On the Content and Object of Representations

  • Kazimierz Twardowski
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 119)


(…) Mill, when writing about names, asks whether it is more proper to consider names as names of things or as names of our representations of things.1 (…) The word ‘Sun’ — according to Mill — is a name of the Sun, and not the name of representation of the Sun; he does not deny, however, that a name evokes in, or conveys to, a listener only a representation, and not the thing itself. The function of a name thus appears to be twofold: a name conveys to a listener the content of a representation, and at the same time names an object. But we have been persuaded that we must distinguish three, and not two, elements of every representation: the act, the content, and the object. If a name really gives an exact linguistic image (Bild) of the corresponding mental relations, then it must also have a correlate of the act of representation. This does in fact happen, and the three elements of a representation: the act, the content, and the object, have counterparts in the triple task which every name has to perform.


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  1. 1.
    Cf. J. S. Mill, System der induktiven und deduktiven Logik, von Th. Gomperz, Leipzig 1884, Part I, Chap. 2, Sec. 1.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Marty, ‘Ueber subiektlose Sätze’, in: Vierteljahrschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie, VIII, p. 293.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. F. Brentano, Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte, Leipzig 1874, Part II, Chap. 6, Sec. 3; see also Marty, op. cit., p. 300, and Mill, loc. cit.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sounds and other objects whose representations are used to evoke in another intelligent being certain representations connected with them, are, for that other being, usually — though not always — the sign (Kennzeichen) of the fact that the said representations take place in the consciousness of that being who produces those sounds or other objects. (Cf. B. Bolzano, Wissenschaftslehre, Sulzbach 1837, Sec. 285).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    “Etymologically the meaning of a name is that which we are caused to think of when the name is used.” (Cf. W. S. Jevons, Principles of Science, p. 25). In any case we define as the meaning of a word that spiritual content which it is the task and the ultimate goal of that word to evoke in a listener (either naturally or on the strength of usage), if that word can as a rule attain that goal. A name is a sign of the representation which a listener is supposed to develop in himself, and at the same time it is a sign of the representation which has developed in the speaker. A name expresses that representation only so far as it makes it possible to realize this fact. (Gf. Marty, loc. cit.)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cf. K. Prantl, Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande, Vol. II, p. 356.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cf. F. Brentano, op. cit., Part II, Chap. 1, Sec. 7.Google Scholar

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© PWN — Polish Scientific Publishers — Warszawa 1979

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  • Kazimierz Twardowski

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