A strengthened ethical version of Moore's Paradox? Lived paradoxes of self-loathing in psychosis and neurosis

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Wittgenstein once remarked: "nobody can truthfully say of himself that he is filth. Because if I do say it, though it can be true in a sense, this is not a truth by which I myself can be penetrated: otherwise I should either have to go mad or change myself." This has an immediate corollary, previously unnoted: that it may be true that someone is simply filth-a rotten person through and through-and also true that they don't believe that they are filth (or, in a certain sense, that they do), but that it is absurd or means nothing to say "I'm filth." Even considering the possibility seriously already prevents it from being true of one that one is (simply) filth. You just can't say "I'm filth" and mean it. In the act of saying it, it is already untrue. Nor can you even say and mean it: "it may be true that I'm filth," and it still be true that you are filth. This paper considers cases of delusional belief and of depressive self-loathing in which people may find themselves believing things along the lines of "I'm filth.".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • Anne Jacobson
  • David Finkelstein
  • Delusional Belief
  • Eroom's Paradox
  • G.E. Moore
  • Paradox
  • Wittgenstein

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