By B. Russell
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Extra resources for An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth
47 _ Chapter III SENTENCES DESCRIBING EXPERIENCES All persons who have learnt to speak can use sentences to desttihe events. The events are the evidence for the truth of the sentences. In some ways, the whole thing is so obvious that it is difficult to see any problem; in other ways, it is so obscure that it is "difficult to see any solution. If you say "it is raining", you may know that what you say is true because you � the rain and feel it and · hear it; this is so plain that nothing could be plainer.
Such cases, the meaning of the sentence is not obtain able as an aggregate of the meanings of the several words. * • . To avoid unnecessary lengthiness, let us assume, for the �oment, that there is only spoke� speech. ave * Sometim� there . is ambiguity: . cf. " The muse herself that Orpheus bore". SENTENCES, SYNTAX, AND PARTS OF S PE E C H a time order, and some words assert a time order. We know that, if "x" and ')/' are names of particular events, then if "x pre " cedes y is a true sentence, 'y precedes x" is a false sentence.
And I reply "because I had a twinge of toothache", the "because" has the same meaning as in our proposition r: in each case it expresses an observed connection between an experience and an utterance. We can use a word correctly without observing this connection, but it is only by observing the connection that we can explicitly know the meaning of a word, providing the word is not one which has a verbal definition, but one which we learn by confrontation with what it means. The difference between a cry of pain and the word "black" is that the farmer is an unconditioned reflex, which the latter is not; but this difference does not involve a difference in the word "because".