Ludwig Wittgenstein writes:
. . . the words 'I am here' have a meaning only in certain contexts, and not when I say them to someone who is sitting in front of me and sees me clearly, -- and not because they are superfluous, but because their meaning is not determined by the situation, yet stands in need of such determination.
Part of what LW is saying in this entry is that the meaning of an expression is determined by its use in a given context. In a slogan: meaning is use.
But even if we acquiesce in this theory of meaning as use, it is simply false that 'I am here' said to someone in one's presence is not determined by the situation. Suppose I am pointing out to my vis-a-vis that there are unrealized possibilities. I say: 'I am here, but I could have been sitting where you are sitting.' Or: 'I am here talking to you, but I could have been in my bed sleeping.' Or: 'I am here now, but I could have been in Tempe playing chess now.'
These examples clearly refute LW's thesis that 'I am here' lacks meaning when said to someone who is sitting in front of me and sees me clearly. I imagine that either he or one of his epigoni would object: "But these are extraordinary uses of ordinary language. People don't usually say things like this."
But why should an extraordinary use of ordinary English be any less meaningful than an ordinary use? Even if meaning is always tied to a definite use-context, why must such a context be ordinary? LW actually makes two mistakes. One is to identify meaning with use. This is the topic of separate post. The other mistake, the topic of this post, is the strange and completely groundless notion that words have meaning only in the most mundane of contexts. (Here perhaps is another indication of how logical positivism lives on in ordinary language philosophy, despite the differences between the two movements: both movements are anti-metaphysical.)
Suppose we are in cave. In the cave, preoccupied with cave-concerns, I use 'inside' and 'outside' cave-immanently: in connection with objects and containers in the cave. I say: 'Inside my pack, you will find extra batteries for the flashlight.' But I can also use the spatial words cave-transcendently in connection with the cave itself. I say: 'We have been inside this cave too long; we need to go outside and get some fresh air.' But then you, having been infected by Wittgenstein, object: 'The meanings of 'inside' and 'outside' are determined only by cave-immanent contexts. It is nonsense to speak of anything outside the cave.'
Your little speech is silly and unmotivated, and would be silly and unmotivated even if you had spent your entire life inside the cave. I suggest that LW's view that only ordinary language used in ordinary ways is meaningful is equally silly and unmotivated.
If you say that this is not what LW means, then I should like to know just what he does mean.