1 Names of Namesby A.N. PriorIt seems to have been a common doctrine among late medieval writer on Logic that, where we have such a pair of statements as Socrates has three syllables and Socrates is wise, the subject-term of the first statement is the word Socrates used non-significatively, or with material supposition, while the subject-term of the second statement is the same word used significatively, or with formal supposition. The current manner of speaking about such statements is a little different. What would be generally said now is that the two statements have different subject-terms, the subject-term of the first being the name of the subject-term of the second. The word Socrates, it would be said, is used in the second statement, while in the first this word is not used at all, but a quite different word is used to mention it. What I wish to suggest here is that while this new manner of speaking has much to be said for it, there is also something to be said for the old. That what is to be said in favour of the older locution may be made a little clearer, let us turn for a moment to something said some years ago by H.W.B. Joseph in criticism of Stebbings rendering of A unicorn exists as There is an object cwhich is such that
x is true when cis substituted for x. Joseph remarks on this, It will be admitted that the object c
would have to be a quadruped, that could beat the ground with its hoofs. But the cwhich I could
substitute for xin the propositional function x, and so obtain something (viz. A proposition) that
is true, could not be a quadruped. I cannot put a quadruped into a proposition. Hence we ought to write There is an object called cwhich is such that ..... The sentence on which I wish to
concentrate is the penultimate one; and I wish to suggest that it is possible to reply to this that in a very real sense we can put a quadruped into a proposition, if there are any quadrupeds about; it
being precisely this feat, and others like it, which demonstrative pronouns are designed to accomplish. For a word like This or That, say in That is a unicorn, has no meaning unless the object to which it is applied is actually present and in some way indicated while the word is being used. The purpose of the word is not so much to function as a subject on its own, representing the
Edited by David Jakobsen. The article is kept in the Prior archive at The Bodleian Library in Oxford, box 6 which contains mainly unpublished papers and various drafts from anything between evolution, philosophy, theology and logic. The text is typed, but the date 7/1 1965 has been written on top of the first page, and there are no good reasons not to accept that as the date of the paper. At the end of the paperPrior apparently first wrote Arthur N. Prior and then changed it to A.N. Prior. [Priors note:] So, notably, W.V. Quine, Mathematical Logic §4. This distinction is used (though
not mentioned) in the White Knights conversations with Alice in Through the Looking-Glass:
. The name of the song is called Haddocs Eyes. Oh, thats the name of the song, is it? Alice said
. No, you dont understand the Knight said, looking a little vexed. Thats what the name is called.
The name really is The Aged Aged Man. (H.W.B. Joseph, in Mind 1932, p. 424, shamelessly
robs the White Knights of all credit for this subtlety by attributing the remarks to Humpty Dumpty). [Priors note:] Op. cit.
2 thing (as words are sometimes said to do); it is rather as it were to bring the thing bodily into the sentence, so that the predicate is attached not so much to another word as to the thing itself. The shallowness of syntax, C.S. Peirce has said, is manifest in its failing to recognise the impotence of mere words ... to fulfil the function of a grammatical subject.With this preliminary, let us turn to the subject of so-called names of names. It may be admitted that there is a sense in which the word Socrates is the name of the word Socrates; but it must be insisted that this is not quite the same sense as that in which the word Socrates is the name of the son of Sophroniscus. The addition of the quotation-marks is not merely like the addition of two new letters to produce a totally new word. The case is not as if we had arbitrarily chosen to make the word Asocratesa the name of the word Socrates, though Ginger would have served the purpose just as well. This misunderstanding is not uncommon; it is suggested, e.g.,
by Quines remark that the personal name buried within the first word of the statement Cicero has six letters... is logically no more germane to the statement than is the verb let which is buried within the last word. The true force of the quotation-marks is that of a demonstrative, and the word between them really is the word indicated in the given example, it really is the word Socrates, the name of the son of Sophroniscus; which does occur in the proposition Socrates has three syllables, though not in the way in which a quadruped, beating the ground with its hoofs, may be said to occur in the proposition formed by pointing to the animal and saying (quite falsely, no doubt, but that is immaterial), That is a unicorn. And this, it seems to me, is just what the medieval logicians meant when they said that the statements Socrates has three syllables and Socrates is wise have the same subject-term, though they are not about the same subject, the common subject-term having a different sort of supposition in the two cases. The medieval view, one might say, was that to mention a word is one way of using it to be distinguished, certainly, from other ways, but not from use altogether. The only legitimate alternative to this is, I think, to say that the word Socrates, though it must be present to the reader for the proposition to be understood (as some object must be present when we utter it for the proposition That is a unicorn to be understood), is not itself part of (what we generally describe as) the proposition Socrates has three syllables, this latter consisting only of the fragment has three syllables, in which the quotation-marks are understood as pointing to the word within them (as our finger points to the object in the other case), and so have their meaning unambiguously fixed by the object to which we point as we say it). Common conventions are not quite consistent here. We are normally inclined to say that Socrates, rather than (with its meaning fixed by the presence of the word Socrates in the place to which it points), is the subject-term of the proposition about the name; but on the other hand we are normally inclined to say that the subject-term of That is a unicorn is just the word That, or at most the word That and the pointing of the finger, in the presence of the object we do not normally include the
[Priors note:] The Collected Papers of C.S. Peirce, 3.419. [Priors note:] As the White Knight chooses to make the phrase Haddocks Eyes the name of the set of words The Aged Aged Man. [Priors note:] Op. Cit. [Priors note:] I understand from conversation with Professor Donald Davidson that this is the view which he would be inclined to take.
3 object itself in the subject-term (although this is defensible, we feel that it is bizarre), as we do include the name in the other case. Again, those who use the language of Ockham do not normally say that the object we indicate as we say That is a unicorn is being used non-significatively, or that it has suppositio materialis, even though exactly the same thing is being done with it as is being
done with such a word as Socrates when we use it non-significatively, and it has suppositio
materialis. Nor do those who prefer the language of Quine normally say that the object, the That
and the pointing finger together constitute it in the only sense in which Socrates constitute the name of the name Socrates. Nor, I think, is a rigorously consistent usage really to be demanded at this point; but it is as well that the inconsistency of our ordinary usage should not pass without notice, or be allowed to bemuse us. There is, indeed, one point at which the parallel which I have drawn above involves an artificially simplification; but my central contention is not, I think, affected by its removal. What I have ignored is the difference between That is a unicorn, understood as being purely about the object indicated as it is uttered, and Socrates has three syllables, understood as referring not merely to the token actually enclosed by the inner quotation-marks in any given occurrence of this sentence, but to the word Socrates considered as a type occurring in other sentences also. This difference may be ignored because the sentence thus understood equivalent to another which really is about the token, namely the sentence Any token of the same design as the token Socrates has three syllables, and although the strict parallel to this is not That is a unicorn, but rather Any animal like that animal pointing to one is a unicorn, this parallel, equally with the other, makes it plain that the force of the quotation-marks is that of a demonstrative plus the pointing hand, and not merely that of the first and last letters of a proper name. Quite often, moreover, the phrase That animal, accompanied by an indicative gesture, is used to mean That sort of animal, as when we go to the Zoo, point to an animal, and say That animal inhabits South Africa, though we know perfectly well that the individual beast to which we are pointing inhabits not South Africa but Regents Park or Whipsnade. Our linguistic behaviour is precisely the same when we say Socrates is the subject-term of Socrates is wise, though we know perfectly well that the token directly indicated by the first pair of inner quotation-marks is not an inhabitant of the propositional token indicated by the second pair, but stands on its own. In both cases, we point to the token but understand the type; but in both cases the token itself must be present if we are to understand anything at all. A. N. Prior