Proposition as the Connotation of Sentence
Every meaningful sentence, whether true or false, states something. What is stated by a sentence is called in German ‘Sachverhalt’. A literal translation of that term, e.g., ‘state of things’ or ‘state of affairs’, is seldom used in English. In the latter language, what is stated by a sentence is usually called a ‘proposition’. In this sense, a proposition is neither a linguistic expression, nor a psychological act of thinking, nor any ‘ideal meaning’, but something that belongs to the sphere of objects to which a given sentence refers. The relation of stating, which holds between the sentence and the proposition, is therefore a semantic one, but should be distinguished from the semantic relation of denoting as it was understood by Frege. According to Frege, every true sentence denotes one and the same object, namely a mysterious object called ‘truth’, and every false sentence denotes one and the same object, still more mysterious, called ‘falsehood’. But different true sentences may state different propositions, and different false sentences need not state the same state of things. Hence it follows that the semantic relation of stating differs from another semantic relation, namely that of denoting (in Frege’s sense), and the proposition stated by the given sentence is neither the truth nor the falsehood.
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