Showing and Self-Presentation of Experiences – Some Philosophical Cases

Johann Christian Marek


Intentional experiences — like all experiences (i.e. conscious mental occurrences, “Erlebnisse” in German) — “show themselves”, as Wittgenstein put it, or “present themselves”, as Alexius Meinong dubbed it. This kind of showing or self-presentation is not a saying; it does not need the intermediary of a representation of its own. In other words, we are conscious of our experiences without considering them, without observing them. Meinong saw a mark of the mental therein and similarly did Wittgenstein when he tried to characterize psychological verbs (“believe”, “see”, “pain”, “fear”, for example). For psychological verbs may express the mental state explicitly without expressing (assertive) information about it. Philosophical cases like the so-called Moore’s paradox (“I don’t believe it’s raining, but as a matter of fact it is”) can be interpreted in the light of the above-mentioned distinction between showing and saying and between selfpresentation and “other-presentation”, respectively. Moore’s paradox is not a paradox of the logic of propositions [Logik des Satzes], it is a paradox of the logic of assertions [Logik der Behauptung], already Wittgenstein said. Logical structure, deducibility, and consistency cannot be reduced solely to propositions. Not only propositions but also assertions, questions, imperatives, wishes and even feelings are accessible to logic. In this sense, the distinction between showing and saying also helps us to understand how value judgments work according to emotivism. Emotivists claim that value judgments can be interpreted as expressions of a complex of beliefs and — in the final analysis — of (collective) emotions. As there is not only a logic of propositions, the emotivists’ claim does not preclude that value judgments can figure in valid arguments.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; experience; expression; immediateness; Moore's paradox; Meinong Alexius von; self presentation Intentionality; showing vs saying

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