Introduction to a general theory of elementary propositions

American Journal of Mathematics 43 (3):163--185 (1921)
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In the general theory of logic built up by Whitehead and Russell to furnish a basis for all mathematics there is a certain subtheory which is unique in its simplicity and precision; and though all other portions of the work have their roots in this subtheory, it itself is completely independent of them. Whereas the complete theory requires for the enunciation of its propositions real and apparent variables, which represent both individuals and propositional functions of different kinds, and as a result necessitates- the introduction of the cumbersome theory of types, this subtheory uses only real variables, and these real variables represent but one kind of entity—which the authors have chosen to call elementary propositions. The most general statements are formed by merely combining these variables by means of the two primitive propositional functions of propositions Negation and Disjunction; and the entire theory is concerned with the process of asserting those combinations which it regards as true propositions, employing for this purpose a few general rules which tell how to assert new combinations from old, and a certain number of primitive assertions from which to begin.



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