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Jacquette’s Frege

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Oscar Murillo’s terrific new exhibition in Cambridge is called “Violent Amnesia”. And I too have obviously been afflicted by a bad temporary bout of amnesia! It suddenly all came back to me. In 2007, Dale Jacquette published a new translation of Frege’s The Foundations of Arithmetics. And I now recall that it got some of the worst reviews I have ever seen. I’ve checked again.  Michael Kremer (at NDPR) initially gently and then with increasing force excoriates the translation as full of sentences and passages that make no sense, and riddled with inaccuracies and egregious errors. And he finds Jacquette’s editorial introduction equally full of quite basic misunderstandings of Frege. Kremer gives damning chapter and verse, more than enough to fully justify his resoundingly negative judgements in the long review. Matthias Schirn in his lengthy review (HPL 2010) is equally negative. He finds, and he is being kind, that Jacquette’s introduction is  “fraught with misrepresentations” and his translation “offends over and over against [Jacquette’s]  own guiding principle of literal accuracy”: again, there is more damning chapter and verse. Kremer and Schirn’s complaints aren’t at the level of disputable and over-heated  rival judgements over the reading of difficult texts: not to put too fine a point on it, they are assertions of the author’s incompetence at a  pretty basic level. Obviously that wasn’t enough to put Jacquette off his efforts at writing about Frege. But it  should have been. CUP has just published his Frege: A Philosophical Biography. I’ve now read the first hundred pages or so, tracing Frege’s life up to the point where he writes the Begriffsschrift. This book strikes me, not to put too fine a point on it, as again pretty dreadful. Let’s set aside the fact that the prose is laboured, repetitive and very longwinded, so the book is twice the length it could ever have needed to be.. . .

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News source: Logic Matters

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