Analytic Synthetic

Discipline: Philosophy

Distinction first formulated by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), adopted as a fundamental principle in linguistic semantics.

An analytic or necessary truth ('sentence' in linguistics) is true by virtue of its meaning: 'All bachelors are unmarried men'.

A synthetic or contingent truth is true by virtue of empirical fact: 'Grass is green' is not necessarily true, but only if grass is green.

T M Olshewsky, ed., Problems in the Philosophy of Language (New York, 1969), ch. 5


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