- Die Philosophische Logik Gottlob Freges. Ein Kommentar, mit den Texten des Vorworts zu Grundgesetze der Arithmetik und der Logischen Untersuchungen I–IV
Frege’s thought has been a permanent point of interest among philosophers for several decades. In the late sixties a few philosophers, such as Christian Thiel and Ignacio Angelelli, published studies on Frege’s logic, semantics, and metaphysics. In 1973 Michael Dummett’s work on Frege’s philosophy of language appeared, which held the stage for a long time. It presented Frege as a predecessor, even as a representative, of the analytic tradition. New approaches came up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, such as Hans Sluga’s work in 1980 and other studies, which paid special attention to Frege’s German background, where Kant played a significant role. Several scholars, including Michael Dummett, started to dig into Frege’s background. Positions varied; some studied Frege’s background in order to show that there is nothing that could help us understand his philosophical insights; others found the origins of his philosophical and logical ideas precisely in his background and philosophical environment, in such philosophers as Leibniz, Kant, Trendelenburg, and Lotze.
After a few somewhat more quiet years, Frege scholarship expanded after 2000. A number of books have appeared that discuss Frege in the analytic context and also seek [End Page 507] to find more details about his philosophical sources. Wolfgang Künne’s work is a most welcome contribution to contemporary scholarship in the field. Lothar Kreiser’s Gottlob Frege: Leben—Werk—Zeit (2001) has already been available, and interpretations of Frege’s philosophy as well as editions and translations of his books contain short biographies. Still, because of its special composition, Künne’s work serves to fill a gap in the scholarship and significantly contributes to what is known about Frege’s logic and philosophy.
The volume consists of three parts. First, there is an extensive biography (about 50 pages) of Frege that places Frege’s thought in its historical context and also contextualizes those of his articles that are included in the work. The main projects Frege pursued, most notably the project of logicism, receive proper attention in the first part of the volume. The four texts that are included in the volume are the Preface of the Grundgesetze der Arithmetik I (1893) and the three logical investigations that were published during Frege’s lifetime, namely “Der Gedanke” (1918), “Die Verneinung” (1919), and “Gedankengefüge” (1923), which were originally published in Beiträge zur Philosophie des deutschen Idealismus. Künne has also included a posthumously published text, “Logische Allgemeinheit,” in the volume, as that fragment, which was not written before 1923, was intended to be a fourth logical investigation. The five texts written by Frege that are included in the edition discuss topics that we would now call philosophical logic, such as meaning, reference, and truth, although they also study themes that we would include in ontology and the philosophy of mind. The title of the volume is thus sufficiently motivated.
Frege’s texts take up about 100 pages of the volume, while the commentary is about 600 pages. The book also contains an appendix on Bolzano and Frege, where Künne pays attention to similarities between the two logicians and philosophers but also shows his skepticism about the thesis that Frege had read Bolzano. Apart from this position, Künne prefers to read Frege’s texts closely and inform his reader of historical and philological matters rather than take part in any heated debates concerning interpretations; his own positions become visible only indirectly, through the extensive footnotes. The work also contains a very useful bibliography and indexes of names and subjects.
The book is extremely rich. If one, for example, wishes to know more about the views of Frege’s German contemporaries, about the standpoints that Russell or Wittgenstein had on Fregean topics, or about the arguments of Frege scholars, one can find...