Gottlob Frege: Sense and reference: One of his primary examples involves the expressions "the morning star" and "the evening star"


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Gottlob Frege: Sense and reference: One of his primary examples involves the expressions “the morning star” and “the evening star”. Both of these expressions refer to the planet Venus, yet they obviously denote Venus in virtue of different properties that it has. Thus, Frege claims that these two expressions have the same reference but different senses.

  • Gottlob Frege: Sense and reference: One of his primary examples involves the expressions “the morning star” and “the evening star”. Both of these expressions refer to the planet Venus, yet they obviously denote Venus in virtue of different properties that it has. Thus, Frege claims that these two expressions have the same reference but different senses.


The reference of an entire proposition is its truth-value, either the True or the False. The sense of a complete proposition is what it is we understand when we understand a proposition, which Frege calls “a thought” (Gedanke). Just as the sense of a name of an object determines how that object is presented, the sense of a proposition determines a method of determination for a truth-value.

  • The reference of an entire proposition is its truth-value, either the True or the False. The sense of a complete proposition is what it is we understand when we understand a proposition, which Frege calls “a thought” (Gedanke). Just as the sense of a name of an object determines how that object is presented, the sense of a proposition determines a method of determination for a truth-value.



Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair. … This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me. (1967, I, 3–4)

  • Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair. … This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me. (1967, I, 3–4)



The world consists of a complex of logical atoms (such as “little patches of colour”) and their properties. Together these atoms and their properties form the atomic facts which, in turn, are combined to form logically complex objects. What we normally take to be inferred entities (for example, enduring physical objects) are then understood to be logical constructions formed from the immediately given entities of sensation, viz., “sensibilia.”

  • The world consists of a complex of logical atoms (such as “little patches of colour”) and their properties. Together these atoms and their properties form the atomic facts which, in turn, are combined to form logically complex objects. What we normally take to be inferred entities (for example, enduring physical objects) are then understood to be logical constructions formed from the immediately given entities of sensation, viz., “sensibilia.”



Just as we distinguish three separate senses of “is” (the is of predication, the is of identity, and the is of existence) and exhibit these three senses using three separate logical notations (Px, x=y, and ∃x respectively) we will also discover other ontologically significant distinctions by being made aware of a sentence's correct logical form.

  • Just as we distinguish three separate senses of “is” (the is of predication, the is of identity, and the is of existence) and exhibit these three senses using three separate logical notations (Px, x=y, and ∃x respectively) we will also discover other ontologically significant distinctions by being made aware of a sentence's correct logical form.



The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find, as we saw in our opening chapters, that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given.

  • The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find, as we saw in our opening chapters, that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given.



1. The world is everything that is the case. 2. What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts. 3. The logical picture of the facts is the thought. 4. A thought is a proposition with sense. 5. Propositions are truth-functions of elementary propositions. (An elementary proposition is a truth function of itself.) 6. The general form of truth-function is [p, ξ, N(ξ)]. This is the general form of proposition. 7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

  • 1. The world is everything that is the case. 2. What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts. 3. The logical picture of the facts is the thought. 4. A thought is a proposition with sense. 5. Propositions are truth-functions of elementary propositions. (An elementary proposition is a truth function of itself.) 6. The general form of truth-function is [p, ξ, N(ξ)]. This is the general form of proposition. 7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.



Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus The picture theory of propositions. My whole task consists in explaining the nature of sentences. A proposition is a picture of reality.

  • Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus The picture theory of propositions. My whole task consists in explaining the nature of sentences. A proposition is a picture of reality.

  • When we put a sentence together, we are constructing a model of reality. The model shares its logical form with the state of affairs it refers to. If the model correctly represents reality, the sentence is true.



Can we construct a logically perfect language (free of ambiguity and vagueness)?

  • Can we construct a logically perfect language (free of ambiguity and vagueness)?

  • What occurs in our mind when we use language to convey meaning?

  • What is the relation between thoughts, words, and sentences and the realities they refer to?

  • How do sentences convey truth rather than falsehood?



Most propositions and questions that have been written about philosophical matters are not false but senseless….Most questions and propositions of the philosopher result from the fact that we do not understand the logic of our language. They are [like] the question whether the Good is more or less identical than the Beautiful (4.003)

  • Most propositions and questions that have been written about philosophical matters are not false but senseless….Most questions and propositions of the philosopher result from the fact that we do not understand the logic of our language. They are [like] the question whether the Good is more or less identical than the Beautiful (4.003)



A thought is a sentence with a sense. Thinking is not possible without language.

  • A thought is a sentence with a sense. Thinking is not possible without language.

  • Thinking is a kind of language. For a thought too is...a logical picture of a sentence, and therefore it is just a sentence..

  • A thought describes a possible state of affairs.



Rejection of linguistic essences. The meaning of a word is its use in a language.

  • Rejection of linguistic essences. The meaning of a word is its use in a language.

  • There is no universal property shared by all ‘games’, there is, rather, a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing...a set of family resemblances.

  • To understand a sentence, then, one must be a participant in the language-game that displays the use of the sentence.



It is of the essence of our investigation that we do not seek to learn anything new by it. We want to understand something that is already in plain view....Our investigation is therefore a grammatical one. Such an investigation sheds light on our problem by clearing misunderstandings away. Misunderstandings concerning the use of words....

  • It is of the essence of our investigation that we do not seek to learn anything new by it. We want to understand something that is already in plain view....Our investigation is therefore a grammatical one. Such an investigation sheds light on our problem by clearing misunderstandings away. Misunderstandings concerning the use of words....



A nothing would serve just as well as a something about which nothing could be said. (PI, 304)

  • A nothing would serve just as well as a something about which nothing could be said. (PI, 304)

  • Always get rid of the idea of the private object in this way; assume that it constantly changes, but that you do not notice the change because your memory constantly deceives you. (PI, Pt II ix)

  • It is humiliating to have to appear like an empty tube, which is simply inflated by a mind. (Culture and Value, p. 11)



Wittgenstein invites us to imagine a community in which the individuals each have a box containing a "beetle". "No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle."[16]

  • Wittgenstein invites us to imagine a community in which the individuals each have a box containing a "beetle". "No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle."[16]

  • If the "beetle" had a use in the language of these people, it could not be as the name of something -




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