»I can’t have your pains«. First Person Statements and the Ambiguity of Meaning

Volker A. Munz


In PI 246 Wittgenstein remarks that sentences of the kind
»Only I can know whether I am really in pain, another can only surmise it« are in one
sense false in another nonsense. The aim of the paper is to point out the semantic
ambiguity that is involved in such propositions, allowing that one and the same
sentence can both be true or false and meaningless. This implies that the meaning
ambiguity also holds for sentences concerning the possessive privacy of sensations.
Furthermore, the problem of meaning that is involved here focuses on the relation
between grammatical and experiential propositions and the confusing part of
metaphysical expressions.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; first-person statement; meaning; private language; sensation; pain

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