional, accurate theory. Researching the conditions a theory should meet in order to have this value ascribed to it is one of the tasks of metascience. Thus its axiological – and perhaps in consequence normative – aspect which I attempted to focus on in this lecture.

In the original, there is probably by a mistake, „purposefulness” (in Polish: „celowość”) [AB&JJ].


Izydora Dąmbska 5. IS INTERSUBJECTIVE SIMILARITY OF SENSORY IMPRESSIONS A NECESSARY ASSUMPTION IN NATURAL SCIENCES? Czy intersubiektywne podobieństwo wrażeń zmysłowych jest niezbędnym założeniem nauk przyrodniczych? (Dąmbska 1937b) “Ει και καταληπτον, αλλα τοι γε ανεξοιστον και ανερμηνευτον τω πελας” [Scil.:] “Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it cannot be communicated to others.” This is – the third of the widely known theses by Gorgias of Leontini, which is commonly thought to be a sophist paradox for the purpose of rhetorical showing off. Still a slightly modified consequent of this concessive term causes plenty of inconvenience to those who deal with problems of the theory of cognition. This modified consequent of Gorgias’ thesis is as follows: one may never resolve whether other people experience the same, or similar, semantic content when they utter the same sentences. Some tend to draw from it the conclusion that there is no intersubjective knowledge, or more cautiously, that the intersubjectivity of cognition may never be ascertained. Every one of us is locked in a world of one’s own experience, always isolated from everyone else. Any kind of control and testing one’s own theses by comparing them to the theses of others merely creates an illusion of accord. If science is ex definitione an intersubjective construct, available for control to many normal people who speak a common language, then from denying the possibility of intersubjective cognition there results a denial of the possibility of science. Four answers arise from the discussion on the issue taking shape here: either (1) the consequent of Gorgias’ thesis is false and nothing can be ascertained about the intersubjectivity of science

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 47–54. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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based on it; or (2) it is basically irresolvable, and thus useless as a premise of reasoning; or (3) it is true and what results from it is a denial of the intersubjectivity of cognition, and therefore, either the impossibility of science or a change of view on its essence; or (4) finally, it is true but the intersubjectivity of science does not assume its negation. The first option is more or less dogmatically assumed by various epistemological trends opposed to solipsism, whereas the third possibility leads to agnosticism, and sometimes to irrationalism in the theory of cognition. The second and fourth options in a more narrow formulation shall be the subject of the present discussion. At this point the question arises whether, if it was true that the thesis on intersubjective similarity of experience is false or basically irresolvable, would it also have to be true that statements of natural science are devoid of an intersubjective character? To put it more simply: is the intersubjectivity of conditional sentences necessarily conditioned by the intersubjective similarity of experience? The aim of the present work is to attempt to justify an answer in the negative. Let us first consider the arguments for an affirmative answer, that is, in favor of the thesis that the intersubjectivity of empirical sentences presupposes a similarity of experience. One of these arguments was developed by the distinguished German physicist Schrödinger in his work “Quelques remarques au sujet des bases de la connaissance scientifique.”1 His reasoning is as follows: Only when we assume that other people experience the same or at least similar sensations in the same or similar conditions of perception, are we allowed to make use of results of experiments conducted by other researchers in science. In such a case, we refer to someone else’s sensory perceptions as if they were our own. After all, no physicist repeats all experimental research on his own, but rather relies on information and reports of others. He would not be able to do it if not for his belief in the intersubjective similarity of experience. Therefore, the hypothesis of the intersubjective similarity of experience is, according to Schrödinger, a necessary assumption in natural sciences. Schrödinger’s argument is not convincing and it seems to consist in shifting the problem from the field of epistemology to the field of psychology. It regards what a scientist believes in when making use of a result of someone else’s experiment, rather than a necessary premise for science. Similarly, one may attempt to prove that a scientist who relies on the results of other people’s experiments believes in the truthfulness of his source; still the claim “Other scientists do not usually lie” is not a premise of any empirical science. Moreover,


Cf. (Schrödinger 1935).

Intersubjective Similarity of Sensory Impressions


Schrödinger’s argument discussed solely as a claim in itself does not seem true. A researcher practicing science is not interested in sensory impressions of other scientists but in their judgments, and at least basically resolvable judgments at that. As we rejected Schrödinger’s argument, a question inevitably arises, in what sense science can assume a hypothesis of the intersubjective similarity of experience. After all, when reading works on physics, chemistry, or biology, one never encounters the sentence: “Other people in similar conditions of perception as me experience the same sensations as me.” What is more, no claim about physical objects may result from either this hypothesis or its negation. As long as we remain within the scope of particular sciences, as long as we practice physics, chemistry, or biology, we do not encounter the mentioned hypothesis, and no claim within these sciences results from this hypothesis or verifies it. It is only within the scope of metascience that the problem of this hypothesis gains proper sense. At this point we may also formulate two further arguments in favor of the thesis of intersubjective similarity of experiences, which must be discussed in turn. One of them is provided by a view of the essence of natural cognition, relatively popular in certain time, but quite incorrectly called positivist. According to this view, the aim of natural sciences is to formulate laws which are as simple as possible and which express relationships between objects provided by sensory impressions. Because data of experience are reducible to systems of sensory impressions, assuming the intersubjective similarity of experience, an objective character may be ascribed to sentences in natural sciences. Also this argument seems unconvincing for the following reasons: (1)

2 3

If these positivist utterances on tasks of natural sciences (e.g. Heisenberg’s sentence: “Die Physik soll nur den Zusammenhang der Wahrnehmungen formal beschreiben”2 etc.) were interpreted, following i.a. Planck,3 such that positivists deny physical objects reality and speak of reality only in the context of groups of impressions, then this view of the task of natural sciences should be deemed false. After all, it is evident that natural sciences constantly seek to eliminate sentences about sensory qualities and to replace them with sentences about relationships between quantitatively describable values of space-time.

Cf. (Heisenberg 1927, p. 197). Cf. (Planck 1931).

50 (2)

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Even if we accept this erroneous description of the object of empirical sentences, their objectivity would still not entail the intersubjective similarity of experience. After all, it is not impressions, but certain relationships between them, that are the object of these sentences. They in turn could be intersubjectively cognizable even if this feature were not inherent to the impressions themselves.

A third argument in favor of the claim about a necessary assumption of the intersubjective similarity of experience presents the greatest difficulty. It may be formulated as follows: The ultimate fundament of natural cognition is sensory experience. This experience is determined by experiencing certain sensory contents. Therefore, if this content is basically impossible to communicate, then the ultimate basis for empirical judgments, which should guarantee their scientific power, is devoid of intersubjective character: it is subjective, impossible to communicate, and devoid of the features of rational cognition. Yet, even this argument is not conclusive. One might finally attempt to eliminate the assumption of the intersubjective similarity of experience. In this case, the elimination would have to consist in either removing perceptive sentences from natural sciences or demonstrating that their cognitive value does not consist in referring to someone’s sensory impressions. Choosing the first option would also mean rejecting the possibility of the existence of empirical sciences, as it would be equivalent to depriving empirical sciences of basic synthetic judgments. This is probably not the way to go. There remains the second choice, that is, to demonstrate that the objective cognitive value of basic sentences of natural sciences is not dependent on ascertaining the intersubjective similarity of experiences. This second option seems much more tempting. Is it feasible? One may try and such attempts have been made. They usually assume the form of various more or less radical conventionalisms. For instance, according to Popper, the intersubjective verifiability of empirical sentences consists in the idea that other intersubjectively verifiable sentences can be deduced from them. Still one may not verify without end and must at some point stop at some class of sentences, deeming them basic. 4 The choice of the class of sentences is to some degree a matter of convention. Yet, why are only sentences of a certain logical kind chosen? Is it for the sake of simplicity or the elegance of scientific theories? It is known long ago that many different, sometimes complicated, meanings are attached to the term “simplicity of a theory.” It still seems that this


Cf. (Popper 1935, p. 18 ff., 60).

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choice is supported by other arguments than aesthetic-constructive ones; likewise, when a similar question inevitably suggests another conventionalist standpoint, that is, Poincaré’s standpoint. Poincaré emphasizes the idea that the hypothesis of the intersubjective similarity of experience is basically irresolvable. After all, there is no way to ascertain how another person perceives or does not perceive something. Other people’s impressions are almost always unattainable for us. What is objective and intersubjective must be communicable and expressible in speech. One may never communicate one’s impressions, or to be more precise, their quality, to another person. Let us assume, states Poincaré, that poppy and cherry induce impression A in me and impression B in someone else; that leaves evoke impression B in me and impression A in someone else. It is clear that we know nothing of these impressions if I call impression A red and impression B green, whereas he calls the first impression green and the second one red. I may ascertain that for him poppy and cherry have the same color, although I do not know what it is, since he uses the same word to describe them in both cases. What is communicable, what is available to intersubjective cognition, is not qualities, but rather relationships and the structural properties of objects. 5 Based on the standpoint presented above, a satisfactory guarantee of the intersubjectivity of empirical sentences may be found in the idea that normal people in given conditions of perception are usually inclined to recognize the same statements. Which impressions these people experience then, and what they feel when they recognize the sentences, is not essential for the objectivity of empirical sentences. The most important issue is that they have learned to behave accordingly in certain situations. Yet, why do they act accordingly? Is it pure chance? If it is so, may we still speak that intersubjectivity of empirical cognition is guaranteed ? It seems to be more that just chance. An explanation of this compatible behavior may be found in the biological concept of cognition developed by, e.g. Władysław Witwicki. 6 Referring to this standpoint, one may state as follows: the compatible acceptance of certain basic empirical sentences by people is not pure chance, but rather a consequence of the fact that empirical sciences describe the world as it presents itself to people when they are alert, when they predict accurately, and when they act and cooperate effectively, rather than a world of dream or fairytales. Whenever man deals with empirical material, freedom of actions is limited under

5 6

Cf. (Poincaré 1905, p. 262 ff.). See e.g. (Witwicki 1923).


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threat of natural sanctions. Freedom of actions ceases, as well as freedom of judgments. When someone creates a thing in empirical material, he must also adhere to this material in his actions. “Natura non nisi parendo vincitur.” Yet, in order to be able to obey, one must know what the laws of nature are telling us. This knowledge is provided by empirical sentences; thence comes their privileged position, credence and the secret of intersubjective universality. Empirical sciences require such an attitude towards phenomena and things, which is why they favor perceptive sentences as basic, not caring at all about the content of someone’s sensory impressions, but instead, about empirical objects which they must take into account. This is regardless of what metaphysics deems as the essence of these objects: either Democritus’ atoms or Mach’s elements. Therefore, the view presented recently by Fleck, PhD, in the pages of Przegląd Filozoficzny 7 that whether one is an empiricist or a mystic is merely the question of intellectual “style,” and that no style can be distinguished by the theory of cognition as the one which leads to the truth rather than to falsity and confusing delusions, seems false. According to Fleck, people can understand each other only as long as they have the same or similar intellectual style. There can be no accord between groups with different intellectual styles, as the same words are connected to completely different meanings for those people. Yet, it seems that whatever intellectual style characterizes a given person, whether philosophical, mystic, natural, or any other, almost anyone is able to understand at least one other intellectual style. The most inspired prophet, poet or mystic is able to find common ground with a practical naturalist in certain life situations and share an intellectual style. What are these situations? Whenever they are not asleep and must deal with real life conditions. This intellectual style common to all men is a style with which man resorts to perceptive judgments. They would know nothing about the world they live in, they would even perish, if they ceased to reckon with empirical theses altogether. The source of the intersubjective value of empirical sentences may lie in their biological function. This thesis should not be identified with the pragmatist thesis. It does not assume that the truth of basic empirical sentences is determined by their usefulness (as this notion is obviously imprecise). We are not dealing with a criterion of truth; instead, we attempt to explain the usually very common accord which is the condition of the intersubjective value of empirical cognition. Summarizing briefly the above discussion, let us state that:


Cf. (Fleck 1936, p. 3 ff.).

(1) (2)


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The assumption of the intersubjective similarity of sensory impressions does not seem to be a necessary assumption of natural sciences. The intersubjectivity of empirical sentences is sufficiently guaranteed by the usually common compatibility with which normal people thrust into the same conditions of perception accept these sentences empirically. The mentioned “consensus omnium” stems from the biological and cognitive function of empirical judgments, which are a natural and correct way for a person to react to surrounding phenomena and objects.


Irracjonalizm a poznanie naukowe (Dąmbska 1937–1938) 1. Introduction “We are experiencing a time of unparalleled expansion of irrationalism.”1 These are the initial words of the book Granice nauki [The Limits of Science] by Leon Chwistek, primarily devoted to fighting against irrationalism and defending rationalism. Several years before then Leopold Jaworski wrote: Romanticism [...] is eternal. It is more intense and it imposes a certain style on a period when it constitutes a reaction against the hegemony of rationalism. Indeed, one should wish for an increase of romanticism in the period we live in.2

This controversy between irrationalism and rationalism is centuries old and appears in various forms throughout the history of culture since time immemorial. The “feeling and faith” of the Romantics who scorn “the sage’s glasses and eyes,” the certum est quia impossibile est by Tertullian, various ancient and contemporary “viewing the absolute,” “keys to the world of the spirit,” “roads to immortality,” vires occultae in natural sciences, “spiritual entelechies” in biology – these are a few examples of the irrational elements which correspond to the huge surge of irrationalism in science and philosophy, a surge which raises man to other domains of spiritual life: in religion, art, politics, etc. Even in the 18th century, rightly called the Enlightenment, there is no lack of the conscious propaganda of

1 2

Cf. (Chwistek 1935, p. 1). Cf. (Jaworski 1929, p. 9).

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 55–116. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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irrationalism. This was when, e.g. the thesis that “reasoning and knowledge caused the fall of man and continue to keep him in this state” or another, more theological one, which stated that “the author of the first reasoning was the devil,” were defended in print. Nowadays, irrationalism in science is usually disguised irrationalism. It would seem there was no place for it. After all, one might think that science is a par excellence scientific entity, the work of logic and experience. Perhaps this would be true if science emerged instantaneously from the heads of a few rational scientists, like the divine Athena from Zeus’ head. However, this is not how it emerged, and besides, it probably could not have been otherwise. Knowledge emerged slowly from the rubble of myths and superstitions, was isolated gradually from the chaos of fantastical, vague images of reality, and it was gradually cleansed of the primordial, magical ways to describe problems. This process of “cleansing” is still in progress. Thus, it is no wonder that the fight with irrationalism continues also in the realm of science, despite all appearances. According to some scholars, the position of irrationalism in science is reinforced with a simple misunderstanding. The unquestionable fact that many scientific ideas are born out of inspiration and are based on experiences of an irrational nature is confused by some with permitting irrationalism in science, forgetting that the source of an idea is something which does not belong to science, and an idea gains its scientific rights only as long as it is possible to introduce it into a rational system. Another misunderstanding is the basis for justifying irrationalism in science with the idea that scientific issues may be depleted if we rationalize it. Those who believe that “spiritual life would be meager if it was filled with only what may be known through the small window of the mind”3 often erroneously presume that eradicating irrationalism from science is equivalent to fighting irrational elements in general. Freeing science from irrational factors means freeing it from apparent and irresolvable problems, which are not a value for it but rather an unbearable weight. This does not diminish its achievements, but only removes from it everything which had in fact never been one of its natural component. Assuredly, this destroys the illusion that science is able to solve non-empirical problems, but it does not in fact diminish its value, since it was never really meant to solve such problems. Besides, removing alien irrational elements from science does not have to be accompanied with fighting for rationalizing all areas of life and culture, and thus, it does not have to be connected with the mentioned diminished quality of life. Finally, the third situation which favors irrationalism in


Cf. (Jaworski 1929, p. 13).

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science is the vagueness and ambiguity of the word “irrationalism.”4 It is hard to consciously eliminate irrational elements from science until we know exactly which ones should be deemed so. Thence various pseudo-rational examples of irrationalism are undeservedly popular in science. Therefore, it seems useful to analyze the meaning or meanings of the word “irrationalism,” and only on the basis of this analysis should an answer be provided to the question of whether irrationalism has a place in science; moreover, we should determine the actual share of irrational factors in science. The present work will mostly deal with the first and the second task. On the other hand, we shall replace the third task with a more modest one: an attempt to shed some light on the role of irrationalism in scientific cognition, based on several examples taken from physics. 2. On Different Meanings of the Word “Irrationalism” The word “irrationalism” is used in at least four different meanings. It may be the name for: (1) a certain property of statements, (2) a certain trend in the theory of cognition, (3) a certain metaphysical standpoint, (4) a person’s certain metaphysical attitude. According to these distinctions, we may speak of logical, epistemological, metaphysical, or psychological irrationalism. The expression “logical irrationalism” will be used interchangeably with the term “the irrationality of statements.” In the course of this discussion, we shall take a closer look at four different forms of irrationalism and attempt to refer them to each other.

Chwistek’s article entitled „Racjonalizm i irracjonalizm w nauce i życiu” [„Rationalism and Irrationalism in Science and Life”] eloquently proves that the concept of irrationalism is very poorly defined. In this article, the author characterizes irrationalism as being opposite to critical rationalism, that is, a viewpoint based on common sense, but he notes that “the notion of critical rationalism is not clearly defined” (Chwistek 1936, p. 246). This slightly blurred criterion of “common sense” leads to the use of the term “irrationalism” to denote both various superstitions of daily life and systems of idealist philosophy (“dogmatic irrationalism”), as well as numerous doctrines of the contemporary theory of cognition, such as pragmatism, humanism, or behaviorism (“critical irrationalism”). If we take into consideration the fact that common sense often causes people to shy away from accepting new achievements in science and ignore the voice of criticism, since they are used to the views which had been accepted for a period of time, then referring to common sense in the fight with irrationalism will prove to be effective only when the notions are more clearly defined. 4


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2.1. Logical Irrationalism 2.1.1. The First Definition When is a thesis logically irrational? A question formulated in the above manner requires some explanation. When asking about a given feature of statements, one must remember that it is relative with respect to the language in which this statement is formulated.5 Thus, must we ask when a thesis in a given language is irrational? The answer should be easy in the case of languages of formalized deductive systems. However, when a claim is called rational or irrational, this is colloquial language, used in everyday situations and empirical sciences, rather than those languages, which are meant here. The word “irrational” also belongs to colloquial language, and this language does not explicitly determine the manner of use of this language in cases dealing with logical irrationalism. Speaking of the irrationality of statements of colloquial speech, we may mean their various features, and thus, the class of irrational claims is determined in various ways in different cases. Let us begin with the narrowest class, where it does not seem to be controversial whether expressions belonging to it have the character of logically irrational expressions. In this case, logical irrationalism is a feature of sentences which either state or assume the existence of internally contradictory objects. However, are sentences which state the existence of internally contradictory objects actually sentences at all? Are they not in fact expressions without content, and therefore, only apparently sentences? Therefore, an irrational sentence would not be a sentence, and logical irrationalism interpreted in this manner should be defined otherwise. Thus, for example, expression E in the form of sentence S about an object O is irrational in the logical sense if and only if E states or assumes both the occurrence of O and not-O. However, this semantic matter, when expressions with the grammatical structure of sentences may still be called sentences, does not seem relevant. After all, even if we define logical irrationalism as a feature which constitutes the class of apparent sentences, then in this case we also must specify what kind of expressions about propositional structure are not sentences and why. This is why I shall use the term “sentence” further on, without prejudging whether they are real or apparent sentences.

5 The necessity to relativize the logical and epistemological properties of sentences to the language these sentences are elements of is noted by Ajdukiewicz in his works. See e.g. (Ajdukiewicz 1934a and 1934b).

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2.1.2. Two Types of Internally Contradictory Sentences According to the concept of logical irrationalism formulated above, both expressions like “A circle is a square” and sentences like “Someone is simultaneously visible and invisible,” or “A immortal being is mortal” etc., are irrational. It might seem that sentences of the type “A circle is a square” may not be included in the same class as sentences of the type “A certain immortal being is mortal.” The first one cannot be uttered with conviction by anyone who speaks English and is of soud mind, whereas the second one is uttered glibly and with strong conviction by normal people and, at least seemingly, ones who understand the meaning of the words they utter. Perhaps then only words of the second type may be included in the class of irrational sentences? Such narrowing of the class of irrational sentences does not seem correct. There are certainly some differences between the two kinds of internally contradictory sentences presented above as examples. The first one is of a psychological nature. Sentences which state the existence of contradictory objects are uttered by normal people only when these objects present some kind of emotional value for them, or when stating their existence may be the source of joy, hope, and sometimes even fear. Under the influence of these emotional factors, we turn a blind eye to the logical aspect of these statements which accept the existence of those contradictory but valuable objects, we do not analyze it, and as a result, we do not realize the inherent character of these statements. Another difference is dependent on the properties of colloquial speech. In the sentence “A circle is a square,” all terms have a clear meaning based on Euclidean geometry which excludes the possibility of reasonably connecting it with the conjunction “is.” The case is different for words in colloquial speech in which a person’s religious views are expressed. The meanings of these words are unclear and vague. Thus, putting them in an internally contradictory context does not seem incongruous. After all, some are prone to ascribing a different manner of existence to objects of a priori sciences, e.g., to objects of geometry, and a different one to the so-called real entities. Those who make this distinction are also sometimes inclined to believe that, whereas the objects of geometry are only such as they were made based on definitions belonging to the language in which the principle of contradiction applies, real entities are irrational, that is, internally contradictory. In this case, metaphysical irrationalism comes to the rescue of logical irrationalism. 2.1.3. The Second Definition The mentioned aspects are not sufficient arguments against the first definition of logical irrationalism, according to which, sentence S about an


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object O is irrational if and only if S states or assumes the simultaneous occurrence of O and not-O. Structurally and logically, the discussed sentences do not differ from each other significantly. However, this definition requires correction for other reasons, namely, it is too narrow. After all, there are sentences which are not internally contradictory, which still tend to be deemed logically irrational. These are sentences which accept or assume the existence of empirically impossible or fundamentally unascertainable objects. When we read in Jewish history that Moses commanded the sea to part and it created a comfortable passage closed on both sides with walls of water, or that Joshua’s order interfered with the normal movement of the planets, or when a Greek myth states that a woman bore a swan’s egg, then we know we are dealing with empirically impossible facts. What is impossible in the case of Moses and Joshua is not the fact of the waters parting (the 2nd principle of thermodynamics) or the interruption of the normal movement of the planets, but the fact that it occurred as a result of someone’s command. When we hear from a proponent of reincarnation that Peter’s soul after his death was incarnated into a young elephant, or when a priest in the temple of Asclepius ensures his patient that the medicine he orders was prescribed by God himself, we know we are dealing with a fundamentally unascertainable situation. However, when is a given object empirically impossible and when is it fundamentally unascertainable? It seems that it is empirically impossible either when it is internally contradictory (then it is simultaneously logically impossible) or when the sentence stating its existence is clearly in contradiction with the causal laws of nature which are accepted at the same time, and which are not rejected based on accepting this sentence. On the other hand, object O is fundamentally unascertainable when we cannot rationally state about the sentence “O exists” or the sentence “O does not exist” that they are true or false. In this case, we are not concerned with temporary inability or the inability of a specific person, but rather, the inability which consists in the fact that the method of conduct leading to such a resolution is impossible in the sense used to describe the empirical impossibility of objects.6 Yet, as some might remark, in light of the above explanations, should we not accept that empirically non-resolvable sentences and those which concern empirically impossible objects are not expressions without content, but only apparently sentences, just as in the case of the elements of the first class of irrational sentences? We could concede that this was the case when it comes to sentences which are empirically impossible as a

6 The members of the Vienna Circle understand fundamental non-resolvability in the above manner. See e.g. (Schlick 1932).

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result of their internal contradiction. This is because they fall under the first definition. However, in the case where the empirical impossibility consists in having features whose acceptance is clearly inconsistent with the general causal laws, we are dealing with sentences which are admittedly empirically false, but they are reasonable. Yet, a new difficulty arises at this point: we note that also in these sentences the source of empirical impossibility is internal contradiction. After all, whoever ascribes features characteristic for a bird to a woman commits a contradiction, as the notion of womanhood excludes the feature of oviparity. Similarly, whoever states that someone died and was revived commits a contradiction, since features which exclude the notion of life can be derived from the concept of death. Thus, the line between internally contradictory sentences, that is, logically impossible, and merely empirically impossible sentences, seems to blur. However, it can be maintained if we state that internally contradictory sentences are logically impossible, whereas those which are contradictory to the general empirical laws accepted simultaneously are empirically impossible, regardless of whether they are simultaneously internally contradictory or not. As for the ostensible character of fundamentally non-resolvable sentences, it seems more advisable not to call them ostensible for the purpose of the present discussion,7 retaining the term “sentence” for all expressions with syntactically correct propositional structure. Taking into account the above considerations, we may propose the following definition of logical irrationalism: sentence S is irrational in the logical sense if and only if S is either logically imossible or empirically impossible or fundamentally non-resolvable. 2.1.4. The Third Definition The extended definition of logical irrationalism is also exposed to certain objections. Its main drawback is that the notion of empirical impossibility assumed by it is unclear. If we assume that empirical impossibility consists in the sentence’s evident contradiction with some general true laws of nature, it is impossible to resolve whether the sentence is empirically impossible or not. After all, we do not know of any empirical law whether it is true (as long as it is not an analytical sentence or an implicit definition). On the other hand, if we want to relativize the empirical impossibility to a certain specific system of distinctly formulated laws, then difficulties arise in the choice of the criterion for this distinction.

7 In this case, they would be aparent in another sense than internaly contradictory sentences are.


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Another drawback of the definition is that it over-extends the notion of logical irrationalism. Based on this definition, many empirically false sentences, formulated as a result of ignorance of the laws of nature, and devoid of features of irrationality, must be called irrational; for instance, the sentence “Mercury is a bad conductor of electricity,” etc. The evident character of the contradiction was supposed to protect our definition from this consequence. The protection is at best mediocre, as it introduces the undesirable element of psychologism: evident for whom? This and other objections lead to a certain narrowing of the concept of logical irrationalism. Therefore, we shall state: sentence S is irrational in the logical sense if and only if S is either logically impossible or fundamentally irresolvable. Is this not too narrow now? Would we not have to call the sentences about Moses, Joshua and Leda rational? It does not seem so. The irrationality of the sentences about Moses and Joshua consisted in connecting a person’s command with a natural fact in a causal relationship. If it was indeed the case that disturbances in the movement of stars or in the behavior of a column of water occurred as a direct consequence of the command from these Biblical characters, the sentences “Joshua stopped the Sun” and “At Moses’ command, the seas parted,” would be fundamentally irresolvable, and as such, they would fall under the narrower definition of irrationalism. On the other hand, the irrationalism of the sentence about Leda and a swan’s egg may be saved with the notion of an internally contradictory sentence. The meaning of the expression “logical irrationalism” thus established, probably does not correspond to all of the shades of meaning of the word in colloquial speech. Thus, someone might be inclined to deem all that is “unjustifiably” accepted, or accepted against “better judgment,” irrational. In accordance with this interpretation, John’s conviction that he has a severe form of tuberculosis would be called irrational if objective medical tests would decisively exclude it, and John only had this conviction based on his neurasthenic delusions. However, broadening the notion of irrationalism to include such cases does not seem legitimate. In consequence, all unjustified claims would have to be deemed irrational which would seriously depart from the colloquial meaning of the word “irrationalism” and create a scientifically useless notion. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to retain the previously established meaning for the expression “logical irrationalism.” 2.1.5. The Fourth Definition The discussion hitherto was primarily aimed at describing and formulating intuitions connected with understanding the expression “an irrational sentence.” As long as this formulation is accurate, we can now attempt

Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition


to define the expression which would allow us to answer the question of whether sentence S is logically irrational without referring to ontological criteria, that is, to claims about the properties of the objects of these sentences. Thus, we will avoid numerous difficulties connected with the notion of empirical impossibility which we referred to when explaining the notion of fundamental irresolvability. In this attempt of defining the notion we shall use the notional apparatus developed by Carnap. 8 Admittedly, this apparatus does not apply to colloquial language, but even in this case, we can make use of a similar method if we idealize the language to a certain extent. Let us call class C of the consequences of sentence S its scope. Sentence S of language L is internally contradictory when every sentence of L belongs to C. Sentence S of language L is analytical if S results from an empty class of sentences or from any sentence of language L. Sentence S of language L where only the directive of detachment applies is irresolvable if S is neither analytical nor internally contradictory, and there is no such sentence S’ in language L that if S’ belongs to the scope of sentence S, then the directive of detachment cannot be applied to either sentence ~S’ ⊃ ~S or sentence S ⊃ S.’ The sentence S of language L is irrational when it is either internally contradictory or irresolvable. 2.1.6. Logical Irrationalism in the Narrower and Broader Meanings In this structural definition of an irrational sentence, it becomes clear – perhaps clearer than in the previous ontological definitione – that it does not include a certain characteristic intuition connected to the notion of irrationalism. It seems that as long as sentence S occurs without the symbol of assertion, and as long as nobody who speaks language L believes it, it may be either internally contradictory or irresolvable but there is no reason to call it irrational. Irrationality is its secondary feature in view of the cognitive position which we attribute to this sentence in language L. For instance, the sentence “John is the son of childless parents” is an internally contradictory sentence on the ground of English language, but it only becomes irrational when it occurs in this lanuage as a thesis. Let us call sentence S of language L person P the thesis of language L when P decides that S is true or probable. If this objection were legitimate, we would have to supplement the previous definition of logical irrationalism in the following way: sentence S of language L is irrational when S is internally contradictory or fundamentally irresolvable and when S is a thesis of language L. However, since such a narrow definition also contains some


Cf. (Carnap 1934, p. 36 ff.).


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difficulties connected with introducing a psychological element to it in the form of person P, and because the previous definition, although it does not entirely encompass the semantic intentions of the phrase “logical irrationalism,” does not seem entirely useless, it may therefore be advisable to speak of logical irrationalism in the narrower and broader meanings: in the broader, about internally contradictory or fundamentally irresolvable sentences, and in the narrower, internally contradictory or fundamentally irresolvable sentences which are theses of language L. 2.2. Epistemological Irrationalism 2.2.1. Various Cognitive Attitudes of Logical Irrationalists People who deem internally contradictory or fundamentally irresolvable theses true, let us call them logical irrationalists, often do this because they do not at all consider the cognitive character of these statements. However, there are also logical irrationalists who are no strangers to epistemological problems and who consider cognitive legitimization of their theses. These in turn can be divided into two camps. The first camp, which incidentally believes in the legitimacy of logic in which the principle of contradiction applies, and in the validity of the postulates of scientific cognition, attempts to defend the rationality of their theses. These are pseudo-rationalists, a type which is often encountered among theologians who attempt to “prove” irrational religious dogmas. A characteristic example of a pseudo-rational irrationalism can be found, among others, in J. Wortman’s dissertation entitled „Genealogia irracjonalizmu” [„The Genealogy of Irrationalism”].9 The author condemns contemporary physical theories, namely, the theory of relativity and the quantum theory, accusing them of irrationality. The mechanistic approach in physics also seems covertly irrational to him. He claims the genesis of the covert irrationalism of mechanistic theories of the 19th century and the overt irrationalism of the contemporary theories to be rooted in the conflict between the Freemasons and the Catholic Church. He believes catholic philosophy, led by St. Augustine and St. Thomas, to be a rational doctrine, always consistent with the achievements of real science. Based on this pseudo-rationalism, he fights the philosophical superstructure of contemporary physics in light of the danger it allegedly presents to the Catholic religion. The second camp of logical irrationalists who reflect on epistemological problems consists of those who are aware of the irrationality of their


Cf. (Wortman 1935, p. 244 ff.),

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theses and do not attempt to claim that they are rational. This camp is further divided into two groups: (1) pragmatists, and (2) epistemological irrationalists. The former seek legitimacy for logical irrationalism, demonstrating that irrational claims, although they cannot be an expression of valid knowledge about reality, still find enough justification either in the fact that they satisfy certain crucial needs and instincts of man (James), or in that accepting these claims is necessary to do science. For instance, Schroedinger believes the thesis of the intersubjective similarity of sensory impressions to be such a necessary irrational assumption of science. The thesis that other people experience the same or similar impressions in similar conditions of perception can never be either justified or unjustified. Still, according to Schroedinger, we inevitably assume this thesis whenever we use the results of someone else’s research in science.10 The latter group consists of representatives of the trend which may be called “epistemological irrationalism.” 2.2.2. The Definition of Epistemological Irrationalism Epistemological irrationalism aims at granting scientific legitimacy to logically irrational sentences by indicating ways of cognition which are different from rational but supposedly unfailing. The thesis of epistemological irrationalism may be formulated by stating: there is a scientifically justified manner of cognizing which guarantees the legitimacy of some logically irrational sentences about reality. Radical epistemological irrationalists believe that this manner of cognizing is the only foundation for knowledge about reality, whereas rational ways, such as for instance experience and reasoning based on it are the foundations of ostensible knowledge and illusory conceptions; on the other hand, moderate irrationalists believe this manner of cognition to be not the only one, but one which is more perfect than the others. Furthermore, epistemological irrationalists differ from each other in their views on the origin of this cognition. Some believe this manner of cognition to be a supernatural feature, something which is only available to man in states of extraordinary spiritual intensity, in states of religious or mystical ecstasy, whereas other believe it to be a normal manner of cognizing certain objects, specific to the nature of the human mind. Irrationalists also hold different views on the nature of cognition, or at least use different words to describe which facts they mean. Thus, this irrational cognition is to be a sort of “merging with” the object of cognition, a direct spiritual viewing of it, a kind of, as it were, intuition.


Cf. (Schrödinger 1935, p. 3).


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The use of the word “intuition” does not explain much, since this word is charged with a harmful ambiguity, and moreover, it is an imprecise word in some of its meanings. When we speak of intuition in the meaning of irrational cognition, we do not mean intuition in the sense of the direct cognition of individuals (Ockham) or intuition in the sense of spontaneous discovery of certain concepts, or intuition in the sense of experiencing someone else’s psychical states, but rather about the direct cognition of certain real entities whose existence is not given in experience, nor can be deduced based on experience. The category of objects cognized in the above described manner includes, among others, objects of religious practice, as well as so-called ideal objects, as long as they are ascribed real existence (Platonic ideas, etc.).11 2.2.3. An Example of Epistemological Irrationalism A nice example of epistemological irrationalism is the mystical philosophy of Richard from the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris (d. 1173). He contrasts experience and reasoning, as lower levels of cognition, with a more perfect one: contemplation. It provides us with knowledge about objects which are inaccessible to rational cognition. What are these objects inaccessible to rational cognition? Richard distinguishes two kinds of them: those which are merely over reason, and those which are also against reason. Let us see how he describes them himself: Supra rationem illa esse dicimus quae nullo experimento probare, nulla ratiocinatione ad plenum investigare sufficimus. Praeter rationem autem ea videntur esse quibus et exempla contraire, et argumenta solent contradicere. In illis siquidem et experimenta desunt et argumenta succumbunt.12

In another fragment he states: Constat siquidem duo contemplationum genera supra rationem esse [...]. Et primum quidem est supra rationem, sed non praeter rationem; secundum autem et supra rationem et praeter rationem. Illa sane supra rationem, sed praeter rationem non sunt quae quamvis ratio patitur esse, nulla tamen ratione investigari vel convinci possunt. Illa tamen dicimus et supra rationem et praeter rationem esse quibus videatur omnis ratio humana contraire. Qualia sunt ea quae de Trinitatis unitate credimus, et multa quae de corpore Christi indubitata fidei auctoritate tenemus. Quod enim in una, et simplici natura triplex persona sit, vel quod unum idemque corpus eodem in tempor, in diversis locis esse posit, nulla humana ratio patitur.13


An attempt to classify various forms of irrational cognition is made by R. Müller-Freienfels in hist book Der Irrationalismus. Umrisse einer Erkenntnislehre (Müller-Freienfels 1922). 12 Cf. (Richardus a S. Victoire 1880a, col. 137). 13 Cf. (Richardus a S. Victore 1880b, col. 61).

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2.2.4. Rationalism and Irrationalism The above perfunctory characteristic of epistemological irrationalism demonstrates that is should not be considered as a trend which opposes solely epistemological rationalism in the narrow sense of the word, namely, that in which rationalism and empiricism exclude each other. What is more, extreme epistemological rationalism, which denies empirical cognition legitimacy, and at the same time proclaims that only knowledge gained through reasoning alone, concerning extra-empirical objects, only notionally definable, has scientific value, sometimes creates fertile ground for the development of irrational tendencies in the meaning of logical irrationalism. After all, it is often the case that it goes together with genetic irrationalism, that is, the view according to which experience cannot be the source of those notions accepted in science. Then it is sufficient to ask where these non-empirical concepts derive from to receive the answer which is irrationsl in the logical sense (these concepts were instilled in the human soul by God himself, or man acquired them in the world of ideals before being born, etc.). Even in the cases where radical rationalism is not tied with genetic anti-empiricism, irrationalism cannot be deemed solely a negation. After all, radical rationalism either draws appropriate consequences from its concept of cognition and believes a priori analytical judgments to be the only scientific judgments, thus giving up the deeming of any synthetic judgments to be scientific, or it acknowledges the existence of synthetic a priori judgments, thus opening the gates to “pseudo-rationalist” systems of metaphysics or theology. In both cases, it denies empirical judgments, which are as a rule the mainstay for anti-irrationalism, cognitive value, and in the second case, it often fosters the development of logical irrationalism. Thus, if we contrast epistemological irrationalism with rationalism, then we define rationalism more broadly, e.g. in the spirit of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, as an epistemological standpoint according to which only those judgments on reality are scientifically legitimate which may be sufficiently justified with “the natural light of the reason.” Only experience and reasoning which is based on experience, and which is consistent with the laws of logic, is deemed to be a possible basis for cognition. It is easy to see that rationalism in the 18th century should be interpreted in such a way by reading works by its main representatives. Here are some characteristic, randomly chosen fragments which indicate the philosophers of the Enlightenment were empiricists:


Izydora Dąmbska C’est ainsi [...] pour avoir dédaigné l’expérience, pour avoir méprisé la raison […] le genre humain est demeuré dans une longue enfance […]. Recourons à nos sens […] interrogeons la raison.14 Les hommes en sont à peine à sentir combien les lois de l’investigation de la vérité sont sévères et combien les nombres de nos moyens sont bornés. Tout se réduit à revenir des sens à la réflexion et de la réflexion aux sens.15 Il reste assez de terrain à parcourir sans voyager dans les espaces imaginaires. Contentons-nous donc de savoir par l’expérience, appuyée du raisonnement, seule source de nos connaissance.16

2.2.5. Two Objections However, if one was based in the rationalism of the Enlightenment era, then certain methods of justifying claims encountered in science which seem to be legitimate, should be deemed irrational, at least ostensibly. One such method would be understanding, which is the basis of various judgments in humanist sciences, as well as what induces us to accept first assumptions in a priori deductive sciences. After all, these assumptions are not based on experience, nor are they something reasoned, since they only form the first links of reasoning. Therefore, if a reasoning is not based on experience, since it must ultimately be based on judgments which are not reasoned, there is no choice but to decide that apart from experience and reasoning there is another way to justify judgments in science, a way which should be deemed irrational according to the definition of epistemological irrationalism presented in the spirit of the philosophers of the Enlightenment. 2.2.6. Is Understanding a Rational Method of Cognition In order to respond to the first remark, we should first well aware of the meaning of the word “understanding.” Otherwise there is no way to decide whether what the word signifies is something different from experience and reasoning. It seems that the word “understanding” has different meanings, even for those who use it as a scientific term, as Dilthey and Spranger do. In one of these meanings, “to understand” means as much as “to empathize,” or “to co-experience.” In this meaning, understanding would be an irrational method of cognition. Therefore, is it legitimate in science? According to what had been said in the introduction about the character

Cf. (Holbach 1770, p. 9–10). Cf. (Diderot 1875, p. 14). 16 Cf. (Voltaire 1772, p. 649). 14


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of science, it can be inferred that, although there are irrational elements in science, there should generally be no place for them. Without having to resign from those anti-irrational tendencies, we may allow for certain irrational methods of justifying statements in science as long as they can be replaced with rational methods in every case and if they are in fact replaced with them in every case. Thus, if someone presents a statement about someone else’s psychical life based on empathizing, and simultaneously justifies them on the basis of experience and reasoning, this method of cognition can be tolerated in science. After all, it is not the basis for judgments about objects unavailable for rational cognition. All the same, this method as such will never be scientifically authorized as it avoids objective control, which is necessarily required in scientific work. Yet, if understanding in the meaning of empathizing was to inform about entities unavailable for rational cognition, it would not only have to be deemed an unauthorized method of cognition in science, but also the theses based on it would have to be rejected as irresolvable. On the other hand, if “understanding” does not mean “empathizing,” but rather “discovering that a given object is a part of a reasonable whole,” as in some of Spranger’s arguments, then understanding will assume the form of a kind of reasoning.17 2.2.7. The Cognitive Foundation of Assumptions of a Priori Sciences The second remark presents more serious difficulties. Still, in this case, the analysis of the epistemological character of the first assumptions of a priori sciences also seems to allow us to retain the discussed definition of irrationalism. By a priori sciences we mean logic and mathematics. It seems we do not have to deal with theses about reality in logic, but rather with formal tautologies, and with rules of creating and transforming rational sentences. However, it is clearly stated in the definition of epistemological irrationalism that the issue is the method of justifying judgments about reality. Perhaps it would be better to avoid the controversial word “reality” and speak of descriptive synthetic judgments. Then the problem of sentences in a priori sciences as sentences of an analytical and formal character would be completely eliminated. The situation in mathematics is similar to that in logic since its statements do not differ significantly from logical statements: they are formal and tautological. Therefore, it is evident that consideration for first assumptions of a priori sciences does not force us to accept methods of justifying knowledge about reality in science


Different meanings of the word “understanding” for Dilthey and Spranger are noted by D. Sztejnbarg in her work “Rozumienie i wyjaśnianie w doktrynach Diltheya i Sprangera” [“Understanding and Explaining in Dilthey’s and Spranger’s doctrines’] (Kotarbińska 1935).


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which are different from experience as well as reasoning based on it and on the laws of logic. 2.2.8. Rationality and Expressibility Still, it would not be advisable to define the notion of epistemological irrationalism as if it resulted from the definition of rationalism understood in the spirit of encyclopaedists, that is, to claim that epistemological irrationalism is a trend according to which we must accept as scientifically legitimate, methods of justifying theses about reality other than experience and reasoning based on it. This definition of epistemological rationalism (1) makes us prejudge the character of the sentences in a priori sciences towards deeming them formal tautological rules of transforming sentences abut reality; (2) requires us to conduct an extremely difficult and complicated analysis of the notion of experience; (3) prejudges in an unathorized manner that there are no other rational forms of cognition besides experience and reasoning based on it. The definition of epistemological irrationalism provided by us does not lead to such problems. Still, because of its general character, it does not draw a clear line between rational and irrational methods of cognition. It seems that the criterion which would distinguish them can be found in the relationship between cognition and expression. Whenever epistemological irrationalists attempt to understand the essence of these processes of cognition which would establish the legitimacy of logically irrational sentences, they highlight the inexpressibility of this cognition. From the intricate arguments of neo-Platonists, who aim at demonstrating that knowledge about a real perfect entity cannot be expressed, since when we state any of its features, we thus deny its unity, to the Bergsonian concept of direct intuitive cognition, free from conceptual schematization, the same thought constantly recurs: cognizing reality is its direct, inexpressible experiencing; by naming and clearly determining certain objects, by judging some of their properties, we rationalize reality, or to be more precise, we construct aparent reality, determined by the properties of our minds and our biological interests. On the other hand, a characteristic feature of rational cognition is its expressibility, communicability and intersubjective controllability. A statement whose only justification is someone’s subjective experience which is impossible to define notionally or to express verbally, is not a rational or objective claim. This idea is expressed by Poincaré when he writes: Ce qui est objectif doit être commun à plusieurs esprits, et par conséquent pouvoir être transmis de l’un à l’autre, et comme cette transmission ne peut se faire que

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par [...] “discours” [...] nous sommes bien forcés de conclure: Pas de discours, pas d’objectivité.18

Mach also mentions communicability as an important feature of scientific cognition,19 followed by the philosophers of the Vienna Circle, who discuss it in more detail. For instance, according to Schlick, everything, and only that, is cognizable which can be expressed in the intersubjective manner, what can be communicated to another person. Es liegt im Wesen der Erkenntnis, dass sie mitteilbar sein muss [...]. Jede Erkenntnis ist mitteilbar und alles Mitteilbare ist Erkenntnis.20

The moment of intersubjective controllability is emphasized by Popper, who writes: Die Objectivität der wissenschaftlichen Sätze liegt darin, dass sie intersubjektiv nachprüfbar sein müssen.21

Based on these considerations, any such method of cognition (Schlick would not even speak of cognition here, but rather, of “experiencing”) which does not fulfill the condition of intersubjective expressibility can be called irrational, as a result of which it cannot be the basis for objective theses, that is, intersubjectively controllable. 2.2.9. Is Experience a Rational Method of Cognition? With this assumption, the view of the rationalists of the Enlightenment era, which ascribed the character of rational cognition to experience and to reasoning based on it, becomes understandable. These two methods of cognition may be the basis for objective theses, that is, intersubjectively verifiable theses. If someone justifies a claim with the idea that, e.g. God revealed it to him, and there is no other way to resolve whether the statement is true, then it must remain an expression of someone’s subjective experience and cannot lay claim to objectivity, which is necessary in science. However, may we state about this experience that it is something subjective? After all, we never know whether another person who expresses some empirical statements based them on experiences similar to ours. For instance, when he states that the Sun is shining, is this based on experiences similar to ours? Since we cannot know this, is it not an unrestricted hypothesis, fundamentally irresolvable, and therefore irrational, to assume

Cf. Cf. 20 Cf. 21 Cf. 18 19

(Poincaré 1905, p. 262). (Mach 1896b, p. 253). (Schlick 1926, p. 196). (Popper 1935, p. 16).


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that there is an intersubjective similarity between sensory experiences which guarantees the objectivity of empirical sentences? In response to this problem we may note that the assumption of the intersubjective similarity of sensory experiences does not seem necessary for accepting the objectivity of empirical sentences. Empirical sentences are not concerned with the content of sensory experiences, but rather the relationships between the quantitatively taken magnitudes of space-time and the structural properties of objects. However, do sciences not have to refer to experience determined by experiencing certain sensory content in the ultimate justification of those sentences about structural properties of objects of science? If this content is inherently incommunicable, then the ultimate foundation of empirical judgments, which is to guarantee their scientific authorization, is devoid of an intersubjective character and is something subjective, incommunicable, and irrational. We may respond that the intersubjectivity of basic empirical sentences does not involve the similarity of sensory experience but the concord with which people usually accept empirical sentences. After all, even people who are totally deprived of certain kinds of sensory experiences as a result of disability accept basic empirical sentences along with other people. However, is there not common accordance as to accepting sentences which are certainly logically irrational? After all, it was commonly believed in the Middle Ages that what is now believed to be the symptomatic syndrome of hysteria was the result of possession of the soul by the devil. There is no reason to add a nimbus of objectivity to empirical sentences since sentences about devils and souls may be similarly common. Accord between people and concord in accepting certain sentences is a result of a common kind of thinking prevailing in a given group or environment. Irrational methods of cognition may therefore rely on intersubjectivity in groups of irrationalists just as experience enjoys intersubjectivity among rationalists. The above reasoning is not convincing. Firstly, this is because the scope of accord in accepting empirical sentences and irrational hypotheses (an example of such a hypothesis would be explaining certain medical conditions with the devil’s activity) is different; secondly, this is because the basis for accord is different. Certain groups of individuals in specific periods of time believe in devils and in souls under the influence of suggestion, fear and ignorance. All normal people are prone to accepting basic empirical sentences as long as they use the same language. This concord seems to be based on the conditions of practical life. In the struggle for existence, in situations where man must reckon with empirical material and the demands of life, there is no room for freedom in accepting or rejecting certain empirical sentences. In order to act effectively one must know the properties of phenomena and things. This

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knowledge is expressed in empirical sentences,22 thence their cognitive privilege and the basis for the common concord in accepting them. Although we stress this concord in accepting basic empirical sentences, we do not at all claim that they are irrevocably true sentences in nature. No synthetic empirical sentence has this character. Essentially, each of them can be considered as a hypothesis, which is valuable as long as it may be controlled through confrontation with other empirical sentences. Ascribing a hypothetical character to all empirical sentences does not have to result from a skeptical discussion concerning the inability to formulate a criterion of truth for empirical sentences. It can also be justified on the basis of discussions of a methodological nature. If we consider the fact that every description of an experiment, every measurement, every ascertaining of a fact, inevitably assumes certain measuring conventions and certain conceptual constructs, then it becomes clear that in case an inconsistency between empirical sentences is revealed, e.g. between a hypothesis and a reading of measurements, the inconsistency can be removed either by rejecting the hypothesis or by a change of measuring conventions, and in consequence, a change in the result of the measurement. Still, does this view not contradict the remarks on the lack of freedom in accepting empirical sentences formulated before? It does not seem so. After all, the decision to reject a given hypothesis is always the result of the need to adapt our knowledge as best we can to the domain of facts which we wish to describe, and it is the result of inevitably reckoning with experience. Another objection is eliminated in view of the above discussion, an objection which may be raised against the proposed differences between experience as a rational method of cognition and irrational methods. A proponent of epistemological irrationalism may reason as follows: It is known that some people are deprived of certain sensory experiences, for instance, they have been blind since they were born. Therefore, a person who refers to an irrational basis of knowledge may believe that other people are mentally handicapped, deprived of certain experiences, as a blind person is deprived of sensory experiences of a certain kind. If blindness does not discredit the cognitive value of sensory experience, why would the lack of mystical intuition discredit its cognitive value? Yet, this remark cannot constitute an argument against the objectivity of empirical cognition since, as we have noted, this objectivity does not consist in an intersubjective similarity of experiences, whereas epistemological irrationalism requires

Wł. Witwicki writes convincingly about how reckoning with the conditions of practical life influences the “rationality” of thinking in his dissertation entitiled “Z filozofii nauki” [“From the Philosophy of Science”] (Witwicki 1923). 22


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scientific justification for incommunicable experiences which are to justify accepting irrational theses. If the above response to the remarks against rationality of empirical cognition is correct, we can perhaps agree that rationalists of the 18th century rightly indicated at least one method of rational cognition. 2.3. Metaphysical Irrationalism 2.3.1. The Definition Epistemological irrationalism is often the result of metaphysical irrationalism, that is, the view according to which reality is irrational. This thesis may assume various meanings. According to one of them, the irrationality of reality is expressed in the fact that every attempt to describe it in a conceptual way by the human mind distorts it. This is because there are no equivalents of the laws of logic in the real world, and in particular, the ontological principle of contradiction does not apply to real objects. On the basis of this view, the essence of existence is constant change, coming into being and the permeation of opposites. Real objects cannot be defined conceptually, nor can they be separated from each other or deemed identical. Objects of concepts are fiction, free constructs of our minds. Heraclitism and Bergsonism are examples of such an interpretation of irrationalism. 2.3.2. Epistemological Consequences of Metaphysical Irrationalism Someone based in metaphysical irrationalism can follow two paths within the scope of epistemological problems: either the path of agnosticism or the path of epistemological irrationalism. In the first case, the line of reasoning would be as follows: if all attempts to describe reality with the conceptual apparatus available to our mind fail, and therefore are false, then we must concede that reality is unknowable. We cannot know any more besides the fact that everything which we call cognizing reality is false. A metaphysical irrationalist finds ostensible refuge from this unpleasant consequence in epistemological irrationalism. Rational cognition arbitrarily falsifies the view of the world, and science is only a collection of arbitrary conventions, contextual definitions derived from the need of practical action. Still, man has other methods of cognition in which truth about reality is revealed to him: intuition, the heart, mystical inspiration, etc. This avoidance of agnosticism is only apparent, since when an epistemological irrationalist wishes to express his knowledge comprehensibly, he must resort to words, he must start speaking, and thus, he must practice the discursive cognition which falsifies the view of reality. Inevitably, he

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will contradict himself. Poincaré noted when speaking about this kind of philosophy that in order to remain consistent with itself, it should be limited to “negation and an exclamation of enthusiasm.”23 It seems that we can go further and state that also negation, understood as a negative sentence, assumes a discursive manner of cognition. Therefore, what remains for a metaphysical irrationalist is only the exclamation of delight or delighted silence. A careful reading of the works of mystics, where metaphysical irrationalism blends with epistemological irrationalism, confirms the validity of the above discussion. Representatives of the so-called negative theology, numerous among mystics, attempt in vain to speak of God, who they believe to be the essence of reality, without contradicting themselves. For instance, when Basilides speaks of God that he is more than unnamed, since “unnamed” is already defining him through name, the effort of rejecting any attempt to describe reality cnceptually can be felt. The effort is futile, since the name “more than unnamed” is a name just as “unnamed” is. As a result, metaphysical irrationalists who wish to impart their knowledge about an irrational entity on others are left with no choice but to assume certain internally contradictory claims, which is a certain kind of logical irrationalism. 2.4. Psychological Irrationalism 2.4.1. Characterization of Psychological Irrationalism Someone who is inclined to believe in internally contradictory or fundamentally irresolvable sentences, and to refer to irrational methods of cognition in the justification of his convictions, is an irrationalist in the psychological sense. Therefore, psychological irrationalism is a psychical attitude of man, a readiness for experience, thanks to which irrationally logical sentences (in the broader sense) seem true to us. Yet, how can someone believe in logically irrational sentences since these sentences contain an obvious contradiction? It seems this may occur in two ways. The first way is that a person who utters an internally contradictory sentence S with conviction is not expressly aware of the meaning of the words occurring in this sentence, and has used sentence S mostly in order to satisfy the emotional moods and desires pervading in his mind. Similarly, someone who is inspired to write a love letter probably does not think of anything very clearly and distinctly, but seeks expression for his experiences. Likewise, a less poetic irrationalist who utters internally contradictory expressions with


Cf. (Poincaré 1905, p. 216).


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conviction primarily experiences certain emotional states, and through them he believes to approach the elusive objects which he ascribes value to. The second way is that a person who utters an internally contradictory sentence S “with faith” knows that it is contradictory, but at the same time tells himself that the contradiction is apparent, that it only exists in his limited mind, etc. A number of facts speak to this explanation of the legitimacy of psychological irrationalism. Here are some of them: It is clear that people are particularly inclined to accept internally contradictory sentences as true in the states of limited sanity, for instance, in dreams, under the influence of drugs, during mental illness, or in states of increased intensity of emotions and desires. A sleeping person’s consciousnes is not offend with the fact that a person he is talking to in his dream is at the same time his mother and daughter or a man and an animal. He believes in it because he is not expressly aware of the meaning of the words “mother” and “daughter,” or “man” and “animal” so that the sentence “my mother is my daughter,” “an animal is a man” do not reveal their contradictions to him. Reports from mental institutions provide plenty of examples of preposterous beliefs. Even for seemingly healthy people, emotions and desires often create an appropriate ground for belief in irrational sentences. People are particularly willing to believe in such sentences when revered, loved, powerful and threatening people profess them. Then they believe out of love and fear, which can completely block their ability to think. In the cases mentioned before, we are usually dealing with the first way of believing in internally contradictory sentences, that is, the way which consists in not being clearly aware of the sense of the words used in those sentences. The second way, that is, one in which we attempt to convince ourselves that the contradiction is apparent, is encountered when the thought of rejecting the internally contradictory sentence S raises our objection of an emotional nature which is revealed in a moral evaluation (e.g. rejecting this sentence seems to be a sin) or utilitarian (e.g. rejecting this sentence seems to entail the loss of precious values, seems dangerous). This is true for a number of sentences of a religious, philosophical or social nature. For instance, a religious person attempts not to see the inner contradiction of a given claim of his belief even if he notices the internal contradiction; he attempts to convince himself that it is apparent and that it only exists for his limited mind. He usually does it because he is afraid that when he rejects the thesis, he will commit a sin, he will displease the deity, or he will deprive himself of a valuable source of feeling of security and power provided by religion. A closer examination of the conditions conducive to the development of psychological irrationalism is a pleasant task for a psychologist or a historian of culture. Even common experience indicates that certain people

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are characterized with psychological irrationalism to a greater degree, and some, to a lesser degree. It is also evident that in certain phases of psychical development the propensity to demonstrate irrational convictions occurs with particular intensity. It also seems that the gender of the person is not without significance. The crowds of believers who fill churches are usually mostly composed of women. The conditions of life and development of human societies also exert great influence on the bloom or suppression of irrational propensities. There are periods in the history of culture when rationalist attitudes seem to prevail, and there are others, when irrational attitudes seem to be more common. When irrationalism prevails, great systems of religious mysticism are created, metaphysics rules in philosophy, and social life abounds in providential leaders, indiscriminate fanaticism and the sense of supernatural historical missions. 2.4.2. Psyche of “Waking” and “Dream” According to Witwicki In Polish psychological writings, Władysław Witwicki’s work on the psychological principle of contradiction and on the function of judgments presented in reasoning particularly shed a lot of light on the problem of psychological irrationalism. Witwicki notes that people readily stop reckoning with the principle of contradiction as long as it does not endanger their vital interests, and behave as if they believe that objects can be simultaneously such and not such in the same respect. Then a person experiences intellectual states similar to those present in dreams, except during the day and with his eyes open. He does not consciously control his convictions, he believes in phenomena which are inconsistent with the established laws of nature, in strange, internally contradictory constructs. An analysis of literary works, of folk magic and religious beliefs provides numerous examples of such an attitude. In the cases where a person notices the irrationality of his own statements, he is often still prepared to proclaim them, convincing himself that he believes them, and imagining the appropriate judgments. Such a pretend conviction is often sufficient as a psychological basis for the desired emotional states.24 Witwicki contrasts scientific reasoning to everyday reasoning and stresses the fact that the first corresponds to the type of thinking in reality, and the second corresponds to a dream. He writes: It seems that scientific thinking differs from everyday thinking in that everyday thinking corresponds to the type of a dream, but does not attempt to explain singular facts with laws which are not contradictory, does not control all new observations with old experience, does not put all of its data into a consistent whole, does not


Cf. (Witwicki 1925, p. 382 ff., 430 ff.).


Izydora Dąmbska adhere to the psychological principle of contradiction, and deems true those judgments which are not obvious, as long as they are emotionally significant. On the other hand, scientific thinking is a typical state of wakefulness, of focusing attention: it attempts to explain singular facts with principles which are free from contradiction, controls its new observations with the results of past observations and someone else’s observations, arranges its data into a systematic whole. It does not admit contradictory objects and only deems true some few directly obvious judgments, with the results of controlled observations among them, and only deems other judgments true if they occur to be consequents of the former. 25

In this attitude of the type of dreams, Witwicki sees the source of the view which I have called metaphysical irrationalism. The view of the world provided in a dream and in states similar to dreams “is irrational, inconsistent and contradictory.” On the other hand, the world in reality presents itself as “rational, consistent and unquestionable.” The domain of rational thinking is primarily the domain of practical life and the struggle for existence. However, rational thinking requires effort and work. Therefore, whenever reality does not provide any serious tasks for a person, a person happily stops thinking rationally. His mental life “is free from servitude, he toys with what might happen, he creates a fictional world, free in its particulars from the constraint of sufficient cause, consistence, connection, a world which can even be contradictory.”26 It is evident from the presented sentences that certain features which seemed characteristic for psychological irrationalism are ascribed to everyday reasoning by Witwicki, which in his opinion is in opposition to scientific, or rational, thinking. We sometimes speak of psychological irrationalism in a broader meaning, not only as a readiness to hold irrational views and to make use of irrational methods of cognition, but also as a propensity to experience irrational desires and emotions. Naturally, the word “irrationalism” changes its meaning again at this point if we want to honestly decide that emotions and desires are irrational. We shall not deal with this changed concept of psychological irrationalism. It is not taken into consideration wherever we deal with irrationalism in the cognitive area.

25 26

Cf. (Witwicki 1923, p. 297 ff.). Cf. (Witwicki 1923, p. 298).

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3. Is Irrationalism Authorized in Science? 3.1. Formulation of the Problem The analysis of meanings of the word “irrationalism” conducted in the previous chapter seems to facilitate a clearer formulation of the problem of the authorizaton of irrationalism in science, and therefore, facilitates the resolution of this problem in a justified manner. The problem of the authorization of irrationalism in science is reduced to the question: (1) are logically irrational sentences authorized in science? (2) is referring to irrational methods of cognition when justifying scientific theses authorized? We have already answered in the negative to the first question. Only rational methods of cognition have the value of the basis for expressible cognition, available for intersubjective control, and these features are indispensable conditions of scientific cognition. The first question should be divided into two auxiliary questions: (1) Are internally contradictory sentences authorized in science in the character of theses? (2) Are fundamentally irresolvable sentences authorized in science in the character of theses? 3.2. Science and the Postulate of Consistency The first question can immediately be answered in the negative. If we allow internally contradictory sentences in science, we thus allow any sentence based on the definition. This is because any sentence can result from an internally contradictory sentence. For the same reason, a system of assumptions of any science, both empirical and a priori, should not be contradictory. The system of definitions and hypotheses contradictory with each other, or ones from which two sentences are contradictory in the system result, cannot be the basis for any theory. The theories of empirical science frequently seemingly stand against this rule. In his work entitled Electricité et optique Poincaré states that: Deux théories contradictoires peuvent, en effet, pourvu qu’on ne les mêle pas, et qu’on n’y cherche pas le fond des choses, être toutes deux d’utiles instruments des recherches.27

Poincaré provides as examples of such theories contradictory with each other, the theories of light of Fresnel and Neumann, the first of which


Cf. (Poincaré 1890, p. IX).


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assumes that the oscillation of the light waves occurs on a perpendicular polarization plane, and the second assumes a parallel plane. Similarly, claims Poincaré, the experimental laws of electrostatics can just as well be explained with the theory of two fluids as with the theory of one fluid, which is incompatible with the former. Still, this fact of the coexistence of incompatible theories in science; not contradictory, as Poincaré imprecisely states, does not speak against the postulate of non-contradiction of claims. Both Fresnel’s and Neumann’s theories, both the theory of two fluids and of one fluid, are not contradictory, the set of hypotheses and definitions which each of them consists of in itself, is not contradictory and does not lead to contradictory consequences. The same concerns the logical character of specific hypotheses. None of them is internally contradictory. For that reason, there is also no internal contradiction in contemporary microphysics, which explains certain intranuclear phenomena with the help of the assumptions of corpuscular theory, and others with the help of the wave theory of light and matter. After all, it is not claimed, as it is often imprecisely stated, that an electron is simultaneously a wave and a particle; it is only claimed that certain microphysical phenomena can be explained by the wave theory but not the corpuscular theory, and conversely, whereas most phenomena can be explained with one or the other. The situations in Poincaré’s examples and in the example from microphysics differ in that in the first case the same group of empirical phenomena is sometimes explained with one theory and sometimes with another, which is inconsistent with the first, whereas in the second case two inconsistent theories are applied simultaneously to explain two groups of phenomena. The latter case occurs in a more evident form, i.e., when Fresnel’s undulatory theory is applied, as it explains light phenomena but is inconsistent with some facts in the field of mechanics. Highlighting the difference between these two cases of the application of inconsistent theories (namely, explaining the same group of facts with the help of inconsistent theories and using two theories inconsistent with two domains of facts) seems necessary. In the first case, roughly speaking, facts do not refute any of the two theories, whereas in the second case the theory is inconsistent with the facts. Zaremba28 wrongly refers to Poincaré’s views cited above in order to support his view on the equality of inconsistent claims. The examples he cites prove that he means the second case, whereas Poincaré clearly had the first case in mind. The case of using inconsistent theories in order to explain different sets of facts allows for two variants. Let T 1 and T 2 signify our two theories, and


Cf. (Zaremba 1923, p. 137).

Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition


F1 and F 2 denote sets of readings done on a measurement apparata, or to speak more broadly, sets of sentences about facts. Let F1 be the class of consequences of T 1, and let F 2 be the class of consequences of T 2. It may be the case that T1, explaining F1, is contradicted by F 2, whereas T2, although it does not explain F1, is not contradicted by T 1. This is true in the case of Fresnel’s theory (T1) and celestial mechanics (T2). However, it may also be the case that T 1 is contradicted by F 2, and T2 is contradicted by F 1. This is the case with the wave and corpuscular theory of light in one of its interpretation. Both in the first and in the second case, contrary to what some scientists claim,29 science aims at eliminating the negated theory, or at transforming it accordingly. It would probably be enough to remember Poisson’s objections against Fresnel’s theory and the critique of the concept of ether often repeated also by contemporary physicists. It is perhaps also worth mentioning that one of the reasons the word “wave” is denied its macroscopic, visually interpretable meaning in microphysics is the fact that this macroscopic concept cannot be applied to intranuclear processes without committing contradiction. Two different theories which explain the same scope of phenomena are of equal right in science when they are translatable into each other or, even though they are not translatable into each other, they have not yet been contradicted by basic empirical sentences. The coexistence in science of different theories which explain the same domain of phenomena has its source in a priori elements present in every scientific theory. The choice and the definitions of the concepts with which we describe a given domain of reality are to a large extent the matter of measuring, and other, conventions. A change of convention usually entails a change of the sense of the terms in the theory, and in consequence, also of the theory itself. Still, the fact of coexistence of such different theories concerning the same domain of phenomena does not in any way violate the postulate of non-contradiction of scientific sentences. This is because neither hypothesis nor theory can be internally contradictory and the coexistence of contradictory theories is allowable as long as none of them is in contradiction with basic empirical sentences. Therefore, logically irrational sentences in the sense of internally contradictory sentences are not scientifically authorized.


Cf. (Zaremba 1923, p. 137).


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3.3. Science and the Postulate of Decidability We shall discuss in turn the second of the auxiliary questions mentioned before, namely, the question of whether fundamentally irresolvable sentences are authorized in science. The view that these sorts of sentences are scientifically authorized is common, and various hypotheses of natural sciences are usually quoted as examples of such sentences. Naturally, hypotheses, as long as they are not concealed definitions, similarly to all empirical sentences, not only can never be deemed undoubtedly true, but also cannot be refuted when discussed separately, regardless of the language and metric conventions assumed in the theory. In order for an empirical sentence to be essentially resolvable, such conditions must be provided which are not contradictory and which are empirically possible in which this sentence could prove to be false. 30 This is even the case when implementation of these conditions is not possible for technical reasons. There is a concern that with the above interpretation of resolvability there will be no place in science for fundamentally irresolvable empirical sentences, but on the other hand, various irrational metaphysical hypotheses will come forward to pretend to be scientific. Let us assume that someone formulates the hypothesis that human health depends on the wellbeing of an invisible Archeus, which resides in the human body. When asked how we may find out about it, he adds that a necessary, but also sufficient, condition is to move the human body to the Moon. Thus, he provides an essentially possible condition of resolving the hypothesis of the influence of Archeus on people’s lives, although it cannot be implemented for technical reasons. Thus, is this hypothesis scientifically authorized? Common sense protests against such resolvability. After all, someone may quote the Moon condition equally “legitimately” in order to establish the resolvability of the hypothesis that the health of an organism does not depend on Archeus’ wellbeing. To avoid this sort of consequences, let us add that for sentence S to be resolvable it is not sufficient to mention some essentially possible procedure which could expose the falsity of sentence S. Moreover, we must be able to ascertain that the sentence which mentions the procedure belongs to the class of consequences of sentence S. However, it has been clear since Duhem’s times that an experiment can never refute particular hypotheses. How can we then save their resolvability based on this view?

30 The fact that the possibility to refute, rather than verifiability, is the condition of the controllability of empirical sentences, necessary in science, is stressed by Popper (1935, p. 12 ff.).

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Before we answer this question, let us first discuss Duhem’s viewpoint.31 He quotes two arguments for the idea that experience itself cannot determine the falsity of particular hypotheses and only lets us reject some of their systems or groups. Firstly, every experiment assumes a certain theory, that is, the theory of the measurement equipment which the researcher uses when experimenting. Secondly, a protocolar sentence which proves false in an experiment is the consequence of many hypotheses rather than only one. Therefore, when we accept the falsity of the consequence, we may ascertain that the conjunction of the sentences which this sentence results from is false, but we do not know based on that fact which part of the conjunction is false. Here is an example quoted by Duhem: F.E. Neumann put forward a hypothesis that the oscillation of a polarized ray of light occurs parallel to the plane of polarization. O. Wiener suspected that Neumann’s hypothesis was false, and he decided to verify it experimentally. His reasoning was the following: if Neumann’s hypothesis was true, then alternate light and dark stripes will appear parallel to the plane of reflection if we induce interference of a ray of light reflected at the angle of 45˚ in relation to a glass plate with a polarized ray of light falling perpendicularly to the plane of incidence. It proved that the expected phenomenon did not occur in the given conditions. Based on this, Wiener deemed Neumann’s hypothesis false. Poincaré came to the defense of Neumann’s theory with the notion that it can be withheld if the theory concerning the measurement of the intensity of light is changed. Therefore, Wiener’s experiment does not ultimately resolve the issue of the falsity of one hypothesis discussed in isolation, as it only indicates that the system of hypotheses within the scope of optics which Wiener used contained a mistake. The rejection of this or other systems is not determined exclusively on the basis of the result of measurement, but also based on adopting given a priori assumptions. According to this concept, hypothesis H within a system of expressions U remaining in the relationship of falsifiability Rf to conditions W can be called fundamentally irresolvable when hypothesis H can be replaced with its negation ~H without a change of URfW and when H may be attached to any system U′ without changing U′RfW′. These sort of hypotheses in science are not authorized, as it seems. However, numerous metaphysical theses are of this nature. Another way to distinguish fundamentally irresolvable metaphysical hypotheses which are scientifically justified arises on the grounds of the


Cf. (Duhem 1906, p. 278 ff.).


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so-called operational view of the character of the empirical sciences.32 According to this view, a scientific theory is merely an abbreviation for complicated description of observable empirical processes. It is an abbreviation which replaces certain descriptive sentences and allows for deducing others. Quantitative descriptions of physical magnitudes and their functions schematically represent a whole array of empirical operations used to determine their quantity. Together with a change of the operation also the meaning of the term which signifies this magnitude changes. Let us call the class C of sentences describing actions sufficient to determine that object O has property P the operational sense of hypothesis H which ascribes to object O property P. We shall state that the hypothesis H is scientifically unauthorized if C is an empty class. It is not hard to demonstrate that hypotheses which are fundamentally irresolvable based on the operational view belong to this category but do not belong to science according to the basic assumptions of the same view. Yet, we may ask whether we will not be forced to allow certain fundamentally irresolvable statements as justified in the viewpoint which does not assume an operational view of the character of scientific statements. Does the fact that (a) various fictions and working hypotheses in Vaihinger’s style, (b) laws which can never be refuted by experience due to the inability to fulfill the conditions mentioned in the antecedent of the law exist in the empirical sciences (for instance, the law of inertia in physics, the law of the measurability of parameters in crystallography, etc.) does not contradict the postulate of the rationality of scientific claims? It seems that the difficulties in reconciling these factors with the postulate of logical rationality are only apparent. After all, if we follow Vaihinger in stating that fictions are false sentences which still have the right to exist in science in view of their application for detecting other statements, classifying phenomena, etc.,33 then we cannot consider them to be fundamentally irresolvable sentences, since we can learn about their falsity . In turn, as I have attempted to demonstrate elsewhere, 34 if it is not a false sentence q that is fiction but a compound sentence in the form: p, as if q – then assuming that q is false, the whole sentence should not be considered as a scientific hypothesis, but rather a description of a thought model, that is a kind of an auxiliary means which is not included in the theory and can only suggest a formulation of the hypothesis. Finally, following Vaihinger, if we include in the category of fictions all approximate laws, it

See e.g. (Bridgman 1927, p. 2 ff.). Cf. (Vaihiger 1913, p. 32). 34 Cf. (Dąmbska 1931b, p. 10). 32 33

Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition


must be noted that they can be deemed false only when they are formulated loosely. When formulated correctly, so that the factor of approximation is taken into consideration in their content, they prove to be fundamentally resolvable sentences. In connection with the second difficulty concerning the laws of empirically not satisfiable antecedent, let us note that their closer analysis allows us to detect in them either sentences in the form of conventions (e.g. the law of inertia), or sentences of an empirical character (e.g. the law of the measurability of parameters). In the first case, we are not dealing with facts but with an a priori principle which determines the sense of certain terms of the theory, and in the second, with a sentence of an approximate character. A convention is an analytical sentence, and as such it is ex definitione true; approximate sentences fulfill at least one condition of fundamental resolvability within the margin of the probable errors of measurements. Therefore, it seems that the question of the scientific authorization of logically irrational sentences can be answered in the negative in its entirety. If logical irrationalism is not scientifically authorized, then in consequence the thesis of metaphysical irrationalism should be deemed non-scientific. After all, this thesis, as fundamentally irresolvable in its nature, is a logically irrational thesis, and thus, not scientifically authorized. On the other hand, if the statement that the only acceptable ways to justify scientific theses are rational ways is true, then the thesis of epistemological irrationalism should be rejected as false. In the end, psychological irrationalism undergoes certain limitations based on these arguments, as they indicate a certain sphere of life in which propensity to believe in logically irrational sentences and to use irrational ways of justifying theses should be firmly opposed. This sphere is the kingdom of science. 4. Irrationalism and Cognition of Nature 4.1. Examples of Irrationalism in Science We noted in the previous chapter that logical and epistemological irrationalism are not scientifically authorized. This is a quaestio iuris. There is also a quaestio facti in addition to it: is science free from irrational elements? This question must certainly be answered in the negative. The need to explain to ourselves the phenomena around us, the anxiety the human mind experiences in the presence of the unknowable, the tendency to evaluate and various anthropomorphic beliefs and superstitions often


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force researchers to cross the narrow borders of scientific cognition and to “supplement” this cognition with irrational elements. It is often the case that they do not realize the irrationality of their views and they attempt to convince themselves and others that they are in possession of scientifically proven facts. The boldest irrational constructions occur especially often within the scope of problems which still lack scientifically justified answers, and within the scope of apparent problems which are not emotionally indifferent. Science considered in specific phases of its development bears within it the brand of the time and the environment which shaped it. The choice of problems, but also the manner of responding to them mirrors what is called the spirit of time. In the article “Ist die Naturwissenschaft milieubedingt?”35 E. Schroedinger demonstrates how common features of the style and the world view prevalent in a given cultural environment, can not only be found in art and social trends, but also in science. It is no wonder then that the periods of the triumph and development of mysticism shape scientists which are prone to blurring the differences between rational and irrational factors of cognition. As Mach rightly remarks, science does not only have to defend itself against the oppression of external irrationalists and does not only include martyrs who die in defense of the rights of reason and experience to resolve scientific problems. Researchers must fight an equally momentous battle with their own assumptions, that is, with the superstition that everything must be treated theologically.36

And, let us add, they must fight with many other superstitions. Mach quotes numerous examples of these internal hazards. However, some of these examples do not seem convincing. They only prove that great scientists were at the same time superstitious or exhibited a tendency towards mysticism. For instance, Mach stresses the fact that Newton eagerly studied the Apocalypse and Pascal believed in miracles and denunciated heretics. It seems that the “reconciling” of rational and irrational attitudes in the case of scientists is neutral for science itself. It only becomes dangerous when a scientist either attempts to present a scientific justification of logically irrational sentences, or when he uses irrational assumptions when justifying or explaining scientific claims. Napier, who “proves” more mathematico that the Pope is an antichrist, or Maupertuis, who justifies the principle of the least action with God’s wisdom, introduces an irrational element to science. Only on this plain does the fight with the internal enemy, the irrationalism of the scientist, begin. A characteristic example

35 36

Cf. (Schrödinger 1932). Cf. (Mach 1883, p. 430).

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is provided by i.a. Mysterium cosmographicum by Kepler. It is worth remembering that the whole work is devoted to the defense of Copernicus’ concept of the world. The defense mostly consists in indicating that Copernicus’ ideas: (1) are consistent with the Holy Scripture; (2) “not only do not sin against the nature of things but in fact support it, as it cherishes simplicity, it cherishes unity”;37 finally, (3) are consistent with the perfect principles of magnitude and number according to which God, as the most perfect being, had to create reality. After all, the most perfect being had to create the most beautiful thing, and it would not be the most beautiful if it did not fulfill perfect relationships of magnitude and number.38 Chapter 4 of the cosmography is devoted to the problem of why the Solar System is organized in such a way that three celestial bodies are further from the Sun than the Earth and go around the Earth when moving, and the remaining two are closer to the Sun than the Earth and it is the Earth that goes around them. As it turns out, this arrangement of the celestial bodies ensures the central position of the Earth, actually the only possible one for a planet which was chosen for man to live on. This is the relevant paragraph of Kepler’s text, which the author himself calls allegorical: I therefore believe that many causes of phenomena in the world may be derived from God’s love towards man. No one can probably deny the fact that God had the future inhabitant in mind when arranging the world. After all, the purpose of the world, as well as of any creation, is man . Therefore, I believe that the Earth, which was to bring forth and nurture the image of the Creator was deemed worthy of such revolution among the planets by God that it contained the same number of planets inside and outside its orbit. In order to achieve this, God added the Sun to the remaining five stars, although it differed greatly from them. This seems even more fitting since, as was stated before, the Sun is a symbol of God-the-Father, and therefore it can be maintained that this connection to other stars was to be a proof of love and compassion for the future inhabitant which God undertook towards people, stooping to close familiarity with man. He often appeared to masses of men in the Old Faith and was willing to amicably listen to Abraham, just as the Sun is visible among the moving celestial bodies.”39

37 “Hae Copernici hypotheses non solum in naturam rerum non peccant, sed illam multo magis iuvant. Amat illa simplicitatem, amat unitatem” (Kepler 1596, p. 113). 38 Cf. (Kepler 1596, cap. I, II). 39 “Etenim existimo ex amore Dei in hominem causas rerum in mundo plurimas deduci posse. Certe equidem nemo negabit, in domicilio mundi exorando Deum ad incolam futurum identidem respexisse. Finis enim et mundi et omnis creationis homo est. Terram igitur, quae genuinam Creatoris imaginem datura et alitura esset, existimo dignam a Deo censitam, quae circumiret inter medios planetas sic, ut totidem illa haberet intra orbis sui complexum quot extra habitura esset. Ut hoc Deus obtineret, Solem reliquis quinque stellis accensuit, quamvis ille toto genere discreparet. Idque eo magis consonum videtur quod cum supra Sol Dei patris imago fuerit, credible est, hac associatione cum reliquis stellis argumenta venturo colono praebere debuisse φιλανθρωπιας et ανθρωποπαθειας, quam Deus usurpaturus erat


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Evidently, the above quoted examples explain the claim about the position of the Earth in the Solar system with fundamentally irresolvable claims about what God considered and what he deemed appropriate when he created the World, and therefore, with logically irrational sentences. The deeply religious Kepler, whose mother barely avoided the usual fate of witches, was no exception here. The history of the natural sciences until the 18th century provides many examples of gradual liberation of science from irrational factors. The 18th century brings the triumph of rationalism in science. Mach writes: Erst in der Literatur des 18. Jahreshunderts scheint die Aufklärung einen breitern Boden zu gewinnen […] Humanistische, philosophische, historische und Naturwissenschaften berühren sich da und ermutigen sich gegenseitig zu einem freieren Denken. Jeder, der diesen Aufschwung und diese Befreiung auch nur zum Teil durch die Literatur miterlebt hat, wird lebenslänglich ein elegisches Heimweh empfinden nach dem 18. Jahrhundert.40

However, this victory of rationalism was not definitive. Even though mixing theology with nature studies was greatly limited, irrational elements still penetrated rational reasoning, albeit with various intensity (especially strongly in the idealist philosophy of nature in Germany). It is not different today. 4.2. Threefold Source of Irrationalism There are three characteristic roads through which irrational factors penetrate science: (1) creating irrational hypotheses and theories whose function is to explain facts established in experience; (2) deriving extra-empirical conclusions from empirical scientific theses; (3) using judgments about value to accept or reject descriptive theses. These three cases should be clearly distinguished from the function performed by irrational factors in a researcher’s scientific work, without causing the occurrence of irrational sentences within the scope of the system of knowledge itself. Thus: (1)

Acknowledging certain irrational sentences may inhibit or stimulate acknowledging or rejecting certain theses or problems, although these irrational sentences do not occur as premises of reasoning. For instance, the irrational thesis stating that what is unlimited is less perfect than that which is limited seemed to greatly influence

erga homines, ad domesticam familiaritatem usque sese demittens. Nam in veteri Testamento frequenter in numerum hominum venit, et Abrahami amicus audire voluit sicuti Solem videmus in numerum mobilium venire” (Kepler 1596, p. 128). 40 Cf. (Mach 1883, p. 439).


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the development of Greek mathematics, although it did not appear as a premise in any mathematical system. The conviction that the quantity of matter created since the beginning of time cannot be subject to change because of God’s constancy and immutability also played an important role in discovering the law of conservation of energy. Certain irrational manners of cognition (intuition, inspiration) may lead to discovering rational theses which receive proper justification within the scientific system. This genetic function of irrationalism, fascinating from the point of view of a historian of science or a psychologist, is not taken into consideration when irrationalism is discussed in the function of assumptions, theses and operations accepted in science. The above three points only concern this sort of rationalism. 4.3. Judgments about Value and Irrationalism in Science

The third point (using judgments about value to acknowledge or reject descriptive theses) plays a particularly important role in humanist studies, and no wonder. Humanist studies are predominantly occupied with studying the products of the human spirit: facts and events connected with the human being as an entity endowed with a conscious psychical life. In turn, the human being discussed as a conscious and thinking person together with his actions and works, is the most common object of evaluation of various kinds in everyday life. These evaluations are often issued under the influence of emotions, desires, or habits and are rarely controlled with sensible thought. What is more, many evaluations lack what we would describe as a crucial factor of rational cognition. They lack objectivity in the sense of intersubjective verifiability. We cannot formulate the conditions of accepting or rejecting certain evaluations, that is, judgments about the value of objects, without referring to extra-logical and extra-empirical factors. Thus, humanist sciences, where judgments about value often occur, often contain the scientifically unauthorized relationship of descriptive sentences and sentences about value. However, it is a mistake to think that this dangerous relationship is far from threatening natural sciences. The anthropomorphic point of view, which is not unfamiliar for them, encourages the introduction of evaluations and making improper use of them also in this domain. There is an argument in the learned discussion aiming at disproving the heliocentric claim of Copernicus that by making the Earth an obedient servant of the Sun, he denies the unique position which it rightly deserves as the celestial body chosen by the Creator for man to


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inhabit. Similar lines of argument can be encountered in numerous polemic writings against Darwin’s theory of evolution. 4.4. Analogies and Models The first two manners in which irrationalism penetrates science (creating irrational hypotheses and making extra-empirical conclusions) do not require further explanation in view of the previous discussion. One thing which is perhaps worth noting is that irrationalism is greatly influenced in this respect by the application of reasoning through analogy and simply stating the existence of analogy where it does not occur, or where its occurrence cannot be scientifically proven. Stating analogy and reasoning based on analogy is an important factor in creating scientific theories. It is clear that the fundamental cognitive operation of the human mind is comparing. Having ascertained that a phenomenon of the type F1 behaves in relation to a certain set of its properties P1 like a phenomenon of the type F2 we are prone to assume that the phenomenon F1 behaves like the phenomenon F2 also with respect to other properties P 2. Thus, transferring concepts and hypotheses from one domain of facts into another is so common in science. For instance, if there is a theory T in physics which describes and explains facts, and facts F′ run in a similar way to the facts F with respect to some of their properties P′, then it is often attempted to either use theory T to explain F′ or to build theory T′ which operates a similar apparatus of concepts and hypotheses as T. Even in the cases where an analogy between F and F′ is not empirically stated, an apparatus of hypotheses and concepts is created a priori for T′ through analogy to T, and only then is it adjusted to the empirical laws within the scope of F′. It is easy to provide specific examples for scientific concepts and hypotheses whose formation depended on ascertaining an analogy. The notion of electrical current is defined by Ohm through an analogy with Fourier’s notion of the current of heat; the kinetic theory of gases maps the laws of motion of great quantities of flexible particles closed within a cubic container, the concept of light waves was developed through an analogy to the notion of sound waves, and the latter was in turn developed from the notion of the wave movement of fluids. Here are some random examples taken from the long list of analogies useful in the development of physics. According to Campbell, stating analogies is not only an auxiliary means of constructing scientific theories, which can be forgotten when a theory is ready, but rather, an essential element of a theory, impossible to remove. Scientific hypotheses which are not generalizations from experience would be something completely unrestricted if not for the postulate

Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition


of analogy with the empirical principles which is obligatory for all scientists.41 The great importance of analogy for creating scientific theories is also noted by Mach. Mach distinguishes direct and indirect descriptions of facts. A description of facts F is indirect when we ascertain that F behaves with respect to P in the same way as F,’ already familiar from elsewhere. Therefore, a characteristic feature of an indirect description is stating analogy. It is easy to demonstrate, writes Mach, “that what we call a theory or a theoretical idea falls into the category of an indirect description.”42 L. von Strauss und Thorney distinguish two kinds of analogies about scientific cognition: a qualitative analogy (“qualitative Analogie”) and an exact analogy (“exacte Analogie”). The former consists in the similarity of the properties of two series of phenomena where one is already known and the other is awaiting description. Ascertaining a qualitative analogy assumes a certain view of the structure of reality and may be considered as only an auxiliary heuristic means during the formulation of new hypotheses which necessarily require verification. It is only a point of departure from which theses are formulated. An exact analogy occurs when two spheres of experience can be described with the same mathematical function. Detecting an exact analogy is one of the most important factors in the development of theoretical physics.43 Contrary to what the mentioned authors state, it seems that in the second case the function of analogy does not differ greatly from the function which it performs in the first case. In both cases, a similarity of two series is ascertained, with the one difference that in the second case the issue is the similarity of relationships which can be expressed with the same mathematical functions. The superiority of an exact analogy lies in the final result, in stating such an correspondence of a mathematical description of two domains that formulating and solving a certain problem within the scope of one theory is simultaneously reliable for another theory. For instance, there is this sort of algebraic correspondence between the theory of the distribution of stationary temperatures and electrostatics. Duhem discusses this example in great detail. He was also the first one to note what Strauss und Thorney called an exact analogy, which he rightly calls merely a more precise form of a physical analogy.44 A specific form of applying analogy in science is using all kinds of thought models, used to visualize abstract physical theories. The simplicity

Cf. Cf. 43 Cf. 44 Cf. 41 42

(Campbell 1920, p. 128 ff.). (Mach 1896b, p. 256). (Strauss und Thorney 1936, p. 1 ff.). (Duhem 1906, p. 141).


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and visual character of geometrical and mechanical models caused them to become an especially valuable form of illustrating theories, and the inability to construct a mechanical model for certain theories was considered by some scientists to constitute sufficient grounds to reject it. However, it appeared that contemporary physics does not reckon with this inclination. There are theories which fulfill the condition of non-contradiction and fundamental resolvability, which cannot be illustrated with the mechanical model. Thought models definitely have great didactic value, as they facilitate the understanding of a theory. However, a certain danger lies in using them: the danger of ascribing properties inherent only to a model to phenomena explained with the help of a theory illustrated with a model. Thus, although the proper and careful use of analogy is a productive means of development of science, the illegitimate statement of an analogy often leads to erroneous conclusions or, which is our main point of interest here, favors logical irrationalism in science. Animism and anthropomorphism in science often originate from such use of analogy. The tendency to ascribe aspirations and aversions, etc., to inanimate objects based on external analogies with one’s own behavior, so characteristic for primitive man, was not unfamiliar for physicists in the 16th century, and traces of this standpoint can still be found later on in the concept of the forces of nature, in the teleological explanation of phenomena of nature, etc. When is using analogy not authoried in science because of the risk of irrationalism? Perhaps predominantly when there are no sufficient conditions of comparison because at least one of the compared parts is not provided in rational cognition. This is the reason why, e.g., Kepler’s stating the analogy between the behavior of the Sun and the behavior of God-thefather is not authorized, since the latter could not have been provided to him in rational cognition. However, if we oppose Campbell in stating that detecting analogy is a means of a purely heuristic nature, then the mentioned criterion does not seem legitimate. After all, if comparing a series of facts which are available to rational cognition with a series of facts which are unavailable to this sort of cognition could lead to rational claims about the first set, there would be no reason to exclude this procedure from science. Thus, it seems more cautious to confine ourselves to the objection that using analogy is unauthorized when it leads to logically irrational theses, that is, theses which are internally contradictory, or fundamentally irresolvable. 4.5. Quantum Theory and Irrationalism As we have noted before, irrational factors penetrate science in contemporary times as well. From the outside, this phenomenon is encouraged

Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition


by a rapidly spreading irrationalism of philosophical, religious and social doctrines, and from the inside, important transformations and revolutions which some contemporary scientific theories undergo. The process of overthrowing some and creating new theories usually stimulates human minds to produce irrational concepts, which are used to fill the gaps in the scientific image of the world, according to metaphysical preferences. Especially interesting material in this respect is provided by quantum theory – born in the field of physics in the twentieth century – which became the point of departure for a whole array of irrational concepts. The fact that many concepts and laws developed on the basis of classical physics cannot be transposed to microphysical phenomena and processes led to attempts to formulate far-reaching metaphysical consequences. The confusion which therefore occurred is fostered by the difficulty of the theory itself and its lack of a visual character which results from the inability to ascribe a mechanical model to it. Attempts to use quantum theory to propagate irrational metaphysical concepts went in four main directions. It was thought that transformations within physics: (a) refute the materialistic thesis and make the spiritualist thesis mre probable; (b) speak in favor of the dualism of spirit and matter; (c) can be used as an argument for the metaphysical thesis about freedom of will; (d) justify a conviction about the existence of God. The struggle for a materialistic view of the world or against it broke out repeatedly on alien ground, that is, on the ground of science, especially natural science. Materialists of the 18th and 19 th centuries claimed that everything which exists is a body, and everything which occurs is movement of bodies. The appearance of energetism in physics was welcome by many as a path to overcome materialism. Although in 1895 Ostwald primarily attempted to demonstrate that with the rejection of the mechanistic conception of nature, science is liberated from any unverifiable metaphysical hypotheses, in order to replace a metaphysical explanation of natural phenomena with their description, according to Kirchhoff’s postulate,45 as early as a year later, R. Pictet claimed, following Ostwald, that rigorous empirical physical research anticipates the victory of spiritualism and the failure of materialism.46 Similar hopes are pinned on the development of contemporary physics by spiritually oriented minds. This not only concerns the minds of theologians and journalists, who attempt to impress upon a reader in the daily press and popular literature that contemporary physics confirms certain

45 46

Cf. (Ostwald 1895). Cf. (Pictet 1896).


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theological concepts. Even some representatives of natural science present the view, naturally formulated with more caution, that contemporary physical theories are in favor of spiritualist metaphysics. The “internal enemy” who Mach warned against 47 does not come to the fore here. For instance, here is a characteristic ending of a book by Jeans devoted to presenting the achievements of contemporary physics: We have already described recent progress in physical science as resulting from a continuous emancipation from the purely human point of view. Our last impression of nature, before we began to take our human spectacles off, was of an ocean of mechanism surrounding us on all sides. As we gradually discard our spectacles, we see mechanical concepts continually giving place to mental. If from the nature of things we can never discard them entirely, we may yet conjecture that the effect of doing so would be the total disappearance of matter and mechanism, mind reigning supreme and alone. Others may think it more likely that the pendulum will swing back in time. Broadly speaking, the two conjectures are those of the idealist and realist – or, if we prefer, the mentalist and materialist – views of nature. So far the pendulum shows no signs of swinging back, and the law and order which we find in the universe are most easily described – and also, I think, most easily explained – in the language of idealism. Thus subject to the reservations already mentioned, we may say that present-day science is favorable to idealism. In brief, idealism has always maintained that, as the beginning of the road by which we explore nature is mental, the chances are that the end also will be mental. Though this present-day science adds that, at the farthest point she has so far reached, much, and possibly all, that was mental has disappeared, and nothing new has come in that is not mental. Yet who shall say what we may find awaiting us round the next corner?48

According to Jeans, the contemporary state of research in the field of physics speaks against materialism and for the spiritual nature of reality. He adds that further development of science can probably change this spiritualist picture of the world, but for now this change is not likely. The anthropomorphist interpretation of natural phenomena failed, the mechanistic interpretation failed, but the abstract, mathematical interpretation, impossible to interpret visually, still insures great progress for science. Since this is so, states Jeans, apparently also the nature of the world is of a spiritual character, the world of physics is revealed to us as the world of pure mathematical thought, the thought of God, the great mathematician. It is easy to demonstrate that Jeans’ metaphysical concepts are not at all logically tied to the claims of natural sciences. After all, as Russell rightly claims, 49 we can describe a world conceived in any manner by the use of mathematical formulas. Moreover, pure mathematics does not describe any See above, p. 86. Cf. (Jeans 1933, p. 307). 49 Cf. (Russell 1931, p. 117). 47 48

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physical reality. Only empirically interpreted equations state something about the world. However, the moment they have been interpreted they cease to be a strictly logical construct of mathematics. Jeans, referring to the non-visual character of contemporary physics as an argument for his metaphysical concept of the world, deserves a separate discussion. The problem of the visual character of contemporary physics triggered a lively debate in the circles of both physicists and philosophers. In order to respond to the question of whether contemporary physics is not visual, and additionally, of whether some metaphysical consequences result from this lack of a visual character, one must realize the meaning of the expression: a given theory is or is not visual. Several possible interpretations immediately arise. The first one is as follows: a physical theory is visual when it can be illustrated with the power of a model. Naturally, many physicists, especially experimental ones, believe that in order to understand a given theory and to decide whether it is true, one must construct a mechanical model which can be assigned to this theory. Thomson’s statement is well known: “unless I can construct a mechanical model, I do not understand.” 50 The role of model in physics consists in the fact that by the use of pictures, mechanical and geometrical constructons, simply speaking by the use of enhancing objects one pay attention to some relations which are analogical to the ones described by the theory illustrated by the model. For isntance, a well-known model of Faraday, illustrating the electrostatic theory, is to show the relations stated in laws of interreactions between two electrified bodies with the help of the image of springy rubber lines, shrinking or swelling according with approaching of conductors attached to them. Model as such has, first of all, a didactic and auxiliary sense (for isntance, as a tool of control), however, lack of model, or even impossibility of constructing it, does not speak against the theory.51 According to Duhem, even overuse of the means of illustrating a theory often leads to obscuring it.52 When we stress the lack of a visual character in contemporary physics we often mean the fact that a model cannot be ascribed to the theories. How do we illustrate Broglie’s theory, in which the amplitude of the wave ascribed to photons is understood as the probability of a photon arriving

Cf. (Thomson 1884, p. 270). For instance, A. Sommerfeld claims in the article Über Anschaulichkeit in der modernen Physik that he believes that physics can do perfectly well without what is called “elementary visuality,” and as for introducing models to each other or, as Sommefeld states, “Gedankenbild, mit denen wir die physikalischen Tatsachen begleiten” (Sommerfeld 1930, p. 185/186). 52 Cf. (Duhem 1906, pp. 101 ff.). 50 51


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at a determined place? After all, even with two electrons the description of certain phenomena requires the introduction of a six-dimensional configurative space, and the symbol of the imaginary number i occurs in the basic equation of the theory. However, in a way a model may be used in quantum theory. Namely, it can be used when the word “model” is interpreted as a geometrical image of a physical function rather than a mechanical construct.53 The view, according to which physics owes the ability to construct mechanical models to the fact that physical terms correspond to objects which can be visually ascertained: atoms and the ether, is incorrect, whereas contemporary theories have deprived the object of their research of a visual character by eradicating the notion of the ether and replacing the atom with some “packets of waves of probability.” This view is incorrect because the ether and atoms could not be visually ascertained either. The ether proved to be a contradictory object (a solid body which does not have resistance), and the atoms were so small that the most powerful microscope was helpless against them, and moreover, they were transparent. How can something like that be visually ascertained? Yet, an apt remark lies behind this erroneous view, namely, that less exertion was necessary to proceed from bodies we encounter every day in our experience to the atom of classical physics that from the electron to the contemporary physics. After all, the mechanical model of the ether or atoms had always been inconsistent in many ways with the properties ascribed to the objects by the theory, or at most it was less inconsistent than the mechanical model for contemporary theories. Therefore, if we accept the expression “the visual character of a theory” in the meaning “the ability to present a theory with a model,” we should consider two meanings of the word “model.” If a model is understood as enhancing objects mentioned in the theory, then the lack of a visual character must also be ascribed to the classical theories of a supposedly visual character. On the other hand, if a model is understood as a geometrical image of physical functions, then we must accept contemporary theories as having a visual character, on a par with previous theories. In any case, in view of the strictly heuristic role of model in science, it is hard to draw any conclusions about the spiritual nature of reality from the fact of being or not being able to use a model. However, the phrase “the visual character of a theory” has another meaning. Namely, we may assume that the expression “a given physical theory is of a visual character” means the same as “a given physical theory

This is how Ph. Frank understands a model in his work Der Charakter der heutigen physikalischen Theorien (Frank 1931, p. 194 ff.), where he discusses the problem of the visual character of science in detail. 53

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describes relationships between phenomena which can be visually experienced, that is, provided directly, or such which can be provided directly in experience.” This definition is unclear. If we wanted to take it verbatim, we would have to concede that none of the most classical theories in physics are of a visual character. After all, none of them are about the relationships between phenomena which are or can be provided in perceptive presentation if this presentation is understood as a certain set of sensory data. The facts which interest a physicist in order to describe the relationships between them are something partly constructed and partly abstracted from the content of the presentations. In this respect they are similar to the facts and objects of everyday, pre-scientific experience. However, a physical fact differs in the degree of elaboration from a fact provided in naïve experience. This difference is made evident in the fact that a physical fact is described as a magnitude to which a given number is ascribed. When we take into consideration this factor, we must formulate the second attempt to define the visual character of the physical theory as follows: “A physical theory is of a visual character” means the same as “a physical theory describes relationships between magnitudes which are or can be directly given in experience.” Although only the word “only” is default and the issue is only the relationships between magnitudes which are or can be directly given in experience, no contemporary physical theories are of visual character. Yet, in this meaning classical physical theories are also not of a visual character, contrary to appearances. After all, characteristic features of all physical theories include the fact that they contain sentences concerning magnitudes which cannot be given in perceptive presentation. The only thing demanded of the sentences is that they could be “reduced” to sentences concerning the relationships between quantities given in experience, which some physicists consider to be measurable. This verification may be interpreted in different ways. Sometimes it may consist of integrating a differential equation (e.g. in Maxwell’s theory), and sometimes it may consist in definitional establishment of the equation (e.g. between sentences which concern the state of the electrons of hydrogen which cannot be measured directly and sentences which concern measurable states of the spectrum provided with the help of spectrograph), etc. If we take this into consideration, we shall obtain a new, third sense of “the visual character of a physical theory.” A physical theory of a visual character is a theory whose statements either concern relationships between measurable magnitudes or can be reduced to such statements. Since there are doubts as to whether all physical quantities are extensive, that is, undergo measurement, the third sense of visual character can be expanded by assuming that a physical theory has a visual character when its statements can be reduced to statements about that which is directly empirically stated. The


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postulate of the visual character understood in the above manner, which is a postulate of phenomenalism and epistemological positivism, seem to comply with modern theories more than with classic theories. This is because they dispose of more and more “metaphysical” concepts such as the ether, or absolute time, etc.54 With this interpretation of “the visual character of a physical theory,” the statement that contemporary physical theories do not have a visual character or less of it than classical theories is not correct. Similarly, it is impossible to maintain when the visual character of a physical theory is interpreted following Heisenberg. According to Heisenberg, a physical theory has a visual character when in every simple case its experimental consequences can be qualitatively imagined and when it is simultaneously made clear that applying this theory does not entail contradiction.55 If the above discussion is correct, then referring to the lack of visual character of contemporary physics in order to justify the metaphysical thesis of spiritualism is not convincing. After all, in some sense contemporary physics has a more visual character than classical physics (the empirical interpretation of equations). Where it has less visual character (the difficulty of constructing models), this lack of a visual character concerns issues of a methodological nature, which do not authorize us to draw any conclusions about the nature of the universe. Jeans claimed that the achievements of physics entitle him to state that: The old dualism of mind and matter [...] seems likely to disappear […] through substantial matter resolving itself into a creation and manifestation of mind..56

Others, whose spiritual needs are fulfilled by the dualism of the spirit and the matter more than by spiritualism, will find an illusory justification for their metaphysics in physics. Naturally, contemporary physics makes use of two theories: the wave theory and the corpuscular theory, both in the description of radiation and the behavior of particles of matter. After all, it is impossible to describe or predict all of the phenomena in question, either on the basis of the wave conception by itself or on the basis of the corpuscular conception by itself. For instance, the phenomenon of the bending of light coming through a small hole in a screen can be predicted and understood when it is interpreted as diffusion of a wave. Yet, it is not in accordance with the view of radiation as emission of corpuscular photons. An experiment concerning the phenomenon of the bending of light, conducted for the first time by Cf. (Frank 1931, p. 183 ff.). Cf. (Heisenberg 1927, p. 174). 56 Cf. (Jeans 1930, p. 137). 54 55

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Young and Fresnel, seemed to settle the matter in favor of the wave theory. In a lecture presented in 1889, the notable physicist, Hertz, stated: Was ist denn das Licht? Seit den Zeiten Young’s und Fresnels, wissen wir, dass es eine Wellenbewegung ist. Wir kennen die Geschwindigkeit der Wellen, wir kennen ihre Länge, wir wissen, dass es Transversalwellen sind; wir kennen mit einem Worte die geometrischen Verhältnisse der Bewegung vollkommen. An diesen Dingen ist ein Zweifel nicht mehr möglich, eine Wiederlegung diesen Anschauungen ist für den Physiker undenkbar. Die Wellentheorie des Lichtes ist, menschlich gesprochen, Gewissheit; was aus derselben mit Notwendigkeit folgt, ist ebenfalls Gewissheit.57

Thence comes the necessity to accept the theory of the ether, according to Hertz. Further developments in physics verified the claims of the great scientist. A phenomenon was discovered which the wave theory could not deal with, that is, the photoelectric phenomenon. Observation of this phenomenon, consisting in releasing electrons from an irradiated metal plate, proved that the speed of these electrons does not depend on the intensity of the light but exclusively on the color of the light. On the other hand, the number of the released electrons is proportional to the intensity of the light. On the basis of wave theory, which assumes a continuity of luminous and electrical energy, this independence of the speed of electrons from the intensity of the light seems incomprehensible. However, it is in accordance with the corpuscular theory. According to this theory, the energy of photons (i.e. elementary quanta of luminous energy) is constant for homogenous radiation. Withdrawing the source of light does not therefore cause a change in the speed of the released electrons but only diminishing their quantity when the number of photons falling on the plate declines. Since the color of the light is ascribed to the energy of the quanta, the speed of the photoelectrons declines or increases depending on the color of the light. Yet, it is not only within the scope of luminous phenomena that we encounter difficulties in using only one of the theories, either the wave or the corpuscular. Similarly, some experiments on the speed of atoms seem to contradict traditional corpuscular pictures in favor of the wave concept of matter. For instance, the idea of the wave nature of matter is supported by the phenomenon of the bending of atomic rays in crystals of lithium chloride, observed by Stern and Estermann. The fact that the wave and corpuscular theories both find their application in the explanation of many phenomena, and that simultaneously there are phenomena which can be explained exclusively on the basis of one


Cf. (Hertz 1889, p. 340).


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or the other theory, led some researchers to believe that they are dealing with some sort of ontological dualism, something of the kind of dualism of spirit and matter. Here is a characteristic metaphysical rant of a German physicist, Sommerfeld: Ich denke, diese physikalische Dualität ist ein nützlicher Beitrag zu einer der höchsten Fragen der allgemeinen Philosophie, dem alten Problem der Beziehung von Stoff und Geist, von Körper und Seele. [...] Besteht nun nicht eine gewisse Analogie zwischen psycho-physischen Parallelismus und der dualistischen Natur des Elektrons? Ist nicht die Welle als Führungsfeld des Elektrons der matematische Ausdruck für das, was uns in den Bewusstseinsakten von Wille und Streben gegeben ist und unsere Handlungen bestimmt? [...] Ist es nicht äussert bemerkenswert, dass wir quantitativen Beobachtungen und mathematischen Formen aus zu einer ähnlichen Situation in der Theorie des Lichts und der Elektronen gelangt sind, wie in der Struktur der psycho-physischen Welt?58

And in another fragment: Wird sich dieser Dualismus heben lassen? Es sieht nich so aus, als ob dies in der physikalischen Arena möglich sein wird. Eher vielleicht durch eine Art philosophischer Synthese. [...] Weder der spiritualistische noch der materialistische Monismus hat bisher die Zwitternatur des organischen Daseins in Leib und Seele befriedigend gelöst. Jetzt sehen wir einen ähnlichen Dualismus in den Grundlagen der Physik auftreten [...]. Wenn [...] in der Physik wirklich beide Arten der Betrachtung sich als unentbehrlich erweisen sollten, so könnte dies vielleicht auf die [...] Fragen des Zusammenwirkens von Seele und Leib ein halbes Licht werfen.59

We can clearly see how stating certain analogies may lead to irrationalism is science. Sommerfeld believes: (1) that the dualism of the wave and corpuscular theory is an argument in favor of the dualism of spirit and matter; (2) that this dualism cannot be removed from the theory of light without going beyond the scope of physics into some sort of a philosophical synthesis. Both of Sommerfeld’s claims seem unjustified. The lack of a formulation of one satisfactory theory which explains the scope of certain phenomena, as well as using two different theories, usually temporarily, does not at all prove the ontological dualism of phenomena. Besides, it is hard to guess what the word “dualism” is supposed to mean within microphysics. Some physicists’ manner of expressing their ideas is sloppy, which leads to the interpretation of this dualism by stating that an electron is a particle and is a wave at the same time (thus, it is not a particle), which does not reveal ontological dualism but rather the inner contradiction of objects.

58 59

Cf. (Sommerfeld 1936, p. 187). Cf. (Sommerfeld 1929, p. 870 ff.).

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At the same time, this would be metaphysical irrationalism, which precludes a priori the possibility of constructing any scientific theory in this scope. Saying that an electron is a certain whole consisting of two factors which are not reducible to each other, seems something entirely incomprehensible in view of the electron as an elementary negative electric charge. If, according to the state of contemporary science, we confine ourselves to stating that some of the phenomena encountered in experiments cannot be explained, either on the basis of the wave theory alone or on the basis of the corpuscular theory alone, then this thesis cannot authorize us to draw any conclusions as to the interrelationships of spirit and matter. It does authorize us, however, to assume that the results of theoretical research into microphysics have not been satisfactory. What is the most striking in it is the great predominance of the hypothetical-constructive factor over the empirical factor. Every scientific experiment assumes a certain interpretation of the examined phenomena. Still, this interpretation can be determined by measurement readings and a description of the observed system to a greater or lesser degree. All measurement readings and descriptions of the observed system occur within the boundaries and in the language of classical physics, that is, the physics of bodies of everyday experience. Yet, no statement in the theory of quantum physics concerns such objects. Here is a simple example of examining the photoelectrical phenomenon. The instrument: an amalgamated zinc plate, connected with an electroscope.60 The course of the experiment: the plate and the spectroscope have a negative electric charge (the notion of a negative electric charge is already a theoretical construct). Light rays are directed at the plate. A physicist notes the changes in the spreading of the golden leaves of an electroscope. What does the physicist say based on this experiment? He says that the metal plate is hit by photons, that they have constant energy, that the light “releases electrons from the plate,” that the electrons have different speed, etc. Photons, electrons, and their behavior are not objects available to direct observation and measurements, as they are theoretical magnitudes. This is the case with every other experiment and measurement on which quantum physics is based. If we add that the system examined during an experiment is obviously disrupted by the influence of the apparatus and that this disruption cannot be ignored in the scope of researching intranuclear phenomena, we realize the difficulties encountered when searching a satisfactory homogenous theory for this field of experience.


This is a primitive instrument. Much more refined instruments are usually used to examine the photoelectric phenomenon. The most refined of them is the so-called the photoelectric cell, which found many technical applications (lighting nautical signals, television, etc.).


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At any rate, alternative application of two inconsistent theories to explain a class of related phenomena seems to indicate that at least one of them is not correct in its present formulation.61 It is worth noting that this sort of passing dualism of a theory, or in other words, the inability to explain a whole class of related phenomena with one theory, is not new in physics. It is often the case that, having encountered certain difficulties in explaining phenomena with the help of an existing theory, we resort to auxiliary hypotheses in physics. For a time, analogical dualism occurred within field theory in various formulations, or in Lorentz’s theory of electrons, which used the hypothesis of an electromagnetic field in the ether and a corpuscular hypothesis of an electron, or in the general theory of relativity, where initially there was a dualism of the hypothesis of gravitational field and geodetic lines.62 In all these cases, and in accordance with its rationalistic tendencies, science continues to strive for such modification of its hypotheses that this dualism is removed. This is perhaps where a solution can be found to the problems connected with the dualism of the corpuscular and wave theories of light and matter, rather than by referring to irrational metaphysical concepts. The third of the previously mentioned metaphysical concepts refers to the difficulties in measuring intranuclear phenomena rather than the difficulties in constructing a homogenous theory of light and matter. This view states that quantum theory supports indeterminism, and thus, it supports the claim about free will. The point of departure for this philosophical superstructure is Heisenberg’s so-called uncertainty principle. It is assumed in classical physics that in order to determine the behavior of a material system S at any time t, it is sufficient to be familiar with the laws of physics and the initial state of system S. According to some physicists, the determinism of natural phenomena consists in this ability to determine the state of a system at any time. To know the initial state of a system is to be able to determine the coordinates of its location and the speed. Therefore, determining the initial state requires taking a measurement. However, any measurements 1. change the state of the measured system to a certain

61 Naturally, there is no contradiction in physics, even with the present state of knowledge. This is because corpuscular and wave concepts are not applied together to certain phenomena, but instead, the wave view is limited to certain processes and the corpuscular view is used with different processes. 62 These examples are provided and discussed by Frank (1932, p. 197 ff.), who discussed various misuses of philosophy in contemporary physics, both in the above mentioned work and in the dissertation „Zeigt sich in der modernen Physik ein Zug zu einer spiritualistischen Auffassung” (Frank 1935).

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degree, 2. inevitably contain mistakes resulting from the inaccuracy of the measuring equipment and from limitations in the observational scope and sensory sensitivity of the observer. Classical physics assumes that by perfecting the technique of measurement one may arbitrarily limit the influence of the equipment and the observer on a given system, and that this influence does not have to be taken into consideration when one predicts the future state of the system. Within the scope of microphysical phenomena, the initial state of the system is not determinable in this interpretation. If this microphysical system is an electron, it is evident that its initial state cannot be measured by any direct method. This is because it cannot be seen even under the most accurate microscope, as a body which is irradiated but is smaller than the length of a light wave is not visible. The maximal length of a wave of visible light is 4000 Ǻ for the human eye. This length exceeds the size of an electron thousands of times. If only for this reason, we cannot speak of experimental determination of the initial state of a system. Yet, Heisenberg uses different argumentation. Let us assume, he states, that we manage to construct a microscope in which we can use a wave whose length is 100,000 times shorter than the length of the shortest wave of light. With such a microscope, we could determine the position of an electron according to a formula from optics:

Δx = λ / sin ε

where λ is the length of a wave, ε is the opening angle of the rays of light entering the microscope, and Δx is the smallest length visible through a microscope. However, in order to see the position of an electron through this fictional microscope, we must assume that at least one photon entered the microscope and that it collided with an electron. However, this collision causes the Compton effect, which consists in the electron rebounding and the photon, with diminished energy, being repulsed. The uncertainty in determining the constituent speed of an electron is greater, the shorter the waves of radiation are (since the energy of the striking photon is greater then). However, we know that only short wave radiation allows us to determine the position of an electron. Therefore, when we wish to measure the position of an electron precisely, we must resign from an accurate measurement of speed, and conversely: when we wish to diminish the inaccuracy in the measurement of speed, we necessarily increase the inaccuracy of the measurement of the position. This relationship is expressed by Heisenberg in various equations called relationships of inaccuracy or indeterminacy:

Δx. Δpx ≥ h Δy. Δpy ≥ h Δz. Δpz ≥ h


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where Δx, Δy, and Δz denote uncertainties of constituent values of the position, and Δpx, Δpy, and Δpz denote uncertainties of constituent values of speed in the directions of the axes x, y, z. Since h is constant (the socalled Planck’s constant), it is evident that together with diminishing the uncertainty of the constituent values of position, the uncertainty of the constituent values of speed increases, and vice versa. Therefore, one cannot simultaneously determine the position and the speed of an electron. In other words, the initial state of the system is impossible to determine, and thus, the principle of causality with reference to certain phenomena is not fulfilled. So much for physics.63 Aside from the purely theoretical character of Heisenberg’s discussion and the question of whether it is convincing, it is hard to understand how it could have become an argument in the discussion on free will. One might be inclined to assume that some sort of verbal misunderstanding occurred. Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty, also called “the principle of indeterminacy,” could have reminded someone of the word “indeterminism,” and we know that the philosophical dispute over indeterminism is a dispute over free will. Since indeterminacy wins in physics, then perhaps a weapon can be made out of it for metaphysical indeterminism. On the other point, it was ignored that in the dispute over free will, metaphysical indeterminists never fought against the popularity of the principle of causality understood as a principle of the predictability of a future state of a system based on the knowledge of the initial state and the laws governing the system. After all, it is clear that a psycho-physical individual is such a complicated system that we do not know exactly what laws govern this system, and neither can we determine the initial state of this system. Still, just as meteorologists’ numerous and frequent errors do not authorize us to draw the conclusion that a fall of temperature or an increase of air pressure is not conditioned, also errors in predicting the behavior of a human individual do not indicate that this behavior is free in the sense that it is not determined by other psycho-physical phenomena. Besides, the issue of this metaphysical dispute is free will understood as a certain feature of the human psyche, and it seems that in this sphere the concept of an initial state of a system cannot be applied. Heisenberg’s relationships not only do not provide any answer to the question of whether human will is free but also cannot be the point of departure 63 The presentation of the statements in physics in this chapter was taken from Heisenberg’s work Die physikalischen Prinzipien der Quantentheorie (Heisenberg 1930), from Infeld’s book Nowe drogi nauki [New Paths of Science] (Infeld 1933), and from Szczeniawski and Ziemecki’s book Promieniowanie i materia [Radiation and Matter] (Szczeniawski & Ziemecki 1932).

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for any conclusions which could solve this problem. Based on it, we can only claim that if we take into consideration an electron in a human body, its behavior complies with Heisenberg’s relationships. It is worth noting at this point that Heisenberg’s equations in themselves assume the principle of causality in a way, at least in the sense of a heuristic postulate. 64 After all, on what basis could we assume that a collision of a photon with an electron will cause Compton’s effect and a disruption of the observed system if we did not assume the ability to determine future states by initial states? Although Heisenberg’s equations are of great importance to the establishment of the scope of application of the principle of causality in the sense of the principle of predictability to physical phenomena, they do not at all help solve the problem of indeterminism in its metaphysical formulations. Heisenberg’s relationships only indicate that in the description of some intranuclear phenomena a certain notion of a causal relationship is useless, and that a system of equations ascribed to empirical data within the scope of microphysics cannot be satisfactorily interpreted with the use of the notions of position and speed in the sense ascribed to these terms in classical mechanics. However, these terms retain their operational sense in the domain of macrophysics. Even if the issue in the dispute over free will was the properties of physical systems, undoubtedly only macrophysical systems would be taken into consideration, and Heisenberg’s relationships practically do not matter here. Just as it was erroneously assumed in the past that the principle of the conservation of energy is in favor of determinism, it is also wrong to believe that Heisenberg’s relationships make the thesis of metaphysical indeterminism probable.65 The problem of free will remains in close connection with some claims from within the scope of theology. Also for this domain of human thought, irrationalists seek a cognitive basis in contemporary physics. Jeans’ spiritualism already marked the theological tendency to identify with God, the kind of mathematical mind whose manifestation is the natural world.66 Certain attempts to use statements of physics to make way for religious faith are made by Eddington, who writes that:

64 The role of the principle of causality as a heuristic postulate is often stressed by Planck, one of the authors of quantum theory, and also a strong opponent of indeterminism. See e.g. (Planck 1933). 65 The problem of indeterminism in quantum physics is discussed in detail by, i.a., H. Bergmann (1929) and Ph. Frank (1932). 66 See above, p. 94.


Izydora Dąmbska The idea of a universal Mind of Logos would be, I think, a fairly plausible inference from the present state of scientific theory.67

However, the writings of both of these scientists contain traces of some inhibitions and certain expressions which prove that they realize they go far beyond the scope of science in their discussion. We shall not find traces of this caution in the work of the German natural philosopher, Bavink. In his book, Die Naturwissenschaft auf dem Wege zur Religion, he does not hesitate to claim that: Physik treiben heißt im Grunde nichts anderes als: Gott seins elementaren Wirkungsakte nachzählen.68

He based his view on Heisenberg’s principle of indeterminacy. After what has been said about the lack of legitimacy for irrational sentences in science, there is no need to analyze this view any further. Bavink’s book is worth reading by a historian of culture as a classic example of the great difficulty, even after many centuries of development, with which science is freed from irrational factors. These difficulties would diminish greatly if irrationalists understood that seeking the basis for religion or metaphysics in science is an abuse of logic which cannot be good in science, religion or metaphysics. Naturally, the problems discussed above do not exhaust all irrational concepts encountered in contemporary physics. Besides the rich collection of “philosophical” consequences of the theory of relativity, it is worth noting that also quantum theory is a point of departure of other sentences which are fundamentally irresolvable. Nowadays its claims are particularly often applied in order to defend the theological and vitalistic standpoints in natural sciences. However, we shall not discuss this matter in any more detail here, as we are only concerned with demonstrating a few classical examples of irrationalism, and the problem of the relationship of physics and biology. Although it has provided many opportunities for the promotion of irrationalism, it seems to also be available for scientific cognition to a certain degree, and does not necessarily have to lead to imposing irresolvable sentences on science, as they would constitute an alien burden. It would be wrong to assume that natural science would break off from philosophy by freeing itself from irrational factors. Paying attention to the fact that numerous metaphysical concepts, considered by some scientists to be consequences or necessary assumptions of scientific statements, are not connected with these statements by a relationship of inference,

67 68

Cf. (Eddington 1928, p. 338). Cf (Bavink 1933, p. 63).

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does not in any way violate the proper relationship between natural science and philosophy, which consists in the fact that philosophy analyzes and interprets basic assumptions, concepts and methods of natural science. This leads to progress within this science, whereas, philosophy breaks free from arbitrary, logically irrational metaphysical statements, in the scope in which it is scientific, by becoming thoroughly acquainted with the construction of the view of the world. 5. Conclusion 5.1. Summary It was thus found that there is not just one kind of irrationalism but several kinds. There are at least four: logical, epistemological, metaphysical, and psychological. It was also made clear that irrationalism is not authorized in science, but it occurs there in spite of this lack of authorization, even in exact sciences, such as physics. We have also stated where it comes from and why it occurs there. 5.2. Practical Postulates of Rationalism The intention of this dissertation was not to fight irrationalism in general, but rather to determine the boundaries within which it is not authorized. However, if it is correct to say that scientific cognition is ex definitione anti-irrationalist, then the fight with irrationalism, transferred to other areas of life, would be a fight for making these areas more science-oriented. To be more precise, it would be an attempt to fulfill the postulate of replacing irrational claims with rational ones wherever possible. This postulate proves forceless in the cases where the human mind seeks answers to fundamentally irresolvable problems. If it cannot resign from finding the answer to these questions, for reasons of an emotional or practical nature, only logical irrationalism remains. For instance, as long as people’s irresistible urge will be to find an answer to the question of what happens to the soul after death, what the purpose of the world is and to know the historical mission of different races or nations, fundamentally irresolvable, and often also internally contradictory, claims will find their followers and defenders. The anti-irrationalist cognitive attitude is not only expressed in the justified conviction that irrationalism is unauthorized in science, but can also often constitute the basis for the formulation of certain practical postulates, whether extreme or moderate. The extremely rationalist postulate


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reads: problems which cannot be resolved in a rational way must be left without an answer. This postulate does not seem practicable. Even if it was practicable, it is not sufficiently substantiated by the anti-irrationalist standpoint. Its consistent application would deprive many people of important life values. Thus, an extreme postulate should be replaced with a more moderate one. The latter reads: answers to questions which cannot be resolved in a rational way should be considered as a subjective confession of faith, and never as theses of a scientific character which we could demand to be universally recognized. The postulate of rationalism does not have to be connected with any scientific dogmatism in either of the formulations. Even if we accept that radical skepticism is theoretically insurmountable, we can still fight for the primacy of rational cognition if we believe that a person who respects the principle of contradiction and reckons with experience is more humane and less dangerous that a person who is prepared to believe in internally contradictory and fundamentally irresolvable sentences, to be guided in his life by this faith, and to convert others to it. Yet, this faith in the value of rationalism and fighting irrationalism outside the scope of science, and the simultaneous concern not to deprive man of the wealth and charm of experience, which can sometimes be the foundation of irrationalism, are not issues connected to cognition, but instead, they are connected to the difficult art of living, which evades from scientific categories.


Konwencjonalizm a relatywizm (Dąmbska 1938b) Conventionalism is sometimes identified with relativism. Such an identification does not seem correct. What is more, conventionalism may provide certain arguments against relativism. I shall attempt to prove these theses. Moreover, I shall attempt to explain where the above mistaken, as it seems, identification may have come from. In order to proceed to accomplish this goal, we must first determine exactly what relativists claim and what conventionalists claim. The thesis of epistemological relativism, which is our main focus, in its rough and quite vague formulation, is as follows: “Truth is relative,” or “There is no absolute truth.” This may mean “Every truth is relative” or “There are relative truths,” “no truth is absolute,” or “There are truths which are not absolute.” If the word “truth” is replaced with the phrase “a true sentence,” then the thesis of relativism may be formulated as follows: “Every true sentence is relatively true,” or “There are true sentences which are relatively true.” Relativists usually present their thesis in the form of a general sentence, although their arguments tend to aim at substantiating a statement which is quantified existentially. Let us now discuss the relativist thesis in its general formulation. This thesis is often formulated otherwise than we have above, that is, “There are no absolutely true sentences,” or “Every sentence is relatively true.” This formulation is undoubtedly more preferable for relativists, even though it interprets the phrase “Every truth is relative” less precisely. I call this formulation more preferable as the first formulation: “Every true sentence is relatively true,” either is a tautology or contains inner contradiction. After all, what does the phrase “relatively true” mean? It means, “sometimes true, sometimes untrue, depending on the circumstances.” If we insert this interpretation into the In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 109–116. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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first phrase, we obtain an explicit contradiction: “Every true sentence is sometimes true and sometimes untrue, depending on the circumstances.” On the other hand, if the phrase “a true sentence” means “relatively true” here, then we obtain an empty tautology: “Every relatively true sentence is relatively true.” If a true sentence does not mean relatively true, but something different, and thus, probably absolutely true, the mentioned inconsistency occurs. The issue is not rejecting the rule of contradiction, which relativists regard as a consequence of their standpoint, but the fact that relativists contradict themselves when they assume something which they reject in the second part of the sentence. This obstruction does not occur in the second formulation when it is stated: “Every sentence is relatively true, that is, sometimes true and sometimes false, depending on the circumstances.” Admittedly, the logical rule of contradiction is negated when the above sentence is to mean that every sentence is at the same time true and false, or that no sentence is true or false; yet, it does not produce contradiction. Therefore, let us remain with the formulation which is more favorable for relativists. The arguments relativists refer to when proving their standpoint are commonly known, as well as the manner in which Twardowski69 refuted these arguments. Let me just remind here that the central point of his argument is aimed at the idea that a sentence which is rightly considered true by one person may well be rightly considered false by someone else, or even by the same person, depending on the circumstances in which this sentence was formulated. The criticism of this argumentation refers to idea that the sentence is not in fact exactly the same, but rather, there are two different sentences, which are at most uttered in identical words, one of which is true and the other false always and everywhere. The most that can be said is that sometimes it is impossible to determine which of them is true and which is false. The idea that the same sounding expressions do not both have to be true or do not both have to be false, as they can be not the same sentences, that is, they may have different meanings, plays an important role in conventionalism. Conventionalism is an attempt to solve the problem of resolvability of certain scientific theses. According to conventionalists, there are questions within, for instance, the empirical sciences which are seemingly empirical and unambiguous, which however cannot be answered only through experience. They can be addressed only when we assume certain conventions which establish the meaning of words. Thus, the answer to these questions


Cf. (Twardowski 1934).

Conventionalism and Relativism


depends on what conventions are chosen. When we change conventions, the answer to the same sounding questions will differ despite the same data from experience. From the standpoint of radical conventionalism, represented e.g. by K. Ajdukiewicz, there are no theses which can be resolved regardless of the chosen conventions.70 Therefore, when we deem a certain sentence true, we deem it so based on certain conventions which determine the conceptual apparatus of the language which the sentence belongs to. When the conceptual apparatus changes, the same sounding sentence may no longer be accepted as true. Must it not result from this that the same sentence which is rightly deemed true in certain circumstances may be equally rightly deemed false in other circumstances, since we rightly respond to the same question with p one time and with not-p another time? In that case, does conventionalism not argue the relativity of truth? It is not so; this conclusion cannot be reached by anyone who realizes that the sense of the question we are looking to answer depends on the choice of the convention. Although the change of convention does not change the sense of the question (e.g. with equivalent conventions), this change does not affect a change of the answer. Yet, when a change of convention modifies the sense of the question, the two the same sounding answers to the question have different senses. They are no longer the same answers, even though they are formulated with the same words. After all, the question is not the same. Therefore, the thesis of conventionalism is not equivalent to the thesis of relativism. The differences between these two standpoints are considerable and clear: Firstly, relativism is a thesis on the truthfulness of sentences, whereas conventionalism only states the necessary conditions for their resolvability. Secondly, relativism rejects the rule of contradiction, contrary to conventionalism. Thirdly, the relationship to metaphysical issues is different for relativism and conventionalism. In relativism, the conclusion that reality is such and is not such at the same time in a certain aspect, and therefore, it is internally contradictory, is drawn from the fact that reality presents itself differently to different judging subjects, depending on the circumstances. In conventionalism, there is only the claim that there are many pictures of reality, many theories. However, the conclusion that reality is such and is not such at the same time is not drawn here. The question of what reality really is, that is, regardless of the conceptual apparatus with which it is


Cf. (Ajdukiewicz 1934a i 1934b).


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described, must remain irresolvable for conventionalists.71 It even contains a certain contradiction. After all, it inquires: what is the true picture of reality when there is no picture of reality?72 Conventionalism is consistent with positivism in this aspect. Thus, conventionalism is a more tentative standpoint compared to relativism, as it does not draw consequences of a metaphysical nature from its premises. As it was mentioned at the beginning, conventionalism is not only inequivalent to relativism, but it can also help overcome relativism. In order to support this view, let us just remember Kazimierz Twardowski’s remarks on one of the sources of relativism.73 For Twardowski, the sources lie in the fact that relativists do not distinguish an utterance from its meaning, that is, a judgment, and do not realize that the same utterance may express different judgments depending on the circumstances in which the utterance was performed. Conventionalists stress the fact that the meaning of a sentence depends on the chosen convention and that a change of the conceptual apparatus results in a change of the meaning of questions we seek answers to. Thus, the foundations of conventionalism, upon which relativism grew, are removed. Another question is of where the appearance of the identity of relativism and conventionalism comes from. It seems there are two causes: the actual similarity of certain theses of these two standpoints, and certain terminological misconceptions. Let us discuss the first cause. If we do not take relativist theses literally and if we actually investigate their intentions, then a certain clear similarity becomes visible between the conventionalists’ standpoint and the relativists’ standpoint. Both relativism and conventionalism note that. When we consider any statement from the point of view of its cognitive value, it must be relativized to certain factors which give meaning to this statement. According to conventionalists, certain conventions give sense to a statement, and according to relativists, it is a situation, in the broadest sense of the word, in which the statement was formulated. This apt observation led relativists to unsubstantiated epistemological and metaphysical conclusions, which conventionalists do not make. Protagoras’ thesis which states that man is the measure of all things may be interpreted either in the spirit of relativism (which Protagoras himself as well as other sophists did) or in the spirit of conventionalism. In the first case, man is the measure Cf. (Ajdukiewicz 1934b, p. 278 ff.). The contradiction in this sort of questions is commented upon in a different matter by W. Witwicki in his work entitled Rozmowa o jedności prawdy i dobra [Conversation on the Unity of Truth and Good] (Witwicki 1936, p. 21). 73 Cf. (Twardowski 1934, p. 9 ff.). 71 72

Conventionalism and Relativism


of all things in that the truth or falsity of the same statement depends on which psychological subject utters the statement. In the second case, Protagoras’ thesis is interpreted as follows: whether a statement can rightly be deemed true or false depends on the sense a cognitive subject ascribes to it by assuming given conventions. Yet, is man the measure of all things in that the choice of these conventions is quite arbitrary and only dependent on individual preferences? Or does the choice necessarily depend on objective reasons? It appears that the answer to this question from the point of view of radical conventionalism is problematic and that it cannot be formulated without regressus in infinitum. After all, every question, including the above, can only be answered based on certain conventions, to which we may apply the question of the criteria of their choice. Still, this remark may not be justifiable. Radical conventionalism is a theory of language rather than a theory of metalanguage. Whenever we formulate a question concerning the selection rules for conventions, we ascend one level and ask a question concerning metalanguage. Admittedly, this question must also be formulated using language, and thus, based on a certain conceptual apparatus, but it is not a conceptual apparatus of the same logical order as the one which we used to talk about the world, and the criterion of the resolvability of statements assumes a different sense here. This issue, interesting in itself, strays from the issue at hand, that is, the question of where the appearance of identity or equivalence of conventionalism and relativism comes from. We have noted one real similarity of these two standpoints which may be significant. Yet, there is another, and equally significant, as it seems. Both conventionalism in one of its forms and relativism develops on the grounds of contesting the value of experience as the criterion of truth and simultaneously professing empiricism, that is, the view that we owe all objective synthetic judgments about reality to experience. (Naturally, I do not mean all conventionalists, as there are also some who do not assume thusly interpreted empiricism; on the other hand, there are some who do, and who this brought to conventionalism.) Except the proponents of relativism assumed that experience is the only criterion of truth and having stated that it is changeable and subjective, they concluded that reality is also as the senses present it, that is, internally contradictory, and any truth of it is relative, whereas the proponents of conventionalism deemed experience an insufficient criterion of truth, and thus, an insufficient criterion of the resolvability of statements. Having reached this conclusion, they demonstrated what is needed, apart from the data coming from experience, for an empirical sentence to be resolvable, and pointed out the inescapable necessity to relativize statements to certain conventions.


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Apart from this actual similarity which may have been the reason for identifying relativism with conventionalism, there seems to be another cause. It is the ambiguity of the word “relativism” and a misunderstanding about the meaning of the word “conventionalism.” The word “relativism” is not only used to signify the idea of the relativity of all cognition. It may also sometimes signify a certain view of the character of the cognition of empirical subjects, a view represented by some old and new positivists. 74 Einstein’s theory of relativity refers to this view. Since the conventionalist character of physics is evident in this theory, it is easy to confuse conventionalism with relativism in the second meaning if the subject is treated superficially. This is only a step away from further confusion of concepts if we do not clearly distinguish relativism in the first meaning from relativism in the second. What is the second meaning of the word “relativism”? It answers the question concerning the subject of empirical cognition. Firstly, according to the mentioned idea, what we learn in an objective manner in the empirical world are exclusively the relationships and formal structures of objects, rather than their sensory qualities. Sensory qualities escape objective cognition and are only available through subjective experience, which cannot be controlled or communicated. Secondly, when we learn about these structures and ascribe certain objective values to empirical objects, we always do it in view of a certain frame of reference. This frame of reference may be, e.g., the observer (this statement cannot be confused with the thesis of relativistic subjectivism, which refers to those individual differences in experiencing sensory values). In Einstein’s critique of classic mechanics and in the basis of his theory of relativity the idea that measurable qualities cannot be considered separately from the frame of reference obviously plays a decisive role. This view is consistent with the theses of conventionalism. What results from it is that certain problems in mechanics may only be resolved based on a certain system of measurement conventions. Without drawing a clear distinction between epistemological assumptions of the theory of relativity from Protagoras’ relativism one may easily end up identifying relativism and conventionalism. Another way to confuse these notions is to misunderstand the word “conventionalism.” Some believe that conventionalism contains a principle of equality of all standpoints. Everything is conventional, and in

74 The second meaning is noted i.a. by K. Twardowski, who speaks of confusing the notion of relativity introduced by Spencer with the proper relativism (Twardowski, 1934, p. 39 ff.), as well as Z. Zawirski in his work Relatywizm filozoficzny a fizykalna teoria względności [Philosophical Relativism and the Physical Theory of Relativity] (Zawirski 1921).

Conventionalism and Relativism


consequence, unrestricted. One may act so and so or differently, but always as he wishes. Why is this allowed? Probably because there is no absolute truth. I believe such an interpretation of conventionalism to be inadequate. Firstly, this is because conventionalism is not a doctrine stating what is allowed and what is not allowed, but is a theory describing what is. As far as, e.g., Poincaré’s, Duhem’s or Dingler’s conventionalism is concerned, it spawned from the analysis of scientific cognition and from stating certain facts within the practice of natural sciences. For instance, it is a fact that in physics, the sense of many questions and answers depends on the measurement conventions used by the physicist. Furthermore, it is also a fact that the character of a physical theorem which is an empirical generalization is different from the character of an identically sounding implicit definition. Poincaré’s moderate conventionalism consisted in bringing to light those a priori elements of the theory which, together with the experiential data, enables the formulation of resolvable problems. Radical conventionalism is a generalization of this standpoint. Neither moderate nor radical conventionalism claim that what is claimed does not matter and that all standpoints are equal in science. Neither the idea of equality nor the idea of the inequality of various standpoints in the description of reality results from assumptions of conventionalism. It only results from these assumptions that not merely experience determines the choice of a given standpoint. After all, depending on the choice of convention, the same experiential data may be adjusted to various views of the world. The problem of what determines the choice of convention, or another, normative problem of what should determine the choice of convention, are epistemologically very significant problems, but they remain practically independent from the thesis of conventionalism. Answers to these questions vary. This is why conventionalism may operate within many epistemological doctrines, from skepticism to criticism, and from pragmatism to neo-positivism. Skeptics deem all possible pictures of the world as equally unjustified and will not choose any of them, whereas a proponent of criticism will say that a priori forms of the human mind decide about the choice of conventions and that they make this choice unambiguous and necessary. A pragmatist will point out that the way in which words are used and their sense are determined by practical usability. Therefore, they also determine the choice of convention. A neo-positivist will find his criterion of choice in the consistency of the vision of the world with the data of a certain intersubjective experience common to everyone, and he will prescribe the choice of convention from this perspective. There will be other criteria: simplicity and the scope of applicability of the conventions is a recurring and noteworthy issue in this case, especially when we consider the fact that those who assume


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simplicity as a criterion often refer to the idea that the simpler a theory is, the less room there is for unrestricted working and auxiliary hypotheses. These are the various additional criteria which must be taken into consideration beside the formal criteria of non-contradiction and resolvability if one does not believe in the equality of all pictures of the world, or even if one does believe in such equality, but he would like to explain the fact that science makes a clear distinction between them, whether rightly or wrongly. When we transfer the standpoint of conventionalism onto metatheoretical issues, we may state that the thesis “A certain picture of the world is justified” is irresolvable as long as it is not relativized to a specific epistemological system.75 An interesting phenomenon emerges here. If we disregard skeptics’ views on the one hand and dogmatists’ views on the other, we notice that although different epistemological currents formulate the criteria for the choice of conventions, and thus of the pictures of reality, differently, they are usually consistent with each other as far as the scope of the chosen kinds of theses. This observation supports the idea that Pilate’s τι εστιν αληθεια may not be a rhetorical question. Still, more detailed discussion of this view departs from the subject at hand. After all, the idea is merely to discuss the relationship of epistemological relativism and conventionalism. Therefore I believe it has occurred that (1) these standpoints are different and not equivalent, (2) with one of its assumptions (about the dependence of the sense of theorems on the conventions), conventionalism may contribute to eliminating misunderstandings which relativism is based on, and (3) the reasons why relativism and conventionalism are treated as equivalent may lie both in certain actual similarities between them and in verbal misunderstandings connected with the meaning of the terms “relativism” and “conventionalism.”


Cf. (Ajdukiewicz 1934b, p. 282).

Izydora Dąmbska 8. SKEPTICISM AND AGNOSTICISM IN CONTEMPORARY EPISTEMOLOGY Sceptycyzm i agnostycyzm we współczesnej epistemologii (Dąmbska 1949b) Theses: (1) Skepticism and agnosticism are not out-of-date philosophical standpoints of exclusively historical value. This is expressed both in the fact that overcoming skepticism in contemporary philosophy is often merely apparent and in the fact that some important epistemological trends and standpoints in the theory of science are certain forms of skepticism, or agnosticism. (2) The difference between skepticism and agnosticism in their ancient and contemporary iterations is primarily of an axiological and practical, rather than a theoretical, nature. A nalysis of concepts: Skepticism is either theoretical or normative. Theoretical skepticism is a kind of epistemological standpoint aiming at proving the fallacy of the criteria of truth within the scope of transcendental reality. Normative skepticism is of an axiological character and is expressed in directives of doubt, in a norm which prescribes refraining from issuing judgments in the case of the lack of satisfactory criteria for resolving it. Agnosticism is often confused with skepticism as a result of certain similarities between these standpoints. Both agnosticism and skepticism question the legitimacy of the criteria of truth, but only agnosticism professes fundamental inscrutability of being while skepticism settles for demonstrating actual inadequacy of the methods of cognition. Agnosticism deems its epistemological thesis certain whereas in skepticism, it is equally questionable as factual theses. Theoretical skepticism does not have to be paired with normative skepticism. The latter is based on more than just epistemological theses, as it also assumes certain evaluations, or a certain In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 117–118. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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axiological standpoint. The struggle against skepticism in philosophy has been mostly a struggle against its normative standpoint, wherein it was often erroneously believed that skepticism in general is overcome through opposing skeptical axiology and other evaluations and norms. Theoretical skepticism and agnosticism assume a classical notion of truth (sentence ‘p’ is true when p), insist on cognition to be expressible and objective, and deem the object of cognition to be a transcendent being, different from the content of our consciousness. Based on these assumptions, a network of arguments was compiled which demonstrate the incapacity of our cognitive criteria. Examples to support the theses: An analysis of the principal epistemological doctrines of contemporary philosophy, indicates that they usually reject normative skepticism, although they do not refute the criticism of cognition conducted by theoretical skepticism, and on the contrary, they undertake and explore it (the critique of experience, induction, causality, deduction, axioms, etc.). Any attempts to overcome skepticism are essentially reduced to either a change in the notion of truth which skepticism has used (e.g. pragmatism), or a change in the notion of cognition (e.g. Bergsonism), or a change in the notion of the object of cognition (e.g. Mach’s positivism). The controversy over the foundations of mathematics, based on Brouwer, Weyl and Heyting’s intuitionism, Hilbert’s formalism, and Frege and Russell’s logicism, as well as the controversy over the foundations of natural science (the notion of measurement observation, hypotheses, and conventions), evidently reveal a skeptical character of contemporary inquiry in the domain of science on science, and a closer analysis of two important contemporary epistemological trends, pragmatism and positivism, lets us interpret the first as a modern form of theoretical skepticism, and the second as a form of partial agnosticism. The fact that this theoretical skepticism and agnosticism in modern epistemology did not become the basis for the directive of refraining from judgment, but is instead connected with the directive of resolving and choice, is a consequence of the difference between ancient skeptics and contemporary philosophy when it comes to an axiological standpoint.


O rodzajach sceptycyzmu (Dąmbska 1948d) The problem of skepticism in philosophy is interesting from at least two points of view: (a) from the epistemological point of view, and (b) from the historical point of view. From the epistemological point of view, certain arguments of skepticism which undermine the confidence put in commonly used criteria of truth are still valid. The key assumptions of skepticism are found, in one form or another, in many contemporary trends of the theory of cognition: in Russell’s philosophy, in neo-positivism, in pragmatism, in certain formulations of conventionalism, etc. Yet, in order to acurately understand this trend in skepticism, we must be aware of the essence of this current and its various kinds. The very name “skepticism” is old and has many meanings. Some of them must be excluded in order for us to stay with what may be called philosophical skepticism. Therefore, we must discard the meaning where the word “skepticism” means simply the same as “a lack of faith,” and “a skeptic” means “a disbeliever.” In common understanding, “to doubt” often means the same as “to presume that it is not the case that” (for instance, “I doubt that John will win this time” means “I presume John will not win this time”), to favor a negative answer to the question asked, or even assume such a negation.1 Moreover, “skepticism” in colloquial speech often denotes hesitation, lack of resolution or decisiveness in action (hamletism). Furthermore, as a notion which must be taken into consideration in the context of skepticism in philosophy, skepticism is the same as a propensity to


Cf. (Auerbach 1931).

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 119–124. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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unnecessary deliberation, refraining from judgment, a characteristic indecisiveness,2 or an attitude of constant searching (“σκεπτομαι” in Greek means “I seek,” “I deliberate”), determined by the feeling of a lack of sufficient, reasonable motivation which might induce the seeker to legitimately reject or accept a given judgment. This is psychological skepticism, also called practical, which may but does not have to be the basis of formulating or accepting philosophical skepticism. In turn, the latter is either theoretical or normative. Theoretical skepticism is a certain claim in epistemology which aims at demonstrating the invalidity of cognitive criteria of truth in the area of judgments on transcendent reality. Skepticism in this interpretation may be total or partial.3 Total skepticism demonstrates the invalidity of accepting, or rejecting, any judgments on the transcendent reality formed on the basis of common cognitive criteria, whereas partial skepticism does the same for judgments of a certain type in this reality or judgments on certain areas of this reality. Let us call the first of these kinds of partial skepticism logical and the other, ontological. These two kinds of partial skepticism remain in close correlation. For instance, this happens when someone criticizes skeptically synthetic a priori judgments (partial logical skepticism), and considers judgmemts concerning objects of metaphysics, which are synthetic a priori judgmemts, unquestionable. Another example: someone is a skeptic in reference to empirical judgments, and this is why he considers the cognition of nature to be questionable. Yet, sometimes these two kinds of skepticism diverge. One may be a partial ontological skeptic without being a logical skeptic (e.g. religious skepticism of 18th century), or be a logical skeptic and an ontological dogmatist at the same time (e.g. logical skepticism and ontological dogmatism of Philo Judaeus). Depending on the field with respect to which the legitimacy of the criteria of truth are challenged, we may speak of different kinds of partial ontological skepticism; for instance, of religious, metaphysical, ethical, scientific skepticism, etc. Partial skepticism discussed on this level does not preclude dogmatism. For instance, skepticism in reference to science is often connected with religious dogmatism (e.g. Agrippa v. Nettesheim’s, or Charron’s, skepticism), and religious skepticism is tied with scientific dogmatism (e.g. the skepticism of the Enlightenment).

2 This attitude of equal doubt towards two contradictory opinions is etymologically stressed in certain languages by the verbs used to signify this state; for instance, “dubitare” in Latin, “douter” in French, “zweifeln” in German, and “doubt” in English. This is noted by R. Richter in his introduction to Der Skeptizismus in der Philosophie (Richter 1904–1908). 3 Total and partial skepticism is also distinguished by R. Richter (1904–1908. Vol. I, “Einleitung”).

On the Kinds of Skepticism


Thus, the division of philosophers into dogmatists, agnostics and skeptics4 conducted by Sextus Empiricus is accurate only provided that total skepticism is meant. Theoretical skepticism may lead to normative skepticism, which is expressed in the directives of doubting, in the rule of refraining from issuing judgments without a satisfactory criterion of resolving them. Normative skepticism may be either extreme (radical), if it is expressed in the directive of refraining from any resolutions whatsoever (the ancient rule of epoch), or moderate, that is, probabilistic. Radical skepticism makes us relinquish choice, both in the case of a thesis and its negation, whereas moderate skepticism allows for “leaning towards something,” a conditional choice. Naturally, normative skepticism may also be total or partial. The distinctions presented above may assume the following form of a partitioning scheme: Skepticism ↙




Theoretical Total

↙ ↘


Normative ↙ ↘

Extreme (radical)



↙ ↘

Logical Ontological Normative skepticism seems to be a natural application of theoretical skepticism and indeed, it is often combined with it. Then we may only speak of consistent or uncompromising philosophical skepticism. Yet, these two kinds of skepticism do not always occur together. This refers to both total and partial forms. It is sometimes the case that someone deems skeptical arguments about the lack of legitimacy of criteria of truth valid, yet he finds some other extra-logical criteria of choice (utility, aesthetic pleasure, etc.) and does not recommend applying εποχη. Certain epistemological trends assume this form; often ones considered, albeit wrongly, to be logical overcoming of skepticism (e.g. pragmatism). Speaking of inconsistent or disguised skepticism in reference to these trends there is a question of a


Cf. Sextus Empiricus, Πυρρωνειοι υποτυπωσεις I. 1.


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terminological nature. In any case, the connection between these standpoints and theoretical skepticism is worth noting. Psychological and philosophical skepticism should be distinguished from the so-called methodical skepticism, which is not in fact a kind of skepticism. It consists in pretend doubting, in εποχη used consciously and temporarily in order to ascertain the truth or falsity of a given claim, without doubting that this claim is resolvable. Many historical forms of skepticism fall within the above classification. For instance, pyrrhonian skepticism is theoretical and normative, total and radical, academic skepticism is total and moderate, Montaigne’s skepticism is partial and moderate, and Pascal’s or Huet’s skepticism is partial and radical, etc. Only some ancient philosophers were “perfect” skeptics, such as Pyrrho of Elis (4th/3rd c. BC), Aenesidemus (1st/2nd c. AD), or Sextus Empiricus (2nd/3rd c. AD). They were skeptics both in philosophical and in psychological sense, and they drew a radical directive of doubting from their theoretical investigations. Their theoretical skepticism has not been satisfactorily disproven yet. One may even risk a statement that, as far as scientific cognition is concerned, it has prevailed in many aspects. Let us recall the basic framework of this position. Theoretical skepticism uses the so-called classical (Aristotelean) notion of truth, which is generally formulated as follows nowadays: Sentence ‘p’ is true when and only when p.5 According to skeptics, we have not discovered the criterion which would allow us to determine whether p or not p if ‘p’ is a sentence about a transcendent object. Only the content of one’s own consciousness are unquestionable. Why is every sentence about transcendent reality questionable? This is the skeptics’ most common line of argument: (1)


Our judgments on transcendent objects are based (in the sense of justification) on either external perception or reasoning. The perception is (a) subjective, connected with the psycho-physical organization of the cognizing subject, and thus varied and inconsistent for representatives of different species, for representatives of the same species (e.g. human beings), or for the same individual in different points in time; (b) is not only relativized in terms of the subject (see (a)), but also in terms of the external conditions of perception (e.g. position, distance, etc.). There is no satisfactory criterion for distinguishing fallacious observations from accurate ones, therefore judgments based on perception lack justification. It is no better with reasoning as the basis for judgments. Inductive reasoning (proper induction) is not an

See, e.g., (Tarski 1935).

(2) (3)

(4) (5)

On the Kinds of Skepticism


authorization to judge firmly on a whole class of objects when only some of its elements have been examined. Deductive reasoning either contains petitio principii, or it assumes regressus in infinitum, or finally, it is based on unrestricted assumptions (the problem of axioms). There is no way to clearly distinguish dream from reality. After all, dreams are often also entitled to a subjective mark of obviousness. We must use a conceptual apparatus in cognition. These notions are either defined or assumed as primary. One does not know what undefined notions refer to. Yet, even the defined ones do not have any cognitive value, as they must be ultimately based on primary, arbitrarily assumed notions. There is no aid in determining whether or not any transcendent objects correspond to them. Moreover, basic notions in science, e.g. the notion of substance, causality, time, etc., lead to logical problems and contradictories. The presumed consensus omnium, often cited as a criterion of truth, does not exist, and even if it did, it would not be eligible as a criterion of truth because of the possibility of common mistake. In order to be able to rule that p, or that not p, one must formulate the criterion of truth. In turn, if it is to be accepted, one must decide if it is true. At this point we encounter a vicious circle, or regressus in infinitum.

The manner in which skepticism was opposed rarely reckoned with skeptical argumentation. With the exception of the objection of the alleged antinomity of this view, skepticism was opposed mainly from the axiological point of view, by accusing it of causing public harm or even of immorality. Skeptics were able to defend the value of their discipline with equal zeal as their path leading to happiness and excellence. As a result of the opposition, normative skepticism was rejected as radical and total, which, as with every directive of conduct, was based on certain axiological evaluations rather than a description of reality. An ancient skeptic, for whom truth in the objective sense (‘p’ is true when p) was the chief and autonomous value, sensed that without knowing its criteria he could not assume that p or that not p. A modern man, for whom the sense of validity and success in action based on this sense are the chief values, accepted the questionable character of the rational criteria of objective truth, yet still felt authorized, or even forced, to accept or reject judgments, and sought justification for his directive of choice in a positive assessment of certain criteria which assume either a changed notion of truth or a changed notion of cognition. The first path was chosen by minimalist trends in the philosophy of science. Having generally accepted theoretical skepticism, they replace the socalled classic notion of truth with others. The second path is usually chosen


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by some maximalist trends6: metaphysical and religious systems. While retaining the objectivist notion of truth, they reject the skeptics’ view of the essence of knowledge. They contrast the forms of cognition challenged by skeptics (experience, reasoning) with other, in their opinion unfailing ways to obtain objective certainty (intuition, epiphany, etc.). Therefore, theoretical skepticism even the total kind, may go hand in hand with normative cognitive dogmatism.7 In the work entitled Die vier Phasen der Philosophie und ihr augenblicklicher Zustand (Brentano 1895), Brentano elaborates on the idea according to which skepticism is one of four phases which periodically recur in the history of philosophical thought. It occurs as the third phase after the first, of creative impetus and purely theoretical interests expressed through the formation of original philosophical systems, and the second, of exhaustion, focus on practical applications of philosophy, the creation of philosophical schools, eclecticism and popularization, and is an expression of doubt, criticism and lack of trust in the value of the achievements of the human mind. Irrationalism (the fourth phase) is a reaction to skepticism, and it constitutes a refuge for the human mind, thirsty for certainty, from the form of rational cognition devalued by skepticism towards the sphere of mysticism and dogmatism. Brentano’s historical concept contains an apt observation, that is, irrationalism is one of the forms of overcoming skepticism; yet, his theory of phases seems wrong. Historically speaking, skepticism occurs in parallel to the great philosophical systems or follows them closely, rather than after the period of schools. For instance, Pyrrhonian skepticism occurs less than 20 years after Aristotle’s death, and French skepticism of 16th and 17th century occurs during the most intensive creative period of modern science. It seems that the element of criticism and doubt is indispensable to scientific output and a necessary condition for its development. It even seems that one might venture the following claim when searching for a certain regularity: skepticism dominates in peak phases and at the close of the spiritual development of a given époque. The phases of decline of great spiritual cultures and the birth of new ones are characterized by increased dogmatism. One other thing: psychological and philosophical skepticism is adopted and thrives mostly in the environment inclined towards intellectualism, rationalism and pure theorizing. This is why it was so widely popular in Greece in antiquity and in France in the modern times.

6 Minimalist and maximalist trends are distinguished by professor Tatarkiewicz in his Historia filozofii [History of Philosophy] (Tatarkiewicz 1950, p. 6). 7 I speak of dogmatism in the spirit of Sextus Empiricus rather than a lack of criticism.


Sceptycyzm filozoficzny a metoda naukowa (Dąmbska 1957c) If philosophy of science is to be understood as a certain specified set of metascientific disciplines, then the theory of scientific cognition, its criteria and limits must be included as well. An analysis of the relationship between the epistemology of knowledge and science leads to the thesis that it is not only science, as the subject of epistemology, that determines the scope and content of its cognition, but also conversely, the theory of scientific cognition influences the development of the particular sciences. This does not mean that epistemological judgments could be the premises of judgments of science, which they cannot be, if only because they belong to a different logical order. What it in fact means is that the content of epistemological judgments constitutes the basis for formulating directives stating which procedures in science are productive and which ones are erroneous and unreliable. The choice of these directives depends to a large extent on the philosophical assumptions which constitute the basis for the analysis of scientific cognition. One of the forms of the theory of scientific cognition is philosophical scientist skepticism. I understand it as theoretical skepticism, limited to scientific cognition or certain forms thereof, that is, as an outlook which denies certainty and definitive resolvability to scientific judgments on transcendent reality in view of the fundamental impossibility to formulate a properly justified criterion of truth interpreted as the compatibility of the judgment and reality. Philosophical scientist skepticism (whose modern varieties are certain forms of positivism, conventionalism, and structuralism) is of utmost importance to the development of scientific research. As it stresses the lack of certainty of judgments concerning transcendent reality, it also raises the In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 125–128. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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requirements set to the methods of justification of scientific judgments and it induces productive analysis of basic assumptions in science and of scientific concepts. For instance, in a priori sciences, the skeptical analysis of the concept of axioms which, according to skeptics, either assume regressus in infinitum in argumentation, or are arbitrarily accepted, which often leads to a conventional concept of them as implicit definitions, provides the basis for the directive validating the formation of various systems of mathematical logic as well as non-Euclidean geometry, urging us to search for immanent criteria of their scientific value. A skeptical analysis of the basis for the natural sciences, which implies fundamentally irresolvable, or at least empirically unverifiable metaphysical theses in the assumptions of these sciences, and preconceived metaphysical categories in their concepts (such as absolute time, causality, etc.), contributed to freeing science from certain hypotheses and apparent problems associated with them. A skeptical analysis of the notions of experiment, measurement, and an observer, which discloses the influence of these factors on the observed system, facilitated the specification of the assumptions of the theory of relativity and of quantum theory. The skeptical principle of isostenia founds its expression in quantum physics, which makes equal use of the wave and corpuscular theories of light and matter. In the field of the humanities, scientific skepticism, which concerns the cognitive value of judgments on the past, contributed to the perception of the hypothetical-constructivist nature of our knowledge of the past on the one hand and the development of the methods of establishing the credibility of sources on the other. In turn, noting the function of judgments on value in the humanities and skeptical discussion on the inability to formulate objective criteria for this kind of judgments made researchers of humanist reality aware of factors of a subjective and emotional nature inherent in the choice of facts, and even more so in discovering their historical sense. However, the value of scientist skepticism for science does not only involve the influence exerted by its criticism on developing methods of research and conceptual apparatus of sciences. By threatening to undermine the human need for certainty, scientist skepticism stimulates productive discussion in those who wish to overcome it, and thus, it sometimes becomes the point of departure for new theories. Therefore, it encourages those who profess it, but also those who oppose it, to assume a skeptical attitude in practice. As Sextus Empiricus notes, η σκεπτικη τοινυν αγωγη καλειται μεν και ζητητιχη απο ενεργειoς της κατα το ζητειν και σκεπτεσθαι. This is why axiological and dogmatic depreciation of scientist skepticism is not only a theoretically unsubstantiated standpoint, but also a harmful one for scientific research, as it deprives the research of an important development factor.



O pewnych sposobach uzasadniania zdań o zdarzeniach przyszłych (Dąmbska 1963d) Our cognitive relationship to the future varies. One may refrain from issuing judgments and expressing opinions on the subject of the future, or one may formulate certain statements about it. In the second case, one may guess or predict the future. When guessing the future, we formulate sentences about the future without the ability to substantiate them, as if we played heads or tails; when predicting the future, we justify the sentences somehow. Further on, I would like to discuss the second case and seek the answer to the question of what is involved in certain methods of justifying sentences about the future. First of all, we must decide: (1) what sentences are to be considered when speaking of sentences about the future, as the type of sentences determines the manner in which they are justified; (2) what is understood by justifying when speaking of sentences about the future. A characteristic feature of sentences about the future is that they are substitutions of logical functions, where one of the logical constants is a modal functor of the future tense, and one of the variables may be substituted with more or less specified determiners of time. Thus I wish to exclude general empirical sentences from the sphere of sentences about the future, as they concern a whole class of phenomena of a certain type occurring in time, and therefore, they also concern those events which will occur in the future if they belong to this type. By using the term “a sentence about the future,” I do not wish to provoke a lengthy discussion whether in the case of the so-called prognoses they can be interpreted on the basis of bivalent logic without any change to its semantic structure. I assume that a In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 129–136. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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certain logical value is inherent to them, a value which, as we shall see, is relative, which in turn determines the degree of our certainty that what the sentence states will come true. Then what would it mean to justify this sort of a sentence about the future if to justify sentence ‘p’ is to demonstrate that it fulfils necessary conditions to assume that p? Yet, to assume that p is not the same as to claim that sentence ‘p’ is true. It is only sometimes the case that “assume that p” is equivalent to “know that p,” and therefore, to be able to simultaneously assert that sentence ‘p’ is true. Sometimes “assume that p” is equivalent to “expect that p.” If this assumption or expectation is justified, then it is possible to claim of sentence ‘p’ that either it is probable, as is in the case of various types of empirical sentences justified in an illusive manner, or, as in the case of prognoses, it is not sentence ‘p’ that is probable, but sentence ‘p′’ which is semantically consistent with sentence ‘p,’ but does not have a temporal future functor. Thus, for instance, when we decide on the basis of meteorological measurements and calculations that it is going to rain tomorrow, we are not entitled to claim that the sentence “it is going to rain tomorrow” is true, but only that if such and such conditions are fulfilled in time t, then in time t′, longer than time t by n instants, it rains with the probability of P, and that such and such conditions are fulfilled. A justified sentence stating that “in time t′, longer than t by n instants, it rains with the probability of P” is the sentence ‘p′,’ and the modal value of the prognosis ‘p’ depends on the degree of its probability. So far, I have only discussed a certain kind of sentences about the future. After all, one may point out that there are sentences about the future which undoubtedly possess the value of 1 or 0; for instance, the sentence “In 1988 p will result from p,” or “In 1986 2 will be greater than 1.” I must admit that these sentences seem to me syntactically unconsistent. The future functor “will” requires as its arguments, expressions which indicate events, and therefore, temporal objects. When someone contemplates how much 1522 times 872 will amount to, “will” is obviously not a temporal functor. Therefore, in the above cited examples either the connective “will” is not a future functor, or its arguments carry a meaning other than the one commonly used in English. For instance, the issue may be whether those who speak English in the future will connect the same meanings to “2,” “1,” and “more,” or whether people will accept the rule of identity in the future, in which case the sentence does not differ from the prognoses discussed before. This does not mean that we may not formulate any true a priori sentences about the future. Substitutions of the laws of logic are such sentences, for instance, “The world will exist or will not exist in a hundred years,” etc. Still, such sentences of an analytical nature are not taken into consideration in our further discussion.

On Some Methods of Justifying Sentences about Future Events


Following these introductory remarks, let us discuss the ways to justify sentences about the future which are not substitutions of the laws of logic. What lets us expect or predict that in time t phenomenon Z will occur? Someone might expect that he will die in five years, because a fortune teller, who is always accurate, told him so. Someone else may expect that a war will break out soon, because he had a prophetic dream or a premonition. Someone else still expects to travel soon, because he really wants to and believes he will find a way to. Someone may worry that foreign exchange rates will fall because there is so much talk of it recently. Somehow it is easier to say “expects,” or “worries,” than “predicts,” or “supposes,” and it makes little sense to speak of a justification of these sentences, although we are able to point to the basis of the conviction that the event Z will take place in time t. The basis may be direct: “to see,” “to sense,” or indirect: information which seems credible to someone. Can a basis like this not be taken into consideration when justifying sentences about the future, or is it that the examples are so poorly matched that we do not believe that there occurs a direct justification or a justification through inference, even if the expected events actually occurred? If the Minister of the Treasury informed X of an impending depreciation, could X’s judgment be deemed justified or only better justified? If a renowned clairvoyant predicted the time of his own death, would we be able to say that his judgment was justified directly? I would like to eliminate such cases from our further discussion. Admittedly, in practice many judgments are accepted on the basis of information provided by someone else, still I would not therefore be necessarily inclined to call them justified, as I do not wish to confuse the support of someone’s conviction with the justification of a sentence. When someone realizes that sentence p is justified, this conscious act supports his conviction, just as in other cases, trust in someone’s information provides the necessary support. In other words, these psychological motives are not part of the conditions constituting the justification for a sentence. Then what happens in the case of the so-called direct justification through experience or intuition, which the so-called first premises, elementary empirical sentences or axioms, are based on? In the case of sentences about the future, a certain type of them, namely sentences concerning one’s own future unrestricted action, seems to draw a justification directly from the act of will, from the conviction of the one who formulates these sentences. The conviction that one shall do so and so is based on a resolution. In what sense can we state that a sentence which speaks of this future action is justified? The issue of the direct justification of sentences about future events in cases other than when these events are one’s own intentional acts encounters a major problem in the form of a question: How can something which does not exist yet be given


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directly, and thus, in which experience? Only on the basis of the subjectivist conception of time and the concept of non-temporal duration, which we formulate in subjective temporal categories of the past, the present and the future, can we conceivably speak of experiencing the future and a kind of direct justification of judgments on “future” events. Still, I cannot conceive of any arguments in favor of assuming the paradoxical thesis that everything which is possible is necessary, and therefore everything exists and nothing in fact comes into being. Besides, regardless of the difficulties connected with the problem of the existence of future events, it seems to me that speaking of justification in the case of so-called direct justification blurs the fundamental distinction between two fields: epistemology and logic. The logical problem of validation in the sense of demonstrating the validity, or another logical value, of a sentence, which may be considered in isolation from the experiences which conditions the conviction of the cognizing subject, should be clearly distinguished from the epistemological problem of the basis for selecting the so-called initial premises. This is why, when speaking of justification, I mean justifying sentences about the future on the basis of other sentences, and thus, something which is often called an indirect justification. This will also allow us to exclude from our discussion cases of guessing the future, but also foretelling the future or learning about it from someone, and instead, to only deal with cases of predicting the future. To predict the future is to formulate sentences about the future and justify them on the basis of other sentences. As I noted before, the manner of justification is conditioned by the character of sentences about the future. These may be individual or general sentences, sentences with a determined or an unspecified period in the future, or sentences concerning events which occurred in specific conditions and events which we ourselves are authors of. The sentence “Event Z will occur in time t” may be deemed dependably justified if the sentence “Z occurred in time t” is true. However, if Z already occurred in time t, then it is false to state that Z will occur at time t, as time t is not in the scale of the future any more but rather of the past. This paradox can be removed when we realize that the sentence “Event Z will occur in time t” makes sense only as long as t is in the future, that is, such a sentence must be treated as a indexical expression, whose content includes the situational context in which it is formulated. Therefore, we may speak of its ex post justification, that is, when it is true that event Z occurred in time t, but only when this sentence about the future is discussed in the same situational context in which it was formulated. If such a justification of sentences about the future is not generally taken into consideration, it is probably because whatever suggests that event Z will take

On Some Methods of Justifying Sentences about Future Events


place ceases to be interesting when one may issue a judgment that event Z has already taken place. One may justify prognoses in a fallible manner based on analogy, based on statistical generalizations, based on proper induction, or based on various kinds of causal inferences. I shall discuss only one of these methods in the present paper, namely, justifying sentences about the future based on analogy. Analogy is interpreted here as structural similarity of certain sets or systems, that is, a similarity of relationships between elements of these sets or parts of these systems and the properties conditioned by these relationships. These sets or systems will be called terms of analogy, and their elements will be called arguments of analogy. The term of an analogy which constitutes a starting point for certain cognitive operations will be called the piloting term, and the other term will be called the piloted term of an analogy. Reasoning based on analogy is of two kinds. One consists in a directive of alternation of arguments in the terms of analogies. According to this directive, I have the right to infer from the sentence A : B : C :: D that B : A :: D : C. This type of inference is of a deductive character and is infallible. The second type of inference through analogy is the one in which stating the structural similarity of two sets is one of the premises, whereas other premises are functions of arguments, which are terms or arguments of terms of analogy. This type of reasoning, which can be presented in the following form: A/B:C/D × F(A/B) → F(C/D), is fallible reasoning and is the one often taken into consideration when justifying certain kinds of sentences about the future. The sentence that a certain vaccine will immunize a person against a given infectious disease was justified e.g. by referring to the premise stating an analogy between the organism of a monkey and of a man, or more precisely, an analogy of two systems: monkey in conditions W and man in conditions W′ as well as the claim that a monkey vaccinated in conditions W becomes resistant to a given infectious disease. The sentence that a watch produced by Longines in time t will not run too fast in time t + n instants (e.g. within 10 years), is justified with a sentence stating the isomorphism of its construction with the construction of another watch, about which it is additionally stated that it has not run too fast for the last 10 years. The second example can be interpreted on the basis of a different concept of infrence through analogy, which is often discussed in logic handbooks. The outline of this reasoning is usually constructed as follows: If P1 has properties of abcd…x, and P2 has properties abcd…x, and P3 has properties abcd…x, then if abcd is inherent to a certain Pn, then Pn also has the property x. Some logicians believe that such reasoning implicitly assumes an inductive generalization within its premises, and that each P has the properties abcd…x. If that were true, then thusly interpreted reasoning through analogy


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would be a combination of reduction and deduction. We would deductively reason from the generalization obtained through induction that Pn is x. Even if we put aside the issue that in the case of prognoses concerning a Pn which does not exist yet, an assumption must be added that the future Pn is an element of the class P, it must be noted that, even if our generalization was purely statistical (that is, even if it were true that not every P(abcd) is x), we are inclined to assume that Pn is also x if it has properties abcd. Perhaps we do not even assume a statistical generalization, which does not lead deductively to a conclusion anyway. I believe that such an inference may be treated as a certain form of inference from n cases to n+1. If in n cases F(abcd) accompanies F(x), then it also will in the n+1 case, if F(abcd) is F(x), which (unlike in mathematical induction) does not authorize us to draw the conclusion that whenever F(abcd) then F(x). Therefore, this is not a scheme of a generalizing induction. It would be more proper to speak of a classifying induction, to avoid using the term reasoning by analogy, which I would like to use only in the case of reasoning in which one premise is a sentence about the similarity of the structures of two sets or systems. As a result of this type of analogy, a particular case is included into a shared category, that is, a category of cases which fulfil function F(x). Also those cases where P denotes a class of one element may be subsumed under this scheme of reasoning. For instance, when I infer that Peter will behave in manner x in conditions abcd from the fact that he has repeatedly behaved in manner x in the same conditions, I extrapolate. The same conclusion can undoubtedly be justified through analogy. Namely, having ascertained the structural similarity of two temporal systems: Peter in conditions abcd in moment t and Peter in conditions abcd in moment t+n (future moment), and that the first system has fulfilled F(x), I may infer that also the second system will fulfil function F(x). However, in the second case the legitimacy of the conclusion is under a different assumption that in the case of an inductive conclusion. The legitimacy is not derived from the rules of statistical calculus, but rather from the nature of the structural similarity between the systems and from the relationship of x towards abcd. After all, what are the conditions for the legitimacy of inferences by analogy if they are fallible, especially in the case of reasoning based on analogy concerning the future? It is commonly said that if analogy is significant or profound, there is a greater probability of drawing conclusions concerning the piloted term or its elements than in the case when the analogy is superficial or casual. Let us attempt to give a more precise sense to these phrases. Analogy is a structural similarity of sets or systems, and therefore, primarily a similarity of relationships between elements of the sets or between parts of the systems. If these relations fulfill the conditions which satisfy the same principle or the same law, the analogy seems essential. For instance, the analogy between sound wave diffraction

On Some Methods of Justifying Sentences about Future Events


and elastic wave propagation seems essential, as both of these series of phenomena may be described with the help of the same system of equations; Newtonian analogy between the parabolic trajectories of planets and the trajectory of a thrown stone is essential because both of the systems comply with the law of gravitation. Two systems (sets) are analogous in a essential way if one of them is isomorphic with respect to the other. In the case when the properties judged in further premises on the piloting term result from the structure of the system, the conclusion that similar properties are also inherent to the piloted term follows from the premises. However, if two analogous systems are not isomorphic, or if in the case of two isomorphic systems we reason through analogy about the properties of the piloted term which is not exclusively conditioned by this isomorphism, then the conclusion does not result from the premises, and its lesser or greater probability depends on homomorphism on the one hand and on the relationship between the predicated property and the homomorphism of the systems. As for the sets and their properties which will only occur in the future, the premise stating their analogy with a system which serves as a piloting term, it must be supplemented with the assumption that this structure or these properties of the piloted term are not a function of time this property is considered in. It seems to me that such an elimination of the future coordinate in assumptions is also characteristic of a certain empirical sphere, also when for a certain empirical domain one deduces consequences concerning phenomena unknown at the moment of constructing a given theory from certain theories and hypotheses. It is assumed that deduced statements concern exclusively phenomena conforming to a relatively stable, that is, independent of a temporal moment, system of conditions within the domain of associated theory. Accepting the isomorphism or homomorphism of a system of future events with a given system, when it comes to justifying judgments about the future based on analogy, is a special case of this assumption. Perhaps it is necessary to become aware of these assumptions, which seem to be a certain characteristic convention of the language of science, in order to stress the fallible nature of the methods of justifying sentences about the future based on analogy, even those deemed legitimate. This emphasis seems all the more important as these analogous kinds of reasoning where the conclusion does not result from the premises, nor do the premises result from the conclusion, are some kind of an almost spontaneous homothetic function of the human mind, manifested in all areas of human creation. However, neither the fact that it is widespread nor the heuristic value of the function can exempt us from caution in assessing the value of justifying prognoses based on premises which state the occurrence of an analogy of systems which belong to different time periods.


Kilka uwag o rozumowaniach na podstawie analogii (Dąmbska 1964b) I understand analogy to be the structural similarity of certain sets or systems, that is, a similarity of relationships between elements of these sets or parts of these systems and between the properties determined by these relationships. I call these sets or systems the terms of an analogy, and their elements or parts – arguments of an analogy. The term of an analogy, which is the starting point for certain cognitive operations shall be called the piloting term, and the other term shall be called the piloted term of an analogy. Cognitive actions where we refer to analogy may be of various kinds. In some cases, stating the existence of analogy is a starting point for the formulation of problems on the properties of the relationships or the properties themselves of the terms, but sometimes the thought process consists in creating other structures, based on a certain subjective structure, isomorphic or homomorphic in relation to the other one (for instance, making models, or certain cases of constructing notions). At times, especially in the cases of creating hypotheses, a judgment stating the occurrence of analogy has the function of a premise in the action of reasoning. The problem of reasoning by analogy may sometimes be treated superficially in handbooks of logic, based on its certain traditional interpretation. The aim of the present study is to analyze some of these interpretations and present a different standpoint as a result of discussing the following issues: (1) (2) (3)

What is the formal structure of reasoning by analogy? What is the place of reasoning by analogy in the classification of kinds of reasoning, or more precisely: what is the relationship of reasoning by analogy to other types of reasoning? What are the conditions of legitimacy for reasoning by analogy?

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 137–144. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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In many handbooks of logic, reasoning by analogy is treated in such a manner that it seems not to fit within the classification of reasoning adopted in these handbooks. For instance, if we assume a division of reasoning into deductive and reductive based on the rule which states that in deductive reasoning the premise is the logical reason of the conclusion and the conclusion is its logical consequence, whereas in reductive reasoning the reason is the conclusion and the consequence is the premise,1 then it is hard to decide how reasoning by analogy should be classified. Moreover, the scheme of reasoning by analogy discussed in some handbooks of logic seems to deviate greatly from the notion of analogy as the structural similarity of sets. Indeed, the scheme of reasoning by analogy is generally constructed in the following manner: If P1has properties a, b, c, d… x and P2 has properties a, b, c, d… x, and P3 has properties a, b, c, d… x, then if Pn has properties a, b, c, d, then Pn also has property x. In brief, having ascertained the similarity of an object to other objects in certain aspects, one deduces about its similarity in an aspect different from the ones which have already been ascertained. Some logicians assume that such reasoning implies an inductive generalization in its premises, and that every P has properties a, b, c, d… x. If it were so, reasoning by analogy would be a combination of reduction and deduction. Based on judgments:

P1 which has properties a, b, c, d, has property x. P2 which has properties a, b, c, d, has property x. Pn which has properties a, b, c, d, has property x.

and since no such P was encountered which would have properties a, b, c, d but did not have property x, it would be inferred inductively that every P which has properties a, b, c, d also has property x; therefore, having ascertained that some Pn has properties a, b, c, d one would reason deductively that Pn has property x. It was often argued against such an understanding of inference by analogy that even in cases in which we are convinced that not every P which has properties a, b, c, d also has property x we are inclined to presume that a subsequent Pn will have property x as long as it has properties a, b, c, d, and therefore, that we do not assume inductive generalization in the premises of our reasoning by analogy. However, perhaps it would be proper to assume that reasoning by analogy includes as its hidden premise a certain statistical generalization which states that “generally,” “in most cases” etc., if a given P has properties a, b, c, d, then it also has property x. Still, then the conclusion concerning Pn would not be a deductive (reliable) one, as a statistical generalization does not constitute its logical reason. Perhaps


See for instance (Czeżowski 1959a, p. 139).

A Few Remarks on Reasoning by Analogy


such an interpretation of inference by analogy led certain logicians (for instance, J.St. Mill) to believe that reasoning by analogy is a kind of induction. How should we understand this? Speaking in terms of structure, one might perhaps attempt to characterize reasoning by analogy as a certain form of inference based on n cases about n+1. If in n cases F(a, b, c, d) is accompanied by F(x), then in the n+1 case if F(a, b, c, d) then F(x), which does not lead to the conclusion that it is always the case that if F(a, b, c, d) then F(x). Therefore, this is not a scheme of a generalizing induction. We would rather call this kind of reasoning a classifying induction. As a result of such an induction, a certain specific case is included in a common category with others, namely, a category of cases which fulfill the function F(x). We may also call this kind of inductive reasoning analogous induction in order to stress the importance of stating the structural similarity of objects. Jurisprudence provides interesting examples of this kind of reasoning in the cases of interpretation and extrapolation, or supplementing legal regulations in reference to cases which are not mentioned in the legal code and which the judge considers to be similar to the cases mentioned in the legal code in essential legal characteristics. Based on ascertaining this similarity (for instance, equivalent crimes), it is assumed that they should entail the same legal consequences as the cases included in the legal code. This is because the punishment is decided on their basis. For instance, at some point French courts of law penalized the theft of electricity, which was not included in any clause, based on a decision stating the similarity of this deed in terms of its legal characteristics to cases of theft recognized as a punishable offence in the code of law. On the other hand, in the sentence of May 1st, 1899, the German Reichsgericht decided in the same situation that illegal use of electricity cannot be described as theft as described in the corresponding article in the legal code, since this article refers to appropriating things (“Sache”), whereas electricity is a power (“Kraft”). This resulted in introducing an amendment to the legal code the following year.2 The legal dispute over whether using analogy to extrapolate paragraphs of legal code to cases not included in them is in contradiction with the generally applied rule in legal practice: “nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege,” and the various ways different countries deal with this problem indicate that the concern regarding important practical decisions being based on this unreliable form of reasoning is well-founded. It is perhaps also worth noting that the reasoning by analogy which is often discussed in textbooks on logic is often based on a different understanding of analogy then the one we are dealing with in the present paper, that is, the notion of analogy as the similarity of objects in terms of their certain, not


Cf. (Mahsoub 1952).


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only structural, properties, rather than the notion of analogy as the structural similarity of systems. What is interesting is that logicians who probably also mean this definition when speaking of the role of analogy in creating hypotheses do not seem to note the fact that the scheme of reasoning is different in these cases. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it would probably be better to call this reasoning concerning the similarity of features a classifying induction, as we have done earlier in this work, thus reserving the term of reasoning by analogy for reasoning where, based on a sentences stating the structural similarity of two sets or systems, and based on a sentence stating certain properties of a piloting term or its components, we claim a certain property of either the piloted term (the second set or system) or elements of this term (relationships or arguments). Generally speaking: Reasoning by analogy is reasoning where the premise is a sentence stating that A/B : C/D, where A/B is a function which corresponds to the piloting term, and C/D is a function corresponding to the piloting term of the analogy. The statement A/B : C/D is not a scheme of reasoning by analogy. It must be made clear, as some logicians describe a mere comparison of two sets and a stating to be an analogy as reasoning by analogy. This is done by, for instance, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca.3 It seems to me that positing the occurrence of analogy in any way may often be the result of various kinds of reasoning and although it is a necessary premise for reasoning by analogy, it is not reasoning in itself, just as it is not reasoning to state a relationship of two classes in categorical sentences from the square of opposition, although such a statement may be a conclusion or a premise of syllogistic reasoning. After all, in these cases there is neither a factor of inference nor at least two judgments, out of which one would be the premise and the other the conclusion. Only that which Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca call enriching an analogy (attaching new features to the piloting term and based on that, stating new properties of the piloted term, together with the claim of analogy of the structures), is reasoning by analogy. Yet, if Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca apply the term reasoning by analogy to a judgment stating the similarity of two structures, this is because they perceive “an argument” which may support someone’s conviction that the piloted term has an analogous structure in the judgment concerning the piloting term. For them, stating an analogy is one of the rhetorical measures not included in the canon of contemporary logic, which aims at shaping convictions. They believe that the piloting term must be taken from a different domain of reality than the piloted term, and that it should usually be better known, often evident, or at least selected in such a way that a judgment on its structure could be transferred


Cf. (Perelman & Olbercht-Tyteca 1958, p. 500 ff.).

A Few Remarks on Reasoning by Analogy


mutatis mutandis to the structure of the piloted term. However, it is obviously not a method of reasoning. At most, it is a manner of suggesting certain theses in reference to a different domain from the one to which the piloting term belongs. When a preacher says that God is to people what a father is to children, he appeals to the well known relationship father/children in order to evoke in the minds of his listeners a certain conviction about the piloted term: God/ people. Yet, then perhaps the statement of analogy interpreted in this manner should be treated as an enthymeme with an explicitly stated first premise and the other premises and the conclusion left unmentioned. The developed enthymeme would then assume the following form, for instance: Since God is to people what father is to children, and children come from father, then people come from God. Or: Since God is to people what father is to children, and children owe respect to their father, therefore people should worship God, etc. These unmentioned premises may constitute a whole chain of conjunctions, often not very well thought out, but comprising potential knowledge about the piloting term, which we are inclined to refer to the piloted term, having accepted the first premise. Still, Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca do not present this idea and settle for presenting numerous historical examples of more or less suggestive analogies. There are two kinds of reasoning by analogy. The first consists in a directive of the alternation of elements occurring in the terms of analogy. We infer from sentence A:B : : C:D that B:A : : D:C. Therefore, if it is true that God is to people what the father is to children, then it is also true that people are to God what children are to the father. This kind of reasoning by analogy is applied in mathematics and is of a deductive character. As with any deductive reasoning, it is reliable. This does not mean that its result, that is, the conclusion, is always a dependable sentence. It is not dependable when the transformed sentence itself is not dependable. A special case of such reasoning by analogy is proportional division calculations. If 2/4 : 5/10 , then 4 /2 : 10/3 × 2 /5: 4 /10 . Another kind of reasoning by analogy is the one where stating the structural similarity of two sets is one of the premises, whereas the other premises are functions of arguments, which are terms or parts of terms of analogy. This type of reasoning, which may be presented as follows: (A/B : C/D) × F(A/B) → F(C/D), often is neither deductive nor reductive reasoning. The conclusion often does not result logically from the premises and the premises do not result from the conclusion. In this respect, this kind of reasoning by analogy resembles reasoning which we would call a classifying induction, as also in this kind of induction neither the conclusion that Pn+1 which is a, b, c is x results from the conjunction of sentences, nor that P1 which is a, b, c … is x, P2 which is a, b, c … is x, and Pn which is a, b, c … is x, nor vice versa, the premises do not result from their conclusion. These remarks on


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reasoning by analogy and on classifying induction prompt a reexamination of the fairly commonly accepted classification of reasoning. The division of reasoning into deductive and reductive based on the rule of the place of logical reason within the clauses of the reasoning (whether the reason is a premise or the conclusion) is an inadequate division, as it leaves no room for certain forms of reasoning by analogy or for classifying induction (traditional reasoning by analogy), since in them the conclusion does not result from the premises, nor do the premises result form the conclusion. Therefore, one would have to either change the notion of reasoning so that its definition does not include the idea that the basis for each instance of reasoning is the relationship of logical entailment,4 or accept that the previously described cognitive operations are not reasoning. It seems that selecting the latter option is not only contradictory to the practice of logic and linguistic usage, but also methodologically undesirable. After all, the mentioned types of cognitive operations serve the same purpose as all deductive or reductive reasoning, namely, to enable us to accept a judgment based on accepting certain judgments. It seems therefore if we accept as a premise that x reasons if and only if x accepts judgment S based on accepting judgment S,’ and moreover, if we assume that the step of the inference which does not result from the other (one of the steps of reasoning is the premises and the other is the conclusion) undergoes formal infirmation, then we would be able to divide reasoning into four categories: (a) (b) (c) (d)

those in which neither the premises nor the conclusion undergo information; those in which only the conclusion does not undergo infirmation; those in which only the premises do not undergo infirmation; those in which both the conclusion and the premises undergo infirmation.

The first case occurs when the premises and the conclusion are logically equivalent, that is, when the conclusion results from the premise and the premises results from the conclusion, for instance: conversio simplex, transpositio, complete induction. The second case occurs when the premise is the reason and the conclusion is the logical consequence and not the other way around, for instance: inference according to modus ponens or the directives of syllogism. The third case occurs when the conclusion does not result logically from the premises, but the premises result from the conclusion,


This tendency of interpreting reasoning is visible in modern Polish logic in the works of Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, especially in his dissertation “Klasyfikacja rozumowań” [“Classification of Reasoning”] (Ajdukiewicz 1955, p. 278).

A Few Remarks on Reasoning by Analogy


for instance: incomplete induction. The fourth case occurs when neither the conclusion results from the premises nor the premises result from the conclusion, for instance: some kinds of reasoning by analogy or causative reasoning. Naturally, “the ability to undergo infirmation” as the principle for division should not be interpreted in such a way that if a statement does not come under it, it is true. After all, infirmation is a notion relativized to the system of statements occurring as a step of a given reasoning. The infallibility of the first two kinds of reasoning, consisting in the idea that if the premises are true then the conclusion must also be true, is juxtaposed with the fallibility of the third and fourth kind of reasoning. Does the fact that in the third kind only the premises do not undergo infirmation whereas in the fourth kind both the premises and the conclusion undergo infirmation make the fourth kind of reasoning more fallible than the third kind? It seems that if the fallibility of reasoning consists in the fact that a false conclusion can be reached from true premises, the logical situation is the same in both cases. It is perhaps worth noting in this situation that the cases of causative reasoning often provided as examples of reduction (the third kind of reasoning) should be classified as belonging to the fourth category. If someone concludes from John’s sallow complexion that John is sick, then both the conclusion which does not result from the premises (John’s complexion may be sallow as a result of long imprisonment) and the premise when it does not result from the conclusion (John may be sick, but the fact that his complexion is sallow may result from something else) undergo infirmation. Although in principle the different kinds of reasoning in the third and the fourth groups are equally fallible, they may be of different values depending on whether the probability that the step of the reasoning which undergoes infirmation is smaller or greater. Just as for inductive reasoning, also for reasoning by analogy we must establish the conditions in which a conclusion based on the structural similarity of two sets about further properties of the piloted term is more or less probable. Colloquially speaking, if an analogy is significant or profound, there is a greater probability of the occurrence of conclusions concerning the piloted term or its arguments than when an analogy is superficial or casual. Let us attempt to give more precise meaning to these figurative phrases. An analogy is a structural similarity of sets or systems, and therefore, it is most of all a similarity of the relationships between the elements of these sets (systems). If these relationships fulfill the conditions which satisfy the same principle or the same law, the analogy seems essential. For instance, the analogy between sound wave diffraction and light wave diffraction seems essential, as both of these series of events may be described with the help of the same system of equations; Newtonian analogy between the parabolic trajectories of planets and the trajectory of a thrown stone is essential because both of the sets


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comply with the law of gravitation. Two systems (sets) are essentially analogous if one of them is isomorphic with respect to the other, that is, when the elements of one of the systems (sets) are assigned to the elements of the other one in a one-to-one way. In the cases when the properties judged in further premises about the piloting term result from the structure of the system, the conclusion that similar properties are also inherent to the piloted term follows from the premises, and the whole reasoning belongs to the first or second kind of reasoning. For instance, if we ascertain a one-to-one correspondence between adding real numbers and multiplying positive numbers, then on the basis of this relation a precisely defined real number corresponds to every positive number, and vice versa. If, having assumed this isomorphism, we argue that subtracting real numbers corresponds to dividing positive numbers, our conclusion, based on ascertaining this sort of analogy of two systems and on the commutative law, entails logically from the premises and our reasoning is infallible. However, if two analogous systems are not only isomorphic, or if in the case of two isomorphic systems we reason by analogy about the properties of a piloted term which are not solely dependent on this isomorphism, then the conclusion does not result from the premises and its greater or lesser probability depends on the one hand on the degree of similarity of the system, and on the other hand, on the relationship between the predicated property and the isomorphism of the systems. For instance, a naturalist notices a functional analogy between the lungs of mammals and the gills of fish and reasons that gills enable the metabolism of oxygen in the blood of fish. His conclusion is much less fallible than that of someone who, based on ecological analogies between an owl and a bat, reasons that a bat is a predatory animal since an owl is a predator. Since gills, just as lungs, are used for breathing, and the oxidation of blood is conditioned by breathing in the case of mammals, it is probable that since fish use gills for breathing, the process of the oxidation of blood also occurs thanks to them in the circulatory system of fishes. On the other hand, silent flight in the dark and at dusk, analogous for an owl and a bat, does not sufficiently condition the manner in which both feed. The deceptive nature of many analogies consists in the fact that the chance similarity of two structures is interpreted as a manifestation of one law or as isomorphism. It seems to be evident from our discussion so far that reasoning by analogy is not a kind of reasoning which could be in opposition to deduction as a certain kind of reduction. The characteristic feature of this reasoning is the form of its premise, rather than its value (fallibility or infallibility). What is significant for reasoning by analogy is the idea that at least one premise of this reasoning is a sentence which states the structural similarity of certain sets or systems. The manner in which this premise will be used determines the logical character of the reasoning itself.

Izydora Dąmbska 13. LAWS OF PHYSICS AND THE POSTULATE OF TRUTHFULNESS OF SCIENTIFIC STATEMENTS Prawa fizyki wobec postulatu prawdziwości twierdzeń naukowych (Dąmbska 1931b) 1. Introduction There is no doubt that truthfulness is not a sufficient condition for a statements to be scientific. Not all true claims are parts of a given scientific discipline. Still, a question arises whether, conversely, every scientific claim must be true. In other words, is truthfulness a necessary condition of the scientific status of statements? This question is unhesitatingly answered in the affirmative by many people who view science, so to say, “from the outside.” How could it be otherwise, they reason, since scientists are supposed to get to the truth for us, and therefore what science states must surely be true. However, many scientists, but also laymen who take a closer look at a scientist’s work, cannot easily find a ready answer to the question. One might remark: it is questionable whether the aim of science is to get to the truth, as science is only supposed to systematize, organize, and classify the facts in the most economical way. Another may concede that science aims at getting to the truth, but will add: Does it result from this that all statements which science accepts must be true? There are, he may say, certain categories of judgments in science which cannot be ascribed the feature of truthfulness. According to some scientists, the laws of physics are one of such categories; some or all, depending on the view. Let us take a closer look at these claims and examine whether they indeed must be denied the feature of truthfulness.

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 145–158. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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2. Duhem’s and Le Roy’s Views Duhem and Le Roy, among others, claim that no law of physics is true. At the same time, they are not willing to claim that these laws are false. According to Duhem, every law of physics is an approximate law, which results in the idea that no law of physics may be true or false. 1 Laws of physics are of symbolic character and do not refer directly to actual states of affairs, as they include certain conceptual schemes, certain mind constructs, which only inadequately, schematically and approximately represent the actual states of affairs (Duhem includes the notions of mass, density, pressure, etc., in such conceptual schemes). Thus, laws of physics in which these conceptual schemes are used can only more or less approximately concern real phenomena. The less well determined a scheme is, the lesser the approximation of the law. 2 Not only are laws of physics of an approximate character, but also experiments based on those laws. According to Duhem, each physical experiment includes its theoretical interpretation in addition to its observation of the phenomenon. In the former, specific phenomenal data are replaced with symbolic notional schemes adapted to these data from the point of view of the theories accepted by a physicists. For instance, a physicist conducting an experiment on gas pressure notices i.a. that the column of mercury in his thermometer oscillates between two lines; however, what he will write down instead is that the temperature of the gas oscillates between such and such degree. When he observes in his cathetometer that the level of mercury in a vessel filled with gas reaches a certain line on the scale, he states that the pressure of the gas is of such and such value. According to Duhem, the value of pressure or the degree of temperature are symbolic conceptual schemes. Laws of physics, being approximate, are provisional and relative. They are provisional because we expect greater and greater degrees of approximation with the progress of research in physics. For instance, the law of gravitation in its original formulation fails when applied to liquids in capillaries. Therefore, it must be reformulated accordingly. The case is similar with Mariotte’s gas pressure laws, which Regnault replaced with a more approximate formula. Laws of physics are relative, as the same laws may

1 “Toute loi physique est une loi approchée; par consequent pour le strict logician elle ne peut être ni vraie ni fausse.” Cf. (Duhem 1906, p. 259). 2 At times Duhem expresses his ideas as if the approximate nature of a law was not connected to its symbolic nature. Thus, he either has another meaning of the word “approximate” in mind, or his expression is inexact. Cf. (Duhem 1906. p. 263).

Laws of Physics and the Postulate of Truthfulness of Scientific Statements


be sufficient for one scientist but insufficient for another. 3 For instance, out of two contemporary physicists, one works in the conditions Regnault used to work in, whereas the other still finds himself working in the conditions Dulong and Arago dealt with. The first one will deny and the other one will accept Mariotte’s law.4 What is more, the same physicist may sometimes accept and sometimes reject the same law in one work. If, as Duhem reasons, this law were true or false, then it would be a logical contradiction to sometimes accept it and sometimes reject it. Duhem quotes the following fact as an example: the physicist Regnault studies the phenomenon of the compression of gases in order to discover a more approximate law than Mariotte’s. In the course of the experiment he must calculate atmospheric pressure at the level to which the mercury in his manometer reaches. He calculates this pressure according to Laplace’s formula, which is attained on the basis of Mariotte’s law. Therefore, Duhem concludes, Regnault simultaneously rejects and accepts Mariotte’s law. Although laws of physics are neither true nor false but they are only approximate, Duhem states that one may in a certain sense speak of the truthfulness of a physical theory. A physical theory is a system of mathematical statements derived from a small amount of assumptions, whose aim is to present in a possibly simple, complete and concise way the entirety of the laws obtained through experiment. A true physical theory is not a theory which explains phenomena in a manner consistent with reality, but one which fulfills the conditions mentioned in the definition. Consistence with experience is a criterion of truthfulness of a physical theory; yet, consistence with experience is not equivalent to consistence with the actual state of affairs. After all, scientific experiments are only approximate.5 Le Roy assumes a similar standpoint towards laws of physics.6 According to him, a law of physics is a symbolic construct and a second degree of rationalization of reality (the first being facts, according to Le Roy), as well as the product of our ability to always change the perspective of “L’approximation d’une loi, suffisante aujourd’hui, deviendra insuffisante dans l’avenir […]; suffisante pour les besoins d’un physicien, elle ne satisfait pas au désir d’un autre.” Cf. (Duhem 1906. p. 270). 4 Cf. (Duhem 1906. p. 262). 5 In many aspects Mach agrees with Duhem in his views on the character of physical claims and the laws of physics – cf. (Mach 1896a, p. 445 ff. ) and (Mach 1905, p. 449 ff.) – but he does not reach Duhem’s conclusion that laws of physics are neither true nor false. He only maintains that “ein naturwissenschaftlicher Satz hat immer nur den hypothetischen Sinn: Wenn die Tatsache A genau den Begriffen M entspricht, so entspricht die Folge B genau den Begriffen N; so genau als A den M, so genau entspricht B den N (Mach 1905, p. 456) 6 Cf. (Le Roy 1899, p. 504 ff.). 3


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viewing constancy in the world. Laws of science are arbitrary definitions. For instance, the law which states that phosphorus melts at 44˚C is a disguised definition of phosphorus. When we encounter a substance which has all the qualities of phosphorus except it does not melt at 44˚C, we will give it a different name. Le Roy differs from Duhem in his view on the approximation of the laws of physics. According to him, it is not the degree of approximation which determines the choice of a law, but our fancy driven by the economy of thinking. Another way he differs from Duhem is that, just as Mach, Milhaud and Poincaré, he extends his views to the laws of science in general. 3. Zaremba’s View Let me also quote the opinion of a Polish academic who presents quite a different standpoint from the above mentioned academics concerning the issue of the logical value of physical laws. According to Zaremba, there are among laws of physics such laws which may be regarded as indubitable truths.7 Zaremba understands laws of physics to be those premises of logical argument (within the physical theory) which are neither definitions nor premises of logic and mathematics.8 Apart from true laws there are also such laws in physics, according to Zaremba, which “definitely do not express a true state of affairs.” We demand from them only that their consequences are in accordance with a specific designated category of phenomena.9 These laws themselves can be false. 4. Two Views The views presented above can be reduced to two, wherein both negate the thesis according to which truthfulness would be the necessary condition for the scientific character of judgments in physics. These views can be presented in the following concise form: (1) (2)

There are statements in physics which are neither true nor false (Duhem, Le Roy). There are statements in physics which are false (Zaremba).

Cf. (Zaremba 1923, p. 139). Cf. (Zaremba 1923, p. 135). 9 Cf. (Zaremba 1923, p. 137) 7 8

Laws of Physics and the Postulate of Truthfulness of Scientific Statements


5. The Value of Justification of the First View by Le Roy Let me first discuss the first thesis. Two questions immediately arise: 1. Was this thesis justified? 2. If it was not, is it still true? Le Roy justifies his thesis by referring to the idea that laws of physics are our arbitrary constructs, arbitrary definitions. A comprehensive critique of his views is provided by H. Poincaré. 10 Poincaré rejects Le Roy’s point of view and describes it as extreme nominalism which cannot be supported to the full extent. According to Poincaré, laws of physics are either true or false. Only the principles of physics have an arbitrary character. A principle is obtained from a law by accepting such conventions for which it will always be true. When a given law is transformed into a principle, the priciple is removed from the control of our experience. It is neither true nor false; it is merely convenient. 11 It is clear that Poincaré expresses himself imprecisely here, or even in an at least apparently contradictory manner. At one point we learn about a principle that it is always true after certain conventions have been adopted, and another time we learn that a principle is neither true nor false. If this contradiction is only apparent, then it probably comes from the ambiguous use of the word “true” in this context. I cannot analyze these meanings any further at this point, as this problem is beyond the scope of the issue of laws of physics. With respect to the latter, as we know, Poincaré negates Le Roy’s nominalist thesis. If Le Roy’s thesis was correct, then the inconsistency of a law with experience would never prompt us to reject the law. Yet, it seems that certain laws are often rejected because they appear to be inconsistent with experience. 6. Critique of Duhem’s Proofs In Duhem’s work concerning the logical value of laws of physics, two proofs of the claim that laws of physics are neither true nor false can be found.

Cf. (Poincaré 1905, p. 235 ff.). “Les savants ont élevé au-dessus des lois ce qu’ils appellent des principes. Quand une loi a reçu une confirmation suffisante de l’expérience, on peut l’ériger en principe, en adoptant des conventions telles que la proposition soit toujours vraie [...] Le principe [...] n’est plus soumis au contrôle de l’éxperience. Il n’est pas vrai ou faux, il est commode.” Cf. (Poincaré 1905, p. 239) 10 11

150 Proof

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I. No approximate law is either true or false. Every law of physics is an approximate law. Therefore, no law of physics is either true or false. None of the premises of this reasoning is immediately obvious. What entitles us to accept them?

Proof of premise I. Statements which contain notional schemes are neither true nor false. Approximate laws are claims which include notional schemes. Approximate laws are neither true nor false. Proof

of premise II. Claims which contain notional schemes are approximate. Laws of physics are claims which contain notional schemes. Laws of physics are approximate.

The second premise in the proof of the first premise is a definition. The first premise requires proof. It may be proven in the following way: Notional schemes represent actual states of affairs only approximately. Therefore statements which include these schemes only approximately concern actual states of affairs. If so, they are neither true nor false. This seems to be the source of error in Duhem’s reasoning. The conclusion does not at all result from the premises. If approximate means as much as not adequately corresponding to the actual states of affairs, then we should probably assume that laws of physics, being approximate, are false. However, Duhem denies that since he assumes that laws of physics are neither true nor false. At first glance, the second proof seems more convincing. It is formulated as follows: Proof II. If a law is true or false, it may not be simultaneously accepted and rejected without falling into contradiction. Let us assume that a law of physics is either true or false. Therefore, it may not be simultaneously accepted and rejected with out falling into ambiguity. However, there are cases in which we simultaneously accept and reject a law of physics. Therefore, laws of physics are neither true nor false.

Laws of Physics and the Postulate of Truthfulness of Scientific Statements


This proof is essentially unconvincing, just as the first one. First of all, it seems doubtful that there are cases in which we simultaneously accept and reject a given law of physics. An example of two scientists, out of whom the first, working in the conditions Dulong and Arago worked, is satisfied with Mariotte’s law, and the other, having recreated Regnault’s work conditions, uses a more approximate formula, proves nothing. If one of the scientists does not know about existence of a law which is more approximate that Mariotte’s law, or if he knows about it but consciously ignores it and still uses Mariotte’s law in its entirety, his action is erroneous. However, if he knows about this more approximate law and does not want to ignore it, then he surely limits his use of Mariotte’s law to the cases in which it works, that is, he modifies its sense, and such a modified Mariotte’s law is not a judgment in opposition to Regnault’s law. Similarly, Duhem’s second example does not have the value of an argument. Here Regnault the physicist wishes to replace Mariotte’s law with another, more approximate one. In the course of his experiments, attempting to measure atmospheric pressure at the level which the mercury in the manometer reaches, he applied Laplace’s formula, which assumes Mariotte’s law, which after all Regnault wished to reject. The example faces the following objections: (a)


(c) (d)


It does not result from the fact that Laplace’s formula assumes Mariotte’s law that it is true. The truthfulness of reason does not result from the truthfulness of the consequence, therefore Regnault does not have to accept Mariotte’s law, which he wishes to reject, just because he accepted Laplace’s formula. Even if Regnault had to accept Mariotte’s law when applying Laplace’s formula in his research, it would not result that he has accepted two contradictory judgments; after all, he is still looking for a more approximate law. This sought after law perhaps will not be contradictory with Mariotte’s law. Even if Mariotte’s law in its original entirety could not be reconciled with this new law, it may still remain in force for a certain class of phenomena for which Laplace’s formula works. Regnault could assume this modified Mariotte’s law without fear of falling into contradiction. As long as this law does not exist, Mariotte’s law is not rejected. Therefore, we do not fall into contradiction even if we apply the law.

Let us assume though that only Duhem’s example is wrongly chosen and that there are in fact cases where a given approximate law is sometimes


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accepted and sometimes rejected. Still, Duhem’s proof will not be convincing. There are two possibilities here: Either laws of physics are true or false, and then sometimes it may be the case that a certain physicist falls into contradiction when he accepts and rejects the same law, or laws of physics are neither true nor false, and therefore, as long as they are judgments, they transgress the principle of bivalence, and thereby remove themselves from the principle of contradiction. Duhem’s reasoning does not force us to choose the second option. We could just as well assume that we sometimes use contradictory statements in physics.12 It is another matter whether we act properly then. I believe Duhem did not manage to prove his statement that laws of physics are neither true nor false. I shall return later to the question whether the above claim can nonetheless be sustained. 7. Critique of Zaremba’s View For now, I shall ask whether the thesis that there are false statements in physics is justified. This claim is proposed by Zaremba, among others. Zaremba believes that some statements in physics are false but consciously accepted in physics in spite of that. He presents an example from the undulatory theory of light. Its basic assumption is that the universe is filled with a certain resilient substance called the ether. Our common experience denies the existence of the ether. Still, the undulatory theory was accepted in order to explain light phenomena. Rejecting it and replacing it with the electromagnetic theory was not determined by this inconsistence with common experience, but rather the fact that the electromagnetic theory allows for the coordination of a wider class of phenomena than the undulatory theory. Zaremba’s arguments do not always prove the claim that some laws of physics are false, since 1. some physicists (e.g. Poisson), which incidentally Zaremba is aware of, rejected the undulatory theory due to its inconsistence with the experiential data; 2. Fresnel’s postulate on the existence of the ether may be treated as scientific fiction which, if formulated adequately13 and limited to light phenomena, is a false judgment and is not contradictory with either experiential data or the electromagnetic theory. I believe therefore that Zaremba did not prove his thesis.

12 13

This is what H. Poincaré assumes in (Poincaré 1890a, p. IX). See below, p. 153.

Laws of Physics and the Postulate of Truthfulness of Scientific Statements


8. Critique of Other Formulations of the View That the Laws of Physics Are False If someone still attempts to defend the thesis that physics accepts false statements, or even a more specific idea that laws of physics are false, they may do so by referring to their approximate nature. We may speak of approximate laws in at least two different meanings: (a)


As laws which include notional schemes which only approximately, rather than adequately, correspond to facts or, to put it in other words, as simplified laws, due to omitting certain phenomenal data through the schematization of facts (Vaihinger). As laws burdened with an error of observation and experiments (Mach).

Approximate laws in the first meaning are included by Vaihinger into the category of fiction and, as with all fiction, regarded as false, but still entitled to representation in science because of their application in discovering other theorems, classifying phenomena, etc.14 Contrary to what Vaihinger claims, I believe that fictions are not false judgments. It is false that PV = m/M RT (where P is a solution, V is the volume of a solution, m is the mass of a dissolved substance, M is the molecular weight of the substance, R is a constant, and T is the temperature of the solution), as long as this law refers directly to empirically provided phenomena of osmotic pressure, as it says something sensu stricto about the simplified schematized course of osmosis, but it is true that the process of osmosis for solutions of medium density can be regarded as if PV = m/M RT, which is how fictions should be formulated. However, doubtless the statement which we are inclined to consider a fiction includes as one of its clauses a false sentence, namely the expression following the words “as if.” This is probably what Vaihinger meant when he called fictions false claims. In this sense, admittedly, as parts of complex sentences, false suppositions, rather than judgments can occur in science. This can be ascertained without the need to resort to Vaihinger’s concept. We know that scientific laws can assume the form of conditional sentences. We also know that a conditional sentence may be true when its antecedent and consequent are false. (The only impossible case is when the antecedent is true and the consequent is false.) Perhaps also in physics there are laws in which the antecedent, or both the antecedent and consequent, are false. However, we cannot declare about such laws that they are false; we can only state that they are not


Cf. (Vaihinger 1913, p. 32).


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verifiable. Thus, assuming that physical theories include false suppositions as elements of laws, which nonetheless are not false, I do not wish to claim that there is room for false judgments in physics.15 Still, there are other potential ways to defend the statement that approximate laws in the meaning of “simplified” laws are false. Namely, one might remark that if approximate laws include, as Duhem states, certain conceptual schemes, which correspond to certain actual states of affairs approximately rather than adequately, then these approximate laws are not in accordance with reality, and therefore, are false rather than true. Analogous reasoning could be conducted for approximate laws in the meaning of laws burdened with an error of observation. However, this point of view fails in both cases. What is taken into consideration in it is only the approximate formula (which is indeed false), rather than the law as a whole, where apart from the formula there is a statement about its inadequacy, a moment which indicates its approximate nature. Although this moment is not visible in the verbal formulation of the law, the formulation should be regarded as elliptical. A precisely formulated approximate law would have the following form: “a = b with the approximation p.” As long as laws of physics are formulated in this way, they cannot be regarded as false. Another way to eliminate the view that laws of physics are false consists in the idea that the subject of these laws are not the relationships between actual phenomena, but rather the relationships between objects corresponding with our schematic constructions. A law of physics would not be false if it referred to them.

15 Perhaps someone will remark that science deals exclusively with suppositions. The moment of faith which turns a supposition into a judgment is something psychological, something experienced by the researcher and the academic recipient, rather than something which is the meaning of sentences regardless of whether someone experiences it or not. We could respond here that a supposition is also something psychological, experienced by the researcher and the recipient. Yet, if we accepted the assumption that all statements in science are suppositions, we would thus state that there are two kinds of suppositions in science. One kind are such suppositions whose experiencing should be accompanied with a moment of faith in the truthfulness of what they state, or at least, they should not be accompanied with a moment of conviction about the lack of occurrence of what they state. (An example of statements which can be experienced as suppositions is the antecedent and the consequent in casus potentialis of conditional sentences.) The other category are such suppositions whose experience should be accompanied with faith in the lack of the occurrence of what they state. These kinds of suppositions occurring in science may be false.

Laws of Physics and the Postulate of Truthfulness of Scientific Statements


9. The Law of Approximation as a Propositional Function Having concluded in the discussion that laws of physics cannot be regarded as false, I shall now consider whether they should be regarded as true. If the answer to this question proves to be negative, we will have to deem Duhem’s view, according to which laws of physics are neither true nor false, correct. The answer to this question depends on what the mentioned ‘p’ is, indicating the moment of approximation in the formulation of a law of physics. It may seem that the degree of approximation is undetermined in many laws, that it is determined by a certain variable, unknown. If this was the case, laws of physics would be neither true nor false, but at the same time they would not be sentences but propositional functions. 10. Critique of this View It can be argued against this interpretation of approximate laws as functions that the degree of approximation in laws of physics is determined by providing the limits of the approximation; it is the mentioned moment due to which one law in physics is rejected and replaced with another one, in which the degree is higher. If the degree of approximation was determined by unknown X, speaking of greater or lesser approximation of the law would be unfounded. Someone may answer that the X mentioned above has a limited scope of variability, but still is a variable. The greater approximation of a law the smaller the scope of variability of X, and the greater the cognitive value of the law. Still, can we speak of the cognitive value of a law if it is neither true nor false? A defender of this standpoint will say that we can. The fact that laws of physics are propositional functions does not preclude that they are probable; the greater probability, the greater the cognitive value of a law. 16 However, a new, and perhaps fundamental, objection arises at this point. If we provide the limits of approximation in an approximate law, the degree of approximation is not determined by a certain real variable but by a constant; the law of approximation is not a function but a sentence; after all, when we provide the limits of approximation, it is done either correctly or erroneously. The appearance that we are dealing with a variable is possibly derived from the fact that a constant


The view that probability is a property of propositional functions was developed and supported by professor Łukasiewicz in his work entitled “Die logischen Grundlagen der Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung.” Cf. (Łukasiewicz 1913, especially p. 32 ff.).


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which indicates the degree of approximation is only provisional. It changes as the conditions of measurement and the conditions of the experiment are improved. However, if the quantitative determination of approximation is impossible in certain laws of physics, are we not dealing with a variable? – a proponent of functional character of laws may ask in defense. It seems this is not so, as in that case, the non-elliptical formulation of the approximate law would be as follows: “a = b with the greatest approximation the conditions for constructing this law allow for.” Again, we demand that this be true. Then, immediately after we achieve better conditions to construct a law, we reject this previous law and formulate a new one, which is able to attain greater approximation. Let us now consider the issue on the example Boyle’s law. The law reads as follows in its regular formulation: [Vp] if V is the volume of gas and p is the pressure of gas, then Vp = c. The law formulated as above is false, as it does not apply to real gases. However, no one since Regnault’s work refers it to real gases without some objection. Everyone who applies this law reckons with the idea that real gases are subject to it only approximately. Therefore, a more precise formulation of the law reads: [zt] where z is a gas, t is the temperature of gas z, [∃cab] where c is a number, a is a number, b is a number, that [xy] where x is the volume of gas z, y is its compression [∃p] where p is the moment of approximation so that x × y = c + p × a < p < b. According to Duhem’s view, if ‘p’ was a variable, Boyle’s law would be neither true nor false, but it would be a propositional function rather than a sentence. However, ‘p,’ just as ‘z,’ ‘t,’ ‘c,’ etc., is an apparent rather than a real variable, and as a consequence Boyle’s law should be considered a sentence rather than a propositional function. Although the above line of reasoning is correct, we must concede that laws of physics are not devoid of logical value. They are sentences rather than propositional functions, and we expect sentences to be true. 11. Conclusion Let us summarize the crucial elements of the discussion. The more general issue of whether truthfulness is a necessary condition of scientific statements was temporarily replaced with the more specific one of whether truthfulness is a necessary condition of laws of theoretical physics. If laws of physics are not true, then they are either false or have no logical value. The approximate law would be false (Vaihinger’s fiction) if it was treated as if it was not approximated despite being approximated. This interpretation of the approximate laws seems wrong to me. At the same time, I do not wish to maintain that there may not be false statements in physics; they

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occur, but only as elements of complex statements (for instance, as parts of conditional sentences), where the complex statements are not false. If laws of physics are not false, then perhaps they are also not true, but merely devoid of logical value. If this were the case, laws of physics would be propositional functions rather than sentences. The moment indicating the degree of approximation would be the variable in these propositional functions. I am willing to reject this interpretation due to the fact that this degree of approximation has specific boundaries, and therefore, is not determined by a variable, but by a constant. Thus, laws of physics are not devoid of logical value; they are sentences rather than propositional functions. We demand of them that they be true. A precise formulation of the approximate law is as follows: “a = b with the approximation p,” where p is either determined quantitatively (for instance, by providing a probable error), or determined with the expression: with the greatest approximation allowed by the conditions of the construction of the law. As long as this interpretation is correct, we should respond in the affirmative to the discussed problem of whether truthfulness is a necessary condition for something to be a law of physics. Finally, some remarks to avoid misunderstanding: Speaking of truthfulness and falsity, I meant the so-called material truthfulness and falsity of statements, wherein I do not mean the phrase “Sentence S is true” in the interpretation of pragmatic theory of truth. As is well known, according to Schiller, Dewey and James, the truthfulness of a sentence means as much as its verifiability, and its verifiability means as much as the ability to act better and more usefully, either in terms of theory or in practical terms, when the sentence is accepted than when the sentence is rejected. I do not speak of a true sentence in this meaning, as I believe that verifiability and truthfulness are two different matters and that a true sentence does not have to be eo ipso verifiable. I do not understand the expression “Sentence S is true” in the spirit of Avenarius’s and Mach’s theory of the economy of thinking, that is, I shall not call a sentence true which only lets me categorize a certain class of phenomena in a simple and economical manner. Nor shall I say that a sentence is true already if the consequences derived from it can be verified in experience. This is because I believe that consequences of a sentence which in itself is not true can also be verified in experience. I shall also not equate in a definition the expression “sentence Z is true” with the expression “Sentence S is accepted by the general public, or by the body of specialists in a given field of knowledge.” I interpret the expression “Sentence S is true” in the spirit of Franz Brentano and Aristotle as follows. In the case of affirmative sentences: they are true when the state of affairs associated with these sentences


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occurs. In the case of negative sentences: they are true when the state of affairs associated with these sentences does not occur. Those who claim that laws of physics are not true seem to interpret the phrase “Sentence S is true” in this or a similar spirit. It seems to me that they only have the right to claim that we do not know and perhaps will never know whether certain laws of physics are true. We are inclined to believe that what they proclaim actually occurs based on their probability. This is where we are often mistaken. Therefore, when I stated that laws of physics must be true I did not mean the actual state of science but a postulated one. We often make mistakes, and thus, in the current stage of the development of science many false claims probably appear labeled as “scientific.” What is more, we do not know of any probable statement – and approximate laws are an example of such statements – whether it is true or false. Thus, when I stated “It is not false,” and “It is true,” I meant, “We postulate that it is not false,” and “We postulate that it is true.”17


In the course of the final editing process of the present work I was able to use a number of suggestions of professors K. Twardowski and K. Ajdukiewicz, for which I am deeply grateful.


O definicjach prospektywnych (Dąmbska 1971f) We do not only describe what is, reconstruct what was, or decide on the sense of words designating objects given to us now. We also want to predict what will be, we often want to change what is and create what does not exist yet. As Pascal said, we live prospectively, oblivious of the time that is given only to us. Therefore we constantly speak and think of future things. In this situation, and especially in cases of active interference in shaping the future form of events and things, the issue of creating notions of objects which do not yet exist in the empirical sense deserves close attention. If we wish to change in a specific way an existing object A, or make an object B which does not yet exist, we must be able to predict the conditions in which the postulated change A may be performed, or the conditions in which B will come into existence. Wishing to change object A so that it assumes properties W, we may find ourselves in one of two following situations: A is either an individual object or a general one (a set, a kind, a type). In the first case, if we want to change A, we must have an idea of the class K(A) in order to be able to discover the necessary operations which could provide object A with property W which will either modify the set of its characteristic features to such an extent that the sentence A ∈ K will be false, or does not do it so that A, having the property W, will still belong to K. For instance, let A be an individual painting included in the class of impressionist pictures. If John repaints A, maintaining the characteristic features of impressionist painting, the painting will change (will obtain new properties W), but will still remain an element of the original set. If it is tampered with further, it may be excluded from the class of impressionist paintings and included, e.g., into the class of abstract paintings. Finally, when, for instance, it is cut into pieces and twisted in a certain way, it may In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 159–166. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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cease to be a picture and may become an object of a different kind (e.g. a colorful belt). The consequence of such an approach is the conviction that the state of affairs called being such and such an object is relative on a certain grid of concepts objectified in language. Still, one may wish to create a new individual object, not by subjecting another individual product to subsequent transformations, but from a material appropriate for the intended product, for instance, when someone intends to make a snowman out of snow. What is needed is certain knowledge concerning the material out of which the designed object is supposed to be formed, and at the same time, a certain knowledge of the object. Yet, what is classified here as the point of departure for the construction is classified by the creator into the category of “materials” rather than “products” turned into other products. Would it not be the same in the borderline case of the previous example, when someone made a colorful belt out of a painting? It could be, but it would not have to. It depends on the notion of the transformed object which the causative subject uses. It may also be the case than a person wants to either change or create new classes, kinds or types of objects, rather than individual ones. For instance, someone wants to create a new species of plants, some other person seeks to create a new chemical compound, another person designs a new kind of computing machine. In these cases, sometimes certain operations on individual objects are also made: cross breeding specific specimens of plants, welding specific bits of metals, constructing a specific model of the device; but this is all done in order to create a class of objects of a new kind K(x), having obtained a new individual entity, essentially different from those previously existing. Still, in that case, one also often designs the definition of K(x), an empty class in the empirical sense, since no element of it has come into existence yet. Thus, projected objects are both concrete objects and abstract entities, both individual objects and general, sometimes fictional ones. They are abstract not only in the case of creating new classes or general objects, but also certain individual objects if they are not real entities, e.g. when a new code of law, or a new scientific theory, or a new norm of a certain sport discipline is designed, etc. They are fictional when someone writes a new movie script, or creates a new literary, musical or visual work. Yet, in the case of designing a new real object one also cannot do this without creating an abstract object. After all, one must create a certain conceptual construct of an abstract real object before obtaining its realization in the form of an actually existing product. Naturally, one must make the initial assumption that someone plans to create a new real object on purpose rather than create an object as a result of unintended, incidental behavior. These briefly indicated examples of designing and producing new objects (actually existing, abstract, or fictional) in people’s conscious efforts

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lead to the issue connected to these prospective operations, an problem which may be of interest to logic, namely: the problem of the character of definitions which determine these objects, definitions which I shall call prospective definitions in order to distinguish them from nominal stipulative definitions. The issue is not only to introduce the definition of a new expression into the language, an expression which would designate a certain existing, still unnamed object, but also to determine the meaning of the word whose designatum does not exist yet. Let the point of departure of the analysis of prospective definitions be the concept of definition presented in professor Czeżowski’s article entitled “Definicje analityczne i syntetyczne” [“Analytic and Synthetic Definitions”]. 1 The author writes, “By definition I understand sentence D containing a component of unspecified meaning and introduced into the theory based on a definitional directive, that is, sentence D 1 belonging to metatheory and stating the truthfulness of sentence D. According to the classical definition of truth, directive D 1 attributes sentence D to a certain p, described in a given theory in such a way that D is always and only true if p; the way this attribution occurs is that a component of unspecified meaning in sentence D, called definiendum, obtains a meaning in accordance with this attribution.” Further on, the author distinguishes real definitions (formulated in objective language, that is, in the language of theory), and nominal definitions (formulated in the language of metatheory). He further divides the former into analytical and synthetic. He defines analytical definitions as definitions of an object known through observation and described in observational sentences. It is sometimes “a transformed description,” transformed by assuming the directive D 1, which grants the description the value of a true sentence. On the other hand, a real synthetic definition is a definition of an object which was not available for observation. This object is created by the definition which synthesizes certain components and creates out of them object P. These definitions are characteristic for deductive sciences; systems of axioms are examples of such definitions. They construct their objects, which is to say that they provide the rules for their determining, calculating, etc., with arbitrary accuracy. These objects are not empirical, although in some cases they have their models in the empirical world. In these cases, the existence of abstract objects is defined by referring to the model. If there is no model, the abstract object exists only relatively in view of the definition, and the criterion of its existence is reduced for the conditions of its constructability. Does the theory outlined here encompass all


Cf. (Czeżowski 1958a, p. 228 ff.).


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cases of prospective definitions? Naturally, these definitions cannot be regarded as analytical. After all, the defined object is a future object and therefore not available for observation. However, when it comes to real future objects, their prospective definitions are not synthetic. Real synthetic definitions merely produce a certain abstract object and they refer indirectly to real objects only when a semantic model in the empirical world exists. However, future real objects do not exist in the empirical world. These difficulties do not arise in the case of a definition of future abstract or fictional objects. These begin to exist at the moment of defining them, designated by the content of the definition, and directive D 1 assigns them to definitions on the basis of their constructability. Then it must be conceded that not only deductive sciences are the appropriate place for real synthetic definitions, but also empirical sciences, as well as jurisprudence, various domains of artistic creation, etc. Professor Czeżowski would perhaps concur, as in another work 2 he is inclined to interpret literary works in the manner of hypothetical-deductive systems, and does not claim in the discussed work on definitions that real synthetic definitions do not occur in empirical sciences. He probably allows for their existence as long as the theory of a given science assumes an axiomatic form. The difficulty with qualification of the prospective definitions of future real objects may be removed in two ways, as is always the case when a specific case seems to undermine a general theory. The first way is to consider the case as null and void. There are no prospective definitions concerning real future objects because there are no such objects: since they are future objects, they cannot be real if a real object is an object which exists empirically. Their supposed definitions are in fact synthetic definitions of certain abstract objects which perhaps will obtain their semantic model in the empirical world in future time t(f). Ontological concerns speak against such an elimination of the initial problem: unfounded identification of a real object with an empirically existing object. After all, real objects which have been obliterated and lost do not exist, but did not cease to belong to this ontic category. Their existence in past time t(p) can be deduced on the basis of certain data, and these deductions have the characteristics of historical hypotheses. Similarly, we may predict that a certain real object will exist in time t(f), and such a prognosis can also have the characteristics of a hypothesis. Still, let us add, the analogy is not accurate. Disregarding the value of historical hypotheses, they differ essentially from prognoses, which can only concern possible states of


Cf. (Czeżowski 1958b, p. 224).

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affairs, and possible objects, whereas historical hypotheses speak of real objects which actually existed. Let us assume the position in the theory of definitions that: Definiendum […] receives meaning due to the assumption that the definition is a true sentence in the language of the theory, to which definiendum belongs, or in the language of metatheory. 3

Therefore, if we interpret truthfulness in the classical sense, it is hard to assume about a definition of an object which does not yet exist that it is true. In order to maintain the assumption while not identifying a real future object with an empirically existing object, we may propose another way to remove the difficulty connected with prospective definitions of real future objects. This way does not limit accepting real future objects and consists in a certain modification of the theory of definitions mentioned at the beginning. This modification concerns the concept of so-called real definitions, that is, definitions formulated in the objective language of theory. Every definition in the objective language would be a postulate or a system of postulates which designatum a certain abstract object, just as is the case in deductive systems. The difference in the sense of definitions in cognition would consist in the fact that semantic models in the empirical domain would be inherent to some of the objects designated by them in various periods of time, and would not be inherent to others. Definitions of abstract objects, which could be justifiably predicted to obtain an empirical semantic model in the future time t(f) as a result of creating a new real object, would constitute a certain kind of prospective definitions. With this interpretation of definition, analytical descriptions of empirical objects would not constitute definitions, although they could serve as a point of departure for creating a definition of an abstract object (e.g. a species or a kind). This would explain why definitions are treated as independent from striving to confirm or reject their value, even in empirical sciences, that is, treated as sentences which exclude a priori variant cases, which are rejected or changed when maintaining their adequacy proves theoretically untenable. When the notion of a real definition is thus standardized as a definition of an abstract object, the division of real definitions into analytical and synthetic, based on the principle: an analytical description of an empirical object, or creating an abstract object (where it is worth noting that it makes little sense to suspect an intuitively understood synthesis in every definition determining an abstract object), simply disappears. It may be replaced


Cf. (Czeżowski 1959b, p. 97).


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with a division performed on the basis of the semantic relationship of a definition to the empirical world. Such a relationship either does not occur, or if it does occur, it is realized in two ways: (1) reductive, when the definition is an idealization or schematization of a description of empirical objects; (2) deductive, when the empirical description is an interpretation of a definition. The division of definitions into analytic and synthetic applied on the basis of a nominal or verbal definition, as e.g. Kotarbiński understands it (an analytical definition is one which answers the question of what a given term means in a certain establish way of speaking, whereas a synthetic definition is one which answers the question of what a given term means in a projected system of language). Czeżowski wished to avoid the ambiguity of the terms “analytic” and “synthetic” and, according to Ajdukiewicz’s proposal, replaced this with the division of nominal definitions into reporting and projecting. Whether it would be advisable from the methodological point of view to follow Kant and divide definitions into analytic and synthetic is a matter which has no bearing upon our subject. What I believe would also remain unchanged is the characteristic of a real definition as a definition of an abstract object, even in the case when we have clearly inserted in the very formulation of the definition of a future object an appropriate modal connective of the future tense, that is, if the prospective definition had the following form (X), X will be in time t(f) A if and only if χε φ(α,β,γ) (where A is a real future object, and φáα,β,γñ is a set of properties which are to constitute it). With this formulation, the postulate of the truthfulness of the definition, understood in its classic sense, important for the starting point of our discussion of the theory, can only be accepted as fulfilled if it was not equivalent to the postulate of the real existence of A for future objects, but with a weaker postulate of the empirical possibility A, accepted on the basis of prognostic hypotheses which in this theory have the function of a proof of such (that is, possible) existence of the object of definition. Yet, even in this case the definition is not an analytical definition in Czeżowski’s understanding (as it is not a generalized or schematized description of an empirically cognized objects), and the object, which is merely possible, has the characteristics of an abstract, rather than real object. We could also remove the difficulties connected with making a definition of real future objects through a more radical change of the theory of definition, a change along the lines of the popular concepts of definitions on the basis of formalized languages. In the construction of deductive systems, definitions are treated either as the statements of a system which are introduced to it on the basis of a directive which is the thesis of the metasystem and determining which conditions should be fulfilled in the system by this sentence being a definition. Such an interpretation of a definition

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seems to be the starting point for the semantic concept of definition accepted by Czeżowski. Based on this understanding, the division of definitions into real and nominal would be reduced to the difference of degree of the language of theory in which definitions are sentences. Nominal (resp. verbal) definitions would set the properties of words (they would directly establish their meaning), and thus, they would be sentences formulated in the metalanguage of objective language, and their directives would belong to a meta language which is a level higher, whereas real definitions would be theses of a system formulated in objective language. There is also another concept of definitions in formalized languages. According to it, definitions are exclusively sentences of a metasystem, which performs the role of rules of conduct for the system. This concept, which moves definition to the metalanguage of a system, may be a starting point for a general theory of definition, according to which definitions are never sentences about things, but rather sentences about language expressions. Defining on the basis of such a concept would be a lexical manipulation, and the definition would be a consequence concerning the way expressions are used. There would be no room in this theory of language for a division of definitions into nominal (metalinguistic) and real (in objective language). Prospective definitions would then be theses of metalanguage, proposals establishing the meaning of words designating future objects; a kind of projecting definitions. But such an approach to the matter is first of all contradictory to the traditional theory of definition as a certain type of characteristics of an object, and second of all, it does not resolve the difficulty behind the problem of the characteristics of real future objects, but rather moves it to another plain. The unification of the concept of real definition as a definition of an abstract object constitutes a certain attempt to overcome these difficulties. According to this concept, there are no definitions of real future objects, just as there are no definitions of real past or present objects. Yet, there occurs within empirical sciences a specific attribution of definitions of atemporal abstract objects and descriptive sentences. I have attempted to answer the question of the sense and manner of the justification of descriptive sentences concerning future states of affairs elsewhere.4


See my dissertation (Dąmbska 1963d).

Izydora Dąmbska 15. LOGICAL DIVISION AND DEFINITION Podział logiczny i definicja (Dąmbska 1956b) Our aim is to explain what the relationship is between division and definition. First, several meanings used in logic to describe logical division were presented: division as (a) a logical operation of distinguishing disjunctive subsets of a certain set, (b) a cognitive result of this operation, (c) the set of disjunctive subsets in their arrangement relativized to the action of dividing, (d) a certain system of subordinate relationships and mutually exclusive notions; and it was contrasted with division in the sense of (a) distinguishing parts of a certain individual whole, (b) distinguishing individual parts of a given set, (c) distinguishing the character of the relationships (this kind of division is contrasted with the classification of classes by St. Kaczorowski in O niektórych przekształceniach podziału [On Some Transformations of the Division]. 1 (Kaczorowski 1949). Subsequently, the relationship between logical division in the sense of the relationship between the main set and its disjunctive subsets was analyzed, as well as in the sense of a logical operation and its result, and definition in the classic interpretation first, followed by the sentential equivalence definition. The analysis demonstrated that: (1)


The classic definition by genus and differentia is simultaneously a dichotomous logical division, where totum divisionis is made of the genus mentioned in the definiens, and the fundament of division is formed from differentia. For instance, when we define a rectangle as a quadrangle inscribed into a circle, we divide quadrangles into those which can and cannot be inscribed into a circle.

Cf. (Kaczorowski 1949).

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 167–170. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.

168 (2) (3)

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Division by isolating subordinate and disjunctive subsets in totum divisionis provides definiens for the classic definition (for instance, Porphyrian tree). Logical division expressed in an exhaustive disjunction may play the part of a definiens in equivalential definitions. The following sentence: “(x) x is K if and only if x is K1, or K 2, … or K n” may be considered as definitions of x if there is a relationship of logical division between K and K 1, K 2, …K n, that is, when classes K 1-K n are disjunctive subsets of class K and their sum equals K. For instance, “(x) if x is a vertebrate, then x is either a mammal or a bird or a reptile or an amphibian or a fish” is a definition of a vertebrate provided that the definiens enumerates all the section of the division of vertebrates.

Independently from the aforementioned logical connections, there is also the following dependency between the cognitive processes of classifying and defining: when the difficulty of division is caused by a lack of clarity in the conception of the set which is to be divided, the definition which précises this concept and indicates the border of this set makes the division possible.


Izydora Dąmbska 16. SOME NOTIONS OF GRAMMAR IN VIEW OF LOGIC Niektóre pojęcia gramatyki w świetle logiki (Dąmbska 1964c) 1. Logic and the Study of Language The close relationship between logic and the science about language has been noted for centuries. Stoics called logic the science about sign and meaning. Renaissance logicians consciously stressed this relationship saying that ratio is the direct subject of logic and oratio is the subsequent subject. Logic as a science about the formal structures of elements of our cognition must necessarily be about parts of speech. These are considered in their semantic functions and create an important layer of these elements of cognition. Names, functors, and sentences are semantic categories whose construction and relations are described by logic. However, it would be a mistake to think that because of the great multitude of languages there must also be a corresponding multitude of logical systems. 1 One may admittedly speak of the logic of Latin, meaning that it is suitable for expressing one’s thoughts precisely thanks to the properties of its syntax and word formation. However, this is not the kind of logic of language that is meant here. After all, logic does not deal with individual specific languages in their psychological individualized function. Language, whose formal properties fall within the scope of research of logic,

B. Juhos’ thought (Juhos 1953, p. 593 ff.) that a common system of laws of logic does not correspond to all languages, but rather that various languages differ from each other with their logical properties, the thought shared by Kainz in his Psychologie der Sprache (Kainz 1954, p. 464), does not seem convincing. 1

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 171–188. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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is a certain ideal model or scheme LM, whose structure and relationships are only vaguely reflected in specific natural or artificial languages.2 By the term “natural languages” I understand ethnic or national languages which are formed in a specific time, which change and develop together with a given social group and form a current tool of communication and expression for this group. Natural language viewed this way is also a certain schematic construct, which should be distinguished from the “living speech” of individuals, as well as its certain group dialect variations. Linguists are interested in someone’s specific, individual language, discussed either because of its specific features, or as an example of common language, specific to a given ethnic group in a given period of time. These common languages with their patois accretions can be further distinguished within natural languages from so-called literary language, free from any patois accretions, common to various groups of a given society on the basis of conventional directives. When these languages of social groups (dialects, patois) still belong to one family, which is the basis for forming the scheme of a common literary language, this historical and linguistic problem is of no interest to us here. What seems significant for the further course of our discussion, however, is the distinction between the notions: the specific (written or spoken) language of a given individual, let us call him LN(i), from a general scheme, let us call it LN(g), whose various LN(i) are a concretization, often derivative by its attachment to group variants LN(g) of this general language. Various languages, LN(g), e.g. Polish, French, etc. may in turn be considered as elements of a general class of language LN. Apart from natural languages, there are also artificial languages LA constructed on the basis of natural languages, which are simplified and modified in order to create a perfected tool for communication between people. Various simplified international languages have these features, for instance Esperanto, latinum sine flexione, etc. Naturally, also here we can distinguish a general scheme of artificial languages LA and its further concretizations. Both LN languages and LA languages are distinguished by the fact that the manner in which their words are used, that is, through meanings and through the rules of syntax. A model of thusly understood language (let us call it LM(n,a)) differs from the model

A similar idea, albeit based on different premises, is formulated by E. Husserl (1901, p. 319), who writes: “Innerhalb der reinen Logik grenzt sich als eine, an sich bretrachtet, erste und grundlegende Sphäre, die reine Formenlehre der Bedeutungen ab; das ist die Lehre von den reinen Bedeutungskategorien und den a priori in ihnen gründenden Gesetzen der Komplexion bzw. Modifikation. Sie legt das ideale Gerüst bloss, das jede faktische Sprache, theils allgemein menschlichen, theils zufällig wechselnden empirishen Motiven folgend in verischiedener Weise mit empirischem Material alsfüllt und umkleidet.” 2

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


of languages which can be described wholly structurally, that is, through indicating the forms and ordering linguistic signs. These are the so-called formalized languages LF. Their theory built in the metalanguage of a given science is the work of logic. Another goal of logic is to examine the translatability of a given formalized language onto a language of the type LM(n,a) at the point when this axiomathized system gains an empirical interpretation. Logic discusses the properties of words in view of their semantic and syntactic functions and is a theory of LM(n,a) and LF; it mostly leaves to linguistics the attention to LN and JA languages. However, the results obtained by logic, especially within the LM(o,n,a) analysis, are certainly applicable mutatis mutandis with reference to LN to the degree in which these languages represent and exemplify their model. Logic meets linguistics on the plane of these applications, providing a developed conceptual apparatus necessary to describe fundamental semantic and syntactic functions of words. Linguistics describes categories of expressions specific to a given language from the LN family, and is able to use the logical theory of LM in order to grasp their semantic functions. Naturally, it is not confined to this side of the description, as it is oriented at specific properties of a given LN connected to its morphology, and the historical aspect of its development. For instance, it is unimportant to logic whether certain formal relationships between expressions described by logic in the theory of functors are determined in a given natural language by the inflectional forms of words, or by different uninflected parts of speech (e.g. prepositions). On the other hand, logic facilitates proper understanding of adequate forms occurring in natural languages by defining the semantic function of functors. Therefore, the section of study of the LN language which applies theories and logical directives formulated for LM language in the description of semantic and syntactic functions of words of LN is a specific form of applied logic, interpreted as the theory of structures and logical relationships characteristic for open, not formalized languages, which LN are. The section of logic devoted exclusively to the problem of the function of parts of speech and their structure is semantics. The word “semantics” is used in contemporary logic in two meanings: a broader and a narrower one. In the broader meaning, it is the science about signs and their functions, such as meaning, expressing, signifying, etc., and of the conditions of correct use of words from the point of view of cognitive needs of using words. In the narrower meaning, it is the theory of relationships between


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words in a given language and objects corresponding to them. 3 Throughout the course of our further discussion I shall use the term “semantics” in its broader, traditional meaning, and distinguish within it: (1) descriptive semantics and (2) semiotics. Descriptive semantics includes: (a) (b) (c)

a general theory of symbol and meaning; the science about semantic categories; the logical syntax of language.

I understand semiotics to be the directival part of semantics, which determines the conditions of correct use of words from the point of view of logic. Thus, the section of semantics which aims at eradicating from colloquial language or scientific language the sources of logical errors, for instance, the instability of meanings of certain words, their unclearness or vagueness, ambiguity, confusion of logical categories, etc. Both descriptive semantics and semiotics, applied to JN natural languages, allow for proper specification of various concepts used in the descriptive grammars of those languages. Speaking of the logical theory of meaning as “pure grammar,” Husserl may have meant this very use of logic.4 In the further course of the present work I shall attempt to demonstrate with examples of analysis of chosen concepts of the descriptive grammar of Polish to what degree discussing them from the point of view of the logical theory of LM may contribute to resolving certain issues of the metatheory of LN languages. One such problem is the typical grammatical problem of definition and classification of the so-called “parts of speech” and their semantic characteristic. Within this problem, having briefly discussed general matters, I shall attempt a logical analysis of several categories of words distinguished in this division. 2. On the Subject of the So-Called “Parts of Speech” 2.1. General Remarks on the Division of Expressions of Speech Division of the expressions of language into the so-called “parts of speech” is a traditional basic division, used in descriptive grammar, according to which the following semantic categories are usually distinguished in

3 A. Tarski uses the term “semantics” in that second meaning in his work “Grundlegung der wissenschaftlichen Semantik” (Tarski 1936, p. 1 ff.). 4 Cf. (Husserl 1901, p. 320)

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


Polish grammar: nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Both the division itself and the semantic characteristic of the classes distinguished within it raise many objections reservations of a logical nature. First we shall deal with an issue of terminology. The term “parts of speech” suggests that the problem is not the logical division of words but partition, that is, distinguishing components from a given structural whole. The French term “les parties du discourse” also suggests such an intent of interpreting the term. Yet, this is not the case. After all, the issue is not about isolating components in greater reasonable wholes, e.g. sentential constructions, but rather, about isolating elementary kinds of words from a set of words which constitute the material of a given language. Perhaps it would be better to speak of kinds of language expressions rather than of “parts of speech.” However, if we discuss the division of words from the point of view of logic, it is easy to demonstrate that it is faulty, which linguists themselves have often remarked upon. Logical division, if it is to satisfy the formal conditions of logical accuracy, must necessarily be, as it is known, disjunctive and adequate: disjunctive, that is, the species of a certain kind isolated by division must be mutually exclusive, adequate, that is, the sum of the isolated species exhausts all elements of the divided set. It is also recommended that a methodologically correct partition should have a clear rule or foundation for division, that is, that it is specified the reason why a certain subset is distinguished in a given set by contrasting it with other subsets of this set. Thus, this basis is a specific feature of objects within a given set, whose variants determine the distinguishing subsets within it. As far as the division of the so-called parts of speech is concerned, classification of expressions of speech is not conducted due to only one rule and is not disjunctive. Gradable parts of speech5 are divided into nouns, adjectives, numerals, pronouns, and verbs, assuming as the principle of the division the ontological structure of the objects whose these words are signs of, and simultaneously their semantic character (e.g. in the case of distinguishing pronouns, their indexical character) or morphological properties (e.g. with distinguishing verbs). Thus we obtain a not-disjunctive division, since, e.g., pronouns may signify things, which is supposed to determine that the word belongs to the class of nouns, and nouns may signify features,

5 Incidentally, adverbs are mentioned among indeclinable parts of speech, although they are gradable, which also falls within declination in grammar.


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which in turn determines that the word belongs to the class of adjectives.6 On the grounds of this principle of division, numerals should be assigned to either the class of adjectives (ordinal numerals), or in the class of nouns (cardinal numerals as names of sets). Similarly, the class of verbs includes various categories of words from the semantic point of view. After all, it includes, probably because of their morphological properties, infinitives, participles, and inflective forms. Infinitives and inflective participles perform the function of names, denoting certain objects just as nouns and adjectives do (activities, e.g. “to know,” or acting subjects, e.g. “standing”), whereas inflective forms can hardly be considered as names, even though they indicate certain processes and actions. They should be considered as sentence-creating functors from nominal arguments.7 It seems that the Aristotelian concept of categories, that is, kinds of predicates, underlies the traditional division of words into “parts of speech.” Aristotle interprets categories as kinds of predicates corresponding to kinds of being, that is, certain ontological structures. Among the distinguished ten categories are: (1) substance (ουσια or τι εστι, e.g. “horse”), (2) quantity (ποσον, e.g. “two inches long”), (3) quality (ποιον, e.g. “white”), (4) relation (προςτι, e.g. “bigger”), (5) place (που, e.g. “in the market”), (6) time (ποτε, e.g. “yesterday”), (7) position (κεισθαι, e.g. “sitting”), (8) possession (εχειν, e.g. “is armed”), (9) action (ποιειν, e.g. “cuts”), (10) being affected (πασχειν, e.g. “is cut”). We can easily notice a model for our parts of speech, all the more so that Aristotle clearly indicates in Metaphysics that there is a connection between the forms of speaking and being, when he writes: oσαχως γαρ λεγεται, τοσαυταχως το ειναι σημαινει. 8 Yet, the science about language, just as logic, is primarily a formal science, whose subjects are structures of words, their functions, their dependencies, rather than the construction of reality and kinds of phenomena. This is evident in the grammatical form of verbs, which as many as four classes of predicates (7–10) correspond to in Aristotle’s categories. Obviously, in semantics, which deals with, among other things, the intentional relationship between expressions of speech and objects ascribed to them, it is easy to shift the problems from the plain of formal language to the plain of ontology. Thus, it is no wonder that both language and its theories mirror certain concepts of being and assume ontological classifications. However,

6 One may also have doubts as to whether adjectives are names of features. In fact, they designate objects which are qualified in some way. 7 For the notion of functor, see below, p. page 183ff. 8 Aristotle, Metaphysica Δ 7, 1017 a, 23 n.

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


confusing these two points of view: formal, concerning the functional and syntactic function of words, and semantic in the narrower sense, concerning ascribing words to things, inevitably leads to intersecting divisions. Linguists themselves clearly realize that the division of words into parts of speech is imperfect,9 but still, even the newest handbooks of grammar are not free from such mistakes. As I mentioned before, in order not to repeat the objections formulated many times, I shall settle for resolving two issues: (a) one concerning misunderstandings within the theory of sign; (b) another one concerning problems with distinction between objective language and metatheoretical language. 2.2. On Interjections The first issue concerns the class of interjections mentioned in the division of words. In older grammar handbooks they appear in the group of indeclinable parts of speech, whereas in newer handbooks they are opposed to “signs of objects of thoughts,” as “signs of emotions.” 10 Difficulties connected with including the category of interjections into the classification of expressions of speech derive from the fact that interjection are not sensu stricto expression of speech, although they are certain expressive signs. After all, a significant quality of expressions of speech is that they have meaning and they indicate an intentional object which they represent. Apart from these functions of meaning and indicating certain intentional objects, expressions of speech may also, when one currently uses them, serve the function of expressing the experiences of the person speaking: thoughts and emotions. When they perform the function, and they can only perform it in a specific verbal or situational context, they simultaneously become indexes of certain experiences. Interjections are as a rule indexes of certain experiences of an emotional nature (surprise, anger, joy, etc.), but neither the meanings nor the intentional objects determined by these meanings are ascribed to them, and therefore they do not fulfill the basic criterion distinguishing expressions of speech from other symbols devoid of meaning. Such interjections as “ouch,” “ah,” “yuck,” “ho ho,” etc., are no more expressions of speech than moans, cries or laughter is. Suppose a footbridge collapses under a man crossing a river together with his dog. The squeal of the dog and the interjection “oh” of its master do not at all differ in their sign function. They are means of expression rather than

9 An apt and concise overview of the mistakes within this division is presented by W. Porzeziński in his article “O tzw. częściach mowy słów kilka” [“A Few Words on the SoCalled Parts of Speech”] (Porzeziński 1923, p. 129 ff.). 10 Cf. (Szober 1914–1916/1953, p. 96).


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expression of speech through which intentional objects of thoughts are revealed to us. That it is indeed the case is supported by the fact that expressions of speech (symbols equipped with meanings) used as interjection seem to lose their sense, cease to indicate intentional objects and mean something, and they become an index of the emotional state of the person who is using them in their exclamatory function. Words like “damn!” or “hell!” do not designate damnation or inferno. They lose their meaning and become a means of emotional expression. One might attempt to defend the verbal character of interjections by assuming that they function as indexical expressions, that is, such whose meaning is determined by situational or verbal context which these words occur in. An interjection “God!” uttered by person A in the moment A notices a child running across the street right in front of a car expresses the person’s fear and at the same time indicates somehow the event which A notices. Yet, I do not believe that indicating of this kind can be identified with a semantic function of indexical expressions. Indexical expressions such as “here,” “yesterday,” “me,” etc., have a certain meaning which determines the scope of their use. It is clear that “here” indicates a certain place, that “yesterday” denotes a certain day, that “me” denotes a specific person, and the situational or verbal context is used only to specify what place, what day, and what person is meant in a given case. The case is different with interjections to which no meaning designating the scope of their use in advance is ascribed. If they indicate a certain state of affairs which caused a given emotion secondarily, independent from the function of expressing the emotional state of the person speaking, then they do it only based on the same principle as other perceivable extra-linguistic expressions of emotions. In our example, the fear of person A could be expressed with, e.g., suddenly raising his or her hands in the air, and this movement could indicate the event to someone in the background of the situation without becoming a expression of speech provided with sense. It seems that various words, regardless of the semantic category they belong to, may be used as interjections. Then they lose their original sense; what they express is decided by the manner of their utterance and the situation in which they have been used. Moreover, even when expressions of speech retain their meaning, they may be used to express emotions, just as interjection. Thus, there is no justification for the mentioned contrasting interjections as symbols of feelings with other parts of speech as symbols of objects of thoughts. What is more, distinguishing these two groups is not based on a common principle of division. In both cases, the words are signs in a different meaning. In the second case, when we say that a word is a sign of the object of thought, what is taken into consideration is the function of signifying or other kind of indicating objects of semantic

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


intention of the word. In the first case, the word is a symbol of an emotion if it expresses this emotion. On the other hand, the function of indicating an object and the function of expressing the emotional states of the person speaking are two different semantic functions of expressions of speech. Words are assigned to certain objects on the basis of linguistic conventions, and this determines their sense, regardless of whether someone uses a given word or not. They only express someone’s experience when they are discussed in relation to the subject speaking as signs of his experience. This function of expressing spiritual states and communicating them to other people is performed by various expressions of speech besides interjections and other expressive signs, differing from them in that they simultaneously mean something and represent something. Thus, individual parts of speech become expressions of emotions or thoughts only in a specific situational or verbal context. The phrase “I shall wait for you this evening, my dearest,” is not only information concerning the future state of events, but also an expression of emotions, although it does not contain interjections. Similarly, “You are so pale: are you sick?” may express someone’s cordial concern about the other person. Intonation often provides hints to which emotional state is expressed in the words, but usually it is the situational context in which they were uttered. Naturally, we must make a distinction between informing about one’s emotional states with the use of words and expressing emotions through words.11 In the first case, the emotional state is an intentional object of the content of our utterance, which can moreover indirectly express certain psychic states of the speaker. When someone states, “I am sad,” he informs us of his sadness, but this sentence may also express, e.g., the wish to make others interested in him or another spiritual state of the speaker. On the other hand, the sentence, “You must be tired; I will prepare a bath for you” expresses someone’s thoughtfulness, although it informs about the intention to prepare a bath. Assuredly, words expressing certain spiritual states can simultaneously communicate them and make them available to others, just as those which inform about certain experiences may also be their expression. Hence it is easy to misunderstand. Interjections, not being sensible words, may only express, and thus, communicate emotional states of the speaker, just as a grimace, a clenched fist, a smile or tears express and communicate them. Therefore, making a separate class of words out of interjections does not


Both expressing and informing is a certain form of communicating certain contents to others. Expressing may sometimes be unintended communication when our words inadvertently reveal the experiences which we attempt to conceal. Informing is, as a rule, intended communication, as it is making available to others through words certain information, either about transcendent objects, about one’s own experiences or both.


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seem justified, but rather, it is based on the ambiguity of the term “to be a sign of something.” Therefore, it would be proper to remove this category from the division and discuss interjections on a par with other extra-verbal elements of speech, such as intonation, volume, modulation, etc. That same grammarian who defined interjections as “signs of emotions,” writes further on: Words like “gee,” “hey,” “a,” “ah,” do not have any specified meaning and only express certain spiritual states, certain emotions which arise under the influence of some thoughts. These emotions and thoughts can be expressed in the form of full sentences, therefore words like “gee,” “hey,” “a,” “ah,” etc., express the same content as full sentences, albeit generally and imprecisely, and therefore are equivalents of them. Equivalents of sentences which do not have any specific content and only generally express certain spiritual states and emotions are called interjection.12

Let us now compile several theses included in this paragraph: (a) (b) (c)

Interjections do not have any specific meaning. Interjections do not have any specific content. Interjections express in a general way the same content as sentences, and therefore are equivalents of them.

Sentences (a) and (b) seem to be equivalent, but sentence (c) is inconsistent with them. If an interjection has no specific meaning or content, it cannot be an equivalent of sentence (with a specific meaning) and even generally express the same content. The interjection “ah ” does not have the same meaning as, e.g., “I am very scared,” as it only sometimes expresses the emotion which can be described with that sentence. At other times it will express an emotion which can be accounted for with a sentence of a completely different content (e.g. “I am very surprised,” “I am so sorry,” etc.). The meanings of these sentences do not automatically become the meanings of the interjection, even general ones, although they inform about experiences which this interjection may express. To summarize our discussion, let us say that an interjection is not “a part of speech” if we understand a part of speech to be a kind of language expression, as it is not a language sign, but rather an expressive sign, an index used to express and communicate experiences and not to indicate intentional objects of thoughts. 2.3. On So-Called Dependent Words Apart from the traditional division of expressions of speech into declinable and indeclinable, there is also in grammar the division of words into


Cf. (Szober 1914–1916/1953, p. 386).

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


independent and dependent. A question arises here about the relationship between this division and the division into autosemantic and sysnsemantic words, well known by logicians, or in scholastic terminology, into categorematic and syncategorematic. For Marty, “syncategorematic” means the same as co-meaningful (“mitbedeutend”), whereas “syncategorematic” signs are those which mean something […] nur mit anderen Redenbestandteilen, sei es, dass sie einem Begriff erwecken helfen, also bloss Teile eines Namens sind, oder zum Ausdruck eines Urteils (einer Ausssage) oder zur Kundgabe einer Gemütsbewegung oder eines Willens (zu einer Bitt-, Befehlsformel u. dgl.) beitragen.”13

Marty’s distinction was refined many times, pointing out the fact that also the so-called syncategorematic words have certain individual meanings which distinguish them from morphological components of words, except these meanings are dependent and not autonomous, as meanings of names or sentences are.14 Yet, the issue seems to be of a different nature in the aforementioned division. Szober writes: We call dependent words those whose function consists in expressing relationships between other words in the sentence. Thus, they are words like “but,” “and,” “from,” “under,” “over,” “with”; all other words, not excluding interjections, are called independent words.15

In this division, conjunctions (“but,” “and”) are included in the same semantic category as prepositions (“from,” “under,” “over,” “with”) on the grounds that they are ascribed the same semantic function. This function was described as an expression of “relationships between words.” Neither this way of determining the semantic function of dependent words nor including conjunctions and prepositions in one class seems right. Although from the point of view of syntax we may speak of the function of particular categories of words in the structure of a sentence and distinguish words which are used to join other words in new wholes, it does not lead to the conclusion that these words concern relationships between other words. If that were the case, that is, if the object of semantic intention were other words, these words would belong to metatheoretical language rather than to objective language and would not be able to function as its components.16 Words such

Cf. (Marty 1893, p. 121 ff.). See e.g. (Husserl 1901, p. 296 ff.). 15 Cf. (Szober 1914–1916/1953, p. 92). 16 Objective language, that is, language of the first degree, is juxtaposed in semantics with language of the second degree, where we speak of expressions included in objective language. Failure to distinguish between the degrees of language leads to logical antinomies. 13 14


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as “from,” “under,” “over,” “with,” “in” etc., indeed indicate the existence of a relationship, but between objects designated by the words which these prepositions attach to rather than the words themselves. In the phrase “The house was by the river” the word “by” indicates a certain spatial relationship between the house and the river, rather than a relationship between words which are “next to” each other in a sentence. From the point of view of semantics, prepositions discussed in isolation from context are words with semantic intention directed at relationships; in context, in connection with other words, they make a whole which signifies a certain set of objects connected with a mutual relationship, and the relationship itself. This whole, which is usually already a combination of a preposition and a noun, occurs in the sentence as a predicate (e.g. “Warsaw is bigger than Cracow”), either as a description which occurs in the subjects (e.g. “Lady with an Ermine is the work of Leonardo da Vinci”). An argument in favor of the idea that prepositions perform a semantic function different from designating relationships between words is that they are often ambiguous and that the semantic intention may be directed at various kinds of relationships between things, whereas their syntactic function does not change. For instance, the preposition “with” in the expression “Lady with an Ermine” indicates a relationship of spatial coexistence. On the other hand, the expression “cut with a knife”17 indicates the relationship of an action to a tool. When I speak of the semantic function of prepositions, I use the term “indicates” in order to distinguish this manner of referring a word to an object from the function of signifying characteristics to names. Prepositions, unlike names, are ascribed by the rules of language to their ontological equivalents and therefore they perform a different syntactic function. They cannot be either subjects or predicates of sentences when they are used in suppositione formali. They are dependent because they are used as elements of name expressions which designate objects remaining in certain relationships towards each other, indicating those relationships, e.g. “a house on the hill,” “wind from the sea.” They are used to construct phrases which determine more precisely the sense of the predicate in a sentence. These expressions indicate an element of a presumed relationship in the sentence (e.g. “Peter is sitting on the roof”). In this case, prepositions enhance the relationship and they correspond to the inflectional form of the word, which also indicates that their meaning is dependent in view of the whole of the designation. Thus, prepositions occur as dependent elements of both names (e.g. “Lady with an Ermine”) and compound sentences (“Peter is sitting on the roof”), and perform the function

17 Dąmbska’s original examples are: “Dama z łasiczką” (“Lady with an ermine”) and “baranek z cukru” (“a lamb made of sugar”) [AB&JJ].

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


of an indicator designating a certain variable, either in the content of the name, or in the content of the sentence (“Lady with x,” “Peter is sitting on x”) as well as limiting the scope of variability of this variable by indicating the relationship that is possible between the designatum of the name or the designatum of the subject of the sentence and other objects. In grammar, prepositions are usually connected with only one argument, and it is usually a name argument.18 It does not seem correct from the point of view of logic. A word with a preposition (e.g. “on the roof,” “by the road”) is not semantically independent and requires supplementing from the name or the sentence where it becomes a co-naming element. From the point of view of grammar, it functions in a sentence as an adverbial phrase, and from the point of view of logical semantics, it indicates an argument of the relationship whose other argument is the designatum of the subject, and through the preposition included in the sentence it also indicates a relationship in question (e.g. a spatial or temporal relationship, etc.). The case is different with conjunctions, which are treated as belonging to the same grammatical category as prepositions in the above mentioned sentence from Szober’s grammar. Both their semantic and syntactic function seems different from the function of prepositions. Conjunctions are either name-creating functors or sentence-creating functors of name or sentence arguments, and are used to create new word structures whose elements are names or sentences. Some of them can be used both in the name-creating and the sentence-creating roles, for instance, the conjunction “and” (“Romeo and Juliet,” “The Earth is a planet and it revolves around the Sun”), others can only be used as sentence-creating functors, e.g. “but,” “so,” etc. A semantic analysis of conjunctions is not very advanced. The theory of functors may shed some light on their role in natural languages, as it determines their meaning in logical calculus and in deductive systems.19 After all, there are also among those symbols such permanent symbols which at least some conjunctions correspond to with their function in colloquial speech. The role of functors in logic is similar to the function of mathematical signs which connect either names of numbers or variable expressions, or functions. Sentence-creating functors in logic are either functors of name arguments or functors of sentence arguments. In the sentence “The Earth is a planet,” the word “is” is a functor of name arguments, and in the sentence “The Earth

Dąmbska notes that the Polish term for preposition, i.e. “przyimek” etymologically menas “by a name” (Polish: “przy imieniu”) [AB&JJ]. 19 Remarks on the role of functors in logic are formulated on the basis of Logika matematyczna [Mathematical Logic] by A. Mostowski (1948) and other handbooks of logic. 18


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is a planet and it revolves around the Sun” the word “and” is a functor of sentence arguments. Name-creating functors of sentence arguments may be functors of one or more arguments. The word “not” is a sentence-creating functor of one sentence argument (“It is not good”), the functor “if – then” is a functor of two sentence arguments (“If 27 is divisible by 9, then it is divisible by 3”), etc. All sentence-creating functors in logic are extensional, which differentiates them from some, even consonant words in colloquial speech which do not have this property. A functor is called extensional when the logical value of a sentence made with the help of this functor depends exclusively on the logical value rather than on the meaning of the arguments. Non-extensional functors are, e.g. the conjunctions “that,” “[in order] to,” etc. The truthfulness or falsity of the sentence “Peter wrote that p” does not depend on the logical value of the sentence substituted for p, but on its content. Even when the logical value of a compound sentence also depends on the logical value of arguments, but not only that, also on the content of the arguments, we consider that functor to be non-extensional. For instance, the functor “if-then,” used to build conditional sentence, is non-extensional in colloquial language, but in logic it has the function of an extensional functor. Hence the difference between material implication, which is true when and only when it is not the case that the antecedent is true and the consequent is false, and thus, regardless of the content of the antecedent and the consequent – and a conditional sentence, where the consequent of the conditional is the consequence of the entecedent, which is determined both by the logical value and the sense of the sentences. Despite this difference as well as others, generally speaking, the function of conjunctions in the Polish language corresponds to the role of functors in logic. Also in colloquial speech, these are used to create certain word structures from name or sentence arguments, although they are not confined to this role. Let us discuss this issue on the example of the conjunction “and.” The conjunction “and” can connect both names and sentences. However, does it become a name-creating functor by binding name arguments? In order to answer this question, let us consider expressions where it is present as a functor of name or sentence arguments. Let capital letters denote name variables and small letters denote sentence variables. The conjunction “and” can occur as a functor in three different word structures: “A and B” (e.g. “Adam and Eve,” “a goat and a wolf”), “A is B and C” (“Peter is brave and smart”), and “p and q” (“The fields are green and the meadows are in flower”). Naturally, the conjunction “and” can also connect other categories of words (“I remember about you anytime and anywhere,” “John had bad luck and good luck”), but then it is not a functor of name or sentence arguments. In cases where the conjunction “and” connects the components of the predicate in a sentence, this sentence may be replaced with an equivalent conjunction

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


of sentences. “Peter is brave and smart” means the same as “Peter is brave and Peter is smart.” This is not always successful when “and” connects two names in the subject of the same meaning. The sentence: “Romeo and Juliet died tragic deaths” may be deemed equivalent to the conjunction of the sentences: “Romeo died a tragic death and Juliet died a tragic death.” However, such a conjunction cannot be formed when we say, “Romeo and Juliet were a couple of lovers,” as we cannot state about each of them individually that he or she is “a couple.” It seems that “and” as the conjunction of name arguments is indeed a name-creating functor, and the names which are formed thanks to it are names of pairs or series of objects. As a functor of sentence arguments, it is used in colloquial speech, just as in logic, to create conjunctions of sentences. It is then an extensional functor, as the logical value of the conjunction depends solely on the logical value of the arguments. Another issue in connection with the syntactic role of conjunctions is the issue of their semantic functions in the narrower sense. A question arises whether they, as conjunctions, demonstrate certain relationships in which certain objects remain with respect to each other. An analysis of several propositional conjunctions seems to support the idea that they are used to indicate relationships between the states of affairs stated in these sentences. For instance, the conjunction “because” indicates the relationship of conditioning (e.g. “The baby is crying because it is hungry”), the conjunction “[in order] to” indicates the relationship of means to an end (e.g. “His leg was amputated to avoid gangrene”), etc. Still, there are many conjunctions which are not that easily assigned a specific relationship. Do conjunctions such as “and,” “but,” “or,” and “therefore” indicate some specific real relationships? It seems that they are auxiliary words (auxiliaries), that is, their main semantic function consists in indicating links which are the result of the thought processes of the speaker. The word “and” indicates coordination of certain events or things, the word “but” indicates their opposition, etc. Does this mean that, as e.g. Pfänder believes, nothing corresponds to them in the objective sphere?20 This conclusion does not Cf. (Pfänder 1929, p. 165 ff. and 179 ff.) juxtaposes “purely functional concepts” (“die rein funktionierenden Begriffe”) and objective concepts (“Gegenstandsbegriffe”). The former include, among others, concepts which are the meaning of conjunctions. Taking the conjunction “and” as an example, Pfänder explains that it gives an account of a purely intellectual connection between objects. The conclusion about a “lack-of-objects” concept which is the meaning of the word “and” does not seem to result from here. Pfänder contrasts conjunctions and prepositions, whose meaning constitutes concepts establishing relationships “in Beziehung-setzende-Begriffe.” However, the difference between conjunctions and prepositions does not consist in the fact that the former do not indicate anything in the objective sphere, but rather on the fact that they indicate relationships of a different type than the ones which correspond to conjunctions. Prepositions indicate objective relationships occurring between 20


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seem justified. An auxiliary reference to objects of various kinds is usually done on some objective grounds and indicates them indirectly, which is supported by the fact that using a conjunction may be erroneous. When someone states, “Peter is corruptible and honest,” we feel that something is wrong, as the coexistence of the two features indicated by the conjunction “and” cannot occur. Perhaps the semantic role of conjunctions can be described in the following manner: they connote the result of logical operations done on objects and they indicate the resulting relativization of these objects with respect to each other. If this relativization occurs as a result of stating objective relationships between the objects, then also the operator indirectly indicates these grounds. This is the case, e.g., with causal and purposeful conjunctions, etc. Still, the difference between prepositions and conjunctions seems important. It consists in the fact that prepositions directly indicate the relationships between objects, whereas conjunctions, since they are auxiliaries, indicate the relativization of objects as a result of the conducted intellectual operations. One such typical auxiliary word is the word “not,” which is probably wrongly classified as an adverb by linguists. 21 The word “not” is a functor of one argument, either a name argument or a sentence argument. As a functor of a name argument, it is used to create compound negative names of the type not-A. The name “not-A” can be interpreted twofold. The first meaning is that not-A” is “everything which is not A.” In the second meaning, “not- A” denotes “x which is not A.” The scope of the variability of this “x which is not A” indicates the scope of the negative name so broadly that not- A and A exhaust the limit of objects. Then “x which is not A” means the same as “everything which is not A.” For instance, the pair of names “human” and “not-human” encompasses the whole universe with the sum of its scope, since whatever is not human is not-human; or, to put it more narrowly, when the scope of mutually exclusive names does not exhaust all objects, but their sum is equal to a class isolated among others. Then the negative name is not a simple negation of the positive name, although they are mutually exclusive. When the name “not-A” is a simple negation of the name A, there is no such x which would not be A or not-A. Then the names A and not- A are contradictory. In the second case, there is such x which are neither A nor not- A. In those cases, the negative name not-A may sometimes be replaced with a positive name B of the same scope, for instance:

objects, whereas conjunctions primarily indicate the relativization of objects resulting from cognitive operations (their coordination, juxtaposition, etc.). 21 See e.g. Słownik języka polskiego [The Dictionary of the Polish Language] (Karłowicz, Kryński & Niedźwiecki, eds. 1904, p. 252).

Some Notions of Grammar in View of Logic


• friend – not a friend = enemy; • good – not good = bad; • compassionate – not compassionate = cruel, etc. As a sentence-creating functor, the word “not” means the same in logic as “it is not the case that” and is used to create compound sentences called negations. The word “not” does not always perform this function in a sentence. For instance, the sentence “Some mammals are not herbivores” is not a negation of the sentence “Some mammals are herbivores, as both of these sentences are true. However, this sentence negates the sentence that “All mammals are herbivores.” Categorical negative sentences are equivalent to declarative sentences with a negative name in the predicate. For instance, the sentence “No A is B” is equivalent to the sentence “Every A is not-B.” Negation as a functor of a name argument replaces the negation of a sentence argument here. The case is similar with other functors. For instance, a categorical sentence with a conjunction of names in the predicate is, as was mentioned before, equivalent to a conjunction of sentences. The sentence “A is B and C” is equivalent to the conjunction of sentences “A is B and A is C.” In this concise analysis of the concept of the semantic function of conjunctions and prepositions, I wished to note, among other things, the need to distinguish between objective language and metatheoretical language in grammar. If, as seems to result from some of the formulations of Szober’s grammar, the role of dependent words consisted in the idea that they state something about the relationships between words, then dependent expressions of speech would be elements of metatheoretical language, rather than objective language, and in consequence, the sentences in which they occur would belong to two different languages. Clearly this is not the case. Dependent words, just as with independent words, are elements of objective language22 and in their semantic intention they indicate certain relationships between objects signified by independent expressions of speech. The pretence that dependent words lack this objective reference, characteristic for independent expressions of speech, has its source in the fact that some of them function as auxiliaries and that their syntactic role (name- or sentence-creating) comes to the fore and in some measure obscures their characteristic semantic function.

Naturally, we must not forget that in spoken natural language LN, all words, both dependent and independent, are basically ambiguous. After all, their function is to indicate objects, but also to indicate themselves. In the second case, they are words of metatheoretical language. Words in this second meaning in written language are distinguished [sometimes] by putting them in quotation marks. 22


O konwencjach semiotycznych (Dąmbska 1973h) The discussion I intend to present in this study is a part of a more extensive dissertation concerning conventions in various fields of culture. In the introduction to this dissertation, I distinguish several meanings of the word “convention,” which I must quote in the summary, as I use them repeatedly in the further course of this discussion. Generally speaking, there are three meanings of the term “convention”: convention in the sense of arrangement, in the sense of decision, and in the sense of custom. Within each of these meanings I distinguish the functional aspect and the productive, or result, aspect of a given activity. Let us add that obviously not all arrangements, decisions or customs assume the character of a convention, only their certain subsets. Thus, C-I-a is a convention understood as an activity of authorized people consisting in: (1) removing the actual or possible inconsistent standpoints of grantors of these people in a given issue, and (2) assuming a common standpoint valid for the grantors under specific conditions (where the authorized person and the grantor may be the same subject of activity in some cases). C-I-b is a product of C-I-a presented in the form of a verbal message which provides the content of the arranged standpoint and the conditions of the commitment. C-II-a is as much as a decision in the issue of the choice of a determinant or a class of determinants W, which continue a certain system (an order of relationships) in the scope of results of a sign character belonging to the universum of cultural objects. C-II-b is the determinant selected in the above way. It may be a postulate, a definition, a system of axioms, a rule of conduct, a literary or artistic canon, etc.

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 189–200. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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C-III-a is a certain custom, a stereotypical manner of behavior, which is not instinctive behavior, and is supposed to communicate specific meaning content determined by the directive of the type C-II-b or an agreement C-I-b, even if the people who preserve the custom are not aware of the convention which conditions it. C-III-b constitutes objectivized manifestations of C-III-a (social conventions, conventional attire, decorations, etc.). The domain in which conventions play an important role, in each of the meanings of the word “convention” mentioned above, is ex definitione the domain of signs of various kinds. What is more, we may venture a statement that the notion of a convention is specific to it and that it necessarily penetrates this world because sing systems and meanings are so common in the world of culture. Human speech discussed as a natural, spontaneous manner of people’s behavior in their pursuit of externalizing their own spiritual states, of communicating with others, of influencing others and cooperating with them, of précising and consolidating knowledge about reality, is not an example of a convention in the sense of C-III, in accordance with the descriptions cited above, as it does not fulfill the second condition; it is not merely reduced to communicating certain content determined by directives of the type C-II-b or by agreements C-I-b. This does not stand in contradiction with the fact that a language understood as a system of signs and rules of using them is a result of a convention of the type C-II-a, whereas the rules themselves may have the characteristics of the convention C-II-b. This especially concerns artificial and formal languages, as well as certain aspects of natural language. However, not all symbols, if we take a certain specific meaning of the term, have a conventional character. This particularly concerns the domain of symbols which are customarily called “indexes.” The notion of an index, variously defined and interpreted, can be reduced to the concept of an ordered set U, such that U = F{(a → b) for S}, when S is a conscious subject, a is a certain state of affairs available in perception such that it may be included by S as an indicator of the occurrence of another state of affairs, namely b. A given a indicates b if and only if S, noticing a, may accept b in view of the fact that there is a certain relationship of assignment between a and b. This relationship of assignment may be ontically founded (e.g. because a causally determines b) or based on convention. In the second case, the role of conventions may be twofold. Either it consists in equipping the indicator a with certain sign elements assumed by conventions, where the state of affairs a is founded as an indicator by a real relationship (either functional or causal) with the state of affairs b, or this relationship consists in the relationship of

On Semiotic Conventions


subordinating states of affairs purely on the basis of convention. Then the choice of indicator a does not have to be pragmatically justified and may be of any character. Let us call the indexes of the first kind symptoms, and the other, signals. A conventional index often owes its character to the circumstance that it is a state of affairs in which whatever occurs is a symbol. Hanging a black flag on a university building is the index of the fact that one of the employees of this institution has died; the flag itself is a symbol of mourning. Sprinkling ashes on one’s head is an index of atonement, and the ash is a symbol of the insignificance of human life in this situational context. It is often the case that the very behavior or activity which uses a symbol is called a symbol; however, it is better to describe it as “symbolic,” and save the term “symbol” for things rather than states of affairs of processes which have the character of indexes. Even with this restriction, the word “symbol” is used to signify signs from different areas of life. We speak of logical and mathematical symbols in science, symbols of quality in technology and industry, symbols of religious cults, symbols in poetry and art. The sign ‘=’ is a symbol of the relationship of equality in mathematics, and the letter ‘p’ is a symbol of a sentence in propositional calculus. The number one in Boole’s algebra is the symbol of truth value, and it may be a symbol of the good quality of goods in technology. Yet, we also say that the cross of Lorraine became the symbol of the resistance movement in France, and a skeleton with a scythe has symbolized death for many ages; a trowel is a symbol of the Masonry, etc. What all these objects have in common is that they were constructed or chosen in order to perform a certain specific semantic function, that is, the function of signifying, granted to them on the basis of convention. There are two differences between them. The first one is formal and consists in the idea that some of these symbols represent something themselves, or present on a different basis (a drawn cross is a image of a real cross, a sculpted skeleton is a image of a real skeleton, etc.) apart from the semantic function of symbolizing ascribed to them by convention, whereas other symbols do not have any other semantic reference apart from the convention which establishes their semantic function (a sheet of black fabric, the symbol of equality, etc.). The second difference is connected to what may be called the value-making content. There are emotionally neutral symbols introduced in order to improve certain cognitive operations, to communicate information better, or to conduct reasoning more easily, etc., as well as those which are used in order to designate objects and simultaneously suggest certain values and evoke an appropriate axiological experience. Sometimes the term “symbol” is reserved for only the second kind of conventional symbols of this sort. Semantic conventions in poetry, art or religion are inclined towards


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this aim. We shall discuss this matter more closely in further chapters of the work mentioned at the beginning. For now, we are only concerned with a distinction between a symbol and a signal, and noting the conventional character of symbols. In order to avoid misunderstanding, let us add that two divisions of symbols proposed here intersect, that is, the neutral or axiological character of the semantic content of a sign is not connected with the kind of objects which perform the function of symbols, but rather, with the kind of their pragmatic use determined by the character of objects designated by them. Since apart from the semantic reference determined by convention, symbols also present with the aid of their contents, certain intentional objects with their content, different from the material, they may fundamentally be regarded in two ways: either as signs presenting the intentional object X, or as signs representing (in the sense of a symbol) another object Y through the mentioned X or through its properties. For instance, the bottom part of the central plane of van der Veyden’s triptych The Last Judgment may present certain intentional objects with its content: a young woman holding tipping scales in her hands, on which naked figures kneel. On the other hand, because of its specific properties and the title, The Last Judgment, it may impose on the viewer an interpretation of this intentional object (a woman with scales) as a symbol of justice. The use of a sign in the second function, that is, in the function of a symbol, is dependent on the familiarity with a convention, which it assumes. This familiarity is often so common in certain cultural circles the sign immediately and naturally imposes itself on the viewer as a symbol. However, in some cases, being unacquainted with the convention assumed in a given cultural circle prevents one from this kind of understanding of a sign, thus making it either completely incomprehensible or limiting its perception as a sign to only grasping what it directly presents with its content. For instance, someone unacquainted with the trowel as an emblem of the Masonic Lodge may recognize it as a picture representing a trowel, rather than a symbol of the organization. Regardless of this dual aspect, signs functioning as symbols may be ambiguous when different conventions refer them to different objects. (The cross of Lorraine as a symbol of the duchy of Lorraine, as a symbol of the Resistance Movement, or as a symbol of the Polish Respiratory Society; > as a sign of “being greater than,” or as a symbol of inclusion of one set in another; scales as a symbol of justice and as a symbol of the Libra constellation, etc.). Objects which are images of other objects are not eo ipso signs of these objects. A portrait of Napoleon in his coronation robes is not a sign, neither is the portrait of Olympia a symbol of perversion, as Manet’s adversaries proposed. In order for a painting to be a sign of anything, it must be

On Semiotic Conventions


ascribed to a certain class of objects which it is supposed to indicate or signify, based on convention. Even if it is a sign of an individual object, it indicates either by denoting the set this object belongs to or by indicating the single set which this object is the only element of. The first case occurs when, for instance, a schematic picture of a train on a city map indicates the spot where the train station is, another when, for instance, a picture of an arrow or a centaur with a bow in his hand is the symbol for the constellation of the Sagittarius in the zodiac. Even representations which are very similar to the objects presented in them only become the symbols of these objects when they are utilized in the function of indicating, signifying or symbolizing them. Referring to the idea that in natural languages many words are created based on an imitation of sounds which are naturally connected with given objects which these words designate does not violate the concept of conventional (that is not to say unrestricted) attribution of names to designata. Thus, the commonly encountered view that sculptures, paintings, and even schematic models (maps or graphs) which represent certain objects are included into natural signs and contrasted with conventional signs, that is, symbols based on the idea that the former are similar to objects which they represent and the latter perform this function based on convention, does not seem legitimate. After all, similarity between objects A and B alone does not make one the symbol of the other. The fact that A is the sign of B for X is determined by endowing the mentioned A with a certain function towards B, and every such endowment of a function includes a certain decision, agreement or custom. Creating certain objects which represent others, one may conceptualize either a presenting and indicating which present certain properties of the presented objects (this is the function performed by likenesses and schematic models, maps, or iconic symbols), or signitive, conceptual presenting (this is the function performed by mathematical symbols, or expressions of speech). Illustrative presentation often, but not always, uses objects which are similar in some aspects to the presented objects. It may be intuitive similarity between the image and the object presented in it, or it may be isomorphism or homomorphism of the model and the object mapped by this model. This very similarity may naturally motivate the semiotic convention which grants object A the function of presenting object B. Therefore, in this and only this meaning, iconic symbols may be called natural, but not in the meaning that the appropriate convention has made them become signs of other objects. Whether certain objects remind us of other objects based on similarity does not make them the signs of them, as I mentioned before. (When I state that Peter is similar to his twin bother Paul, or that a limestone


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rock near Ojców1 is similar to the bludgeon of Hercules, I am not making the first part of the relationship of similarity a sign or a representation of the second.) In order for object A to be a sign indicating object B, it must be equipped with the semantic function of “indicating,” or “mapping,” and it must be created, or chosen and interpreted, for this very purpose. When we compare two portraits of the same person: one in a naturalistic convention and the other cubist or expressionist, deciding that they indicate a real person and presenting them as sign creations is in both cases a result of a certain convention. I may consider the world of objects presented in a work of art without straying from the work or from the intentional world, and not reaching past it to get to the presumed real or ideal entities which are to represent those intentional objects of the image. People in a painting live in their own imaginary world and the spontaneous reaction of a preceptor may be directed towards them. Getting through them to the objects of the real or ideal world is equivalent to the modification of their purely aesthetic function, together with transferring them to the rank of semi[oti]c objects. The image assumes the function of a compound phrase, is a set of signs which designate something apart from themselves; it becomes a sort of a complex description. Similarly, a description of certain states of affairs is not the result of a convention if it maps certain reality, even though the expressions with which it describes this reality contain elements (words) designating objects on the basis of a semiotic convention, and just as with a map, it informs about the properties of a certain fragment of the globe based on maping, despite the fact that its signs are attributed to certain properties and components of the mapped system based on a semiotic convention, and the spatial relationships are described in a certain metric convention, and finally, also the image, interpreted as a representation of a certain real object, makes present or mapps it, based on the convention assumed by the artist and the recipient rather than similarity. This is evident from, for instance, historical paintings which present figures belonging to the historical past, but painted with the help of models. There are plenty of likenesses of people personally known to Matejko in his paintings, but the figures in the painting do not at all represent them. Looking at Hołd Pruski [Prussian Homage], the recipient, as long as he is not confined to the purely aesthetic contemplation of intentional objects, “recognizes” Stańczyk in the figure wearing a jester’s hat and sitting on the steps leading to the throne, rather than Józef Szujski, who looked very

The rock in question is situated in Ojców National Park, north of Cracow. The source of Polish name of it – „Maczuga Herkulesa” („Bludgeon of Hercules”) – is its distinctive shape [AB&JJ]. 1

On Semiotic Conventions


much like the figure.2 After all, it is a convention assumed by the painter, or proposed and suggested to the person perceiving (sometimes with the help of a caption attached by the painter) which determines who is represented by a given figure in a painting. Summing up, let us state the following: the fact that signs may sometimes be similar to the signified objects which they represent, and the fact that this similarity is taken into consideration when choosing or creating a sign, does not change their conventional character. The signs of pictorial language, although genetically connected with the natural tendency to operate analogous creations, are no less conventional than the signs of the Latin alphabet when used to build words ascribed to certain objects, just as phonic signs which they replace. The same concerns the socalled onomatopoeia in spoken language in comparison to words which are devoid of this element of similarity. Even if we accept the statement that the word “murmur” represents, that is, recreates vocally, the phenomenon of murmuring,3 it does not result from this that any vocal imitation of a natural phenomenon is an element of the system of the English language merely by being similar to it. Custom or decision (and thus, convention) determines the bestowal of this function. Is the presented discussion about the conventional character of language signs and iconic signs not in contradiction with the initial thesis on the natural character of certain indexes? I do not believe so. I define an index as a certain state of affairs which, when available to a cognitive subject, allows that subject to infer the occurrence of a different state of affairs which remains in a certain relationship with the first one. This state of affairs may either occur spontaneously in the natural world and be described as an index of a different state of affairs, or it may be consciously created by man in order for its existence to indicate a different state of affairs to someone else. The contribution of conventions to creating indexes of this sort consists in including certain symbols into the state of affairs which indicates the occurrence of another state of affairs.

The great painting Hołd Pruski [Prussian Homage] by Jan Matejko presents the historical fact of swearing allegiance to the Polish King Sigismund I the Old by the Duke of Prussia Albrecht Hohenzollern in Cracow, on 10 April 1525. Stańczyk, mentioned by Dąmbska, was the famous court jester ot that time; Matejko gave him features of Jóżef Szujski, a Polish politician and scientist of the second half of 19th century [AB&JJ]. 3 This is L. Blaustein’s approach [Blaustein’s example is the Polish word “szumi” (“buzz”) – AB&JJ] in the work entitled Przedstawienia schematyczne i symboliczne. Badania z pogranicza psychologii i estetyki [Schematic and Symbolic Representations. Research on the Borderline of Psychology and Esthetics] (Blaustein 1931, p. 106). 2


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The use of this kind of indexes requires a knowledge of the convention which determines the function of a symbol whose occurrence becomes the signal. The discussion and analysis presented above shed some light on the important ambiguity of the word “sign.” The word “sign” may be interpreted very broadly. A sign in the broad meaning, let us call it S(I), is every object which, when perceived by someone, is able to make the person perceiving it realize the existence of another object with which it is in the relationship of indicating or denoting. In this interpretation, a sign may be both a certain state of affairs and a process (index), as well as certain things (symbols, iconic signs) designating certain objects. These sorts of objects are often simply called “signs,” which determines the second meaning of the word. Signs in this interpretation, let us call them S(II), are usually, certainly not always, products of a convention, thanks to which the indexes which contain them are also sometimes indirectly of a conventional character. Only those indexes which we called symptoms are independent from convention. Whether we can also call their denoting components signs in the sense of S(II) will be discussed later on. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it would be advisable to resign from using the word “sign” when it comes to either the first or the second of the mentioned meanings. If we intended to retain the term in its most general meaning, then signs S(I) understood in such a way would be divided into denoting signs and informing signs. Denoting signs, (that is, various gestures, voices, and symbols), discussed in isolation, are more or less undefined (unsaturated, as Frege described it), and they only update their function of denoting in a certain system (that is, in situational or verbal contexts). These systems (that is, signals, maps, sentences, etc.) may be called informational signs. Conventional and unconventional signs are included in both groups of signs. Conventional denoting signs are conventional gestures, iconic signs, and symbols. Unconventional denoting signs are material elements of certain symptoms (let us call them manifestations). In truth, they do not denote anything when isolated from the situational context, which is how they differ from conventional denoting signs. A set of unconventional denoting signs is unlimited, just as its indeterminacy is unlimited. A tear, as an element of an index called crying, is reduced to a drop of salty liquid when isolated from the situational context, just as a certain sound or color does not denote anything in isolation from the whole of the symptom. The notion of a denoting sign is relative to a certain function. Therefore, any object may become an unconventional denoting sign, as long as it occurs as a meaningful element of the information. I call informational those signs which indicate the occurrence of certain processes or states of affairs

On Semiotic Conventions


or postulate the occurrence of certain processes (e.g. human behavior) or states of affairs. Informational signs may be designed or not designed. The former assume a four-argument relationship: Sign Sender

Recipient State of affairs

The latter assume a three-argument relationship: Sign Recipient State of affairs I shall call designed informational signs messages. Let us add that when speaking of a grantor I mean both a conscious subject which directly communicates something to another, and technical devices or machinery created for this purpose, designed by a conscious subject. The recipient may also be either a conscious subject or a machine which registers or processes the information for the subject. The four-argument group of signs includes signals, language utterances, models, facial expressions, etc. The three-argument informational signs include symptoms. The three-argument relationship of an informational sign may sometimes be transformed into the four-argument relation of a message when the symptom is a state of affairs or process occurring in the subject who wants to share the state of affairs with the recipient in the form of a sign. This is true for the symptoms of mental life with which one may express one’s states in order to communicate them to the recipient. Someone’s crying, a symptom of sadness, may be transformed into a designed informational sign if the person crying thus intends to communicate to someone the information about his inner state. It may also be the case that the message is not received as such, not because of the lack of a recipient, but because a recipient recognizes it as a symptom; for instance, an indistinct text in a foreign language may be received by an inattentive radio listener as sounds indicating failure of the device, or a machine which drowns reception being turned on. However, another concept of a sign is possible, and indeed, has often been assumed. Based on this concept, indexes interpreted as symptoms (and therefore, not designed information) are not considered to be signs. In this narrower understanding, for something to be a sign it must either be addressed and designed information or its possible component which


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denotes something (a sentence – a word, mimic game – a specific gesture). Yet, even in this interpretation we may still speak of conventional and unconventional signs. The latter occur in the case of the spontaneous transfer of information with expressive behavior (for instance, when a small child summons its mother with rapid movements and crying, or when it points at an object which it wants to possess, or when a dog attempts to attract a person’s attention with its behavior). These natural, that is, spontaneous signs, created and transmitted ad hoc, are often the point of departure for the occurrence of a certain sign convention. When the custom (that is, convention in the sense of C-III-a) accepts extending one’s open hands as the sign of begging in a certain social environment, or by someone’s decision (convention in the sense of C-II-a) the gesture of crossing one’s hands on one’s chest is included into a mimic code of a certain ceremony, the sign assumes certain specific content granted to it on the basis of a semantic convention (C-II-b). It may even be reasonable to only then regard it as an informational sign. Another remark in order to avoid possible misunderstanding. When I defined a symbol as a denoting sign and stressed the fact that the semantic function which is inherent to it determines the fact that object P is a symbol, I concluded that this function is inherent to objects based on a convention. This is the case when one considers a denoting sign on the grounds of a system of information, that is, as an element of an informational sign or a message. The case is different in the scope of subjective operation of cognitive interpretation of the world, in the scope of existential experience of reality and in the scope of pure expression. In these cases, not intended as transferring information, symbols are also often encountered. We speak of symbolism of dreams, of symbolic interpretation of the world, of symbols of deep emotion, of the symbolic character of poetry, of myths which symbolize certain truths, etc. In this interpretation, object P is a symbol when, through its properties, it reveals and makes present for the subject S a certain existential field, specifically valuable for his individual experience. The thusly interpreted symbol gains a semantic function based on metaphor rather than convention. The communality or similarity of human experience makes thusly interpreted symbols spontaneously appear in subjective operations of many individuals or, made available to others, they become intuitively comprehensible for them, and thus, uniformly interpreted. Yet, sometimes they may be so hermetic, so entirely tied to someone’s experience which is not even roughly reproducible, that they become incomprehensible and obscure when made available to others, or even, they may be interpreted literally rather than metaphorically, thus losing their character of symbolic reference. Thusly interpreted symbols, designating based on metaphor, often lose their spontaneous character when

On Semiotic Conventions


they become part of a system of information, and become conventional (based on the convention C-III-a). Then a phenomenon occurs which may be called trivialization, and whose origins, as L. Jerphagnon demonstrated in his interesting book,4 can be traced to the fundamental ambiguity of human existence: the individual existence of a subject in which his deep self is expressed, and coexistence with others based on, among other things, mutual communication with signs created or stabilized through convention. This process of trivialization, a result of existence with others in the same period of time, is often perceived very negatively in the aspect of individual existence. Thence numerous attempts to escape or overcome triviality, expressed in searching for more and more new forms of expression in literature and art, in search of new, metaphorical, but not conventionalized, symbols. However, these attempts in turn lead to accepting or imposing new semiotic conventions which greatly contribute to the trivialization of these symbols, based on informational systems. The simple examples of spontaneous expression cited above as well as the fact of the metaphorical creation of symbols in existential experience, the fact of the existence of a spontaneous function of communicating information, and thus, the emergence of jisei, natural, customary, mimic or vocal code, do not at all remain at odds with the conventional character of various signs and sign systems. A natural human need and function, in the sense that it is inherent to man as a being conscious of living among others, of communicating and influencing others, requires creation and improvement of instrumental means appropriate for the purposes of this function. These means are created, chosen or established by a subject conscious of these purposes. These are, among other things, means fit for distinguishing, naming and communicating certain states of affairs to others, occurring both in the world and in the subject himself, as well as means fit for performing states of affairs which are only postulated and not yet implemented. These means are a consequence of various types of semiotic conventions, which I have attempted to demonstrate in this essay.


Cf. (Jerphagnon 1965).

Izydora Dąmbska 18. SYMBOL

Symbol (Dąmbska 1982) The word “symbol” (“σuμβολον” in Greek, “symbolum” in Latin) has many meanings. Originally, symbol was understood as a hallmark, especially one created from two parts of an object separated for this purpose (e.g. a ring), and subsequently, all kinds of signitive objects: “Symbola accipiuntur, Goclenius writes, pro indiciis significantibus animo aliquid, ut loquuntur, intimantibus.”1 The term “symbol” also signified certain legal acts, agreements, as well as confessions of faith in a ritual form. This meaning survives until now in names such as “apostolic symbol,” “Nicene symbol,” or “Trent symbol.”2 Even within the scope of research of contemporary semiotics, different concepts of symbol occur. There are logical and mathematical symbols in science, symbols of quality in technology and industry, symbols of religious cults, symbols in poetry and art, symbols and symbolism of dreams. One, in Boole’s algebra, is a symbol of truth value, and in technology, it is a symbol of the high quality of an object. It is also said that the cross of Lorraine became the symbol of the Resistance Movement in France, and a skeleton with a scythe has long symbolized death. There are emotionally neutral symbols, introduced in order to facilitate certain cognitive operations, to communicate information better, to conduct reasoning more easily, etc., but there are also symbols used in

Cf. (Goclenius 1615, p. 215). The connection between this meaning of the term “symbol” and the meaning which we shall discuss more broadly in the course of this work, is noted by C.G. Jung, who writes: “Ein solches Breviarium Fidei führt, von der Psychologie her betrachtet mit Recht den Namen “Symbolum,” denn es ist ein symbolischer Ausdruck ein anthropomorphes Bild gesetzt für einen nicht rational […] zu deutenden transzendenten Tatbestand” (Jung 1949b, p. 364). 1 2

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 201–212. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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order to communicate certain values and evoke an axiological experience, apart from just designating the objects. What all of them have in common is that they were constructed or chosen to perform a specific semantic function, that is, the function of indicating or signifying objects different from themselves in a more or less specific manner. This broad understanding of a symbol, in which it is difficult to isolate symbols from other signs, is used by E. Cassirer. He calls a symbol “a clue to the nature of men,” as: In language, in religion, in art, in science, man can no more then to build up his own universe – a symbolic universe that enables him to understand and interpret, to articulate and organize, to synthesize and universalize his human experience.3

Cassirer does not specify the sense of term “symbol” through definition, but it is clear when one follows his line of argument that he is inclined to use it to signify all referential ways the subject relates to reality. 4 Also Ch.W. Morris favors a broad understanding of a symbol in his dissertation, Signs, Language and Behavior, 5 trying however to specify this concept based on his general pragmatic and behavioral theory of signs. It is worth noting that he changes the scope of the term “symbol” determined by himself in his earlier dissertation of 1938, “Foundations of the Theory of Signs.”6 There he distinguished indexical signs and characterizing signs on the basis of semantics, and included symbols, together with iconic signs, in the latter group, interpreting them as signs which denote their object based on semantic convention, rather than, as is in the case of iconic signs, based on presenting the properties which the object must possess to be denoted by them. Therefore, Morris meant by symbols a kind of conventional linguistic signs.7 On the other hand, in his work of 1946, he divides all signs into signals and symbols, thus greatly broadening the

Cf. (Cassirer 1944, p. 23, 221) Cf. (Cassirer 1922). 5 Cf. (Morris 1946). 6 Cf. (Morris 1938). I quote both of the dissertations further on based on the edition in the collection Writings on the General Theory of Signs (Morris 1971). 7 Cf. (Morris 1938, p. 37). This work by Morris is in a way a continuation of Ch.S. Peirce’s semiotic research, where Peirce also contrasts iconic signs and conventional signs, and defines a symbol as “a sign which refers to the object that it denotes by virtue of a law, usually an association of general ideas, which operates to cause the Symbol to be interpreted as referring to that Object” (Peirce 1955a, p. 102). He adds: “A Symbol is a Representamen, whose representative character consists precisely in its being a rule that will determine its Interpretant. All words, sentences, books, and other conventional signs are symbols” (Peirce 1955a, p. 112).CP 2.292, 1902 See also “Letter to Lady Welby [from 12.10.1904]” (Peirce 1904). 3 4



concept, and including into symbols all denoting signs which are not signals, both linguistic and non-linguistic (pre- and post-linguistic).8 There is still a tendency in semiotics, based on semantic intuitions, to tighten the scope of the applicability of the term “symbol” and to contrast it with other kinds of signitive constructs. The discussion in this article also follows this line. I shall attempt to specify two discrete meanings of the term “symbol” important for contemporary semiotics, and pay greater attention to the second of them. In order to characterize these meanings, we must refer to certain information concerning the notion of a sign. The term “sign” is used in either a broader or narrower meaning. A sign in a broader meaning is any object which, perceived by someone, is able to make the person perceiving aware of something different from itself, with which the sign remains in a relationship of indicating or denoting. A sign in this interpretation can be both a certain state of affairs or a process which signals certain operations (e.g. a symptom), or certain objects which indicate other objects. Signs in the broader meaning; let us call them S(I); are divided into denoting signs and informing signs. Denoting signs (that is, certain gestures, sounds, iconic signs, and symbols), considered in isolation, are more or less indeterminate and only perform their function of denoting in a certain system (that is, in a situational or verbal context). These systems (that is, symptoms, signals, maps, sentences, etc.) can be called informing signs. The term “sign” in the narrower meaning S(II) is used to denote only that which makes up the class of denting signs in the broader understanding S (I), that is, certain objects equipped in meaning, based on which they can make other objects present. Below, I shall use the narrower understanding of the term “sign” and introduce a preliminary distinction of simple and complex denotation of signs. Sign Z in the semantic structure Σ has a simple denotation when it denotes an object (or objects) which are not signitive components in this structure. By semantic structure, I understand such an ordered set which includes: sign Z in a specific meaning, object or objects O, the relationship of denoting →, [such that]: Σ = F(S,O,→). In the case of simple denotation, S indicates O, but O never indicates anything besides itself. In this understanding, even if O belongs to objects of sign character, in the semantic structure of a simple denotation, this O does not indicate anything besides itself. (Naturally, this does not preclude the ambiguity of the sign S, which may have a different denotation, simple or

This behaviorist definition of a sign reads as follows, “Where an organism provides itself with a sign, which is a substitute in the control of its behavior for another sign, signifying what the sign for which it is a substitute signifies then this sign is a symbol [...] Where this is not the case, then sign is a signal” Morris 1946, p. 100). 8


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complex, in its other meaning.) A complex denotation is inherent to sign S used in the semantic structure Σ when in a specific meaning S denotes object O different from S, but equipped in signitive function and indicating another object or other objects O′, different from itself, indirectly denoted by S. The reservation that object O is not identical with S excludes from the scope of signs of complex denotation those expressions of language which are used in suppositione materiali as signs of themselves, and thus, for instance, it excludes the case when the word “dog” denotes the name of dog itself, which in turn denotes the animal. When we assume a certain concept of a symbol, a symbol may become the first part of the denotation consisting of the sign S, that is, the object which is denoted in suppositione formali by S, and in turn is itself equipped with a semantic function of indicating another object, which is then indirectly denoted by S. I wrote of a symbol that it may be, rather than is, denoted by S in order not to rule out situations in which a substantially asemantic object is equipped with the function of signifying another object, for instance, when someone looks at winter landscape and “sees” in it a symbol of death. However, from the point of view of intersubjective semiotic research, we shall primarily deal with symbols fixed with verbal or iconic signs of complex denotation. Before we proceed to the discussion of the concept of a symbol according to which a symbol may be a signitive component of a complex denotation of a given sign, we cannot overlook the interpretation of “symbol” as a kind of a sign in simple denotation. This interpretation is characteristic for those concepts where “symbol” is understood as a certain simple conventional sign used in science or technology. In this use, symbols are simple expressions of the formal languages of certain sciences (e.g. logic or mathematics), as well as conventional signs which denote norms or the quality of products in technology. A set of this sort of signs and the rules for their application, make up the grammar of a given symbolic language, the “ars characteristica seu symbolica,” as Leibniz described it,9 when he postulated the creation of a precise symbolic language used in science based on the language of algebra. Nowadays Leibniz’s program, accomplished in part by various systems of mathematical logic, whose formal language is made up of constant symbols (functors and quantifiers) and variable symbols (sentential and nominal) as well as the rules of their application, is widely applied to different semantic models. Still, there is another interpretation of a symbol besides the one above, closer to both common intuition and the intuitions of the representatives of


Cf. (Leibniz 1679, p. 521).



the Humanities which, as I noted before, can be described with the use of the concept of complex denotation discussed above. Within this concept, let us consider the question of what conditions an object O must fulfill so that, when denoted in the semantic structure Σ by sign S, it indicates another object besides itself as symbol S, an object called symbolized object O(s). After all, a characteristic feature of object O is in this case something which may be called its two-fold nature: the fact that it can be described asemantically or semantically as a symbol. What determines O’s interpretation in this semantic aspect? In order to answer this question, let us discuss several examples taken from various fields of culture, which deal with objects capable of performing the signitive function of indicating another object in systems of complex denotation, without prejudging whether all of them will be included in the set of symbols when the concept has been established. Thus, in Pythagorean philosophy tetractys, that is, an ordered set of the first four natural numbers (1,2,3,4) is a symbol of perfection, and number 10, that is, the sum of these numbers, is the symbol of the universe. In religious symbolism, a snake biting its own tail, denoted with any iconic sign, is thought to be a symbol of eternity. A unicorn is a symbol of purity, and is believed to be a symbol of the mother-virgin in Christian iconography. A peacock in the same iconography is a symbol of immortality, whereas in the Muslim religion it is a symbol of the Sun in the zenith. A scepter symbolizes royal power, and a trowel is the symbol of the Masonry. In all of the examples above, a symbol is an object which can be denoted by a sign (verbal or iconic), and at the same time it indicates another object called the symbolized object, thus becoming a specific kind of sign. 10 Therefore, sign Z in the structure of complex denotation has a second meaning, apart from the literal one thanks to which it denotes P, that is, a metaphorical one, and it indirectly denotes the object symbolized by P. A symbol in this interpretation differs from other signs by the mentioned two-fold nature, that is, as it is naturally a certain asemantic, real or ideal object, it simultaneously performs the semantic function of denoting another object. According to some scholars, providing a semantic function cannot be the result of convention, but should always be sufficiently justified by a certain analogy between the symbol and the symbolized object. This viewpoint is presented by, among

10 Some researchers, for instance M. Wallis, believe that symbols are not signs (Wallis 1970, p. 526). This is connected with a radical narrowing of the concept of a sign. I lean towards the convention in which all denoting creations, including symbols, can be considered signs. Ricoeur, among others, advocates this convention when he writes: “Que les symboles soient des signes cela est certain, […] lors même que les symboles […] sont les éléments de l’univers ou des choses [...]. Il en est de même du rêve” (Ricœur 1959, p. 64).


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others, H. Delacroix11 and M. Wallis, who also narrows down the notion of a sensual perceptible symbol.12 Although I agree with the thesis that, when a given object is spontaneously taken as a symbol, the subject who creates that symbol and uses it often does it based on a perceived analogy between the properties of the symbolizing object and the properties of the symbolized object, I do not think that, firstly, this is the only possible relationship between objects which determines describing one of them as a symbol of the other, unless the word “analogy” is given a very general and imprecise meaning. This is what Ricœur does, who relies on M. Blondel’s sentence stating: Les analogies se fondent moins sur les ressemblances notionelles (“similitudines”) que sur une stimulation intérieure, une sollicitation assimilative (“intentio ad assimilationem”).

Then he claims that it is impossible to: [...] objectiver la relation analogique qui lie le sens second (symbolique) au sens premier (littéral) [...], le symbole est le mouvement même du sens primaire qui nous fait participer au sens latent et ainsi nous assimile au symbole sans que nous puissions dominer intellectuellement la similitude.13

Leaving aside the fact that Ricoeur’s statement is figurative and vague, we can gather from it a perceived difficulty of reducing the relationship between a symbol and what it symbolizes to the relationship of analogy in its usual understanding. Also G. Durand avoids this expression when he speaks of the relationship which determines symbolizing: Le symbole présuppose homogénéité du signifiant et du signifié au sens d’un dynamisme organisateur.14

Although the term “homogénéité” may also be misleading as symbols often indicate objects which essentially belong to a different ontic category

“Il me semble que symbole, au sens moderne, emporte toujours l’idée d’une correspondance analogique naturelle et non conventionelle entre la forme concrète et l’objet qu’elle symbolise” (Lalande ed. 1927, p. 1079) 12 “By a symbol I understand a sensual perceptible object produced or used by a living being or not, which is able to evoke in the recipient a thought neither on the basis of resemblance […] nor on the basis of custom of convention, […] but on the basis of some analogy between it and the object symbolized” (Wallis 1970, p. 526). 13 Cf. (Ricœur 1959, p. 65). 14 Cf. (Durand 1963, p. 20). I quote following Dictionnaire des symboles (Chevalier & Gheerbrant 1969, p. XV). Some examples are taken from this dictionary. 11



(e.g. a concrete sensual object symbolizes a certain ideal or spiritual entity) or they indicate unspecified domains.15 Secondly, I believe that grasping this relationship is only the basis for the occurrence of a certain convention (in the sense of a custom, agreement or decision), necessary for the symbol to assume an intersubjectively signitive character. Ignorance of this kind of convention often prevents us from understanding symbols used in other époques or other cultural circles. Obviously, this does not preclude the subjective situations mentioned before in which we spontaneously take or create certain objects as symbols which reveal to us other ontic spheres, thus often seeking expression for their interpretations which are notionally vague. In these situations, O is a symbol when through its properties it reveals or makes present to the subject of cognition a certain existential sphere which is especially valuable for his individual experience. The shared nature or similarity of some human experience makes thusly understood symbols spontaneously appear in subjective operations of many individuals or, made available to others (e.g. in poetry or a painting16), become intuitively comprehensible. Yet, they may also be so hermetic, so tied to someone’s unique experience, that they are incomprehensible or even interpreted asemantically when shared, whereby they lose their symbolic reference. However, if they are included in a system of information, they lose their spontaneous character and become conventional based on custom. When Wallis contrasted symbols and conventional signs, his intention was probably to exclude from the scope of the notion of a symbol, objects equipped with the signitive function on the basis of an arbitrary decision justified by random grounds rather than based on analogy (e.g. arbitrarily established emblems or badges). An example of such a signitive object which appears in a semantic structure of complex denotation, but which is not a symbol, could be a fish as the hallmark of Christians, created based on a convention making use of the fact that the Greek name ιχJυς, ichthys, consists of the initial letters of the expression Ιησους Χριστος, Θεου Υιος, Σωτηρ, Iesous Christos, Theou Yios, Soter, [i.e.] Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior; whereas in other cases of complex denotation a fish is a signitive sign which symbolizes water, fertility or wisdom, on the basis of a convention based on alleged analogous connections.17 Thus, Wallis’s statement on the unconventional character of symbols probably consists in wrongly 15 This is not about the ambiguity specific to many symbols, but the essential lack of specificity of a symbolic meaning. 16 Phenomenology of such symbols is the domain of G. Bachelard’s book. Cf. (Bachelard 1957), (Bachelard 1960), (Bachelard 1961), etc.. 17 Cf. (Chevalier, ed. 1969, p. V).


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identifying conventionality with arbitrariness. Conventions which grant certain objects the function of symbols are not arbitrary, but instead, are due to an alleged, hard to specify, affinity of a symbol and the symbolized thing. Neither do I think that a symbol should be interpreted as a sensually perceivable object, as Wallis does. Symbolic signs are sensually perceivable, as well as substantiations of many general objects, but the function of a symbol is not always but often not performed by those substantiations but by their ideas takes in a specific manner (a white dove in general, rather than a concrete specimen of this species, is the symbol of peace, and of the Holy Spirit in another convention). Moreover, ideal objects which are by their nature sensually imperceptible are also symbols, for instance, number ten, the Pythagorean symbol of the Universe, mentioned before. Some also attempt to isolate the notion of a symbol without paying attention to the second part of the relationship, that is, the symbolized object, by stressing the fact that it is always impossible to perceive, or that it belongs to a transcendent, hitherto unknown and only suspected domain which is not sharply realized.18 The first view seems unsupportable as it necessitates the exclusion from the scope of the notion of symbol, many objects which symbolize, e.g. saint persons in religious iconography (an eagle as a symbol of St. John the Evangelist), or star constellations in astrological symbolism. Another view, although it derives from an interesting analysis of the function of the subconscious in the human mind which uses symbols in the area of issues which are notionally elusive or only implied, would also necessitate the removal from the scope of the notion of a symbol many symbols traditionally considered as signitive objects indicating things available to cognition, e.g. symbols of virtues and vices known from Medieval iconography. Still it seems that symbolized objects are usually distinguished by certain axiological properties, are emotionally significant and cognitively important for the person creating the symbol or using it, which in turn is expressed in the properties of symbols as means of expression as well as their often emphasized affective dynamics.19 Possibly the closest to common intuition is the interpretation of a symbol as an asemantic object in one of its aspects and in the other, endowed with a semiotic function of the sort which makes the symbol an expressive sign which denotes another axiologically qualified object thanks to their perceived affinity. When it comes to the specifying or intersubjective use

This standpoint is represented by C.G. Jung. See, i.a., (Jung 1924a, p. 601 ff.). “Le symbole est chargé d’affectivité et de dynamisme” – we read in the introduction to Dictionnaire (Chevalier, ed. 1969, p. XV). 18




of a symbol, the aforementioned indicating of another object is performed in a system of complex denotation based on a convention which is not arbitrary, but conditioned by the feeling of a special affinity of certain properties of the symbol with the properties of the symbolized object. Naturally, also this definition, as with any other which concerns words of an unspecified scope and especially family notions, as Wittgenstein puts it, has only a projecting character. Still, it seems to me that it isolates from denoting signs a class of signitive objects which, under the name of “symbols,” are in the center of attention of many disciplines of humanities: philosophical anthropology (P. Ricœur), religious studies (M. Eliade), ethnology and sociology (C. Lévy-Strauss), psychology (C.G. Jung), aesthetics (S.K. Langer), and others. Yet, due to both the specification of the conceptual apparatus, indispensable for these sciences, and the essence of the problem itself, we should expect from modern semiotics a compilation of a coherent theory of symbol, also in this interpretation.


Izydora Dąmbska 19. ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF PROPER NAMES Z filozofii imion własnych (Dąmbska 1949d) 1. Introduction Proper names constitute a certain natural category among words of speech which are commonly described as names, a category which is interesting due to its semantic, psychological and cognitive function. Proper names are par excellence words of natural language, and in the case of science, they are words used in the language of history and other humanities. This results from the fundamental function of proper names, which consists in naming individual objects which possess a certain personality, or quasi-, or pseudo- personality. Proper names as such are closely connected in the manner of their use to people and their conscious actions. They are either names of human individuals (such as Peter, John, etc.), real or fictional (e.g. names of literary characters), or names given arbitrarily by a person to other objects in order to highlight their individuality and historical continuity in time. Thus, we give proper names to household animals or pets which are dear to us: dogs, cats, monkeys, hedgehogs, etc. Thus, we also name old trees which are objects of a religious cult (e.g. “Dewajtis”1) or inanimate objects with a unique history which are of special value to us, for instance, proper names of knights’ swords (such as Roland’s “Durandal”) or priceless jewels (such as “The Eye of the Prophet”), etc. Proper names are also used in reference to topographical objects: cities, rivers,

„Dewajtis” is the name of the primeval oak, adored by residents of Samogitia, and being a character of Maria Rodziewiczówna’s novel under the same title [AB&JJ]. 1

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 213–230. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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mountains, etc., in which case they denote certain individual objects with a historical continuity connected to people. Proper names may be discussed in their broader or narrower meaning. Proper names in the narrower sense are used to name people. In the broader sense, apart from the above, we may include pseudo-personal names, that is, names of individual objects which possess special humanistic value and thus, historical continuity. In the present study we shall exclusively discuss proper names in the narrower sense, that is, names of people. Personal proper names may occur in various functions: typical or atypical. A personal proper name is used in the atypical function when it has the properties of a general name or when it is used metaphorically and performs the function of replacing a certain general name. An example of a proper name used as a general name could be the utterance “All Sophias celebrate their name day on May 15th.” An example of a metaphorical use of a proper name is the saying “What young Johnny does not learn, grown John will not know.” In the first case, the atypicality of using a proper name consists in the fact that the phrase it occurs in is a general sentence which in fact states:“Every person whose name is Sophia celebrates her name day on May 15th” where the word “Sophia” is used to denote a certain artificial category of human individuals. It is artificial as it is not based on a common set of characteristic features, but rather on the one conventional property of having the same name. In the second case we are dealing with a rhetorical figure, where the proper name, used figuratively, substitutes the names “a boy,” “a youth” (= “Johnny”) and “a grown man” (= “John”). Proper names often perform such a supplementary role in indicating certain categories of people. During the World War, names popular in a given language were used to denote soldiers from a given country: “Tommy” was English, “Hans” was German, etc. It is also sometimes the case that a proper name functions as a name of a certain category of people due to the fact that it symbolizes certain characteristic features which are represented as a model, as it were, by an individual person with that name. For instance, the name “Zoilos” became synonymous with the class name “scoffer,” whereas the name “Cato” became synonymous with “a person of high principles.” Inversly, general names may become proper names if they are used in their atypical function, and with time they may assume their character. For instance, names of various characteristics or other abstract objects are used in the character of proper names in Greek. Thus, “Sophia” means “knowledge” but also is a female name. It is similar with other names like various “Irenes” “Euphrosynes” etc. Mostly, the initial, “common” meaning of a name is lost in the minds of those who use it, unless someone consciously, or symbolically, calls their child “Joy,” or “Hope.”

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


Proper names also assume the sense of general names in their atypical, supplementary functions. As such, they signify certain sets of objects. In their typical function, proper names name certain individuals. Signifying and naming are two different semantic functions which can be performed with words. Although both consist in a certain designation, or indication of objects, this indication is not identical in both cases. This is because: (1) words name certain individuals, and signify either categories of objects or individuals understood as elements of certain classes, and therefore (2) signifying is “tied,” that is, a name which is assigned to a certain category (or certain categories, in the case of ambiguity) of objects cannot be assigned to a different category of objects without a change in the content2 of language it belongs to. On the other hand, naming is “free,” that is, the same name may be used to designate various individuals without having to change the content of language. (3) The character and cognitive value of naming and signifying are different. As to what the cognitive character of naming is, or what the meaning of proper names used in their typical function is, as well as what their semantic, syntactic and psychological role is, the answers to these problems are still to be discovered. 2. On Syntactic and Semantic Role of Proper Names Proper names considered out of context do not possess a determined meaning. That might lead to the hypothesis that these words are basically ambiguous. For instance, the name “Paul” may signify various people, and thus: various objects, and according to which of these objects it signifies, it assumes various meanings, and is therefore an ambiguous name. Yet, it does not seem right to speak of ambiguity when the meaning of a word is undetermined, and only because it is undetermined. In that case, one would have to deem ambiguous all variable words and general names present in the subjects of non-quantified sentences, for instance. Therefore, while retaining the term “ambiguous name” to signify names which possess various, but specific and quantified meanings, we must study the mentioned undeteminacyof the meaning of proper names used out of context. It is not the same kind of undeterminacy as that of the meaning of a general name in a non-quantified sentence. A general name taken out of context generally has a determined meaning or meanings (when it is ambiguous). Even if we are dealing with unclear names (e.g. an old man, a youth), one

2 I understand content of a language as a set of constant and variable words assigned to objects of knowledge expressed in a given language.


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can say of at least some objects whether these names apply to them. On the other hand, a proper name taken out of context is fundamentally unspecified in respect of its meaning. Only language context (e.g. a sentence) or situational context (e.g. indicating a person of a given name) may give a determined meaning to a proper name. In this respect, proper names are similar to indexicals like personal pronouns (“I,” “you”), whose meaning is determined by the situational context in which these words were used. Still, there is a difference between a proper name and an indexical, such as a personal pronoun. The personal pronoun “I” performs a different function whenever the person who uses it with reference to himself or herself changes, whereas the scope of situational contexts for proper names is limited to those people for whom the name is inherent. It seems that a proper name considered out of verbal or situational context is a variable symbol with a limited range of variability. The range of variability for this variable is formed from the individual names of persons. The expression “Peter is a Pole” is neither true nor false, just as in the case of the expression “X is divisible by 2,” even though the range of variability of “X” is broader than the scope of variability of “Peter.” This may lead to the assumption that an expression with a name out of context as its subject is not a function, but merely a badly formulated sentence. If we use a universal quantifier for the subject of this sentence and state, “Every Peter is a Pole,” we obtain a false sentence, whereas when we say, “Some Peter is a Pole,” we obtain a true sentence. This objection does not seem grounded. An expression in which a proper name taken out of context is a subject is an individual phrase, and therefore cannot be complemented with a quantifier, either universal or specific. In the sentence “Each Peter is a Pole” “Peter” is a general name, and therefore it occurs in its atypical function discussed above. Admittedly, expressions exist with a proper name out of context as a subject which are sentences. For instance, the expression “Peter is a person” is a sentence provided that proper names designate only people. Yet, the same can be said of the phrase “X is a number” provided that X is a variable whose range of variability ends with numbers. In both cases, we are dealing with analytical sentences, and the variables which occur in them are apparent variables. Having stated the above, we may proceed to determine that a proper name is a name which is a component of the value performing a propositional individual categorical function, where the subject is replaced with a variable of limited range of variability, equiform with this name. In order for a word to be a proper name, it must be put into a verbal or situational context which determines its use. This context is the value of the variable (individual name), and thus we say that the component of the value is equiform with the variable, rather than the value itself. This definition may be

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


formulated more precisely in the following form: For any n, w, v, s, f – n is a proper name if and only if n is the component s of the value w of the variable v, and when there is such an individual function f (a) where v is the subject and n is equiform with v. Does it not seem that the above terms are a vicious circle in this formulation? A proper name was characterized as a component of the value of a certain variable and a variable and was described by referring to its value. Despite that, it seems there is still no vicious circle. We distinguished two forms of proper names: a) a proper name used out of situational or verbal context indicating the person of that name, and b) a proper name used in a situational or verbal context indicating the person of that name. In the first case, the proper name is a variable with a limited range of variability, which can be the subject of an individual propositional function, where the scope of variability is made of individual names. These names can be both descriptions and proper names in a sense, that is, put into situational or verbal context indicating the person of that name. For instance, the function “John is a king” is performed both by the sentence “John III Sobieski is a king,” and the sentence “The victor over the Turks in the battle of Vienna in 1683 is a king.” In the second sentence, the description in the subject is a value of the variable “John,” but it is not a proper name, as it is not equiform with the variable. On the other hand, in the first sentence the word “John” is a component of the value of the variable which is equiform with that variable, and therefore is a proper name. Therefore, one defines a proper name used in context by referring to the notion of a proper name out of context, but not the other way around. Thus, there is no vicious circle here. Yet, there seems to emerge another difficulty. Can a proper name in context and a description indicating the same object belong to the range of variability of the same variable? After all, there are a number of semantic differences between a proper name and an individual description. Thus: 1o Just as a general name, also an individual description has a determined meaning without a context, whereas a proper name only indicates an object in a situational or verbal context. 2o An individual description signifies an object, whereas a proper name names the object. 3o A description can be a predicate in sentences of the type “A is B” where the subject is a proper name, whereas a proper name cannot be used as a predicate in sentences of that type. When it occurs in such a context, it is an abbreviated form of the expression “a person who is called so and so.”3 So far, the mentioned

In chapter 10 of his Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (Russell 1919), B. Russell comments on the fact that a proper name often performs the function of a description of this kind. 3


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differences do not preclude a proper name and an individual description from belonging to the range of the same variable, provided that the variable occurs in the subject of the function. However, as Russell believes, if individual descriptions are names of categories (with one element), whereas proper names are names of individuals4, the question arises of whether they may perform the same function when they belong to different logical types. It seems that individual description in the place of a subject is a name of an individual, and it differs from a proper name in that it singles out this individual from among the elements of a class to which it belongs, thus indirectly indicating this class, whereas a proper name is free from this class intention. When I say “the best student in grade 5,” or “the present mayor of Paris,” I indicate certain individual people, at the same time indicating a category whose elements they are: “grade 5 students,” and “mayors of Paris.” Only when a description is used as a predicate does it assume the character of a class name and is the expression of another logical category than a proper name. Still, it designates individuals in its first function just as proper names do, and therefore it may be included in the range of variability of the same variable as a proper name. The distinction between proper names without and with context presented above, as well as the projected definitions, allow us to explain certain semantic properties of proper names; firstly the one which states that a proper name without a context is semantically undetermined. This indeterminacy of a proper name is not always duly taken into account in logic. This is visible, for instance, in the often quoted reasoning which aims to demonstrate the difference between meaning and signifying. If these two functions did not differ from each other, then two different names which signify the same object could be used in a sentence interchangeably without changing the sense of the context. Yet, this is not the case. Individual sentences where such two names occur, one in the subject and the other in the predicate, are not tautological sentences. The word “Ptolemaios” denotes the same thing as “the author of Mathematike Syntaxis,” yet, the sentence “Ptolemaios is the author of Mathematike Syntaxis” is not a tautology, whereas the sentence “Ptolemaios is Ptolemaios” is tautological. Therefore, apparently, the words “Ptolemaios” and “the author of Mathematike Syntaxis” designate the same object, but differ as to their meaning. This line of reasoning assumes that what is meant is a specified proper name, that is in our case, K laudios Ptolemaios. Without this assumption, the expression “Ptolemaios is Ptolemaios” is not a tautology but a propositional function which, depending on what kind of


Cf. (Russell 1948, p. 87ff.).

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


substitutions are performed, will turn into a true or false sentence, of some type or other. The substitutions for this function could be: a true tautological sentence “Klaudios Ptolemaios is Klaudios Ptolemaios,” as well as a true synthetic sentence “Klaudios Ptolemaios is the author of Mathematike Syntaxis,” and a false synthetic sentence “Klaudios Ptolemaios is the victor in the battle of Ipsus.” The substantial indeterminacy of proper names out of context makes them play practically no cognitive roles, as they do not work as scientific terms and they do not appear in real definitions as definiendum. If they are ever used in practice or science, it is mainly as names of themselves, and therefore, in their material supposition. When a linguist researches the origin of Latin names, or a historian of culture analyzes the influence of beliefs or traditions on the choice of names in certain ethnic groups, as folk superstitions say that certain names should be considered lucky and some unlucky, then in each of the mentioned cases it is names themselves and their properties, rather than their designata, which are the object of interest and the subject of study. This is because proper names out of context do not have specific meanings or designata, as they are variable words. The case is different for proper names put into situational or linguistic contexts. These perform certain semantic and cognitive functions only in reference to the objects they name. What happens then with their meaning? Here we encounter fresh difficulties if we do not wish to settle for a syntactic definition of the type presented earlier,5 which does not sufficiently highlight the fundamental function of a proper name, which is naming . This function may still be grasped on the ground of the syntactic definition, by stating that word W in language L is a proper name if and only if W is suitable as a determiner in the phrase “I am called W.” The phrase in the quotation marks has a personal form in order to avoid the objection that also names of certain kinds of objects are suitable for determiners in appellative sentences. For instance, when someone studies a foreign language, they often ask what this or that is called in that language, and then the sought after word acts as a determiner in the sentence “This and this is called that and that.” Similarly, a child learns that his animal is called a dog, and that animal is called a cat,” etc. The function of naming performed by proper names is, as was mentioned above,6 different from the function of signifying. We say, “He is a forester,” but we do not say “He is a John,” but rather “His name is John,” or “This is John.” In the phrase “He is a John,” were someone to use it,

5 6

See above, p. 216. Cf. p. 215.


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the proper name replaces a description, and the sentence means, “He is one who is called John.” Similarly, sentences in which a proper name is a subject can often be replaced with sentences where the subject is replaced with the expression, “one which is called so and so,” without changing the sense and logical value of those sentences. The appellative function of proper names – let us call it so to make a clearer distinction between it and the function of signifying, often confused with naming – is connected to an important function of proper names as words used to summon, command, request, etc., or in general, to come into spiritual contact with someone else. Undoubtedly, this role can be performed by various other words of speech, but it is primarily proper names which perform it, by definition as it were. Contextual proper names, also called concretized, differ from acon textual proper names in that they have a complete meaning, which can be established through the description of an individual object, or to be more precise, the person of that name. For instance, “Socrates is the philosopher executed in Athens in 399 B.C.” According to Russell, a proper name is meaningless unless there is an object of which it is the name.7 Czeżowski formulated the same thought.8 We stand before a new philosophical problem: what is the relationship of a proper name with the object it names, and what is the ontological structure of objects which are entitled to proper names? Also, what about the postulate of their existence? 3. Ontological and Epistemological Aspects of Proper Names Proper names in their concretized form are individual names of persons. In his discussion of the notion of eliminating proper names from the language of science, Carnap proposes to replace a proper name with a coordinate system designating a certain profile of spacetime.9 This sort of a reduction is not only the elimination of proper names from the language of science, but also an unrestricted change of the notion of a person. A person is not a physical system, but primarily the subject of cognition, which has its own history, is consciously causative and, at least potentially, self aware. By determining a person is such a way, we do not prejudge the problem within metaphysics of whether only people possess personality (are persons), although in my further discussion of psychological and epistemological

Cf. (Russell 1948, p. 87ff.). Cf. (Czeżowski 1949, p. 114). 9 Cf. (Carnap 1934, p. 11).

7 8

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


nature I shall only consider humans as persons. A proper name names, and at the same time, represents the person for whom it is inherent. Unlike in the case of the names of things, the proper names of persons are bilaterally subjectively relativized, since the object they name is in itself the object of cognition and uses its name itself. If we take into consideration the psychological meaning of a name, both actual and potential 10, this psychological meaning is specifically different for the subject-designatum from the meanings (which incidentally also differ from each other but to a different degree), which all other people who use it connect with it. This results from the fundamentally different knowledge the subject of cognition possesses of himself compared to the knowledge others have about him, and a fundamentally different emotional stance. Judgments on an object, which the psychological meaning of the name of the object is based on, do not only consist of descriptions, but also evaluations conditioned by experiences of emotional nature. Proper names especially, which are used in personal relations and historical knowledge, so imbued with valuation, typically contain the emotional elements of an evaluation. Using proper names in personal relations between individuals facilitates mutual, inner contact between them. To be “on a first name basis” with someone means in many languages to be in a close, sincere, friendly relationship with someone. On the other hand, when someone refers to another person by his name while not letting him do the same, it expresses dependence and, as it were, taking possession or taking into custody, which results from the system of mutual relations (parents – children, tutor – pupil, master – slave, etc.). A name which belongs to a beloved person becomes dear and close in and of itself. In sincere relations, diminutive forms of proper names is an expression of heartfelt feelings towards those who bear them. Being on a first name basis with someone and agreeing to the other person using our first name denotes taking someone’s personality into mental possession and entrusting our own to someone. After all, a name performs the function of representing the person bearing it relatively permanently and universally. That is, permanently and universally in comparison with other individual names which represent a person in certain periods of his or her life and in certain specific aspects. For instance, the

10 By psychological meaning of a name I mean, following Ajdukiewicz (1934c, p. 7), the thought which is connected in the mind of a person using a sound or a text of a language with the representation of this sound or inscription in such a way that the sound or inscription is used as an expression. We say that the actual is current when it consists in adequate thoughts, which the user was clearly aware of at the moment of using the name. Potential content is thoughts “at hand” which comprise all our knowledge and our views on the object signified with a given name.


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name “Napoleon” represents the person of Napoleon for his whole life, whereas descriptions such as “the first Consul of France,” or “the French emperor crowned in 1804” only represented him in certain periods of his life and emphasize certain features of his personality. This relative permanence of the function of representing performed by proper name makes the proper name one of the factors which emphasize the identity of an individual who changes in time. The fact that usually the same name is inherent to a given person from childhood until death, as well as beyond the grave in human memory and history, emphasizes the truth that the same unchanged personality in various forms remains in a person even though both human mentality and the body changes. It is no wonder then that a change of one’s name often becomes a symbol of changing one’s personality and the birth of a new man. Obiit Gustavus, natus est Conradus, writes a prisoner on his cell wall in order to document the internal change within him. The same symbolic sense is apparent in changing one’s name when taking monastic vows. Yet, what is this person who keeps changing in time and is therefore different in every moment? This Plato as a baby, a child, a youth, a grown man, an old man? It seems that just Plato was the one who came close to resolving this difficult problem with his theory of ideas. What lasts unchanged in a person in the torrent of changes is the ideal individual object, the desigantum of a concretized proper name. I do not mean the idea of humanity in the sense of a general object whose concretizations are all particular people, but rather an idea of a determined, individual man, whose concretizations are particular personages who continuously evolve throughout different phases of his or her existence. Proper names as representationa of people are something important, which they identify with and which other people partly identify them with. Thence caring about “good name” [reputation], and the sense of responsibility for it, which is an important element of what is commonly called people’s honor. Someone might ask whether it should be the proper name or the surname. Generally, from the point of view of semantics, the surname performs a similar function to that of a proper name, that is, when concretized, it is used to name persons. When it is not contextualized and is used in singular, it probably differs from a proper name in that its range of variability is more limited. From the point of view of genesis, it evolved from the need to contextually precise a name. For example, which “John”—the son of Peter, which in time turned into Peterson or the one from Dąbrowa, which in time changed into Dąbrowski? Conversely, a proper name often performs the function of a specifying factor for a surname. “Bonaparte was the king of Spain in 1808–1813.” “Which one?” “Joseph.” Still, from the psychological point of view a surname performs a different role than a proper name. As opposed to a proper name and surname in singular, a surname used in plural

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


is not only a variable word. It is the name of a certain group of people, a collective name for a family or clan. As such, it designates and represents a certain ordered set of individuals. Admittedly, there are surnames which are so common in a given language, like Kowalski in Poland or Müller in Germany, which are not unambiguously assigned to a specific family. Nevertheless, certain groups of people consider a given surname to be their own and as such, it assumes a special meaning for them. A surname represents an individual and a group which the individual identifies with due to blood ties. Thus, the responsibility for maintaining the good name of a family is not only being responsible for oneself, but also for, and before, those who bear or will bear this surname as members of the same family. The social importance of a surname is stressed by some countries which provide legal protection for their citizens’ surnames. This value is also stressed in the cases of changing one’s name from “worse” to “better.” Which names are “worse” and which are “better” is decided at a given time by the contemporary balance of power in the society, conventions, tradition and fashion prevalent in a given society. The fact that a proper name represents universally the person who it names also has certain cognitive meaning. Even in common understanding, knowing one’s name seems to be the necessary condition of knowing the person. For instance, three people, A, B, and C, are talking. A person X comes by. Person A asks, “Who is this?” “I do not know,” person B responds. “I know,” says C, “It’s M.” Person A seems to believe that person X is not nearly as entirely unfamiliar to her as before, that she knows something about that person, since she knows what the person is called. In fact, she gained a certain pathway to further knowledge about person M (=X). Conversely, even when we encounter a certain person and have plenty of information about their appearance and personality, we still say we do not know the person until we learn their name. Until then, the person is merely a “somebody,” one of the elements of a set or a subset of people, rather than an individual person. Thence comes the custom of introducing people to each other by exchanging surnames, following which the two people “know each other.” In order to emphasize the inscrutability of a Deity, ancient Gnostics said of Him that it is “more than unnamed.” A person without a name is an unknown person. A person who hides his surname or is using an alias ceases to be himself in a way and becomes “a different person.” Thence the important psychological factor of being nameless and of pseudonym in action in the cases when a perpetrator wishes to remain unknown. 11 The importance of a name as a symbol or a representative of


Cf. (Dąmbska 1948b).


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a person identified with it to a certain degree is expressly accentuated in certain religious beliefs, forms of religious cults, of folk rituals and magic. In the Christian religion, the name of God is sacred. It cannot be taken in vain. “Whatever you ask in my name,” Christ says, “He will do,” Naming a child is a significant legal and symbolic act for many peoples, irrespective of their religion. It is only after being named that a child enters a given society as an individual. According to some beliefs, blessing or cursing someone’s name brings a blessing or a curse to a person who bears the name. In folk ritual, cursing or charming a name is supposed to affect those who bear this name. In the ritual of “Dziady” [“Forefathers’ Eve”], the sorcerer Guślarz tells the Woman in black to give him the name of her beloved in order to summon his ghost. When the incantation does not work, he says, “Either your lover abandoned the faith of his forefathers or he changed his old name.” Changing one’s name symbolizes a change in personality, is like “taking shape” of a new person. The function of representing performed by a proper name for the person bearing that name is also expressed in legal relationship and language. Someone may authorize another person to deal with certain matters in his name. Someone might also unlawfully act in someone’ s name. “Acting in someone’s name” is equivalent to taking over a given person’s competences or powers. This phrase clearly emphasizes the tendency to identify a name with the person who it is inherent to. A name in the sense of a representative of a person is the subject of not only declarative, descriptive sentences but also of sentences which express evaluations. In the environment in which given persons stay an opinion of these persons is formed and is attached to their name. Then, a person’s name enjoys a good reputation or is in disgrace. Since the name stays the same even though a person may change, it is often the case that there are judgments which last about a person who ceased to deserve them. It is not only at school that a well behaved and attentive pupil, Johnny, gains an opinion as a perfect student in the first weeks of classes, and this opinion clings to him to such a degree that even when he neglects study later, he still gets good grades as a result of this first judgment connected to his name. It is also sometimes the case that an initially unruly student, Peter, attempts to improve his reputation with good behavior in vain, since the reputation of being a rascal is attached to his name. We observe an analogous occurrence in the world of adults. An opinion sticks to a name, and the name lasts even though the person changes. It also lasts after the person dies. It remains in human memory, on gravestones, in obituaries, in the person’s works, in letters, records, chronicles, censuses, passport offices, tax offices, registry offices, etc. Here arises a new function of a name as a representative of the person who it is inherent to: a name provides a certain

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


form of existence beyond death and the grave. As long as it lasts in records and in memory, the one who bore it survives in other people and on earth. The fear of death and longing for immortality inherent to humanity greatly contribute to caring about leaving a name after oneself. Author who want to survive in their works usually signs it; a painter signs a painting, a poet signs a literary work, etc. The reason why medieval artists often worked anonymously and did not put their names on their work is that they sacrificed their work to God’s greater glory, as they believed that God knows the believers’ names and prepares a great reward for them on the day of Judgment and Resurrection for sacrificing their worldly fame. Yet, even in those times of prevailing theocentric and ascetic views of the world and life, there were still monuments which saved the names of those who departed for posterity. These names are read by a scrupulous researchers of history who revive the people in their books and in human memory through their names. The picture a historian creates based on the sources, albeit possibly far from the original, is a new, equally impermanent kind of the changeable worldly images and aspects of a person who changes in real time and undergoes changeable and varied assessments by other people, although the person is essentially the same and represented by his or her name. A legend, a chronicle, a story record and transmit people’s names and reconstruct, or to be more precise, construct the picture of their personality. The scarcity and unreliability of sources such as a spoken tradition, the human works in general, all kinds of documents and written accounts, axiological assumptions of the source informers and of the very writer, various external factors which often restrain the writer’s judgment, and finally, the very structure of reality, make the “historical figure” who inherits an unchanged name from the deceased to a large extent a schematic construct and a product of the historian’s imagination. This is not only the case in fictional accounts, in various legends, vies romancées, epics and drammas, but also when the author practices academic historiography. In spite of a whole system of research methods and auxiliary disciplines used by a historian, it is sometimes hard to draw a sharp line between a legendary or literary and a scientific approach towards a historical figure, or between myth and reality. Here arises another epistemological and ontological problem connected to proper names: what is the relationship of the proper names of so-called historical figures to the proper names of so-called literary characters? Proper names are inherent to both. Various Sophias and Angelas not only people cities and the countryside, but also poems, comedies and prose. In order to resolve this problem properly, we must realize what semantic function is performed by the names of literary characters. The definition


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of a proper name presented at the beginning concerned the proper names of persons, and by persons we meant cognitive subjects, who have their own history, are consciously causative and at least potentially self-aware. These conditions are not met realiter by literary characters, yet, they are also called by proper names. Is there not a certain inconsistency here? It seems that proper names used to signify literary characters share the fate of all other names of real objects which appear in the course of a literary story which involves imaginary or fictional places and creatures. In a poem, fictional horses gallop across fictional meadows, which does not prevent the name “horse” from denoting a class of real quadrupeds. Imaginary, occurring in poetry or novels horses behave like imaginary Sophias, which removes the objection of inconsistency. Russell would claim otherwise, since he claimed there was a fundamental difference between a proper name and a class name. He writes that a proper name makes sense as long as an object exists which is of this name, whereas a class name is not subject to this limitation. “Men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders” is a perfectly good class name, although there are no instances of it.12 In fact, the proper names of fictional characters are not names at all. “We may define him [Socrates] as “the philosopher who drank the hemlock,’ but such a definition does not assure us that Socrates existed, and if he did not exist, ‘Socrates’ is not a name.” The word X is a proper name if there is a true sentence which is a substitution in the function “This is X.” In no case will the function ‘This is X’ (when the copula “is” is in typical meaning) turn into a true sentence when X is substituted with a name of a fictional character.13 Russell’s view that a proper name can only be reasonably used to name real individuals perceptible through the senses results from free e assumption that only words which designate objects from the outside world make sense, and that only such objects exist. Both the methodological and the metaphysical ingredient of this conjunction may raise certain objections. The metaphysical thesis is not justified, nor is it self-evident, and the methodological thesis unnecessarily detracts from scientific, literary and natural language. Both individual objects which really exist in time and non-autonomous, only intentional, individual fictional objects can be reasonably named. The name “Zeus” names the highest god in Greek mythology, although he never existed, just as the name “Solon” names the Greek legislator, who in fact existed. A true sentence which would be a substitution in the function “This is X” with the name “Solon” cannot be formulated if this sentence is to be interpreted in the normal, indicative,

12 13

Cf. (Russell 1948, p. 87). Cf. (Russell 1948, p. 93).

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


empirical sense, where only currently existing objects may be indicated, and thus, not past objects. Russell seems to anticipate this objection, as he allows that certain sentences play the role of such an indicative intervention. For instance, in our case the sentence “the man who is presented on this page of the encyclopedia is Solon.” By assuming such an extended notion of indicating, Russell must thereby seek a different, extra-syntactic distinction between the names of real people and the quasi-names of fictional people. For Russell, something which does not exist as a real individual is not an object at all. In consequence, distinguishing objects which exist independently from objects which do not exist independently is pointless. Yet, we deal with the latter category of objects all the time. This category includes, among others, objects which are purely intentional, 14 whose specific kind are fictional characters invented by the author of a work of art, especially, a literary work. They can be easily distinguished from real people without being deprived of the right to use proper names used in a specifically modified function. What raises more difficulties is the issue of the ontological structure of historical characters of real persons: a) in a historiographical approach, b) in a literary approach in a song or a novel, c) as literary characters who are modeled after some supposed real persons. Let us now discuss the following set of designata of proper names as an example: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Prince Józef Poniatowski (= the real person, 1762–1813); Prince Józef Poniatowski in the monographs by Askenazy (= a historical figure in a historiographical approach); Prince Józef Poniatowski in Popioły [Ashes] by Żeromski15 (= a historical figure in a literary approach); The Trumpeter of Jabłonna in Or-Ot’s poem16 (= a literary figure with an assumed real model); Rafał Olbromski in Popioły by Żeromski (= a fictional literary character).

14 As for the analysis of intentional objects, especially non-autonomous and heteronymic objects of works of art, see chapter X, volume two of Spór o istnienie świata [Controversy over the Existence of the World] by R. Ingarden (1948), and other works by the same author. 15 Popioły [Ashes] is Stefan Żeromski’s novel, based on the history of Poland. The action takes place at the turn of 18th and 19the century. Rafał Olbromski is the main character of the novel [AB&JJ]. 16 „The Trumpeter of Jabłonna” [“Trębacz z Jabłonny”] is a poem being part of the cyle Pieśni o księciu Józefie [Songs concerning the Prince Joseph] by Or-Ot (pseudonym of Artur Oppman) [AB&JJ].


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The people mentioned in 1 and 5 certainly belong to structurally different ontological categories. The first one exists regardless of whether other conscious subjects have representations of it, the fifth one exists only as an counterpart of the author’s creative concept and the reader’s reception. A common feature of 2, 3, and 4 is that a certain individual model of 1 corresponds to them, and they differ only in the manner of the cognitive representation of the model. 2 may be compared to a realist painting of person X in everyday attire, whereas 3 can be compared to an impressionist portrait of person X in a costume chosen freely by the painter, and 4 may be compared to a symbolic painting described in the catalogue as a specific model, but having nothing to do with the model. In all three cases we may forget about the model or be unaware of his existence, and instead, only be concerned with intentional phantoms and their fate. Then we forget that 2 is a historical figure in a historiographical (documentary) approach and we experience history as a story or a poetical novel. After all, in all three cases we are aware of and remember about the existence of the model and we attempt to confront it with the figure construed by the author and the recipient, which is easiest in the case of 2, and often impossible in the case of 4. Then we treat all three approaches as historical records, although we usually only require this confrontation in the second case. Basically, that confrontation is also merely comparing one phantom with another, that is, one which we are used to identifying with the model. After all, “a historical figure” is a person who does not exist any more in the empirical word as perceived by Russell and Carnap. Therefore, the model mapping this person is also a certain construct based on documents, memory, etc. Besides, even if we discussed a contemporary, living person, only a certain fragment of his or her spatial-temporal form of being is available to us, whereas the whole which is used as a model is also a certain conceptual construct. In a documentary interpretation of cases 2, 3, and 4, a proper name can be considered as a word which primarily names a real personality, that in independently existing subject of cognition and of conscious authorship and only secondarily – a literary figure. Only in the fifth case, where there is no real model, does a proper name perform an exclusively secondary role; a name unrecorded in registry books seemingly represents consciously a causative and cognitive subject, existentially conditioned by the author’s creative concept. Still, both in reference to real people and in reference to fictional characters, a proper name in the purely intentional world performs the function of naming and representing, provides continuity of their “existence,” and emphasizes their identity, not only in the varied process of presumed changes, but also in various approaches on the part of the recipient of the work. Fictional literary characters, just as real people, care about their name and partly identify with it, change it as a sign

On the Philosophy of Proper Names


of repentance or out of fear, assume new roles together with a change in their names, remain anonymous, etc. The charm, the magic, the mystery, the power and the beauty of a name is present and well described in poetry of any historical time and any nation. 4. Conclusion If a language is an instrument of discovery, then a proper name represents an object of discovery of utmost importance, that is, the conscious subject of cognition and of causality. If language is a communication tool, then a proper name belongs to category of mediatory words in personal relationships. It is a carrier of an invocation in a prayer and of a love entreaty, of commands, of curses, of endearments, of friendly concern, of hostile impulses and many other situations and states in which the spiritual contact of conscious creatures is expressed. Therefore, if a language is an instrument of tradition and of the continuity of culture, then proper names are on the one hand the material for legend and history, and on the other hand, perform the function of representing the object which changes in time and yet remains identical, and through that function they affirm and emphasize this unity, thus providing individuals and their work with life beyond death and beyond the grave in the memory of the living. They are a bridge between the world of the dead and the word of the living, partakers in the “communion of saints.” The purpose of this work was to highlight this varied role of proper names through an analysis of their semantic and syntactic functions.17


Sent to the Editor on 16th October 1949.


W sprawie tzw. nazw pustych (Dąmbska 1948f) The traditional dichotomous division of names into general and individual was replaced in contemporary logic with the trichotomous division into general, singular and empty names. “There are singular terms, which denote one and only one object, there are general terms, which denote more than one object, and there are empty terms, which denote no object at all” professor Kotarbiński writes in Gnosiology. 1 Examples of empty names usually include contradictory names, like “a square wheel,” “the son of a childless mother,” as well as names of various gods from the Greek mythology and fictional characters, who only live in stories, songs and novels. Distinguishing empty names is important for the construction of logical calculus, especially the part which is defined in handbooks of logic as traditional logic. It proves important across the board in the traditional interpretation of sentences from the logical square only in reference to sentences which do not contain empty names. Despite this crucial issue, the manner of distinction of empty names in contemporary logic raises some objections which, if they prove correct, should induce us to do some revision in this area of semantics. Here are the objections: (1)


The basic semantic function of names is signifying. When we introduce the notion of an empty name as such, which does not signify anything, we arbitrarily change the meaning of the word “name” or we fall into contradiction.

Cf. (Kotarbiński 1929, p. 7).

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 231–236. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


Izydora Dąmbska To denote […] a given object in a given language is as it were to supply a term for that object in that language.2


Signifying (or denoting) “is a the property of names” writes professor Kotarbiński (1929, p. 7),3 who described an empty name as one which does not denote anything in the previous quotation. Professor Kotarbiński cannot be accused of falling into contradiction, as he stipulated that to be a name of an object means the same as to denote this object, and an empty name is not a name of an object. Moreover, he did not quantify the expression that denoting is a function of a name. He did not state that it is a function of every name. Still, based on common understanding of the term “name,” a name which does not denote anything is not really a name. Therefore, in order to avoid this contradiction, we must change the definition of a name which is consistent with common understanding. This is what professor Kotarbiński did, as he replaced the semantic definition with a syntactic definition: To be a term is to be usable as a subjective complement in any sentence “A is B” with the primary understanding of the copula “is.”4

Admittedly, an empty name is suitable for a predicate of this type of sentences, and therefore is a name, but there is no true sentence where a name without an object could be a predicate. After all, nobody is a werewolf or a square wheel. Still, it seems to me that sentences of the type ‘A is B’ must only be false when B is substituted with an empty name and A is substituted with a non-empty individual name, for instance, “John is the king of the French Republic.” However, when we replace both A and B with empty names or A with an empty name and B with a non-empty name we obtain either true or false sentences. The sentence “Erato is a Muse” is true, and the sentence “Erato is a Parca” is false. The sentence “Zeus was an object of worship is Greece” is true, and the sentence “Zeus was an object of worship in China” is false. The second case (an empty name only in the subject) does not speak against the definition of empty names. However, the first one does. This is because the question of who Erato was and who Atropos was can be answered truthfully: Erato was a Muse and Atropos was a Parca, although apparently neither Muses nor Moiras exist. Something is not right here. Should I say,

Ibidem. Ibidem. 4 Ibidem. 2 3



Regarding the So-Called Empty Names


Erato is nothing and Atropos is nothing, because they do not exist in the same sense as tables or sheep, since we may only say of such entities that “they are so and so” in the basic understanding of this connective. But why only about them? This question throws us into metaphysics. And here is the third obstacle: Depending on which worldview one assumes, the scope of the term “empty name” is broadened or narrowed. For a devout Greek, the name “Zeus” is not empty, but for an 18th-century atheist the name “God” is empty. For a Hegelian or a dialectic materialist there are contradictory objects, thus their names are not empty for them. What shall we do with individual names of past and future objects? They also do not denote anything, since these objects either do not yet exist or do not exist any more. Someone might say: what does it matter? Logic is not interested in the scope of empty names. It only claims that names of non-existent objects do not denote anything. And you, good people, together with philosophers, go on worrying about which names these are. Except do not risk the claim that there are no empty names, as then you must necessarily accept the negation of this claim. After all, if there are no empty names, then at least the name “empty name” is objectless, and therefore, empty. This antinomian problem can be dealt with. It is enough to make a reservation that we only speak of names taken in suppositione formali. We are only concerned with this use of them. On the other hand, a proponent of empty names must agree that their introduction provides science with a vague term. After all, he cannot decide about every name if it is empty or not. This is not only an actual inability resulting from a temporary imperfection of our cognitive methods. This is a fundamental inability to resolve, just as the inability to resolve of many problems of physics is fundamental. Finally, when coordinating the class of empty names with the class of general and singular names, it is often overlooked that the socalled empty names are in themselves either general or individual. The name “an inhabitant of Olympus” is general, and the name “Zeus” is singular for the same reason that the name “vir populi Romani” is general and the name “Augustus” is singular. The former means more than one object, and the latter, only one.

This and similar discussions may lead to a revision of views on empty names. I believe every name signifies something. If a word does not signify anything, it is not a name, and if it has the morphological structure of a name without signifying anything, it is an apparent name. I do not think empty names are only apparent names. As with all names, they denote


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possible objects of thought. Those possible objects of thought may be existing or non-existing objects, general and individual, timeless, past and present, fictional, and even contradictory. The aim of ontology is to examine the formal construction of those possible objects of thought, and the aim of metaphysics is to decide which of them exist and what exactly it means that they exist. I do not at all wish to support the claim that whatever can be thought automatically exists in reality. Therefore, I can distinguish existential and non-existential names, while admitting that these terms are unclear as long as I do not know what it means to exist in reality. Every object of a name exists as a possible object of thought; some only in this way, some in other ways. We may risk a claim that contradictory names are non-existential, and names of conscious subjects are existential. Yet, I am aware that not everybody will concede to even that. Still, I will not deny objectivity to both existential and non-existential names and I shall not call them empty, in accordance with the common interpretation of language, which does not let me state with conviction that someone who speaks of gods, works of art, numbers, etc., speaks about nothing. In Phaedo, when Crito asks Socrates how he wants to be buried, Socrates, far from identifying himself with his corpse which will be buried, says: Believe me, beloved Crito, that this inelegant phrase is not only a mistake in itself but also poisons human souls with something evil.5

Such an inelegant phrase, which poisons human souls with something evil, is a claim about empty names which do not denote anything, as I have attempted to demonstrate. Indeed, as all names, empty names denote either one or more objects, and consequently it seems we should return to the old semantic division into singular and general names. Does it result from what we have stated that we must accept as false some claims of traditional logic (e.g. the law of subalternation) whose negation may easily be derived on the basis of the theory of apparent variables, if they do not eliminate from the scope of variability S and P empty names? It seems that such consequences are not improbable; on the contrary, we get rid of many problems and paradoxes: (1)


If it occurred that there were no empty names at all, we would not have to introduce an additional axiom on the non-existence of empty names, respective on the elimination of empty names from its field when constructing traditional logic. Naturally, logic is not in fact

Cf. Plato, Phaedo 115e.


Regarding the So-Called Empty Names


concerned with empty names, but instead, with non-existent objects, empty classes, and that its laws are not applicable to them. Still, if there are no other obstacles, this can be accepted even by those who maintain that there are no objectless names. It will only limit the scope of variability of S and P to existential names. If we modify appropriately the definition of particular sentences so that they are not sentences about existence but on the occurrence of relationships between the scopes of S and P, it is not hard to demonstrate that for non-existential substitutions the validity of laws of traditional logic can also be maintained.6

At that point, paradoxical claims that two names may be at the same time in a relationship of interchangeability and mutual exclusion, or subordination and mutual exclusion, disappear from the study of relationships between scopes.7 Yet, as I mentioned before, this problem requires further discussion, independent from the manner in which the problem of whether it is true that the so-called empty names do not signified anything is resolved.

6 This is what contemporary logic actually does when it interprets sentences from the logical square as conditional sentences. 7 See e.g. (Ajdukiewicz 34, p. 24).


Z semantyki przymiotników (Dąmbska 1991) 1. Formulating Problems We are faced with the following questions when performing a semantic analysis of adjectives: (1) (2) (3) (4)

Are adjectives auto- or synsemantic expressions? If they are autosemantic words, what is their independent meaning? If they are synsemantic words, what word sets are they parts of and how can we supplement their non-independent meaning? What semantic role do adjectives play as parts of names? [1.1] The View According to Which Adjectives are Names

There is a view according to which adjectives are names, and thus, autosemantic words. This view is present in relevant sources in two forms. [1.2] Adjectives as Names of Properties In the first form which we encounter, e.g. in Höfler’s work,1 the view can be formulated in the following manner: adjectives are names of properties.2

Cf. (Höfler 1890, p. 49, 186 etc.). In some ways, Pfänder’s views approach the above standpoint. According to Pfänder: “Mit “gelbes” verbinden wir nun einen Begriff, der einen Gegenstand nämlich das “gelb,” maint, der aber zugleich dieses “gelb” gedanklich d.h. es bezieht auf einen gedanklich selbständig gefassten Unterbanung den gedanklichen Halt gibt” (Pfänder 1921, p. 310 (176)). 1 2

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 237–248. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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Thus, the word “white” is equivalent in meaning to the word “whiteness.” It is not hard to demonstrate that this view is wrong. If words “white” and “whiteness” were equivalent, we would be able to use them interchangeably. Yet, this is not the case. If in the sentence “Whiteness is a property of snow” I replace the word “whiteness” with the word “white,” I obtain an incomprehensible expression. Similarly, if in the sentence “White snow is melting” I replace the word “white” with the word “whiteness,” we obtain nonsense: “Whiteness snow is melting.” Someone might say that it is true that the words “whiteness” and “white” are not synonymous, but “white” is the name of a property. Not the meanings but the designata of the words “whiteness” and “white” are identical. After all, there are names which express various meanings and still possess the same object; what is more, if we replace one name with another in an expression, a true expression may become false, and vice versa. For instance, the names “the leader of the 1794 uprising” and “Kościuszko imprisoned in Petersburg” have different meanings (the first name expresses a different presentation from the second one), but they possess the same designatum. The statement “The leader of the 1794 uprising achieved victory on April 4th 1794 in the battle of Racławice” expresses a true judgment. However, it is false that “Kościuszko imprisoned in Petersburg achieved victory on 4th April 1794 in Racławice.” We may reply: if someone says that two non-synonymous names have the same object, he means a material object. A formal object, as a correlate of the content of the presentation in both cases, is different.3 Whoever claims that expressions in which the name N 1 is replaced with a non-synonymous, but “same-signifying” name N2, have different designata, means a formal object rather than a material object, in opposition to the previous example. If he took into consideration a material object, according to his initial standpoint, he would have to accept the statement P1 as true if he accepts the statement P2 as true. But even in the case when someone would be able to demonstrate that names which have the same designatum cannot be sometimes used interchangeably as subjects of expressions, without changing their logical value, nothing would result from it for our issue. After all, if we replace in expressions one synonymous name which has the same designatum with another, we always obtain a meaningful expression which is a sentence (never mind at this point if it is true or false). On the other hand, as we observed, when we replace a noun which denotes a property with an adjective in a sentence,

3 On the problem of distinguishing a material object from a formal object, see (Pfänder 1921, p. 274 ff. (140 ff.).

On the Semantics of Adjectives


we obtain an incomprehensible expression. Therefore, I believe the claim, that adjectives are not names of properties, can still be sustained. [1.3] Adjectives as Names of Objects Which Have Properties Still, as some propose, e.g. Mill4 (the second form of the discussed view), perhaps adjectives are names of objects which possess certain properties; thus, the word “white” would mean the same as “a white object.” Yet, even here we encounter certain difficulties. Putting aside the concern of whether the expression “a white object” can always be replaced with “white,” we may ask what “white” means in the expression “a white object.” If I say, “a white object,” I obtain the expression “a white object, object,” about which I may again ask the above question, and so on in infinitum, never finding out what “white” means. [1.4] The View According to Which Adjectives are Synsemantic Words A contrary view to that of Mill’s and Höfler’s is one which states that adjectives are synsemantic words. If, following Marty,5 we understood a synsemantic word as a word which in itself does not have any meaning and whose function is limited to being a component of another, meaningful expression, we would have to reject the thesis that adjectives are synsemantic words. After all, everyone knows that when uttering the word “white,” each individual understands and experiences something different from the experience accompanying the utterance of individual sounds, which may also be elements of meaningful expressions.6 Still, if we follow Husserl 7 in that we understand “a synsemantic word” to be a word which has its own, albeit not independent, meaning, then I believe that adjectives in and of themselves can rightly be considered as synsemantic words. [1.5] An Attempt of Semantic Analysis of Adjectives In order to understand the meaning of adjectives, let us consider expressions which contain adjectives. Adjectives occur either as components of names (in the function of an attribute) or as components of sentences (in Cf. (Mill 1874, p. 13 ff.). Cf. (Marty 1908, p. 205 ff.). 6 Cf. (Husserl 1901–1921. Bd. I. Tl. II, p. 306 ff.). 7 It seems that the above analysis explains to some extent the distinct positions of adjectives among other synsemantic words. Anyone who is unprejudiced feels that adjectives communicate much more to him that words such as “although,”“or,”“because,” etc. This probably consists in the fact that an adjective also expresses the act of presentation in a complete way (Husserl 1900–1921. Bd. II. Tl. I, p. 304 ff.). 4 5


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the function of a predicate). We shall see later on that adjectives are components of sentences only indirectly and that their meaning always requires supplementation to the meaning of a name. When I say, “wise Peter,” the name expresses: a presentation of Peter, the presentation of wisdom, and the supposition that Peter possesses the property of wisdom. 8 An adjective as a component of this name expresses the presentation of wisdom and the supposition that Peter possesses the property of wisdom. If we take into consideration the word “wise” in itself, rather than as a component of the name “wise Peter,” then the supposition expressed by the adjective lacks the presentation of the subject, and it becomes incomplete. The word “wise” will then express the presentation of wisdom and an incomplete supposition that some X possesses wisdom. We encounter another difficulty at the onset of the semantic analysis of an adjective in the function of a predicate. If we state that the sentence “Peter is wise” expresses: (a) a presentation of Peter, (b) a presentation of wisdom, (c) a judgment that Peter is wise, then the meaning of the adjective lacks this incomplete supposition. This difficulty is only apparent. The sentence “Peter is wise” is ambiguous. It means either that “Peter possesses wisdom” or that “Peter is a wise individual.” In the first case, we are not dealing with an adjective but rather with a noun, and in the second case, we are dealing with an expression whose component is an adjective in the function of an attribute discussed by us above. We may put forward an argument against the above presented view of the meaning of adjectives that accepting this view means that we must: (a) identify the meaning of a name with the meaning of a sentence, at least in some cases, or (b) identify the meaning of an adjective with the meaning of the propositional function. Regarding (a): for instance, if I state without conviction that “Zeus is jealous,” I present myself Zeus, I present myself jealousy, and I suppose that Zeus possesses this property. These are acts which the name “jealous Zeus” expresses, according to the previous analysis. Therefore, the expression “jealous Zeus” would be equivalent to sentence “Zeus is jealous.” Similarly, if the adjective jealous, considered in itself, expresses a presentation of jealousy and the supposition that X possesses this property, can we then not say the same of the propositional function “X is jealous”? These unpleasant consequences can be avoided if we distinguish among acts expressed by a linguistic symbol the meaning which is appropriate for this symbol and the psychological basis for this meaning, which is only


Professor Twardowski notes that the meaning of expressions which consist of a noun and an adjective include a presented judgment (the notion of presented judgment corresponds to the notion of supposition). Cf. (Twardowski 1898, p. 99).

On the Semantics of Adjectives


implicitly expressed in this linguistic symbol. In our case, the appropriate meaning of the sentence “Zeus is jealous” is a supposition, and the presentations of Zeus and jealousy are expressed implicitly. In turn, in the name “jealous Zeus,” the presentation of Zeus endowed with the mentioned property is the meaning, and the presentation of this property and the supposition that it is inherent to Zeus are expressed implicitly. Transposing this distinction to adjectives in and of themselves we may state that the meaning of the adjective “jealous” is the thought of the jealous x imposed on the presentation of jealousy and the supposition

that x possesses jealousy , where the last two acts are expressed in the adjective only implicitly .

2. Analytic and Synthetic Adjectives As we have observed, adjectives are components of names. As such, they are either analytic or synthetic. We speak of analytic adjectives when the meaning of the adjectives is included in the definition of the meaning of the name which the adjective is added to, or which it can be derived from this definition. Thus, in the name “an even, divisible number” the adjective “divisible” is analytic. Synthetic adjectives are those whose meaning is not included in the definition of the meaning of the name, nor can they be deduced from it. [2.1] Determining and Modifying Adjectives My division of adjectives into analytic and synthetic intersects with another division, which is made according to how the meaning of the added adjective influences the meaning of the name.9 As long as a name connected with an adjective retains its initial meaning, and the meaning of the adjective merely supplements or explains it, we say that the adjective has a determining meaning. By the statement that a name retains its initial meaning we do not want to say that the meaning composed of an adjective and a noun has the same meaning as the noun itself. The meaning of the name “Zeus is jealous” is different from the meaning of the name “Zeus,” but the word “Zeus” in the phrase “jealous Zeus” does not change its meaning.

9 Speaking of divisions of adjectives, both here and further on, I am using a shortcut. The divisions discussed in the paper concern functions performed by adjectives rather than adjectives themselves. This reservation is necessary, as it is easy to raise the objection that classes obtained in these distinctions intersect. This is because the same adjective may perform different functions depending on the context in which it occurs.


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A doubt arises as to whether the case with general names is similar to the case of individual names, or strictly speaking, whether general names retain their initial meaning after adding certain adjectives to them, determining in view of individual names. If the meaning of a general name is a general concept, then there are no elements corresponding to individual properties of objects falling under this concept in the content of the concept. If this is the case, the word “flower” in the expression “white flower” does not have its initial meaning any more. If the meaning of the word “flower” remained unchanged, we would obtain a contradictory concept of a white flower which is not white, that is, a “white” flower, as this is what the meaning of the adjective indicates, and at the same time, a flower “which is not white,” since the word “flower” retained its initial meaning, in which there is no place for a mental equivalent of the property of whiteness. This issue may also be presented otherwise. The general name “flower N0” possesses as its designatum a general object, a flower O 0. The designatum of the general name “white flower N′ 0” is a different general object O′ 0. The fact that the objects O0 and O′ 0 are different results from the fact that not everything which is true of one of them is true of the other. If the name N0, as a component of the name N′0 did not change its original meaning, the name N′ 0 would have to designate the same object, even though it would express a different presentation. However, this is not the case, as we have demonstrated. I do not know whether the reservation presented by me is valid. Its source is possibly in a certain misunderstanding as to the meaning of general names. Yet, if our reasoning is correct and general names change their original meaning after adding certain specifying adjectives to them, then these adjectives, as long as they are components of general names, should be included in the class of modifying adjectives, rather than determining ones. Modifying adjectives are usually interpreted as such adjectives whose meaning modifies, that is changes, the meaning of the name to which a given adjective was added. Thus, in the expression “a false pearl,” the meaning of the adjective “false” modifies the meaning of the word pearl. After all, a false pearl is not a pearl any more, but a certain piece of glass, and since the object of the name is different, then its meaning is also different. We could attempt to provide the definition of modifying adjectives saying that they are adjectives whose meaning is contradictory with the appropriate meaning of the name to which they are added. Still, someone might accuse this idea of being too broad, as it forces us to include modified names, such names as “a square wheel,”“wooden iron,” etc. After all, the meaning of the adjectives “square” and wooden is contradictory with the meaning of the names wheel and “iron,” but still, they do not modify

On the Semantics of Adjectives


these meanings. If the names “wheel” or iron occurred here in the modified meaning, the meaning of the name “a square wheel” or “wooden iron” would not be a contradictory concept. The modifying character of these adjectives probably cannot be defended by referring to the notion that a square wheel is not in fact a wheel but some other strange object which is and is not a wheel, and therefore that the meaning of the word “wheel” in the context of “square wheel” is different that the one outside of this context. After all, this strange object emerges precisely because the word wheel did not change its designatum. Perhaps some proponent of empty names could maintain the idea that the meaning of the word “wheel” must be different in the expression “a square wheel” since the word “whee” possesses a designatum, whereas the expression “a square wheel” does not. Yet, first he would have to conduct the reasoning in support of the claim that contradictory names indeed do not have designata. Thus, the previously presented definition should be narrowed down by saying that modifying adjectives are adjectives whose meaning is inconsistent with the proper meaning of the name they are attached to, and which modify the proper meaning so that the expression resulting from combining the adjective with the name has a non-contradictory meaning. [2.2] On Several Applications of the Distinction Between Modifying and Determining the Meaning of Adjectives The distinction between the modifying and determining meanings of adjectives is significant for many problems, either logical or psychological. Here are some examples: In his polemics with Mill on the possibility of an existential interpretation of sentences on fictional objects, such as “A centaur is a fiction of poets,” Brentano10 notes that a predicate either determines or modifies the meaning of the subject. The first case occurs when, for instance, we state this person is learned, whereas the second occurs when we state, “This person is dead.” A learned person is a person, whereas a dead person is a corpse rather than a person. Thus, the sentence “A dead person exists” does not assume the existence of a person in order to be true, but instead, the existence of a corpse. Analogously, the sentence “A centaur is a fiction of poet”s does not assume that a centaur exists, but that the fiction of a centaur exists. Professor Twardowski demonstrates that one of the sources of the confusion of the notions of content and object of presentation, so common in


Cf. (Brentano 1925, p. 60 ff.).


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logic and psychology, is the lack of distinction between the modifying and determining meaning of the adjective “presented,” or “imagined.” Ein Gegenstand ist “vorgestellt” kann heissen dass ein Gegenstand neben vielen anderen Relationen, in welche er zu anderen Gegenständen verwickelt ist, auch an einer bestimmten Beziehung als eines der beiden Glieder derselben zu einem erkennenden Wesen Teil hat. In diesem Sinne ist der vorgestellte Gegenstand ein warhafter Gegenstand [...]. In einem anderen Sinne aber bedeutet der vorgestellte Gegenstand einen Gegensatz zum wahrhaften Gegenstand: da ist der vorgestelle Gegenstand kein Gegenstand mehr, sondern Inhalt einer Vorstellung.11

With the help of the distinction between proper and improper determining words (whose special case are modifying words, according to Höfler), Höfler,12 and if I understand correctly, also Kreibig,13 attempt to resolve the famous Bolzano’s paradox, which is supposed to prove that in some cases, when we enhance the content of a notion, we also broaden its scope.14 Höfler recognizes the source of the old sophism consisting in drawing the conclusion that “a living creature is dead” from the premises: “all people are living creatures,” and “a person is dead” in the lack of distinction of the modifying meaning of adjectives. This syllogism contains quaternio terminorum, whose source lies in the fact that the adjective “dead” modifies the meaning of the word “person,” and that “dead person” expresses a different notion than “person.”15 [2.3] Restituting and Abolishing Adjectives Besides determining and modifying adjectives, Professor Twardowski16 distinguishes two other kinds: (a) restituting adjectives, or confirming adjectives, whose function is solely to strengthen and confirm the meaning of the name which they are added to (this category includes adjectives such as “real”17 or “true”); (b) abolishing adjectives which, when added to a name, completely eliminate and abolish its meaning. An example of such an adjective, at least in some cases, is the adjective “supposed,” for instance, in the expression “a supposed shape.”

Cf. (Twardowski 1894, p. 15). Cf. (Höfler 1890, p. 187, 197). 13 Cf. (Kreibig 1904). 14 Cf. (Bolzano 1837, p. 568 ff.). 15 Cf. (Höfler 1890, p. 773 ff.). 16 Cf. (Twardowski 1927). 17 Brentano notes the restituting function of the word “real” claiming that the whole meaning of the word is limited to whether the name it has been added to is understood in the modified sense. For instance, “a real king” means the same as “a not-dethroned king” or “a not-alleged king” (Höfler 1890, p. 186). 11


On the Semantics of Adjectives


[2.4] Professor Twardowski’s Division of Adjectives Abolishing, determining, and restituting adjectives perform one function each, according to professor Twardowski. On the other hand, modifying adjectives perform two functions, that is, abolishing and determining. Thence the following division of adjectives: Adjectives ↙ ↘ with one function

with two functions

↙ ↓ ↘ determining abolishing restituting

↓ modifying (abolishing-determining)

[2.5] An Analysis of the Function of “Abolishing” Adjectives A supposition arises that the class of abolishing adjectives is empirically empty. 18 If the function of the word “supposed” were limited to removing the meaning of the name to which the word “supposed” has been attached, then an expression in the form “supposed x” would not express any meaning. However, this is not the case, for even if “supposed x” meant the same as “not x,” this expression would not be meaningless anyway, with only one exception which will be discussed below, as equivalent to the expression in the form “a necessary object x.” Yet, it is difficult to accept that an expression in the form “supposed x” is always equivalent to the expression in the form “not x.” It seems that the content of the name in the form “supposed x” is at least sometimes richer than the content of the name “not x.” Indeed, “supposed x” is not ‘x’ then, but something else which only pretends to be x and which can be mistaken for x, etc. “A supposed square” is not only “not-square,” but also something which can be mistaken for a square. The designations of these two expressions are different, which is evident in the fact that we seem to obtain a false sentence when we replace “not-square” with “a supposed square” in the sentence “A not-square may be a mental fact.” Still, it seems that in some cases “supposed x” means exactly the same as “not-x” and “a supposed object” means “not-object.”

18 A certain objection towards the class of abolishing adjectives is presently entertained by the author himself, so that even the arguments against abolishing adjectives quoted below largely arose from his comments.


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A question arises as to whether in this case, and only in this case, “supposed” is an abolishing adjective. In any other case “supposed x” means at least, but not only, “an object which is not x,” Yet, is it possible to apply it to the expression “a supposed object”? If it was, the expression “a supposed object” would mean “an object which is not an object,” and therefore would be a contradictory name. If “a supposed object” is not a contradictory name, then perhaps it is not a name at all. After all, it does not designate a contradictory object which was mentioned, nor does it designate any other. Yet, it seems that the function of designating is one of the essential functions of a name. The word “not-object” means the same as “nothing.” According to Twardowski’s views presented in Zur Lehre von Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen, “nothing” is not a name but a syncategorematic word.19 If a syncategorematic (synsemantic) word did not have any meaning at all, as some profess, we could accept that the function of the adjective “supposed” in the expression “a supposed object” is only abolishing. Yet, if synsemantic words have some kind of dependent meaning, as we have established in the present paper, this raises the presumption that the word “supposed” in the expression “a supposed object” has a modifying function. This is because it fulfills the conditions of the definition according to which an adjective has a modifying function if and only if its meaning is contradictory with a certain element of the meaning of the name to which this adjective is added, and which changes the meaning so that the expression resulting from combining the adjective and the name has a non-contradictory meaning. This definition does not prejudge whether this expression is auto- or synsemantic. What place should the function of the adjective “supposed,” as in the expression “a supposed object,” be appointed in Professor Twardowski’s classification? If the Professor agreed that this expression is not devoid of meaning, it is not my intention to resolve it at this point. What is then the issue of distinguishing abolishing adjectives? As it seems, even if we accepted that the expressions to which adjectives are attached are equivalent to the corresponding negative names, which seems wrong except for the expression “a supposed object,” we would still have to assume that their function is not limited to the removal of the meaning of the name. Neither does it consist exclusively in removing a part of the meaning of the name to which they are attached. If this were the case, then the expression “a supposed shape” after having removed the moments of shape-value from the word “shape,” would be equivalent to the word “object” (“something”). Yet, this is not the case, since it is impossible to replace “a supposed shape” with “an object” without changing the sense of the sentence. The adjective supposed added the


Cf. (Twardowski 1894, p. 21 ff.).

On the Semantics of Adjectives


moment of not being a shape to the meaning inherent to the word “object.” Therefore, it seems that, based on Professor Twardowski’s classification, the group of adjectives should be included in the class of modifying adjectives, perhaps with the exception of the adjective “supposed” in the expression “a supposed object.” On the other hand, if we take the position that a name together with an abolishing adjective is equivalent to the corresponding negative name, we may distinguish two kinds of modifying adjectives: (a) negatively modifying adjectives, and (b) positively modifying adjectives. [2.6] Negative Adjectives A few concluding remarks on negative adjectives. We distinguish two categories among them. The first one consists of negative adjectives in the proper meaning of the word, such as “not-black,”“not-iron,”“not-oaken,” etc. They differ from positive adjectives in that the psychological basis of their meaning includes a negative supposition: “X does not possess the property c.” Added to names, they only inform us of what the designatum of the name is not. Thus, a “not-black paper” is paper which does not possess the property of blackness, etc. I call the adjectives of the second category negative-positive adjectives. These are adjectives which express positive meaning in a negative form. Examples of such adjectives are: “unwise” (“foolish”), “unkind” (“bad”),“unclear” (“vague”),“not-seeing” (“blind”) etc. It is hard to explain the origin of this difference in meaning among negative adjectives. If an object O may possess the property c 1, or c 2, or c 3 ..., or c n, and these properties are mutually exclusive, then denying it the property c 2 does not inform us which of the remaining properties are still inherent to it. Saying “not-black,” we do not know whether it is white , or green , or blue , or any other color. Thus, “not-black” only indicates the lack of a certain property. On the other hand, whenever there is an exhaustive binomial disjunction, it is clear that when we negate one part we accept the other. This is the source of the positive character of negative adjectives of the second category. 3. Summary Summarizing the results of our discussion, we may say that adjectives are synsemantic words whose meaning requires supplementation to the meaning of names. As components of names, adjectives perform an important function, by explicating, supplementing, or changing the original meaning of names to which they have been added.

Izydora Dąmbska 22. ON THE SEMANTICS OF CONDITIONAL SENTENCES Z semantyki zdań warunkowych (Dąmbska 1938c) In memory of Professor Kazimierz Twardowski Introduction The discussion presented below is a part of a more extensive work devoted to an analysis of conditional sentence. The first part of this work, philological in character, was presented by Professor Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński at a session of the Philological Commission of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences.1 In the second, semantic part, I omit extensive discussion on the notion of meaning, and confine myself to present the chapters which deal with conditional sentences themselves. Working on an analysis of conditional sentences may not seem unjustified if we consider the great role of these sentences in our scientific and non-scientific thinking. After all, each act of reasoning, either direct or indirect, can be expressed in the form of a conditional proposition, since conditional sentences are the correct expression of a priori and empirical laws as well as rules and norms of conduct. We encounter conditional sentences at every turn, and we use them constantly. Still, not much has been done to understand their semantic structure. The present work is an attempt to partially bridge this gap by outlining both the problems of conditional


Cf. (Dąmbska 1934b).

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 249–274. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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sentences and a semantic approach of several basic problems provided by an analysis of actual material.2 1. The Scope of the Name “A Conditional Sentence” Those who analyze conditional sentences usually confine the work to the analysis of a conditional proposition, that is, a sentence in the logical sense, which is either true or false. Some outright define a conditional sentence as a sentence which expresses a hypothetical judgment. This sort of definition seems too confining. After all, there are sentences whose structure is similar to the structure of conditional propositions, which express questions, commands, wishes, requests, resolutions, etc. Out of these, only the sentences which express resolutions can be included in the group of propositions, both due to their morphological structure and because resolutions may be considered as a sort of judgments about the future. 3 Sentences which express resolutions are true or false. This feature is the property of propositions. Still, sentences remain which express requests, commands, and questions. Are these conditional sentences? The following reasoning seemingly speaks against this claim: The characteristic feature of a conditional sentence is the fact that its meaning is neither the meaning of the antecedent nor the meaning of the consequent, but instead, something other, which is based on these meanings. Moreover, the meaning of the whole conditional sentence belongs to the same logical category as the meaning of the parts, considered regardless of their function in a conditional sentence. These conditions are fulfilled by conditional propositions, but not by the sentences is question. The meaning of these sentences is a specifically determined meaning of the second part of the conditional (question, command, request), and the meaning of the whole conditional belongs to a different logical category than the meaning of the antecedent in itself. We may say that the sentences in question are interrogative, or imperative sentences, etc., where the question or the command which they express are in a way determined by what is expressed in the part of the sentence which is in the form of the antecedent of the conditional statement. However, the fact that a certain component of the sentence of the type ‘n’ (in our case, the antecedent of a conditional sentence) occurs in In connection with the aims of the first part of the work, the material is mostly drawn from Old Polish [in English translation]. Yet, all “historical” examples present in the semantic part of this work can be easily “translated” to contemporary language. Thus, I shall leave them unchanged. 3 Cf. (Witwicki, p. 119 ff.). 2

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


another combination (in our case, with an interrogative, or an imperative, sentence, etc.), does not lead to the conclusion that other combinations are also sentences of the type ‘n.’ The above line of reasoning may perhaps have been convincing if not for a certain degree of freedom in accepting both premises, that is, the assumption that it is important for conditional sentences that the meaning of the whole sentence is neither the meaning of the antecedent nor the meaning of the consequent, but instead, something different from either of them, which is based on these meanings, and that the meaning of the whole conditional sentence belongs to the same logical category as the meaning of both parts considered individually. These conditions, fulfilled by conditional propositions, do not have to be necessary for all conditional sentences. Besides, the first argument is only important for a specific interpretation of conditional propositions. For instance, it is not important for someone who follows Pfänder in stating that the meaning of a conditional proposition is the meaning of the restricted consequent.4 Pfänder’s interpretation does not seem correct. Still, as it seems, and for the previously mentioned reasons, the argumentation aimed at equating the scope of “conditional sentence” with the scope of “conditional proposition” may be reasonably rejected. We might indeed arbitrarily assume a definition of the term “a conditional sentence” which indicates its specific scope. However, there is a risk of encountering serious difficulties in the analysis of these interrogative or imperative sentences, etc. Morphologically, they certainly belong to the same sentential category as conditional propositions, and even in the semantic aspect there are certain common characteristics. Therefore, I believe that the notion of a conditional sentence should be expanded to encompass propositions as well as interrogative, imperative and optative sentences. The reason why analysis was limited to conditional propositions, with the exclusion of other kinds of conditional sentences, is that conditional sentences were analyzed almost exclusively by logicians, who are mainly interested in sentences which are either true or false, and thus, statements. Nevertheless, some of them incidentally deal with conditional sentences which are not propositions (for instance, Rostohar5 mentions an interrogative conditional sentence). In the present work, interrogative and imperative conditional sentences will be examined more thoroughly. Still, first we shall analyze conditional propositions, their morphological and syntactic structure, as well as the relationship between them and other propositions.

4 5

Cf. (Pfänder 1921, p. 243 ff.). Cf. (Rostohar 1910, p. 120).


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2. The Morphological Structure of Conditional Propositions All propositions can be divided into simple and complex. A simple proposition is usually interpreted as a categorical proposition with a noun predicate (e.g. snow is white) or a verb predicate (e.g. snow is melting). We can also include in this category existential propositions (e.g. protons exist), impersonal verbs (e.g. it is raining), and elliptical propositions which, when complemented properly, may be included in one of the mentioned groups (e.g. “Treason!,” “Gone”). A complex proposition is such a proposition, whose components in and of themselves are also propositions, expressions in the function of statements or propositional functions. Conditional propositions are a kind of compound binomial propositions. Their clauses, called antecedents and consequents, are sentences without sentence-creating functors. An expression in the form “If A is B…” (e.g. “If Peter is a lawyer”) does not express the full meaning and is not a sentence, but a synsemantic expression, that is, an expression which assumes its full meaning only together with another expression. The case is similar with the expression “then A is C” (e.g. “then Peter is a university graduate”). On the other hand, the expression in the form of “A is B” (“Peter is a lawyer”) and “A is C” (“Peter is a university graduate”) are sentences. Name-creating functors “if-then” etc. form the third component of a conditional proposition (as long as we are dealing with conjunctive propositions). It is hard to specify the semantic function of such and similar words. Some, e.g. Marty, 6 believe that words which are not names or sentences do not in themselves have a meaning or an object. They are merely co-signifying, synsemantic. However, if this were the case, could we even call them words? As Husserl rightly noted,7 would they not perform a similar function as sounds, which form part of words? Yet, this is not so. Synsemantic words have their own meaning. This is supported by the fact quoted by Husserl that synsemantic words can perform the same function in different word sets. On the other hand, it is also true that synsemantic words in themselves do not express a complete idea which we would be willing to call their meaning. One could say that they have a partial rather than complete meaning, that they are words “in potentia” symbols, which obtain their full meaning, not any meaning but a specified and constant one, in appropriate relationships. The fact that they fulfill that last condition differentiates them from sounds which co-signify something but do

6 7

Cf. (Marty 1884, p. 203, remark 3) and (Marty 1908, p. 205 ff.). Cf. (Husserl 1900–1921. Bd. I. Tl. II, p. 307).

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


not have a fixed meaning. What is involved in this partial meaning which synsemantic words interpreted in isolation have? Possibly it is limited to the conviction that the words will perform a specified semantic function when used in a given context. Expressions such as, e.g., “If the father absolves your sins, I absolve them as well,” 8 are generally parts of a conditional proposition. At times, one of the parts of a conditional proposition is not a proposition in itself, but a sentence of a different kind, e.g. interrogative or imperative. Still, in such cases, as long as the whole sentence is a proposition, this interrogative or imperative sentence does not express a question or a command, but performs the function of a proposition. For instance, “What use is there of pompous words, when truth and result are far from them,”9 or “Win in the field and you shall win in court.”10 Sometimes it is not even a sentence which replaces one of the parts of a conditional statement but another word, e.g. a participle or an infinitive. For instance, “Wishing to judge me, one should not be with me but be in me”;11 “But imagining this gallery painted on the ceilings and the walls, it would be beautiful.”12 Sometimes conditional sentences are used in the elliptic formulation. Their ellipticity usually consists in either partial or complete omission of the consequent, which must be guessed from the context. For instance, “If you are waiting for the French, the French are still far away”; 13 “And if he refuses…”; 14 “But what if Chmielnicki beats…,”15 etc. Apart from the expressions mentioned before, propositional functions can also be parts of a conditional proposition. In the sentence “If x is a square, then x has equal sides,” the expression “x is a square” is not a proposition but a propositional function. A propositional function is defined as an expression which contains a real variable or variables, and which becomes a proposition when the variables are replaced with values. The fact that an expression which contains a real variable, or variables, is not a proposition, leads to the idea that every proposition is true or false, but a propositional function is neither true nor false, and it only becomes one or the other when the variables are reasonably replaced. Thus, when

Cf. Rej, Zwierciadło [Mirror]. Ibidem. 10 Cf. Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz [Sir Thaddeus]. 11 Ibidem. 12 Cf. Tarnowski, Z wakacji [From Vacation]. This and some of the other examples were taken from handbooks of grammar by Stein and Zawiliński, Szober, Krasnowolski and others. 13 Cf. Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz [Sir Thaddeus]. 14 Cf. Sienkiewicz, Potop [The Deluge]. 15 Cf. Sienkiewicz, Ogniem i mieczem [With Fire and Sword]. 8 9


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we state “x is a quadrangle,” the expression is neither true nor false and only becomes either depending on what name it is substituted with. The symbol ‘x’ is called a real variable. A conditional sentence whose parts, in and of themselves, contain a real variable, is not therefore also a propositional function. The expression “If x is a square, then x is a rectangle” is a proposition, since it is true; on the other hand, the variable ‘x’ considered in the whole sentence is an apparent variable. This sentence, if written accurately, would read: “For every x, if x is a square, then x is a rectangle.” As we know, expressions such as “for every x,” “for a certain x,” called quantifiers in logic, attached to the expression containing the variable ‘x,’ turn ‘x’ into an apparent variable. Expressions which contain apparent variables but do not contain real variables are not functions. Summing up, let us state that a conditional proposition includes: (a) a name-creating functor “if-then,” or equivalent functors; (b) two parts called an antecedent and a consequent. The functor may sometimes be only conjectural. The antecedents and the consequents of a conditional clause are either sentences or other words in the role of sentences, or propositional functions. The so-called antecedent may occur both before and after the consequent in conditional phrases. The precedence is only logical in this case. A conditional proposition is not merely a simple combination of these two parts. It is a new whole based on these parts. 3. What do Conditional Propositions Mean? The meaning of a conditional proposition is a judgment which states that there is a certain relationship between what the antecedent acknowledges or rejects and what the consequent acknowledges or rejects. It is possible, after all, to believe that there is a relationship between two states of affairs while not believing that any of these states of affairs actually occur. For instance, one may be convinced that “if there is a golden mountain, there is a part of a golden mountain,” not believing in the existence of a golden mountain or a part of a golden mountain. In other words, the meaning of a conditional proposition is neither the meaning of the antecedent nor the meaning of the consequent, nor a simple sum of their meanings. What is usually expressed in a conditional sentence is some kind of reasoning. There is a certain problem which arises when analyzing more closely the meaning of conditional sentences. As we know, all reasoning refers to the relationship of entailment, which is the basic logical relationship. The occurrence of this relationship is usually observed in conditional propositions. It is no wonder then that logic has always been interested in conditional clauses. However, the notion of a conditional sentence in logic

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


is not completely consistent with the notion of conditional sentences in colloquial language. Let us compare these two standpoints: the standpoint of logic and the standpoint of colloquial language.16 In logic, on the basis of the so-called propositional calculus, it is assumed that a conditional sentence is true if and only if what is stated in the consequent occurs or what is stated in the antecedent does not occur. This condition is fulfilled: (1) whenever the antecedent and the consequent are true; (2) whenever the antecedent is false and the consequent is true; (3) whenever both the consequent and the antecedent are false. The only excluded case is when the antecedent is true and the consequent is false. Here are some examples: The first case: a conditional clause is true, because both of the parts are true: (a) if 27 is divisible by 9, then it is divisible by 3; (b) if 27 is divisible by 3, then Aristotle was born in 384 BC. The second case: a conditional clause is true, because the antecedent is false but the consequent is true: (a) if Lvov is bigger than Warsaw, then it is bigger than Przemyśl; (b) if Lvov is bigger than Warsaw, then 2 + 2 = 4. The third case: a conditional clause is true , because both the antecedent and the consequent are false: (a) if Napoleon was Czech, then he was Slav; (b) if 2 + 2 = 5, then the Vistula flows into the Black Sea. The fourth case: a conditional clause is false, because the antecedent is true but the consequent is false: a) if 100 is two times 50, then it is four times 20; b) if a square is a rectangle, then Warsaw is in Palestine.17 Strictly speaking, in logic “If p then q” means the same as “Not-p or q,” where ‘p’ can be replaced with the antecedent, and ‘q’ can be replaced with the consequent of a conditional sentence. It is different in the case of colloquial language. Admittedly, someone based in colloquial language will gladly admit that all of the examples quoted above fulfill the conditions of a definition of a conditional clause assumed in the propositional calculus, but will be against this definition, referring to the examples presented


The relationship between the meaning of conditional sentences in propositional calculus and the meaning of conditional sentences in colloquial speech is described, among others, in the works of Kotarbiński (1929, p. 165 ff.), Ajdukiewicz (1938), and Ingarden (1936a, p. 18 ff.). Ingarden’s discussion is primarily against the attempts to adjust the notion of conditional sentences in colloquial speech to the notion of these sentences established in propositional calculus. The distinct character of these meanings is also highly emphasized by the other authors. The results I obtain refer to Kotarbiński’s standpoint, but are in some points similar to Ajdukiewicz’s views, even though they are not based on the directival concept of meaning assumed by him. 17 The interpretation of conditional sentences described in these four cases was already known in antiquity. This was the interpretation of conditional sentences by the Stoics. Cf. Sextus Empiricus, Πυρρωνειων υποτυπωσεων B 111–112, and Sextus Empiricus, Προς δογματικους B 113 and 245.


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in (b) in each of the points, which do not correspond to the intention of a conditional clause in colloquial language. Where does the discrepancy between the position of logic and the position of colloquial language come from? After all, the same claim which states that if p occurs and if q occurs then there is no p without q, and when neither p nor q occur, there is no p without q, and when p does not occur but q occurs there is also no p without q, everyone will and does readily accept the fact that if: if p then q, then there is no p without q, that is, that not-p or q. Yet, we are not confined to this in colloquial speech. Something more is of importance. This is when we state “If p then q,” where not-p or q, and when there is a objective relationship between p and q. 18 To be more precise, this is when we judge that not-p or q, and when we judge that there is a objective connnection between p and q. What is the nature of this substantial connection, or in other words, what is the object of a conditional clause within colloquial language? It seems to be the relationship of sufficient conditioning in the intention of the speaker between the state of affairs stated in the antecedent and the state of affairs stated in the consequent. We do not only wish to state that there may be no p without q in the sense that either the antecedent of a conditional sentence is false or the consequent of a conditional sentence is true, but also in the sense that, regardless of whether the two parts are set together in one’s thoughts, there objectively occurs such a relationship between the states of affairs stated in the antecedent and the consequent that the former cannot exist without the latter, that is, the former is a sufficient condition for the latter. For instance, when we say, “If a triangle is equilateral, then it is equiangular,” or “If an aquarium is cut off from the air supply, the fish will die,” etc., we state that in the first case the fact that a triangle is equilateral is always tied to the fact that it is equiangular, and in the second, that lack of air in an aquarium is a sufficient condition of the fish dying.19

T. Kotabiński stresses this point (Kotarbiński 1929, p. 166 ff.). Some, like Sigwart, reduce the object of a hypothetical judgment to the relationship of cause and effect between the meaning of the antecedent and the meaning of the consequent (Sigwart 1873, p. 297 ff.). There is no question that, as long as there is a relationship of sufficient conditioning between the objects of the antecedent and the consequent, there is a relationship of cause and effect between the meanings of the parts of the conditional, and if we accept the former of these relationships, we thus accept the latter. It is sometimes only that latter relationship in the hypothetical judgment which concerns us. Still, then we say, “If p is true then q is true,” rather than “If p then q.” 18 19

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


Numerous examples seem to speak against such an interpretation. For instance, “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble,” 20 or “Let we let him [scil. Jesus] go on like this, everyone will believe in him,”21 or “If we raise the bottom of the river, the water will overflow.” 22 Someone might note that in the presented examples the antecedent does not mention the sufficient condition. We could conceivably raise the bottom of the river without causing a flood, and someone might get hurt walking during the day. People may not believe in Christ, even if he is set free. This objection is unjustified. In most cases, except for analytical sentences, in which the content of the consequent is implicitly contained within the content of the antecedent, we express ourselves in an elliptical manner, assuming that the conditions occur where the condition mentioned before in the antecedent is sufficient for the state of affairs mentioned in the consequent to occur. When we say, “If we raise the bottom of the river, the water will overflow,” we implicitly assume that the bottom should be raised to a certain specific level, etc. No doubt sometimes when we utter a conditional sentence, we make a mistake and mention as a sufficient condition something which it is not, even when the abbreviation is removed. Still, it does not change our intention when we use conditional sentences in colloquial speech. Naturally, speaking of the semantic intention of conditional sentences in everyday language, we keep it in mind that it is only about indicating what the intention usually is. Colloquial language is so unstable and flexible that it leaves ample room for individual habits in the use of its phrases in different meanings. However, we are not dealing with these individual shades of meaning when we attempt to characterize the semantic intention accompanying the use of conditional clauses. We have attempted to enhance the difference between the meaning of a conditional clause in logic and the meaning of a conditional clause in colloquial speech, referring to the fact that in logic the expression “If p then q” means the same as “not-p or q,” or in other words, “There is no p without q,” usually only when we also believe that there is some substantial connection between p and q, that is, a relationship of the kind that the object of the antecedent is a sufficient condition of the object of the consequent. Thus it is explained why we are disinclined to formulate such conditional clauses as, e.g., “If 27 is divisible by 9, then Aristotle was born in 384 BC,” etc., within colloquial language.

Cf. Rozmyślanie przemyskie [The Przemyśl Meditation] 298. [Cf. John XI: 9.] Ibidem. [Cf. John XI: 48.] 22 Cf. Żeromski, Ludzie bezdomni [Homeless People]. 20 21


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Someone might note that in colloquial language, not only in the cases where there is no substantial connection between the antecedent and the consequent, we are not prone to use a conditional clause. Even when this connection occurs, we may hesitate before using a conditional clause when we know that the antecedent of the clause is false and the consequent is true. For instance, we would utter reluctantly, “If Lvov is bigger than Warsaw, then it is bigger than Przemyśl,” since we know that Lvov is smaller than Warsaw. A conditional of this kind is completely unacceptable in propositional calculus. Where does the difference come from? We could attempt to explain it by noting that the understanding of disjunctive sentences is usually different in colloquial language and in logic. In propositional calculus, the phrase “p or q” denotes that one of the parts of the disjunction occurs, but the occurrence of both is not precluded. In colloquial language, the phrase “p or q” usually means that one of the parts occurs and the other is precluded. Let us apply the colloquial understanding of disjunction in the definition of a conditional clause. The definition read, “If p, then q,” means the same as “Not-p or q.” If the expression “Not-p or q” is interpreted according to the colloquial standpoint, we obtain two possibilities: let us assume that not-p occurs, then q is precluded and we obtain not-p and not-q. On the other hand, if q occurs, then not-p does not occur and we obtain not-p and not-q. Within this interpretation, only such conditional clauses are acceptable in which both the antecedent and the consequent are either both true or both false. There is one more thing to note. It seems that in colloquial language conditional clauses are used more readily when the truth or falsity of the antecedent or the consequent are not stated.23 This is especially true when we are convinced that the consequent is true and we do not connect it with the antecedent with the functor “if-then,” which we realize is false. Why would we do it? After all, we do not justify the consequent by referring to a false antecedent, even one which the consequent results from. The antecedent and the consequent of a conditional clause may be either positive or negative. The whole conditional proposition, in the regular interpretation of the phrase “conditional proposition” is always positive. When we say, “If something is not a quadrangle, then it is not a square,” we state that not being a quadrangle and being a square are mutually exclusive. When a proponent of predestination states after Rej, “If God did not wish it, I would not be a thief,”24 he states that there is a relationship of conditioning between the negative act of God’s will and this person’s conduct.

The so-called casus irrealis of conditional sentences, in which the falsity of the parts of the conditional sentence is stated, is an exception here (see point 4). 24 Cf. Rej, Zwierciadło [Mirror]. 23

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


Some authors recognize hypothetical negative judgments in the judgments on possibility. According to Goblot, 25 a positive hypothetical judgment is supposed to state that the truth of the consequent must be provided together with the truth of the antecedent, and a negative judgment is supposed to state that the truth of the consequent may but does not have to be provided together with the truth of the antecedent. In other words, a hypothetical positive judgment states the necessity of a relationship of conditioning, and a hypothetical judgment denies this necessity. Yet, are we indeed dealing with negative hypothetical judgments here? It is clear that the quality of a hypothetical judgment does not depend on the quality of the antecedent and the consequent. When we say, “if A is B, then C is not D,” “If A is not B, then C is D,” or “If A is not B, then C is not D,” we state that there is a relationship of sufficient conditioning between what the antecedent presents and what the consequent presents. For instance, “If you convert to me, I shall not remember your past bad deeds”;26 “If the Lord does not build a house, they worked in vain”; 27 “If God had not wanted it, I would never have been bad” (Rej, Zwierciadło [Mirror]). 28 Therefore, we may state after Goblot, “If A is not B, then C must be B,” “If A is B, then C cannot be D,” “If A is not B, then C cannot be D.” If I say, “If A is B, then C does not have to be D,” that is, according to Goblot, when I issue a hypothetical negative judgment, the relationship between the antecedent and the consequent will not change. The meaning of the above sentence is also the statement of a relationship between the object of the antecedent and the object of the consequent, and therefore, a positive judgment, at most equivalent to a categorical negative judgment: “Being A B does not entail being C D.” Still, a question arises of whether a certain category of statements, acquiescing statements, should be considered as conditional statements in the negative meaning. We shall discuss this issue further in point (5). For now, we shall settle for stating that conditional propositions, as they are usually interpreted, are of a positive nature, regardless of the quality of the antecedent and the consequent. Someone might raise the issue that a conditional proposition sometimes performs the function of a categorical sentence. For instance, when Zagłoba says to Helena, “I shall be a blockhead if I do not get you out of this predicament,”29 he wants to say, “I shall get you out,” and therefore issues a categorical judgment. Similarly, when someone says in jest, “If you guess Cf. Cf. 27 Cf. 28 Cf. 29 Cf. 25 26

(Goblot 1902, p. 198 ff.). Rej, Zwierciadło [Mirror]. Wujek, Psałterz [Psalter]. Rej, Zwierciadło [Mirror]. Sienkiewicz, Ogniem i mieczem [With Fire and Sword].


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it, I will give you a king’s ransom,” de facto issues a categorical judgment “you will surely not guess it.” This objection is not justified. The quoted sentences should be properly formulated in casus irrealis: “I would be a blockhead if I did not get you out,” and “If you guessed it, I would give you a king’s ransom.” As we shall see later on (point 4), sentences of this kind do not only state that: if p then q, but also that: not-p and not-q. As it often happens, the speakers in our examples puts particular emphasis on one of these negations, so that it is mostly revealed to us as the meaning of the whole expression. Sentences in the form of “p unless q,” usually included in the category of conditional sentences, deserve a special mention. For instance, “I will not believe him unless he provides evidence,” “The patient will die unless we operate immediately.” It seems that sentences in the form “p unless q” are usually equivalent to sentences in the form “p if not q.” The sentence “I will not believe him unless he provides evidence” is equivalent to the sentence “If he does not provide evidence, I will not believe him; the sentence “The patient will die unless we operate immediately” is equivalent to the sentence “The patient will die if we do not operate immediately.” This is usually true, as due to the vagueness of colloquial speech it does not seem excluded that a sentence in the form “p unless q” is equivalent to a sentence in the form “If not-p then q” and “If q then not-p.” The first case would occur, e.g., in the sentence “This figure is a square, unless its sides are slanting,” as long as this sentence is not false in colloquial language. The second case occurs, e.g. in the sentence “Kiepura will sing unless he has a sore throat.” In terms of propositional calculus, we could provide the following equivalence: a sentence in the form “p unless q” is equivalent to the sentence in the form “if not-q then p or if p then not-q.” 4. The So-Called Casus Realis, Potentialis, and Irrealis of Conditional Propositions The problem of real, possible and unreal conditional clause, well recognized in grammar, is closely connected with the question of the meaning of conditional propositions. The morphological point of view does not pose great difficulties here. There are three categories of conditional propositions: (a) propositions in which the predicate is in the declarative mode, both in the antecedent and in the consequent, e.g., “Break even one

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


condition and the whole deal is off”; 30 (b) propositions in which the verb is in the conditional mode in the antecedent and in declarative mode in the consequent, for instance, “I would like to leave this equipment as an inheritance to my children if I married”;31 (c) propositions in which the verb is in the declarative mode in the antecedent and in the conditional mode in the consequent, e.g. “If I get some money, I would share it with you;” (d) propositions in which the conditional mode is used both in the antecedent and the consequent, e.g. “Silly bear, if you had stayed in your layer, Wojski would never have found out about you.”32 Propositions of the first type are called real clausess by grammarians, the second and third kinds are called possible, and the fourth kind is called unreal. The mentioned use of modes is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of this or that kind of conditional statement. Conditional propositions in which the declarative or conditional mode is used both in the antecedent and the consequent must often be considered as casus potentialis. This hitherto simple case becomes more complicated when we leave the ground of morphology and proceed to semantic analysis, and when we ask what it means that a conditional proposition is of a real, a possible or an unreal character, and what actually these terms pertain to, etc. Spengler provides an attempt to explain this matter in his dissertation entitled “Zur Grammatik der hypothetischen Sätze.”33 According to handbooks of Greek grammar, Spengler distinguishes four rather than three types of clauses: real, potential, possible, and unreal, and he attempts to explain the difference in meaning between these categories of conditional propositions with Marty’s theory on the “inner speech,”34 as it is called (“innere Sprachform”). According to Marty, “inner speech” consists in certain presentations induced by words of speech, presentations which are not the meaning of these words, but ones which are used to induce the meaning of these words in our consciousness according to the rule of association. The task of this inner speech is to “als Band der Assoziation zu dienen zwischen Laut und Bedeutung.”35 At times it occurs as a surrogate of the proper meaning. In the dissertation “Über

Cf. Mickiewicz, Pani Twardowska [Mrs Twardowski]. Cf. Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz [Sir Thaddeus]. 32 Ibidem. 33 Cf. (Spengler 1895, p. 933 ff. and 1012 ff.). 34 Cf. (Marty 1908, p. 134 ff.). 35 Naturally, Spengler wrote his work in 1895, and therefore did not refer to the work mentioned in the previous footnote, but rather, to Marty’s work entitled “Über das Verhältniss von Grammatik und Logik” (Marty 1893, p. 105 ff.). I quote the above sentence from this work, following Spengler. 30 31


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subjektlose Sätze,”36 Marty reflected on the inner speech of categorical statements and concluded that the representation of the subject and the predicate often functions as an element of the inner speech of the statement rather than its meaning. Failure to distinguish the two was at the source of many erroneous theories of judgment as well as a false interpretation of the so-called impersonalia. Marty’s considerations concerning objectless propositions were transposed by Spengler to conditional propositions. According to Spengler, what all types of conditional clauses have in common is that their meaning is a hypothetical judgment. What differentiates these two cases and makes them assume different forms is inner speech, among other things. Real and potential conditional clauses express a hypothetical judgment in a clear way without expressing any other judgment besides. The two cases differ in that in the first case inner speech is made of temporal presentations, and initially even spatial presentations, whereas in the second case the role of an intermediary between the content and the word is performed by the presentations, which are usually the basis for wishes or subjective beliefs. These two cases are juxtaposed with the unreal and possible conditionals. In the first case, the presentation of the antecedent and the consequent is based on a judgment about unreality, whereas in the second case it is based on a judgment about possibility and a certain expectation, and thus, a certain state of a rather emotional nature.37 Spengler’s analysis probably raises some critical reservations. What Spengler claims about the unreal conditional seems quite unclear and imprecise. It is not clear how the presentation of the antecedent and the consequent is based (ist aufgebaut) on judgments about unreality, and moreover, the issue is not about the presentation of the antecedent and the consequent, but rather about the presentation of the states of affairs corresponding to them. The distinction between the conditional of possibility and the conditional of potentiality is difficult to draw on the basis of languages other than Greek. The manner in which Spengler distinguishes a real conditional clause from a potential conditional clause is not satisfactory; even overlooking the fact that what Spengler states about those mediating presentations is very unclear, we note that also in a conditional statement in the conditional of possibility, inner speech can be built out of presentations of temporal relationships (e.g. in the sentence “I will let you know if I am leaving”). Therefore, the criterion assumed by Spengler fails at least sometimes.

36 37

Cf. (Marty 1884, p. 321 ff. and 327 ff.). Cf. (Spengler 1895, p. 941 ff. and 1019).

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


On the other hand, Twardowski’s standpoint38 is very clear, and according to it, (1) (2) (3)

the meaning of a conditional proposition in casus potentialis is a judgment stating the relationship of conditioning; the meaning of a conditional proposition in casus realis is: (a) a judgment stating the relationship of conditioning; (b) a judgment stating the occurrence of the condition; (c) a judgment stating the occurrence of the conditioned thing; the meaning of a conditional proposition in casus irrealis is: (a) a judgment stating the relationship of conditioning; (b) a judgment negating the condition; (c) a judgment negating the conditioned thing.

Certain objections arise concerning the interpretation of the real conditional clause. As Twardowski claims, if the meaning of a conditional proposition in casus realis consisted of judgments stating the condition and the conditioned thing, apart from a hypothetical judgment, the function of these conditional propositions would be no different from the function of causal propositions in which these three judgments enumerated by Twardowski are always expressed. There is no doubt that propositions in casus realis are often used instead of causal propositions. For instance, the sentence “You ask me how this could have come to pass, I will tell you”39 is equivalent to the sentence “Since you have asked me how this could have come to pass, I will tell you,” etc. This is where the mentioned interpretation of the real conditional clause seems to originate. Still, it does not seem legitimate to build the description of the real conditional clause on the analysis of conditional propositions used vicariously in the function of causative sentences. What someone uttering a sentence thinks, or what we surmise when we hear a sentence, is not the meaning of the sentence; after all, the sentence has a meaning also when no one utters or hears it. Not all content which the sentence expresses is its meaning. The meaning of the sentence “John loves his son, Paul” is stating the state of affairs called “loving Paul by John,” rather than stating that John has a son, that this son is called Paul, etc., even though all this is in a way expressed in this proposition. We say that it is expressed implicitly. The meaning of the sentence is what is expressed in it explicitly, that is, the content which is described by the

Twardowski presented and justified this standpoint in his lecures entitled Logika in the academic year 1920/1921. 39 Cf. Rozmyślanie przemyskie [The Przemyśl Meditation] 330. 38


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sentence as a whole, rather than through an analysis of individual elements of the sentence. In all three cases, what is captured by the whole of a conditional proposition is stating the relationship of conditioning. In casus realis, a conditional proposition does not express anything besides this meaning, unless it is used in an improper sense, instead of a causal sentence, and then it additionally expressed a judgment on the occurrence of a condition and a judgment on the occurrence of the conditioned thing. In casus potentialis, a conviction is expressed that we cannot state anything about the occurrence or non-occurrence of the objects of the antecedent and the consequent. In “casus irrealis,” two negations are implicitly expressed: the negation of the occurrence of the object of the antecedent and the negation of the occurrence of the object of the consequent. 5. The Relationship of Conditional Propositions and Certain Other Compound Propositions Krasnowolski, 40 followed by Łoś,41 notes the close relationship between causal and conditional sentences. Szober42 is even ready to regard conditional statements as a special case of causal statements. He writes, “conditional sentences are a certain kind of causal sentences” where, according to Szober, the difference between causal and conditional sentences consists only in a different kind of cause in question. According to Szober, the condition mentioned in a conditional sentence is “a necessary and sufficient cause”; as “regular causal sentences do not express such a cause.” Yet, it is easy to demonstrate that the difference between objects is out of the question here, as the same relationship may be expressed either through conditional sentences or through causative sentences. The sentences “He sleeps, he will recover” 43 and “Because he is sleeping, he will recover” differ in meaning rather than the object. In the former sentence, the meaning of the antecedent is a supposition, whereas in the latter, the meaning is a judgment. The essential difference which, contrary to Szober, does not allow for considering conditional propositions as a case of causal statements consists in the fact that causal statements are inferential statements, that is, such statements in which something is recognized based on recognizing something else, and therefore, in which

Cf. Cf. 42 Cf. 43 Cf. 40


(Krasnowolski 1898, p. 246 ff.). (Łoś 1923, p. 402). (Szober 1914–1916, p. 391). Rozmyślanie przemyski [The Przemyśl Meditation] 298. [Cf. John XI: 12.]

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


both the antecedent and the consequent express judgments, rather than suppositions, as in conditional statements,44 and in which the veracity of the whole complex sentence assumes the veracity of its parts, which, as we have seen, does not occur in conditional sentences, which may be true although their parts are false. The causal sentence “Since p then q” may be considered as equivalent to the conjunction (p ⊃ q) × (p × q). This can be inexactly expressed in words in the following manner: If the sentence “Since p then q’ is true, then the conjunction of the sentences “If p then q” as well as “p and q” is true, and conversely, if the above conjunction is true then the sentence ”Since p then q” is also true. Perhaps Frege is guided by the same line of reasoning when he does not include concessive propositions into conditional proposition.45 According to Frege, the antecedent of the concessive clause has a complete meaning, and the antecedent of a conditional statement usually does not have a complete meaning. In the cases where also the antecedent of a conditional sentence expresses complete content, a concessive clause differs from a conditional sentence in that in the former the veracity of the whole sentence assumes the veracity of its parts, whereas in the latter the veracity of the whole does not assume the veracity of the parts. Frege probably means only those concessive propositions where both the antecedent and the consequent are asserted. He would probably include in this category sentences such as “John did not give up although he suffered great losses.” We could consider concessive propositions such as these as a negative equivalent of causal sentences. In a causal sentence, we recognize the occurrence of a state of affairs stated in the antecedent, as well as the occurrence of the relationship of conditioning of which this state of affairs is a part, whereas in an concessive clause we recognize the occurrence of the state of affairs stated in the antecedent, but we deny the occurrence of the expected relationship of conditioning between it and the state of affairs stated in the consequent of a corresponding causative sentence. Just as causal sentences do not only express a judgment expressed in the antecedent and a judgment expressed in the consequent, but also a judgment stating the occurrence of the relationship of conditioning, also what acquiescing statements express is not limited to judgments which are the meaning of the antecedent and the consequent, but moreover, and primarily, they contain a judgment stating that the expected relationship of conditioning does not occur.

44 This difference between causal and conditional sentences is also noted by Spengler (1895, p. 934). 45 Cf. (Frege 1892, p. 45).


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Yet, the antecedent and consequent are not always stated in concessive propositions. In the sentence, “Even if I were to stay, does it depend on me?,”46 only the meaning of the consequent would be a judgment. Still, it is possible that also no part of a concessive clause is stated. A negation of the antecedent may also be implicitly expressed in concessive clause. The proposition “Even if I wanted to, I could not,” is a negative counterpart of a conditional proposition “Since I want to, then I can”; similarly, the proposition “Although I want to, I cannot,” is a negative counterpart of the causal proposition “Since I want, then I can.” Probably, one may consider concessive clauses either as negative causal sentences or as negative conditional sentences. As we have seen, there is a strong argument in favor of this tendency, but what speaks against it is the fact that the class of sentences of a common characteristic formal structure would have to be broken, that is, the class of concessive clauses would have to be divided into the class of negative conditional sentences and the class of negative causal sentences. Another issue speaking against it is a certain difficulty in subordinating concessive clauses in the form of “Although p then q” to either conditional or causal sentences. Without ultimately resolving the question of classification, we may state that concessive clauses are in close connection to both causal sentences and conditional sentences, in their structure as well as their meaning, as an expression of judgments which are negations of judgments expressed through corresponding causal or conditional sentences. Conditional propositions (at least one type of them) are also in a close morphological connection with temporal propositions. In German, this relationship is evident thanks to the use of the words “wenn-so,” both in the first and second type of sentences. Also in English, temporal adverbs “when,” “since,” are fairly often used instead of the particle “if.” Here a question arises about the semantic relationship between these two types of propositions, and the criterion which would allow us to differentiate between a conditional propositionand a temporal proposition. The semantic function of temporal propositions is essentially different from the semantic function of conditional propositions, which results from the fact that not every temporal proposition may be replaced with a conditional proposition. This is mostly applied to temporal propositions about future succession or future coexistence. These propositions, unlike conditional propositions of the first kind: (1) usually express two rather than one judgment; (2) may express negative judgments.


Cf. Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz [Sir Thaddeus].

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


Still, there is still a large group of propositions on future or present succession, or coexistence. The question is whether these propositions may be included in the group of temporal propositions or conditional propositions, or partly here and there. Sigwart,47 who assumed that the object of a hypothetical judgment is a constant and necessary connection between the two parts, denies that any propositions which concern exclusively temporal succession or coexistence may be included in conditional propositions. His opinion is that conditional propositions include only those propositions on coexistence which have the character of propositions about the necessary connection between what is the object of the antecedent and what is stated in the consequent. Sigwart quotes the sentence “When we heat mercury, it increases in volume” as an example. Indeed, there is a certain difference between the first and the second type of the sentences. There is no doubt that in one of the “temporal” propositions about present or future coexistence, a temporal adverb may be replaced with a conditional adverbial phrase without detriment to the meaning in some sentences but not all. This is true even for individual sentences. The meaning of the phrase “Where shall I go when you drive me out?”48 can be expressed otherwise: “Where shall I go if you drive me out?.” Instead of “When you return safely, I shall tune my harp,”49 this can be expressed as “If you return safely, I shall tune my harp.” On the other hand, the propositions “When the chestnuts trees bloom, the victorious army will march into the capital” cannot be replaced with the proposition: “If the chestnut trees bloom, the victorious army will march into the capital.” These few examples seem to demonstrate clearly the difference between conditional propositions in the form of temporal propositions and temporal propositions. In the first case, driving me out and coming back may be considered the condition of what the consequent presupposes. Moreover, in both of these examples the antecedent is not stated. In the second case, the blooming of the chestnut trees is not a condition of the victorious army marching into the capital, as it remains only in the relationship of temporal coexistence, where the antecedent and the consequent of the whole conditional is stated. Assuredly, even in the first case we can sometimes refer to the relationship of coexistence or succession rather than conditioning. This is the case when we do not realize that the object of the antecedent conditions the object of the consequent, and instead, we only pay attention to the fact that the first temporally precedes the second.50 Cf. (Sigwart 1871, p. 45 ff.). Cf. Skarga, „O zgodzie domowej” [„On Home Concord”]. 49 Cf. Malczewski, Maria [Mary]. 50 The above discussion leads to an important epistemological problem, which reaches beyond the scope of a work on semantics. This is the issue, often discussed by philosophers of 47 48


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6. Conditional, Interrogative and Imperative Sentences Besides conditional propositions there are also interrogative, imperative, and optative, etc., conditional sentences. They differ from conditional propositions in their meaning as well as structure. The meaning of a conditional proposition, based on the meaning of the antecedent and the consequent, belongs to the same semantic category as the meaning of both of the parts taken independently in their proper function rather than as parts. On the other hand, the meaning of an interrogative or imperative conditional sentence is generically the same as the meaning of the consequent. Therefore, it does not belong to the same semantic category as the proper meaning of both parts of the conditional, where the consequent as a part of the whole conditional does not change its proper meaning. The meaning of an interrogative conditional sentence is a question concerning the relativized state of affairs. This relativization consists in asking what has occurred, occurs or will occur in certain specified conditions, rather than what has occurred, occurs or will occur regardless of the circumstances. When the Magistrate asks: “What would you say if I personally suggested you marry Zosia,”51 he is interested in how Tadeusz will behave in the circumstance indicated by the antecedent. Similarly, when a doctor asks himself, “will the patient’s heart withstand it if we apply anesthetic?” Interrogative conditional sentences, just as with categorical interrogative sentences, may be divided into decisive and supplementary sentences. The first group includes interrogative sentences which begin with “whether” and equivalent sentences. There are only two, mutually exclusive, answers to a decisive question: affirmative and negative. The sentence “I do not know” is not an appropriate answer to any question other than the decisive question “Do you know?” In any other case, it is a proposition of the lack of an answer. Interrogative sentences of the second kind are called

nature, of whether in the so-called natural laws (which, as we know, are often in the form of conditional sentences), something is stated other than a constant coexistence or a constant succession of phenomena. Is it that their content is exhausted in stating a constant coexistence or a constant succession? If the latter were true, then the sharp juxtaposition of a certain kind of conditional sentences (the ones in which causal relationships are ascertained) and temporal sentences about a constant coexistence, or a constant succession, would be unjustified. These sentences would only be clearly juxtaposed by analytical conditional sentences, where relationships of an essential nature are certainly described. Without resolving whether this view is justified, we must still admit that within colloquial language there is a difference between conditional sentences concerning causative relationships and sentences with a constant succession or a constant temporal coexistence. 51 Cf. Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz [Sir Thaddeus].

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


supplementary as they implicitly assume an answer to a certain definitive question. The question, “What did you talk about?” assumes an affirmative answer to the question, “Did you talk?” There are many possible answers to a supplementary question, the former being both true or both false at the same time in many cases, as they are not mutually exclusive.52 What we ask about may correspond with a series of values. One may say that in the narrower meaning, the object of a supplementary interrogative sentence are the designata of a variable (or variables) occurring in a propositional function, which will produce an appropriate answer to our question after we substitute this variable with a constant value. In the broader meaning, the object of a supplementary interrogative sentence is a state of affairs presented by this propositional function. For instance, the question “Which year was Mickiewicz born?” may produce many answers which correspond to the propositional function “Mickiewicz was born in the year x.” The designatum of the variable x is the object of our question in the narrower meaning. In the broader meaning, it is the state of affairs: the fact that Mickiewicz was born in the year x. The case is similar with supplementary interrogative conditional sentences. The only difference is that in them the object of the question is relativized to the state of affairs indicated by the antecedent of the conditional. For instance, the issue in the question “What will you do if you find thirty of them?”53 is the designatum of the variable x occurring in the propositional function “I will perform action x until I find thirty of them,” relativized to the condition mentioned in the antecedent. As for decisive interrogative conditional sentences, the issue is seemingly different from the case of simple decisive sentences. When we ask, “Is a dog a vertebrate?” the object of both a positive and a negative answer is “Dog being a vertebrate.” Since only two answers are possible, the object of the question is clearly defined. In conditional sentences where the value of the consequent is changed, the quality of the whole sentence does not change, but instead, its object does. Therefore, although only two answers to a decisive conditional question are possible in this case as well, the object of this question does not seem clearly defined. Let us now consider an example. The question “Will the patient recover if we perform surgery?” may generate two answers: (a) “If we perform surgery, the patient will recover,” and (b) “If we perform surgery, the patient will not recover.” In the first case, the object of the sentence is the occurrence

52 On the issue of the object and the content of interrogative sentences see (Ingarden 1925, p. 126 ff.) and (Ajdukiewicz 1934c, p. 15 ff.). 53 Cf. „Genesis” XVIII: 30.


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of the relationship of conditioning between performing the surgery and the patient’s recovery, whereas in the second case, it is the occurrence of the relationship between performing the surgery and the patient’s lack of recovery. What is therefore the object of our question? The mentioned obstacles may be removed if we consider the fact that the sentence “If we perform surgery, the patient will not recover” allows for a twofold interpretation.54 In the interpretation provided by us, it is not an adequate answer to the question “Will the patient recover if we perform surgery?” as it states the relationship between performing the surgery and the patient’s lack of recovery, whereas the question was certainly about the relationship between performing the surgery and recovery. However, the proposition “If we perform surgery, the patient will not recover” may be considered as an expression of a contradiction that performing the surgery is a sufficient condition for the patient’s recovery. Then the sentence is synonymous to the concessive clause “Even if we performed surgery, the patient would not recover,” which is the appropriate negative response to our question. Just as with conditional propositions, also interrogative conditional sentences occur in casus realis, potentialis, or irrealis. For instance: “What will you do if they do not send you money?” “What would you do if they didn’t send you money?.” “What would you have done if they had not sent you money?.” Each of these sentences expresses a question concerning a relativized state of affairs, and moreover, the second contains the statement that we do not know anything about the occurrence of the state of affairs indicated in the antecedent, and the third states that the state of affairs mentioned in the antecedent does not occur. Imperative conditional sentences express a relativized command or a relativized norm. Relativizing a command or a norm in a conditional sentence consists in demanding the fulfillment of the command or believing that one should act in a certain way, as long as the state of affairs mentioned in the antecedent occurs. For instance, “If one is a choleric, do not give him hot food,”55 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,”56 etc. It is clear from these examples that the point is not an absolute prohibition of hot food or an absolute prescription to renounce oneself, but this prohibition and prescription relativized to certain conditions. Examples such as “Do it if you love me,” or “Get out if you value your life” etc., seemingly contradict the

54 Professor K. Twardowski personally turned my attention towards the possibility of a twofold interpretation of this sentence. 55 Cf. Rej, Żywot człowieka poczciwego [The Life of the Honest Man]. 56 Cf. Rozmyślanie przemyskie [The Przemyśl Mediation] 251. [Cf. Matthew XVI: 24.]

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


above analysis. Someone who utters such sentences does not wish to say that something should be done in the presence of such and such conditions, but instead, wishes to make his command more effective through emotional appeal. His command is absolute rather than conditional. How can this be reconciled with what we have said before? It seems that in this case we may also resort to Marty’s hypothesis about “inner speech.” The intentions of the person uttering a sentence are not always consistent with the appropriate meaning of the sentence. What is more, when the expression is often used to express another, “unofficial” content, this unofficial content assumes the character of meaning. Yet, someone unfamiliar with such phrases, upon hearing the sentence “get out if you value your life,” may experience the real meaning of this sentence and may accept this command as a conditional command. On the other hand, are there unrelativized commands and norms, that is, absolute commands and norms? Is it not included in the very notions of a command and a norm that a certain action should be performed or abandoned if a given objective is to be achieved? If this were so, it still goes without saying that in colloquial speech imperative sentences do not take into account this common relativization. When an officer commands to his soldiers, “Present arms!” he does not think about any relativization of the command that the soldiers should present arms as long as the prescribed manner of army salute is to be fulfilled. Neither do the soldiers. Neither does anyone else who considers the colloquial meaning of this sentence. Therefore, even from a standpoint which does not accept absolute norms and commands, the difference between an conditional imperative sentence and a categorical one remains evident. It can be described by stating that an imperative conditional sentence expresses a command or a norm concerning an action relativized in the intention of the command giver to the state of affairs indicated by the antecedent of the conditional. We have mentioned that an imperative sentence expresses a command or a norm. What is then the difference between a command and a norm? It seems there are several. A norm is a general sentence which states that one should or should not act in a particular way. If an imperative sentence expresses a norm, then it is equivalent to a sentence in the form “One should x,” or “One should not x,” where the scope of the variable x is formed from the names of various ways of conduct. For instance, the sentences, “Do not give false testimony!,” “Wash fruit before eating it,” etc., are equivalent to sentences “You should not give false testimony,” “You should wash fruit before eating it,” etc. Every norm assumes a certain evaluation of values. A sentence in the form “One should x” implicitly states that “x is good,” whereas a sentence in the form “One should not x” assumes that “x is bad.”


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A command may but does not have to be general. It is often individual, limited to a given time, place, and person. A command may but does not have to be consistent with a norm. A command which is consistent with a norm may be its application. Then it is part of the action aimed at realizing the norm, for instance, when a mother gives fruit to her child and says: “Wash it before eating.” However, a command may also be inconsistent with a norm. One may believe that “You should x” but command “Not-x.” This is the case when, for instance, someone who accepts the norm “do not kill” hires a thug and tells him to kill an inconvenient opponent. Thus, commands, unlike norms, do not have to be consistent with evaluations, nor do they have to assume them. There may be commands which do not correspond with any norm, either consistent of inconsistent with them; for instance, when someone sends a boy to the shop saying: “Buy two rolls.” There is also another difference between a command and a norm, connected with the empirical conditions of their formulation. A command, issued in earnest and consciously, is connected with predicting the possibility of its execution. Thus, imperative conditional sentences which express commands do not occur in casus irrealis, as it would be absurd to demand an activity to be performed in case a condition is met, and simultaneously state that this condition will not occur. Therefore, conditional sentences which express commands usually occur in casus realis or, less frequently, casus potentialis. The case is different with norms. We can formulate norms of which we know they will only be realized in certain specific conditions, or perhaps never. Such commands may not be issued in earnest. Very many ethical norms can be deemed essentially not applicable. For instance, the norm “Do not kill,” understood in its literal sense, is impracticable. Everyone kills constantly through the very fact that he lives, eats, breathes. He probably does not have to kill other people but he takes lives of plants and animals. We may argue that the norm was poorly formulated; it is too general. Yet, we may also assume that this is a valid norm but unpracticable. One may also believe that killing in itself is wrong, and therefore, that one should never kill, knowing at the same time, that one must kill, as this is a law of nature which human beings belong to. One may also accept the validity of a norm which is essentially practicable but be unable to issue the command of this content in some specific cases due to a lack of competences of commanding or sanction – or due to a lack of appropriate conditions of application of the norm on the part of the person at whom it is supposed to be directed. (For instance, the inability to issue a command which would implement certain justifiable hygienic norms, inconsistent with the religious rules applied in a group.) Distinguishing between a norm and a command is of great importance for jurisprudence. The inapplicability of many legal norms is only revealed

On the Semantics of Conditional Sentences


at the moment of issuing the implementing ordinance and making attempts to issue commands which use the norm. The ability to issue practicable commands which implement a given norm is a test of its applicability. At this point a question arises of whether imperative sentences which express norms are not imperative sentences only morphologically, but if syntactically they are propositions, since they are equivalent to the sentences in the form “One should x,” or “One should not x.” If sentences in this form are true or false, then imperative sentences which express norms of conduct should be interpreted as propositions. Perhaps even imperative sentences which express commands rather than norms could be reduced to propositions. After all, somebody who commands states something, and somebody who prohibits denies something about someone’s future action, and considers this action to be one which is or is not supposed to occur, and believes himself to be a partial cause of this future action. Still, it seems to me that, as far as categorical commands and norms are concerned, even if they are formulated as declarative sentences, they may not be considered equal to statements. Sentences which state “One should x” or “One should not x” are not resolvable in the same sense in which sentences stating that “x exists” or “x does not exist,” or “x is such and such,” or “x is not such and such” are resolvable. Accepting or rejecting categorical imperative sentences necessarily depends on emotional, rather than cognitive, factors.57 But perhaps the case of conditional imperative sentences is different? For instance, “If there is an epidemic of Foot and Mouth Disease in the area, you should not sell cattle,” or “If you see someone mistreating another person, you should rush to help the victim.” The situation is not much different here; one could only know and justify this much: “If there is an epidemic of Foot and Mouth Disease in the area, selling cattle may cause the disease to spread,” and “If you see someone mistreating another person, you can prevent it by reacting to it.” However, the sentences that one should not sell cattle or that one should rush to help another person in certain conditions elude cognitive methods of resolution. One type of conditional imperative sentences seems to be an exception, that is, sentences in the form, “If you want to achieve the objective x, you should perform the action y,” for instance, “If you want to prevent Foot and Mouth Disease from spreading, do not sell cattle during the epidemic”; “If you do not want to tolerate violence, help those who are mistreated.” Still, these sentences can hardly be considered imperative in the proper sense of the word. Their content is the statement that performing the action y is the means to achieve the objective x, as well as the obvious rule that one must involve


H. Poincaré notes this point in his dissertation La morale et la science (Poincaré 1913).


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certain means to achieve an objective. These are neither commands nor norms in the meaning mentioned before. When the content of these sentences includes the statement that one should prevent spreading Foot and Mouth Disease, or that violence should not be tolerated, these sentences would assume the emotional character mentioned before, and would differ significantly from propositions. Therefore it seems that both morphological and semantic properties of imperative conditional sentences make us interpret these sentences as different from the class of conditional propositions. [7.] Conclusion The point of departure for the present paper was to determine the scope of conditional sentences so that the term “conditional sentence” encompassed sentence structures other than just propositions. Out of conditional sentences which are not propositions, interrogative and imperative conditional sentences were discussed. In connection with an analysis of conditional propositions, we attempted to determine the relationship between a conditional sentence in colloquial speech and a conditional sentence in logic, as well as to distinguish the so-called casus realis, potentialis, and irrealis of a conditional sentence, and finally, determine the relationship between conditional propositions and causative, acquiescing and temporal propositions. These issues are on the borders of grammar, logic and the psychology of colloquial speech. Still, it seems that the issue of conditional sentences is not exhausted in these border cases. When discussing seemingly linguistic topics, one touches epistemology at every step, even if it is the problem of the absolute or conditional character of norms, or the relationship of constant succession and conditioning (temporal and conditional propositions). This is not incidental, but instead, it is a necessary consequence of the function performed by language structures in learning about, or constructing, so-called reality.

Izydora Dąmbska 23. THE CONCEPTION OF LANGUAGE AND TRUTH Koncepcja języka a prawda (Dąmbska 1964a) Treating the words “true” and “false” as predicates which refer to sentences leads in consequence to accepting these predicates as relativized with respect to the language these true or false sentences belong to. Carnap believes the predicate “true” is a two-argument predicate, and its arguments are: the sentence ‘p’ and language L, where p is true: ver (‘p,’ L). 1 Still, it is not only relativizing which is the consequence of the semiotic theory of truth. Moreover, as it seems, the sense inherent to the terms “true” and “false” depends on the assumed general conception of language. The semantic concept of truth2 developed by Tarski for languages, based on which this notion may be defined, assumes a conception of language as a system of signs referred to a certain objective model. It is only on the basis of such a correspondence theory of language that one can reasonably use the classic notion of truth, which can be paraphrased into Tarski’s semantic concept of truth for formalized languages. The situation changes when the language is understood operationalistically as a certain biological form of human behavior, as e.g. Wittgenstein interprets it in his Philosophische Untersuchungen.3 According to this conception, the sense of words is not determined by constant relations of reference between signs and objects, but by the ever changing way of using these words in a language. Language is in turn a part of a specific human reality, a dynamic system of ever changing “language games,” the rules of

Cf. (Carnap 1942, p. 20); see also (Pap 1955, p. 57). Cf. (Tarski 1935) and (Tarski 1944). 3 Cf. (Wittgenstein 1953). 1 2

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 275–280. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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which are created by the human mind in accordance with the needs and the appropriate forms of describing reality. The changeability and dynamics of both is expressed in the richness and variety of language operations, so that no theory which attempts to define language as a system of signs which describe objective relationships and structures, or as a system of symbols equipped in logical meanings, or a system of symbols correlated to the data of consciousness or as a system of constant forms of human language behavior, does not capture the true nature of language. One may only enhance the operational and changeable nature of the meaning of words through a description of specific language games, and thus facilitate understanding of various functions of language. Cognitive operations play an important role among language operations. Their success or failure is the determinant of truth or falsity within thusly interpreted language. The meaning of the predicates “true” and “false” then corresponds with the notion of the pragmatic operational effectiveness of declarative sentences in cognitive language games of a certain kind. Within the operationalist interpretation of language, the semantic notion of truth, which corresponds with classical, correspondence theory of it, is replaced with the notion of truth corresponding to pragmatic conceptions. Yet, besides the correspondence and the operationalist concepts of language, there is another, which can be described as an immanentist conception. It is based on a certain methodological postulate, which may be formulated as follows: When attempting to define a language, one should not assume a transcendent point of view towards it, either from the standpoint of the model which the language is supposed to map, or from the standpoint of the subject which performs the language operations in order to express certain content or to affect others. In this interpretation, language is an autonomous system which can be analyzed analogously to deductive systems as a set of signs and directives for their combination and transformation, as Ajdukiewicz proposed.4 Among directives there are the directives of sense: axiomatic, deductive and empirical. In formalized languages, all directives of inference can be transformed into certain directives of sense. If the deductive directives of sense assign to every sentence with a specific structure (a certain form) as a premise (or a class of sentences as premises) a sentence of another specific form as a conclusion, and if axiomatic directives, which may also be recognized as deductive directives in a way, as well as empirical directives, distinguish classes of sentences which should be accepted in certain situations under threat of changing the language if the sentences are not accepted, then based on this conception of language,


See e.g. (Ajdukiewicz 1934a).

The Conception of Language and Truth


we may define the truthfulness of sentences as deducibility on the basis of certain directives from other sentences distinguished on the basis of other directives (axiomatic resp. empirical). The predicates “true” and “false” are relativized here to directives which determine certain classes of basic sentences, and directives of their transformation. This immanentist point of view in the conception of language leads to a coherent theory of truth in the syntactic version. However, this raises the question of whether this syntactic notion of truth, if we agree to so call the semiotic equivalent of the traditional coherent theory of truth, does not assume the semantic point of view which we should resort to when choosing empirical directives. Formally speaking, this is not necessary. Empirical directives of language L specify which data should cause us to accept or reject certain sentences in language L if the sense of the words in this language is not to change. We may assume (which is an idea encountered in Ajdukiewicz’s works) that empirical directives are a kind of axiomatic directives, and claim that the choice of a certain class of sentences which we accept, based on empirical directives, as a class of basic sentences, is determined by a specific language convention. Only when we analyze a language considering its pragmatic function, that is, a language understood as a system of signs used by people to communicate and to acquire, objectivize and perpetuate the results of cognitive operations, should we accept the semantic point of view as logically prior. Still, as far as the notion of truth is concerned, also the semantic definition seems derivative. After all, if we relativized the notions of truth and falsity exclusively to language, in the sense that the choice between the classic (semantic), coherent (syntactic), or pragmatic (operationist) theories of truth depended on assuming a given conception of language, then we would have to resign from the resolution of the problem of truth itself. The notion of language is constructed in some language as well. Since the notion of language is not constituted yet, and it is this notion which indicates the sense of the predicates “true” and “false,” we cannot prejudge in the language about the truthfulness or falsity of sentences, and thus, we cannot determine whether the language is of the kind where its sentences are true or false in one of the mentioned meanings. Yet, in that case, the epistemological problem of the definition of truth recurs. I do not believe it can be avoided if we assume, following A.J. Ayer, that the predicate “true” is a pseudo-predicate since the statement in language L that p is equivalent to the statement that p in L is “true.” According to this conception, the predicate “true” does not have any logical content and is only an expressive word (as a word which overcomes doubt), equipped


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only in purely psychological functions.5 While we cannot deny that among its many meanings, the word “true” may also assume the expressive sense and that, when used in this sense, it may be eliminated when we discuss language expressions in their cognitive meanings, we must remember that an analysis of many phrases demonstrates that it does not only perform an expressive function. This concerns, among others, the use of the predicate in the principles of reasons, in logical matrices, etc., 6 as Pap demonstrated. If this is indeed the case and if our above remarks are correct, then we must accept that all semiotic concepts of truth which relativize the predicates “true” and “false” to the language which a given sentence belongs to, and which are dependent on the notion of the language which we use, are derivative in relation to a certain non-semiotic, broadly logical notion of truth, according to which the predicates “true” and “false” refer to judgments in the logical sense (to the logical content of sentences), and secondarily, to the sentences themselves, in the sense of the expressions of a given language. Further analysis of these predicates must probably appeal to certain basic ontological categories, especially to the notion of existence. However, this is an eternal source of skeptical doubt, which leaves the following question open: ti estin alhJeia?

5 6

Cf. (Ayer 1936, p. 88 ff.). Cf. (Pap 1955, p. 61 ff.).


Izydora Dąmbska 24. ON NAMELESSNESS O bezimienności (Dąmbska 1975c) 1. The Psychological and Social Meaning of a Surname A proper name, unlike a common name, is used to name individual objective structures. When we use a common name, we treat the object signified by it as one of many similar objects, as an element of a certain class. What interests us in it is not what is specific and unique, but rather, that which is common to it and other objects. A proper name presents an individual object as such. This is also the difference between a proper name and an individual name. When we say, “the student by the fifth desk from the window,” or “prisoner number 46,” or “the current pope,” or “the city located furthest to the north in Europe,” we also name certain individual objects, but we do it by excluding them from many others. As in general names, the name of those names includes a description of an individual object as an element of a certain set, and as a specimen of a species. A proper name is inherent to an individual object and only that object. We do not grant proper names to attributes, relationships, ideal objects, etc. We only grant them to objects which: (1) are individual, that is, are distinguished as individuals, (2) are autonomous temporal objects and (3) have their own history. Therefore, proper names are granted to: (1) real or fictional people (proper names of people, gods, or literary characters), (2) living impersonal entities, either real or fictional, which are treated analogously to persons (proper names of animals, or plants), (3) topographical entities, (4) some inanimate objects. The latter are only granted proper names as an exception, if they perform the function of objects distinguished as individuals secondarily, vicariously, and as a pretence (dolls, works of art, etc.), or In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 281–310. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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because they become historical entities of great value to someone (jewels, weaponry, etc.). In the present work we will consider only the function of personal proper names. In this scope, as a name of a person, a proper name performs three functions: (1) as we mentioned before, it highlights the individual structure of the object differing it from other objects, (2) it replaces and represents this object, (3) it symbolizes the unity of its character. In the third function, a proper name plays a certain role in highlighting the identity of the individual changing in time. We are particularly interested in the second function (replacing and representing). Even in primitive social environments there is a custom of distinguishing people with a name, or a surname. A precise connection between a name and the person signified by it is created on this basis. Primitive man experiences his proper name as a part of the person signified by it, as something which replaces that person and is magically synonymous with him. Thence the charming and bewitching of a name, so typical for the beliefs of primitive cultures, as a way to influence the fate of the person who bears the name. Yet, it is not only in primitive environments that the surname plays a significant vicarious function. Also civilized man experiences his name as something which is closely connected to him and which represents a certain life value. This is why we protect our good name and the value our signature. Also here, a name (in the sense of a surname) performs the function of representing. We are known by our surname and a good or bad opinion is attached to our surname. A surname lasts longer than a person and thus provides people with certain means to live on beyond the grave. “Ne laisser aucun nom est mourir tout entier,” stated Racine in one of his tragedies. A surname may create a positive or negative prejudice towards a person, depending on what opinion is attached to it. Moreover, a surname is a property of more than one man. It belongs to the family, and the specific solidarity coming from blood relations creates in its members a sense of responsibility for the good name of the family. What is commonly called a person’s honor and a family or chivalrous honor is to a large degree the result of a concern for one’s own name and the family name. Therefore, a certain attachment to one’s name, a certain family pride, etc., is easily created. A tendency to identify a person with their surname has a wider epistemological background. The ability to name an object is an important element of the knowledge of this subject. In order to stress the inscrutability of deity, ancient mystics said that God was more than unnamed. Similarly, an unnamed person, without a name, is an unknown person in

On Namelessness


common understanding. If this is the case, then getting rid of one’s name, getting away from it in some form of other, is not indifferent and may be of great psychological and social importance. The case of namelessness in the broadest context of the word is still awaiting description, both from the point of view of the psychology of an individual and from the point of view of the psychology of a group as well as from the perspective of both ethics and cultural studies. The present work is an attempt to outline the issue of namelessness and to justify certain answers which may be important for the knowledge of a specific segment of humanist reality. 2. The Notion and Kinds of Namelessness .

There may be two kinds of pretending that one is not oneself. It may consist in either the fact that person X suggests to someone, either directly or indirectly, that he is Y, where Y is a certain real or fictional person, or the fact that X acts anonymously or uses the name ‘Y’ in order to shield himself with it and remain unknown, without assuming the role of any specific person. In the first case, nameless requires the ability to acting,


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in the second case, only to disguise. When Pallas Athena wants to induce Hector to fight, she treacherously assumes the role of his brother; when Szujski and Tarnowski anonymously print Teka Stańczyka, or Goldschmidt presents his pedagogical studies under the name of Korczak, they only disguise themselves more or less obviously. As a rule, the namelessness of person X is a means towards X’s specific objectives. If X assesses his objectives positively, as ethically correct or at least admissible, then his namelessness is usually temporary and relative. It is important for person X that certain people, and in the future perhaps everyone, identify him with his own surname. The only exception is a case when revealing one’s identity ruins a desired quality. For instance, a converted sinner, which becomes a new person and gives up his origin name as a form of a penance, gains perfection by his namelessness.1 After all, by revealing his name and putting it in the nimbus of holiness, he would betray the idea of humility which he professes to serve. Someone else may do his life’s work under an new surname and would lose all he has achieved if he revealed his identity. However, when namelessness is a means to achieve goals assessed negatively by X, or such goals about which X knows that they are assessed negatively, and X reckons with this assessment, then in X’s intention namelessness may be absolute and permanent, e.g. the namelessness of an instigator or an informer. The kind of namelessness also depends on its motives, which may be varied. 3. Motives of Namelessness Speaking of the motives of namelessness is a sort of a mental shortcut. In fact, it is the motives of the resolution, of the act of will, which causes a person to resign from using his name. These motives may be direct or indirect. The desire to hide may be a direct motive. Examples of indirect motives are all psychical states or dispositions which induce this desire in us, either consciously or subconsciously. One of the most significant ones is fear in all forms and shapes. This may be a fear of danger, of something which jeopardizes one ’ s life or personal freedom , e.g. in the case when someone wanted by the police obtains false documents and hides from the police under someone else’s name. This may also be shame, and thus, a fear of judgment, for instance in the case when someone whose name had been dishonored redeems himself under an assumed name

1 Although also in this case he often counts on his descendants to reveal the truth, or usually on the idea that God sees him and evaluates him.

On Namelessness


(Kmicic – Babinicz2). Another example is the fear of judgment of one’s output. This is sometimes the underlying reason for anonymous works of journalists, reformers, or advocates of new ideas. There is also fear connected with having the “wrong” surname. Jewish surnames in anti-Semitic circles, aristocratic surnames during revolutions, etymologically or phonetically funny surnames, or offensive surnames, are often a great burden for their bearers. Thence the desire to hide under a “better” surname, which often causes a name change or a use of pseudonyms in actions. Another form of fear is shyness, which induces insecure but ambitious artists to publish their first works under a pseudonym, or induces a person in love to anonymously send flowers to the object of his affection. Another one is tactfullness of emotions: fear of hurting another person. Then someone might help another person anonymously in order not to offend him. Another indirect motive for concealing one’s surname could be a propensity to mystify and intrigue others. One may conceal his identity in order to become more interesting, desirable, or enticing. This is the motive of many anonymous love games, masks in costume balls, fragrant notes without a signature, flowers without a note, etc., but also, in another inner constalation, the motive of playing a jokes and tricking somebody on. A tendency for mystification, for hide and seek games, may also develop from ambition and the desire to dominate, to secretly control matters and other people’s destinies. There are people who particularly relish the role of eminence grise, descrete advisors, “good spirits,” “directors.” These people, either on their own or through others, enjoy pulling the strings in the puppet theater which constitutes other people’s lives for them, and sometimes even their own. The desire to acquire certain information, to develop one’s own opin ion about something or somebody , or the desire to perform certain tasks , may also in some cases be the motivation to conceal one’s surname. For instance, a superior who investigates the mood in his team incognito, or a fighter in conspiracy and in underground operations, a spy working under an assumed surname, who sneaks into a given environment to observe it for the purposes of intelligence. In the case of dangerous underground or intelligence work, the mentioned motive for namelessness is often connected with the first motive (fear). This is also true for other cases. The spirit of humility, mortification and sacrifice may also lie at the basis of concealing one’s surname, as an indirect motive. Nameless

These are two surnames of one of the main characters of Sienkiewicz’s Ogniem i mieczem [With Fire and Sword]; the first of them is original, and the second one is assumed [AB&JJ]. 2


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beggars, or great artists under monastic names who create works of art for the glory of God, are people for whom renouncing their own names comes from motives of a religious nature or from searching for ways to improve their souls. Then, namelessness becomes the sacrifice of a part of the person’s self, renouncing fame and independence. The metamorphosis of the artist and worldly man Chmielowski into Brother Albert is a beautiful example here.3 Yet, also people’s vanity sometimes looks for an outlet in namelessness. Yet, this is often a pretend, shame namelessness. For instance, snobbery and fashion sometimes makes aspiring people assume a transparent pseudonyms. These sort of assumed names are common in the film industry, the cabaret, and literature. Many young aspiring movie stars seem to deem it necessary to start their career by assuming a stage name which would “suit” them. A similar manifestation of vanity is visible within the circles of young people secretly practicing politics in conditions where this secrecy and this politics are not dangerous. However, namelessness in these cases is hypocritical and is only a posture and a statement, rather than actual concealment of the name. Namelessness may also sometimes be imposed by an order from the superior, or because of the rules of a competition, etc. Then its indirect motive is the readiness to submit to the order, either for the sake of general discipline or in order to satisfy the conditions of the undertaken task. These are all typical motives which may be found in numerous cases of nameless actions. Naturally, they do not exhaust all possible motives of namelessness. For instance, if Kiepura’s brother4 began performing under the stage name “Ladis,” he would be guided by an attempt to avoid possible misunderstanding and a constant need for dementi: oh, he’s not that one, he’s this one. However, we are concerned with typical motives here. 4. On the Psychology and Psychopathology of Namelessness Earnest namelessness is a form of a lie, a form of denying that one is oneself. A person who hides his surname seems to say, I do not exist, this is not me, this is someone else. In cases of using another name, especially if this name already belongs to another person (real or fictional), this 3 Adam Chmielowski, initially well known Polish artist, abandoned hie career in order to live with poor people and help them. He joined the third order of St. Francis and finally became a saint of the Catholic church [AB&JJ]. 4 Jan Kiepura was an acclaimed Polish tenor and actor; his younger brother Władysław (Ladis) was also a pretty good singer [AB&JJ].

On Namelessness


concealment triggers a kind of acting skill in the person hiding. He must play the new self, conditioned with his new name. He must enter the character. This inner situation is strikingly evident when someone conceals his surname by using someone else’s identity card. There are people, natural-born actors, who enter the new role surprisingly quickly and feel at home with the new identity. In vivid suppositions they believe in their new identity and its story themselves. They create a new whole psychological personality with ease. When they are able to return to their own name, they switch back with effort and they must be careful of errors resulting from a complete takeover of the assumed self. I used to know a person who was in hiding from the police during the occupation and used documents which stated that she was married and had two children, aged 8 and 5. Since her real husband was dead, and she did not have children in those ages, she played the part of a divorcee. In her story, one of the children died of scarlet fever, and the other one was raised by her mother-in-law. With time, she could not speak of that dead son without deep emotion. She believed in her role as a good actor would. Pretending to be someone else, and the resulting chronic lie, requires a high degree of brighteness. In the real world, facts are connected in an unrelenting chain of cause and effect. Replacing certain elements of this whole with fake elements disrupts the order of the whole system and presents a risk of revealing the contradiction, and in consequence, disclosing the lie. Only a constant intellectual control of the assumed construction, which is inconsistent with reality, enables the person to continue the game. This is another important factor, besides active imagination and the ability to intuitively play a role. Another one is self-confidence, the so-called nerve, and sometimes even arrogance, which could be applied to deceive the environment. Longer use of an assumed name, e.g. a pseudonym, leads to becoming closely acquainted with it, which consists in the tendency to be identified with it. The person begins to feel like the assumed ‘X’ rather than the hidden ‘Y.’ This is often the case in underground movements, when someone performs important and valued activities for the purpose of the realization of the highest ideals under an assumed name. Here are some characteristic remarks on the topic about one of the freedom fighters, Aleksander Malinowski, written by a man who also knew conspiratorial namelessness from his own life experience. Piłsudski writes: We called him “Władek” in the underground movement. The assumed name stuck to his so closely that it completely replaced his real name, Aleksander. When this pseudonym was compromised by the political police, he was unable to replace it with another despite many efforts. I suspect that he was often called Władek even by his closest family members, as if to testify that his life had always been closely


Izydora Dąmbska connected with this hard, impersonal work, which hardened him and consolidated his flawless personality. Those pseudonyms encountered strange fates. I know of only a few people who became so attached to their assumed names that they replaced their real names for their whole lives. Still, after almost thirty years, plenty of people call them with their conspiratorial names, or refers to them so after they have long been dead. When I recall my companions, I always note a feature common to all of them, that is, they were loved much more than others, as they were sort of relatives, or brothers to other people besides the conspiratorial work, always helpful, ready to help, and not wanting anything in return. “Władek” was one of those people.5

This sort of a relationship to the name-mask is often the basis for assuming it as a name, even when the reasons for concealing one’s own surname are no longer present. Numerous examples of the soldiers of Piłsudski’s legions, who registered their pseudonyms as the second part of their name after Poland regained independence confirm this observation. They also confirm the theory that people generally avoid absolute namelessness, and that they want to remain unknown only up to a certain point, and that only in the presence of certain people. As for namelessness in the underground movement, limiting it is often a matter of ambition. Although the activist wants to hide from danger, he also wants those who cooperate with him and support his cause to know and value him. Thence come the frequent “blunders” and “uncoverings” of young conspirators, who reveal confidential information concerning their identities. Namelessness frequently forces a person to split personalities in a certain scope of actions, if the person’s surname is retained together with another name. This may even cause an interesting phenomenon, that is, that the same person may reveal two different characters: one connected with his primary personality and the other tied to his secondary personality, created as a result of namelessness. For instance, a pedantic and conscientious person in his open activity, gentlemanly and sophisticated, may reveal totally different features in underground, “nameless,” activity and conversely, be unreliable and ill-mannered. Another person, shy and introverted under his real name, thrives and gains self-confidence under his assumed name. This duality often derives from the sense of independence and lack of control coming from namelessness. Many constraints from the social environments in which a person with a surname lives, are eliminated or at least weakened in nameless activity. We shall discuss the moral aspect of this problem separately. Short term namelessness, unconnected to fear, one which enables us to experience a desired situation, is often amusing and enjoyable, not only as a means towards itself, but also in and of itself, as a kind of a game, like


Cf. (Piłsudski 1923, p. 143).

On Namelessness


hide and seek. Mystifying others and skillful simulation, may give a sense of power and may amuse whoever is the designer of the construct. Long term namelessness, as long as it is applied as a protective measure, rather than becoming second nature, is tiring and wearisome. It sometimes leads to depression or states close to persecution mania in the case of people with less resistant nervous system. Moreover, it often leaves a mark for one’s whole life, in the form of mistrust, reserve, a tendency to lie, various phobias, etc. One of the protective masks in nameless activity are pseudonyms. Someone who conceals his surname often operates under a pseudonym or pseudonyms. There are many famous pseudonyms of underground soldiers, politicians, writers and artists. The choice of a pseudonym, or pseudonyms, often sheds a lot of light onto the mentality of the one choosing it. This choice is usually an expression of certain tendencies, preferences or life pose of a man. Naturally, the fashion and the style of the period also play a significant role. They set a kind of framework for the person choosing. There are also pseudonyms without expression, trite and commonplace: “Truth” or “Prawdzic” [„Man of Truth”], “Nemo,” or “Theophilos” as literary pseudonyms are used by dozens of authors. Still, even in the act of choosing a stereotypical pseudonym, just as in the case of seeking an original one, the person’s conscious or subconscious tendencies and preferences come to light. No wonder. The choice of a pseudonym is usually perceived as something important. After all, at least for some time and for some important functions, it will be the name or surname with which the “nameless” will be identified, which he will protect in order to protect his honor and reputation. Therefore, he may sometimes chivalrously choose a pseudonym in somebody’s honor. Thus, the name of a beloved person, or the name of an admired life ideal, are often used as pseudonyms, especially in ideological underground activity. Sometimes affiliation with a certain category of people, either real or only desired, is stressed in the pseudonym, e.g. “Zawisza” (in the meaning of a knight without blemish), “countryman,” “soldier,” “missionary,” “Wielkopolanka” [„Woman from Greater Poland”] “Professor,” etc. Sometimes it stresses the intention or the character of the work, e.g. “Neophobos,” or “Philodemos.” At times, a pseudonym retains something from the person’s real past identity, e.g. when the person assumes as a pseudonym his or her own name or coat of arms: “Ewa,” “Prus,” “Syrokomla.” This desire to retain one’s name, or even to discreetly reveal it to others, is visible in the common use of codenames and anagrams, especially among writers. Sometimes the choice of a pseudonym is derived from some more or less involuntary tendencies or desires. The fact that Konopnicka consistently used male pseudonyms, which may be associated with chivalry, folk tradition and liberalism (“Jan


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Sawa,” “Jan Waręż,” “Humanus”) is probably not a coincidence. Is it not symptomatic for Wincenty Lutosławski that he used as many as 24 pseudonyms in his literary career?6 This is a sort of impatient trying on of another costume, another mask, looking for expression for one’s moods, parts and poses. Not only the quantity, but also the quality of pseudonyms seems significant. They may echo with the sense of purpose and preaching (“Missionary,” “Teacher,” “Father Jelita”); initiation and religious longing, becoming one with the deity, leading to a feeling of power and a sense of perfection. All of this is based on the traditions of Greek and Eastern mysticism (“Ari,” “El,” “Elmar,” “ΘΕΟΔΙΦΕΣ,” “Alfari,” “Ariel,” “father Robak”). There is also a Socratic-Platonic chord (“Eiron,” “Erami”), and references to the traditions of the nobility and knighthood on the one hand (“Chrobczyc,” “Dobrosław,” “Jarema”), and reformatory-social tendencies on the other (“Kowal,” “Els”). Womanly pseudonyms often reveal affectation and pretentiousness. Various examples of “Helia,” “Sława,” and “Dolores” do not prove their owners’ ingenuity, but rather great vanity and a lack of moderation. Sometimes namelessness is of a permanently pathological character. The psychopathic type often includes swindlers and impostors who compulsively play the part of personages of their imagination. Many of the false princes, or army dignitaries with uniforms festooned with medals, or false engineers and doctors, come from among these sorts of psychopaths. Often deeply involved in the fictional construct they created, they defend it against all reason, denying their own name and their real personality. Hysterical women of the criminal type are predominantly schemers, who often write anonymous letters compulsively. There are even some cases of such women who write anonymous letters to themselves and experience complex life dilemmas over them.7 Another pathological form of experiencing namelessness may occur in schizophrenic delusions of grandeur. It is sometimes the case that the afflicted believes his own name to be assumed in order to hide his great, and imperiled, person form the imaginary persecutor. For instance, a patient, a teacher by trade, confesses to the doctor that he is the son of emperor William, and he must pretend to be a teacher, as communists are out to get him. The situation may be different altogether in that a patient may mask and hide his delusional syndrome. He is nameless with reference to the


This is not a record. Voltaire had about 200. The mentioned examples of pseudonyms are quoted after Słownik pseudonimów i kryptonimów pisarzy polskich [Dictionary of Pseudonyms and Codenames of Polish Writers] by A. Bar (1936–1938). 7 These examples are taken from (Bleuler 1916).

On Namelessness


assumed personality. This is how paranoid people behave towards people who they suspect to be skeptical, and only reveal their convictions to their adorers or prospective adorers. 5. The Social Role of Namelessness Namelessness may not only be discussed from the point of view of the psychical experiences of the nameless person and the consequences which arise from it for a given individual. It may also be discussed in the aspect of its social role. After all, if namelessness is a form of a lie, then as all lies it is supposed to regulate relationships between people. Therefore, it is a factor of human social life as an important tool in cooperation and confrontation, and probably more often in confrontation. In the simplest case, the confrontation in question is with an individual, a personal enemy, who one wants to humiliate or destroy. This usually happens anonymously to avoid dangerous revenge or punishment. This confrontation will usually be with an enemy who is thought to be stronger (and therefore one that is supported by the law or powerful accomplices). One form of this sort of confrontation between individuals is anonymous accusations, or anonymous blackmail or humiliation. In the first case, the nameless person accuses his enemy in the presence of someone who may destroy him. For instance, an envious coworker in an office accuses his colleague of fraud anonymously before the boss, expecting the life position of his colleague to worsen because of it. A woman who hates her former lover may report him to the police anonymously for anti-government activity, certain that this move will do a lot of damage. In the second case (blackmail, humiliation), the nameless person often personally turns to his enemy to attempt to intimidate him, to force him to make concessions, or only to show to him that he is despised, spurned and ridiculed, etc. This is the technique of many anonymous verbal assaults. All of the mentioned objectives are often combined in them, that is, to humiliate, to intimidate, and to extort. For instance, a fired cook may strike at his or her former employers anonymously, a mistreated worker may direct his attack at the owner of the company, and a political opponent may criticize an author of an article which angered him. The anonymity of these communications, which gives their authors a sense of lack of responsibility, makes them brutal and often indecent. This is very clear in nameless letters, which are also often called anonyms. They are riddled with insults, invectives, insinuations and propositions which no one would sign with their own name. In these cases, namelessness is equivalent to removing all constraints. A description of the technique of writing such a letter is a challenge for epistolographers.


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At times in the anonymous confrontation between individuals, two birds are killed with one stone: X’s accusation and Y’s humiliation. This happens when a nameless person, who hates both X and Y, accuses one in front of the other, knowing that the accused will be harmed and the one who receives the accusation will also suffer. For instance, X’s lover, when he cheated on her with another woman, writes an anonymous letter to X that her happy rival, Y, has many other lovers and deceives X, etc. The writer counts on both harming the hated rival and humiliating X. Anonymous letters, phone calls, or sending a third party are different kinds of the same technique of nameless confrontation. A relatively well established pattern is visible in them: (1) uttering a negative evaluation about the opponent, (2) demands, (3) threats. The second point, and even the third, may not be present. The main point seems to be the first one: the abuse and mockery aimed at humiliating the opponent and manifesting abhorrence, jeer and contempt. The standard content of these nameless evaluations consists of crudely highlighting the person’s alleged offenses against sexual morality and social integrity (theft, bribery, etc.). The nameless humiliation of an opponent provides the accuser with the sense of impunity and security, whereas it may trigger feelings of unease, helplessness irritation and insecurity for the humiliated, person, like a stone thrown from behind a corner or provocative words in a dark alley. If nameless insults and verbal assaults against a given person are published and shared with others in order to undermine the opponent’s social standing and to defame him, we speak of libel. This form of confrontation is of a more general, collective character, although it is often used in confrontations between individuals. It often arises as a result of differences in political or social views and is often inspired by groups or parties. It destroys individuals in the name of slogans of certain communities. Obviously, in most cases the focus point is not the issue but the person, hated for some reason or other, but the establishment of the fight pro foro externo is often social rather than personal. The name “libel” is also connected with a certain literary genre. Yet, also caricature may perform a similar role of an instrument of defamation and persiflage. At times, both of these means put together are used as nameless attacks. It is not only in hostile confrontations, aimed at destroying individuals, that people make use of the weapon of namelessness. It is also familiar in collective confrontation with non-personal opponents on the grounds of one’s own, or foreign, society. One of their forms is underground activity with respect to the established or imposed political or social order. The history of conquered nations or oppressed social strata is a history of nameless fight. The participants of these fights are treated as criminals by the ruling groups. They are tracked, pursued, imprisoned, and sentenced to death.

On Namelessness


They take part in the game deprived of the means which are at the disposal of their opponent. Revealing their names may jeopardize the cause they are fighting for and may imperil them as well as those who are connected with them. Thus, it is necessary to use pseudonyms chosen according to a key known only to the closest combatants, or to impersonate another person using their surname and documents. This is why they swear they will not reveal their own pseudonyms or those of any other people. Underground fighting creates a specific type of nameless heroism. If a nameless soldier desires fame, he must be content with thinking about the future, when he will be able to reveal his name, or about the evaluation of the closest collaborators. Alternatively, he must identify himself with his pseudonym more than with his own, concealed name. Still, even in this case, when a pseudonym gains too much fame, it must be replaced with a new one for safety reasons. His compulsion of namelessness in this sort of activity is the more difficult the more people fighting for the idea sympathize with it and the more they value it. The strongest desire of a conspirator is to finally come out and fight in the open. Namelessness often enhances the feeling of solidarity with equally nameless combatants. These brothers in arms are often characterized by something of the mysticism of being initiated to the idea together. Naturally, this is only true for certain types of people. Namelessness in underground groups is not only a necessary defensive measure, like mimicry in the animal world, but also a way to solve certain strategic aims, such as intelligence, provisions, or diversions. An “illegal” soldier is usually nameless. This is predominantly the case in intelligence. A country initiates a program in relation to other countries as well as in its own area; its mission is to track and detect what may jeopardize public peace and safety. This type of officers must often act namelessly, either when fighting crime (various kinds of secret detectives), or with potentially politically dangerous individuals, or an outside enemy. The notion of a spy is intrinsically tied to the notion of namelessness. In countries with a strong police system, these types of nameless actions shape the conditions of social life. This creates an atmosphere of fear, distrust and unease, and it obstructs freedom of action in all areas of life. The conviction that a nameless supervisor must demonstrate an appropriate number of valuable “discoveries,” raises well-founded concerns that he will search for victims even within the uppermost circles of legitimists. Thence the oppressive, suffocating fear of everyone by everyone. Wars, revolutions, coups magnify the role of the nameless factor in confrontation. However, let us leave behind nameless enemies in order to look around among friendly people. Even though possibly not as common, they do still exist. In personal interindividual relationships, the whole complicated sphere of sexual life and eroticism often becomes the background of


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nameless actions. An unsigned letter or a love poem on a pale pink sheet of paper found in the mailbox at the door, or roses and candy sent without a name, an anonymous “proposal” over the phone or at a fancy dress ball, an anonymous invitation to a date, an unsigned singles ads, etc., are some examples of hiding and revealing one’s identity in this area. A common cause for this concealment is the lack of reciprocity of feelings. The conviction that one loves but is not loved back leads to the feeling of humiliation, unfulfilled longing, a fear of imposition, and other similarly painful emotions. In some cases, there is a confrontation, usually hopeless, for the love of the desired person, in other cases, a confrontation to get over one’s feelings and seek comfort elsewhere, or hiding one’s feelings, which may survive for a long time afterwards, as intense as before. In the third case the person in love often acts namelessly, not wanting to impose on himself or herself or to be subjected to rejection. Unable to suppress the need to express their feelings, such people may find expression for them in nameless favors or gifts, etc. However, not only unrequited feeling creates the conditions for anonymous love. There are various reasons for it: uncertainty of acceptance, shyness or timidity, a real or pretended desire to intrigue the other person, a hide and seek game, or sometimes the need for austerity, characteristic for people whose love assumes characteristics of a religious cult. Despite all the efforts, on the bottom there is usually the need to be revealed and accepted. Thence comes apparent anonymity and pretend revelation, so common in love. Fashion, the style of the epoch, or the social environment also plays an important role in this type of anonymous love. Rococo, the period of love games, and Romanticism, the period of the love drama, both produced anonymous lovers in their own styles and forms. The anonymity of lovers in the Rococo period had the flavor of a hide and seek game and constituted a teasing foretaste of thrilling pleasure. The anonymity of lovers under Romanticism had the flavor of mystery and was the foretaste of a broken heart. The heroic namelessness of unrequited, suppressed, shy but overwhelming love was described by Edmond Rostand in beautiful verse in his Cyrano de Bergerac. Still, even his character confesses on his death bed: […] oui ma vie Ce fut d’être celui qui souffle et qu’on oublie. Vous souvient-il du soir où Christian vous parla Sous le balcon? Et bien! Toute ma vie, est là. Pendant que je restais en bas dans l’ombre noire, D’autres montaient cuellir le baiser de la gloire.

On Namelessness


This is what he tells Roxanne. Even he wishes for a moment to reveal to his beloved woman how much he loved her and how much he sacrificed for her. He had to take off his mask after 15 years of nameless service for Eros. Love often contains elements of conquering, anxiety and uncertainty. This also explains the need to resort to anonymous actions in it. These agonic elements are not present in friendship. Moreover, it seems that friendship excludes nameless actions directed at the friend.8 This is because one of the most important conditions of friendship is mutual trust. Nameless action, which is a form of a lie, seems to abuse this trust, just as any falsity in the relationships between friends would. Admittedly, it is sometimes the case that X, knowing his friend Y well, is aware that it makes Y uneasy when does favors for him. At the same time, he knows that Y needs them, and therefore he does them anonymously, not wanting his friend to feel indebted, which may have a dampening effect. Whether he chooses the lesser evil may only be determined on the basis of specific life situations. However, there is another form of namelessness which often arises from friendship, that is, help or cooperation which is known to the friend but unknown to others, like replacing or relieving a friend anonymously and performing actions he will be credited for. Various ways of cheating at school and at exams (writing an entry paper for a friend, passing an oral exam before an absentminded teacher) are often offset by friendship. Constant anonymous help for a friend, doing inconvenient work for him, providing him with ready made projects, etc., may change a symbiotic friendship into a parasitic relationship or one-sided adoration. This may happen even when the side which provides the favors feels fully compensated for them with the friend’s gratefulness. Cooperation of a social rather than interindividual character may also sometimes create conditions for anonymous actions. This is true especially for cases where the social factor has not yet eliminated the role of an individual as such. In social welfare organized according to socialist rules there is practically no room for individual aid. The government assigns specific benefits according to a specific mode of insurance distribution. Yet, even in the most ideally planned social system, and perhaps especially in it, mutual aid which is not formalized is necessary. This must often be nameless if it is to avoid creating an unpleasant feeling of dependence for the people who it is directed at, and if it is to avoid subjecting those who provide it to attacks on the part of adversaries. Therefore, many Christian

8 Naturally, it does not exclude nameless actions, even for a friend, as long as these actions do not occur on the basis of this relationship. For instance, a member of the underground must keep secret some of his actions even from his best friend.


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as well as secular charitable deeds are often performed namelessly. Retaining permanent namelessness is difficult. A nameless almoner, as long as he is not driven by religious or ascetic reasons, often gladly reveals his identity to those who assess his activity positively and will not work against him because he has revealed his affluence or kindness. (If he gave money, he must be rich, bourgeois, where does the money come from, we should look into it, etc.) He will remain nameless for a time to those who he is helping, although even with respect to these people he is not very worried if his name is revealed “through no fault of his own,” unless he fears hostile reactions of the aided people arising from humiliation and envy. He may also worry that help coming from a specific person may offend them and he does not want to cause distress. This motive is perhaps less rare than it seems to the proponents of the theory of universal egoism. There are also kind people who are ashamed of their soft heart. They also happily help others anonymously, whereas they appear to be crude and egoistic for the broader public. They feel stronger in that guise. The social meaning of namelessness is not only revealed in confrontation or cooperation with others. Striving for power and the related desire to gain the most convenient place in society, which undoubtedly contributes to a change in the social aspect of this group, are often connected with namelessness. Someone who is on the margin of a certain social group and wishes to join it, or someone who is already within the group but feels alienated in it as homo novus, frequently attempts to erase the differences between himself and the senior members of the group by changing his surname. He conceals his original surname to conform with the group members. This is another form of mimicry. Thus, Jews who wish to assimilate with another national or religious group change their surnames to one which may conceal their origins. A profiteer who has earned a fortune, and who is impressed with the gentry may change his common surname to a more “high-born” one in the belief that it will help his children, if not him, attain the desired social position (see Béranger’s song, Le marquis de Carabas). Similarly, people might facilitate joining a professional group for themselves. This was the reason why countrymen often changed their surnames when they became priests, teachers, etc. The balance of social power and the fashion of the epoch and community are the decisive factors of which surnames are proper and which are improper.

On Namelessness


6. Namelessness and Culture When analyzing the notion of namelessness, I repeatedly stressed its psychological and social meaning. Historical research seems to support this thesis completely. One cannot help but note that nameless people’s actions and works often determined the political and social shape of their époque. Naturally, this does not include nameless people in the sense of unknown individuals, whose names nobody remembered, but rather, nameless people in the sense of those who concealed their surnames. The history of revolution and progress, as well as the history of a national fights for independence, are to a large extent their work. All attempts to overthrow the established order, protected by the powers and the law, must be undertaken namelessly, at least in certain stages of their development. In the 18 th and 19 th centuries, in the fight against all kinds of absolutism, a classic scheme of secret societies arose, where the leaders were anonymous. The history of Poland after the partitions is three quarters the history of anonymous people and actions. The role of anonymous people in world history is noted not only in connection with the confrontation against political violence. The history of secret societies and organizations indicates a wide range of aspirations and influence of nameless people. It may be, e.g., the issue of propagating a certain worldview, as is the case in the activity of the Rosicrucians, freemasons and similar organizations. Besides open and legal lodges, Masonic associations apparently had and have secret units consisting of secretive, nameless brothers. Les grands inconnus is a title granted to the brothers of the highest degree of initiation. The power of their influence is predominantly dependent on the power of suggestion their mystery evokes. Even if whatever is said about the influence of these nameless people on the history of the world was a legend, the very faith in this influence plays an important role in many cases, if only in overpowering certain people, or on the contrary, reckoning with certain people. As Freud distinguishes in the psyche of an individual the zones of conscious experience and of subconscious complexes, believing the former to be the product and exponent of the latter, also in the life of societies there is a secret current, which often shapes the course of explicit events. Therefore, we should attempt to characterize namelessness as a factor which shapes certain values of the spiritual culture. Here the issue of anonymous artistic creation immediately comes to the fore. Every honest author expresses his personality in his work: his outlook on life, his preferences, and his aspirations. Therefore there is a close relationship between the creator and the work and each work which is not a reproduction is of an individual character. This is why artists feel responsible for their work and are aware that they give up a part of their own self to the world, which makes them


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able to conquer death. This, together with the tendency to identify oneself with one’s name, makes an author connect his name with his work. An artist signs his paintings, and a scientist signs his research. The law protects copyright. Still, anonymous work of various kinds plays a significant role in the history of culture. There are and were authors, sometimes of great esteem, who either share their work with the rest of the world anonymously, or assume a false name. Especially artists who are naturally prone to playing games, imitation, pretend-experiencing something, find a lot of reasons for concealing, often apparently, their names. If a writer truly wants to hide from the public, he publishes his work anonymously. Fear of persecution is often the main motive here. As a rule, in the times of fierce censorship from the church or the state, many anonymous essays or articles are published which either demand tolerance and freedom of expression or present convictions which are opposed to those of the regime. Also libelers “work” anonymously for fear of the law and the victim’s revenge. Times of intensified political fights, e.g. the time of regency or the Great Revolution in France, or the time of the Four-Year Sejm in Poland abounded in this sort of anonymous work. The character of nameless output is often very varied depending on the spirit of the times and the conditions for the development of culture. It seems that for ancient Greeks nameless work was unusual as they highly valued serving the muses, which led to fame, and at the same time they enjoyed great freedom of expression in many subjects. Perhaps in the Pythagorean circles authorship was not as important, as creative research work was treated as the way to improve one’s soul rather than an end in itself. Still, the artistic output in antiquity was highly individual and personal.9 The Middle Ages were different in this respect. The Universalistic and Theocentric view of the world, together with the estate and corporative organization of the social system, pushed an individual into the role of a not autonomous and classified factor. At the same time, ascetic religious ideals prompted an individual to renounce himself, either sincerely or insincerely. There was no place for independent creation, since science and art’s only justification was to serve theology, as a way to educate people in the spirit of the theocentric view of the world. Moreover, opinions that both art


The words of Theognis are symptomatic in this respect: I must press the seal of a poet on these poems No one will secretly steal my mind’s work Nor will anyone change it for the worse. Everyone will be struck by it Everyone will say: “This poem was written by Theognis, Whose lineage derives from Megara.” Cf. Theognis, Elegies vs. 19–33.

On Namelessness


and science are highly dangerous for Christian souls, art because of its sensual elements, and science because of its critical thought, were widespread in the Middle Ages. Still, life, more powerful than the doctrine, created knowledge and sensual beauty even in this narrow framework provided by the Church. A medieval artist was usually a monk or a craftsman: the former was subordinate to the obedience and the abbot, whereas the latter was subject to the guild laws and the authorities. Nevertheless, they were familiar with the feeling of power and pride, characteristic for creators. This is evident from inscriptions often placed by artists we do not know by name on their work, or the obediences which ordered monks who did not demonstrate proper humility to be removed from artistic work teams. Some medieval writers or painters probably did not hide their authorship and did not conceal their name from other people, although according to the style of the époque they did not immortalize it by signing their works. Other artists concealed their authorship from others if they valued God’s glory more than their own work. They may have pretended to be inferior, played stupid, sought humiliation. Medieval hagiography glorified the ideal of Christian humility and provided various ways to seek humiliation. The postulate of namelessness often appears among them. An unrecognized saint pretends to be someone else and under this disguise he suffers persecution and scorn. Yet, even a saint gladly exposes his disguise, even after his death. The old legend about Alexius of Rome states that this son of a great lord, and himself an outstanding knight, returns to his father’s court as a beggar and endures great misery for 16 years, unknown and nameless. The apotheosis comes only after his death, not without his contribution. (A piece of paper revealing his descent was found in the hand of the dead Alexius). Renaissance people were entirely different. They valued their personalities and dreamt of fame during their lifetimes and among the living, and treated art as a way to accomplish this, just as the ancients did. However, it was in the Renaissance that a fashion for various forms of nameless art was introduced, especially in literature since print was invented and popularized. Many authors preferred to profess their controversial opinions anonymously, rather than be subjected to the judgment of the Inquisition. Ambitions and vanity were also an important factor, as the name was important for Renaissance people. It was supposed to sound dignified and create a good impression of the author. In the minds of Renaissance artists, Greek and Roman surnames best met these conditions. They are classical and they are associated with the grandeur and beauty of long-gone times. Thence the fashion to Latinize surnames or make them sound Greek. Sometimes they translated their surnames (e.g. Melanchthon was actually called “Schwarzerd,” “ΜmelainacJwn,” Akakia, the court physician to


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Francis I was called “Sans Malice”; Dubois was called “Sylvius,” etc.),10 and sometimes they replaced their own surname with an ancient one, authentic or invented (e.g. the Greek surname “Kallimachos” assumed in the 16th century by Buonaccorsi). In the latter case, certain phonemes of the original names were often retained in the sound of the new name (e.g. “Turnebus” instead of “Tourneboeuf”). Many were induced to change their name because it was “wrong.” A “wrong” name may not only be a vulgar or indecent one, although there are plenty of those in every language, but also not noble. This last consideration, the desire to become gentry, at least on the front page of a book, will outlive the period of early Renaissance by many centuries. Molière ridicules this tendency in his Ecole des femmes, in vain. The charm of a surname with a “du,” or a “von,” has not passed even in contemporary democratic societies. What is characteristic, noble men and people from so-called good families often looked down on writers’ work. Thus, when they tried their hands in literature, they often and gladly used pseudonyms. The 17 th century, with its heated controversies of a theological nature, exhibited an increased tendency to use pseudonyms, especially in France. Champions from the camps of Jansenists, Protestants, as well as Jesuits willingly shielded their identities behind assumed names. The 18th century was marked by a fashion for pseudonyms. Voltaire’s example undoubtedly affected this fashion, as he managed to use about two hundred pseudonyms throughout his active and intense literary career. However, this fashion also arose from the spirit of the times. There was a love for the theater, costumes, masquerade in the 18th century; a love for games, intrigue, and mystery. This was one of the most characteristic features of the Rococo style. The history of Louis XVI, the fall of the Bourbons and the victory of the Great Revolution is a series of anonymous games. The lovely queen Marie Antoinette was terribly bored in the bonds of the Versailles’s etiquette. Therefore, she snuck out to Paris almost every night together with her idle, highborn friends in order to enjoy the longed for freedom incognito in the opera or on the boulevards. Alarmed with the accounts from Paris, Joseph II came to visit and curb his sister. He traveled incognito as Count von Falkenstein. This disguise was transparent, as he often revealed his identity to French people, delighted with his modesty. In the meantime, the queen’s enemies slandered her royal honor with a multitude of anonymous pamphlets, lampoons and caricatures, wishing to destroy the reputation of the hated Austrian in the eyes of the common people. The authors of these

10 These and other examples as well as those taken from the history of anonymous and pseudonymic artistic activity are quoted from J.M. Quérard (1845, „Introduction”).

On Namelessness


works includes such personages as Beaumarchais, Mirabeau, or Brissot. In 1785 the famous scandal with a necklace broke. It would reveal the instability of the king’s authority. The scandal was filled with namelessness. The Rococo cardinal Louis de Rohan sorely lacked the queens favor. Therefore, he sought her favor ardently but to no avail. An intriguer and a swindler, Madame de la Motte, pretended to be the queen’s trusted friend and offered her help to the cardinal. In order to gain his trust, she showed him supposed letters from the queen, which were skillfully forged by the secretary Rébeaux. Soon she staged an exchange of letters between de Rohan and the queen, which Marie Antoinette had no idea about. Not only that, she arranged a meeting in the Trianon park, where the part of the queen was played by a prostitute called Nicole. Finally, a note from the queen, written by Madame de la Motte, expressed full trust in de Rohan, accompanied with a request to discreetly purchase an expensive necklace. The reimbursement of costs by the Royal treasury would soon take place. The epilogue of the case was played out in front of the court of the Parliament, and the trial of Louis de Rohan was a famous opportunity to humiliate the queen. When the ruling family was threatened with revolution, and the queen’s friends attempted to find ways to save her, anonymous correspondence, assumed surnames, impersonating other people, disguise and camouflage would always accompany this hopeless struggle, whose descriptions read like a chapter of an adventure novel. After the queen’s death and the restoration of the Bourbons, collections of her letters were published. A few of them were authentic, the rest was skillfully forged. The most comprehensive collection of the queen’s letters, perfectly forged both in terms of the handwriting and in respect to the content, was provided by a famous collector of autographs, Baron Feuiller de Conches. It was his anonymous work, which earned him a considerable sum of money and which deceived many a historian. With this specific example,11 we have demonstrated in a brief form one aspect of the varied life in 18th century and the role of nameless people in this period. This is more or less what the Rococo epoch was like: the period of masks, play, theater, not only in art but also in everyday life, in private and in public. It is no wonder that in those times writers and painters tried on and matched pseudonyms like white wigs and frills in front of a mirror, and the reader guessed these living charades like at a fancy dress party. Meanwhile, another kind of literary namelessness, that is, impersonating someone else, was also becoming popular. Unknown writers and publishers often issued books bearing the names of bestselling authors: “Il


Cf. Zweig, Marie Antoinette.


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pleut des Fréret, des du Marsais, des Bolingbroke,” writes Voltaire in his letter to d’Alembert in 1766.12 Only some of these apocrypha attempted to imitate the style of the author whose name was printed on the cover of the book. This kind of namelessness does not always smell of the theft of someone’s surname for the purposes of publicity. Another kind is concealing one’s own name by ascribing one’s work to some other people, whether non-existent or unknown, or known but not in literature. For instance, it was fashionable to publish sensational pseudo-diaries of various famous personages from the times of Louis XV and XVI and from the times of the Great Revolution. This is how the memoirs of Sophie Arnould (actress, 1744–1802) emerged, as well as the memoirs of Marie Antoinette’s milliner, Mademoiselle Bertin, or Countess du Barry, who was famously Louis XV’s lover and who was executed on the scaffold in 1793. Zweig writes: Here come good times for memoirs… Professional writers and publishers quickly realized what kind of books were in demand and quickly fabricated memoirs and diaries from the past before the interest faded. […] Anyone who has experienced, even for a moment, the atmosphere of the revolution in Tuilleries, in prisons or in the revolutionary tribunal, became a writer: a seamstress, a chambermaid, the first, the second and the third servant, Marie Antoinette’s prison guard, the first and the second governess of her children, each of the queen’s friends. Last but not least, also the executioner Sanson had to write a memoir, or at least sell his name to someone who hastily wrote it on demand.13

The romantic preference for all kinds of mystery and romantic historicism also provided perfect ground for those apocryphal releases. The author pretended to be the publisher and attached an introduction to his own work, where he tells the story of an allegedly retrieved, or obtained in a mysterious way, manuscript of some anonymous or historical, or sometimes even fictional, person. Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie [Manuscript Found in Saragossa] by Potocki, or Trzy myśli Ligenzy [Three Thoughts of Ligenza] by Krasiński, belongs to this group of romantic apocrypha, as well as the alleged memoirs of Talma, supposedly published by Alexandre Dumas. To complete the picture, MacPherson invented the Scottish bard Ossian in 18th century. Obviously, this type of namelessness was known long before. In the Renaissance, works of ancient authors were “found” in such a way, and in the first centuries of Christianity, other gospels, or even Jesus’ letters. Yet, in those times the issue was predominantly to make the publisher more

I quote following A. Barbier, Dictionaire des ouvrages anonymes. Vol. I (Barbier 1896 p. xxx). 13 Cf. Zweig, Marie Antoinette. 12

On Namelessness


respectable, whereas Romantics were tickled by mysteriousness, a hint of ancient history or exoticism, just as in other areas of life. Literary namelessness in its various forms survived throughout the 19 th century and until the 20 th, where it pervades in literature. Also in this age of adversity, there is no lack of reasons why a writer should attempt to conceal his surname, whether sincerely or falsely. Bibliographers and bibliophiles keep tracking them and revealing their names in dictionaries of anonyms and pseudonyms, making their namelessness more and more feigned. Since the Renaissance period, similar forms of nameless work may also be encountered outside of literature, in visual arts and in music. There this phenomenon is present to a lesser extent, since usually an artist’s or a musician’s work creates fewer opportunities for dangerous displays, especially in music. After all, a painter or a sculptor, as long as he is not a pure formist, may also be indecent, politically dangerous, may fight and propagate. A caricaturist often competes with a libeler. Therefore, even here namelessness can be a weapon and a shield. The history of painting and sculpture, especially in the Renaissance period, includes many artists who created under assumed or granted names. Suffice it to mention the most famous ones: Corregio (Antonio Allegri), Perugino (Vanucci), Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), Michelangelo (Buonarotti), and there were many others. Also visual arts include some “apocryphal” works. Michelangelo exhibited his own sculptures as ones coming from archeological excavations. If the work was admired, he reclaimed authorship. Using someone else’s name as one’s own often takes the form of forgery solely for profit in visual arts. Professional forgers of works of art release counterfeit works of famous and respected artists, with a forged signature. Many “Rembrandts” were found behind closets in Polish noble mansions and manors in 19th century, and many mass produced paintings of horses or lancer’s wooing in the style of Wojciech Kossak were exported to America. Collectors and historians of art often have great difficulties deciding which apocryphal works are original. Theater is another area of namelessness in art. The namelessness of theater people most often occurs in the form of pseudonyms or changing a surname. Nowadays it is often a matter of convention or fashion. In the past, it predominantly originated from taking into account the public opinion about actors. Contempt for actors and their job is traditional. In Greece, theater had a religious character for a long time. Aristotle ascribed cathartic meaning to tragedy, as it releases in the form of emotions, people’s concerns and desires. Writers of drammas became famous and rich. Many of them (e.g. Aeschylus) performed parts in their own plays. Actors were exempt form military service, and their job was well respected in


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the society. In the times of Alexander the Great, they created an association with the rights of religious associations (Jιασος). Yet, even in ancient Greece, besides the serious and esteemed institution of the public theater, there were also numerous artistic groups of lesser rank: dancers, flute players, singers, mimes, who were hired not only for aesthetic pleasures, and who were a sort of a cabaret to amuse people busy with serving Dionysus and Aphrodite. Since treatment of erotic matters was always of twofold nature, scandals cropped up, and in consequence, a negative opinion about actors was established. It became more evident in ancient Rome, where the profession of an actor was considered to be unworthy of a free man. Actors came from among slaves and freedmen, actors derived from prostitutes, and the law forbade citizens to marry even the children of actors. This contempt grew in the Middle Ages with their Theocentric outlook. Histrions, and later on, actors’ troupes, were outlaws. They were denied the sacraments and a funeral by the Church as late as the end of the 18th century, and denied the right to take an oath in the court of law. In the times of the Great Revolution they received equal rights like other citizens, but they were still considered inferior in conservative circles. This was the power of tradition, and often their disorganized lifestyle, which actors and actresses happily showed off in 19 th century. Therefore, it was improper for a girl or a boy from a good family to become an “entertainer.” Especially women were treated as at least highly suspicious, if not disgraced, by various types of Tartuffes. Still, the fascination with the stage remained and fame beckoned. On the other hand, bourgeois morality became the object of attack and scorn, and the profession of an actor began to seem a lofty vocation. In spite of all that, many apprentices of the performing arts preferred to work under an assumed name or a pseudonym, fearing the opinion of traditionalists. Naturally, other motives of namelessness soon joined the above, such as a fear of failure, fashion, the desire to have a “stylish” name, etc. For instance, at some point Anglo-Saxon names were fashionable with Polish film actors and actresses. Osterwa demanded namelessness from actors as a rule. In the name of the dignity of art and faithful service to its purposes, an actor-performer must experience the mystery of art with a humble heart. It is not him but the character he represents on stage that is important and that is supposed to be present on the stage. Thus, the posters for “Reduta” 14 did not list the names of the performers. Still, these are isolated cases. Generally speaking, actors, just as other artists, value their artistic identities and want a

14 „Reduta” was the Polisch experimental theater, active in Warsaw (1919–1925) and Vilna (1925–1929), and again in Warsaw (1931–1939).

On Namelessness


response from others, as well as fame connected to their original or assumed name. Another thing is that actors’ work is in its inherently nameless in a way. The difference between an actor’s namelessness and genuine namelessness is that an actor pretends to want to conceal his identity and his name, and wants to become a character which he creates and recreates for his audience, and partly also for himself, for the duration of the performance. He is not Osterwa any longer, he is Unshaken Prince or Konrad; he is not Solski but becomes Frederick the Great or Mr Jowialski on the stage.15 This is certainly only ostensible namelessness, still, its technical aspect may be considered as an ideal scheme of nameless actions related to pretending to be someone other than oneself. The influence of nameless persons and actions reaches deep into social life, which is manifested by the response to the problem of namelessness in literature of all époques and nations. Folk tales and stories, holy orthodox books and apocryphal books, as well as poems and novels often raise this subject. In mythology and folk tales it is often connected to the motive of metamorphosis. Gods who come into contact with people act namelessly and conceal their divinity from the mortals. However, they always reveal their divine incognito at some point. In his numerous love adventures, Zeus pretended to be Amphitryon, a Satire, a bull, a swan, etc. The evil spirit in the Biblical tale about Paradise also observes his namelessness in the skin of a snake. Odysseus returns home anonymously to punish the suitors. Qui pro quo is a well known and often used comedy gimmick the function of which is to peak the audience’s interest, just as is the case of the anonymity of criminals and law enforcement in detective stories and movies. The importance of a name and its change was evident for romantic writers. Mickiewicz’s characters, who he himself identified with, relate their inner metamorphoses to a name change. Walter Alf prepares annihilation of the Teutonic order under the assumed name of Wallenrod. Gustav, an unhappy lover, changes into Conrad, suffering for zillions. Arrogant and passionate Jacek Soplica does penance of his sins as father Robak. These people assume the character of a new person together with their new name. Or perhaps they only play a new role. Namelessness as a literary


Juliusz Osterwa and Ludwik Solski were famous Polish actors. The most known artistic creations of them were: the role of Unshaken Prince in Pedro Calderón’s El principe constante (paraphrased by Juliusz Słowacki in his dramma Książę niezłomny [Unshaken Prince]) and of Konrad in Adam Mickiewicz’s Dziady [Forefather’s Eve] – in the case of Osterwa, and the role of Frederick the Great in Adolf Nowaczyński’s Wielki Fryderyk [Great Frederick] and Mr Jowialski in Aleksander Fredro’s Pan Jowialski [Mr. Jowialski] – in the case of Solski [AB&JJ].


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motif is not the subject of our discussion. However, it is characteristic how frequent this motif is in literature and how vital it is for the characteristics and fortunes of the characters in many works. This supports the thesis of the importance of namelessness in real life. 7. Namelessness and Ethics Thus far, we have discussed the phenomenon of namelessness from a purely descriptive standpoint. However, this phenomenon may also be the subject of an axiological discussion due to its social function. It is perhaps the subject of evaluation more often that the subject of description. For instance, Quérard published a dictionary of French pseudonyms and anonyms and entitled it Les supercheries littéraires (“literary hoaxes”) and in the introduction he condemned authors who publish their work namelessly. Similarly, legitimists of this or that regime harshly condemn the actions of nameless secret political associations. It seems that the problem of morality or immorality of nameless actions should be divided into two separate questions: (1) Is nameless action something wrong in itself? (2) What consequences of ethical nature may nameless actions entail? Since namelessness is understood as either concealing one’s name or concealing one’s name and simultaneously pretending to be someone else, therefore, the first question should be replaced with the following two: (a) Is it ethically permissible to act while concealing the fact that one is the author of a given action? (b) Is it ethically permissible to act while pretending that someone else is the author of a given action? In the first case, we are dealing with a form of concealing a certain message, and in the second case, with a form of pretence. Both concealment and pretense intentionally deprive other people of the possibility to issue a true judgment in reference to a certain case. In the case of concealment, people who are deprived of the possibility to issue a true judgment are only to refrain from issuing the judgment. In the case of pretence they are to issue a false judgment in a given case. Both concealment and pretence are morally wrong actions if they are lies, that is, if they violate someone’s right to issue a true judgment about a given question (e.g. in some cases, mentally ill people, children, enemies, etc. are deprived of it), and therefore, not all concealment and not all pretense is wrong.16 Yet, there is one other factor which requires ethical control in

16 In this distinction I refer to the definition by H. Grotius, who however limits the notion of a lie (mendacium) to stating an untruth (falsiloquium), which violates someone’s right to judge (libertas iudicandi). Cf. (Grotius 1625 I. 3. c. 1, X-XVII).

On Namelessness


concealment and in pretending namelessness, which is denying authorship. It is sometimes equivalent to shifting responsibility from oneself to other people for a given action or work. This usually occurs in the case of absolute namelessness, and it may but does not have to occur with partial namelessness. Nameless actions, as long as they entail evading responsibility on the part of the author for the action or work, are ethically negative. It is often the necessary evil or the lesser evil, which must be chosen in order to avoid the greater evil. On the other hand, namelessness which does not fall into the category of a lie and does not imply avoiding responsibility is not something wrong in itself. It only becomes ethically wrong, neutral or good depending on what its motives and purposes are. Let us call this its teleological value. Namelessness may also be a factor which raises the positive value of an action or which aggravates its evil. Let us call this its occasional value. It is good to help others. It is often better to help a person anonymously when this person is sensitive and ambitious. On the basis of perfectionist ethics in the type of certain factions of stoicism or Christian ethics, the namelessness of good deeds may have an ascetic value and it may become a method to develop in oneself indifference to the praise and acclaim of others, or a method to develop humility. In the second case, the recipe for medieval monastic asceticism also requires us to make sure that open, named actions encounter contempt and scorn, though experienced by the person performing the action as right (St. Francis pretending to be a fool and a glutton). Namelessness may also aggravate the evil of a deed. It is wrong to harm others, and it is even worse to do it namelessly, thus preventing the injured party from seeking satisfaction or protection from the law, and exposing others to the suspicion of being the perpetrator. Still, regardless of what teleological or occasional value namelessness can attain, it seems that it may have certain negative ethical consequences, even in the case of ethically positive or neutral actions. First of all, the namelessness of actions may trigger a feeling of the lack of social control and weaken the sense of responsibility for one’s actions. Numerous cases of abuse and negligence, known from the history of secret political organizations, confirm these observations. Many people who act namelessly act in a way which they would be ashamed of in open and public activity, in the light of day. Secondly, nameless actions which require constant pretending may create or aggravate hypocrisy and the readiness to lie. This attitude, transposed to a broader social plain, may create a dangerous mania of conspiracy, which Szujski meant when he stated that liberum conspiro may sometimes become as disastrous for the society as liberum veto. Thirdly, reasonably permanent namelessness and constant creation of life fictions often creates a suspicious atmosphere. A man who was party to conspiracy and knows its secrets through and is prone to noticing it everywhere


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around him. Thus, the most exact police systems are invented by rulers who came into power through revolutionary underground struggle. The mentioned negative consequences of nameless action are neither necessary nor common. It is even sometimes the case that the namelessness of an action exacerbates a person’s moral sense, as well as his readiness for sacrifice and aversion to lying, the necessary evil of which he must carry as his burden. It is sometimes the case that a person develops selflessness and a tendency to put the issue and not himself in the foreground. However, it is important to remember that the mentioned negative ethical consequences have a strong psychological basis and are not rare. 8. Conclusion However we judge namelessness from the point of view of ethics, we must admit that it plays an important role, both in the lives of individuals and human communities. When describing and analyzing this role, I have attempted to develop and justify the following views: (1)


(3) (4)

One tends to identify oneself with one’s surname. Thus, in the actions which one considers positive, as a rule one would gladly limit both the duration of nameless authorship and the scope of the people from whom the authorship of the actions is to be concealed. Cases where namelessness is the price of another, greater value, are exceptions. On the other hand, in nameless actions which are assessed negatively, the author usually wants permanent and absolute namelessness in order to retain his good name. Nameless action requires either concealing one’s surname or concealing one’s name and simultaneously using another name. In the second case, the success of nameless action often depends on the ability to play and pretend, as well as the degree of identification in suppositions with the new surname. The main motive of namelessness is fear in its various forms and the need to play, to put on a costume or a mask, which is often deeply embedded in people’s minds. Namelessness in action is first and foremost a means of fighting, either defensively or offensively. Thus, it plays an important role in personal relationships of love and hate, and in social life, in the fight with a stronger opponent and a political or social system imposed by force. The known fortunes of the world are often the result of nameless forces. Would it be otherwise if the world was ruled by justice instead of violence and right to fight? It is hard to predict the nature

On Namelessness


of man living in the utopian Fortunate Isles. Yet, if he retained his present nature, he would probably still find many reasons to pretend he is someone else rather than himself, at least in the areas of artistic creation and eroticism. As a matter of fact, both nowadays and in the past, the picture of the spiritual culture of societies highly depends on contributions from nameless authors. This is why learning about the structure and motives of namelessness is key to understanding many manifestations of human life. Drawing attention to that point was the main task of the present study.

Izydora Dąmbska 25. SILENCE AS AN EXPRESSION AND AS A VALUE Milczenie jako wyraz i jako wartość (Dąmbska 1963c) 1. Introduction Speech, in addition to its logical, psychological and social functions, attracts a lot of attention. On the other hand, there is not much discussion of silence1. And yet, silence plays a significant role as a word and as a means of expression, as well as a tactical means of action and a manifestation of man’s specific spiritual attitude. Various adages and proverbs – e.g.: “Qui tacet consentire videtur,” “Si tacuisses philosophus mansisses” or “Speech is silver and silence is golden” – indicate that people commonly appreciate the importance of silence. However, within scientific literature, not a lot of attention is paid to silence, apart from treatises of an ethical or pedagogical nature which see silence as a way to spiritual asceticism or a way to shape one’s character. Therefore, perhaps we should discuss its role. Silence may be discussed – in at least two meanings: broader and narrower. In the broader meaning, silence means all lack of speech. A scientist involved in his solitary work or a person in deep slumber, or in other words, everyone who is not speaking, is silent in this meaning. In this case, speech is interpreted as a system of spoken or written signs provided with meanings and directed at someone. This qualification is important, as in another interpretation of the word “speech,” silence may be its element, which is the case

1 In Polish, the term „milczenie” used by Dąmbska in this place, has a much narrower sense than the Eglish term „silence.” Namely, it means only this silence which consists in the lack of speech and not every lack of sound [AB&JJ].

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 311–318. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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when it is used to communicate experiences, like conventional mimic signs of various kinds (sign language, etc.). In the narrower meaning, silence is the result of consciously refraining from uttering words. The present work will analyze silence in this narrower meaning. I shall discuss it: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

as as as as as as

a a a a a a

word and a means of communication; tactical means of action; characterological symptom; certain moral category; certain aesthetic category; certain mystical category.

Silence understood as consciously refraining from speaking has two distinct aspects. I shall call them the substantial aspect and the functional aspect. In the first, silence means refraining from speaking on these or other issues or problems for these or those reasons; whereas in the second, silence means refraining from speaking as a kind of an activity consisting in communicating with others or communicating any kind of content to them. In the first case, silence is relative, and in the second, it is absolute, naturally not in the temporal sense. As for the first case, we must very clearly distinguish between refraining from speaking about certain matters and being silent about certain matters while simultaneously talking about something else which conceals what we do not want to speak about. In the substantial aspect, as well as in the functional aspect, silence is a conscious suspension of the process of communicating something with words. The difference is that in the first case we remain silent in order not to say something, whereas in the second case we remain silent in order not to speak, or not to say anything. We should remember that this is often not equivalent to the desire to remove all communicative attitude. It is sometimes the case that we do not want to communicate something in this particular way but we accept other ways. In the course of our discussion, we shall mention both of these aspects, and the context itself should probably clearly indicate which case is being discussed. 2. Silence as an Expression It would seem that, contrary to the definition of silence as consciously refraining from speaking presented above, silence is an integral, albeit not independent, part of speech, not only mimic but also verbal; after all, every spoken or written context consists of sounds or graphic symbols with spaces. These silent spaces which divide symbols from one another determine reasonable linguistic wholes, e.g. sentences and their fragments, parts of a

Silence as an Expression and as a Value


dialogue, etc., and thus, they perform an important semiotic function consisting in indicating the proper connection between words of speech. Without them, there would be no speech but a chaotic, incessant flood of sounds or graphic symbols, unfit for communicating thoughts or indicating objects. Silent breaks in speaking correspond to spaces between words in writing and, when it comes to a more emphatic division of reasonable wholes, punctuation marks, which measure different degrees of length of these breaks. Yet, I do not believe that punctuation breaks in speaking can be called silence. Just as a pianist who divides chords with breaks does not stop playing, someone who puts spaces between words does not stop speaking, that is, does not fall silent. Only when one consciously refrains from uttering words does one fall silent, rather than when merely separating words from one another. However, this conscious, or even sometimes deliberate refraining from speaking is also a way of communicating thoughts, and thus is in the field of interest of semiotics as it is broadly understood. Silence as an expression is usually a means of emotional expression. Human speech is capable of communicating meaningful content, that is, notions and judgments, and of expressing inner states of an intellectual nature (perceptions, observations, reflections, etc.), but it proves unreliable both as a way to inform others of states of an emotional nature and when it is to be used as an expression indicating someone’s emotion. In many cases of this sort, silence indeed sometimes speaks louder than words. Silence as an expression within the scope of experiences of an intellectual nature is often a sign of someone’s ignorance or hesitation; it may also express judgments, usually judgments on values: the silence of approval or disapproval for someone’s behavior. In cases of silence as an expression of judgments on value, it also expresses certain states of an emotional nature, such as admiration or contempt. Silence may also be an involuntary expression, for instance, when strong emotion or affection deprives someone of the desire, or even ability, to speak. Thus, silence may be a manifestation of intense fear, despair, delight, or admiration. A question arises of whether we can still speak of silence in the proposed sense, that is, as consciously refraining from speaking. I believe so, since I did not prejudge the reason for refraining from speaking in the definition. Its condition does not always have to be an act of will. Yet, it can also be an intentional expression when we believe that silence will represent our emotional state, which we wish to communicate to others, better than words. The latter kind of silence, as an intentional expression of feelings, most often occurs based on heteropathic emotions, both positive and negative. Thus, within the scope of positive heteropathic emotions, silence can be an expression of reverence or respect, as when a room falls silent upon the entrance of a venerable person. There is also silence of compassion, such as when we squeeze a friend’s hand when he is in distress. There is the


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silence of two people in love. It is similar in the case of negative emotions. Thus, contempt is often expressed through silence, just as scorn or antipathy. This occurs when we want to indicate to an opponent that it would be below our dignity to argue with him or respond to his verbal attacks. Silence as an expression of an emotional attitude often becomes a conventional expression on the basis of certain social rules or etiquette. A minute of silence to honor a deceased person, silence required in places of religious observance or during certain rituals, are sometimes the conventional form of behavior in societies which have a certain spiritual and social culture in common. Since silence can express inner states in such varied ways, it must be an ambiguous word. Silence becomes clear only in context, that is, against the backdrop of the situation in which it occurs, and together with other words. Peter’s silence expressing compassion can be interpreted by John as an expression of indifference if he does not know Peter and if he had expected words of comfort and does not notice the facial expression accompanying the silence or misunderstands this expression. Thus, silence may be considered as a non-independent word, that is, one which indicates a given psychical content which it communicates only in connection to other words or in a situational context. Silence is also sometimes an insincere expression of inner states. This is when we attempt to suggest through silence that we are experiencing a given state without harboring it. Yet, in this case silence is more of a tactical means, a course of action directed at achieving a certain practical objective, rather than a way to communicate or express oneself, since the expressed state is lacking. 3. Silence as a Tactical Means We may harm or help others by remaining silent; we can also harm or help ourselves. This is why silence is eminent in confrontation and in cooperation. If someone stays silent when others discredit, offend or wrong him, his silence may not only be the expression of scorn, distaste or fear, but may also sometimes be either a form of capitulation and escape, or a form of lessening the impact of the other side’s argument in front of impartial witnesses, or an act of forgiveness and an attempt to establish friendly relationships. If someone who is forced to cooperate and testify remains silent, this silence may be in self-defense or to protect someone else’s wellbeing. This kind of silence may also be heroic.

Silence as an Expression and as a Value


If someone who is not forced to speak remains silent, but he knows that speaking up may cause distress, ridicule, or trouble, silence may be a refuge, and sometimes even a betrayal of one’s own ideals. Silence is often a necessary condition for effective action, both in the planning phase and in the phase of execution. The commander of a squad must remain silent about his strategic plan so that none of it reaches the enemy, and soldiers must keep silent when they approach the enemy’s positions so that the enemy does not notice them too soon. Silence is often a way to defend one’s compromised position. For instance, an old employee may remain silent about his illness because he fears losing his job when his incapacity is revealed. Any collective underground undertaking requires the participants to remain silent. The fighting technique and the camouflage techniques both contain the directive of silence as one of their elementary directives. 4. Silence as an Ethical Category Silence may be an obligation, it may be a virtue or it may be a vice. Silence is an obligation: (1) (2) (3)

When someone has rightly promised to remain silent; When not remaining silent exposes someone else to unnecessary suffering or harms him in any other way. When a written or customary code requires people to be silent in a specific place.

[In the second] case may concern various problems: firstly, the obligation to remain silent in the presence of others about certain issues which, when exposed, would be the source of distress for someone. Secondly, refraining from issuing certain judgments and remarks, which may hurt someone, and which we are not obliged to communicate; thirdly, remaining silent when the very fact of speaking is unpleasant for someone, regardless of the content (e.g. someone who is stricken with grief and wishes for silence). Silence is a virtue when it is not an obligation but serves some moral good, and it is a heroic virtue when it simultaneously exposes the silent person to suffering which he could have avoided by not staying silent. Silence is a vice or a fault when speaking is an obligation. The obligation to remain silent understood as a result of a commitment may be of two kinds. One may commit to remain silent about a certain issue whose explanation would be undesirable, or one may commit to remain silent for the sake of silence and because one deems silence to be ethically valuable behavior. In the latter case, silence is usually understood as a means towards ascesis and


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as a means towards inner-improvement. This kind of silence was required from the students of Pythagoreans, as well as from the novices and monks in certain monasteries. This kind of silence is also sometimes voluntarily self-imposed. Silence understood as a means towards ascesis: (1) is to develop ability of self-control and willpower, (2) is to facilitate inner concentration and to intensify the experience of certain states of consciousness. Silence defined as a means towards ascesis does not have to be connected with religious objectives of a man. It may be selected as a method to shape the desirable features of personality and to become internally independent from contact with other people. It may also be desirable as an element of soothing silence2. 5. Silence as a Characterological Symptom There are people who naturally and gladly remain silent. These are sometimes shy and insecure people, the type who are afraid to speak for fear of ending up in conflict with environment or exposing themselves to ridicule, etc. For them, silence is a form of mimicry or a getaway: a defense mechanism. On the other hand, there are mentally strong people who are naturally silent. Introverts are types who do not seek contact with other people but are focused on their own inner world of thoughts and emotions, are aware of the inadequacies of words as a means of expressing spiritual content and who therefore avoid expressing it. In the pathological form, this kind is often encountered among extremely autistic schizophrenics. Within the boundaries of normal mental activity, it is encountered more often among men than women, older rather than younger people, schizothymics rather than cyclothymics. This is an atitude of loners, dreamers and thinkers. This attitude is also fashionable within certain circles and in some periods. For instance, the romantic cult of loners favored the formation of certain personality types whose main characteristic was the tendency to remain silent. This is because in Romanticism silence was considered sublime and beautiful. 6. Silence as an Aesthetic Category Regardless of the evaluations connected with the style of a given period in the history of culture, silence has always been perceived as a certain aesthetic category. Literature, theatre, and pronunciation make use of it in the strict


Dąmbska uses here the Polish term „cisza” which means lack of any sound.

Silence as an Expression and as a Value


meaning of the word, as such branches of art whose working material are aords of speech. However, in the broader meaning, other branches of art also make use of the category of silence. Literature uses silence in two ways: indirect and direct. The direct one occurs when an author speaks of the silence of a literary character as a word or a behavior pattern, etc. (e.g. Gustav in the 2nd part of Dziady [Forefathers’ Eve] “points to his heart with his hand but does not speak to the shepherdess,” the audience of Jankiel’s concert in Pan Tadeusz [Sir Thaddeus] “silently sat with their heads down,” etc.) The indirect one occurs in the form of a pause, omission, understatement, or falling silent, for instance in a poem or a song, in silence as the expression of characters on the stage in a drama. A theatrical play uses silence as a means of artistic expression with the most clarity. Regardless of silence explicitly marked in the text of the dramatic piece, an actor may highlight characteristic features of the character performed by him in his interpretation of the part by using silence. The socalled silent scenes often belong to the most effective moments in a drama (the scene with the old soldier in Warszawianka by Wyspiański). In the case of an actor’s performance, silence appears as an expression of the presented experiences, of pretended states, or as a tactical means of imagined activity. Understatement or falling silent, a pause in the piece, may be considered as both an expression of the spiritual state of the author or as a poetic category, regardless of this function. For instance, when the verse ends with the exclamation “ah” in „Czatyrdah” [„Chatyr-Dag”] by Mickiewicz, the reader feels that silence filled with delight will follow, or knows that there is silence in Aeneid after the angry Quos ego… The artistic value of this factor in poetry can only be demonstrated in a good recitation of the piece. Just as a skilled performer-reciter uses silence to achieve an artistic experience in relation to someone’s work, a good speaker also sometimes remains silent. This apparent paradox should not raise any objections. A good preacher, a good political speaker, or even a lecturer who knows his business, use silence just as they use a rhetorical phrase. With it, they stress the importance of the preceding or following parts of the speech, grasp the listeners’ attention, or express real or pretended emotions. 7. Silence as a Mystical Category “Les grandes vèrités ne se communiquent que par le silence” – wrote Claudel.3 It seems that this sentence stresses two important thoughts:


Cf. Claudel, Le Soulier, 4 journée, sc. 2.

318 (a) (b)

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that it is impossible to express with words certain experiences in which we attempt to reach the essence of certain philosophical issues, for instance, eschatological and axiological; that a necessary condition for these experiences is silence in not only the literal sense which fosters concentration but also in the sense which is not even expressed by words in order to avoid any deformation of the object of the experience.

In this very sense, silence is the condition of mystical contemplation. Silence as a religious element of ancient cults with their eujhmetee – favete linguis should also be interpreted in this sense. In the silence of contemplation, man becomes like the most profound nature of all things in a way. The endless spaces of Pascal are silent, as well as the soul of the world and the God of Plotinus. Speaking of contemplation of God, Plotinus adds: It is probably time to leave in silence and ask nothing more, having ascertained an irresolvable problem. [...] If someone becomes one with himself and cuts all divisions, then he is ‘oneeverything’ with God present in silence.4

Wittgenstein repeats: “Es gibt allerdings Unaussprechliches. Dies zeigt sich, es ist das Mystische.”5 An attempt to transfer this sort of experience to the language of conceptual arguments, which is often undertaken by metaphysics, leads to the deformation of the issue and to imagined problems. As Wittgenstein adds: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.”6 8. Conclusion These few perfunctory remarks upon silence are not supposed to be an introduction to the apology of silence or some medieval ars taciturnitatis sive silentii. They are merely concerned with turning our attention to the psychologically complex and practically important phenomenon of silence in its cognitive, praxeological and axiological functions in these exceedingly erudite and vociferous times.

Cf. Plotinus, Enneads VI. 8, 11. Cf. (Wittgenstein 1921, § 6.522). 6 Cf. (Wittgenstein 1921, § 7). 4 5


O funkcjach semiotycznych milczenia (Dąmbska 1971g) Language in its many pragmatic functions is an important tool with which people may fulfill their various aspirations and plans, especially those which occur on the basis of their coexistence with other living creatures. Thus, language may be analyzed as a tool to objectivize the results of cognition, as a tool to create information, of communicating with others and directing their behavior, as a tool to express one’s own inner states, as well as a means of creating certain cultural objects which have meaning (works of art, science, law, forms of religion, etc.). After all, when we use language signs in the proper manner, that is, determined by linguistic directives and by situations which we find ourselves in, we may attain various objectives within the scope of the mentioned activities. However we may, and sometimes should, abstract this operational aspect of language in order to research its formal and structural properties, that is, its logical syntax, or to research only its reference to the objective domain which it maps, and therefore, research its semantic properties. However, whenever we are faced with the question of what the semiotic functions of silence are, we should analyze silence as a certain phenomenon of human existence in the world which is, although it sounds like a paradox, connected with speech and with language in its many instrumental functions. This does not mean that silence is merely a not-speaking. Undoubtedly this is also a meaning of the word “silence.” A single guard on a tower, a listener at a lecture, a person sleeping, or a deaf-mute remain silent in this sense. Silence understood in the above way is a certain negative state of affairs: the lack of external speech, and more broadly: a certain form of quietness. Still, we may also speak of silence in the cases where the lack of external speech is the result of refraining from speaking. This act of refraining from In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 319–330. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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speaking may be intentional as a means of action (remaining silent in a certain matter in order to keep it secret) or it may be the result of certain external conditions (e.g. refraining from speaking when the regulations require it), or it may be caused by a certain inner state (when someone falls silent as a result of shyness or anger), etc. However, such not-speaking always differs from subconscious not-speaking and even from conscious not-speaking which is not accompanied with this moment of characteristic hesitation, significant for silence in the narrower meaning.1 This silence as refraining from speaking has two aspects: substantial and functional. In the former, silence is refraining from talking about certain topics, whereas in the latter it is refraining from speaking as a certain function consisting in specific communication with others or communicating anything to them in this way. In the first case, we must distinguish refraining from talking about certain issues and keeping silent about certain issues and simultaneously talking about something else to conceal what we do not want to talk about. In some cases, refraining from speaking reaches so deeply that it leads to the disappearance of something which may be called inner speech, that is, the disappearance of discursive thinking with the use of words and notions. This borderline case of silence seems to be sometimes postulated by intuitionists and mystics, who believe that any notional (verbal) cognition deforms the object given in direct experience. In Enneads, Plotinus describes the process of unifying the human soul with the absolute entity and writes that it is connected with “God present in silence” (“θεου αψοφητι παροντος”)2 and that it sees Him “free from any discourse” (“παντα λογον αjεις”).3 Wittgenstein repeats: “Es gibt allerdings Unaussprechliches. Dies zeigt sich, es ist das Mystische.”4 An attempt to transfer this sort of experience or intuitions onto the language of notional discourse leads to the deformation

1 I proposed this understanding of the word “silence” in the essay entitled „Milczenie jako wyraz i wartość” [„Silence as an Expression and as a Value”] in 1952. The article was published eleven years later; cf. (Dąmbska 1963c). The present study is an attempt to expand and develop the semiotic section of this essay. The active character of silence is also noted by Max Scheler, who writes: “Personen können eben – schweigen und ihre Gedanken verschweigen. Und das ist [...] ein aktives Verhalten, durch das sie ihr Sosein verbergen können” (Scheler 1913, p. 259). Let us add that refraining from speaking is not understood as resisting the urge to speak; it may result from the need and desire not to speak. 2 Cf. Plotinus, Enneads V. 8, 11. 3 Cf. Plotinus, Enneads VI. 8, 19. 4 Cf. (Wittgenstein 1921, § 6. 522).

On the Semiotic Functions of Silence


of the subject. As Wittgenstein adds: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.”5 This kind of silence as suppressing inner speech, as long as it is at all possible, itself belongs to the issue of inner experience, which is hard to communicate, or at least is not of a symbolic character in the intersubjective understanding, which is inherent to silence understood as refraining from speaking and whose semiotic functions I aim to analyze. Theoreticians of speech devote relatively little attention to silence. Out of statements on this subject familiar to me, F. Kainz’s opinions included in the third volume of his monumental Psychologie der Sprache (1954– 1956) are worth noting. Yet, I believe Keinz narrows down the notion of silence too much when he writes: Innerhalb des Gesprächs gibt es ein sinnvolles Schweigen, ausserhalb des Gesprächs gibt es überhaupt kein Schweigen, sondern ein Nicht-Reden.6

On the other hand, as he claimed before, silence “ist […] etwas vom Nicht-Reden total Verschiedenes.”7 If we accept without reservations the statement that silence occurs within a conversation as its significant component,8 I do not believe that silence different from not-speaking does not occur at all outside of conversation. After all, not all speaking is a conversation (also in Kainz’s understanding), but each may be ascribed silence. In my understanding, neither is silence something entirely different (“total Verschiedenes”) from not-speaking except, as I noted earlier, in the understanding I am concerned with in the analysis, it is an not-speaking which is specifically determined by the action of refraining from speaking, or more precisely, a result or a product of this action. Naturally, each researcher is allowed to propose this or that convention when defining a term and determining the class of objects which he aims to characterize. Still, it seems to me that the convention proposed by Keinz is not very efficient within the theory of language, as it unnecessarily narrows down the scope of the discussed domain. After all, it is easy to demonstrate that refraining from speaking which has certain semiotic functions and which should be called silence, due to its properties ascribed by Keinz, among others, oc-

Cf. (Wittgenstein 1921, § 6.522; § 7). Cf. (Kainz 1954, pp. 523). 7 Ibidem. 8 What is more, as La Rochefoucauld noted long ago, there is no reasonable exchange or conversation between two people who cannot remain silent at the right moment. This is why he claims in the summary of his argument about the art of conversation that one should “écouter beaucoup, parler peu et ne rien dire dont on ne puisse avoir le sujet de se repentir.” Cf. La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions diverses. 5 6


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curs within conversation, but also in other situations in which language is used. Therefore, it is not a surprise that some examples provided by Keinz are beyond silence implicated in conversation, which in turn is connected with undue expansion of the notion of conversation, as long as it is not an inconsistency. If we distinguish a certain state of consciousness of the subject capable of speaking in certain situations which we wish to analyze, a certain activity (the active refraining from speaking) and the product of this activity, that is, silence in the sense which we are concerned with, then silence as the expression of the conscious suppression of speech, where the situation requires speaking or even seems to demand it, is particularly interesting for semiotics. This kind of silence may be called meaningful or signitive in the narrower sense. In order to avoid misunderstanding let me add that the signitive character may also concern silence broadly understood as not-speaking. Thus, not-speaking which is the result of certain damage to the nervous system is often a symptom, that is a certain kind of sign of an illness for a doctor. Not-speaking of certain events on the part of an author of a chronicle or memoir, who should have known about their occurrence and if he had known, he should have noted them, is sometimes considered by historians to be a conjectural indication of the fact that these events did not take place in that time, and used as the so-called argumentum ex silentio. The line between refraining from speaking and conscious not-speaking is often blurry. This is evident in the so-called aphasia voluntaria, which affects children who just stay silent and refuse to answer any question. In those cases, it is difficult to judge if the child refrains from speaking or does not speak, even if it wanted, as a result of certain neuro-pathological disorder. This inability to speak not caused by damage to the centers of nerve system but resulting from so-called lasting reluctance or inability to establish contacts is present in pathological forms characteristic for depressive states, as well as various kinds of schizophrenia, and is connected with the disappearance of other, extra-linguistics ways to communicate with others and with autistic attitudes. Still, even not speaking in the narrower understanding, that is, conscious, and even intentional refraining from speaking, may be divided into two kinds: one which is a way of communicating with others, a means of expression, information or disinformation, and one which entails breaking off contact with others. In the first case, silence is the result of certain activity of a sign character, a certain form of “speaking without words,” or at least signalizing something. In the second case, it is the result of a refusal to make contact, a negation in relation to the function of signalizing or informing. An objection may arise that the presented

On the Semiotic Functions of Silence


distinctions, which refer to external conditions of silence, unnecessarily introduce into a semiotic discussion certain assumptions of a psychological nature which cannot be verified. I do not believe this to be the case. While we agree that it is often hard to determine in specific psychological or psychiatric tests whether we are dealing with a case of intentional refraining from speaking of a meaningful nature, or with a symptom or muteness coming from inner compulsion or with some form of unwillingness to make contact, we may not abstract from the pragmatic sign functions of silence if we wish to distinguish silence as the subject of semiotic discussion. In turn, they can only be understandable if we realize what instrumental use can be made of silence, when we reveal the instrumental nature of silence in a language system. (Another issue is that the phenomenon of silence should be analyzed within individual and social psychology, the characterology and typology of personalities. This is not the subject of our discussion, which focuses on the semiotic functions of silence.) From the point of view of semiotics, silence as a result of refraining from speaking should be considered in two sign categories: (1) as a mark, (2) as a significant element of language. The notion of a mark, variously defined and understood,9 may be introduced into semiotics by reducing it to the notion of an ordered set U such that U=def F{(a→ b) for S}, where S is a conscious subject and a is a certain state of affairs available to observation, such that it may be described by S as an indication of the occurrence of another state of affairs b; a indicates b for S if and only if S, noticing a, may accept b in view of the fact that there is a certain specific relationship of subordination between a and b.10 Stoics probably meant a similar notion of mark when they defined mark as the content of the antecedent in a true conditional sentence where both arguments are true and where there is a relationship between the antecedent and the consequent of such kind that the content of the antecedent includes

9 An overview of various concepts of a mark is presented in e.g. the work of J. Kotarbińska entitled “Pojęcie znaku” [“The Notion of a Sign”] (Kotarbińska 1957). 10 This “indicating to” is fundamentally different from the function of signifying or denoting which is performed by words of speech with respect to the denotata associated with them. The name dog signifies a certain species of domestic animals as a result of the meaning which is associated with it in English. However, it does not indicate anything as such, as it is not a state of affairs which, perceived by the subject S, would allow him to ascertain on the basis of the relationship between the name dog and its designatum that a given state of affairs exists. Only a name tied in a certain specific set of signs and situations may secondarily become an element of the mark, thus often losing its proper language meaning. For instance, John’s exclamation directed at Peter, You rabid dog may be a mark to Paul, who is present at the time of the exchange, that some kind of a row has started.


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the content of the consequent.11 However, this definition does not take into consideration two important moments of the relations of “indicating to” as it shifts the relationship of indicating between the mark and what is signified to the syntactic plane (the relationship of the arguments of a conditional sentence). Firstly, it does not highlight the double reference of elements U of the fact that a is the mark of b only for the S for whom b may be indicated by a; and secondly, contrary to common understanding, it reduces the notion of mark to the notion of language meaning. A mark, in the understanding proposed by me, is not the logical meaning of the antecedent of a conditional sentence, but rather a certain state of affairs which may be presupposed in the antecedent of an implication. It is such a state of affairs which, when noticed, may be described as the indication of the occurrence of another state of affairs. If we assume the proposed notion of mark, both certain natural, spontaneously occurring states of affairs or phenomena and those which occur as a result of intentional actions, e.g. by installing an appropriate apparatus whose purpose is to indicate something to someone, are marks. Let us call the first kind of marks “symptoms” and the second, “signals.” In this understanding, an mark is both the occurrence of a rash, which is a symptom of a infectious disease developing to a doctor, or swallows flying low above the ground as a mark of oncoming rain, as well as the sound of a bell coming from the firefighters’ tower which signals that a fire has broken out, or a movement of the dial of a manometer which indicates a rise in gas pressure. Examples of signals, that is, purposefully issued marks, point at their two possible kinds. Either, as it is in the example with a manometer, the signal, although conventionally agreed upon, is a state of affairs which is really connected to the state it indicates, like a symptom of an illness, or the connection of the arguments of the relationship is determined based only on some arbitrary convention, as in the case of the sound of the bell in the function of the indication of a fire. It is also worth noting that signals often are not only marks which reveal something to a conscious subject, and thus, enable him to achieve certain knowledge, but also perform a postulative or order-giving function which regulates someone’s behavior, they either prescribe something or prohibit something. The bell on the firefighters’ tower indicates that a fire has broken out, but at the same time calls the firefighters to put out the fire. A red light by the tracks indicates that the track is occupied but at the same time prohibits entry. It can probably be observed that not only signals but also symptoms often perform some postulative function

Cf. Sextus Empiricus, Pρος λογικους II. 244 ff.; also my article entitled Analiza pojęcia oznaki w semiotyce stoickiej [An Analysis of the Notion of Mark in Stoic Semiotics] (Dąmbska 1971b).


On the Semiotic Functions of Silence


in the sense that reading them determines the behavior of the recipient in a way. A doctor observes the marks of an illness in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment. Still, this postulating is only secondary in relation to a symptom, or something metaphorical, resulting from objectivizing it in someone’s actions. The same symptom of an illness will induce one person to undertake treatment, another person to avoid contact with the sick (e.g. if he is afraid of becoming infected), yet another person will be left indifferent. A symptom sensu stricto, that is, a certain natural state of affairs presented as one indicating the occurrence of another state of affairs does not postulate or prescribe anything, and only does it metaphorically when its occurrence is accompanied with certain directives of conduct in the conscioussness of the recipient. On the other hand, signals are often designed as signs postulating a certain manner of behavior or action. Yet, this is not true for all signals and every time. The functioning of measuring equipment, just like a symptom, is most often used to reveal and register what is revealed through the mark, although in some cases the functioning of measuring equipment is originally designed as a command-giving signal (e.g. equipment in the pilot’s cabin). Postulative and command-giving functions are usually inherent to arbitrary signals. Still, this is not always the case. Hanging a black flag on the building of some institution is a mark to a passer-by that someone from the group of its workers has died. Yet, the indication does not always call for a specific manner of behavior. In the intention of the people placing the flag, it may also be an expression of mourning over the loss of a colleague. These examples and remarks aim at demonstrating that a sign which is a mark may but does not have to perform semiotic functions other than the characteristic function of indicating. It may be a sign with command-giving functions or an expressive sign. Examples of such expressive signs among symptoms are often certain indications of mental states, as long as someone externalizes his state consciously with their help. When the transmitting function is not present, they remain mere symptoms. Silence considered as a mark is either a symptom (e.g. for a doctor or a psychologist conducting clinical observations) or a signal. Even if it is silence in the narrower meaning (that is, conscious refraining from speaking), it is a symptom, namely just a symptop-manifestaton, insofar as the silent person does not intend to express or reveal anything through it. Yet, silence may also be a signal, even an arbitrary one, if it occurs as an element of a certain coding. For instance, silence may appear in a religious ceremony after certain words of a prayer and indicates that the central part of the planned ceremony is approaching. Therefore, it may perform the command-giving function if it simultaneously regularizes the mode of behavior of the participants in the church service.


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Silence may also be the means of transmitting information, not only as a signal but also as a communicative element of a natural language. It may also be a means of expression, or the way to express certain psychical states. It can perform the second function separately from speech (e.g. when someone who stays silent and thus expresses his pain after losing a loved one), but it may also serve expression towards the recipient in the context of a language game. I would like to look more closely at this sort of silence in the context of speech. Speaking of silence as an element of speech, I do not mean to say that every spoken or written context is made of vocal or graphic signs with spaces. Those “silent” spaces which divide one sign from another determine certain reasonable wholes, e.g. sentences and their elements, parts of dialogue, etc. Thus, they also perform semiotic functions, namely within syntax, as they determine the correct sequence and connection between words. There would be no speech but incoherent babble without these breaks. Silent breaks in speech correspond to spaces between words in writing, and punctuation is used to divide certain meaningful wholes and highlight their syntactic relationships. However, I do not call such breaks silence. Just as a piano does not stop playing a tune when the chords and musical phrases are divided, also someone who speaks does not cease to speak when he divides sentences and words. Only when he makes a meaningful pause, that is, when he falls silent and refrains from uttering certain words or speaking further, or from speaking for a while in order to highlight or express certain content in this way, is his silence an important element of speech or specific speech on its own. When I discuss silence as a part of speech, I do not mean remaining silent in the understanding given to the word by Norwid in his essay entitled Milczenie [Silence]. This essay, quite vague in its historiosophical part, assumes that man is always guided by certain “approximations,” as Norwid calls them, that is, an instinctive sense of truth, rather than clearly formulated statements in a language. As a result, our speech is full of silences. As Norwid states, it is always “dramatic,” “and there is no sentence abstract enough to not contain concealment.”12 [Concealment,] which is a vital element of speech, can first be read in any sentence, and only then is it the logical reason and subject of the next sentence. Thus, what the second sentence states and utters has just been an unstated concealment of the first sentence, and what the third sentence states lies in the concealment within the second sentence... and so on until the bottom of the meaning, which is only in this way truly exhausted by virtue of the logic present in such a process.13

12 13

Cf. (Norwid 1882, p. 232). Ibidem.

On the Semiotic Functions of Silence


Norwid transfers this thesis about concealment included in every sentence to literary work, “the mental products of the century,” as he calls them, and he claims that: What was a concealment of the mental whole of one époque, becomes the voice of literature of another époque in the next century, and what that one conceals, the third will voice, in its part again carrying a concealment for the next.14

Based on this rule, Norwid also attempts to determine the sequence of the appearance of literary forms: “poetic invocation,” epic, novel, historiography. Without getting into an evaluation of this arbitrary historiosophy of literature, let us enquire what meaning Norwid gives to the statement that silence which is reduced to concealment is a part of speech, and that it is present in every sentence. It seems that this statement may mean that the content of the utterance, formulated in words, is only a kind of a limited choice in relation to the content of a consciousness which is not formulated in words yet, which is silently or implicitly assumed by the explicated content. When upon meeting a friend I ask, “H ow are you , my dear friend?” Norwid states, I remain silent about many other thoughts, such as “I have not seen you for ages,” “I sense the lack of news from you,” etc. These thoughts, omitted in the question, may become the content of a subsequent utterance.15 It seems to me that Norwid means what Marty calls “die innere Sprachform der Rede,”16 language content which is not uttered but which can be deduced from what the sentence explicitly contains. If I understand Norwid’s line of argument correctly, the silence which he mentions does not have to mean active refraining from speaking, and it is not a sign of something but it is in itself something which given words suggest by implicitly expressing what is omitted. What is more, Norwid generally calls the omitted content itself concealment, and probably does not realize the ambiguity. Still, we are concerned with silence discussed as a result of refraining from speaking, but rather, silence which simultaneously performs the “language” function of communicating something to someone, which is said to sometimes speak louder than words or to replace words. “Il y a une éloquence qui pénètre plus que la langue ne saurait faire,” as we read in “Discours sur les passions de l’amour,” ascribed to Pascal. 17 An old Latin aphorism words the issue more cautiously: “Saepe tacens vocem, verbaque vultus habet.”

Cf. Cf. 16 Cf. 17 Cf. 14 15

(Norwid 1882, p. 244). (Norwid 1882, p. 232). (Marty 1940). (Pascal 1670a, p. 514).


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Silence “speaks louder than words” especially for those who use it as they would a word. However, it is often unclear and ambiguous for the recipient who the word is directed to, or for a casual observer of this sign. Someone falls silent when asked a question. Is this an expression of ignorance, of hesitation, or perhaps of disregard for the person asking the question? Someone might interpret the silence of compassion as an expression of indifference, whereas the silence of disapproval or contempt as an expression of fear. We could venture to say that silence is a non-autonomous, occasional word, that is, one which expresses or communicates something unambiguously only in connection with other words and on the background of a specific situation, in a specific “language game,” to use Wittgenstein’s term. At times the sense is specified by the convention. This is when custom or a code of behavior prevailing in a given environment considers silence as an expression of a given content. For instance, “a minute of silence” is an expression of respect for the deceased. Silence may become an insincere expression, not only as a conventional expression, but also as an indexical expression with conventionally unspecified meaning, as it may be used to suggest such contents which do not exist, and to conceal what we do not want to express. In those cases, silence, just as speech, may be a way to mask something and mislead others. Then it is sometimes an important instrument of human activity in confrontation or cooperation with others. Silence considered in this aspect is also an interesting subject of moral axiology.18 Since silence is such an ambiguous word, how can we reconcile this property with its, often stressed, value as a means of communication, with this silence which speaks louder than words, the silence of two people in love, etc.? How to explain the paradox that by refraining from speaking we fulfill the function of a language? The paradoxical nature of silence as an element of speech disappears when we become aware of several matters, already mentioned in the course of our discussion. Firstly, we should remember that language is a tool of many varied applications. Considered in its pragmatic functions, it proves to be a particularly efficient tool of communicating information concerning states of affairs available to intersubjective cognition. The word “information” is used here in such a broad meaning that it encompasses both the contents of the questions and the

18 This is not only in the aspect in which silence is in itself either a positive or a negative moral value but also silence as a symptom of a certain spiritual stance in view of its meaning for people’s inner development and to expand their self-awareness. “Wahre Ethik,” said A. Schweitzer, “fängt an, wo der Gebrauch der Worte aufhört”; quotation following (Gauger 1937, p. 11). I discussed the issue of silence as a form of action and being in the ethical world in the aforementioned article „Milczenie jako wyraz i jako wartość” [„Silence as an Expression and as a Value”] (Dąmbska 1963c).

On the Semiotic Functions of Silence


descriptive statements, as well as various kinds of performative utterances. On the other hand, language is an inefficient tool when it is used to deliver information concerning subjective states: experiences, emotions, moods, thoughts, etc. Any attempt to communicate them to others often proves to be unreliable in the perception of the speaker (“Language deceives the voice, and the voice deceives the thoughts”19). However, language also proves to be an inefficient tool if it is used to express those many various inner states. informing others about one’s subjective states (either in the form of attempts to describe them, or evaluate them, etc.) must be distinguished from expressing them with language. In the first case, we use language, as in the cases of transmitting information about any other states of affairs, assuming an objectivizing attitude towards those subjective states and reckoning with the addressee of the statement. In the second case, we make subjective use of the language and we express ourselves with it; then language is an element of our present manner of existence in the world. Consideration of the receiver may but does not have to accompany it; it is not the meaning of the words that is important, but their tone and emotional charge. An exclamation expressing anger, fear or despair (some kind of “Damn it!,” “Woe is me!,” or “We are in trouble!”), which escapes the lips of an unaccompanied person, or curses he utters in anger, express his state, and if they transmit it to someone, it is not in the form of verbal information. When we analyze this expressive function of language, it turns out that the meanings of words play an insignificant role here; words lose their usual linguistic meaning and often become almost asemantic, and they only function as a certain component of the complex experiential situation of the subject. A highly cultured person, who wants to appear composed in such situations, suppresses and limits external marks of his states and often falls silent. This silence enriches his inner state in a way, and becomes expression which is louder than words in his view (and also sometimes in the view of an intended or casual observer). Also in the case of transmitting information about subjective states of affairs we often refrain from talking about them, as verbal statements are inadequate, and in fact silence or omission in the proper situational context may deliver it to another person more efficiently than words. As for intersubjectively available states of affairs, transmitting information concerning them can be performed with the use of silence by way of convention. Besides, omitting certain utterances, or refraining from uttering certain words which are imprecise, unclear, or superfluous, there is an important factor of the proper discussion of an issue. An excess of


Cf. Mickiewicz, Dziady [Forefathers’ Eve] [AB&JJ].


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words makes information less clear and effective; a lot must be omitted and discarded to state clearly what the matter is. Such concealment, which improves the use of speech in terms of accuracy and clarity, is also important when it comes to the semantic functions of language. Masters of a concise style of writing and speaking, laconicists, are aware of this. Silence as a way to communicate certain content as well as a means of expression is an important element of art. It was and is still also perceived as a certain aesthetic value of a piece of art. Oratory, literature, or theatre use silence in the narrower sense, as those are domains of artistic creation whose material is language. Other kinds of art also make use of the category of silence in a figurative sense. A speaker often makes use of silence. He stresses the importance of what he has just said with pauses, only seemingly silent, or preparing the listeners for what he is about to say. He falls silent to express real or pretended emotions, or he omits those fragments which he particularly strongly wants to suggest to the listeners. He sometimes states that he will omit certain issues. In ancient rhetoric, αποσιωπησις (concealment) was always mentioned among rhetorical figures.20 Contemporary theoreticians of speech also devote considerable attention to it.21 In a literary work, an author either speaks of silence, stressing its importance in the imaginary world which he creates, or by skillfully suggesting concealment. He makes refraining from speaking a direct means of expression for himself or for the characters in his work. Lyrical poetry and especially drama use silence like a phrase. Silent scenes in theater, or actors’ silent performance, often reveal a lot more than lengthy tirades. It would be interesting to examine to what degree silent art and silent movies use the expressive properties of silence in their artistic effects. While I have devoted this work to the semiotic functions of silence, I have stressed its function as a means of information and expression. I do not wish to overlook the fact that refraining from speaking is often an expression of a refusal to transmit information and an attempt to limit all, and not only verbal, expression; that it is an instrument of disinformation, a way to keep a secret and keeping to oneself. The silence of persecuted people, the silence of people in underground organizations, the silence of the initiated, the silence of focusing and contemplation, are all signitive phenomena, signs, and sometimes also symbols of human destiny and human presence in the world.

Cf. Quintilianus, Institutiones oratoriae IX, 2, 54. E.g. M. Dessoir in his Rede als Kunst (Dessoir 1948). Kainz mentions this work in (Kainz 1954, p. 525). 20 21

Izydora Dąmbska 27. ON THE NOTION OF UNDERSTANDING O pojęciu rozumienia (Dąmbska 1998) The problem of understanding is interesting for many reasons of both a theoretical and a practical nature. In the theoretical aspect, this is because the notion of understanding is used in semiotics, theory of science, and in psychology, just to mention the problem of understanding signs and words central to semiotics, the attempt to apply the notion of understanding when formulating the criteria of the humanities, in the description of cognitive methods used in the respective sciences in the theory of science or finally, Dilthey and Spranger’s attempt to confront understanding as a specifically psychological method with explanation as the method of natural sciences. In practice, the problem of understanding is imposed on translators and exegetes who attempt to discover the original idea of a translated or explained text, on researchers of humanist reality when they interpret historical source material, works of art, etc., to teachers and propagators of science who would like to be understood or finally, to anyone who consciously associates with other people and wants to understand them and anyone who would like to lead a constructive debate on controversial or complicated topics. The often repeated ad nauseam expressions like “Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner,» “Wer den Dichter will verstehen muss in Dichters Lande gehen,” “intelligenti pauca,” etc., also often indicate the colloquial nature of the notion and problems of understanding. Yet, probably this very colloquial nature and this frequency and importance of the issue cause the term “understanding” to be laden with malicious ambiguity which makes it difficult to resolve very many problems which arise in science in connection to this notion. In the present essay, I wish to formulate a few of the most common meanings of the term “understanding,” to examine whether the designata In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 331–342. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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corresponding to these meanings have the sort of common features which may be included in one natural class, and perhaps to examine more closely the form of understanding which is considered in understanding words. Finally, moving “ab essentia ad esse,” I would like to discuss the question of whether we truly understand, that is, if cognitive value resulting from the notion is indeed inherent to understanding. Before we proceed to the first task, that is, determining some meanings of the words “to understand” and “understanding,” I shall note that I will omit the cases in which the word “to understand” may be used interchangeably with the word “to know” in its very general meaning, for instance, when we say, “I understand he sent you here,” or with the word “to agree,” for instance, when we respond with “I understand” to someone’s request “Do not tell anyone”; or when we say, “I understand how it happened.” On the other hand, I shall discuss some ways to use the word “to understand” in which it seems to have a more specific meaning. Two syntactically different language formations of the words “to understand” and “understanding” immediately come to mind. I mean the difference between expressions in which “understand” is a sentence-creating element from the propositional variable and those in which it is a sentence-creating element of a name variable. The first one includes such functions as “I understand why p” and “I understand that p,” whereas the second includes the function “I understand X.” In the case when the word “understand” is part of the propositional function “I understand why p” or “I understand that p,” “to understand” often means as much as to describe the relationship of logical or causative conditioning. This is evident in expression “I understand why p,” but in this case these sentences often mean more than “I know why p,” and implicitly indicate certain approval for what p states or the acknowledgement of its obviousness. For instance, when we see a broken iron which someone had plugged into an electrical socket with inappropriate intensity, we may say, “I understand it had to blow a fuse,” which means as much as “It is clear that in the existing conditions (different intensity) the wiring had to get damaged.” When we learn that Peter was prompted to make a speech which was inconsistent with his views and that he declined to make it, and when we state “I understand that Peter did not want to speak,” we state in this sentence that we are aware of and approve of the motives of Peter’s behavior. A language formation of the type “I understand that p” often occurs in verbal contexts which express juxtaposition, objection or disapproval in the second part. “I understand this is smoking but why is the glass broken in the lamp” means the same as “I know why this wick is smoking but this reason should not have caused the glass to break.” “I understand that he felt hurt but why does he have to make a scene,” etc. I shall not deal with understanding in the interpretation

On the Notion of Understanding


present in contexts like “I understand why p” and “I understand that p” and I shall confine my analysis to the syntactic formation: “I understand X” or “I do not understand X,” where X is a name variable whose values are names of different kinds of objects. Depending on what type of objects the names which can be substituted for X in the function “I understand X” represent, various kinds of understanding emerge, and perhaps even different meanings of the term “understanding.” Let us first compile several examples for better insight into the types of these objects. Group I of examples: “John understands the word epoch.” “John does not understand the expression Kyrie eleison.” Group II of examples: “I understand your smile.” “I understand the epitaph which Plato wrote after Dion’s death.” Group III of examples: “I understand what Słowacki felt when he presented Mickiewicz with a commemorative cup.”1 “I understand the lighthouse keeper’s longing.” Group IV of examples: “I understand this line of inference.” “I understand the structure of this micrograph.” Group V of examples: “I understand the electromagnetic theory of light.” “I do not understand Dirac’s matrix calculus.” Group VI of examples: “I do not understand this painting by Picasso.” “I understand Beethoven’s Third Symphony.” In the examples in group I, the expression “I understand X” means “I know what the word (sentence, phrase) X means.” Therefore, the values of the variable X are names of words of speech, and their designata, that is, expressions, are what is to be understood. I know what the word X means Both Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki were great poets of the Polish romanticism and they competed for the victor’s palm in poetic improvisation [AB&JJ]. 1


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when I am able to translate it into another language or replace it with a synonym in the same language. To understand the word epoch means to know that it means as much as “suspending judgment” in English. Not to understand what the expression “Kyrie eleison” means in English is not to know that it can be replaced with the expression “lord have mercy on us” in English language. To understand expressions of speech is to know what they mean. However, to know what a given expression means is not only to be able to replace it with another verbal equivalent. Sometimes even a parrot can do that, or a dull student who is taught that “Charis” is “Grace” but he does not know what either of these means. The ability to replace expression E with a synonymous expression E' does not mean one understands the meaning of E. The meaning of the word “Charis” is clear to a person who at least knows that it is “a Greek goddess full of charm” and knows what these words mean, and someone who compares Aniela instead of Diwa from Beniowski to Charis.2 To understand word X is not only to know its definition which determines one of its meanings but rather to use this word correctly, to include it or exclude it in the appropriate verbal or situational contexts. It is to know the rule of this word’s application and to be able to use it. Moreover, it is to know not only what the word means in situational contexts but also what it expresses. However, this is another sense of understanding, which is described with examples from group II, where “to understand X” means to know what X expresses. To understand in this second meaning is to express through the expression (as a manifestation or as a mark) of what this expression reveals, and to move from an external sign to the internal content which is expressed in it. I understand someone’s smile if I know that it expresses, e.g. irony or kindness; I understand Plato’s couplets written after Dion’s death when I know that it expresses a compelling feeling of love and admiration. This is where we encounter the notion of understanding used by psychologists, especially psychologists from Dilthey’s or Spranger’s school of thought. According to them, to learn about someone’s mental life is most of all to understand those states. According to Dilthey, this understanding consists in empathizing with these states and experiencing them similarly, whereas according to Spranger (at least in one of the meanings in which he speaks of understanding), it consists in grasping these states as elements of reasonable, valuable wholes. The ambiguity of this notion is dealt with by Dina Sztejnbarg in the dissertation „Rozumienie i wyjaśnianie

Miss Aniela and Mrs Diwa, her carer, were characters of Juliusz Słowacki’s discursive poem Beniowski [AB&JJ]. 2

On the Notion of Understanding


w doktrynach Diltheya i Sprangera” [„Understanding and Explaining in Dilthey’s and Spranger’s doctrines”].3 This sense of understanding is also visible in the third group of examples where understanding someone else’s psychical states is presented. To understand Apollo’s anger or Dido’s despair means to realize the type of their experience and motivational ties of this state with other states as well as to realize its function within a certain spiritual whole or structure. Sometimes understanding other people’s psychical states is identified with their explanation, that is, being aware of their causes. Still, perhaps we should distinguish these two issues in terms of terminology for methodological reasons, retaining the term “explaining” for causative cognition and the term “understanding” for typological cognition. Understanding as realizing the function of a given spiritual state as an element of the whole and as a concretization of a certain kind leads us to the next and fourth group of examples, where we spoke of understanding in the course of reasoning or understanding of the construction of a micrograph. To understand the course of reasoning is to realize what logical relationships occur in it, what is right in it, what the consequence is and whether the conclusion results from the premises. When we do not grasp these relationships, the reasoning is incomprehensible. Analogously, perhaps we understand the construction of some apparatus when we know what type it belongs to and what the function of specific elements within the whole is. In the group V of examples, which concerns understanding scientific theories or laws, if the issue is not about understanding the meaning of words which is necessary for grasping the meaning of the whole system of them, then at least it is about realizing the logical structure of this system. Let me proceed to the last and sixth group of examples. Is the reason why we do not understand a certain musical piece or a painting that we are unable to realize its structure and the relationships which connect individual elements of these works of art, that we cannot grasp the creative concept which a musical piece is an expression of or perhaps, regardless of the individual creative concept, seeing the beauty of the human spirit in them, we would like to know what kind of form of beauty is realized in them? Whether the issue is any of the above is disputable, which is connected to the fundamental problem of the notion of a work of art and various ways in which it means something or expresses something. However, at this point I wish to respond to the second question formulated in the introduction: is there something characteristic in all of these cursorily discussed cases of understanding, something which repeats and


Cf. (Kotarbińska 1935).


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which will allow us to discover a general notion of understanding and its special cases in the form of the aforementioned examples, with the old Socratic method? Or perhaps, the common type will be so general that its definition will not encompass the characteristic features of the specific cases of understanding and will remain unhelpful in their cognition. It seems to me that what we call understanding fulfills the following three conditions in all the discussed cases: (1)

(2) (3)

Firstly, it concerns objects connected to the spiritual life of man or other entities; these objects are either integral components of spiritual life or its products, or finally, ideal objects abstracted from them. Secondly, this process of cognition, called understanding, consists in becoming aware of the relationship, or relationships, which determine the sense of what is understood. Thirdly, being aware is a state characterized with the ability to recreate or apply the described object in other conditions. Yet, is this true for all the objects discussed in the examples?

In the case of understanding words, which seem to be the most unobjectionable example of this sort of cognition, then indeed, the signs of speech and their specific meanings belong to the creations of human spirit, and their logical meaning belongs to ideal entities. Moreover, to understand the meaning of words we need to know that a given complex of sounds or graphic signs is a certain conventional symbol connected with a specific relationship of denoting with the objective sphere and that this relationship designates the meaning of these words. If someone does not know that the word “La Tour” is the surname of a famous painter from the 18 th century, then it might be the case, as it indeed happened in a translation of a French novel, that some X will admire a tower in Y’s living room. The translator knew the common name “tour,” but did not pay attention to the connection of the meaning with the context. After all, the sense of a word is not only determined by its relationship to the objective sphere, when the word is analyzed in isolation, but also its various textual and situational connections. Here we proceed to the third condition, which also seems to be fulfilled within the scope of understanding words. This realization of relationships which give meaning to words is a state characterized by the possibility to correctly use a given word in other contexts and to correctly use it in various situations. We truly understand a word when we are able to use it correctly. In the second group of examples which deals with understanding expressions (manifestations, symptoms) describing other people’s psychical experience, states or dispositions, the three conditions formulated above

On the Notion of Understanding


also seem to be met. Someone’s facial expressions, behavior, or statements, etc. (creating what we call the expression of someone else’s psychical life), are certainly objects connected with man’s spiritual life; secondly, we understand them when we grasp the relationships between them and what they express and what gives meaning to them, that is, we discover in someone’s behavior an inner state which is expressed in it (therefore, for instance, we will not assume a kind smile to be an expression of irony), and when we are able to recognize, discover or recreate analogous words in other situations. In the third group of examples, where understanding concerns the states or spiritual dispositions themselves, rather than their external expressions, the first condition is fulfilled, as the issue is to know the integral components of spiritual life. We understand those states when we grasp them as a special case of a general typological form, or platonically speaking, an idea these states are an individual concretization of, and moreover, when we are able to recreate or relive this state in our imagination, as it is required by the condition 3. In order to understand what Słowacki felt when he handed the cup to Mickiewicz, we must know what it is to strive for the feeling of power, and what admiration is, and what jealously is, and how they are all represented in the present state of mind of the poet, and we must be able to find in our own experience analogous concretizations of those typological forms in our stored memories or work them out in our imagination. It seems that Spranger had the first meaning in mind and Dilthey meant the second one when they spoke of understanding as the basic method of cognition in psychology. Naturally, in this group of examples a case in which understanding concerns states of fictional characters is a combination of understanding in the discussed meaning and of the understanding of a literary work of art through which we reach those fictional characters. In group IV, the objects of cognition are either logical or psycho-physical products of the human spirit in which we grasp, through their specific components, some sort of an ideal model of a set of logical relationships or a physical construction in relation to which inference or the apparatus are only a sort of a concretization. This is where condition 3 of understanding comes into play: the ability to recreate or apply the cognized structure (being able to apply the scheme of reasoning, to turn on the apparatus, etc.). In group V of examples: theories, laws, etc., are also logical constructs of the human mind, and to understand them is to grasp the logical relationships which occur between them as well as those which connect them with their empirical basis. Here, grasping a law allows us to apply or verify etc. the theory or law.


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In the last (VI) group of examples, where we were dealing with understanding works of art, any of its probable conceptions falls within one of the kinds of understanding described above. However, two doubts arise at this point: (1)


Whether condition 2 is unambiguous in all of the discussed groups of cases, that is, whether the phrase “cognizing the relationship or relationships which determine the sense of what we understand” always concerns generically identical cases. After all, the discussed cases of understanding seem to fall into two very different categories. The first one is represented by examples in groups 1–2, and the second, in groups 3–5. Namely, in groups 1–2, what the object of understanding is and what determines its meaning are in the relationship of a representing factor towards what it indicates, and in the remaining cases, what the object of understanding is and what determines its sense remains in the relationship of individual concretization towards the ideal typological form. Therefore, is giving meaning not something so different in the two cases that it does not allow for speaking of only one condition of understanding? It seems to me that, despite the demonstrated difference in the relationship, the same general trait occurs in both such that some x becomes understandable as a component of the relationship x R y, where y is an object of another category, grasped intentionally by x. This is exactly what lets us consider this condition of understanding as generically homogenous. The second doubt concerns the first condition. Is it in fact necessary for understanding? After all, we may speak of, e.g., understanding an organism or understanding topography, and perhaps even of understanding the causes of a volcano’s eruption, etc.

It seems to me that in the cases of “non-humanist” understanding, the term “to understand” means either knowing the mutual structure of parts of object or knowing the causes of the phenomenon. These manners of cognition are very different from the ones discussed before. Perhaps it would be better not to use the word “understand” here to reduce its ambiguity. If this proves impossible, we should probably contrast this natural understanding with the “humanist understanding” characterized above, rather than artificially expanding the notion by removing the first condition, which seems significant for it. To conclude this discussion concerning the notion of understanding as a certain way to grasp humanist reality, I would like to inquire about the cognitive value of this manner of cognition. I am inclined to state that understanding is a fallible manner of cognition, which results from the very

On the Notion of Understanding


essence of cognition. Understanding a written or spoken text is always its subjective interpretation, which on the one hand is determined by the whole ambiguity and lack of clarity of human speech, and on the other hand, by individual properties of a given text and the subjective style of thinking of the person who understands. Every translator is aware of the fact that a text may be understood in various ways even with great effort to penetrate the text. It is sufficient to give, on a trial basis, the same fragment of a text to several people who know the language of the original well enough and ask them to translate it, or to translate the same passage several times oneself. The translations will certainly differ from each other to a greater or lesser degree and there will always remain some sediment of untranslatability. Traduttore – traditore, however faithful one’s translation strives to be. The reasons for this are varied and broadly discussed. Apart from the fundamental untranslatability of languages, at issue is also the individual style of thinking of every person, which makes everyone understand a text on the basis of more or less conscious assumptions of a cognitive and emotional nature. Specific properties of the translated text come into play; understanding them requires detailed knowledge of the time and the environment in which the translated text emerged. Other factors are elusive extra-intellectual, connected with the emotional tone of the work of art, which is often different for the artist and for the translator. Similar difficulties are connected with understanding the expressions of someone else’s spiritual states or dispositions. The ambiguity of these expressions, the distinctness of psychical structures and conscious or subconscious simulations complicate our attempts to understand the others’ souls. If understanding is interpreted, following Dilthey, as an imitative experience of someone else’s states, that is, vivid imagining them and being concerned about them (just as in actors’ performance on the stage), then it must be noted that doubts as to someone’s ability to understand another person’s psychical life are justified. How do you experience imitatively something which someone else experienced first hand? What entitles us to assume that the states which occur in us as a result of imitation are similar to the states of another person? If the basis for this imitation of emotions is the emotional state of entering into the mentality of another person, then what kind of spiritual closeness is necessary to really understand someone? Manifold misunderstandings when dealing with other people prove that this method of cognition is unreliable. I shall not deal with demonstrating in detail the dubious character of the cognitive results of understanding; I shall only demonstrate its common background. In all its aspects, understanding is a certain interpretive grasping of relationships between what we are supposed to understand and


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what gives it meaning. Any kind of interpretation assumes moments of intersubjective evaluation, which immediately makes those results unreliable. Historians know this only too well, as their work is predominantly dependent on understanding source material and understanding the human mind. They know how the “understanding” of epochs and events depends on evaluations and assumptions of a cognitive nature of those who recreate the future, or rather, construct it anew. Historical understanding, which is in itself the subject of important epistemological problems, clearly illustrates the fallibility and the questionable nature of this method of cognition. Since cognition is unreliable, and, if one may say so pointedly, we do not in fact understand when understanding something, should we resign from using this method? I do not believe so. After all, this method does not seem any more fallible than other a posteriori methods or cognitive methods applied in everyday life. When we infer something about the course of natural phenomena based on the data from sensory experience, there also occurs an analogous indirectness of cognition, which makes it unreliable. The methodological conclusion of these skeptical remarks is that we should be aware of the fundamental unreliability of the results of cognition and should be prepared to revise and verify them, as well as to be aware of their hypothetical and rough character. As skeptics used to say, to act, it is enough to consider what we believe to be true, even though we cannot be certain whether what we think is true is in fact so, and although things are probably often not what they seem to be to us.


Izydora Dąmbska 28. WHEN I THINK OF THE WORD “FREEDOM” Gdy myślę o słowie “wolność” (Dąmbska 1981c) The word “freedom,” just as with its equivalents in other languages, is one of these key words, words-cries or headwords which have gained new semantic references throughout the ages and in various environments, often denoting very different semantic content. However, when it comes to freedom in reference to people and their affairs, this includes obvious axiological elements besides the neutral indication of a certain ontic category. “O nomen dulce libertatis,” says Cicero.1 He is also the one who calls freedom a holy thing in the same text (sacra libertas),2 and the sweetest thing (dulcissima) in another.3 In his comprehensive treatise, where he develops the stoic theory of freedom, quoting Euripides’ poem The Name of Freedom is Worth All (Ελευθερια γαρ ονομα παντος αξιον), Philo of Alexandria adds that the poet did not only celebrate freedom but also elevated its very name.4 “Liberté, liberté chérie,” sings The Marseillaise. “Freedom” is proclaimed in the French Revolution alongside “equality and brotherhood.” “The dawn of freedom shines, the bell of freedom rings” is found in Romantic poetry. 5 The Polish soldier fought “for our and your freedom,” and in “Warszawianka” [“Warsaw song”] there is a verse “who lives shall be free and who dies is now free.” Stoics perceived inner freedom from fear and falsity as a condition of happiness and claimed that “only a wise man is

Cf. Cicero, “Oratio I in Verrem” I, 5,163. Cf. Cicero, “In Verrem” 3, 6. 3 Cf. Cicero, “Oratio IV in Catilinam,” 16. 4 Cf. Philo, Περι του παντα σπουδαίον ελευθερον ειναι, § 141. 5 Cf. Słowacki, “Hymn” [“Anthem”]. 1 2

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 343–350. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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truly free.”6 In Discourses, Epictetus calls freedom beautiful and valuable (“Ουκ οιδας δτι καλον τι η ελευθερια εστι και αξιολογον”).7 If sometimes there is a hint of negativity in texts concerning freedom, it is usually the case when situations are discussed in which pretences of freedom are taken for freedom itself (“the golden freedom of gentry,” “liberté des moeurs,” etc.). True freedom without modifying determiners is perceived as a positive value within the scope mentioned above, unless someone, such as Heidegger or Sartre, finds in it a tragic theme of human existence being formed within its acts of choosing, with the awareness that this coming-to-being is being-towards-death. Besides, we should not forget about various ways the term “freedom” and the predicate “free” are used where the mentioned axiological moment does not occur. If a taxi driver puts out a “free” notice, or when a notice states “free rooms,” or when a marching platoon receives the order “right side free,” or when we speak of “the free falling of a body” in physics, the predicate “free” does not contain axiological elements within it.8 Admittedly, we are not prone to speaking of the “freedom” (“of the right side of the road ,” “of an apartment,” or “of a taxi” etc.), but rather of specific “free” objects. Yet, it is worth noting that when an ecologist observes a species of animals “living free in the wild,” he does not give the word an evaluating meaning, but rather purely descriptive. Similarly, when it comes to the everlasting disputes of indeterminists and determinists on the “freedom” of human will, the term is not always tied to an axiological meaning. To abstract from this evaluating aspect of the term “freedom” for now, let us first and foremost discuss, according to the old, oft quoted principle stating that “initium doctrinae est consideratio nominis,”9 the various meanings assumed by the word “freedom” in different contexts and ask what connects or links these meanings and creates a semantic family, to use Wittgenstein’s term.

Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Βιοι και γνωμαι των εν φιλοσοφια ευδοκιμησαντων VII, 121. Cf. Epictetus, Διατριβαι I, 12, 12. 8 It is perhaps worth noting that in those cases the issue is not usually a person’s freedom. Whenever it is meant in certain impersonal phrases, for instance in “a day free from work” (after all, people are entitled to freedom from work in certain periods), this evaluating tone of the meaning often occurs. 9 Epictetus mentions this in a beautiful fragment of his Discourses about the benefits of logic: και τις εστιν ο γεγραφως οτι αρχη παιδευσεως η των ονοματων επισκεψις; Σωκρατης δ’ ου λεγει; και περι τινος γραφει Ξενοφων, οτι ηρχετο απο της των ονοματων επισκεψεως, τι σημαινει εκαστον (Διατριβαι I. 17, 12). 6 7

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It seems that regardless of whether we speak of freedom as the opposite of slavery (which was the initial meaning of the word “freedom,” as some claim) or freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, inner freedom, physical and political freedom, we always deal with a rational term, that is, one whose meaning should refer its designatum to another object, or other objects.10 Just as love is always love for something or someone (God, wisdom, homeland, a woman, etc.) and distance is a distance from something (from a city, a peak, a triangulation sign, etc.), freedom is always freedom from something: bonds, violence, constraint, oppression, perversion, fear, causative determination, limitations, etc. Freedom from something is sometimes contrasted with freedom for something or freedom towards something.11 Still, it seems that “freedom from” is correlative to “freedom to” or “freedom towards.” A nation which is free from an enemy’s occupation or tyrannical government is free to realize its state sovereignty and to proclaim laws. Science’s freedom from ideological and administrative pressure is freedom towards its inherent function of searching for and delivering truth; freedom of speech is at the same time freedom to publicly proclaim one’s views and convictions; freedom from constraint is simultaneously freedom to move unhindered, free of charge means the freedom to make use of a free service, etc. The word “freedom” is a relational term but also one which is closely connected in its semantic functions with the modal category of possibility. After all, freedom is a necessary condition for the possibility of certain acts, ways of being, and patterns of behavior. A person who makes use of freedom of speech may publish his opinions as long as other conditions are fulfilled (e.g. the necessary skill), a person free from racial prejudice may, if necessary, defend another person who is abused by racist behavior, as long as other conditions, like the person’s courage, do not fail him. An apartment free from tenants can be rented out when the bureaucratic regulations permit. Some theoreticians simply identify freedom with the possibility to act, which seems inaccurate in closer analysis. It turns out, even on the basis of the examples presented above, that in order to have freedom to act it is not enough to be free from certain restrictions. Freedom

10 This relational character of the word “freedom” is probably meant by Kazimierz Twardowski in his lecture Etyka i prawo karne wobec zagadnienia wolności woli [Ethics and criminal law in consideration of free will] (this lecture from 1904/1905 is soon to be published), when he states: ”The word “free” is a relative word in the logical sense,” which he explained further stating that “words and notions are relative when they can only be defined in connection with another notions” (Twardowski 1904–1905, p. 131). 11 For instance, F. Nietzsche writes, “Frei nennst du dich? [...] Frei wovon? Was schiert das Zarathustra! Hell aber soll mir dein Auge künden: frei wozu” (Nietsche 1883, p. 77).


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is a necessary condition to act in a certain way, but this possibility is additionally conditioned by other factors. The word “freedom” may denote a full range of possibilities only if we assume an absolutist interpretation of the term. Such a borderline notion of absolute freedom as unrestricted, unlimited possibility is used in some theological concepts of freedom in reference to God as an absolutely free entity. On the other hand, freedom in colloquial or theoretical interpretation within the scope of human issues does not usually signify unlimited possibility, but rather, a necessary condition for possibility of certain behavior or actions. It is somewhat natural to reduce the concept of freedom to the modal category of possibility, but in some theories it does not preclude attempts to characterize freedom also with the use of the modal category of necessity. The issue is not merely the problem of reconciling the concept of freedom of will with the general principle of causality, so difficult for determinists, but most of all, the attempts to refer directly to the concept of necessity in order to determine the sense of the term “freedom.” Such attempts include the contemporary theory of freedom as the necessity to constantly choose forms of becoming and acting by the subject himself, developed by some existentialists, as well as the stoic, but later picked up by others (e.g. by Spinoza), theory of inner freedom within the metaphysical conception of the necessary laws of the world which the “free” human being is subject to by participating in rational nature, in the Logos of the Universe. Learning these laws, which allows us to distinguish the realms of reality which are independent from us from the areas which depends on us and which are created by our inner life, leads to understanding the essence of freedom, according to stoics. It consists in retaining, despite all factors of external pressure and events which fate bestows on us, the ability to lead a life only under the dictate of the mind, that is, life in truth and justice. Only such a wise man may be said to live free. Cicero characterizes such a person by saying, i.e.: Recte solus (dicitur) liber nec dominationi cuiusquam parens nec oboediens cupiditati, recte invictus, cuius etiamsi corpus constringatur, animo tamen vincula inici nulla possint.12

After all, the essence of freedom is wisdom. Seneca writes: “Sapientia quae sola libertas est.”13 It frees us from the stupidity stemming from passions. Freedom in the stoics’ interpretation is freedom from fear, especially fear of suffering and death, freedom from desire, freedom from falsity, and at the same time, freedom to control one’s own inner life, freedom to learn

12 13

Cf. Cicero, De finibus 75. Cf. Seneca, „Letter 37.”

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and proclaim truth. The act of judging is an act of freedom, an act of our acceptance of the state of affairs occurring in the featured representation. Here is a significant fragment of Discourses by Epictetus: You are naturally entitled to choose freely and without constraints. […] Can someone force you not to accept the truth? Can someone force you to accept falsity? Nobody can.14

An act of freedom is the moral behavior of a person, an especially important realm of our lives, according to stoics. In both cases, what we are free towards is truth, often identified by stoic philosophers with the highest moral value. It determines the fact that freedom, according to stoics, is the condition of possibility of reasonable actions within the necessity inherent to the nature of man and the whole reality, which he is a part of. The reason, which creates the essence of being, necessarily determines the state of our freedom. Both of these attempts of describing freedom with the category of necessity, existential and stoic, with such different axiological connotations, are connected with certain metaphysical standpoints, and thus they depart in many ways from the common understanding of the word “freedom,” usually defined only with the modal category of possibility. To refer back to the axiological nature of many meanings of the term “freedom,” mentioned at the beginning of this discussion, let us examine more closely when it occurs. First of all, it occurs when the subject of freedom is either a human person or a community of people (nation, state) and when freedom “from” is the condition of being able to implement certain values. It seems that two factors in particular, determine the axiological aspect of the meaning of the word “freedom” in this case, when it denotes the condition of the ability to implement it. Namely, it is moral responsibility, which everyone bears when they act as a free and conscious entity, as well as truth. The relationship of freedom and responsibility was and is the subject of exhaustive analyses by ethicists and philosophers of law. What is taken into consideration less often, it seems, is the relationship of the denotations of the word “freedom” and the denotations of the word “truth.” This relationship assumes various forms depending on: firstly, what the sense of the word “truth” is in context, and secondly, what the nature of these relationships is. We have already discussed one relationship, noted by stoics. According to this concept, the basic human freedom is the freedom from falsity in the meaning of error, and therefore, the ability to accurately recognize and accept truth in the meaning of a true judgment about things. In this interpretation, freedom is a condition of cognition. In turn,


Cf. Epictetus, Diatribai I, 17, 22.


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cognition, which reveals the actual state of affairs, that is truth in the ontological meaning, is the right of a rational being, and in consequence, freedom as its condition assumes an instrumental value as the means to achieve the chief value, which is truth. However, human freedom may also be jeopardized by falsity as a conscious violation of the value of truth, falsity in the sense of a lie imposed on a man by others, especially by an enemy, or by irresponsible authorities, or by political propaganda, etc. Freedom from falsity in this interpretation, and the simultaneous ability to reveal it and to proclaim the truth is the basis for social morality. There is no social morality without truth in the sense of the negation of lies, the purpose of which is to subjugate people by preventing them from issuing true judgments about the situation of their social existence. The hypocrisy of social life expressed, among other things, in using empty words or changing their meaning arbitrarily in order to mislead, and thus fool people, violates the fundamental freedom of man as a rational being. It is sometimes the case that lying undermines the very content of the word “freedom,” and in the interpretation of the phrase “to be free” which is consistent with reality. Czesław Miłosz sensed it when he wrote about enslavement: The crowd curses, and jesters sing to them That it had never been so free as now.15

In this context, truth understood as the negation of lies is a moral value, which in the context of social life protects people’s freedom to live in truth in the first understanding, that is, the ability to issue true judgments. The relationship of freedom and truth is revealed in yet another form, giving the term “freedom” an axiological sense. It is the use of the word “truth” to signify what is sometimes called the moral authenticity or reliability of a human being, the “concord of what is outside with what is inside,” as Plato states in Phaedrus, individual freedom, the ways of life deemed right. Truth in this interpretation assumes freedom from lying to oneself, from pretending in front of oneself or other people that one believes in something one in fact does not, it assumes freedom from opportunism and compromise which may result in the loss of personal dignity and integrity. What is the extent to which a person can be free? Is the name “freedom” not an empty name in some of its numerous meanings? Whatever the answer to this question is, on the part of theoreticians, both those who follow Kant in removing freedom from the world of phenomena and claim that it belongs to the world of things in themselves, and those who generally


Cf. Miłosz, „W praojcach swoich pogrzebani” [„Burried in their forefathers”].

When I Think of the Word “Freedom”


accept its limitations or non-being, it remains a fact that the freedom of a human person and the freedom of a societies has long been perceived as an indispensable condition of personal dignity; after all, people generally do not want to live without it, or at least without striving for it, and many are prepared to give their lives for it. Similarly, people do not usually want to live a lie, and many are ready to die for truth, even if they are aware they may never fully attain it. Perhaps these are the same people who would confirm the claim about a close relationship between some meanings of the word “freedom” and some meanings of the word “truth.”


The title of this “Afterword” refers to the title of the beautiful and wise paper of Jerzy Perzanowski, presented at the symposium Non est necesse vivere, necesse est philosophari, which took place in Cracow, on the 18–19 th of December, 1998, on the 15th anniversary of Izydora Dąmbska’s death and the 35th anniversary of her removal from Jagiellonian University. 1 It is a commonly known fact that the Polish aristocracy – coming from the highest levels of the Mediaeval chivalrous state – delivered many great hetmans, senators, governors and bishops. The less well known fact is that among them there were many great creators – especially writers. It is a hardly known fact that many representatives of the Polish aristocracy were philosophers of renowned quality. Some representative examples are: Grzegorz of Sanok (1407–1477), an archbishop of Lvov – was a precursor of Renaissance humanism in Poland. Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (1596–1640), a brother of the Mazovian governor and the speaker of the Sejm (scil. Polish Parliament), was a poet, epistemologist and aesthetician. Andrzej Maksymilian Fredro (1620–1679), a governor of Podole, a senator and the speaker of Sejm, as well as Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski (1642–1702), the Great Marshal of the Polish Kingdom and a candidate for the Hungarian throne – were both philosophers of politics and subtle moralists. Stanisław Leszczyński (1677–1766), a king of Poland, and after dethronement, a prince of Lorraine and Bar, was known among his French subjects by the significant pseudonym “Philosophe bienfaisant.” Hieronim Stroynowski (1752–1815), a bishop of Vilna, was a propagator of physiocracy in Poland. Michał Wiszniewski (1794–1865), a prince, was a famous methodologist and epistemologist. August Cieszkowski (1814–1894), a


See (Perzanowski 2001).

In: Izydora Dąmbska, Knowledge, Language and Silence (Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, vol. 105), pp. 351–372. Leiden: Brill|Rodopi, 2016.


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count and a philosopher-mathematician, was a coryphée of Polish messianism. Wojciech Dzieduszycki (1848–1909), a count and a minister in the Austrian Government, was an epistemologist and aesthetician. Józefa de domo Krzyżanowska Kodisowa (1865–1940), originating from a manor-clerk’s family, was one of the first professional women-philosophers in Europe. Adam Żółtowski (1881–1958), a landowner, was a distinguished historian of philosophy. Józef Maria Bocheński (1902–1995), also coming from a manor family, was a famous logician and a historian of philosophy. Stefan Swieżawski (1907–2004), a wealthy landowner – was an ontologist, a philosopher of history and a historian of philosophy. In recent times – Elżbieta Petruska-Madey (1938–2001), related to the first families of the Polish Commonwealth – the Badenis, Dzieduszyckis, the Jabłonowskis and the Dunin-Borkowskis – was a philosopher of science who passed prematurely. Dąmbska was also a descendant of an old senatorial family. Perhaps this was the reason for that her attitude was dominated by dignity and seriousness. A. Life She was born on the 3 rd of January, 1904, in Lvov – and died on the 18 th of June, 1983, in Cracow (she was buried in the cementery in Rudna Wielka nearby Rzeszów, where her family moved from Cuiavia at the turn of the 19 th century). Between 1922 and 1927 she studied philosophy at Lvov University under Kazimierz Twardowski’s guidance; from 1926 to 1930 she was his assistant. Under Twardowski’s supervision she prepared the dissertation La théorie du jugement de M. Edmond Goblot, on the basis of which she received a PhD in 1927. From 1930–1931 she continued her studies in Austria (under Moritz Schlick), in Germany (under Hans Reichenbach) and in France (i.a. under Edouard le Roy). Later, she worked on Lvovian gymanisa, at the Psychotechnical Institute (1937–1940) and the Ossolińskis Library (1941–1944). Under the German and later Russian occupation of the city, she was a lecturer of the secret John Casimir University. After the separation of Lvov from Poland, in danger of being arrested by the soviet NKVD, Dąmbska moved to Gdańsk, where she was a curator of the city library. She habilitated in 1946 at the University of Warsaw on the basis of the dissertation Irracjonalizm a poznanie naukowe [Irrationalism and the Scientific Cognition], which had already been published before the 2 nd World War. From 1946 to 1949, she lectured at the University of Warsaw, and in the academic year 1949/1950 – at Poznań University. From 1950 to 1956, she was pulled from didactic work by the communist regime.

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From 1956 to 1964, she lectured at Jagiellonian University. In this period, she also spent a few months at the Sorbonne and the Centre International de Synthèse in Paris. Subsequently, due to political reasons, she was once again removed from the university and worked only at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Science (1964–1974), but she continuously led her own privatissimum in Cracow. She made friends with outstanding representatives of the Lvov-Warsaw School (first of all with Władysław Witwicki and Tadeusz Czeżowski) but also with distinguished philosophers from outside of the School: Henryk Elzenberg and Roman Ingarden – as well as with a great Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert. B. Work Dąmbska’s rich output consists in almost 300 original publications (11 books included) as well as 11 translations (from classical languages, from French and into French) and – what is considerable for Polish philosophy – ca. five thousand bibliographical notes on Polish publications in the Bibliographie de la Philosophie. She was a comprehensive philosopher. The main domains of her research were logical semiotics, epistemology and methodology as it is broadly understood – but she was also concerned with axiology and the history of philosophy. Her works were – as we would say today – interdisciplinary. For instance, in her semiotic research, she made use of her wide knowledge of psychology, linguistics and formal logic. In every domain, she could find and emphasize an axiological dimension. Dąmbska’s approach to philosophical problems reflected tendencies that were characteristic for the whole Lvov-Warsaw School. On the one hand, she never limited the domain of analysed problems in advance. On the other hand, she was very careful in expressing her opinions and very critical, especially with respect to her own writings. As with all representatives of the Lvov-Warsaw School, she accepted the old rule Initium doctrinae est consideration nominis. She declared it – and masterfully applied it in practice.


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

1. Metaphilosophy 1.1. Analytic Method One has to distinguish methods which are de facto applied by a given philosopher from what this philosopher says explicitly about the methods of philosophy. Dąmbska’s works are a model of philosophical analysis in the spirit of the Polish analytical tradition, which has its source in Twardowski’s school. It is suitable to call her research “semiotic-logical analyses.” The core of this method is a detailed analysis of concepts and theses, trailing all ambiguities, lack of clarity, subtle conceptual distinctions, and examining relations between elements of the given theory. Dąmbska also explicitly analyzed metaphilosophical problems. She resumed her own reconstruction of the metaphilosophical views of Twardowski and his students as follows (1989b): Despite the fact that representatives of the Lvov-Warsaw School understood the scope of philosophy differently, they however agreed to postulate that research should fulfil some definite conditions characteristic for scientific cognition. The most important postulate, consequently realized by members of the School in their works, ordered the application in philosophical research of the method of semantic analysis and logical discourse by appreciating the role of broadly understood intuition in the process of discovering statements; the postulate of clarity, precision and logical correctness in formulating issues, theses and arguments and in defining concepts; finely – the postulate of criticism and antidogmatism in estimation of theoretical assumptions.

1.2. Neopositivism Dąmbska was also concerned with other currents of analytic philosophy. One of them was neopositivism whose representatives Dąmbska met personally in Vienna. Dąmbska (1932) critically referred to the Carnapian conception according to which a system of knowledge is, in the end, reducible to “what is empirically given”; however, she approved of Schlick’s idea that one may cognize what may be expressed, i.e. structures, relations but not sensual contents. Despite the fact that Dąmbska admired some views of the Vienna Circle and sympathized with Wittgenstein’s conception of language as a game, she was never willing to exaggerate the criticism of philosophical problems and never applied any criterion of demarcation to them – which was so typical for other types of analytic movements.1.3. Linguistic philosophy Dąmbska also paid a lot of attention to the later Wittgenstein’ s conception of a linguistic philosophy which may be characterized by an assumption

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that the only possible philosophical research consists in a linguistic analysis of problems which will lead in the end to recognizing the main problems of philosophy as pseudoproblems, resulting from an incorrect use of language. Her attitude towards the program of linguistic philosophy was ambivalent. On the one hand, she shared the linguistic philosophers’ view that the basic or even peculiar method of philosophical research – especially in the domain of anthropology and the philosophy of culture – is semiotic analysis. On the other hand, she was convinced that it is not the only method of scientific philosophy. 2. Semiotics In the domain of logical semiotics, Dąmbska analysed both general problems, such as the analysis of the most important concepts of semiotics (i.a., concepts of sign, truth, understanding) and some particular issues, both semantic and pragmatic. 2.1. Symbols Dąmbska’s (1938) definition of sign sensu largo may be reconstructed as follows: An object X is a sign iff: there is an object Y such that Y is different from X and X designates (scil. indicates) or denotes (scil. signifies) Y – and there is a person A such that A notices X at the time T and X is able to realize Y to A at T. The greatest attention was paid by Dąmbska to symbols (but not in the sense of e.g. mathematical symbols but in such a sense in which e.g. a female dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. She defined it as follows: Signs may have simple or composed denotation. Let us consider a situation in which X directly indicates object Y and Y directly indicates object Z, where Y may be an asemantic object outside this situation. According to Dąmbska, X, indicating Y directly, has a simple denotation, but indicating Z indirectly has a composed denotation. A symbol – is an object which may be Y in such a structure. 2.2. Logical and Grammatical Categories Dąmbska (1964c) proposed a logical analysis of the traditional classification of the parts of speech.


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

According to her, a division of expressions into parts of speech in traditional grammar is not in fact a classification (in the logical sense). It may be certified by i.a. the fact that: An interjection is not “a part of speech” if we understand a part of speech to be a kind of language expression, as it is not a language sign, but rather an expressive sign, an index used to express and communicate experiences and not to indicate intentional objects of thoughts.

On the other hand, the class of thus named dependent expressions is not homogeneous, since these expressions fulfil different semantic functions: prepositions (within propositional expressions) are used to designate (i.a. objects being in certain relations to one another), connectives are name-creating or sentence-creating functors and do not belong to metalanguage (as traditional grammar claims). 2.3. Names 2.3.1. The Thus Named Empty Names Usually, one distinguishes two functions of names: designating (signifying, having an extension) and connoting (co-signifying, having an intension). A lot of common names, such as “philosopher,” fulfil both of these functions, for instance, the name “philosopher” performs both of these functions: it designates particular philosophers (for instance Dąmbska) and connotes a property of being-a-philosopher. According to some widespread approaches in the theory of names, not all names perform both of these functions. It is claimed, for instance, that empty names – such as “a parka” – do not designate anything, and proper names, such as “Casimir,” do not connote anything. Is this really a fact? Dąmbska (1948f) notices that some sentences which contain empty names are true. This fact seems to certify that empty names refer to something. In the spirit of Twardowski and Meinong – Dąmbska assumes that all empty names signify possible objects of thought; the set of possible objects is a an overset of all existing objects. A division into individual, general and empty names, often accepted in the 20th century, is in fact an intersection of two divisions: into individual and general names and into concrete and fictional names. 2.3.2. Proper Names Dąmbska’s approach to proper names was also original (1949d). She notes that personal proper names are used either in appropriate (as in the

Editorial Afterword


sentence “George met a hedgehog”) or in inappropriate functions (as in the sentence “Every George has his name-day on the 23 rd of April”). Dąmbska distinguishes names taken contextually from names taken acontextually. Proper names taken contextually have a full meaning which is established with the help of description of the named individual; proper names used acontextually, just like variables, are not definite with respect to meaning. This indefiniteness of proper names taken acontextually causes them not to have any cognitive value. Among the functions of proper names with respect to their objects, Dąmbska distinguished: (a) highlighting their individual structure, (b) replacing and representing them universaliter; (c) symbolizing their unity (scil. historical continuity), personality or quasi-personality. 2.4. Adjectives Dąmbska (1991) opted for the view that adjectives have dependent meanings. Their meanings depend namely on what the context is in which this meaning is supplemented. Dąmbska distinguishes two such contexts: attributive and predicative. An attributive context of the type “P-like X” implicitly expresses: (a) a presentation of P-likeness and (b) the supposition that X has a property of P-likeness. The sole adjective “P-like” in such a context implicitly expresses: (a) a presentation of P-likeness and (b) the incomplete supposition that a certain object has a property of P-likeness. The predicative context of the type “X is P-like” has two meanings. In the first meaning, the paraphrase of such contexts is the formula “X has P-likeness”; in such a context the adjective “P-like” is replaced with the noun “P-likeness.” In the second meaning, these contexts are reducible to attributive contexts, because they may be paraphrased with the formula “X is a P-like object,” in which the adjective “P-like is an attribute. 2.5. Sentences Traditionally, sentences are divided into the indicative, the interrogative and the imperative. Indicative sentences are identified by Dąmbska (1933b, 1938c) with sentences in the logical sense; i.e. sentences which are true or false are called “propositions” (Polish: “powiedzenia”) by her. Norms, that is, general sentences which state that one should behave in a certain way are also included into propositions. The set of questions may be divided into resolving and completing ones. Questions of the first kind possess only two possible answers. Questions of the second kind assume implicitly a definite answer to a certain resolving


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

question. In this case, answers are substitutions of a certain propositional function. In the case of a conditional question, the scope of variables is limited. Imperative sentences, just like questions, do not have logical value: they are not propositions. The only exception is instructions, namely imperative conditional sentences of the type: “If you want to achieve the goal X, then perform the act Y.” These sentences are equivalent to the proposition: “A mean to realize goal X is the act Y. 2.5.1. Conditional Propositions Dąmbska’s research in the domain of the semantics of conditional sentences (1938c) is of a precursory character, at least in light of other work being done in Poland. Among conditional sentences, Dąmbska distinguishes conditional propositions (sentences in the logical sense) and conditional questions, orders, wishes and requests. Conditional propositions are compound propositions: they consist in two sentence arguments (antecedent and consequent) and a sentence-creating functor between them. Sometimes one of the arguments of conditional sentences is a question or an order: they perform the function of propositions in these cases. Conditional propositions of natural language are often elliptical. Sometimes, their arguments are propositional functions, as in the sentences “If x is a square, then x has equal sides.” Such a sentence is elliptical, because it lacks the quantifier “For every x.” Dąmbska expresses the conviction that, contrary to logical implications, the meaning of the conditional propositions of natural language of the type “If p, then q” is the judgement that between what is stated in antecedent ‘p’ and what is stated in consequent ‘q,’ there is a relation of sufficient conditioning. Sometimes, in the antecedent ‘p’ one gives only a certain component of a sufficient condition. The supplement of this condition has to be conjectured by the receiver of the conditional expression. In colloquial speech: (a) (b)

We usually do not make use of conditional statements, if we know that the antecedent is false, and that the consequent is true. We usually (more willingly) make use of conditional sentences when we state neither the antecedent, nor the consequent.

Independently of whether the antecedent and the consequent are affirmative or negative, the whole conditional statement is affirmative.

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Conditional propositions may occur in casus potentialis, in casus realis and in casus irrealis. With reference to the sense of various types of conditional propositions, Dąmbska’s point of departure was Twardowski’s position. The meaning of the conditional proposition in casus potentialist (of the type “If it were the case that p, then it would be the case that q”) is – according to Twardowski – a judgement stating the relation of conditioning. The meaning of the conditional proposition in casus realis (of the type “If it is the case that p then q”) is – according to Twardowski – (a) a judgement stating the conditioning between p and q as well as (b) a judgement stating the occurrence of the condition and (c) a judgement stating the occurrence of the conditioned thing. In the end, the sense of the conditional proposition in casus irrealis (of the type “If it had been the case that p, then it would be the case that q” or “If it is the case that p, then it would be the case that q”) is – according to Twardowski – the judgement (a) together with (d) a judgement denying the condition, and (e) a judgement denying the conditioned thing. Speaking in another way – in such a proposition one states that if p then q, and that not-p and not-q. Dąmbska introduced a certain modification of Twardowski’s conception and stated that the sense of conditional propositions in casus realis is only (a), because only (a) is explicitly expressed in this kind of proposition. The remaining two components mentioned by Twardowski– namely (b) and (c) – are what is expressed in this kind of proposition only implicitly. 2.5.2. Interrogative and Imperative Conditional sentences The meaning of interrogative conditional sentences taken as wholes is of the same semantic category as their consequents. This meaning is a question relativized to some state of affairs. These sentences also appear in casus realis, potentialis or irrealis. As to imperative conditional sentences – just as in the case of conditional questions – the meaning of the whole sentence is of the same semantic category as its consequent. They express relative (not absolute) orders or relativized (not absolute) norms, i.e. orders or norms “which concern the activity relativized to intentions of order- or norm-giver to the state of affairs indicated by the antecedent of the sentence.” 2.5.3. Concessive, Exclusive, Causal and Tense Propositions On the margin of consideration of conditional sentences, Dąmbska analysed the meaning of concessive (Polish: przyzwolone), exclusive (Polish:


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wyłączne), causal (Polish: przyczynowe) and tense (Polish czasowe) propositions. Concessive propositions of the type “p, although q” (Polish: “p, chyba że q”) are usually equivalent to propositions “p, if not-q,” but sometimes also to propositions “If p, then not-q” or “If not-p, then q” and “If q, then not-p.” Generally: “If not-q, then p, or if p, then not-q.” In propositions of the type “Even if it were the case that p, is it the case that q?” – “q” performs the function of a judgement; sometimes they are understood as a negation of conditional propositions. Causal propositions usually have the form: “Since p, then q.” The proposition “Since p, then q” is equivalent to the conjunction “If p, then q” and (p and q).” They are usually “inferential statements, that is, such statements in which something is recognized based on recognizing something else, and therefore, in which both the antecedent and the consequent express judgements, rather than suppositions, as in conditional statements, and in which the veracity of the whole complex sentence assumes the veracity of its parts.” Time propositions of the type “When p, q” concern time succession or the coexistence of what is stated by ‘p’ with what is stated by ‘q.’ Such propositions – if they concern the future –usually express two judgements, however they can both be negative judgements. 2.6. Truth and Language Dąmbska (1964a) noted that definitions of truth are rooted in “conceptions of language for which the predicate “is true” is defined. She analysed in this respect three conceptions of language which were in circulation in the 20th century: the correspondent (Tarski, Carnap), the operational (late Wittgenstein) and the immanent (Ajdukiewicz). In the first conception, language is treated as a system of signs which refer to a certain objective domain. In the second conception, language is a form of biological and cultural behavior of a person. In the third – language is considered to be a set of signs and directives of creating signs and transforming one sign into another. Dąmbska shows that definitions of “truth” given in the frame of these conceptions are relativized to them. The classical definition of truth harmonizes with the correspondence conception of language (accepted, by the way, by Dąmbska). She formulates it as follows (1931b): An affirmative sentence is true when the state of affairs corresponding to this sentences occurs; a negative sentence is true when a state of affairs corresponding to it does not occur. On the basis of operational conception, a pragmatic

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definition of truth is natural. Immanent conception is a basis of syntactic definition. According to Dąmbska – all these concepts are derivative with respect to the concept of truthfulness as something that is a feature of judgements in the logical sense (or the logical content of sentences) and what is correlated with some ontical categories – first of all with the concept of existence. 2.7. Understanding The expression “to understand” occurs, i.a. in contexts such as “A understands that p” and “A understands X.” The context of the second type has several meanings – to understand X is the same as: to know what X means, to know what X expresses, to know what X’s structure is, in the end – to know what idea is realized by X. Dąmbska (1998) is convinced that, in all these cases, understanding: (a) (b) (c)

concerns objects connected with man’s spiritual life; consists in becoming aware of relations which indicate meanings of these objects, but this becoming aware is repeatable.

Dąmbska is convinced that conditions (a)-(c) may be considered as essential conditions of understanding. With respect to condition (b) – understanding is a fallible cognitive act. 2.8. Silence Dąmbska’s analysis of the semiotic functions of silence (1963c, 1971g) has a multidimensional character. Silence is either a simple lack of speech (not-speaking) or refraining from speaking (signitive silence). Signitive silence analysed as a mark is either a symptom or a signal. Considered as a communicative element of natural language is – leaving aside expressive functions – a kind of indexical expression. Besides semantic functions, it performs pragmatic ones, i.a. is a means of a fight or a way of striving for perfection. 2.9. Namelessness In her semiotic-psychological-cultural research on the concept of namelessness, Dąmbska (1975c) starts from the ascertainment that, on the one hand, we hold our name in high esteem and, on the other hand, sometimes we pretend to become nameless. Getting rid of a name, changing or hiding it (namelessness) are not indifferent from the psychological point of view


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(among motives of namelessness there are fear and a need of play) as well as from a sociological point of view (namelessness in action is, first of all, a way of fighting). Perzanowski was sure that: In her paper on namelessness, prepared during the Second World War, Dąmbska paid homage to thousands of nameless heroes of the battle for the freedom of Poland, first of all for soldiers of the Home Army [during the 2nd World War].

3. Ontology 3.1. Duality in Metaphysics In the history of philosophy, two tendencies are visible: the tendency towards a dual vision of the world (understood as the totality of what exists) and a dual vision of cognition of the world, and the tendency towards a refutation of these ontological and epistemological visions, namely to the monistic. According to Dąmbska (1989a): (1) (2) (3) (4)


There is a correlation between ontological and epistemological dualities (see e.g. object-subject dualities, transcendency-immanency). The basic ontological duality is the duality of form and matter. The basic epistemological duality is the duality of intelligibility and sensuality. Overcoming dualities consists in either the refutation of one element of the dualities, or the reduction of one element to another (see e.g. materialistic monism), or exchanging both elements with the third “type” of objects (in the case of epistemological dualities – e.g. irrational cognition). The choice of a certain monism in a given domain does not prejudge The choice of a particular monism in another domain. 3.1. Determinism and Indeterminism

Dąmbska (1933b) decidedly opted for determinism: Determinism is a condition of predicting phenomena and the existence of research work and science.

Dąmbska’s determinism, however, was not radical: she did not cancel out a limine the existence of undetermined phenomena.

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Dąmbska (1933b) also opted for causalism. According to her, there are no arguments which would speak against the rule of causality. The conviction that causalism is endangered by the rule of limited measurability (of the speed and location of bodies), accepted in quantum physics, comes from confusion of indeterminacy with indeterminism and exchanging the principle of causality with the rule of predictability. 4. Epistemology 4.1. Irrationalism It seems that science is a domain of rationality. On the other hand, some irrational elements are natural for the human psyche and penetrate into science, for instance through: (a) proposing irrational hypotheses and theories, which are to explain facts given in experience; (b) drawing extra-empirical conclusions from facts given in experience: (c) making use of judgements on values in accepting or refuting descriptive theses. It is not surprising that some people accept elements of irrationalism in science and justify it with the fact that: (a) sources of scientific conceptions are sometimes irrational experiences and (b) the rationalization of scientific problems leads to impoverishing them. In the case of (a), they confuse the source of conceptions with their content; in the case of (b), they take removing irrationalism from science to mean removing it from life. The main reason for these faulty – according to Dąmbska – convictions is ambiguity in the term “irrationalism.” Epistemological irrationalism is notoriously confused with logical, metaphysical and psychological irrationalism. Logical irrationalism concerns sentences. Sentences being theses of a given language (i.e. sentences accepted by users of this language) are logically irrational when they are contradictory or essentially irresolvable (i.e. it is not possible to decide whether they are true or false). Sometimes, one accepts sentences which are contradictory to causal laws of nature which are accepted at the time. Dąmbska propose the exclusion of this last case, because if we accepted the criterion indicated in it, we would have to consider accepting false sentences – because of ignorance of some laws – as irrational. According to metaphysical irrationalism – reality as such is irrational: capturing it with a rational conceptual apparatus deforms its picture. The


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irrational attitude of metaphysical irrationalists towards the world is (according to Dąmbska) an exclamation of delight or delighted silence. A psychological irrationalist is a person that believes in sentences which are contradictory or essentially irresolvable or appeals to irrational cognitive methods. Epistemological irrationalism consists in accepting such irrational cognitive methods, which are to guarantee the scientific status of logically irrational sentences. One speaks here about sui generis intuition, “a certain fusion with the object of cognition,” contemplation, empatia (Polish: wczucie), etc. These methods – different from rational ones (scil. experience and reasoning based on it) – are characterized by a supposed infallibility which, as their supporters stress, may not be acquired in the case of irrational methods. It is not difficult to indicate the criterion of epistemological rationality. According to Dąmbska, this criterion is the intersubjectivity of rational methods – such an intersubjectivity, which is common and permanent, let us add, because of group and periodical intersubjectivity, is also a feature of irrational methods. According to Dąmbska, in science, there is room for neither epistemological, logical, metaphysical nor psychological irrationalisms. To use Ajdukiewicz’s term, Dąmbska’s analysis of irrationalism may be considered as a manifest of anti-irrationalism – i.e. a manifest of the attitude which rejects irrational elements in science and in philosophy (which, in Twardowski’s school, was considered to be a science and distinguished from a worldview). At the same time, Dąmbska was against eliminating problems which exceed what may be examined by natural sciences from the domain of human cognitive aspirations. According to Dąmbska, we may pose such questions and try to resolve them only if we are aware that these resolutions are not – and often may not be – justified enough. 4.2. Instrumental Cognition Dąmbska (1967a) analysed in detail the thus named instrumental cognition, in which acts of perception are supported by different tools, called “cognitive operators” by her. Let us consider a five-element structure S: A is in relation R to object X, where the tool of this relation is operator O, and the result of it is (to say it simply) picture P of object X. For instance, John (A) looks at the agglomeration of bacteria (X) through a microscope (O) and sees a picture of this agglomeration (P). Dąmbska emphasized the fact that operators which participate in the cognitive processes of the structure S (subjective operators

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included) influence not only the result of these processes but also subjects of them, the quality of the process itself and the cognized object – namely they modify these objects. Moreover, also reflexive interaction occurs, namely objects A, X, R and P influence operator O, also modifying it. The situation is even more complicated because of the fact that operators as such also influence one another, if there are more than one of them in one cognitive process. 4.3. Conventionalism In the time of Dąmbska’s creative activity, conventionalism and its relation to relativism, scepticism and agnosticism, were very actual problems. Dąmbska (1938b, 1975d) paid a lot of attention to this particularly difficult plexus of matters. She started from clarifying the concept of convention – a crucial concept for conventionalism or rather conventionalisms. When we speak of conventions, we may have in mind: (a) a certain agreement (resp. contract, covenant) – understood as an act of agreement, or a document certifying that this act took place; (b) a certain decision (resp. settlement); (c) a certain custom (resp. style of behaviour, or conduct). In opposition to the often accepted view, from the fact that agreements, decisions or customs are conventional, and conventions change, one may not infer that they are arbitrary. On the contrary – conventions are usually not arbitrary, because they are pragmatically justified: they are such and such with respect to the aim they serve. Conventionalism may be extreme or moderate. According to extreme conventionalism, all scientific laws are conventions (in particular: they are arbitrary definitions) and as such they are not empirically verifiable. Such conventionalism, according to Dąmbska, is a misunderstanding. Moderate conventionalism states simply that conventions are present in various areas of human life and in various domains of culture. Since this presence is a fact – one may not refute such versions of this conventionalism. 4.4. Relativism, Scepticism and Agnosticism In none of senses distinguished by Dąmbska does conventionalism entail relativism; on the contrary, it is incompatible with relativism. The “rule of the equality of rights” of all standpoints is not a consequence of conventionalism. Various factors decide in choosing pictures of world, but it is not


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completely free (for instance, it excludes contradictory and irresolvable pictures). Generally, the following differences hold between conventionalism and relativism: (a) conventionalism concerns the necessary conditions of the decidability of sentences and relativism concerns truthfulness; (b) conventionalism accepts the principle of contradiction and relativism refuses it; (c) conventionalism assumes that there are different – sometimes contradictory – pictures of reality and relativism assumes that reality itself is contradictory. Dąmbksa distinguishes two types of philosophical scepticism: the theoretical (scil. epistemological) and the practical (scil. normative, axiological). The first of them states that there are no grounds for any justified claim about transcendental reality: we do not have criteria of truth in the domain of judgements about reality. According to the second – one has to refrain from issuing judgements, since we do not have satisfactory criteria of decidability. Conventionalism (at least in its moderate form) does not entail – according to Dąmbska – theoretical scepticism (and, even to the greater degree, practical scepticism). The two most important sources of the claim that conventionalism is a “logical basis” of scepticism are: (a) the confusion of arbitrary conventions with conventions justified functionally (i.e. which are not arbitrary conventions) or conventions with such elements of the theory (or, more broadly, systems), like axioms or axiological theses which do not aim to be conventional; (b) confusing norms and definitions accepted conventionally with those that are accepted with respect to their rational values, resp. their semantic function in the system. Agnosticism, similarly to scepticism, is not a consequence of conventionalism, since it is, according to Dąmbska (1949b) a radicalized version of normative scepticism. Agnosticism claims that transcendent reality is unknowable. Agnosticism shares the following assumptions with scepticism: (1) (2) (3)

The external world is the object of cognition. Cognition should be objective and expressible. The classical conception of truth is binding.

Opponents of agnosticism and scepticism question these assumptions: either assumption (1) (as positivists), or assumption (2) (as intuitionists), or assumption (3) (as pragmatists). Dąmbska considered the attitude of positivists, intuitionists and pragmatists towards assumptions (1)-(3) unjustified.

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5. Methodology 5.1. Justification To justify a sentence ‘p’ is to show that if fulfils sufficient conditions to accept (state, know, suppose, expect) that p. Justification may by direct or indirect (scil. by reasoning). 5.1.1. Direct Justification A sentence is justified directly if we accept it on the basis our own experiences. Scientific claims should be intersubjectively justified. But, how could we know that the experiences of someone else is the same or at least similar to ours – in the face of the same facts? According to Dąmbska (1937b) we do not have to know it in order to do science. A hypothesis that other people’s experiences is the same or similar to our experience is not – contrary to appearances – a premise of scientific claims, but at the most a metascientific hypothesis. The belief in the similarity of the content of human perception has a similar status as the belief that scientists as such are not liars. Moreover, if this hypothesis said that scientific theses are theses about intersubjective objects, these objects would not be impressions as such but some relations between impressions. These relations can be intersubjectively cognized. This is certified by the fact that normal people in similar circumstances usually accept the same sentences. 5.2.2. Reasoning by Analogy Among types of reasoning, Dąmbska was especially interested in reasoning by analogy. By analogy, Dąmbska understood “a structural similarity of some sets or systems, i.e. a similarity of relations holding between elements of these sets of parts of these systems, and between the properties determined by these relations” Reasoning by analogy may have one of two forms: (a)

[(A : B) :: (C : D)] → [(B : A) :: (D : C)].

This is a scheme of, for instance, the following reasoning: If God is for people what a father is for children, then people are for God what children are for a father. Here, the conclusion follows from the premise. This reasoning is deducible (and infallible) and applied for instance in mathematics.

368 (b)

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[(A/B : C/D) ∧ F (C/D)] → F (A/B).

This is a scheme of, for instance, the following reasoning: If God is for people this what a father is for children, and a father is the children’s just judge, then God is a just judge for people. Here, the conclusion often does not follow from the premises and the premises do not follow from conclusions. The existence of reasoning of type (b) certifies the fact that the traditional division of processes of reasoning into deductive (in which a conclusion follows from premises) and reductive (in which premises follows from the conclusion) is inadequate. Reasoning by analogy was considered by Dąmbska to be binding (and eo ipso infallible), when the analogy occurring in them is essential, ie. when the relation “fulfils the conditions which satisfy the same rule or the same law.” Reasoning by analogy often has an insightful character and may serve as a justification of sentences about the future. The last is based on the assumption of the isomorphism or homomorphism of future events with respect to the already given ones. Appreciating the cognitive value of reasoning by analogy and noticing their insightful character, Dąmbska (1933b) at the same time emphasized the danger connected with making use of analogies whose one element may not be cognized by rational method in science. Such analogies and reasoning based on them are – according to Dąmbska – irrational. 5.2. Scientific Laws According to Dąmbska (1933b), scientific laws are general implications: (a) in which ranges of variables are open classes (infinite or such that we may not decide whether they are finite); (b) concerning a constant connection between phenomena; (c) without any absolute time determination; (d) being an element of a certain science, (c) empirically verified. Such a concept of law has applications in axiomathized formal disciplines, in which theses are tautologies. Here, axioms and some of their consequences – namely those which are of a special importance, for instance, which are applied in the reasoning of other disciplines or in daily life, or which can simplify these kinds of reasoning – are called “laws.” Criteria of this importance are too vague to distinguish laws so understood from the set of tautologies. This concept has – according to Dąmbska – applications in both natural and human sciences, especially in history. The peculiarity of history does not consist in the fact that it is an idiographic science (or that it describes individual facts) in opposition to natural sciences which are nomological

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(or which formulate laws). History differs from natural sciences with respect to the level of complication of the examined facts, which are relatively simple in the case of natural sciences but are very complicated combinations of many phenomena – physical, psychical and sociological ones – in the case of history. 5.3. Truthfulness of Scientific Laws Some scientists claim that truthfulness is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition of scientific claims – in particular of physical laws. According to some of them – it is because these laws are in fact arbitrary definitions or their analytical consequences. According to others, laws are only provisory hypotheses, relativized to the changing state of knowledge; if they are approximate hypotheses – they are simply false. Dąmbska (1931b) refutes this point of view. Laws of physics would not have any logical value if they could be interpreted as functions whose degree of approximation is undefined (the range of the unknown may be bigger or smaller); but usually in such laws it is (at least provisionally) defined in certain orders. They are not, according to Dąmbska, propositional functions. Even if in physics there are laws in which both antecedent and consequent are false, we may only conclude that such laws are not verifiable. Unverifiability is not the same as falsity. According to Dąmbska – truthfulness is not a necessary condition of being a law. This is of course classically understood truthfulness – not verifiability (since false sentences may also be verified). Another thing is that we sometimes simply do not know whether a given law is true. We are inclined to believe in those sentences which are probable. 6. Axiology In the domain of axiology – Dąmbska accepted absolutism and objectivism. As opposed to axiological nihilists, she believed that values exist in reality and are not only purely intentional of fictional objects. As opposed to relativists – she was convinced that the changeability of conventions “does not testify to the relativism of values, but that they be differently understood” or “that means of realizing them may be chosen differently.” As opposed to subjectivists, who wanted to see the source of values in “causative subjects,” she wrote:


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki On the ground of establishing [...] the [ethical rules of legal laws] of decisions [...] there are usually some judgements on values which pretend to be objectively justified; and decision is a choice of a certain norm which – according to the opinion of the decision maker – states an obligation to ways of conduct which aim at realizing or preserving these values.

6.1. Man and the World of Values The world of man is the world of values. Dąmbska wrote: Each of our conscious actions is directed by a desire to realize values giving sense to this action.

Among sentences which concern the world of values as it is broadly understood – Dąmbska (1965b) distinguished i.a. norms, evaluations and axiological sentences sensu stricto. We have already mentioned norms above. Evaluations and axiological sentences sensu stricto form a subclass of axiological sentences sensu largo. Evaluations – are sentences stating that some objects are valuable (scil. that they possess value). Axiological sentences sensu stricto are sentences which state what values are and what kinds of them exist. Among these types of sentences – Dąmbska pronounced mostly normative and evaluative sentences, however, she usually supplemented them with axiological sentences sensu stricto. We read in Dąmbska (1989b): A peculiar feature of metaphysical investigation in the Lvov-Warsaw School is emphasized which is given to axiological moments: moral values which are assumed and produced by making philosophy and to its peculiar ethos, which shapes the life of philosopher.

There is no doubt that Dąmbska herself had undertaken analysis of “axiological moments” in various domain of her research, first of all in research concerning the theory of science. She considered accuracy (scil. functionality) to be the most important cognitive value of science. Accuracy – as opposed to truthfulness – in a gradable form. The better answers to questions concerning its domain a science gives (the best that can be given in specific conditions of cognition), the more accurate it is. 6.2. The Concept of Freedom Among the values of human life, Dąmbska analyzed i.a. freedom. It was a conscious choice, motivated by the same factors as analyses devoted to silence and namelessness.

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Freedom is not always an axiologically positive value. It is so only if freedom is a necessary condition for realizing some positive values. One distinguishes sometimes freedom-from and freedom-to. Dąmbska (1981c) emphasized the fact that “freedom-from” and “freedom-to” are correlative terms. She wrote: Science’s freedom from ideological and administrative pressure is freedom towards it inherent function of searching for and delivering truth; freedom of speech is at the same time freedom to publicly proclaim one’s views and convictions.

The correlation occurs that freedom is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition of the possibility of action. And so: freedom from mistake is a condition of morality etc. 6.3. Normative Ethics In the domain of normative ethics, Dąmbska defended a certain version of perfectionism and intellectualism (and she contrasted the latter to emotionalism). She formulated ethical criterion as follows: Conduct is good if it aims at the perfection of a human; it is bad if it discourages perfection. She defended her intellectualism as follows: In order to accept a certain action as morally valuable, is it necessary for this action, which is congruent with ethical criterion, to be motivated by certain altruistic feelings? When one formulates this question in such a way, it seems that the emotionalist standpoint settles the issue that every ethical act is a social act, an act directed at other people and their matters, so it limits the domain of morality. The emotionalist standpoint excludes from the set of morally valuable acts those which are motivated by a feeling of duty but without an emotional commitment to the people who are objects of these acts. Mutual benevolence or the love of one’s neighbour, considered to be moral fundament, seem rather to be some convictional attitudes and rather voluntaristic than emotional. It does not mean that we have to fall into Kantian rigorism. An act according to ethical criterion, motivated by the love of one’s neighbour as emotional state does not become ethically useless if it could have its roots in a conviction that this is what one should do.

7. The History of Philosophy Dąmbska undertook with passion and competence the history of philosophy and viewed the problems analysed from a historical point of view as a point of departure for her own systematic research. Her doctoral dissertation, a monograph devoted to (some) views of Edmond Goblot, was already a historical-philosophical work. In this domain, the first focus is represented by her studies on the history of scepticism – both ancient and modern.


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

Her favourite ancient philosopher was Plato. She devoted to Plato spacious fragments of her Zarys historii filozofii greckiej [An Outline of the History of Greek Philosophy] and also two separate studies, concerning his life, his psychological portrait and the reception of his works in Poland. From the history of Polish philosophy – Dąmbska analysed the history of logic at the Gdańsk Academic Gymnasium; she also examined the logic of Adam Burski and Marcin Śmiglecki. In the domain of the most recent history of philosophy, she analysed i.a. the influence of Brentano on Twardowski’s school. C. Significance The significance of Dąmbska was the most accurately and the most lapidarily defined by Perzanowski, who wrote: The work of Izydora Dąmbska, from the perspective of time, is a complete whole. It is a significant part of the output of the Lvov-Warsaw School. This school, as we know, developed in time and became one of the crucial centres of analytic philosophy in general. It is still alive in Poland and inspires more and more younger generations of researchers. In the time of its primary activity, amidst the dark years of the irrationalism of the 30’s, she was – to use the expression of Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz – a main pillar of logical anti-irrationalism. [...] Dąmbska’s position in the very school as well as in Polish philosophy of the 20 th century is a special one. She is a master of Polish methodologists and semioticians. She is also, together with Zygmunt Zawirski and Roman Ingarden, a co-founder of the Lvov-Cracow School [...] The works of Dąmbska are by no means out of date. On the contrary, they somehow gain significance, as a gradually more significant role is played by this taste which protected her and the majority of her students from so easily falling in with weak and contaminated minds [...] Works of Dąmbska may help everyone [...] to think clearly, and her attitude of the unshakable philosopher may help anybody to hold oneself straight, and, if necessary, to get up after a fall. For, clear thinking and moral order are an urgent need nowadays, as are, simply, a little bit of sensibility and a readiness to shame, when so often one should and ought to be ashamed.

Anna Brożek & Jacek Jadacki


Abbreviations 1. Proceedings and Periodicals A-XII-CF – Atti del XII Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia. Vn., 12–18.09.1958; A-XI-CHS – Actes du XIe Congrès International d’Histoire des Sciences. V. & C. 24–31 Août 1965; A-XII-CHS – Actes du XIIe Congrès International d’Histoire des Sciences. P. 25–31 Août 1968; A-X-CPh – Actes du Xe Congrès des Sociétés de Philosophie de Langue Française. P., 17–19 Mai 1959; A-XI-CPh – Actes du XIe Congrès des Sociétès de Philosophie de Langue Française. M., 4–6 Septembre 1961; A-XII-CPh – Actes du XIIe Congrès des Sociétés de Philosophie de Langue Française. B. & Lv., 22–24 Août 1964; A-XIII-CPh – Actes du XIIIe Congrès de Sociétès de Philosophie de Langue Française. Gn., 2–6 Août 1966; A-XIV-CPh – Actes du XIVe Congrès des Sociétés de Philosophie de Langue Française. R., 3–6 Septembre 1974; ACPhS – Actes du Congrès International de Philosophie Scientifique. P., 16–21 Septembre 1935; A-XIV-KPh - Akten des XIV Internationalen Kongresses für Philosophie. Wn., 2–9.09.1968; AHF – Archiwum Historii Filozofii i Myśli Społecznej; AN – Annalen der Naturphilosophie; ATNL – Archiwum TNL; AUW – Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis; BPh – Bibliographie de la Philosophie; BSFPh – Bulletin de la Société Française de Philosophie; C-II-Ph - Conférence de l’Institut Interna­tional de Philosophie. V., 17–20 Juillet 1957; E – Etyka; Es – Erkenntnis; F – Filomata; G – Gimnazjum; I – Isis. Revue Consacré à l’Histoire de la Science; JEP – Journal de l’Ecole Polytechnique; JPh – The Journal of Philosophy; JPhF – Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung; KF – Kwartalnik Filozoficzny; KHNT – Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki; KP – Kwartalnik Psychologiczny; K-S – Kant-Studien; KiS – Kultura i Społeczeństwo; KPPTF – Księga Pamiątkowa PTF we Lwowie. 12.02–1904–12.02.1929; L – Literatura; LA – Logique et Analyse; M – Meander; MK - Mikołaj Kopernik. Studia i materiały sesji kopernikańskiej w KUL.L. 18–19.02.1972; NP – Nauka Polska, Jej Potrzeby, Organizacja i Rozwój; O – Organon. Interna­t ional Review; P-X-CHS – Proceedings of the Xth International Congress of the History of Sciences. Ithaca 26 August – 2 September 1962; P-XIII-CLMPh – Methodology and Philosophy of Science. Proceedings of


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

the XIIIth International Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science. Sf. 24 August – 2 September 1960; P-XV-CPh – Proceedings of the XVth World Congress of Philosophy. Vr., 17–22.09.1973; PF – Przegląd Filozoficzny: PH – Przegląd Humanistyczny; PhR – The Philosophical Review; PhZ – Physikalische Zeitschrift; PK – Przegląd Klasyczny; PPhR – Philosophy and Phenomenological Research; PW – Przegląd Współczesny; PWa – Przegląd Warszawski; PWF-FTNT – Prace Wydziału Filologiczno-Filozoficznego TNT; RC-XII-CHS – Résumés de Communica­ tions [du] XIIe Congrès Interna­tional d’Histoire des Sciences. P. 25–31 VIII 1968.; RF – Ruch Filozoficzny; RG – Rocznik Gdański; RIPh – Revue Internationale de Philosophie; RMM – Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale; RN – Revue Neo-Scolastique de Philosophie; RoF – Roczniki Filozoficzne KUL; RPh – Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger; RS – Revue de Synthèse; S – Scientia; SF – Studia Filozoficzne; SG – Studium Generale; SKNPAN – Sprawozdania z Posiedzeń Komisji Naukowych. Oddział PAN w Krakowie; SKUL – Sprawozdania z Czynności Wydawni­ czej i Posiedzeń Naukowych oraz Kronika Towarzystwa Naukowego KUL; SL – Studia Logica; SMDNP – Studia i Materiały z Dziejów Nauki Polskiej; SPAU – Sprawozdania z Czynności i Posiedzeń PAU; SPh – Studia Philosophica; SPTPN – Sprawozdania PTPN; SS – Studia Semiotyczne; XXXI-SS - Avant, avec, après Copernic. 31e Semaine de Synthèse. P. 1–7 Juin 1973; SSs – Semiotic Studies; STNL – Sprawozdania TNL; STNT – Sprawozdania TNT; SWNSPAN – Sprawozdania z Prac Naukowych Wydziału Nauk Społecznych PAN; TP – Tygodnik Powszechny; UMN - Unterrichtsblätter für Mathematik und Naturwissenschaft; VJPh – Vierteljahrschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie: Z – Znak; ZG – Zeitschrift für österreichische Gymnasien: ZL – Zeszyty Lwowskie (Ln.); ZNKUL – Zeszyty Naukowe KUL; ZPh – Zeitschrift für Physik; ZPhK = Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik. 2. Institutions A-U – G. Allen & Unwin; AW – Akademie der Wissenschaften; BGPAN – Biblioteka Gdańska PAN; CUP – Cambridge University Press; DNK – Drukarnia Narodowa w Krakowie; DP – Dover Publications; G-W – Gebethner & Wolff; HUP – Harvard University Press; JHU – John Hopkins University; K-A – Książnica-Atlas; KM – Kasa im. J. Mianowskiego; KUL – Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski; ŁTN – Łódzkie Towarzystwo Naukowe; NK – Nasza Księgarnia; PAN – Polska Akademia Nauk; PAU – Polska Akademia Umiejętności; PTF – Polskie Towarzystwo Filozoficzne; PIW – Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy; PTPN – Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk; PUF – Presses Universitaires de France;



PZWS – Państwowe Zakłady Wydawnictw Szkolnych; SMUW – Seminarium Matematyczne UW; SUP – Stanford University Press; TNL – Towarzystwo Naukowe we Lwowie; TNT – Towarzystwo Naukowe w Toruniu; UP – University of Pennsylvania; UWP – University of Wisconsin Press; YUP – Yale University Press; WSiP – Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne 3. Towns A. – Assen; Am. – Amsterdam; B. – Bruxelles; Bg. – Branschweig; Bl. – Basle; Bn. – Berlin; Bnn – Bonn; Br. – Bern; Bt. – Baltimore; C. – Cracovie, Cracow; Cm. – Cambridge; D. – Dordrecht; F. – Firenze; FaM – Francofurtum ad M., Frankfurt a. M; G. – Gdańsk; Gn. – Genève; H. – Halle an der Saale; Hd. – Heidelberg; Hg. – The Hague; K. – Krakau, Kraków; L. – Lwów; Lb. – Lublin; Lg. – Leipzig; Ln. – London; Ls. – Lausanne; Lv. – Louvain; Ł. – Łódź; M. – Montpellier; Mb. – Marchioburgi; Mn. - München; N. – Neuchâtel; NY – New York; O. – Oxford; P. – Paris, Parisiis; Pg. – Prague; Ph. – Philadelphia; Pz. – Poznań; R. – Reims; S. – Sofia; Sf. – Stanford; Sl. – Sulzbach; St. – Stuttgart; T. – Toruń; Tb. – Tübingen; U. – Utrecht; V. – Varsovie; Vn. – Venezia; Vnn. – Vienna; Vr. – Varna; W. – Warszawa; Wn. – Wien; Ww. – Wrocław; Z. – Zürich 4. Other Abbreviations ab. – abstract; an. – annual; et al. – and others; Bd. – Band; cah. – cahier; cap. – capitulum; col. – column; cf. – compare; É. – Éditions; éd. – édition; ed. – editor; expl. – explication; ff. – and following (pages); Hf. – Heft; i. – issue; intr. – introduction; Jg. – Jahrgang; L-É. - Librairie-Éditeur; no. – number; p. – page; pap. – paper; pt. – part; sc. – scene; sec. – section; ser. – series; Tl. – Teil; transl. – translation; Vg. – Verlag; vol. – volume; vs. – verse A. Izydora Dąmbska’s Works 1. Izydora Dąmbska’s Own Works 1926/1927 RN vol. XXVII(1925), no. 8; RPh vol. LI(1926), no. 1–12; vol. LII(1927), no. 1–6 [ab. of pap.]. RF vol. 10, no. 1/6, p. 39b-10b; no. 7/10, p. 148b-150b. 1928/1929a Goblot, E[dmond]: Traité de logique (4e éd.). P. 1925 [rev.]. RF vol. XI, no. 1/10, pp. 29a-31a. 1928/1929b RPh vol. LII(1927), no. 7–12; vol. LIII(1928), no. 1–12 [ab. of pap.]. RF vol. XI, no. 1/10, pp. 71a-74a. 1929 Teoria sądu Edmunda Goblota [Edmund Goblot’s Theory of Judgment]. STNL an. IX, i. 2, pp. 105–108.


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

1930a La théorie du jugement de M. Edmond Goblot. ATNL. Sec. 2, vol. VI, i. 3. L.: TNL. 1930b W sprawie nauczania logiki przy sposobności nauczania języka polskiego [Remarks on Teaching Logic by the Way of Teaching o the Polish Language]. PH an. V, i. 3, pp. 279–287. 1930/1931a Ossowska, Maria: „Stosunek logiki i gramatyki” [“Relationship between Logic and Grammar”]. KF vol. VII(1929), p. 231–264 [rev.]. RF vol. XII, no. 1/10, pp. 18a-19b. 1930/1931b RPh vol. LIV(1929), no. 1–12; vol. LV(1930), no. 1–6 [ab. of pap.]. RF vol. XII, no. 1/10, pp. 100b-104a. 1931a O sceptykach greckich [On Greek Skeptics]. F an. III, no. 39, pp. 209–215. 1931b Prawa fizyki wobec postulatu prawdziwości twierdzeń naukowych [The Laws of Physics and the Postulate of the Legitimacy of Scientific Statements]. KPPTF. L.: K-A, pp. 183–198. 1932 Koło Wiedeńskie. Założenia epistemologiczne Koła i niektóre ich konsekwencje [Vienna Circle. Epistemological Assumptions of the Circle and Some Their Consequences]. PW an. XI, no. 125, pp. 379–388. 1933a Grecka książka o charakterach [Greek Book on Characters]. F an. V, no. 53, pp. 61–65. 1933b O prawach w nauce [On Laws in Science]. L.: Gubrynowicz i Syn. 1933c Stoicyzm i epikureizm w filozofii życia Horacego [Stoicism and Epicureism in Horace’s Philosophy of Life]. F an. V, no. 48, pp. 293–299. 1934a Emil Meyerson. 1859–1933. PF an. XXXVII, i. 3, pp. 299–303. 1934b Zdania warunkowe z uwzględnieniem ich historycznego rozwoju w języku pol­skim [Conditional Sentences Taking Their Historical Development in the Polish Language into Consideration]. SPAU vol. XXXVIII(1933), no. 5, pp. 6–7. 1935a Les lois dans les sciences [ab.]. SPh vol. I, p. 451. 1935b Pański, Antoni: Remarques sur le problème de ta défi­n ition du „rapport causal” [ab.]. SPh vol. I, p. 478. 1935c Poznański, Edward: L’analyse opérative des concepts de la physique) [ab.]. SPh vol. I, p. 482. 1935d Poznański, Edward & Wundheiler, Aleksander: Le concept de la vérité dans la physique [ab.]. SPh vol. I, p. 482. 1935e Sztejnbarg, Dina [Janina Kotarbińska]: Le problème de l’indéterminisme dans la physique moderne [ab.]. SPh vol. I, p. 482. 1935f Wiegner, Adam: Remarques sur l’indéterminisme dans la physique [ab.]. SPh vol. I, pp. 493–494. 1935g Zarys historii filozofii greckiej [Outline of the history of Greek Philosophy]. L.: Published by Filomata. Second edition.: Lb. 1993: Instytut Wydawniczy Daimonion. 1936a Henry Leenhardt: La nature de la connaissance et l’erreur initiale des théories. P. 1934 [rev.]. NP vol. XXI, pp. 352–353. 1936b O etykę naukową w szkole średniej [Postulate of Introducing Ethics in High Schools]. PK an. II, i. 9/10, pp. 711–714. 1936c Platona Menon. Transl., intr. i expl.: Władysław Witwicki. W. 1935 [rev.]. G an. III, no. 8/9, pp. 333–334. 1936d Science et loi. Cinquième semaine internationale de synthèse. P. 1934 [rev.]. NP vol. XXI, pp. 353–355. 1937a Bornstein, Benedykt: La logique géométrique et sa portée philosophi­q ue. V. 1928 [rev.]. RF vol. XIII(1932–1935/1936), no. 5/10, pp. 94–95. 1937b Czy intersubiektywne podobieństwo wrażeń zmysłowych jest niezbędny założeniem nauk przyrodniczych? [Is Intersubjective Similarity of Sensory Impressions a Necessary Assumption in Natural Science?] PF an. XL, i. 3, pp. 288–294. 1937c Maurycy Schlick. 1882–1936. PF an. XL, i. 1, pp. 98–101.



1937d Precis d’histoire de la philosophie grecque [ab.]. SPh vol. II, pp. 448–449. 1937e Próba analizy pojęcia irracjonalizmu, zilustrowana przykładami z dziejów filozofii starożytnej [ab.] [An Attempt of Analyzing the Notion of Irrationalism, illustrated with Examples from Ancient Philosoppy]. RF vol. XIII(1932­– 1935/1936), no. 5/10, pp. 136b-137a. 1937f RPh vol. LV(1930), no. 7–12; vol. LVI(1931), no. 1–2) [ab. of pap.]. RF vol. XIII(1932– 1935/1936), no. 1/4, pp. 17a-b; no. 5/10, pp. 108a-b. 1937g W sprawie niezależności etyki od religii [Remark on the Indpendence of Ethics from Religion]. PK an. III, i. 9/10, pp. 711–713. 1937–1938 Irracjonalizm a poznanie naukowe [Irrationalism and Scientific Cognition]. KF vol. XIV, i. 2, pp. 83–118; i. 3, pp. 185–212. 1938a Czy intersubiektywne podobieństwo wrażeń zmysłowych jest niezbędnym warunkiem uprawiania nauk przyrodniczych? [Is Intersubjective Similarity of Sensory Impressions a Necessary Assumption in Natural Science?] PF an. XXXIV, i. 4, pp. 426–427. 1938b Konwencjonalizm a relatywizm [Conventionalism and Relativism]. KF vol. XV, i. 4, pp. 328–337. 1938c Leenhardt, Henry: La nature de la connaissance et l’erreur initiale des théories. P. 1934 [ab.]. O vol. II, pp. 261. 1938d Organizacja kółka filozoficznego w szkole śred­n iej [Organisation of Philosophical Circles in High Schools]. PF an. XLI, i. 1, pp. 93–94. 1938e RPh vol. LVI(1931) – LXII(1937) [contents]; vol. LXIII(1938), no. 1–4 [ab. of pap.]. RF vol. XIV(1936/1938), no. 1/3, pp. 73b-76b; pp. 76b-78b. 1938f Science et loi. Cinquième semaine internationale de synthèse. P. 1934 [ab.]. O vol. II, p. 262. 1938g Starożytna nauka o szczęściu w świetle psychologii współczesnej [The Ancient Teaching on Happiness in the Light of Contemporary Psychology]. F an. X, no. 104, pp. 122– 133. 1938c Z semantyki zdań warunkowych [On the semantics of conditional sentences]. PF an. XLI, i. 3, pp. 241–267. 1939a O sceptycyzmie i o niektórych sposobach przezwyciężania go [On Skepticism and on Some Ways of Overcoming It]. PW vol. XVIII, i. 4, pp. 96–105. 1939b RPh vol. LXIII(1938), no. 5–6 [ab. of pap.]. RF vol. XV, no. 1/2, pp. 24a-b. 1939c Schlick, Moritz: Gesammelte Aufsätze. Wn. 1938 [rev.]. RF vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 97a98b. 1939–1946 O niektórych poglądach Kazimierza Twardowskiego z zakresu teorii nauk [On Some Views of Kazimierz Twardowski in the Domain of Theories of Sciences]. KF vol. XVII, i. I, pp. 14–24. 1946 Zagadnienie śmierci w greckiej filozofii starożytnej [The Problem of Death in Greek Ancient Philosophy]. M vol. I, i. 9, pp. 445–457. 1947 Echa platońskie w środowisku uniwersyteckim w Polsce w epoce Renesansu [Platonian Echoes in the Academic Environment in Poland in Renesance Epoch]. M an. II, i. 4/5, pp. 185–190. 1948a Czterdzieści lat filozofii we Lwowie [Forty Years of Philosophy in Lvov]. 1898–1938. PF an. XLIX, i. 1/3, pp. 14–25. 1948b L’homme anonyme. Étude de psychologie et d’histoire de la culture. SPh vol. III(1939– 1946), pp. 115–149. 1948c Mity platońskie [Platonian Myths]. M vol. III, i. 9, pp. 427–437. 1948d O rodzajach sceptycyzmu [On Kinds of Skepticism]. KF vol. XVII, i. 1/2, pp. 79–96. 1948e Tatarkiewicz, Władysław: O szczęściu [On Happiness]. K. 1947 [rev.]. RF vol. 16, no. 3/4, pp. 97–99.


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1948f W sprawie tzw. nazw pustych [Regarding the so-called empty names]. PF an. 44, i. 1/3, pp. 77–81. Reprinted in (Pelc ed. 1971, pp. 161–165). English version in (Pelc ed. 1979, pp. 126–130). 1949a Platon w Polsce [Plato in Poland]. SPAU vol. XLIX(1948), no. 7, pp. 362–364. 1949b Sceptycyzm i agnostycyzm we współczesnej epistemologii [Skepticism and Agnosticism in Contemporary Empistemology]. SPAU vol. XV (1948), no. 2, pp. 245–246. 1949c Władysław Witwicki (1878–1948). Wspomnienie pośmiertne [Obituary]. PF an. 45, i. 1–2, pp. 262–268. 1949d Z filozofii imion własnych [Issues in the philosophy of proper names]. KF t. 18, z. 3/4, s. 241–261. Fragments reprinted in (Pelc ed. 1971, pp. 166–178). English version of fragments in (Pelc ed. 1979, pp. 131–143). 1949e Z genealogii ideałów życiowych. Platoński ideał filozofa [From the Genealogy of Life Ideals. Platonian Ideal of Philosopher]. M vol. IV, i. 7, pp. 325–334. 1949/1950 Platon o sobie [Platon on Himself]. RF vol. XVII, no. 4, pp. 170–171. 1950 Meditationes Descartesa na tle sceptycyzmu francuskiego XVII wieku [Descartes’ Meditationes on the Background of Franch Skepticism of 17th Century]. KF vol. XIX, i. 1/2, pp. 1–24. 1952/1953a Traité philosophique D. Hueta na tle sceptycyzmu francuskiego XVII wieku [D. Huet’s Traité philosophique on the Background of Franch Skepticism of 17th Century . SPAU vol. LII(1951), no. 1, pp. 41–52. 1952/1953b Ze współczesnej teorii poznania fizykalnego [From the Modern Theory of Physical Cognition]. SPAU vol LII(1951), no. 5, pp. 328–329. 1953/1954 O dwoistości w aspekcie bytu i poznania i o tendencji do przezwyciężania tej dwoistości jako podstawie kierunków i stanowisk filozoficznych [On Duality in the Aspect of Being and Cognition and on the Tendency to Overcome this Duality as the Basis for Philosophical Trends and Standpoints]. SPAU vol. LIII(1952), no. 7/10, pp. 472–476. 1956a Quelques remarques sur la philosophie de la science de A.S. Eddington. RS vol. LXXVII, no. 3, pp. 311–341. 1956b Podział logiczny a definicja [Logical Division and Definition]. STNT an. VIII(1954), i. 1/4, pp. 81–82. 1956c Ze studiów nad sceptycyzmem francuskim [From Studies on French Skepticism]. Pascal. STNT an. VII(1953), i. 1/4, pp. 101–105. 1957a Kotarbiński, Tadeusz: Traktat o dobrej robocie [Treatice of Good Work]. Ł. 1955 [rev.]. SL vol. 5, pp. 145–149. 1957b PhR vol. XLIV(1955), no. 1, 3 and 4 [ab. of pap.]. SL vol. 5, pp. 155–157. 1957c Sceptycyzm filozoficzny a metoda naukowa [Philosophical Skepticism and Scientific Method]. STNT an. VIII(1954), i. 1/4, pp. 79–81. 1957d Sur certains principes méthodologiques dans le Principia philosophiae de Descartes. RMM vol. LXII, no. 1, pp. 57–66. 1957e Władysław Tatarkiewicz. NP vol V, no. 3, pp. 113–120. 1958a Demokritos. F no. 123, pp. 158–166. 1958b Elementy logiki dla bibliotekarzy [Elements of Logic for Librarians]. G.: BGPAN. 1958c Intervention sur l’exposé de M.R. Aron (“La responsabilité du philosophe”). Entretiens Philosophiques de V. C-II-Ph. Ww.: Osso­l ineum & PAN, s. 171–172. 1958d Logika w Gimnazjum Akademickim Gdańskim w pierwszej połowie XVII wieku [Logic in Gdańsk Academic Gymnasium in the First Half of 17th Century]. RG an. XVI/ XVI (1956/1957), pp. 199–223. 1958e Od tłumacza [From the Translator]. [Intr. to:] René Descartes: “Rozmowa z Burmanem” [“Conversation with Burman”] [transl. from the Latin]. In (Descartes 1644/1958, pp. 229–232).



1958f O niektórych założeniach metodologicznych w Principia philosophiae Descartesa [On Some Methodological Assumptions in Descartes’ Principia philosophiae]. STNT an. X (1956), i. 1/4, pp. 46–48. 1958g Ryszard Gansiniec o rozwoju greckich idei filozoficznych [Ryszard Gansiniec on the Development of Greek Philosophical Ideas]. F. no. 121, pp. 62–67. 1958h Sceptycyzm francuski XVI i XVII wieku [French Skepticism of 16th and 17th Centuries]. T: PWF-FTNT. Vol. VII, i. 2. 1958i W sprawie pojęcia rozumienia [On the Notion of Understanding]. RF vol XVIII, no. 4, pp. 182–190. 1959a Bergson et nous. A-X-CPh. P.: A. Colin, pp. 85–89. 1959b Le concept de modèle et son rôle dans les sciences. RS vol. LXXX, no. 13/14, pp. 39–51. 1959c Sur quelques idées communes à Bergson, Poincaré et Eddington. BSFPh vol. LIII, pp. 85–90. 1960a Heraklit [Heraclitus]. F no. 139, pp. 467–472. 1960b Sur le concept de compréhension. A-XII-CF. Vol. V. Logica, gnoseologia, filosofia della scienza, filosofia del linguaggio. F.: Sansoni, pp. 123–130. 1960c Śladami Rzymian w Arles [Following Romans in Arles]. F no. 143, pp. 180–187. 1960d Zagadnienie marzeń sennych w greckiej filozofii starożytnej [The Problem of Dreams in Greek Ancient Philosophy]. In (Czeżowski ed. 1960, pp. 29–39). 1960/1961a Ernest H. Hutten: The Language of Modern Physics. An Introduction to Philosophy of Science. Ln. 1956 [rev.]. RF vol. XX, no. 112, pp. 19–21. 1960/1961b List do Redakcji w sprawie recenzji St. Katafiasa dotyczącej pracy Sceptycyzm francuski XVI i XVII wieku [Letter to the Editors about St. Katafia’s review concerning the work French Skepticism of 16th and 17th Centuries]. RF vol. XX, no. 4, pp. 364- 265. 1960/1961c Pierre-Maxime Schuhl: Le Dominateur et les possibles. P. 1960 [rev.]. RF vol XX, no. 4, pp. 270–273. 1961a Kilka uwag o tradycyjnych teoriach rozumowania na podstawie analogii [A Few Remarks Concerning Traditional Theories of Reasoning by Analogy] [ab.]. WNSPAN an. IV, i. 2(19), pp. 99–100. 1961b Le problème des songes dans la philosophie des anciens Grecs. RPh vol. CLI, no. 1, pp. 12- 24. 1961c O modelach i ich roli w nauce [On Models and Their Role in Science] [ab.]. SWNSPAN an. IV, i. 2(19), pp. 100–102. 1961d Pod opieką muz [In Muses’ Care]. F no. 150, pp. 23–29. 1961e Sur quelques aspects philosophiques de la lutte humaine contre l’angoisse de la mort. A-XI-CPh. P.: J. Vrin, pp. 65–67. 1962a Boecjusza De consolatione philosophiae [Boëthius’ De consolatione philosophiae]. F no. 161, pp. 82–86. 1962b Dwa studia z teorii naukowego poznania [Two Studies from the Theory of Scientific Cognition]. T.: PWF-FTNT. Vol XII, i. 1. 1962c Note sur l’exposé de M. J. Merleau-Ponty La déstinée intellectuelle d’Ed­d ington et sa signification. Séance du 15 Avril 1961. BSFPh. P.: A. Colin, pp. 35–37. 1962d Richard H. Popkin: The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Des­cartes. A. 1960 [rev.], RF vol. XI, no. 3, pp. 270–271. 1962e Zagadnienie śmierci w religii i sztuce greckiej [The Problem of Death in Greek Religion and Art.” F no. 154, pp. 269–283. 1963a Augustyn Jakubisiak (1884–1945). Polski słownik biograficzny PAN. Vol. 10, i. 3. Ww.: Ossolineum & PWN, pp. 374–375. 1963b Czas w ujęciu Pascala [Time according to Pascal] [ab.]. SKUL no. 13, pp. 45–48.


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1963c Milczenie jako wyraz i jako wartość [Silence as an Expression and a Value]. RoF vol. XI, z. 1, pp. 73–79. 1963d O pewnych sposobach uzasadniania zdań o zdarzeniach przy­szłych [On some Methods of Justifying Sentences about Future Events] [ab.]. SKUL no. 13, pp. 39–40. 1963e Sur certains modes de fonder nos jugements concernant les événements futurs. LA an. VI, no. 21/24, pp. 232–239. 1963–1964 Poglądy Wittgensteina na niesprzeczność i na charakter zdań matematycznych zawarte w Bemerkungen über die Grundlagen der Mathe­m atik [Wittgenstein’s Views on Consistency and on the Character of Mathematical Sentences Containded in Bemerkungen über die Grundlagen der Mathe­m atik] [ab.]. RF t. 22, no. 2/4, pp. 210- 211. 1964a Concept de langue et vérité. La Vérité. A-XII-CPh. Lv. & P.: Ed. Nauwelaerts, pp. 3–6. Polish version: Koncepcja języka a prawda [The Conception of Language and Truth]. In (Pelc ed. 1971, pp. 179–183). English version: Truth and the concept of language. In (Pelc ed. 1979, pp. 144–147. 1964b Kilka uwag o rozumowaniach na podstawie analogii [A Few Remarks on Reasoning by Analogy]. In (Czeżowski ed. 1964, pp. 31–38). 1964c Niektóre pojęcia gramatyki w świetle logiki [Some Concepts of Grammar in the Light of logic]. In (Żarnecka ed. 1964, pp. 221–238). 1964–1965a Koncepcja wyrazów współzwących w Dialektyce Abelarda [The Conception of Co-Signifying Words in Ableard’s Dialectics]. RF vol XXIII, no. 1/2, pp. 59–60. 1964/1965b W stulecie urodzin Henri Berra [In Centennial of Henri Berr’s Birth]. RF vol. XXIII, no. 1/2, pp. 33–36. 1965a Henri Berr et le problème de l’unité de la science. Hommage à Henri Berr (18631954). Commémoration du centenaire de sa naissance. Centre International de Synthèse. P.: A. Michel, pp. 55–59. 1965b Kilka uwag w sprawie wartości poznawczych [A Few Remarks Concerning Cognitive Values]. Z vol. XVII, no. 1, pp. 439–445. 1965–1966a Jan Vetulani (4.05.1938–23.06.1965). Wspomnienie pośmiertne [Obituary]. RF vol. XXIV, no. 3–4, pp. 308–309. 1965–1966b Koncepcja języka w filozofii Kazimierza Ajdukiewicza [The Conception of Language in Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz’s Philosophy]. RF vol. XXIV, no. 1–2, pp. 3–9. 1966a [Artykuły o sceptykach starożytnych / Papers on Ancient Skeptics:] Agrippa. Aenesidemus. Antiochus of Laodicea. Arcesilaus. Carneades of Cyrene. Carneades (son of Polemarch). Charmides. Clitomachus of Carthage. Dionysius of Aegina. Euandrus. Favorinus of Arelate. Hegesinus of Pergamon. Herodotus of Tarsus. Lakydes. Menodotus of Nicomedia. Philo of Athens. Philo of Larissa. Pyrrho of Elis. Sextus Empiricus. Teleclus of Phocis. Teodas of Laodicea. Timon of Phlius. Zeno of Alexandria. Zeuxis. In (Krońska ed. 1966, col. 3, 4–5, 18, 31–32, 118, 170, 193, 199, 218, 218–219, 250, 257, 303–304, 304, 311–312, 328, 364, 403–406, 419–421, 458, 458, 461, 495, 498). 1966b Jacques Ruytinx: La problématique philosophique et l’unité de la science. Étude critique. Paris 1962 [rev.]. SL vol XVIII, pp. 195–197. 1966c Langue et philosophie: Sur certain aspects de philosophie linguistique. La Langage. A-XIII-CPh. Neuchâtel: La Baconière, pp. 91–94. 1966d O starożytnej etyce [On Ancient Ethics]. F no. 194, pp. 202–207. 1966e Z dziejów sporu o bezwzględność dobra. Sofiści i Sokrates [From the History of Controversy about Absolutness of Good. Sofists and Socrates]. F no. 199, pp. 435- 440. 1966f Związek filozofii i medycyny w kulturze helleńskiej i hellenistycznej [Connection of Philosophy and Medicine in Hellenic and Hellenistic Culture]. F no. 200–201, pp. 55–66. 1966/1967a Condillaca koncepcja nauki jako „porządnego języka” [Condillac’s Conception of Science as a “Perfect Language”] [ab.]. RF vol XXV, no. 1/2, p. 90.



1966/1967b O środkach instrumentalnych działania [ab.]. RF t. 26, no. 1, pp. 46–47. 1967a O narzędziach i przedmiotach poznania: Z teorii instrumentalnego poznania. O filozofii lingwistycznej [Instruments and Objects of Cognition: From the Theory of Instrumental Cognition. On Linguistic Philosophy]. W.: PWN. 1967b Pascal et le concept du temps. A-XI-CHS T. II. Ww.: Ossolineum & PAN, pp. 144–18 & 148 and 151[comments in discussion]. 1967c „Próba kontaktu” z myślą filozoficzną Henryka Elzenberga [An “Attempt of Contact” with Henryk Elzenberg’s Philosophical Thought] (1887–1967). Z an. 19, no. 9(159), pp. 1121–1127. 1967d Semiotyczna koncepcja nauki w filozofii Condillaca [Semiotic Conception of Science in Condillac’s Philosophy]. In (Czeżowski et al. ed. 1967, pp. 537–545). 1967e Stanisław Kobyłecki (1864–1939). In (Słownik 1967, pp. 175–176). 1967f Wspomnienie o Stanisławie Łempickim i Andrzeju Rybickim [Reminiscence of Stanisław Łempicki and Andrzej Rybicki]. In (Knot et al. ed. 1967, pp. 39–41). 1968a Le développement historique des problèmes méthodologiques communs aux sciences naturelles et sociales [comment during the First Symposium]. A-XI-CHS. T. I. Ww.: Ossolineum & PAN, pp. 60–62. 1968b L’instrument et objet de recherche à la lumière de la théorie de physique d’après Duhem, Bridgman et Bohr. Études d’Histoire de la Science et de la Technique. (Monografie z Dziejów Nauki i Techniki. Vol. L.) Ww.: Ossolineum & PAN, pp. 203- 208. 1968c Instrument et objet de la recherche à la lumière de la théorie de physique d’après Duhem, Bridgman et Bohr [ab.]. RC-XII-CHS. P. 1968, pp. 48–49. 1968d Poglądy Leibniza na język i jego rolę jako zasadę unifikacji wiedzy [Leibniz’s Views on Language and Its Role as a Principle of Unification of Knowledge] . RF vol. XXVI, no. 3, pp. 224–226. 1968e Przemówienie z okazji osiemdziesięciolecia profesora Władysława Tatarkiewicza. W., 27.06.1966 [Speech on the Occasion of Eightieth Anniversary of Władysław Tatarkiewicz]. RF vol. XXVI, no. 1, pp. 37–39. 1968f Sceptyczna krytyka pojęcia czasu u Sekstusa Empiryka [Skeptical Criticism of the Notion of Time by Sextus Empiricus]. F no. 215, pp. 241–248. 1968g Semiotyka wyrażeń funkcyjnych w Dialektyce Abelarda [Semiotics of Functional Expressions in Abelard’s Dialectics]. RoF vol. XVI, i. 1, pp. 83- 91. 1969a Kazimierz Twardowski. Z vol. XXVII, no. 7/8, pp. 885–888. 1969b Koncepcja instrumentu i jego roli w świetle teorii i metodolo­g ii fizyki P. Duhema [The Conception of Instrument and Its Role in the Light of P. Duhem’s Theory and Methodology of Physics] [ab.]. RF vol XXVII, no. 1, pp. 31–32. 1969d Modèle et objet de la connaisance. (Sur certains modes d’opération par analogie.) RIPh vol. XXIII, no. 87/90, pp. 34–43. 1969d O pojęciu konwencji [On the Notion of Convention]. In (Gumański ed. 1969, pp. 35–55). 1969e O starożytnej humanitas [On Ancient humanitas]. F no. 226, pp. 291–296. 1969f Semiotyczne koncepcje w filozofii Kazimierza Twardowskiego [Semiotic Conceptions in Kazimierz Twardowski’s Philosophy]. RF t. 21, no. 1, pp. 1–9. 1969g Sur un trait platonicien de la dialectique stoïcienne. La dialectique. A-XIV-Cph. P.: PUF, pp. 23–25. 1969h Tadeusz Czeżowski. In (Gumański ed. 1969, pp. 5–19). 1969i W sprawie interpretacji stoickiej koncepcji oznaki [On the Interpretaion of Stoic Conception of Mark] [ab.]. RF vo;. XXVII, no. 2/3, pp. 170–171.


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1970a L’instrument et objet de recherche à la lumière de la théorie de physique d’après Duhem, Bridgman et Bohr. A-XII-CHS. T. 2. Problèmes Générales de l’Histoire des Sciences. Epistemologie. P.: A. Blanchard, pp. 25–28. 1970b Niektóre zagadnienia semiotyki stoickiej w świetle traktatu Sekstusa Empiryka Przeciw logikom [Some Problems of Stoic Semiotics in the Light of Sextus Empiricus’ Treatice Adeversus Logicos] [ab.]. RF vol. XXVIII, no. 1/2, pp. 65–66. 1970c „Prawda” i „to, co prawdziwe” w dialektyce stoickiej na pod­stawie Adversus logicos Sekstusa Empiryka [“Truth” and “That Which is True” in Stoic Dialectics as Seen in the Adversus logicos of Sextus Empiricus] [ab.]. RF vol. XXVIII, no. 3/4, pp. 185–186. 1970d Roman Ingarden (1893–1970). RPh no. 4, pp. 503–506. 1970e Sur les fonctions sémiotiques du silence. RMM vol. LXXV, no. 3, pp. 309–315. 1971a Αληθεια i το αληθες w dialektyce stoickiej na podstawie Adversus logicos Sekstusa Empiryka [Αληθεια and το αληθες in Stoic Dialectic as Seen in the Adversus logicos of Sextus Empiricus]. In (Sulowski ed. 1971, pp. 37–50). 1971b Analiza pojęcia oznaki w semiotyce stoickiej [The Analysis of the Concept of Mark in Stoic Semiotics]. In (Sulowski ed. 1971, pp. 27–35). 1971c Filozofia na Uniwersytecie Jana Kazimierza we Lwowie w latach 1918–1939 [Philosophy at John Casimir’s Univeristy in Lvov in the Years 1918–1939]. ZL no. 2, pp. 76–90. 1971d La théorie de la science dans les œuvres de Claude Ptolémée. O t. 8, pp. 109–122. 1971e Les idée de Wittgenstein sur la non-contradiction et sur le caractère des propositions mathematiques. A-XIV-KPh. T. 6. Wn.: Herder, pp. 202–207. 1971f O definicjach prospektywnych [On Prospective Definitions] [ab.]. RF vol. XXIX, no. 1, pp. 31. 1971g O funkcjach semiotycznych milczenia [On the Semiotic Functions of Silence]. SS vol. 2, pp. 77–88. 1971h Poglądy filozoficzne Romana Ingardena [Roman Ingarden’s Philosophical Views] (1893–1970). KiS vol XV, no. 1, pp. 3–7. 1971i Poglądy Ptolemeusza na naukę i jej metody [Ptolemy’s Views on Science and Its Metods]. SKNPAN vol XIII(1969), no. 2, pp. 430–432. 1971j Ptolemeusz jako filozof [Ptolemy as a Philosopher]. F no. 250, pp. 17–24. 1971k Semiotic functions of silence. SSs (SS) vol. II (summaries), pp. 4–5 1971l Sur le concept de convention. RS. Ser. III, vol. XCII, no. 63/64, pp. 197–211. 1971m Wśród książek i myśli Władysława Tatarkiewicza [Among Władysław Tatarkiewicz’s Books and Thoughts]. TP an. XXV, no. 24(1168), 13.06.1971, pp. 1–2. 1972a Dwa studia o Platonie [Two Studies on Plato]. Ww.: Ossolineum & PAN. 1972b Ingarden, Roman: Z badań nad filozofią współczesną [From the Studies on Contemporary Philosophy]. W. 1963 [rev.]. RPh no. 4, pp. 435–437. 1972c Lucien Jerphagnon: De la banalité. Paris 1965 [rev.]. RF vol. XXXVI, no. 1, pp. 2931. 1972d O ewolucji niektórych metalogicznych i [meta]matematycznych poglądów G. Fregego w świetle I tomu Nachgelassene Schriften [On Evolution of Some G. Frege’s Metalogical and Metamathematical Views in the Light of the First Volume of Nachgelassene Schriften]. RF vol XXX, no. 3/4, pp. 245–251. 1972e Waldemar Voisé: Myśl społeczna XVI wieku [Social Thought of 16th Century]. W. 1970 [rev.]. KHNT an. 17, no. 1, pp. 126–127. 1973a O znaczeniu historii nauki dla filozofii [On the Significance of the History of Science for Philosophy] [ab.]. RF vol. XXXI, no. 2/4, pp. 240–241. 1973b Cynicy – hippisi starożytnego świata [Cynics – Hippies of the Ancient Worls]. F no. 267, pp. 339–348.



1973c Filozofia w Polsce. Słownik pisarzy. Zagajenie dyskusji [Philosophy in Poland. Dictionary of Writers. Opening Address]. AHF vol XIX, pp. 209–216. 1973d Kilka uwag o Marcinie Śmigleckim i jego Logice [A Few Remarks on Marcin Śmiglecki and His Logic]. SMDNP. Ser. E, i. 5, pp. 3–27. 1973e L’épistémologie de Ptolémée. XXXI-SS. P.: A. Blanchard, pp. 31–37 and 179 [comment in discussion]. 1973f L’homme et les valeurs cognitives. Quelque remarques sur l’aspect axiologique de la philosophie de la science. P-XV-CPh. Vol. II., pp. 181–183. 1973g Niektóre zagadnienia semiotyki stoickiej w świetle traktatu Sekstusa Empiryka Przeciw logikom [Some problems of Stoic semiotics in Adversus logicos of Sextus Empiricus]. In (Sulowski ed. 1973, pp. 7–14). 1973h O konwencjach semiotycznych [Semiotic conventions]. SS vol IV, pp. 35–45. 1973i O niektórych poglądach Ptolemeusza z zakresu teorii nauk [On Some Views of Ptolemy in the Domain of the Theory of Sciences]. SK. Lb.: KUL, pp. 177–193. 1973j Roman Ingarden: Z teorii języka i filozoficznych podstaw logiki [From the Theory of Language and Philosophical Foundations of Logic]. W. 1972 [rev.]. RF vol. XXXI, no. 2/4, pp. 119–122. 1974a Adam Burski i jego Dialectica Ciceronis [Adam Burski and His Dialectica Ciceronis]. AHFMS vol. XX, pp. 3–15. 1974b An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry de B. Russell et la critique de ce livre en France dans les années 1898–1900. O vol. 10, pp. 245–253. 1974b Daniela Gromska (1889–1973). RF vol. XXXII, no. 2/3, pp. 129–131. 1974c Garść uwag o filozofii Eugeniusza Minkowskiego [A Few Remarks of Eugeniusz Minkowski’s Philosophy]. RF vol XXXII, no. 1, pp. 1- 5. 1974d Irena Krońska. TP an. 28, no. 6, pp. 7. 1974e O znaczeniu historii nauki dla filozofii [On the Meaning of the History of Science for Philosophy]. In (Olesińska ed. 1974, pp. 105–120). 1974f Znaki i myśli [Signs and Thoughts] [ab.]. STNT no. 26, pp. 68–69. 1975a Convention et culture. La culture. A-XIV-CPh. P. & B.: PUF, pp. 271–273. 1975b Dwa międzynarodowe spotkania filozoficzne we wrześniu 1974 r. [Two International Philosophical Meetings in September 1974]. RF vol XXXIII, no. 2, pp. 169–174. 1975c O bezimienności [On namelessness]. In (Dąmbska 1975g, pp. 9–33). 1975d O konwencjach i konwencjonalizmie [Conventions and conventionalism]. Ww.: Ossolineum & PAN. 1975e Sur la valeur de l’histoire de la science pour la philosophie. O vol. XI, pp. 45–57. 1975f Wspomnienie o profesor Danieli Gromskiej [Reminiscence of Professor Daniela Gromska]. M an. XXX, no. 1, pp. 3–6. 1975g Znaki i myśli. Wybór pisma z semiotyki, teorii nauki i historii filozofii [Signs and Thoughts. Selected Writings in Semiotics, Epistemology and History of Philosophy]. (PWF-FTNT. Vol. XXV, pp. 2.) W.: PWN. 1975h Z refleksji Władysława Witwickiego nad nauką i jej stosunkiem do innych dziedzin życia [From Władysław Witwicki’s Reflexion on Science and Its Relation to Other Domain of Life]. RF vol. XXX, no. 1, pp. 11–14. 1976a Antyk w dziełach Władysława Tatarkiewicza [Antiquity in Władysław Tatarkiewicz’s Works]. F no. 300/301, pp. 23–39. 1976b David Lewis: Konventionen. Eine sprachphilosophische Abhandlung. Bn. & NY: 1975 [rev.]. RF vol. XXXIV, no. 3, pp. 197–199. 1976c Idee kantowskie w neointuicjonizmie Brouwera [Kantian Ideas in Brouwer’s Neointuitionism]. AUW. No. 299. Prace Filozoficzne (Logika 5). Ww., pp. 7–13. 1976d Jan Bogumił Moeller. In (Słownik 1976, col. 555–556).


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1976e Kanta filozofia matematyki i kontynuacja niektórych jej myśli w twórczości Poincarégo [Kant’s Philosophy of Mathematics and Continuation of Some His Thoughts in Poincaré’ Works]. In (Garewicz ed. 1976, pp. 287–307). 1976f Langue et science dans la philosophie de Leibniz. In (Sulowski ed. 1976, pp. 117- 124). 1976g O pewnych punktach stycznych w filozofii języka Ingardena i Fregego [On Some Similarities in Philosophy of Language of Ingarden and Frege] RF vol. XXXIV, no. 3, pp. 203–206. 1976h Spór o astrologię w filozofii hellenistycznej [Controversy about Astrology in Hellenistic Philosophy]. F no. 248, pp. 355–365. 1976i Władysław Tatarkiewicz: Histoire de six notions: l’art, le beau, la forme, la création, l’imitation, le sentiment esthétique. W. 1976 [bibliographic note]. BPh vol. III, no. 1, p. 36. 1976j W sprawie artykułu prof. Sandauera pt. „Głos dzielony na czworo” [Concerning the Paper of Professor Sandauer “The Voice Splitting Hairs”]. TP vol XXX, no. 19, p. 3 1977a Czym jest filozofia, którą uprawiam [What is the Philosophy Practised by Myself]. Z no. 281/282, pp. 1335–1337. 1977b Eugeniusz Minkowski. Z an. XXIX, no. 1(271), pp. 46–49. 1977c Les idées kantiennes dans la philosophie des mathématiques de Wittgenstein. O no. 12/13, pp. 249–269. 1977d O potrzebie filozofowania [On the Need of Philosophizing]. RoF vol. XXV, i. 1, pp. 5–7. 1977e Tadeusz Czeżowski: Jedność dzieła i osobowości [Tadeusz Czeżowski: The Unity of Work and Personality]. KHNT an. XXII, no. 1, pp. 21–25. 1978a Idee kantowskie w filozofii matematyki XX wieku [Kantian Ideas in the Philosophy of Mathematics of 20th Century]. AHF vol. XXIV, pp. 167–213. 1978b Podziękowanie [Thanks]. RF vol. XXXVI, no. 2–4, pp. 127–129. 1979a Franciszek Brentano a polska myśl filozoficzna. Kazimierz Twardowski i jego szkoła. [Franz Brentano and the Polish Philosophical Thought. Kazimierz Twardowski and His School]. RF vol. XXXVI, no. 1–2, pp. 1–18. 1979b O niektórych poglądach z zakresu teorii nauki w Szkole Lwowsko-Warszawskiej [On Some Views from the Domain of the Theory of Science in the Lvov-Warsaw School]. ZNKUL vol XXIII, no. 1, pp. 11–20. 1979c O niektórych punktach stycznych filozofii Tadeusza Czeżowskiego i Franciszka Brentany [On Some Similarities of the Philosophy of Tadeusz Czeżowski and Franz Brentano]. SF no. 8(165), pp. 19–25. 1981a Aksjologia moralna T. Czeżowskiego [T. Czeżowski’s Moral Axiology]. RF vol. XXXIX, no. 2–4, pp. 1–7. 1981b Charakterystyka filozoficznej twórczości profesora Władysława Tatarkiewicza [Characteristics of Professor Władysław Tatarkiewicz’s Philosophical Works]. SF no. 1, pp. 5–10. 1981c Gdy myślę o słowie „wolność” [When I think of the word “freedom”]. Z an. XXXIII, no. 6, pp. 855–860. 1982 Symbol. SS vol. XII, pp. 125–132. 1984a Głos w dyskusji „Prawda i etos w życiu filozofa” [A Comment in the Discussion “Truth and Ethos in Philosopher’s Life”]. Z vol. XXXVI, no. 1(350), pp. 47–53. 1984b Wprowadzenie do starożytnej semiotyki greckiej. Studia i teksty [Introduction in the Ancient Greek Semiotics. Studies and Materials]. Ww.: Ossolineum. 1986 Problem śmierci w kulturze chrześcijańskiej [The Problem of Death in Christian Culture]. Z no. 374, pp. 50–71.



1989a O dwoistości w aspekcie bytu i poznania i o tendencji do przezwyciężania tej dwoistości jako podstawie kierunków i stanowisk filozoficznych [On Duality in the Aspect of Being and Cognition and on the Tendency to Overcome this Duality as the Basis for Philosophical Trends and Standpoints]. In (Perzanowski, ed. 1989, pp. 13–21). 1989b O niektórych koncepcjach metafilozoficznych w Szkole Lwowsko-Warszawskiej [On Some Metaphilosophical Conceptions in the Lvov-Warsaw School]. In (Perzanowski ed. 1989, pp. 22–29). 1991 Z semantyki przymiotników [On the Semantics of Adjectives]. In (Pelc ed. 1991, pp. 1–9). 1996 W sprawie „Legendy o Kazimierzu Twardowskim” [Concerning the “Legend of Kazimierz Twardowski”]. RF vol. LIII, no. 1, pp. 9–12. 1998 O pojęciu rozumienia [On the Notion of Understanding] [transl. R. Zaborowski]. PF. Nowa Seria vol. VII, no. 3, pp. 9–12.

2. Translations into French 1939 Ladislas Witwicki, La foi des éclairés [transl. from the Polish]. Ps.: F. Alcan.

3. Translations into Polish 1955 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Nowe rozważania dotyczące rozumu ludzkiego [New Essays on Human Understanding]. T. I-II [transl. form the French]. W.: PWN. 1958 René Descartes: Rozmowa z Burmanem [Conversation with Burman] [transl. from the Latin]. In (Descartes 1644/1958, pp. 233–300). 1960 René Descartes: Zasady filozofii [Principles of Philosophy] [fransl. from the Latin]. W.: PWN. 1960–1961 Chaim Perelman: Reguła sprawiedliwości [The Rule of Justice]. [transl. from the French]. RF vol. XX, no. 4, pp. 223–269. 1963 Teofrast: Charaktery [Characters] [transl. from the Greek]. In (Theophrastus 1963, pp. 340–370 and 500–517). 1965 Kazimierz Twardowski: O treści i przedmiocie przedstawień [On Content and Object of Presentations] [transl. from the German]. In (Twardowski 1965, pp. 3–91). 1970 Sekstus Empiryk. Przeciw logikom [Adversus logicos] [transl. from the Greek]. W.: PWN. 1972 Teofrast: Charaktery. Wybór [Characters. Selection] [transl. from the Greek]. In (Winniczuk ed. 1972, pp. 366–369, 405–407, 414–415, 417. 1977 Eugeniusz Minkowski: Metafora. „Zaświecam lampę” [Metaphor. “I Strake a Lamp”]. Z an. XXIX, no. 1(271), pp. 49–61. 1978 Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Układ pojęć w filozofii Arystotelesa [The System of Notions in Aristotle’s Philosophy] [transl. from the German]. W.: PWN. 1981 Ptolemeusz: O sądzie i naczelnej władzy duszy [On Judgment and the Commanding Faculty of Soul] [transl. from the Greek]. M vol. XXXVI, pp. 3–23.

4. Preparations 1972 Kazimierz Twardowski: Wykłady z etyki [Lectures on Ethics]. Pt. II: O sceptycyzmie etycznym [On Ethical Skepticism]. E vol. IX(1971), pp. 171–222. 1973 Kazimierz Twardowski: Wykłady z etyki [Lectures on Ethics]. Pt. III: O zadaniach etyki naukowej [On the Aims of Scientific Ethics]. E vol. XII, pp. 125–155.


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1974 Kazimierz Twardowski: Wykłady z etyki [Lectures on Ethics]. Pt. I: Główne kierunki etyki naukowej [Main Trends of Scientific Ethics]. E vol. XIII, pp. 197–226. 1975 Kazimierz Twardowski: Teoria poznania [Theory of Cognition]. 1924–1925. AHFMS vol. XXI, pp. 239–299. 1976 Kazimierz Twardowski: Dwa odczyty („Nauki humanistyczne a psychologia.” „Dlaczego wiedza jest potęgą?”) [Two Papers (“Humanities and Psychology,” “Why Knowledge is a Potency]. RF vol. XXXIV, no. 1/2, pp. 17–33. 1983 Kazimierz Twardowski: Etyka i prawo karne wobec zagadnienia wolności woli [Ethics and Criminal Law in Consideration of Free Will]. E vol. XX, pp. 123–159.

Furthermore: (1)


In the years 1937–1939 and 1947–1974, she prepared the bibliography of the Polish section in: Bibliographie de la philosophie. Bulletin Analytique. Institut International de Collaboration Philosophique (up to 1963) & Institut International de Philosophie (since 1964) (P.: J. Vrin). In the years 1938–1939 and 1948, she edited RF (vol. XIV-XV and XVI, no. 1/2).

B. Works of Other authors Cited by Izydora Dąmbska (and the Editors) Ajdukiewicz, Kazimierz 1934a Sprache und Sinn. Es Bd. IV, Hf. 2, pp. 100–138. 1934b Das Weltbild und die Begriffsapparatur. Es Bd. IV, Hf. 4, pp. 259–287. 1934c Logiczne podstawy nauczania [Logical Foundations of Teaching]. In (Łempicki ed. 1934, pp. 1–73). 1938 Zdania warunkowe w mowie potocznej i w logistyce [Conditional Sentences in Colloquial Speech and in Logistics] (ab.). RF vol. XIV, no. 1–3, pp. 134a-134b). 1955 Klasyfikacja rozumowań [Classification of Reasonings]. SL vol. II, pp. 278–300. Auerbach, Walter 1931 O wątpieniu [On Doubting]. KPPTF, pp. 78–97. L.: K-A. Ayer, Alfred Jules 1936 Language, Truth and Logic. Ln. 1948: V. Gollancz, Ltd. Bachelard, Gaston 1957 La poétique de l’espace. Ps.: PUF. 1960 La poétique de la rêverie. Ps.: PUF. 1961 La flamme d’une chandelle. Ps.: PUF. Bar, Adam 1936–1938 Słownik pseudonimów i kryptonimów pisarzy polskich oraz Polski dotyczących [Vocabulary of Pseudonyms and Codenames of Polish Writers, and Writers Concerning Poland]. K.: G-W. Barbier, Antoine-Alexandre



1806 Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes et psedonymes. Vol. I. Ps.1872: P. Daffis, L-É. Bavink, Bernhard 1933 Die Naturwissenschaft auf dem Wege zur Religion. FaM.: Vg. M. Diesterweg. Benni, Tytus et al. 1923 Gramatyka języka polskiego [Grammar of the Polish Language]. K.: Edited by PAU. Bergmann, Hugo 1929 Der Kampf um das Kausalgesetz in der jüngsten Physik. Bg.: F. Vieweg & Sohn. Berr, Henri 1898 La synthèse des connaissances et l’histoire. Essai sur l’avenir de la philosophie. Ps.: Hachette. 1955 La montée de l’esprit. Bilan d’une vie et d’une oeuvre. P.: A. Michel. Bibliography 1955- Critical Bibliography of the History of Sciences and its Cultural Influences. Ph.: UP. Blaustein, Leopold 1931 Przedstawienia schematyczne i symboliczne. Badania z pogranicza psychologii i estetyki [Schematic and Symbolic Presentations. Research on the Borderline of Psychology and Esthetics]. L.: Edited by PH. Bleuler, Eugen 1911 Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie. Bn. 1920: J. Springer. Bohr, Niels 1955 Atoms and Human Knowledge. In (Bohr 1958, pp. 83–93). 1958 Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge. NY: J. Wiley & Sons, Inc. Bolzano, Bernard 1837 Wissenschaftslehre. Bd. I. Sl.: J.E. von Seidel’schen Buchhandlung. Brentano, Franz 1895 Die vier Phasen der Philosophie und ihr augenblicklicher Stand. St.: Vg. der G.G. Cotta’schen Buchhandlung. 1925 Die Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte. Bd. II. Lg.: F. Meiner. Bridgman, Percy Williams 1927 The Logic of Modern Physics. NY: Beaufort Books. Campbell, Norman Robert 1912 The Principles of Electricity. Ln.: T.C. & E.C. Jack. 1920 Physics. The Elements.Cm.: CUP. Carnap, Rudolf 1934 Logische Syntax der Sprache. Wn.: J. Springer. 1942 Introduction to Semantics. Cm. 1948: HUP. Cassirer, Ernst 1922 Philosophie der symbolischen Formen. Bd. I: Einleitung und Problemstellung. Bn.: Bruno Cassirer. 1944 An Essay on Man. NH. & Ln. 1963: YUP.


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Chevalier, Jean & Gheerbrant, Alain 1969 Dictionnaire des symboles. Mythes, rêves, coutumes, gestes, formes, figures, couleurs, nombres. Ps.: É. R. Laffont. Chwistek, Leon 1935 Granice nauki [The Limits of Science]. L. & W.: K-A. 1936 Racjonalizm i irracjonalizm w nauce i życiu [Rationalism and Irrationalism in Science and Life]. PW an. XV, vol. LVII, no. 5(169), pp. 237–251. Clagett, Marshal, ed. 1959 Critical Problems in the History of Science. Madison: UWP. Clark, Joseph Thomas 1959 The Philosophy of Science and History of Science. In (Clagett ed. 1959, pp. 103–140). Cohen, Robert Sonné 1964 Is the Philosophy of Science Germane to the History of Science? The work of Meyerson and Needham. P-X-CHS. Vol. I, pp. 213–223. Couturat, Louis, ed. 1903 Opuscules et fragments inédits de Leibniz. Ps.: F. Alcan Czeżowski, Tadeusz 1949 Logika [Logic]. W.: PZWS. 1958a Odczyty filozoficzne [Philosophical Lectures]. T. 1969: Edited by TNT. 1958b Pojęcie prawdziwości w odniesieniu do utworów literackich [The Notion of Truthfulness in Reference to Literary Works. In (Czeżowski 1958a, pp. 224–226). 1959a Główne zasady nauk filozoficznych [Main Principles of Philosophical Sciences]. Ww.: Ossolineum. 1959b On Traditional Distinctions between Definitions. In (Czeżowski 2000, pp. 96–102). 2000 Knowledge, Sciences and Values. A Program for Scientific Philosophy. Am.: Rodopi. Czeżowski, Tadeusz, ed. 1960 Charisteria. Rozprawy filozoficzne złożone w darze Władysławowi Tatarkiewiczowi w siedemdziesiątą rocznicę urodzin [Philosophical Dissertations Given to Władysław Tatarkiewicz in 70th Anniversary of His Birth]. W.: PWN. Czeżowski, Tadeusz et al., ed. 1967 Fragmenty filozoficzne [Philosophical Fragments]. Ser. III. Księga pamiątkowa ku czci profesora Tadeusza Kotarbińskiego w osiemdziesiątą rocznicę urodzin [Festschrift for Professor Tadeusz Kotarbiński in Eightieth Anniversary of His Birth]. W.: PWN. Descartes, René 1644 “Meditations on the First Philosophy” and Selections from “The Principles of Philosophy.” Edinburgh 1853: Sutherland and Knox. Polish transl. Medytacje o pierwszej filozofii. Vol. II. W. 1958: PWN. Dessoir, Max 1948 Rede als Kunst. Mn.: Ersamus Vg.. Diderot, Denis 1875 De l’interprétation de la nature. Oeuvres complètes.Vol. II. P.: Garnier Frères. L-É.



Duhem, Pierre 1906 La théorie physique. Son objet – sa structure. Ps. 1914: M. Rivière et Cie. Durand, Gilbert 1963 Les structures anthropologiques de l’imagination. Ps.: PUF. Eddington, Arthur Stanley 1928 The Nature of the Physical Worls. Cm.: CUP. Fleck, Ludwik 1936 Zagadnienie teorii poznawania [The Problem of the Theory of Cognition]. PF an. XXXIX, no. 1, pp. 3–37. Frank, Philipp 1931 Der Charakter der heutigen physikalischen Theorien. S Ser. 3, Bd. XLIX, pp. 183–196. 1932 Das Kausalgesetz und seine Grenzen. Wn.: J. Springer. 1935 Zeigt sich in der modernen Physik ein Zug zu einer spiritualistischen Auffasung? Es Jg. V, pp. 65–80. Frege, Gottlob 1892 Über Sinn und Bedeutung. ZPhK Bd. 100, pp. 25–50. Garewicz, Jan, ed. 1976 Dziedzictwo Kanta. Materiały z Sesji Kantowskiej. W.: PWN. Gauger, Hildegard 1937 Die Psychologie Schweigens in England. Hd.: C. Winter. Goblot, Edmond 1902 Traité de logique. Ps. 1922: A. Colin. Goclenius [Rudolph Goeckel] 1615 Lexicon philosophicum Graecum. Mb.: R. Hutwelcker. Greimas, Algirdas Julien & Jakobson, Roman et al., ed. 1970 Sign, Language, Culture. Hg..: Mouton. Grotius, Hugo 1625 De iure belli ac pacis. [Vol. I.] U.: J. Schoonhoven & Soc. Gumański, Leon, ed. 1969 Rozprawy filozoficzne. Profesorowi Tadeuszowi Czeżowskiemu w osiemdziesiątą rocznicę urdzin [Philosophical Dissertations. For Professor Tadeusz Czeżowski in Eightieth Anniversary of His Birth]. PWF-FTNT. Vol. 21, i. 2. T.: Edited by TNT. Hanson, Norwood Russell 1962 The Irrelevance of History of Science to the Philosophy of Science. JPh vol. LIX, no. 21, p. 574–586. Heisenberg, Werner 1927 Über den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik. ZPh Bd. XLIII, Hf. 3–4, pp. 172–198. 1930 Die physikalischen Prinzipien der Quantentheorie. Lg.: Hirzel.


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

Hertz, Heinrich 1889 Über die Beziehungen zwischen Licht und Elektrizität. Lg. 1895: E. Strauss. Höfler, Alois 1890 Logik. Wn. & Lg. 1922: F. Tempsky & G. Freytag. Holbach, Paul-Henri Thiry d’ 1770 Système de la nature ou des loix du monde physique et du monde morale. Vol. I. eLn.: Edited anonymously. Husserl, Edmund 1901 Logische Untersuchungen. Bd. II. Tl. 1. Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. H.: M. Niemeyer. Infeld, Leopold 1933 Nowe drogi nauki [New Paths of Science]. W.: Mathesis Polska. Ingarden, Roman 1925 Essentiale Fragen. Ein Beitrag zum Problem des Wesens. JPhF Bd. VII, pp. 125–304. 1936a Analiza zdania warunkowego [An Analysis of Conditional Sentences]. SPTPN vol. X, no. 1, pp. 17–27). 1936b Czy zadaniem filozofii jest synteza nauk szczegółowych? [Is a Synthesis of Particular Sciences the Task of Philosophy?]. KF vol. XIII, i. 3, pp. 195–324. 1948 Spór o istnienie świata [Controversy over the Existence of the World]. Vol. II. W.: PWN. Jaeger, Werner Wilhelm 1933–1947 Paideia. Die Formung des griechischen Menschen. Bd. I-III. Bn.: W. de Gruyter & Co. Jaworski, Leopold 1929 Notatki [Notes]. K.: DNK. Jeans, James Hopwood 1930 The Mysterious Universe. Cm.: CUP. 1933 The New Background of Science. Cm. 1934: CUP. Jerphagnon, Lucien 1965 De la banalité. Essai sur l’ipséité et sa durée vécue: durée personelle et co-durée. Ps.: J. Vrin. Juhos, Béla 1953 Die neue Logik als Voraussetzung der wissenschaftlichen Erkenntniss. SG Bd. VI, Hf. 10, pp. 593–599. Jung, Carl Gustav 1929a Psychological Types or the Psychology of Individuation. Ln.: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1949b Symbolik des Geistes. Z.: Rascher Vg.. Kaczorowski, Stanisław 1949 O niektórych przekształceniach podziału [On Some Transformations of the Division]. Ł.: Edited by ŁTN. Kainz, Friedrich



1954 Psychologie der Sprache. Bd. III. St.: F. Enke Vg. Karłowicz, Jan & Kryński, Adam Antoni & Niedźwiecki, Władysław, eds. 1904 Słownik języka polskiego [The Dictionary of the Polish Language]. Vol. III. W.: Edited by KM. Kepler, Johannes 1596 Prodromus dissertationum cosmographicarum continens mysterium cosmographicum de admirabili proportione orbium ceoelestium. In (Kepler 1858, pp. 95–214). 1858 Opera omnia. Vol. I. FaM.L: Heyder & Zimmer. Knot, Antoni et al., ed. 1967 Księga pamiątkowa w 150-lecie Zakładu Narodowego imienia Ossolińskich. Ww.: Ossolineum. Kotarbińska, Janina (born: Dina Sztejbarg) 1935 Rozumienie i wyjaśnianie w doktrynach Diltheya i Sprangera [Understanding and Explaining in Dilthey’s and Spranger’s Doctrines]. KP vol.VII, pp. 504–520, 655. 1957 Pojęcie znaku [The Notion of Sign]. SL vol. VI, pp. 57–143. Kotarbiński, Tadeusz 1929 Elementy teorii poznania, logiki formalnej i metodologii nauk [Elements of the Theory of Cognition, Formal Logic and the Methodology of Science]. L.: Ossolineum. English transl.: Gnosiology. The Scientific Approach to the Theory of Knowledge. O.- Ww. 1966: Pergamon Press & Ossolineum. Krasnowolski, Antoni 1898 Systematyczna składnia języka polskiego [Systematic Syntax of the Polish Language]. W. 1909: E. Wende & Sp. Kreibig, Josef Klemens 1904 Über ein Paradoxon in der Logik Bolzanos. VJPh vol. XXVIII, pp. 375–391. Krońska, Irena, ed. 1966 Słownik filozofów [Dictionary of Philosophers]. Vol. I. W.: PWN. Lalande, André, ed. 1927 Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie. Vol. I-II. Ps. 1960: PUF. Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 1679 Introductio ad Encyclopaediam arcanam. In (Couturat ed. 1903, pp. 511–512). Łempicki, Stanisław, ed. 1934 Encyklopedia wychowania. Vol. XXI, i. 1. W.: NK. Le Roy, Édouard 1899 Science et philosophie. RMM vol. IX, pp. 375–425, 503–562 and 708–731. Łoś, Jan 1923 Składnia [polska] [Polish Syntax]. In: (Benni et al. 1923, pp. 287–408). Łukasiewicz, Jan 1913 Die logischen Grundlagen der Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung. K.: AW.


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Name Index Abelard, Peter 381 Agrippa 120, 380 Ajdukiewicz, Kazimierz 58, 111, 112, 116, 142, 158, 164, 221, 235, 255, 269, 276, 277, 360, 364, 372, 380, 386 Albert, St. (cf. Adam Chmielowski) Albrecht Hohenzollern (count) 195 Alembert, Jean le Rond d’ 302 Alexius of Rome 299 Allegri, Antonio (Corregio) 303 Antiochus of Laodicea 380 Arnould, Sopie 302 Arouet, François-Marie (Voltaire) 397 Askenazy, Szymon 227 Auerbach, Walter 119, 386 Ayer, Alfred Jules 277, 278, 386 Bachelard, Gaston 207, 386 Bacon, Francis 44 Badenis 352 Bar, Adam 290, 351, 386 Barbier, Antoine-Alexandre 302, 387 Barry, countess du (cf. Jeanne Bécu) Bavink, Bernhard 106, 387 Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin Caron 301 Beckhman, Isaac 23 Bécu, Jeanne (countess du Barry) 302 Beethoven, Ludwig van 333 Benni, Tytus 387, 391 Béranger, Pierre-Jean de 296 Bergmann, Hugo 105, 387 Bergson, Henri 379 Berkeley, George 37 Berr, Henri 17, 18, 380, 387 Bertin, Marie-Jeanne Rose 302 Blaustein, Leopold 195, 387 Bleuler, Eugen 290, 387 Blondel, Maurice 206 Bocheński, Józef Maria 352 Boëthius, Anicius Manlius Severinus 15, 379 Bohr, Niels 26, 381, 382, 387 Bolzano, Franz 244, 387 Bornstein, Benedykt 376 Bourbons 300, 301 Boyle, Robert 156

Brentano, Franz 124, 157, 243, 244, 372, 384, 387 Bridgman, Percy Williams 84, 381, 382, 387 Brissot, Honoré Gabriel Riqueti de 301 Broglie, Louis de 23, 95 Brouwer, Luitzen Egbertus Jan 118, 383 Brożek, Anna passim Buonaccorsi, Filippo (Kallimachos) 300 Buonarotti, Michelangelo (Michelangelo) 303 Burman, Frans 378, 385 Burski, Adam 372, 383 Calderón, Pedro 305 Campbell, Norman Robert 43, 44, 90, 91, 92, 387 Cantor, Georg 27 Carnap, Rudolf 63, 220, 228, 275, 360, 387 Carneades of Cyrene 380 Carneades (son of Polemarch) 380 Cassirer, Ernst 202, 387 Charmides 380 Charron, Pierre 120 Chevalier, Jean 206, 207, 208, 388 Chmielnicki, Bohdan 253 Chmielowski, Adam (St. Albert) 286 Chwistek, Leon 55, 57, 388 Cicero, Marcus Tullius 9, 343, 346 Cieszkowski, August 352 Clagett, Marshal 388, 392 Clark, Joseph Thomas 22, 388 Claudel, Paul 9, 317 Cohen, Robert Sonné 24, 25, 388, 395 Compton, Arthur Holly 103, 105 Comte, Auguste 17, 18 Condillac, Etienne Bonnot de 380, 381 Copernicus, Nicolas (cf. Mikołaj Kopernik) Corregio (cf. Antonio Allegri) 303 Couturat, Louis 388, 391 Crito 234 Crombie, Alistair Cameron 22 Czeżowski, Tadeusz 138, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 220, 353, 379, 380, 381, 384, 388, 389


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Dąmbska, Izydora passim Darwin, Charles 90 Descartes, René 14, 23, 378, 379, 385, 388 Dessoir, Max 330, 388 Destouches, Jean-Louis 43 Diderot, Denis 68, 388 Dilthey, Wilhelm 68, 69, 331, 334, 335, 337, 339, 391 Dingler, Hugo 115 Diogenes Laertius 344 Dionysius of Aegina 380 Dionysus the Younger 14 Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice 333 Dubois, Jacques (Sylvius) 300 Duhem, Pierre 23, 82, 83, 91, 95, 115, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 154, 155, 156, 381, 382, 389 Dumas, Alexandre 302 Dunin-Borkowskis 352 Durand, Gilbert 206, 389 Dzieduszyckis 352 Dzieduszycki, Wojciech 352 Eddington, Arthur Stanley 105, 106, 378, 379, 389 Eliade, Mircea 209 Elzenberg, Henryk 353, 381 Estermann, Immanuel 99 Euandrus 380 Euripides 9, 343 Falkenstein, count von (cf. Louis XVI) Faraday, Michael 95 Favorinus of Arelate 380 Fechner, Gustav 36 Fleck, Ludwik 52, 389 Francis I (emperor) 300 Frank, Philipp 96, 98, 102, 105, 389 Frederick the Great (king) 305 Fredro, Andrzej Maksymilian 305, 351 Frege, Gottlob 118, 196, 265, 382, 384, 389 Fresnel, Augustin-Jean 79, 80, 81, 99, 152 Gansiniec, Ryszard 379 Garewicz, Jan 384, 389 Gassendi, Pierre 37 Gauger, Edmond 328, 389 Gheerbrant, Alain 206, 388 Goblot, Edmond 259, 352, 371, 375, 376, 389

Goclenius (cf. Rudolph Goeckel) Goeckel, Rudolph (Goclenius) 389 Gorgias of Leontini 47 Greimas, Algirdas Julien 389, 397 Gromska, Daniela 383 Grotius, Hugo 306, 389 Grzegorz of Sanok 351 Gumański, Leon 381, 389 Halphen, Geores Henri 394 Hanson, Norwood Russell 23, 25, 389 Hegesinus of Pergamon 380 Heidegger, Martin 344 Heisenberg, Werner 23, 49, 98, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 389 Herodotus of Tarsus 380 Hertz, Heinrich 99, 390 Heyting, Arend 118 Hilbert, David 118 Höfler, Alois 237, 239, 244, 390 Holbach, Paul-Henri Thiry d’ 68, 390 Horace, Quintus Flaccus 376 Huet, Pierre-Daniel 122, 378 Hume, David 21 Husserl, Edmund 172, 174, 181, 239, 252, 390 Hutten, Ernest Hirschlaff 379 Infeld, Leopold 104, 390 Ingarden, Roman 18, 227, 255, 269, 353, 372, 382, 383, 384, 390, 399 Jabłonowskis 352 Jadacki, Jacek passim Jaeger, Werner Wilhelm 21, 390 Jakubisiak, Augustyn 379 James, William 65, 157, 390 Jaworski, Leopold 55, 56, 390 Jeans, James Hopwood 94, 95, 98, 105, 390 Jerphagnon, Lucien 199, 382, 390 John III (king) (Jan Sobieski) 217 Juhos, Béla 171, 390 Jung, Carl Gustav 201, 208, 209, 390 Kaczorowski, Stanisław 167, 390 Kainz, Fiedrich 171, 321, 330, 391 Kallimachos (cf. Filippo Buonaccorsi) Kant, Immanuel 21, 164, 348, 373, 384 Karłowicz, Jan 186, 391 Kepler, Johannes 87, 88, 92, 391

Name Index

Kiepura, Jan 260, 286 Kiepura, Władysław 260, 286 Kirchhoff, Gustav 93 Knot, Antoni 381, 391 Kobyłecki, Stanisław 381 Kodisowa, Józefa (born: Krzyżanowska) 352 Kopernik, Mikołaj (Nicolas Copernicus) 373 Korczak, Janusz (cf. Henryk Goldschmidt) Kościuszko, Tadeusz 238 Kossak, Wojciech 303 Kotarbińska, Janina (born: Dina Sztejnbarg) 69, 323, 335, 376, 391 Kotarbiński, Tadeusz 164, 231, 232, 255, 256, 378, 388, 391 Koyré, Alexandre 22 Krasiński, Zygmunt 302 Krasnowolski, Antoni 253, 264, 391 Kreibig, Josef Klemens 244, 391 Krońska, Irena 380, 383, 391 Kryński, Adam Antoni 186, 391 Lalande, André 206, 391 Langer, Susanne Langer 209 Laplace, Pierre-Simon de 147, 151 La Rochefoucauld, François de 9, 321 Leenhardt, Henry 376, 377 Lehr-Spławiński, Tadeusz 249 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 26, 40, 204, 381, 384, 385, 388, 391 Łempicki, Stanisław 381, 386, 391 Leonardo da Vinci 182 Le Roy, Édouard 146, 147, 148, 149, 391 Leszczyński, Stanisław (cf. Stanislaus I) Lévy-Strauss, Claude 209 Lewis, David 383 Łoś, Jan 264, 391 Louis XVI (king) (count of Falkenstein) 300 Louis XV (king) 302 Lubomirski, Stanisław Herakliusz 351 Łukasiewicz, Jan 44, 45, 155, 391 Lutosławski, Wincenty 290 Mach, Ernst 23, 36, 52, 71, 86, 88, 91, 94, 118, 147, 148, 153, 157, 392 MacPherson, James 302 Mahsoub, Salih 139, 392 Malczewski, Antoni 9, 267


Malinowski, Aleksander 287, 393 Manet, Édouard 192 Marie Antoinette (queen) 300, 301, 302 Mariotte, Edme 146, 147, 151 Marty, Anton 181, 239, 252, 261, 262, 271, 327, 392 Matejko, Jan 194, 195 Maupertuis, Pierre Louis Moreau de 86 Maxwell, James Clerk 97 Mehlberg, Hernyk 43, 392 Melanchthon, Filip (cf. Philipp Schwartzerd) Menodotus of Nicomedia 380 Meyerson, Émile 23, 24, 376, 388 Michel, Paul-Henri 20, 21, 380, 387, 392 Mickiewicz, Adam 9, 253, 261, 266, 268, 269, 305, 317, 329, 333, 337 Migne, Jacques-Paul 392, 394 Milhaud, Gaston 148 Mill, John Stuart 139, 239, 243, 392 Miłosz, Czesław 9, 348 Minkowski, Eugeniusz 383, 384, 385 Mirabeau, Honoré Gabriel Riqueti de 301 Moeller, Jan Bogumił 383 Molière (cf. Jean Baptiste Poquelin) 300 Morris, Charles William 202, 203, 392 Mostowski, Andrzej 183, 392 Motte, madame de la (cf. Joanne ValoisSaint-Rémy) Müller-Freienfels, Richard 66, 392 Nagel, Ernest 25, 392 Napier, John of Merchiston 86 Napoleon (emperor) 192, 222, 255 Needham, Joseph 24, 388 Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von 120 Neumann, Franz Ernst 79, 80, 83 Newton, Isaac 86 Niedźwiecki, Władysław 186, 391 Nietzsche, Friedrich 345, 392 Norwid, Cyprian Kamil 9, 326, 327, 392 Nowaczyński, Adolf 305 Olbrechts-Tyteca, Lucie 140, 141 Olesińska, Wanda 383, 393 Oppman, Artur (Or-Ot) 9, 227 Oresme, Nicholas 23 Or-Ot (cf. Artur Oppman) 227 Ossowska, Maria 376


Anna Brożek and Jacek Jadacki

Osterwa, Juliusz 304, 305 Ostwald, Wilhelm 93, 393 Pański, Antoni 376 Pap, Arthur 275, 278, 393 Pascal, Blaise 36, 86, 122, 159, 318, 327, 378, 379, 381, 393 Peirce, Charles Sanders 202, 393 Pelc, Jerzy 378, 380, 385, 393 Perelman, Chaim 140, 141, 385, 393 Perugino, Pietro (cf. Pietro di Christoforo Vannucci) Perzanowski, Jerzy 10, 351, 362, 372, 385, 393 Pfänder, Alexander 185, 237, 238, 251, 393 Phaedo 234 Phaedrus 348 Philo of Athens 380 Philo of Larissa 380 Picasso, Pablo 333 Pictet, Raoul 93, 393 Pilate, Pontius 116 Piłsudski, Józef 287, 288, 393 Planck, Max 49, 104, 105, 393 Plato 9, 14, 15, 21, 27, 35, 222, 234, 333, 334, 348, 372, 378, 382 Plotinus 9, 318, 320 Poincaré, Henri 23, 40, 44, 51, 70, 71, 75, 79, 80, 83, 115, 148, 149, 152, 273, 379, 384, 394 Poisson, Siméon Denis 81, 152 Poniatowski, Józef 227 Popkin, Richard Henry 379 Popper, Karl Raimund 44, 50, 71, 82, 394 Porzeziński, Wiktor 177, 394 Potocki, Jan 302 Poznański, Edward 376 Ptolemaios, Klaudios 218, 219 Pyrrho of Elis 122, 380 Quérard, Joseph-Marie 300, 306, 394 Regnault, Henri Victor 146, 147, 151, 156 Rej, Mikołaj 9, 253, 258, 259, 270 Richter, Raoul 120, 394 Rickert, Heinrich 39, 394 Ricœur, Paul 205, 206, 209, 394 Robusti, Jacopo (Tintoretto) 303 Rodziewiczówna, Maria 213 Rohan, Louis de 301

Rostand, Edmond 9, 294 Rostohar, Michajlo 251, 394 Russell, Bertrand 94, 118, 119, 217, 218, 220, 226, 227, 228, 383, 389, 394 Ruytinx, Jacques 380 Rybicki, Andrzej 381 Sandauer, Artur 384 Sarbiewski, Maciej Kazimierz 351 Sarton, George 17, 18, 22, 394 Sartre, Jean Paul 35, 344 Scheler, Max 40, 320, 395 Schiller, Ferdinand Canning Scott 157 Schlick, Moritz 60, 71, 352, 354, 376, 377, 395 Schrödinger, Erwin 48, 49, 65, 86, 395 Schuhl, Pierre-Maxime 379 Schwartzerd, Philipp (Filip Melanchthon) 299 Schweitzer, Albert 328 Seneca, Lucius Annaeus 9, 346 Sextus Empiricus 9, 121, 122, 124, 126, 255, 324, 380, 381, 382, 383 Sienkiewicz, Henryk 9, 253, 259, 285 Sigismund I (king) 195 Sigwart, Christoph von 256, 267, 395 Skarga, Piotr 9, 267 Słowacki, Juliusz 305, 333, 334, 337, 343 Śmiglecki, Marcin 372, 383 Sobieski, Jan (cf. John III) Socrates 220, 226, 234, 380 Solski, Ludwik 305 Sommerfeld, Arnold 95, 100, 395 Spencer, Herbert 114 Spengler, Gustav 261, 262, 263, 265, 395 Spinoza, Baruch 36, 38, 346 Spranger, Eduard 68, 69, 331, 334, 335, 337, 391 Stańczyk 194, 195 Stern, Otto 99 Strauss und Thorney, Lothar von 91, 395 Sulowski, Jan 382, 383, 384, 395 Swieżawski, Stefan 19, 352, 395 Sylvius (cf. Jacques Dubois) Szczeniawski, Szczepan 104, 395 Szober, Stanisław 177, 180, 181, 183, 187, 253, 264, 396 Sztejnbarg, Dina (cf. Janina Kotarbińska) Szujski, Józef 195, 284, 307

Name Index

Tarnowski, Stanisław 9, 253, 284 Tarski, Alfred 122, 174, 275, 360, 396 Tatarkiewicz, Władysław 19, 124, 377, 378, 381, 382, 383, 384, 385, 388, 396 Taton, René 20, 392, 396 Teleclus of Phocis 380 Teodas of Laodicea 380 Thomas, St. (cf. Thomas Aquinas) Thomson, William (Kelvin) 95, 396 Timon of Phlius 380 Toulmin, Stephen Edelson 22, 25, 396 Twardowski, Kazimierz 7, 110, 112, 114, 158, 240, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 249, 261, 263, 270, 345, 352, 354, 356, 359, 364, 372, 377, 381, 384, 385, 386, 396 Ujejski, Józef 396 Vaihinger, Hans 84, 153, 156, 396 Vetulani, Jan 380 Veyden, van der 192 Voisé, Waldemar 382 Voltaire (cf. François-Marie Arouet) Wallis, Mieczysław 205, 206, 207, 208, 397 Wiegner, Adam 376 Wiener, Otto 83 Winniczuk, Lidia 385, 397 Wiszniewski, Michał 351 Wittgenstein, Ludwig 209, 275, 318, 320, 321, 328, 345, 354, 360, 380, 382, 384, 397 Witwicki, Władysław 51, 73, 77, 78, 112, 250, 353, 376, 378, 383, 385, 397 Wortman, Jan 64, 397 Wujek, Jakub 9, 259 Wundheiler, Aleksander 376 Young, Thomas 99 Zaremba, Stanisław 80, 81, 148, 149, 152, 397 Żarnecka, Zofia 380, 397 Zawiliński, Toman 253 Zawirski, Zygmunt 114, 372, 397 Zeno of Alexandria 380 Żeromski, Stefan 9, 227, 257 Ziemecki, Stanisław 104, 395 Zweig, Stefan 9, 301, 302