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The Basic Characteristics of Language: Signification and Supposition

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Chapter Summary

Ockham's mental speech involves the use of a kind of language which is both semantically and syntactically prior to any natural language. This chapter begins by treating signification and supposition with respect to spoken terms as means of arriving at an appropriate understanding of these basic properties. It provides a general account of what the properties of signification and supposition amount to. The chapter shows that the notion of supposition is wider than the notion of signification. It discusses the canonical case of affirmative present tense propositions to show that the truth conditions of propositions can be given by means of the (non-)identity of the things the terms stand for within a proposition. The chapter also discusses material and simple supposition as opposed to personal supposition. It should become clear that the supposition of a term depends on how a term is 'taken', that is, used or interpreted.

Keywords: language; notion of signification; Ockham's mental speech; proposition; supposition



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