On Predication and Logical Syntax

  • Fred Sommers
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 43)


This is the right time to acknowledge my intellectual debt to Yehoshua Bar-Hillel. But I will also take the opportunity to voice a complaint of long standing. Bar-Hillel’s work on categories has influenced me since 1961. But it should have influenced me earlier. Had Yehoshua sent me his work in the fifties, or sent me to it, he would have saved me a year and a half of hard and anxious labor. When he finally showed me his dissertation on syntactic categories he more than confirmed my own animadversions to the prevailing doctrine of category structure. When I received it I saw immediately that my criticism of the standard and uncritically held theory had been thoroughly and decisively anticipated by Bar-Hillel. The fact that Yehoshua had not known of my efforts to do what he had already done does not (somehow) exonerate him. To the contrary. Let me then put on record that Bar-Hillel was the first philosopher ever to formulate with any precision and generality the problem of categorial predicability. The problem is a fundamental one and Bar-Hillel’s achievement is of permanent importance. I should add that his simple and elegant statement of the problem was better than mine, even though I suspect it did not take him eighteen months to arrive at it.


Prime Number Logical Sign Atomic Proposition General Proposition Atomic Sentence 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Sommers
    • 1
  1. 1.Brandeis UniversityUSA

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