Thursday, April 12, 2007

3.328 If a sign is not used then it is meaningless. That is the meaning of Occam’s razor.

(If everything behaves as if a sign had meaning, then it has meaning.)

Ogden has ‘not necessary’ and P&McG have ‘useless’ for nicht gebraucht. Black (p. 134) points out that the true meaning is ‘not used.’

Ockham’s razor is generally quoted as: Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity. It is a kind of metaphysical principle, a rule for generating economical theories about reality. So why link it with meaning? Perhaps this is nonsense. Or perhaps Bedeutung (“meaning”) is here used in a Fregean way, indicating something referred to or signified. When a sign in fact signifies nothing, does nothing at all, there is no point positing something as its reference. But then the fundamental question about meaning is not does a sign refer? but does it have a use? So Frege-ish questions of metaphysics become at least somewhat irrelevant. As the parenthetical comment seems to emphasize.

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