The Aristotelian View, the Spinozist Thesis, and the Frege Point

Biography

Before his recent election at Collège de France (2018), François Recanati was a CNRS research fellow and a "directeur d’études" at EHESS, as well as the Director of Institut Jean-Nicod, a research lab in philosophy, linguistics and cognitive science hosted by École normale supérieure in Paris. He taught in many universities around the world, including Berkeley, Harvard, Geneva, and St. Andrews. His publications in the philosophy of language and mind include more than one hundred articles, many edited books, and a dozen monographs, including Meaning and Force (CUP, 1987), Direct Reference (Blackwell 1993), Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta (MIT Press 2000), Literal Meaning (CUP 2004), Perspectival Thought (OUP 2007), Truth-Conditional Pragmatics (OUP, 2010), Mental Files (OUP, 2012), and Mental Files in Flux (OUP, 2016). He was the first President of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy (1990-93), and the Principal Investigator of an ERC-funded advanced research project on Context, Content and Compositionality (2009-2013). A Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of Academia Europaea, he was awarded the CNRS Silver Medal in 2014 and a Honorary Doctorate from Stockholm University (also in 2014). François Recanati belongs to the editorial board of many scientific journals in linguistics and philosophy, and is the general editor of two book series.

Abstract

According to Peter Geach, "a proposition may occur in discourse now asserted, now unasserted". Geach calls this "the Frege Point". It conflicts with the view (held by Aristotle) that to predicate a property of an object is to ascribe the property to the object (i.e., to judge/assert that the object has the property). The Frege Point suggests that the propositions generated via predication are intrinsically forceless: force is added from outside, as it were, when the act of judging or asserting occurs. There is another option, however, which Geach mentions and associates with Spinoza. According to the Spinozist thesis, as described by Geach, "a thought is assertoric in character unless it loses this character by occurring only as an element in a more complicated thought". The aim of this talk is to clarify the (complicated) relations between the Aristotelian view, the Frege Point, and the Spinozist thesis.