, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 111–119 | Cite as

The difficulty with the well-formedness of ontological statements

  • Guido Küng


When Russell argued for his ontological convictions, for instance that there are negative facts or that there are universals, he expressed himself in English. But Wittgenstein must have noticed that from the point of view of Russell's ideal language these ontological statements appear to be pseudo-propositions. He believed therefore that what these statements pretend to say, could not really be said but only shown. Carnap discovered a way out of this mutism: what in the material mode of speech of the object language looks like a pseudo-proposition can be translated into a perfectly meaningful proposition in the formal mode of speech (in the metalinguistic mode of speech of the logical syntax of language). But is this ascent into the metalanguage necessary? Taking advantage of Lésniewski's logical system there exists another way outwe can expand the number of categories of our ideal language. But Leśniewski's formulas raise another profound problem, the problem of “semantical muteness” (cf. W. G. Lycan ‘Semantic Competence and Funny Functors’ Monist 64 (1979), 209–222).


Semantical Category Individual Object Ordinary Language Ontological Statement True Sentence 
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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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Co. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido Küng
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FribourgSwitzerland

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