I believe Wittgenstein’s theory of State of Affairs is the most plausible theory we looked at so far, and I will defend it against Strawson’s objection. I will first, compare Frege’s theory of sense to Wittgenstein’s. Then, I will be supporting Wittgenstein’s theory against Strawson by defending how state of affairs are still needed to communicate about the objects in the world.
Furthermore, Wittgenstein’s theory of state of affairs compared to Frege’s theory of senses differs through the views of identity. For Frege, identity statements such as “Orion Pax is Optimus Prime” can be placed in a logical form such as a=b. To find out that Orion Pax is Optimus prime (a=b) we would need outside/external information to prove its truthfulness. This shows that they have different meanings but have the same principle, which in this case they’re the same robot. However, for Wittgenstein, that’s not how it works. He stated that expressions such as a=b are not elementary propositions that have sense because the ‘a=b’ can be viewed in many different ways.
State of affairs are not viewed in multiple ways, but just one specific way or angle. Orion Pax and Optimus Prime represent the same and one state of affair and show the same state of affair in two different ways. Identity for Wittgenstein is not a relationship that exists in the world, but something that exists between structures. Therefore, it makes Frege’s puzzle of identity and sense false.In addition, both Frege’s Senses and Wittgenstein’s State of Affairs determine reference on their own by the use of logical forms and truth tables. They both agree that there is one internal logic for natural language and their meaning determines reference. Wittgenstein and Frege accept that a proposition’s function is to express what it says. Such as: ‘the cat is on the mat’ = (x) iff is on the (y) (Wittgenstein’s aRb), or (x) satisfies (y) is to say that a cat is on a mat (Frege’s ?x ((C(x) ; M(x)) ; ?y (C(y) ; M(y)) ? y = x)) ;Mx).
The ‘cat’ and ‘mat’ fill out the function to give it meaning and structure because if the expression was by itself with no relation, it wouldn’t have any meaning. With the use of logical forms to find truth, they both used truth tables which were firstly introduced by Frege himself. Frege used truth tables to distinguish from what is true and false from reference and Wittgenstein made the tables more precise. Wittgenstein uses Frege’s truth tables on his Tractatus to show how propositions can be reduced to atomic parts. Conversely, the theory against Wittgenstein’s is Strawson’s theory of meaning.
Strawson’s argument is that meanings are rules that govern the usage of words. This means that words have meaning outside propositions. He compares the use of words as meaningful linguistic units that use expressions that refer to the world. For example, to use an expression such as ‘Layla’ on its own has no self-reference, but one can use to refer to me. Therefore, sentences like ‘the cat on the mat’ are not independent to themselves because we are the ones that give it reference, not the sentence itself. Meaning is a property of an expression. Reference is the way we speak of those expressions. This shows that words and phrases are mere linguistic units and that meaning cannot be state of affairs.
Expressions have references to state of affairs and are independent from their uses. For example, if I were to say ‘the cat,’ the word ‘the’ is meaningful because the ‘the’ is making us pick out something in the world and presupposes the existence of that object. If this is true, then logical constants have no internal logic until one knows how logic works. Logic has no use in language because there can sentences or words which one can use and not even have logical form at all. Wittgenstein would object to Strawson’s removal of state of affairs in natural language because there wouldn’t be a strong way to verify truth. Wittgenstein’s theory of State of Affairs is that the words we use to express communication about those state of affairs. State of affairs are objects in relation to one another and words by themselves don’t have meaning outside propositions.
State of affairs are determined by elementary propositions, and all atomic sentences determine truth values of all propositions. Words and sentences have logical form, but they are not about the state of affairs themselves. For example, the word ‘love’ is just the existence of something in the world that is ‘love’ and that is roaming in the world. For Wittgenstein its meaningless without any relation. Saying the word ‘love’ can only be true it represents a possible fact and if that fact is true.
Wittgenstein would say that ‘love’ would be what causes the relations of objects we talk about. That relation is what creates an isomorphism or connection between what’s real or not in the world (true or false). It’s the same if we were to say, “The king of France is bald” it would entail to a king of France who is bald. This sentence cannot be true unless there is king of France.
If it doesn’t, it would have to be false because there is a lack of isomorphism with the state of affair “king of France’ for it to be a representation of reality. If this was the case, then Strawson’s view is wrong. Strawson would identify the sentence “The King of France is bald” by presupposing that it cannot be true or false unless there is actually a king of France. For Wittgenstein that’s absurd because the sentence would have no meaning even though he stated meaning is found by us. Language has a set logic that is only talking about the structural relations about the world. One can’t just imply that there is a King of France, it would be false. This creates Strawson’s flaw in finding truth values and that his work is dependent on us to give it meaning. It would just mean that one simply failed to speak.
Moreover, Strawson’s response to Wittgenstein’s objection would be that before one evaluates truth or falsity, one would have to be choose what the object is being referred to. The truth and falsity to a sentence or word would be within itself. For example, the ‘King of France is bald’ can refer to a specific King.
The presupposition is the condition that there is an individual that matches the description that is a ‘king of France.’ They can get their truth or falsity by the existence norm which shows if that object exists. The uniqueness norm would allow us to seek a specific king. However, there is no monarch in France but in a sense, one is implying that there is, which makes the sentence significant. If one was asked to show if it was true or false, the question wouldn’t arise.
This would also apply to the word ‘the’ which it already has reference before even placing it in relation. Therefore, words don’t have to be in relation to other objects or any isomorphism that connects us to reality because we are the ones that give it meaning.Hence, If the world was just structures in isomorphism and the propositions are not represented in the world, then how are the things we speak about true at all? There are circumstances in which we use sentences that might not be referring to anything at all. Logic makes one choose a variable to refer or pick out an object in the world and one may not use it to refer towards that variable. Examples such as ‘The king of France is bald’ can be solved by just presupposing a king of France or not to get a truth and falsity from it. The norms go back to the reference of the name and it’s not required to go back to its logical structure to see what the proposition is referring. One can get its reference without having to squabble the structure of the sentence, all one must do is use its governing use to refer it to what it is. Above all, Strawson’s response to Wittgenstein’s answer to his theory is somewhat that effective because Wittgenstein still fails in giving meaning to deictics and demonstratives.
Words such as ‘the’ is not a meaningful linguistic unit unless it has a logical form that represents a state of affair. However, Strawson still falls out in successfully having to refer to specific individuals. Strawson’s response to the truth gap is still faulty because the way we satisfy the norms are not complete. It would be like saying ‘the box is on fire’ and it’s about a box that is just hot to the touch and proving that it is not really on fire. If we just verified the validity just by the governing of use it would fall into our emotions and biases. This is one of the reasons that Wittgenstein used logic to avoid biases in arguments of these types. In conclusion, Strawson’s objection to Wittgenstein’s theory of state of affairs is strong. However, Wittgenstein view could be that people truly don’t use or realize they use logic to speak about things, they for sure in a sense use structures to see all the isomorphic logical constructions in their heads that are created towards that object that exists in the real world.
One just does not notice that the thoughts they acquire are formed in this way. Language is made up of propositions that picture the things we say in the world. All the linguistic units depend on another unit for us to speak about those things. This leads to the objects one only knows they can express is by propositions. Our language is therefore a limit of the world.