On Wittgenstein’s Response to Scepticism: The Opening of On Certainty

  • Edward Minar


Does Wittgenstein’s On Certainty point to a sustained treatment of philosophical problems about knowledge and justification of the kind that Philosophical Investigations supplies for matters of mind, language and their relation to the world? Some of the reasons for pessimism are systematic. Casting about for why Moore’s pronouncements about the external world and his knowledge thereof, as well as sceptical doubts concerning them, are prone to strike him at one time as nonsense, at another as perfectly intelligible, Wittgenstein acknowledges that ‘it is…difficult to find the beginning. Or better: it is difficult to begin at the beginning’ (OC 471). A little earlier, struggling with the idea that ‘propositions of the form of empirical propositions, and not only propositions of logic, form the foundation of all operating with thoughts’ (OC 401), he dismisses this way of talking as ‘thoroughly bad’ (OC 402) and complains, ‘I cannot yet say the thing I really want to say’ (OC 400).


Physical Object External World Empirical Proposition Propositional Account Proper Ground 
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© Edward Minar 2005

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  • Edward Minar

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