Frege's begriffsschrift as a lingua characteristica

Synthese 174 (2):283 - 294 (2010)
In this paper I suggest an answer to the question of what Frege means when he says that his logical system, the Begrijfsschrift, is like the language Leibniz sketched, a lingua characteristica, and not merely a logical calculus. According to the nineteenth century studies, Leibniz's lingua characteristica was supposed to be a language with which the truths of science and the constitution of its concepts could be accurately expressed. I argue that this is exactly what the Begriffsschrift is: it is a language, since, unlike calculi, its sentential expressions express truths, and it is a characteristic language, since the meaning of its complex expressions depend only on the meanings of their constituents and on the way they are put together. In fact it is in itself already a science composed in accordance with the Classical Model of Science. What makes the Begrijfsschrift so special is that Frege is able to accomplish these goals with using only grammatical or syncategorematic terms and so has a medium with which he can try to show analyticity of the theorems of arithmetic
Keywords Begriffsschrift  Frege  Leibniz   Lingua characteristica  Logic
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DOI 10.2307/40587028
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