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Origins of terminology and symbols used in semantics, pragmatics, and adjacent fields

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  • fragment

    Noam Chomsky

    Noam Chomsky


Comments Feb 16, 2023 4:58 pm

My thanks go to Jim Blevins, who pointed out to me a couple of early uses of fragment by C.S. Peirce. One is from his (1896) paper 'The Regenerated Logic' (The Monist 7.1.17-40):

Of what use does this new logical doctrine promise to be? The first service it may be expected to render is that of correcting a considerable number of hasty assumptions about logic which have been allowed to affect philosophy. In the next place, if Kant has shown that metaphysical conceptions spring from formal logic, this great generalisation upon formal logic must lead to a new apprehension of the metaphysical conceptions which shall render them more adequate to the needs of science. In short, "exact" logic will prove a stepping-stone to "exact" metaphysics. In the next place, it must immensely widen our logical notions. For example, a class consisting of a lot of things jumbled higgledy-piggledy must now be seen to be but a degenerate form of the more general idea of a system. Generalisation, which has hitherto meant passing to a larger class, must mean taking in the conception of the whole system of which we see but a fragment, etc., etc. (p. 39)


The other is from the preface to Logic and Mathematics:

Thus, the ordinary logic has a great deal to say about genera and species, or in our nineteenth century dialect, about classes. Now, a class is a set of objects comprising all that stand to one another in a special relation of similarity. But where ordinary logic talks of classes the logic of relatives talks of systems. A system is a set of objects comprising all that stand to one another in a group of connected relations. Induction according to ordinary logic rises from the contemplation of a sample of a class to that of the whole class; but according to the logic of relatives it rises from the contemplation of a fragment of a system to the envisagement of the complete system.

I am unsure of where or when this second text was originally published, but like the first one, it may be found in Peirce's Collected Papers (ed. by Hartshorne, et al., Harvard University Press, 1931-1958).

Reply to at 4:58 pm