© 2016

Wittgenstein and Pragmatism

On Certainty in the Light of Peirce and James


  • Uncovers the alleged pragmatist side of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy

  • Explores doubt, certainty, common sense, forms of life, action and the pragmatic maxim

  • Describes the relevance of Frank Ramsey in the development of Wittgenstein’s thought


Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Anna Boncompagni
    Pages 1-11
  3. Before On Certainty

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
  4. On Certainty

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 57-57
    2. Anna Boncompagni
      Pages 99-137
    3. Anna Boncompagni
      Pages 139-178
  5. Broadening the Perspective

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 179-179
    2. Anna Boncompagni
      Pages 181-219
    3. Anna Boncompagni
      Pages 221-261
    4. Anna Boncompagni
      Pages 263-270
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 271-311

About this book


This book investigates the conflicts concerning pragmatism in Wittgenstein’s work On Certainty, through a comparison with the pragmatist tradition as expressed by its founding fathers Charles S. Peirce and William James. It also describes Wittgenstein’s first encounters with pragmatism in the 1930s and shows the relevance of Frank Ramsey in the development of his thought. Offering a balanced, critical and theoretical examination the author discusses issues such as doubt, certainty, common sense, forms of life, action and the pragmatic maxim. While highlighting the objective convergences and divergences between the two approaches, the volume makes links to ongoing debates on relativism, foundationalism, scepticism and objectivity. It will be of interest to anyone searching for new perspectives on Wittgenstein’s philosophy.


philosophy William James Charles S. Peirce certainty doubt common sense pragmatic maxim forms of life action Wittgenstein Ludwig Wittgenstein analytic philosophy pragmatism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

About the authors

Anna Boncompagni (University of California, Irvine) works mainly on Wittgenstein’s later philosophy and on pragmatism, and is also interested in phenomenology, the history of analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of psychiatry. Her previous publications include “Elucidating Forms of Life: The Evolution of a Philosophical Tool”, Nordic Wittgenstein Review (2015) and Wittgenstein: Lo Sguardo e il Limite (2012).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Wittgenstein and Pragmatism
  • Book Subtitle On Certainty in the Light of Peirce and James
  • Authors Anna Boncompagni
  • Series Title History of Analytic Philosophy
  • Series Abbreviated Title History of Analytic Philosophy
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-58846-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-92799-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-58847-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XV, 311
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Pragmatism
    Analytic Philosophy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“It would be interesting to see how Wittgenstein’s unique style can be derived from a theory-neutral perspective that is perhaps more pragmatic than what was offered by the pragmatists, insofar as it is committed to no theory except to the extent that it helps us to avoid confusions.” (Cayla Clinkenbeard, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, Vol. 39 (2), 2019)