From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (8 November 1848 – 26 July 1925) was a German mathematician who became a logician and philosopher. He was one of the founders of modern logic, and made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics. As a philosopher, he is generally considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, for his writings on the philosophy of language and mathematics. Although he was mainly ignored by the intellectual world when he published his writings, it was Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932) and Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) introduced his work to later generations of logicians and philosophers.
Sense and reference
The distinction between Sinn ("sense") and Bedeutung (usually translated "reference", but also as "meaning" or "denotation") was an innovation of Frege in his 1892 paper "Über Sinn und Bedeutung" ("On Sense and Reference"). According to Frege, sense and reference are two different aspects of the significance of an expression. Frege applied Bedeutung in the first instance to proper names, where it means the bearer of the name, the object in question, but then also to other expressions, including complete sentences, which bedeuten the two "truth values", the true and the false; by contrast, the sense or Sinn associated with a complete sentence is the thought it expresses. The sense of an expression is said to be the "mode of presentation" of the item referred to.
The distinction can be illustrated thus: In their ordinary uses, the name "Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor", which for logical purposes is an unanalyzable whole, and the functional expression "the Prince of Wales", which contains the significant parts "the prince of ξ" and "Wales", have the same reference, namely, the person best known as Prince Charles. But the sense of the word "Wales" is a part of the sense of the latter expression, but no part of the sense of the "full name" of Prince Charles.
These distinctions were disputed by Bertrand Russell, especially in his paper "On Denoting"; the controversy has continued into the present, fueled especially by Saul Kripke's famous lectures "Naming and Necessity".
Imagine the road signs outside a city. They all point to (bedeuten) the same object (the city), although the "mode of presentation" or sense (Sinn) of each sign (its direction or distance) is different. Similarly "the Prince of Wales" and "Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor" both denote (bedeuten) the same object, though each uses a different "mode of presentation" (sense or Sinn).