Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) German philosopher; Biography and famous works

Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was a German philosopher, mathematician, and logician whose work had a strong influence on 20th-century
linguistics and language philosophy. He was born in Wismar in Pomerania. He studied at Jena and Göttingen. Frege worked for most of his life in the mathematics department at Jena. He never published a monograph on philosophy in his own life and it was only thanks
to influential admirers like Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Carnap, and Ludwig Wittgenstein that his philosophical work became widely known.

His first major work was Begriffsschrift (1879), translated as Conceptual Notation and other Writings (1972), which set out to create a formal notational system for logic. In spite of very poor initial reception (it was dismissed by the leading figures of the time), it has nonetheless had a tremendous influence on the development of the field of mathematical logic ever since. His real masterpiece, though, came a few years later: Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik: eine logische mathematische Untersuchung über der Begriff der Zahl (1884), translated as The Foundations of Arithmetic: A Logico- Mathematical Enquiry into the Concept of Number (1968). This was met with a similarly hostile response.

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Frege then turned to problems in the philosophy of language and it was this work that led to him becoming known in critical theory. In particular, it is the distinction between Sinn (sense) and Bedeutung (reference) outlined in the paper ‘Uber Sinn und Bedeutung’ (1892), translated as ‘On Sense and Reference’ (1969), which has proved the most consequential for the development of analytic philosophy. Frege noted that two expressions might have the same point of reference (Bedeutung); his famous example is that of the morning star and the evening star, inasmuch that the morning star and the evening star are in fact one and the same thing, namely the planet Venus, but have a very different sense (Sinn) according to the different expressions. Frege was directly influential on Edmund Husserl, who as a young scholar wrote a critique of Frege only to be roundly chastised by him in return. In so doing, however, Frege directed him away from the psychologism of Brentano and put him on the road to creating his concept of phenomenology.

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