Actions and Products. Comments on the Border Area of Psychology, Grammar, and Logic

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


In such pairs as ‘to race’ — ‘(the) race’, ‘to jump’ — ‘(the) jump’, ‘to cry’ — ‘(the) cry’, ‘to speak’ — ‘(the) speech’, ‘to think’ — ‘(the) thought’, ‘to err’ — ‘(the) error’, ‘to judge’ — ‘(the) judgement’ the first word denotes an action; the meaning of the second word, as related to the first, will be analysed in this paper.*


Physical Action Mental Action Substitutive Product Physical Product Artificial Product 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Since human speech in many cases has separate words for actions and for products (not only physical, but mental as well), logicians have long referred to mental products as something different from actions, even though they may not always have realized the difference clearly. (Cf. B. Bolzano: “Bei den Worten: ein Urteil (…) eine Behauptung stellen wir uns sicher nichts anders vor, als etwas das durch Urteilen (…) und Behaupten hervorgebracht ist.” Wissenschaftslehre, I, 1837, p. 82.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    I am using the term ‘disposition’ in the sense formulated by Höfler (Psychologie, 1897, Sec. 12), who also (op. cit., Sec. 6) draws attention to words which promiscuously denote actions (products) and dispositions.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Some authors use the term ‘judgement’ in a fourth meaning, namely to denote what is usually termed ‘enuntiatio’, ‘Aussage’. (…) In this fourth meaning the term ‘judgement’ accordingly denotes a certain psychophysical product. See also footnote14.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The same applies to (…) the verbs discussed earlier. A judgement is an inner object of judging, but that to which it refers is an outer object of judging. (…) For a distinction between the inner and the outer object of a representation see my paper Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen, Vienna 1894.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    These words are of course used here in the sense of a product, and not in that of an action of modifying or transforming.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A relationship analogous to that which occurs here between actions also occurs between products. A corresponding mental action is expressed in a psycho-physical action: a sensation of pain in shrieking, thinking about a drawing in (the act of) drawing, etc.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Since a psychophysical product may result from several psychophysical actions, and not from a single action alone, various mental products can be expressed in it. For instance, what is expressed in a drawing may be the idea of a drawing which a person has when drawing, the idea which we want to convey through the intermediary of his drawing, his intention to convey that idea, etc. Thus, a psychophysical product expresses certain mental products directly and others indirectly with varying degrees of indirectness. (…)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    This is why a rigorous distinction must be made between the formulation “a psychophysical product (subject) expresses a mental product (object)”, on the one hand, and the following formulations which are synonymous with one another: “a mental product is expressed, or finds expression, in a psychophysical product”, “a psychophysical product is an expression of a mental product”. This distinction enables us to eliminate various misunderstandings. For instance, it can help to explain the very controversial issue of the relationship between music and emotions. For, while everyone agrees that emotions (and thoughts) experienced by the composer at the time of composing can be expressed in a musical work, it does not in the least follow that that work expresses those emotions. See also Hanslick, Vom Musikalisch-Schönen and Hausegger, Die Musik als Ausdruck, Wien 1885.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For a detailed theory of signs and meanings see Martinak’s Psychologische Untersuchungen zur Bedeutungslehre, Leipzig 1901.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Regarding terminology it should be noted that the verb ‘to mean’ is itself ambiguous. When we say that a word means something, we intend to convey that it has a meaning. The verb ‘to mean’ interpreted in this sense corresponds to the Latin verb ‘significare’ and to the German verb ‘bedeuten’. Instead of saying that a word or, more generally, a psychophysical product, means something, we may say that it has a meaning, and also that it comprises a meaning, that a meaning is connected with it, that a meaning is inherent in it, that it expresses a meaning. (…) We also say that psychophysical products denote something; this is to say they denote the outer objects of those actions from which those psychophysical objects result. Thus, we say, with respect to words, that they not only mean something, but also denote something, for some words come into existence as a result of names being given to objects. Hence the psychophysical product of this action is a name, i.e., a word whose meaning is the representation of a given object. At the same time, a name or a word denotes (mentions) that object. Thus,’ sophro-niscus’ son’ expresses a concept which is its meaning, but which also mentions a certain person. Likewise, the word ‘triangle’ expresses a concept, which is its meaning, and denotes (mentions) all the objects that come within that concept. Cf. my paper Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen, See. 3.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    As a result, the word ‘meaning’ takes on another meaning besides those specified in footnote10, namely the meaning of being able (of course, together with other partial causes) to evoke a mental product in a person whom a psychophysical product, as a sign of that mental product, affects, i.e., the meaning of the ability of making a person realize an appropriate mental product. (…)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    For details see E. Husserl, Logische Untersuchungen, Vol. II, Halle 1901, especially pp. 97ff, where he discusses ideale Bedeutung.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    ‘Artefact’ is a standard English term, hence Twardowski’s suggestion to introduce it as a neologism is lost in the English-language version, even though the meaning Twardowski would like to impart to it differs from the standard lexical meaning of that word in English. ‘Petrifact’, intended by Twardowski to be the antonym of the former and coined by him in Polish, is etymologically almost self-explanatory in English — much more so than in Polish. (Tr.)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    We have mentioned above that some people call a proposition that which occurs here as a statement. This is done, for instance, by J. Lukasiewicz, who defines a judgement as “a series of words or other signs which state that an object has, or has not, a certain property”; cf. his O zasadzie sprzecznosci u Arystotelesa (On the Principle of Contradiction in Aristotle), Cracow 1912, p. 12. But when treating a proposition as a series of words or other signs he is obliged to make a distinction between this series of words or other signs and that which is the meaning of the series. He does so, in fact, when he refers to’ synonymous propositions’, which he defines as those which “express the same idea in different words” (op. cit., p. 25). Now this idea expressed in words is, of course, nothing other than a judgement in the sense of a product of the action of judging. Hence if the word ‘proposition’ were to be used to denote “a series of words or other signs” which express such an idea, there could be no word with which to denote the idea itself.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    The significance in our mental life of propositions which are merely conceived is due, inter alia, to the fact that they are components of all our concepts; cf. my paper Wyobrazenia i pojęcia (Ideas and Concepts), Lwów 1898, esp. Sec. 11. See also K. Twardowski’s paper O istocie pojęć (On the Essence of Concepts) — Ed.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bernard Bolzano was the first to substantiate in detail this view of the subject matter of logic. Those judgements which are made independent, in the manner described above, of the action of judging he terms ‘Sätze an sich’. Besides them he also mentions ‘Vorstellungen an sich’, i.e., representations which are similarly made independent of the action of representing. Cf. his Wissenschaftslehre, 1837, Vol. I, Sees. 19-23 and 48-53. (…)Google Scholar

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© PWN — Polish Scientific Publishers — Warszawa 1979

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  • Kazimierz Twardowski

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