Use–mention Distinction

The use–mention distinction is a foundational concept of analytic philosophy, according to which it is necessary to make a distinction between using a word (or phrase) and mentioning it, and many philosophical works have been "vitiated by a failure to distinguish use and mention". The distinction is disputed by non-analytic philosophers.

The distinction between use and mention can be illustrated for the word cheese:

Cheese is derived from milk.
"Cheese" is derived from the Old English word "cyse".

The first sentence is a statement about the substance called cheese; it uses the word "cheese" to refer to that substance. The second is a statement about the word cheese as a signifier; it mentions the word without using it to refer to anything other than itself.

Read more about Use–mention Distinction:  Grammar, Use–mention in Philosophy

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