Whitehead contends in Process and Reality that propositions are “hybrid entities” which act as “lures for feeling.” The famous co-author of Principia Mathematica scolds the traditional conventions of logic and epistemology for failing to appreciate the dynamic role of propositions. For “Propositional feelings are not, in their simplest examples, con¬scious [intellectual] feelings.” He writes: “The fact that propositions were first considered in connection with logic, and the moralistic preference for true propositions, have obscured the rôle of propositions in the actual world. Logicians only discuss the judgment of propositions. Indeed some philosophers fail to distinguish propositions from judgments; and most logicians consider propositions as merely appendages to judgments. The result is that false propositions have fared badly, thrown into the dust-heap, neglected. But in the real world it is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true. The importance of truth is, that it adds to interest. The doctrine here maintained is that judgment-feelings form only one subdivision of propositional feelings; and arise from the special sort of integration of propositional feelings with other feelings” (PR, 259, emphasis added).
Earlier in the Essay Whitehead notes, “The conception of propositions as merely material for judgments is fatal to any understanding of their rôle in the universe. In that purely logical aspect, non-conformal propositions are merely wrong, and therefore worse than useless. But in their primary rôle, they pave the way along which the world advances into novelty. Error is the price which we pay for progress” (PR, 187). Whitehead’s metaphysical treatment of propositional feelings, developed through his philosophy of organism, is non-cognitivist.
My question is two-fold: What is the actual telos of a proposition? Should it be centered on logical consistency and truth-value or the formalizing structures of interpretative matrices? Whitehead had a long career subscribing to the former, but eventually came around to the latter.