Meaning, signification, and suggestion: Berkeley on general words

History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (3):301-317 (2012)
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Discussion of Berkeley ’s theory of language has largely ignored what he says about the ‘meaning’ of a general word. Berkeley distinguishes the meaning of a general word both from the extension of the word and from what the word might suggest in the mind of the language user. D. Flage has argued that Berkeley has an ‘extensional’ theory of meaning, but this is based on passages where Berkeley does not speak of word meaning. When Berkeley explicitly discusses the meaning of particular words he does so with a view to explicating the sense in which a word is to be understood. Berkeley made a series of insightful distinctions when discussing words and their use, and these distinctions are of contemporary interest



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Timothy Pritchard
King's College London

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