Dealing with Meanings: a Neglected Step in the Gray’s Elegy Argument

  • Max Rosenkrantz California State University, Long Beach


It is universally agreed that in the “Gray’s Elegy Argument” (GEA) Russell raises a difficulty for the attempt to “speak about” meanings (the phrase is Russell’s) and that the difficulty, assuming it to be genuine, shows the very notion of meaning to be unintelligible. In this paper I try to show that in the GEA Russell considers and rejects an alternative way of manifesting an understanding of meanings—namely, by “dealing with” them (also Russell’s phrase). This step in the GEA has not, so far as I am aware, been noticed before.