The Monist 77 (3):278-293 (1994)

Gabriel Sandu
University of Helsinki
Frege has one magnificent achievement to his credit, viz. the creation of modern formal logic. As a philosopher and as a theoretical logician, he was nevertheless as parochial as he was, geographically speaking. Hence Frege’s concepts and problems offer singularly unfortunate starting points for constructive work in the foundations of logic and mathematics. Even if he is right in some of his views, they depend on severely restrictive assumptions that have to be noted and eliminated. These restrictive assumptions have not been sufficiently acknowledged in most of the recent discussions of Frege’s ideas. This has given rise to wild overstatements of Frege’s achievements. To give only two examples, Frege is sometimes said to have had within his reach “the concepts necessary to frame the notion of the completeness of a formalization of logic as well as soundness.” Or, he is credited with the creation of mathematical logic “issuing in a formal system logic incorporating propositional calculus, first- and second-order quantification theory, and a theory of sets developed within second-order quantification theory.” We will soon see that both these claims are not only severely exaggerated but that they miss some of the most characteristic features of Frege’s entire way of thinking about logical and semantical matters.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI monist199477318
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