Philosophical Scepticism in Wittgenstein’s on Certainty
On the assumption that the later Wittgenstein was primarily engaged in dissolving traditional philosophical problems, it can seem obvious that the puzzling set of notes comprising On Certainty (OC) constitutes Wittgenstein’s refutation — or better, dissolution — of philosophical scepticism. In what follows I wish to propose an alternative interpretation of OC which is consistent with the text and should be considered seriously. I read this last work of Wittgenstein’s as an illuminating process of approximation to a distinction between the philosophical (or “external”) and the non-philosophical (or “internal”) standpoints. This can be regarded as the most important theme of OC whereas scepticism is the vehicle that takes us through the journey. This interpretation enables us best to explain Wittgenstein’s discussion of G. E. Moore’s attempted refutation of philosophical scepticism. On the other hand, if we simply ignore the distinction between the philosophical and non-philosophical standpoints, Wittgenstein’s discussion of Moore appears to be completely opaque.
KeywordsKnowledge Claim Language Game Philosophical Enquiry Objective Ground Empirical Proposition
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