Ideas from 'Russell's Ontological Development' by Willard Quine [1966], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Theories and Things' by Quine,Willard [Harvard 1981,0-674-87926-0]].

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2. Reason / D. Definition / 12. Paraphrase
Russell offered a paraphrase of definite description, to avoid the commitment to objects
                        Full Idea: Russell's theory involved defining a term not by presenting a direct equivalent of it, but by 'paraphrasis', providing equivalents of the sentences. In this way, reference to fictitious objects can be simulated without our being committed to the objects.
                        From: Willard Quine (Russell's Ontological Development [1966], p.75)
                        A reaction: I hadn't quite grasped that the modern strategy of paraphrase tracks back to Russell - though it now looks obvious, thanks to Quine. Paraphrase is a beautiful way of sidestepping ontological problems. See Frege on the moons of Jupiter.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 7. Meaning Holism / a. Sentence meaning
Taking sentences as the unit of meaning makes useful paraphrasing possible
                        Full Idea: The new freedom that Russell confers by paraphrasis (of definite descriptions) is our reward for recognising that the unit of communication is the sentence and not the word.
                        From: Willard Quine (Russell's Ontological Development [1966], p.75)
                        A reaction: Since many people hardly ever speak a properly formed sentence, I take propositions to be better candidates for this. However, I don't see how we can reject the compositional view (the meanings are assembled).
Knowing a word is knowing the meanings of sentences which contain it
                        Full Idea: We can say that knowing words is knowing how to work out the meanings of sentences containing them. Dictionary definitions are mere clauses in a recursive definition of the meanings of sentences.
                        From: Willard Quine (Russell's Ontological Development [1966], p.76)
                        A reaction: Do you have to recursively define all the sentences that might contain the word, before you can fully know the meaning of the word? He seems to credit Russell with the holistic view of sentences (though I think that starts with Frege).