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On Interpratation   


First we must define the terms 'noun' and 'verb', then the terms

'denial' and 'affirmation', then 'proposition' and 'sentence.'

Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience and written

words are the symbols of spoken words. 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.

This matter has, however, been discussed in my treatise about the

soul, for it belongs to an investigation distinct from that which lies

before us.

As there are in the mind thoughts which do not involve truth or

falsity, and also those which must be either true or false, so it is

in speech. For truth and falsity imply combination and separation.

Nouns and verbs, provided nothing is added, are like thoughts

without combination or separation; 'man' and 'white', as isolated

terms, are not yet either true or false. In proof of this, consider

the word 'goat-stag.' It has significance, but there is no truth or

falsity about it, unless 'is' or 'is not' is added, either in the

present or in some other tense.


By a noun we mean a sound significant by convention, which has no

reference to time, and of which no part is significant apart from

the rest. In the noun 'Fairsteed,' the part 'steed' has no

significance in and by itself, as in the phrase 'fair steed.' Yet

there is a difference between simple and composite nouns; for in the

former the part is in no way significant, in the latter it contributes

to the meaning of the whole, although it has not an independent

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