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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

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Short answer: there is no equivocation. my (3) is a definition. Following Aristotle and the scholastics, I define a 'concept' as the meaning of a term (a common term or singular term). It is that which we have to grasp in order to understand the term.

The stuff about 'intensions' and 'extensions' is a subject for further investigation.

And here is a simple proof that singular terms can have meaning without having an extension.

There is a hobbit called ‘Frodo’
Frodo has big feet
Some hobbit has big feet

Clearly the argument is valid, and can only be valid if the singular term ‘Frodo’ in the minor premiss has a meaning. But the term has no extension, because there are no such things as hobbits, and Frodo is a hobbit if he is anything, ergo etc.

So your assumption (6) above is false.

Bill: >> Just ask yourself: how could there be a concept of precisely Max and nothing actually or possibly different from Max?

There can't. But we get by without anything as extravagantly specific as this. For example, until this morning all I knew about Max was that he is a black cat. And there are lots of those. But I know that when Bill talks about Max he is talking about a certain individual cat. So I don't think Ed or Sainsbury can be suggesting that a singular concept need possess such specificity of content. Certainly I think we'd all agree that we can't arrive at a singular concept by piling up general concepts. Rather, a singular concept is something sui generis that comes decorated with general concepts, including impure ones, eg, Bill's black cat. For Bill, all concepts are general and repeatable. So we have a terminological difficulty to get past. Either 1) we expand the concept 'concept' so that it makes sense to say I can have a concept of an individual cat called 'Max' in addition to the general concept called 'cat', or 2) we allow that 'singular' in 'singular concept' is alienating. For it can't be that singular terms lack intensions of some sort. They make sense even when they have an empty extension.

Brightly: “Either 1) we expand the concept 'concept' so that it makes sense to say I can have a concept of an individual cat called 'Max' in addition to the general concept called 'cat', or 2) we allow that 'singular' in 'singular concept' is alienating.”

The term ‘concept’ has been used and abused in many ways throughout the history of logic and semantics. Starting with Aristotle, who writes

Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience [παθημάτων, passionum] and written words are the symbols of spoken words [ἐν τῇ φωνῇ, in voce] . Just as all men have not the same writing, so all men have not the same speech sounds, but the mental experiences, which these directly symbolize, are the same for all, as also are those things of which our experiences are the images.

So what are these ‘mental experiences’ or ‘affections of the soul’? Ockham discusses the issue here (my translation).

But in what is proposed [here], an affection of the soul is taken for something predicable of something, which is not an utterance, nor writing, and is called by some an 'intention' of the soul, and by some a 'concept'. But what kind of thing this affection may be, i.e. whether it is some thing external to the soul, or something really existing in the soul, or something made up, existing only in the soul objectively, does not pertain to the logician to consider, but to the metaphysician. Nevertheless, I wish to read out some opinions which could be given about this difficulty.

So a ‘concept’, in scholastic use, is whatever is excited in the mind by utterance, in particular the utterance of terms. Scholastics such as Ockham thought that corresponding to spoken language there is a sort of mental language. Sainsbury is clearly deferring to this idea when he talks about a singular concept being the ‘mentalese’ term that corresponds to a spoken singular term.

So if you buy that story, and I’m not sure I do, concepts are the mental items corresponding to terms, and as Aristotle (and the scholastics) thought, just as there can be common and singular spoken terms, so there can be common and singular mental terms. These mental terms are concepts.

Comment on Oz 1: Just as you cannot define God into existence, you cannot define your view into truth. >>I define a 'concept' as the meaning of a term (a common term or singular term). It is that which we have to grasp in order to understand the term.<<

Irreducibly singular terms do not express concepts. 'Socrates' does not express a concept. Tell me what you grasp when you grasp the concept Socrateity? Explicate it for me.

If you are not equivocating, then you are failing to see the distinction between the referent of 'Socrates' and its putative sense.

Suppose I say: I define 'concept' as the meaning of a general term. It follows that no irreducibly singular term expresses a concept.

Why not?

You may be pretending to possess a power that no one has except perhaps God, namely the power to grasp what makes an individual be the very individual it is and no other actual or possible individual.

Response to OZ argument 2:

The issue is precisely this: are there individual(singular) concepts of existing individuals (existing singulars)? I say there aren't. Your Frodo example is about a nonexisting 'individual.' It is therefore irrelevant to the question.

Besides, 'Frodo' plays a merely syntactic role in your argument.

Good comment, David.

>>Either 1) we expand the concept 'concept' so that it makes sense to say I can have a concept of an individual cat called 'Max' in addition to the general concept called 'cat', or 2) we allow that 'singular' in 'singular concept' is alienating. For it can't be that singular terms lack intensions of some sort. They make sense even when they have an empty extension.<<

Assuming that a concept is the intension of a term, and that the term is 'Max' as used by me to refer to one of my cats, then it seems the singular term 'Max' must have some meaning/intention. Suppose you come to my house and see two black cats. You ask: How do you tell them apart. I say: Manny is the one of the two cats in my house that alone has a white nose. Speaking loosely, you could say that the concept expressed by the descriptive phrase is a singular concept. But that is a loose way of speaking because this concept does not capture the nonqualitative thisness of Manny. This is because Manny might not have instantiated the concept in question without prejudice to his being the cat that he is.

REsponse to Oz 3:

1. A concept is whatever is excited in the mind by the utterance of a term.
2. There are general (common) and singular terms. Ergo
3. There are singular concepts.

Here is my challenge: Tell me what is excited in your mind when you utter the name 'Socrates' such that what is excited is irreducibly singular? My answer: nothing. What is excited are some general concepts. Ancient. Greek. Philosopher. Married. Ex-military. Superb dialectician. Putter of embarrassing questions to powerful men. Sentenced to death, etc.

The conjunction of all such general concepts does not yield a singular concept.

We may be operating with different understandings of 'singular.'

'The one of the two cats in my house that alone has a white nose' may not capture the non-qualitative thisness of Manny but it is sufficient in practice to pick out Manny from all other individuals. Surely that is all that language is required to do? Or can you show that it needs to be able to do more?

>Your Frodo example is about a nonexisting 'individual.' It is therefore irrelevant to the question.

No it isn’t. I gave a simple proof that singular terms can have meaning without having an extension. The question is whether ‘Frodo’, in the example I gave, is meaningful.

>Besides, 'Frodo' plays a merely syntactic role in your argument.

Does that make the argument invalid? How? Note that the semantics of anaphora is not ‘merely syntantic’.

>If you are not equivocating, then you are failing to see the distinction between the referent of 'Socrates' and its putative sense.

Clearly there is a distinction. The singular concept *Socrates* (or *Frodo*) is its putative sense.

>You may be pretending to possess a power that no one has except perhaps God, namely the power to grasp what makes an individual be the very individual it is and no other actual or possible individual.

I am merely referring to a power which we all have, of understanding singular terms. Do you not have this power?

>Here is my challenge: Tell me what is excited in your mind when you utter the name 'Socrates' such that what is excited is irreducibly singular? My answer: nothing. What is excited are some general concepts. Ancient. Greek. Philosopher. Married. Ex-military. Superb dialectician. Putter of embarrassing questions to powerful men. Sentenced to death, etc.<

But we can deny that Socrates might have been any of these things. Socrates might not have been Greek, might not have been in the army, etc. All that is required to understand the name is the anaphoric connection between the name ‘Socrates’ and certain texts.

>We may be operating with different understandings of 'singular.'

Possibly. Please refer to the part of R&I that I mentioned by email, starting bottom of p.32. You claimed to have read it! A singular term is one that cannot have a plural. A singular concept is the meaning of a singular term.

>Irreducibly singular terms do not express concepts. 'Socrates' does not express a concept. Tell me what you grasp when you grasp the concept Socrateity? Explicate it for me.<

I'm not sure what 'Socrateity' means. I assume it is the meaning of the proper name 'Socrates'. In order to grasp its meaning, I must know the context in which it occurs. For example, you might tell me about a cat of yours called 'Socrates'. The expression "a cat called 'Socrates'" introduces a singular concept which serves as anaphoric antecedent to any subsequent use of ‘Socrates’ in the context of that dialogue. Thus, by repeated use of that singular term we understand that the predicates we attach to it belong to a single individual. For example, you say

Bill has a cat called ‘Socrates’
Socrates is black
Socrates has a white spot on his forehead
Socrates likes fish
Socrates is a father

Thus, if we grasp how the singular term ‘Socrates’ is used, we understand the assertion that there is a cat called ‘Socrates’ that is black, has a white spot, likes fish etc. Note, as you rightly say, understanding the proper name does not require understanding that Socrates really is black, likes fish etc. For example, after you say that, I can go on to say

No, Socrates is not black.
Socrates does not like fish. Etc.

Likewise, as I say (p.19) “There are more than 700 occurrences of the proper name “Moses” in the Old Testament, and it is crucial to our ability to comprehend the work that we understand that these are not ambiguous names for 700 different people. Chastain calls such a set of names an anaphoric chain, namely ‘a sequence of expressions such that if one of them refers to something then all of the others refer to it.’ ”

It’s really simple.

David writes, >>'The one of the two cats in my house that alone has a white nose' may not capture the non-qualitative thisness of Manny but it is sufficient in practice to pick out Manny from all other individuals. Surely that is all that language is required to do? Or can you show that it needs to be able to do more?<<

Well, language need not do more; indeed, it cannot do more if I am right. I am maintaining that the NQ-thisness of a particular is ineffable, i.e. linguistically inexpressible and conceptually ungraspable. Language and concepts allow for enough singularity for practical purposes. But my interest is in the metaphysics of individuality. A cat is a this-such. I am at the moment interested in understanding the thisness of a this-such.

You and Buckner could respond in different ways. (a) Elimnativist: there is no NQ-thisness; (b) the question doesn't interest me; (c) thisness can be accounted for in something like Buckner's way.

Bill: What is excited are some general concepts. Ancient. Greek. Philosopher. Married. Ex-military. Superb dialectician...

Yes. What is also excited is the thought that all these concepts are instantiated in a single individual. What in the mind binds together just these concepts from many, so that they are excited together in response to 'Socrates'?

David,

Yes of course. But suppose you could form a conjunctive concept CC each conjunct of which is a general concept, and such that CC includes every general concept of the individual. My point is that CC remains general because some individual distinct from the individual in question could have been the sole instance of CC.

Here is a simpler example. The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth. The Moon satisfies that definite description. Equivalently, it alone falls under the concept K that the description expresses (when it is thought of or thoughtfully uttered by someone).

Now tell me: Is K singular or general?

If K is the definite description 'the only natural satellite of the Earth' then it is surely singular. A definite description denotes an individual. 'The moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth' is an identity claim between individuals. On the other hand, if we omit the 'the' so that K is 'only natural satellite of the Earth' then K is a general concept. 'Phobos is an only natural satellite of Mars', though clunky, is meaningful and false. I am an only son but I am the only son of my parents.

But how does uniqueness figure here? Our hypothesis is that hearing 'there is a cat called 'Max'' produces in the mind an idea of an individual, which idea can become elaborated by further references to 'Max'. The claim is not that there is the one cat. Rather that in the right anaphoric circumstances sentences involving the name 'Max' produce elaborations in a single conception.

To David's point (on concepts like 'satellite of the Earth') logicians have long distinguished between concepts that can only be satisfied by one individual in some possible world, and concepts which could only be satisfied by one individual in every possible world. Thus, ‘the man who led the Israelites out of Egyt’ is satisfied by Moses alone. Yet it is possible that Moses might not have done that thing. Kripke made an industry out of that idea.

On ‘NQ-thisness’, I am not sure what it is. Perception does not reveal it. Any visual perception caused by X could be caused by some Y. Think identical twins. But language does reveal it, by means of proper names and pronouns, which have singular meaning.

On the topic of singular meaning, if we agree that the singular term ‘Socrates’ has a meaning, and if we define ‘singular meaning’ as the meaning of a singular term, then I have what I proposed.

As for ‘singular concept’ it is clear that Bill means something other than singular meaning. I think, as noted above, that he means a content of perception that somehow identifies the individual as that individual. Vegetius describes how Roman soldiers were branded (victuris in cute punctis scripti) to identify them. Cheques have numbers on them. Computer databases assign a unique reference number to each item. Bitcoins are identified by very large prime numbers. But any such means of identification can be forged, at least in theory. Thus there can be no perceptual singular concept. But there can be linguistic singular concepts, namely singular meanings.

Brightly: > But how does uniqueness figure here?

Simple: there can’t be another Max. I.e. it is impossible that Max <> Max. Thus proper names have no plural. I am sure that Bill will say that this is because of some NQ-thisness that cannot replicated, even in theory. I reply: the truth of ‘Max is Max’ is a feature of the language, and nothing more. Assuming that the term on the left of the identity sign has an anaphoric connection to some antecedent text, and that the term on the right has the same connection, it follows that the two two terms are part of the same anaphoric chain. Thus the identity statement signifies that the two predicates “– is Max” and “Max is –” are satisfied by a single object.

Returning to the subject of forgery, we can forge a unique reference number, as I pointed out above. But we cannot forge a singular term in the same way. Such a forgery would have to have the same singular meaning, i.e. have an anaphoric connection to some antecedent information that establishes the identity. But then either it is not a forgery at all, for by means of the anaphoric connection it establishes a connection to the right individual. Or it signifies that some individual is different from itself, which would violate the law of identity.

>> ‘the man who led the Israelites out of Egypt’ is satisfied by Moses alone. Yet it is possible that Moses might not have done that thing.<<

Quite so. Now David, is the concept expressed by the definite description logically singular or logically general?

Singular.

>>Singular.<<

Your direct answer allows us to focus our disagreement. I say that the concept is logically general. Not because two or more people performed the action, but because someone other than Moses might have performed the action.

A concept C of x is an individual (singular) concept of x iff nothing distinct from x instantiates or could have instantiated C.

It follows that the concept expressed by ‘the man who led the Israelites out of Egypt’ is not an individual concept of Moses.

David I will send you a pdf of Naming and Necessity if you like.

Thanks, Ed. I don't understand why Bill's definition insists on 'modal uniqueness'. This has always puzzled me. Perhaps we could address this?

BV "the concept expressed by ‘the man who led the Israelites out of Egypt’"

Hang on there Bill. Are you saying that concepts are expressed by linguistic terms? What then is expressed by a singular term?

Further, much of the information we receive about the world is conveyed by writing or speech. I.e. stuff we read in newspapers, and everything that we learn through historical documents. Thus we learn from written sources that Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, i.e. we acquire the information expressed by “Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt”. What is the information expressed by ‘Moses’? Clearly it must exist, for “Joshua led the Israelites out of Egypt” expresses a different (and presumably false) piece of information. The proper name tells us which individual satisfies the concept “led the Israelites out of Egypt”.

If you hold that singular terms do not express concepts, how do you explain that they contain useful information? Why not say that a singular concept is just the information expressed by a proper name?

>I don't understand why Bill's definition insists on 'modal uniqueness'. This has always puzzled me. Perhaps we could address this?

This is Kripke.

(1) It might have been the case that the Prime Minister in 2021 was a woman

is different from

(2) It might have been the case that Boris Johnson was a woman

The term 'the Prime Minister in 2021' can designate different individuals across different possible worlds. But 'Boris Johnson' designates the same individual in all possible worlds in which Boris Johnson exists.

Gentlemen,

Good discussion. Will be back later.

I recall arguing with David years ago about whether validity and entailment are modal concepts. The 'reality of modality' is at the back of what I am maintaining about individual concepts.

https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/02/validity-as-a-modal-concept-and-a-modal-argument-for-the-nonexistence-of-god.html

This one is shorter: https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/02/further-modal-concepts-consistency-inconsistency-contradictoriness-and-entailment.html

I agree with OZ @ 2:11.

What troubles you, David? Perhaps you don't accept the distinction between accidental and essential properties. Boris Johnson is essentially male, but only accidentally PM. This strikes me as true. And of course Kripke didn't invent this distinction, nor was he the first to point it out. It is as old as the hills. Goes back at least to Aristotle. Talk of possible worlds goes back at least to Leibniz.

Or perhaps it is the 'reality of modality' that troubles you. Roughly, an essential property of x is is a property x CANNOT exist without, whereas an accidental property of x is one x CAN exist without.

There is no need to bring in 'possible worlds' talk, although I find it extremely helpful. Others find it bewildering. Either way, we don't need it.

To me it is blindingly evident that there cannot be anything in reality denoted by 'the concept BJ' or 'the property of being identical to BJ.'

To repeat myself: "A concept C of x is an individual (singular) concept of x iff nothing distinct from x instantiates or could have instantiated C."

Suppose there is the concept BORIS JOHNSON. BJ himself, unruly hair and all, would have to be a constituent of that concept. Do you see that? But that's impossible. So there is no such concept.

>>Hang on there Bill. Are you saying that concepts are expressed by linguistic terms? What then is expressed by a singular term?<<

It should be obvious what my answer will be. 'Boris Johnson' is grammatically singular. It expresses a logically general concept. It has to, since there cannot be any logically singular concepts, as I have argued.

>>If you hold that singular terms do not express concepts, how do you explain that they contain useful information? Why not say that a singular concept is just the information expressed by a proper name?<<

But they do express concepts, general ones.

Granted, 'Joshua led the Israelites out of Egypt' and 'Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt' express different pieces of information, where a piece of information needn't be true to be a piece of information. I see no difference between what you are calling a piece of information and a proposition. And I grant that in the context of the Biblical narrative, Joshua and Moses are distinct individuals. So the propositions expressed by the two sentences are different propositions. A proper name cannot express information, on your use of 'information.' A proper name expresses a general concept, the same concept expressed by some possibly huge definite description. So 'Moses' get introduced into the narrative via some general descriptions and then the individual so picked out is said to have led the Israelities, etc. When 'Moses' occurs later in the narrative it of course refers to the same one individual.

Morning Bill,
I think I see the problem. You are saying that any halfway decent 'singular concept' must be rigid in Kripke's sense. That's reasonable. The sense of 'Prime minister in 2021' is not rigid. Agreed. I'm not questioning modality. However, I'm convinced that there are singular concepts. So they have to take a form other than definite descriptions that operate by lexical substitution into surrounding sentences. Given that I think that the canonical way of introducing a name is modelled on

There is a man called BJ.
BJ is the UK Prime Minister.
my suggestion is that the singular concept of BJ that arises from this is
The man who is Prime Minister.
The latter is rigid. The man who is prime minister might not have been.

Addendum: The man who is prime minister might not have been the prime minister but he has to be the man who is prime minister.

>>The man who is prime minister might not have been the prime minister but he has to be the man who is prime minister.<<

I don't get it. BJ is the man who is prime minister at present. BJ might not have been the prime minister at present. The last two sentences are true. But it is false that BJ has to be the man who is prime minister. It is true, however, that necessarily whoever is PM is PM.

X might not have been F =df Possibly, x is not F

In this context, 'might' and 'could' are being used ontically not epistemically.

Hi Bill,
I guess that for me, the phrase 'the man who is prime minister' immediately resolves to the individual BJ. So the sentence you quote says in part that BJ must be BJ, which I think you grant. For me, it requires mental effort to hold the phrase open as an unresolved definite description. So perhaps I incline to the de re interpretation and you to the de dicto. That we can make this distinction might be seen as evidence for singular concepts, or at any rate, some conceptual capacity beyond the general.

BV Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at 03:30 PM
>But they [singular terms] do express concepts, general ones.

Sorry, it’s Friday and I just spotted this. So

(1) It might have been the case that the UK Prime Minister in September 2021 was not a man
and
(2) It might have been the case that Boris Johnson was not a man

have the same meaning? I don’t believe you agree with that.

Frege: “a proposition consists of parts which must somehow contribute to the expression of the sense of the proposition”. Right, and not too different from the scholastic view that there is an inner language or mentalese whose structure corresponds (in part) to the structure of the spoken or written language. Therefore given that the senses of (1) and (2) are different, and given that the only difference in the language is ‘the UK Prime Minister in September 2021’ and ‘Boris Johnson’, the sense or mentalese corresponding to ‘the UK Prime Minister in September 2021’ must differ from the mentalese corresponding to ‘Boris Johnson’.

Do you agree? If you do, then if you don’t like ‘singular concept’ let’s try to invent a term that expresses the distinction between the sense of the unique descrption and the singular term. Perhaps ‘singular general concept’? Whatever: de definitionibus non est disputandum.

Sainsbury and Tye, Seven Puzzles of Thought arrived yesterday. Began reading it this morning. Have either of you read it?

David,

I am now seated. But I might not now have been seated. (Possibly, I am not now seated.) 'Now' picks out the same time in each of its occurrences.

Do you have any objection to anything I have just written? And of course you appreciate the difference between

Possibly (I am seated at t & I am not seated at t)

and

I am seated at t & possibly, I am not seated at t.

"Suppose there is the concept BORIS JOHNSON. BJ himself, unruly hair and all, would have to be a constituent of that concept. Do you see that? But that's impossible. So there is no such concept."

So if I say "BJ has unruly hair", does unruly hair have to be a constituent of the concept *unruly hair*? Whatever argument you apply to singular concepts equally applies to general concepts.

There is a deep and fundamental (and ancient) debate underlying this discussion. Aristotle and the scholastics thought that there is reality (πράγματα/res, ‘things’), spoken language (A:φωνᾷ/voces, ‘utterances’) and thought (A: παθήματα/passiones, ‘affections/experiences’). Thought resembles reality, but language does not, for language differs from people to people, whereas the thought is the same. Thus the French and the English have different words for a dog, but French and English people have the same concept when they think about a dog.

Thus a scholastic might* say that corresponding to the spoken proposition ‘Moses is a prophet’ there is a thought which combines the concept of prophet with the concept of Moses, as well as an underlying reality if the thought is true, namely Moses being a prophet. I think that Bill wants to deny that there is anything in reality corresponding to ‘Moses’ for which reason he also wants to deny that there is anything in thought corresponding to ‘Moses’.

The fundamental debate is about the extent to which reality is carved up in the same way as language, and also about the extent to which thought is carved up in the same way as language. We linguistic idealists say it’s all the same thing. We cannot talk about how reality is carved up without using language, and we cannot think about how reality is carved up without (a) thinking about it and (b) using language to express our thinking. Reality itself is a loose wheel.

*I say ‘might’ because Aquinas, for one, has a different view (“Our intellect cannot know the singular in material things directly and primarily. The reason of this is that the principle of singularity in material things is individual matter, whereas our intellect, as have said above (85, 1), understands by abstracting the intelligible species from such matter”).

OZ @ 3:00 >>So if I say "BJ has unruly hair", does unruly hair have to be a constituent of the concept *unruly hair*? Whatever argument you apply to singular concepts equally applies to general concepts.<<

NO! The concept expressed by 'unruly hair' is a general concept. You are simply refusing to admit the obvious difference between singular and general concepts.

Hello Bill,
No objections at all. I confess that I struggle with 'possibly' followed by an indicative sentence, which I tend to read epistemically. I get the ontic meaning better by rephrasing as 'I am now seated, but possibly I be not seated' or 'I am now seated, but not necessarily so'.

I have dipped into Sainsbury and Tye. I got it when I became interested in Kripke's Paderewski puzzle, but was disappointed in their treatment. For me the source of the puzzle lies in how we accurately report other people's beliefs which S and T (and K) rather gloss over. I'm afraid I put the book to one side.

>NO! The concept expressed by 'unruly hair' is a general concept.

Look at my argument again. It's a "by the same token" type of argument.

>You are simply refusing to admit the obvious difference between singular and general concepts.

I am the one arguing for an obvious difference. You by contrast seem to think that singular terms express general concepts, which is obviously false.

You have also persistently ignored my compelling arguments from compositionality. The sentence “Socrates is wise” is compositional, being made up of the three terms ‘Socrates’, ‘is’ and ‘wise’. If I attempt phenomenology and consider what I am thinking as I entertain the thought that Socrates is wise, I find it similarly constituted, namely of the concept being Socrates, being wise, and the judgment expressed by the copula ‘is’, namely that being Socrates and being wise are instantiated.

Is it wholly implausible that reality is also so constituted?

>>The sentence “Socrates is wise” is compositional, being made up of the three terms ‘Socrates’, ‘is’ and ‘wise’. If I attempt phenomenology and consider what I am thinking as I entertain the thought that Socrates is wise, I find it similarly constituted, namely of the concept being Socrates, being wise, and the judgment expressed by the copula ‘is’, namely that being Socrates and being wise are instantiated.<<

No. There is no concept BEING SOCRATES. But even if there were, that is not what you are thing about when you are thinking that Socrates is wise. Socrates is a man; no concept is a man, and no concept is wise.

When you think of Socrates you are thinking of something that satisfies various general descriptions, some indefinite and some definite.

You are also confusing terms and concepts. 'Socrates' is a grammatically singular term; but it does not follow that it expresses a singular (individual) concept. There aren't any. Anyone's concepts of an invdidual such as Socrates are all of them general.

You argument from compositionality is the exact opposite of compelling. It is confused.

>There is no concept BEING SOCRATES. But even if there were, that is not what you are thin[kin]g about when you are thinking that Socrates is wise. Socrates is a man; no concept is a man, and no concept is wise.

A singular concept is the meaning of a singular term. It is a mental item, so not a man.

>You[r] argument from compositionality is the exact opposite of compelling. It is confused.

You think it is confused because you think I am confusing terms and concepts. Not at all. A term is a spoken or written item. But to these spoken or written items there correspond mental items.

Would it help if I replaced ‘meaning’ or ‘concept’ with ‘sense’? Frege:

Take the proposition ‘Etna is higher than Vesuvius’. This contains the name ‘Etna’, which occurs also in other propositions, e.g. in the proosition ‘Etna is in Sicily’. The possibility of our understanding propositions which we have never heard before rests evidently on this, that we construct the sense of the proposition out of parts that correspond to the words. If we find the same word in two propositions, e.g. ‘Etna’, then we also recognise something common to the corresponding thoughts, something corresponding to this word.

My emphasis. If I am confused, then Frege is confused, but I think not.

When we learn that Hesperus = Phosphorus two of some kind reduce to one. But what kind? It cannot be Planet or celestial body. No cosmic collision occurs. The obvious thing to say is that the kind is 'idea of an individual'. We once thought there were two individuals, now we think there is just one. I'm happy to replace 'idea of an individual' with 'individual concept' or 'singular concept'. If a concept is seen as necessarily general or repeatedly instantiable then so be it. But it seems we need some word or phrase to express this idea.

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