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What is it for something to be necessary? There are many different kinds of necessity, but their common characteristic is hard to see. Perhaps it is located where we would not normally look for it: in experience. Experiences seem to be largely contingent: if anything could not be the case, it would be a certain set of perceptions associated with an event. However, a more careful examination of the concept of experience shows that necessity impinges upon it at nearly every step. To have an experience, a certain content must be perceived, and this content processed by the mind. For both perception and cognition of the experience to take place, the experience must possess unique features such as establish it as an experience of one particular event; and the only way for this to occur is through the operation of some kind of necessity.
For example, in an experience of motion we perceive an object moving after being struck by another object. For the content of the thought to be that of an experience of motion, causal powers are required: and the only way of thinking of these causal powers is as necessitating the motion of the second object. If the motion were contingent, we would be unable to process the thought that the first object caused the second to move for the reason that the experience itself contains regularities strict enough to be covered by causal necessity, and becomes less than an experience if stripped of the concepts employing that necessity. The very content of experience requires that elements within experience are necessarily related to each other; necessity serves as the glue of experience, so to speak.
It is true that this concept of experience has a wider bearing than that of sense-experience. In the case of logical necessity, what is necessary to an experience has to do with the binding of particulars using general concepts: the experience of truth requires that the content of a true inference be logically necessitated. But the common element between sense-experience and other realms is that the content of an experience has to do with objectivity, and necessity determines the character of objects being considered. For example, the statement from philosophy of language that Aristotle was necessarily Aristotle serves to delimit a field of objects, making possible an experience of language involving proper names. The expression “experience of” could be omitted, provided that it is recognized that we are speaking of object-language properties entering directly into thought via ground-floor conceptualization, the Kantian understanding.
On such an understanding, talk of necessity is shorthand for the connections which make for the objectivity of objects: the conceptual steps taken by the subject in examining a particular object are determined by what the object makes available in terms of properties and relations to other objects, such that we are able to think of them as such-and-such an object only in connection with a form of necessity. The form of an object, however, is not laid down for all time by this. That form is dependent on the rational linkages we make between statements about kinds of necessity (as in psychophysical correlations, which relate two different kinds of necessity), which in turn constitute the theories of necessity (theories of objectivity) with which we contemplate the conceptually monitored status of said objects. In this sequence, the real element (the understanding) is dependent on the rational (reasoning about objects), and vice versa: we could not think of objects save by thinking *of* them, and in so doing we make use of a vocabulary exceeding necessity by which the events contained in a particular system of objects are subject to rational constraint, considered as the discursive openness of any particular body of concepts with which we think objectivity as necessity.
What is language? Since there are so many different languages and types of language, yet all manifesting marked similarities, the question may seem otiose. Yet language possesses a character which may permit us to search deeper for its meaning. The mark of language which reveals its unity is to be found in a psychological definition. Language is the public, objective face of the mind: any and all mental phenomena surpassing the bounds of subjectivity are linguistic, and linguistic phenomena are mental in a useful sense, being the product and reflection of individual minds in concert. If this be the case, the characterizing of language and the mind ought to demonstrate a sort of maturity relative to other psychological facts, reflecting that language is the province of mutual intelligibility: and indeed it does, in the form of truth.
Truth is often defined metaphysically, in terms of a correspondence between a linguistic entity and some item in the world. There is another definition, a psychological one, which seems to me to be more fruitful: truth is a property possessed by psychological states many-sided enough to be characterized linguistically, that is permitting of reflection. Of course, many states complex enough to be captured by a propositional attitude do not share in truth, but the substantive point is that truths are distinguished by the operations which can be performed upon them, the “laws of truth”. The reflective theory of truth is thusly not an empty platitude, but rather results in a typology of the properties which true statements have: cognizability, shareability, judgeability.
For example, let us take the famous example “snow is white” and subject it to the proposed analysis. “Snow is white” is true if it can be reflectively ascertained that snow is white, that is if possession of the concepts “snow” and “white” permits of their combination in an exceptionless judgement that snow is white which permits the subject to entertain the thought that snow is white (to reflectively examine the judgment). Similarities between this theory of truth and the famous “semantic” definition of truth are not accidental: if language is taken for mind, then the psychological fleshing-out of semantics leads to an alteration in focus, where the mental activity associated with grasping a truth receives priority rather than the semantic status of the statement: true contents are then characterized by the sorts of combination they permit, their thinkability.
However, what is not a candidate for the status of language cannot be a truth, on account of its inadequacy for the purpose of reflection: a “true image” can serve as constituent of a shareable thought, but the thought must enable a community of mind a la Frege, where each person grasps the same thought. Considered this way, the objectivity of truth is not a formality, but a substantive property of the element of truth, language subjected to the application of the concept of truth — it just so happens that the employment of truth as a property possessed by linguistic items marks out psychological states which permit of synchronization. Truth is therefore a name for a sort of structure, which permits thought to assume the form of language: without the structure, we should be bereft of the mental states associated with reflection and their public availability in discourse.