Quotable and Unquotable Signs (Peter Long)

As Frege was perhaps the first clearly to recognise, the sign for a property or relation…is not a quotable sign:  it is not an isolable piece of language. Of course, it is not incorrect to call ‘(is) white’ a predicative expression or ‘north of’ a relational expression, but what is here being called a predicative or relational expression is logically peripheral to what we should call the sign proper for a property or relation. For the sign that is proper to a property must, of course, have a different form from that which is proper to a relation. We give expression to this difference when we say ‘It is of the essence of a property to be of something’ and ‘It is of the essence of a (dyadic) relation to be between one thing and another’. What these propositions convey could be expressed at the level of language by saying ‘The sign for a property contains the form of a sign for a possible subject of the property’ and ‘The sign for a relation contains the form of signs for possible terms of the relation’. These formulations are not Frege’s, but they express what he meant by calling such signs ‘incomplete’, as opposed to those signs whose form is such that they do not contain the form of other signs, which he calls ‘complete’.  –Peter Long, “Universals:  Logic and Metaphor”, p. 97

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