What is a statement?

"The name of the song is called 'Haddocks' Eyes.' "
"Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?" Alice said, trying to feel interested.
"No, you don't understand," the Knight said, looking a little vexed.  "That's what the name is called.  The name really is, 'The Aged Aged Man.' "
"Then I ought to have said 'That's what the song is called'?" Alice corrected herself.
"No, you oughtn't:  That's quite another thing!  The song is called 'Ways and Means':  But that's only what it's called, you know!"
"Well, what is the song, then?" said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
"I was coming to that," the Knight said.  "The song really is "'A-sitting On A Gate':  and the tune's my own invention."

This is the only chapter of "Logic" that starts off with a quote, and this quote's a dandy, isn't it?  If you take the time to work through it, you'll have a better understanding of the use of names than most folks.

On to Rosser's discussion:

A statement about something generally contains a name of that thing, but it must not contain the thing itself.
Applied to natural objects, this seems quite obvious, since in such case the statement usually could not contain the thing itself.  Consider the statement "Georgia is a southern state."  This contains the word "Georgia," which is a name of the state in question.  Clearly it would be impracticable to replace the word "Georgia" in this statement by the state itself.
Similar considerations apply to "The moon is made of green cheese," "The Atlantic Ocean is wet," "The Equator is long," etc.
For small objects, these considerations are not quite so conclusive.  In the statement "This thumbtack is round," one could conceivably erase the words "This thumbtack" and in the empty space stick the thumbtack into the page.  One can make rather cogent objections that the resulting conglomeration of two words and a thumbtack is not a statement, but a rebus or charade.  In any case, any other statement about that particular thumbtack positively could NOT contain the thumbtack, since the thumbtack has now been preempted to appear in the particular place indicated.  Further, and for the same reason, if one wished to repeat the same statement the repetition could not contain the thumbtack but must contain some name of the thumbtack, such as the words "This thumbtack."
For these and other reasons, it is generally agreed that, although one could put together a combination consisting of a thumbtack followed by the words "is round," and although this combination would doubtless convey information, nevertheless the combination does not constitute a statement.
This seems fair enough.  Certainly not all means of conveying information are necessarily statements.  If a policeman at a busy intersection waves us to stop, he has certainly conveyed information, but hardly in the form of a statement.
To summarize, it is generally agreed about statements that a statement about something must contain a name of that thing, rather than the thing itself.  We shall conform with this usage.

Whew.  Every time I read the sentence that ends "rebus or charade." I laugh out loud.  This has been quite an introduction, eh?  About another page of this stuff and we'll get to the challenging part of naming.  I hope you'll think it was worth it when we get there.  That's all for now--I'm on my third espresso, and I can't sit still!  Peace.


If you have comments or suggestions, email me at hhrqp8j02@sneakemail.com

INDEX to a few of Fred's pages