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.
Famous quotes containing the word distinction:
“If he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.”
—Samuel Johnson (17091784)