I was wondering...since Frege stablishes a difference between the sense of a sign (the mode of presentation of a reference), it's reference (the actual object in the world) and the representation of it (the interior mental image we make from this reference), is it correct to say that, while the reference of an expression is objective and the representation of it is subjective, it's sense situates itself in a intersubjective domain?

And, if so, since we can know the reference through the senses and since we construct the mental representation of it by psychological processes, how do we grasp the sense of an expression? How do we apreehend it? By wich means?

Fell free to correct me in anything if I commited a mistake in my exposition of this subject.

Thanks for the attention!

  • 3
    Frege was a platonist, i.e. senses are as objective as physical objects. The access problem you raise did not come into focus until Benacerraf long after Frege's death, but what he says in passing puts him close to modern rationalist theories of abstract objects:"In arithmetic we are not concerned with objects which we come to know as something alien from without through the medium of the senses, but with objects given directly to our reason and, as its nearest kin, utterly transparent to it", see Reck.
    – Conifold
    Aug 12, 2020 at 21:34
  • Sense, in Frege's philosophy, appears to belong to logic . The notion of sense characterized as Sense as a Mode of Being Given and Sense as a Constituent of Thought
    – user47436
    Aug 13, 2020 at 8:00
  • Frege's notion of sense is usually presented as stemming from epistemological considerations, as carrying the "cognitive value" or informativeness of expressions and sentences. Senses are conceived as parts of thoughts with their building blocks. The sense of a sentence is identified with the thought it expresses and the senses of its constituent expressions are presented as their contribution to that thought.
    – user47436
    Aug 13, 2020 at 8:04
  • In its strict sense a definition for Frege is a stipulation of synonymy, as it stipulates identity of sense between definiendum and definiens. The definiendum in fact gets its meaning from the definiens through this stipulation. Clearly in such a conception the distinction between reference and some notion of sense is mandatory. Frege also recognized another, less strict notion of definition in which the definiendum is a term in current use, already endowed with meaning. Gilead Bar-Elli, SENSE AND OBJECTIVITY IN FREGE'S LOGIC
    – user47436
    Aug 13, 2020 at 8:22
  • Every reference of representations, even that of sensations, may be objective (and then it signifies the real in an empirical representation); save only the reference to the feeling of pleasure and pain, by which nothing in the Object is signified, but through which there is a feeling in the subject, as it is affected by the representation.courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-classicreadings/chapter/…
    – user47436
    Aug 13, 2020 at 8:27

1 Answer 1

  1. Senses are real existents, but not objects, nor functions.

  2. Senses are objective, which means that they belong to the space of rational reason and justification and do not belong to subjective consciousness.

  3. Senses are graspable by the human mind - they are ways in which things in the world, which are the references of our terms are given to us.

  4. These ways are constrained by the meanings of the terms concerned, which means that grasping them is internally connected to the understanding of language, and that we conceive things in the world as linguistic creatures.

  5. Senses are inter-subjective and communicable.

  6. Senses have a justificatory role and belong to the rational space of reasons (either as thoughts or as their constituents). Moreover, it is senses (thoughts), not mere sentences, that stand in logical relations of implication, contradiction etc.

  7. Senses are essentially related to things in the world to which our expressions refer. They are ways in which these references are given.

On the Ontological Status of Senses in Frege


Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia , 2015, T. 71, Fasc. 2/3, Metafísica: Perspectivas Históricas e seus Actores / Metaphysics: Historical Perspectives and its Actors (2015), pp. 287-305


  • Thanks for the answer! Aug 14, 2020 at 23:50

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