We have intimated that Logic takes account not only of thought but of language the verbal expression of thought. Hence after the consideration of the Concept, we must say something of the Name.
A Name is a word or group of words which by convention signifies the concept of the speaker, and the object of that concept.
It is of importance to observe that the name is immediately significative of the concept, and only mediately of the thing: that is to say, it is the name of the thing in question, because the concept, which it immediately expresses, is the concept of that thing.
That this is so may be easily seen. I can give the same name to many different individuals, because the same universal concept expresses them all. Socrates, Plato, Peter, Paul are each of them termed man. For one and all, in virtue of similar characteristics, are truly represented by the same concept.
Names signify the particular characteristics contained in the concept, which they express, but they are the names of the thing, which the concept represents to us.
The Name is the expression of our thought, considered out of all relation to its position in a proposition.
Since Logic considers names merely in so far as they are actual or possible terms, we shall, in dealing with the distinctions which we are about to enumerate, speak of them as distinctions of terms.
The distinction immediately following constitutes an exception for reasons that will appear.
Categorematic and Syncategorematic Words.
It is plain, that it is not every word, which can be used as a term. Many can only be so used in conjunction with other words, e.g., in, but, well, me. Hence, we at once distinguish words into two classes:
A Categorematic word is one, which can be used as a term without being accompanied by any other word.
A Syncategorematic word is one, that can only enter into a term in conjunction with other words.
These expressions are derived from the Greek words. Kategorein — to predicate; and syn or sun — together with.
Substantives, Pronouns, Adjectives and Participles are categorematic words. It will be noticed, however, that adjectives and participles can only be predicates. They cannot stand as the subject of a sentence, except where there is ellipsis of the substantive. If we say, The unjust shall perish, 'unjust' stands for ' unjust men’.
Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections are syncategorematic. We can it is true employ them as the subjects of those propositions in which we speak of the mere words themselves; as for instance, if we say, 'When is an adverb of time,' 'When is a word of four letters.' But in this case we use them in a different sense, namely as signifying the mere vocal sound, or the written characters.
A term which is composed of categorematic and syncategorematic words, is spoken of as a many-worded term. Terms consisting of a single categorematic word are known as single-worded terms.
The student should be on his guard against speaking of syncategorematic terms. If a word is said to be syncategorematic, it is thereby affirmed to be incapable of being a term.
Divisions of Terms. We enumerate here the various divisions of terms. It should be observed that every term may receive a place in each of the divisions, since the various divisions are based on different principles.
What are called the logical characteristics of a term, are expressed by referring it to its due position under each head. All the divisions are of considerable logical importance.
(2) Concrete and Abstract Terms.
(3) Connotative and Non-connotative Terms.
(4) Positive and Negative Terms.
(5) Absolute and Relative Terms.
(6) Terms of First Intention and Terms of Second Intention.
(7) Univocal, Equivocal and Analogous Terms.
A Singular term is one which can be used in the same sense of only one individual thing. Such, for instance, are 'the present king of Spain,' 'the capital city of Italy,' 'Walter Scott.' To this class belong all proper names.
A Proper Name is a word whose sole purpose is to denote an individual thing. Other Singular terms which are not proper names, are called Significant Singular terms, since they tell us something about the object. They are formed by using General terms, and restricting them to designate but one of the many individuals to which they might be applied. Thus 'king' is a term applicable to a number of individuals in history: but if I say 'the present King of Spain,' I limit the sense of the term to one of the class.
A frequent way in which terms are thus restricted, is by mentioning the time and place to which reference is made. In the instance just employed, the particular reference of the term' king' is thus indicated.
A proper name on the other hand tells us nothing about the object. Its one purpose is to serve as a distinguishing mark. Many proper names indeed once had a meaning. But in so far as they are used as proper names, the meaning they had is disregarded, and they are employed solely for the purpose of identification.
A General or Universal term is one which can be used in the same sense distributively of many things. A term is said to be used 'distributively ', when it can be applied to each of the objects taken separately.
Thus 'man,' 'soldier,' 'Englishman,' 'white,' 'black,' are affirmed of each of the objects to which they are applied.
It is not requisite that there should actually be a plurality of objects, to which the name is applied. It suffices, that it should be capable of such application. Thus 'six-masted steam-ship' is a term, which for very many years was applicable to one ship only, 'The Great-Eastern': but there was nothing in the nature of things to prevent the existence of an indefinite number of six masted steam-ships.
It will be well to give careful attention to the way in which these General terms are formed. The mind, when considering some object, attends to some feature in it, which is, or may be, precisely similar to features present in other objects: and it abstracts from all other features save this.
Thus I may look at the ink in my bottle, and abstracting from its liquid state, its taste, etc., may consider it simply as black. The ink has many other qualities besides this. It is, moreover, an individual thing, and as such must have something in it, which is absolutely peculiar to itself, and is possessed by nothing else.
But all this, my concept and the term which manifests the concept do not express. The term 'black' may indeed be said to include implicitly all the other qualities, for it does not exclude the supposition that the subject which is black, possesses also many other attributes.
If the word 'black,' like the word 'blackness,' involved the exclusion of everything save the attribute of blackness alone, we could not say, 'The ink is black,' just as we cannot say, 'The ink is blackness.' The term 'black' neither excludes, nor explicitly expresses the other attributes.
Then follows another step. I observe that my concept of 'black' is equally representative of all other black objects. Mentally there is nothing to distinguish the representations of an indefinite number of black things, in so far as they are black. The same concept expresses all. It is a Universal concept, and the word signifying it is a General term.
It is thus that all our General terms arise. For instance, experience shows us certain animals possessing peculiar characteristics common to all alike. We group the more marked of these characteristics into a concept, e.g., that of a horse: and wherever we see an animal possessed of these features, we term it a horse.
The characteristics thus expressed in a common concept are styled the Intension or Comprehension of the General term. The individuals to which the term is applicable are said to constitute its Extension.
Since the time of Mill, English writers have more usually employed the words Connotation and Denotation to signify respectively Intension and Extension.
A Collective term is one that is applied to a group of similar objects, the term not being applicable to the objects taken singly. A Collective term may be either a proper name, or a significant Singular term, or a General term.
Thus the term 'army' is collective, since it is predicable of the soldiers taken as a group, and not singly. It is also a General term, for it is applicable to many different armies. 'The National Portrait Gal lery' is a Collective term signifying the pictures taken together as a group. It is also a significant Singular term. 'The Alps’ is a Collective term, which is a proper name.
It is requisite to a Collective term that the objects should be capable of being considered from some point of view common to all. Thus the members of a family, though differing in many points, are alike as sharers in one home. For this reason, the definition requires that there should be 'similar objects’.
The names of substances, such as 'water’, 'gold' 'lead' are sometimes spoken of as Substantial terms. When they are used to signify all the water or gold that exists, they may be ranked as Singular terms. When they are employed to signify different portions of the substance, they become General terms.
Abstract and Concrete Terms.
An Abstract term is the name of a nature or attribute considered in separation from the subject in which it inheres, e.g., whiteness, height, humanity.' A Concrete term is a name which expresses a nature or attribute as inherent in a subject, e.g., white, high, ebullient, man.
Subject in these definitions is used in a different sense from that in which we have hitherto employed it. Hitherto we have been speaking of the subject of a proposition — the subject of predication, as it is termed by logicians.
But real things are also termed the subjects of the qualities which inhere in them: they are subjects of inhesion. It is in this sense that the word is here used.
We have already, when speaking of the Concept, dealt with the abstractive power of the mind, in virtue of which it is able to sever an attribute from the subject in which it inheres, and to form such concepts as that of 'whiteness.'
Light will be thrown on this mental operation, if we notice the distinction between a Substance and an Accident.
A Substance is a thing which can possess independent existence, as e.g., Peter, Paul, man, lion. An Accident can only exist as inhering in a Substance, e.g., whiteness, prudence, transparency.
In the Abstract concept we represent Accidents as though they were isolated from the subject in which they inhere.
The basis for this way of conceiving them, is found in the fact that the Accident which inheres in a Substance is not identical with the Substance. The whiteness of the animal is not the animal itself. The colour of the animal might alter, and yet the animal would be the same individual as before.
Hence the mind is naturally led to conceive the quality as an independent entity, as something which the animal has, and by which it is determined and qualified.
But it is not Accidents alone which are expressed by Abstract terms. By an act of the mind the substantial nature itself can be represented in this abstract form, as though it were an accidental determination.
Thus we form the concept of 'humanity’, though there is no real distinction between the individual Peter and his human nature.
Since these terms represent a single feature of the whole entity, as if it existed independently and in isolation, they possess a logical characteristic to which attention was called in the last section, viz. : that they cannot be predicated of the subject to which they belong.
We can say, 'The horse is white' : for the concrete term 'white,' though it expresses but one attribute, yet implicitly includes the whole object.
But we cannot say, 'The horse is whiteness', for the abstract term positively excludes the subject in which it inheres.
We can say 'Socrates is man.' But we cannot say 'Socrates is his humanity': for the abstract form of the word shows that the characteristics, which Socrates has in common with other men, in virtue of which he is called 'man’, are alone to be considered, to the exclusion of those which are proper to himself.
Abstract terms have no plurals.
The plurality that a quality may have in the real order, it acquires in virtue of the concrete individuals, in which it inheres. Hence when we conceive it in isolation, we have no means of conceiving it multiplied.
Where plural forms are used, as when we speak of 'enthusiasms' or 'ineptitudes', we merely mean the various instances in which the quality was realized. The quality as abstract,. is incapable of multiplication. It follows from this that the only Abstract terms which are general, are those which embrace a whole group of qualities. Thus virtue is a general abstract term including 'justice', 'prudence', ' temperance’, 'fortitude'. etc. But these latter names are all singular.
Mill finds fault with "a practice, which if not introduced by Locke, has gained currency chiefly from his example, of applying the expression 'Abstract name' to all names, which are the result of abstraction or generalization, and consequently to all general names."
The term Abstract name is, as Mill notices, restricted by traditional usage to such as are considered in the present paragraph. Its application to General terms is a mistake. On the two kinds of abstraction see St. Thomas, Summa Theol. I. Q. 40, Art. 3.
Connotative and Non-Connotative Terms.
This distinction is one of the traditional divisions of terms. Its signification in recent English Logic is, however, altogether different from that which it used to bear. The change is due to Mill, who imposed a new meaning on the old terminology.
The former sense of the words has fallen almost altogether into oblivion among English writers, and on the other hand much has been written on the distinction in its novel sense. We shall therefore deal in the first place with the terms in their recent acceptation, and subsequently add an account of their traditional meaning.
The definitions given by Mill are as follows:
A Connotative Term is one which denotes a subject and implies an attribute. A Non-connotative Term is one which denotes a subject only, or an attribute only.
In the case of mathematical figures, we know it, for the law determining the construction of a geometrical figure is within our mental grasp. But even when a connotation is susceptible of change, these changes are not arbitrary.
Science only calls on us to alter the connotation of a term, when it has found some more fundamental characteristic, in relation to which, those hitherto reckoned as its connotation are merely derivative. Thus the advance of knowledge is ever tending to greater fixity of connotation — to the discovery of what the name ought to mean.
Two other views as to the connotation of a term call for mention, though neither of them is defensible.
Some writers have held that all the attributes possessed by the object of the name, whether they are known or unknown, constitute its connotation. This is the view of Prof. Jevons: "A term taken in its intent (i.e. connotation) has for its meaning the whole infinite series of qualities and circumstances, which a thing possesses".
It is plain that if the term primarily represents the concept, its connotation must concern the thing as it is known, not the thing in its objective reality. The meaning of the term is what the thought represents to us.
Others have held that it should be taken to signify all that we know about the thing at the present,. time. But many of these attributes are quite unimportant, and their absence would never cause us to refuse the name to an object. Hence it is manifestly inaccurate to speak of them as the meaning of the term. The only satisfactory account of connotation is that which takes it to signify the fundamental characteristics which determine the application of the term.
It is frequently given as a rule that, 'As connotation 'increases, denotation decreases and as denotation 'increases, connotation decreases.' This however must be rightly understood. The rule is only true when we are dealing with a number of classes arranged in hierarchical subordination. Thus in the series, Animals — vertebrates — mammals — Felida —.lions, we have such a series.
The connotation of 'vertebrate' is greater than that of 'animal' the denotation is less. The connotation of 'lion' is the greatest of all; its denotation is least.
Except where we are dealing with such classes, the rule is not verified. Thus I may increase the connotation by adding some attribute, which is found in every member of the class, as for instance crow — black crow. Here no change takes place. Again the denotation of a term is increased by the birth of new individuals but this makes no change in the connotation. It is, moreover, inaccurate to state the rule in mathematical language, thus: "Connotation and denotation vary in inverse ratio." There is no mathematical relation between the two. One alteration in connotation may make an immense change in denotation, as e.g. zebra — tame zebra.
Non-connotative Terms. The first kind of Non- connotative terms mentioned by Mill are those which denote a subject only, not connoting any attribute. This group consists solely of proper names. These are merely distinguishing marks of the individuals, and are not held conditionally on their retaining certain definite qualities.
Connotative names on the other hand are changed when the quality changes: the man we once called 'thin', we afterwards call 'stout’. For Connotative names primarily signify the characteristic or quality, and secondarily the individual object to which they are applied. It is entitled to the name, because it possesses the quality.
Proper names have no meaning in this sense. A man cannot claim a proper name because he possesses certain qualities. However zealous a philanthropist he may be, he cannot ask us to call him Lord Shaftesbury.
This point has been contested by Mr. Bradley and others, on the ground that names grow to acquire a connotation, and that the name of a friend recalls his qualities to my mind. It is true that it may recall them. But they do not therefore constitute the connotation of the name.
The proper name designating an individual recalls his qualities by association. So far are they from forming its connotation that though the individual may lose them, he will not thereby lose his title to his name.
It has been further urged that many proper names do in fact signify definite attributes. Thus 'John Smith' is said to signify 'man' and 'Teuton’. Has then every male Teuton a right to term himself John Smith? And is not 'John Smith' in all probability the proper name of not a few negroes?
It can scarcely be urged that this name is really significative of attributes. Again, it is true that many proper names of places and families originally indicated the possession of certain attributes, e.g., 'Norfolk’, 'Edinburgh’, 'Southampton', 'Grosvenor’. But these have long lost all connection with the meaning they once had. Nor can any argument be drawn from the fact that it is possible to use such terms as 'a Don Quixote' as connotative. Such a use indicates that the word has ceased to be a proper name.
The other kind of Non-connotative terms are Abstract names. These signify an attribute only. The question has been raised whether these terms are rightly reckoned as non-connotative. Several logicians maintain that there is no term without denotation. They hold that Abstract terms denote an object, namely the quality which they connote; that their denotation and connotation coincide. A consideration of what the denotation of a term truly is, will show that this view cannot be admitted. The denotation consists of the real objects expressed by the concepts. Now there is nothing in the real order corresponding to the Abstract term.
In that term our concept represents the attribute as though it were an independent entity. That is to say, it represents it in a way in which no attribute can exist in the real order. These terms therefore have no denotation.
The meaning attached to this division of terms by the Scholastic logicians was altogether different from that which we have just discussed. They distinguish them as follows
A Connotative term is one which expresses an attribute as qualijy ing a subject.
A Non-connotative term is one which expresses a nature or attri bute as an independent entity.
All adjectives are connotative terms: for each adjective signifies some special attribute as qualifying some person or thing. Thus 'courageous' signifies the attribute of 'courage' as determining some subject. 'Prudent' similarly signifies the attribute of 'prudence' as qualifying a person.1
On the other hand all substantives, as 'man', 'father', 'humanity', 'paternity', signify some entity that is conceived as independent and not as the qualification of a subject.
The logical value of the distinction depends on the difference that there is in the real order between Substances and Accidents.
Substances are expressed by nouns-substantive. Accidents on the other hand are expressed by adjectives: for an accident is not an independent entity, but a mere qualification of a sub stance. Hence a distinction between them is necessary in the conceptual representation of the real order: and this distinction is expressed by the Non-connotative and the Connotative term.
Yet, as we have already had occasion to notice, the power of the intellect enables it to conceive things otherwise than as they actually exist. It can conceive the accident as though it were an independent entity. When it does so it em ploys the abstract term, and that term is a substantive and is non-connotative.
The Scholastic distinction is therefore philosophically justified. It corresponds to a fundamental difference in our mental conceptions, and the logic of the concept would be incomplete without it.
Mill, as an adherent of the Empiricist school, rejected the distinction between substance and accident. There was therefore no place in his logic for a division of terms which involved its recognition. He solved the difficulty that thus presented itself, by putting all general terms signifying substances on a par with adjectives, and transferred them en bloc to the class of connotative names.
The resulting division is devoid of philosophical value. A division of terms in the science of Logic must express different ways of conceiving the real order: and when a class of terms is designated by a common name, this should indicate that all these terms are conceived in a similar manner.
This is certainly not the case in regard to Mill's Non-connotative terms. Proper names and Abstract names have conceptually nothing in common. Proper names are not significant of any concept at all: they simply denominate individual objects of sense- perception.
Positive and Negative Terms.
A Positive Term is one which signifies the presence of some attribute.
A Negative Term is one which signifies the absence of some attribute.
Thus as examples of Positive terms, we may take 'living', 'present', 'equal'; and as examples of Negative terms 'lifeless', 'absent', 'unequal', 'not-man', 'nonentity’.
A special class of Negative terms is constituted by what are called Privative Terms. These express the absence of the attribute in an object in which it might have been expected to exist, as for instance ' blind', 'dumb’. It would be correct to speak of some animalculae as 'sightless' or 'eyeless' but not as 'blind’ for the term 'blind' implies the absence of sight where it is normally to be found.
It should be noted that very many Negative terms, such as, e.g., 'impatient’, 'careless', 'inhospitable' are understood to imply the presence of positive qualities, opposite to those designated by the corresponding Positive terms.
There is, however, one class of Negative terms to which no possible positive signification can adhere, and which have as Mr. Keynes says, "a thorough-going negative character". These are terms of the form 'not-man', 'not-white'. They denote everything which does not possess the positive quality to which the negation is attached. They are called Infinite (i.e. Indeterminate) terms (nomen infinitum).
The name was given them by Aristotle, because they do not fulfil the natural purpose of the name, which is to designate some determinate character or some definite individual. They are wholly indeterminate in their signification: the term 'not-man' is equally applicable to what is real and to the unreal. I can say 'A horse is not-man,' and 'A griffin is not-man.'
Certain recent logicians have denied that it lies within our power to form a concept of 'not-man’. They assert that we cannot hold together in a single thought things which have nothing in common. It is quite true that we cannot hold together things which have nothing in common, by means of a positive concept. We can however do so by a negative concept. The logical significance of the Negative term lies in this very fact, that it witnesses to our power to conceive the absence of some quality as though it were a positive reality. We conceive negations as though they were real things: we give them conceptual realization.
The very fact that these terms can stand as the subject or predicate of a sentence is a proof that there is a thought corresponding to them. Were it not for this power of conceiving by negations, we should have no thought corresponding to the word ‘nothing’. It is true we cannot imagine 'nothing' : but we can conceive it. The proposition "Created Being was once nothing" gives an intelligible sense. Similarly we can form concepts of 'not-man’, 'not-white'.
Absolute and Relative Terms.
An Absolute term is a name, which in ita meaning implies no reference to anything else.
A Relative term is one, which, over and above the object it denotes, implies in its signification another object also receiving a name from the same fact which is the ground of the first name.
We are all familiar with certain names which are given in pairs; so that if an object exists, to which one of the two may be applied, we know that there must also be an object to which the other may be applied. Such are 'parent, child,' 'master, servant,' 'king, subject,' 'husband, wife,' 'equal, unequal,' etc., etc.
If it can be truly affirmed of any one that he is a parent, then there is also some one of whom the term 'child' is predicated. If there is a master, there must also be a servant. Such terms are known as Relative terms: and each is said to be the correlative of the other. When a term does not involve a correlative, it is known as Absolute.
It should be carefully observed that the mere fact of a relation between two objects, does not make their names Relative names. Peter and Andrew are not Relative names, though the two men be brothers. For a name to be Relative, it must be such as to express a concept in which the relation is the object of thought. Now I can conceive Peter, without thinking of him as a brother: his brotherhood may be altogether outside my mind's field of vision. But if I think of him as brother, then in my thought I necessarily refer him to the person whose brother he is, and my thought is a relative concept.
The Relative term for the case in question must be one that signifies such a relative concept. It must express Peter precisely under the aspect of his connection with Andrew: it must be the term 'brother' (Categ. c. 7, sect; 8).
A Relative term may be concrete or abstract. If the name signifies the related object, we have the concrete relative, e.g., 'master’, ' father'. If we express the relation in separation from the object to which it belongs, it is abstract, e.g., 'dominion', 'paternity'. Abstract relatives have their correlative terms. Thus 'paternity' corresponds to 'filiation,' 'dominion' to 'subjection', the 'friendship' of the one friend to the 'friendship' of the other, the 'equality' which is predicated of one of two equals, to that which is predicated of the other.
The logical significance of this division of terms will not have escaped notice. We are here dealing with a special way in which the mind can represent the real order. It is capable on the one hand of representing its object in isolation and on the other it can represent it in the light of the connection by which it is related to something else.
Further, it can fashion relations, even when they do not exist in the real order. Thus it can conceive a thing, which is viewed under one aspect, as 'identical' with itself viewed under another aspect. Yet in the real order there can be no such thing as a relation of 'identity'. To have a real, as distinguished from a merely conceptual relation, there must be two things, not one only.
1 These connotative terms when considered in relation to the characteristic, the presence of which they signify, and from which they are etymologicallv derived, were called Denominatives The abstract attribute was termed the Denominant. The abstract term does not represent the accident as a substance, but simply as an independent determination. Only concrete terms can represent substance.
"Quia tamen [nomen infinitum] significat per modum nominis quod potest
subjici et praedicari, requiritur ad minus suppositum in apprehensione."
St. Thomas in Periherm. lect. 4, part. Exeludit quaedam.
Click to Return to Contents