Many of Wittgenstein’s late remarks On Certainty concern what he calls our ‘system of beliefs’. He says that these beliefs ‘form a system, a structure’ (OC 102). In speaking of this system he uses various kinds of images. These images are often highly metaphorical and not always easy to harmonize with each other or with Wittgenstein’s more straightforward observations. Two sets of images in particular seem to be in irreconcilable conflict with each other. The first group of images emphasizes the idea of foundations while the second group stresses the apparent connectedness and coherence of our beliefs and concepts. This way of underlining coherence could well be read as an attempt to present the whole notion of foundations as doubtful or misleading. On the one hand, Wittgenstein keeps talking about the foundations, the grounds and the bases of our judgements and beliefs. On the other hand, he points out that what we may want to regard as foundations are by no means independent of what they seem to support; that, indeed, they are worse than idle unless they are in their turn given support by what at first glance appears to rest on them.


Basic Rule Conscious Effort Literal Translation Rock Bottom Mathematical Proposition 
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© Joachim Schulte 2005

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  • Joachim Schulte

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