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An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Fooloso4 » July 2nd, 2017, 4:27 pm

Spectrum:
Kant's view of the thing-in-itself as an illusion is similar to Wittgenstein's "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

This, in my opinion, is way off the mark. One must remain silent not because what one cannot speak of is the unknowable thing in itself that we have no access to but because to speak of such things is nonsense. They lie outside the logical structure that underlies the facts of the world and language. The religious and ethical are a matter of attitude and how one experiences life. This is why the world of the happy man is different than the world of the unhappy man (T 6.43)

Where we do find a connection with Kant is with the remark that:
Ethics is transcendental. (T 6.421)

Ethics is transcendental in the Kantian sense of a condition for the possibility of knowledge. Logic is said to be the transcendental condition for the possibility of knowledge of things in the world (T 6.13). In the Notebooks 1914-1916 he says that ethics, like logic, must be a condition of the world (NB 24.7.16). Ethics is the transcendental condition for the possibility of our experience of the world. It is not something that can be said, that is, it is not something for which there is a logical representation by which it is know, it shows itself, as is the case with the difference between the happy and unhappy man.
Thus anti-realists are merely a shade of the theism, i.e. both reify an illusion.

What he says in the Notebooks:
The meaning of life, i.e. the meaning of the world, we can call God (NB 72-73)

is representative of his attitude. It is not an assertion as to the existence of God, but rather reflects an attitude toward life itself and how one ought to live.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Spectrum » July 2nd, 2017, 10:17 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:Spectrum:
Kant's view of the thing-in-itself as an illusion is similar to Wittgenstein's "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

This, in my opinion, is way off the mark. One must remain silent not because what one cannot speak of is the unknowable thing in itself that we have no access to but because to speak of such things is nonsense. They lie outside the logical structure that underlies the facts of the world and language. The religious and ethical are a matter of attitude and how one experiences life. This is why the world of the happy man is different than the world of the unhappy man (T 6.43)

Non-sense, yes but not nonsense.
I read it as one can still rationalize about it but not to the extent of reifying 'what one cannot speak of' and putting it into language.
Note your point below re God. Why is W still 'speak' of God then? He did speak of 'God' the supposedly unspeakable, but only a 'meaning of life' not as an reified real Being.
Where we do find a connection with Kant is with the remark that:
Ethics is transcendental. (T 6.421)
Ethics is transcendental in the Kantian sense of a condition for the possibility of knowledge. Logic is said to be the transcendental condition for the possibility of knowledge of things in the world (T 6.13). In the Notebooks 1914-1916 he says that ethics, like logic, must be a condition of the world (NB 24.7.16). Ethics is the transcendental condition for the possibility of our experience of the world. It is not something that can be said, that is, it is not something for which there is a logical representation by which it is know, it shows itself, as is the case with the difference between the happy and unhappy man.
For Kant, Moral [Pure] is reasoned-based transcendental while Ethics [Applied] is more to the empirical. I don't think Wittgenstein specialized in Morality/Ethics and his Morality/Ethics is 5% of Kant's coverage. So it is to difficult to discuss this point.
Thus anti-realists are merely a shade of the theism, i.e. both reify an illusion.

What he says in the Notebooks:
The meaning of life, i.e. the meaning of the world, we can call God (NB 72-73)

is representative of his attitude. It is not an assertion as to the existence of God, but rather reflects an attitude toward life itself and how one ought to live.


The point is Wittgenstein did not go into depth into these topics so it is difficult to reconcile his views on such matters re 'god' with those philosophers who specialized in these arguments.

As I had stated, Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' rested on the following theme;

  • 1. Kant [anti-realist] started the ball rolling
    2. Moore [realist] took up Kant's challenge
    3. Wittgenstein [on anti-realist ground] countered Moore


Once we go off the above track, then we are off tangent.

It is said that 'after Kant, all philosophers are merely footnotes'.
Once one grasp Kant's [and those prior] philosophies fully, then one can easily understand the philosophers [no novel ideas of substance] that follow after Kant.
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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Fooloso4 » July 3rd, 2017, 10:21 am

Spectrum:
Non-sense, yes but not nonsense.

I read it as one can still rationalize about it but not to the extent of reifying 'what one cannot speak of' and putting it into language.

You seem to have missed the point. There is no rationalizing about what lies outside the logical limits of the world. From the Tractatus:
In propositions thoughts can be so expressed that to the objects of the thoughts correspond the elements of the propositional sign. (3.2)

Only the proposition has sense; only in the context of a proposition has a name meaning. (3.3)

The sense of a proposition is its agreement and disagreement with the possibilities of the existence and non-existence of the atomic facts. (4.2)

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world. (5.6)

Logic fills the world: the limits of the world are also its limits.
We cannot therefore say in logic: This and this there is in the world, that there is not.
For that would apparently presuppose that we exclude certain possibilities, and this cannot be the case since otherwise logic must get outside the limits of the world: that is, if it could consider these limits from the other side also.
What we cannot think, that we cannot think: we cannot therefore say what we cannot think.(5.61)

The right method of philosophy would be this: To say nothing except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions. This method would be unsatisfying to the other -- he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy -- but it would be the only strictly correct method. (6.53)

My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)
He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly. (6.54)
Spectrum:
Why is W still 'speak' of God then? He did speak of 'God' the supposedly unspeakable, but only a 'meaning of life' not as an reified real Being.
He makes a distinction between sense and meaning. He is not speaking about God but about what one might mean when he uses this term that has no logical sense. You are right in saying he did not speak of God as a real Being. But further it should be pointed out that the meaning of life is not something that can be said, it shows itself through one’s actions.
The point is Wittgenstein did not go into depth into these topics so it is difficult to reconcile his views on such matters re 'god' with those philosophers who specialized in these arguments.
They are not reconcilable. Wittgenstein’s point is that they are talking nonsense and this will only lead to confusion. His answer is to stop talking about such things and live ethically. This does not mean according to some moral or ethical code but to discover the value of life which cannot be found in the things of the world.
As I had stated, Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' rested on the following theme;

1. Kant [anti-realist] started the ball rolling
2. Moore [realist] took up Kant's challenge
3. Wittgenstein [on anti-realist ground] countered Moore
And as Sam said more politely, you are barking up the wrong tree. Wittgenstein said:
The language used by philosophers is already deformed, as though by shoes that are too tight (CV 47)


In just the way that it is difficult to walk if one’s shoes are too tight, it is difficult to think if one is restricted by a language that does not fit. Trying to shoehorn Wittgenstein into a terminological debate he eschews is to deform what he actually says. Hence my suggestion that we actually attend to his words.
It is said that 'after Kant, all philosophers are merely footnotes'.

Whitehead said that about Plato. I have never heard it said about Kant.
Once one grasp Kant's [and those prior] philosophies fully, then one can easily understand the philosophers [no novel ideas of substance] that follow after Kant.

Wittgenstein’s philosophy is not about novel ideas, it is, as he himself described it, philosophical therapy. Plato said the same of Socrates - a physician of the soul who makes use of pharmakoi.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Burning ghost » July 3rd, 2017, 2:26 pm

The terms "realist" and "anit-realist" were coined after Wittgenstein's time? Most certainly after Kant's time as far as I know. It does sound a bit like calling Ghengis Khan a Nazi. Comparisons to be made, but out of context. Just like calling Aristotle a "scientist" in the modern sense of the word would be a little askew.

-- Updated July 3rd, 2017, 2:28 pm to add the following --

Note: that is another of my pet hates mentioned by fool. I hate "shoe horned"! haha! No more "straw man", "shoe horning" or "Ockham's Razor". They make me cringe XD

-- Updated July 3rd, 2017, 2:29 pm to add the following --

And Hitler/Nazi references ... slap on the wrist for me :(
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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Fooloso4 » July 3rd, 2017, 3:02 pm

Burning ghost:
Note: that is another of my pet hates mentioned by fool. I hate "shoe horned"!


But it fits so nicely with his metaphor of tight shoes.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Burning ghost » July 4th, 2017, 2:54 am

Forgiven :D haha!
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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Sam26 » July 6th, 2017, 6:51 am

Wittgenstein: On Certainty

Post #5

"Now do I, in the course of my life, make sure I know that here is a hand-my own hands, that is (OC 9)?"

Again, I want to remind you that it's not that we can't think of a situation in which it would be sensible to doubt whether we have hands, of course we can, and Wittgenstein acknowledges such situations. However, we are not talking about these kinds of situations, and more importantly Moore is not talking about these kinds of contexts.

Consider a situation in which your senses are all functioning properly, i.e., your not on drugs, and someone is not trying to deceive you, etc. What possible reason would you have to doubt that what your looking at are your hands? You might answer that it's possible that you are being deceived, or that it's possible that something unknown is affecting your ability to have knowledge of your hands; however, the mere possibility that we could be wrong is not enough to say we are wrong.

Do we in the course of a normal day check to make sure that we indeed have hands? And what if someone did express doubts about the existence of their hands. What would you think about that kind of doubting? For example, your sitting at the table enjoying your dinner, and you ask Jane to pass the salt. You then look at her, puzzled, because she is not responding. You also notice that she looks puzzled, so you ask her if there is something wrong, Jane says, "I can't pass the salt." You ask "Why?" She responds, "I am not sure I have hands." Now what would be your response? You might say, "Jane quit kidding and pass the salt." However, Jane just looks at you with a puzzled look. Maybe you remember that she has been studying philosophy, and you ask her if she is puzzled about whether or not she really has hands. I think most of us who think rationally would think that Jane is more than just confused. It's one thing to express an argument about such things, but it's quite another to act as though one really believes the arguments. Your actions betray you.

"I know that a sick man is lying here? Nonsense! I am sitting at his bedside, I am looking attentively into his face.-So I don't know, then, that there is a sick man lying here? Neither the question nor the assertion makes sense. Any more than the assertion "I am here", which I might yet use at any moment, if suitable occasion presented itself.---Then is 2 x 2 = 4" nonsense in the same way, and not a proposition of arithmetic, apart from particular occasions? "2 x 2 = 4" is a true proposition of arithmetic-not "on particular occasions" nor "always"--but the spoken or written sentence "2 x 2 = 4" in Chinese might have a different meaning or be out and out nonsense, and from this is seen that it is only in use that the proposition has its sense. And "I know that there's a sick man lying here", used in an unsuitable situation, seems not to be nonsense but rather seems matter-of-course, only because one can fairly easily imagine a situation to fit it, and one thinks that the words "I know that..." are always in place where there is doubt, and hence even where the expression of doubt would be unintelligible (OC 10)."

Consider the following: We are sitting together visiting a friend in the hospital. We are in a well lit room, and we are not under the influence of drugs or anything that would alter our perceptions, so basically there is no reason to doubt that we are looking at a sick friend. I say, "There's a sick man lying here. In fact, I know there is a sick man lying here. It's our friend Bob." You respond with, "What's your point? Obviously there is a sick man lying here. Did you have any doubts?" Notice how out of place the propositions sound. It is important to realize that if there was a reason to doubt the statement, then it would not be out of place. For example, if we were standing outside Bob's room, and it was not well lit, and you asked, "Is that Bob in there?" And I replied, "Yes, it's Bob." You ask, "Are you sure? It's hard to see in here." I respond, "I know that's Bob because a few minutes before you arrived, I was in there talking with him."

The problem it seems, is that because we can imagine a situation that fits Moore's propositions, then it follows from that Moore's propositions are good examples of what we know. But the problem may be that some of these propositions will work within the language-game, and some will not. One needs to understand the context. Therefore, is it proper to say, as Moore did, "I know I have hands." One cannot answer the doubts of the skeptic by simply using the word know as if the utterance of the word conveys that you really do know. In fact, the statement that one knows is no more intelligible in this situation than the statement that one doubts that one has hands. Both people are making the same mistake, viz., using the words out of the language-games that make them intelligible.

Wittgenstein seems to be making the same point about the mathematical proposition 2 + 2 = 4, i.e., when it is used outside of its normal range of use (outside the language-game in which it resides), it too, is out of place.

Consider how we use the word know in our everyday lives. We take a course in algebra, history, ethics, or physics, and the teacher wants to know if you know the subject. Is it enough to say to the teacher "I know algebra." Is that enough to alleviate the doubts of your teacher? Obviously not, we have to demonstrate our knowledge? We take quizzes, we take tests, and we answer questions in class, this is what convinces others that we have knowledge. Once the doubts are eliminated, then the question of knowing does not generally arise. If we say in a court of law that so-and-so is guilty of murder, then hopefully the evidence will convince us, so that very little doubt, or even no doubt remains. A claim to knowledge is a special kind of claim that requires an objective standard - so that we generally have no doubts that we have such knowledge. Moreover, the claim to knowledge is not a claim of absolute certainty. We do not need absolute certainty to say that we know that a proposition is true or false, but we do need a high degree of certainty. This is often seen in courts of law when the jury is told to disregard doubts that are not reasonable.

What possible doubt could there be in the examples above? Doubting has to have a context beyond the expression of the word doubt. Just as knowledge must have a context beyond simply expressing the word know. Just because someone is able to use the words know and doubt in a proposition, that does not mean that the proposition has sense.

Using the word know as Moore used it, is senseless, in fact, it creates bogus philosophical problems. Many so-called philosophical problems are just as senseless. The way we talk about free will and determinism, time, knowledge, and a whole panoply of other philosophical ideas, propositions, and words are also problematic. Once you come to understand what Wittgenstein is saying, or trying to do via his method, then many of the problems of philosophy simply vanish as pseudo-problems - many, but not all.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Fooloso4 » July 6th, 2017, 11:25 am

Sam26:
A claim to knowledge is a special kind of claim that requires an objective standard …
There are many passages in OC that run counter to this claim. The statements surrounding the river of knowledge metaphor, for example. But that is jumping ahead.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Sam26 » July 6th, 2017, 12:50 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:Sam26:
A claim to knowledge is a special kind of claim that requires an objective standard …
There are many passages in OC that run counter to this claim. The statements surrounding the river of knowledge metaphor, for example. But that is jumping ahead.
In the examples I gave there is an objective standard, for e.g., to say "I know algebra." However, I'm not saying that Wittgenstein would say that all knowledge requires an objective standard. There are plenty of e.g.'s of knowledge being subjective. For example, "Sue likes oranges." One needs to look at how the term knowledge is used in a particular language-game. I don't think one can come up with a definition that fits all uses of the term knowledge. I believe that JTB is a good guide, but it doesn't cover every use. So do I think that Wittgenstein would subscribe to the view that "knowledge requires an objective standard?" In the e.g.'s I gave, I believe so, however, he wouldn't think that all uses would require such a standard; and neither do I. I hope this clarifies my statement.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by -1- » July 6th, 2017, 2:54 pm

Do we in the course of a normal day check to make sure that we indeed have hands? And what if someone did express doubts about the existence of their hands. What would you think about that kind of doubting? For example, your sitting at the table enjoying your dinner, and you ask Jane to pass the salt. You then look at her, puzzled, because she is not responding. You also notice that she looks puzzled, so you ask her if there is something wrong, Jane says, "I can't pass the salt." You ask "Why?" She responds, "I am not sure I have hands." Now what would be your response? You might say, "Jane quit kidding and pass the salt." However, Jane just looks at you with a puzzled look. Maybe you remember that she has been studying philosophy, and you ask her if she is puzzled about whether or not she really has hands. I think most of us who think rationally would think that Jane is more than just confused. It's one thing to express an argument about such things, but it's quite another to act as though one really believes the arguments. Your actions betray you.
I think Wittgenstein's strength lies in discovering the wheel. He just goes to show us the wheel from angles that we would not immediately recognize it. Sotospeak.

Of course nobody doubts one has his or her own hands, and nobody claims it's absolute, irrefutable knowledge of the a priori strength. Wittgenstein's only claim to fame is that he creates situations in which one's common sense is challenged by the stating of common sense situations in surprising and unconventional ways.

Wittgenstein creates and adds no knowledge to humans' accumulated knowledge base; he makes no new propositions; he proves nothing and does not refute anything successfully. He simply puts things in a different way, in a surprising way, that stops us, leaves us breathless and makes us grasp for the remnants of our shattered intuitive logic. But W. actually does nothing ... he only paraphrases common knowledge, common sense, in surprising ways.

It takes a genius, I'm ready to admit, what Wittgenstein does, but then again, he is no philosopher, because he never postulates anything, never proves anything, never disproves anything.

But he is glib all right.
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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Sam26 » July 6th, 2017, 3:52 pm

-1- wrote:
Do we in the course of a normal day check to make sure that we indeed have hands? And what if someone did express doubts about the existence of their hands. What would you think about that kind of doubting? For example, your sitting at the table enjoying your dinner, and you ask Jane to pass the salt. You then look at her, puzzled, because she is not responding. You also notice that she looks puzzled, so you ask her if there is something wrong, Jane says, "I can't pass the salt." You ask "Why?" She responds, "I am not sure I have hands." Now what would be your response? You might say, "Jane quit kidding and pass the salt." However, Jane just looks at you with a puzzled look. Maybe you remember that she has been studying philosophy, and you ask her if she is puzzled about whether or not she really has hands. I think most of us who think rationally would think that Jane is more than just confused. It's one thing to express an argument about such things, but it's quite another to act as though one really believes the arguments. Your actions betray you.
I think Wittgenstein's strength lies in discovering the wheel. He just goes to show us the wheel from angles that we would not immediately recognize it. Sotospeak.

Of course nobody doubts one has his or her own hands, and nobody claims it's absolute, irrefutable knowledge of the a priori strength. Wittgenstein's only claim to fame is that he creates situations in which one's common sense is challenged by the stating of common sense situations in surprising and unconventional ways.

Wittgenstein creates and adds no knowledge to humans' accumulated knowledge base; he makes no new propositions; he proves nothing and does not refute anything successfully. He simply puts things in a different way, in a surprising way, that stops us, leaves us breathless and makes us grasp for the remnants of our shattered intuitive logic. But W. actually does nothing ... he only paraphrases common knowledge, common sense, in surprising ways.

It takes a genius, I'm ready to admit, what Wittgenstein does, but then again, he is no philosopher, because he never postulates anything, never proves anything, never disproves anything.

But he is glib all right.
Wittgenstein isn't saying that Moore's proposition "Here is one hand" is a proposition of knowledge. He's arguing against the idea that it's knowledge. Your statement that Wittgenstein is only showing us common sense situations has an element of truth to it, but understates what Wittgenstein is doing. All you have done is state your opinion, and that's fine, but you seem to completely miss the importance of Wittgenstein. His thoughts about what it means to have knowledge have greatly contributed to our understanding of epistemology. And finally, to say that he isn't a philosopher "...because he never postulates anything [read the Tractatus], never proves anything, never disproves anything" is just another opinion that has no basis in fact.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Fooloso4 » July 6th, 2017, 5:08 pm

Sam26:
In the examples I gave there is an objective standard, for e.g., to say "I know algebra."
This does not resolve the problem. I will hold off discussing this until you get to the relevant passages. For now I will say only that the word objective can be dropped. We have a standard by which we can determine whether “I know algebra” is true, although this leaves open the question of what counts as the standard for how much algebra one needs to know in order to determine that one does indeed knows algebra.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Sam26 » July 6th, 2017, 6:38 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:Sam26:
In the examples I gave there is an objective standard, for e.g., to say "I know algebra."
This does not resolve the problem. I will hold off discussing this until you get to the relevant passages. For now I will say only that the word objective can be dropped. We have a standard by which we can determine whether “I know algebra” is true, although this leaves open the question of what counts as the standard for how much algebra one needs to know in order to determine that one does indeed knows algebra.
True, we could drop the word objective, - one could just say that there is a standard. That standard incorporates those things I mentioned in that example, which are by the way, objective. This won't derail anything that I will be posting. In terms of how we use the phrase "I know algebra," it's interesting that one only needs to get C- in algebra to make the claim that one knows algebra. Hence, you could be wrong 30% of the time, and still make the claim.

Consider the following:

"That he does know takes some showing (OC, 14)
"But whether I am so needs to be established objectively (OC, 16).

Wittgenstein would say, at least according to my interpretation, that Moore's propositions aren't like this at all. These hinge-propositions seem to be outside of any epistemological concerns, it's as though these kinds of propositions are foundational in a sense. They don't require justification. This seems to be why Wittgenstein says, "If you do know that here is one hand, we'll grant you all the rest OC, 1)" Another way to think of these kinds of propositions is that they're similar to the rules of chess. The rules of chess are foundational to the game. One doesn't need to justify the rules. It's as though these kinds of propositions are a necessary backdrop in order for us to play the game. I would make the claim that hinge-propositions play a similar role. Something needs to stand fast for us in order for us to have language-games. I will say much more about this as time goes on.

-- Updated July 7th, 2017, 7:07 am to add the following --

Wittgenstein: On Certainty Post #6

"We just don't see how very specialized the use of "I know" is (OC 11)"

This seems to be the difficult part, i.e., being able to grasp how specialized the use of words like know, doubt, free will, time, etc, - can give us a mental cramp. The reason, I believe, is that it is very easy to remove a word from its home, and place into an environment that is not its home. Its home is the language-game in which it thrives, in which it derives its meaning.

"For "I know" seems to describe a state of affairs which guarantees what is known, guarantees it as a fact. One always forgets the expression "I thought I knew" (OC 12)."

The negation of I know... tells us something about the use of this phrase. Tells us that saying "I know..." doesn't guarantee anything. There are many times when we think we know, but later find out that the facts are different from what we believe. Sometimes it appears as though we are justified in believing that a certain proposition is true; however, upon closer examination we say "Well, I thought I knew." This is also closely related to the use of the word doubt, we doubt at times because we know that sometimes people get it wrong; and this is why we want an objective way of verifying one's knowledge. There is no objective way of verifying Moore's propositions, since they are the very propositions that support the entire structure - they are bedrock.

It is here that Moore seems to drop the ball, because it is as if Moore's use of the word know is such that when he lists these propositions, he wants us to agree with him because they are so obviously true, which is why he uses these propositions as an argument against the skeptic. He wants us to acknowledge that we all know these propositions are true - that all of us know what Moore knows. For instance, that he cannot be mistaken about his knowledge of his hands, or that he lives on the earth, etc. The problem of course is that it does not make any sense to doubt these kinds of propositions, so his use of the word know is out of place, and the use of the word doubt by the skeptic is equally out of place. Knowing and doubting work hand-in-hand.


The tendency is for us to agree with Moore. All of us want to say, "Yes, of course Moore is correct." After all how can we doubt his propositions? And this is the question isn't it? The propositions that Moore proposes, i.e., those propositions that seem to be beyond doubt are the kind of propositions that are bedrock, which is to say, that they are the kind of propositions (hinge-propositions) that fall outside the scope of justification or knowledge. They are prior to the language-game of knowledge. We come to believe them before we understand the concepts of knowing and doubting. A child believes Moore's propositions before they understand the concepts of knowing and doubting, and these basic beliefs are observed in their actions. These beliefs are not based on reasons, but are causally formed as we interact with our environment.

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Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Fooloso4 » July 7th, 2017, 2:08 pm

Sam26:
In terms of how we use the phrase "I know algebra," it's interesting that one only needs to get C- in algebra to make the claim that one knows algebra. Hence, you could be wrong 30% of the time, and still make the claim.
There is a problem that occurs with transfer credits from one college to another, precisely because the standard is not objective. A school with high standards may not accept a C- or even a B or A from a school that is known to have low standards. Someone who has completed high school algebra may be lost in a college level course.
"But whether I am so needs to be established objectively (OC, 16).
Here is the whole statement:
16. "If I know something, then I also know that I know it, etc." amounts to: "I know that" means "I am incapable of being wrong about that." But whether I am so must admit of being established objectively.
What is at issue in this statement is not objective standards for knowledge claims but rather whether it can be objectively established that the claim that if one knows something he is therefore incapable of being wrong.

If I say I know algebra, does that mean I am incapable of being wrong about that? How can that be established objectively? We can use a test as a standard of measure, but what does that establish? It may establish that I was wrong, in which case it is clear that ‘I know’ does not mean that I cannot be wrong. If, however, I pass the test with a perfect score does this mean that when I say I know then I cannot be wrong? No. It simply means that I have demonstrated that I do know algebra, or know it sufficiently well to pass the exam.
It would surely be remarkable if we had to believe the reliable person who says "I can't be wrong"; or who says "I am not wrong". (OC 22)
Certainly, we do not have to believe them. They are not infallible. While there are things that "in normal circumstances" (OC 26)
we do not think we can be wrong about, it does not follow that knowledge entails certainty. On this point I think we are in agreement. Whether a claim to knowledge requires an objective standard is something that is, as Wittgenstein shows, problematic.

When Wittgenstein says, as you quote:
That he does know remains to be shown. (OC 14)
he is refers to OC 13:
For it is not as though the proposition "It is so" could be inferred from someone else's utterance:
"I know it is so". Nor from the utterance together with its not being a lie. - But can't I infer "It is so"
from my own utterance "I know etc."? Yes; and also "There is a hand there" follows from the
proposition "He knows that there's a hand there". But from his utterance "I know..." it does not
follow that he does know it.
That he does know is something that must be shown. But:
94. But I did not get my picture of the world by satisfying myself of its correctness; nor do I have it
because I am satisfied of its correctness. No: it is the inherited background against which I
distinguish between true and false.


Is this "inherited background" an objective standard?
95. The propositions describing this world-picture might be part of a kind of mythology. And their
role is like that of rules of a game; and the game can be learned purely practically, without learning
any explicit rules.
It is an objective standard only if a mythology is an objective standard. It is an objective standard only if whatever is generally taken to be true at any particular historical place and time is an objective standard.

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Sam26
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Joined: March 8th, 2012, 1:23 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Re: An Analysis of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

Post by Sam26 » July 7th, 2017, 3:55 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:Sam26:
In terms of how we use the phrase "I know algebra," it's interesting that one only needs to get C- in algebra to make the claim that one knows algebra. Hence, you could be wrong 30% of the time, and still make the claim.
There is a problem that occurs with transfer credits from one college to another, precisely because the standard is not objective. A school with high standards may not accept a C- or even a B or A from a school that is known to have low standards. Someone who has completed high school algebra may be lost in a college level course.
To make the claim that 'I know algebra" is not dependent on whether or not another school accepts that grade. It's dependent upon the grade itself. Besides we could make the same argument about a B+. Surely you wouldn't make the claim that someone who received a B+ in algebra couldn't make the claim that they know algebra. Generally it's true that if someone gets a B+ or A or even a C knows algebra; and there are objective standards to measure whether someone knows. A school with higher standards may administer a test to verify that knowledge. There are certain objective standards that apply to knowing algebra, and you either know how to do algebra or you don't.
"But whether I am so needs to be established objectively (OC, 16).
Here is the whole statement:
16. "If I know something, then I also know that I know it, etc." amounts to: "I know that" means "I am incapable of being wrong about that." But whether I am so must admit of being established objectively.
What is at issue in this statement is not objective standards for knowledge claims but rather whether it can be objectively established that the claim that if one knows something he is therefore incapable of being wrong.

If I say I know algebra, does that mean I am incapable of being wrong about that? How can that be established objectively? We can use a test as a standard of measure, but what does that establish? It may establish that I was wrong, in which case it is clear that ‘I know’ does not mean that I cannot be wrong. If, however, I pass the test with a perfect score does this mean that when I say I know then I cannot be wrong? No. It simply means that I have demonstrated that I do know algebra, or know it sufficiently well to pass the exam.
Making a claim to knowledge doesn't mean that you can't be wrong, which is the point of what Wittgenstein is saying (and your point, I assume). And it's also the point of the phrase "I thought I knew." It must be established that one does indeed know. There is generally a standard, as in the case of "knowing algebra" that generally applies. If you do pass an algebra test with a perfect score, you can certainly say that you know algebra. However, in saying that you know algebra the knowledge claim doesn't entail knowing with absolute certainty. For example, one can say that one knows his car will start based on one's experience with that car, but one doesn't know it with absolute certainty.
It would surely be remarkable if we had to believe the reliable person who says "I can't be wrong"; or who says "I am not wrong". (OC 22)
Certainly, we do not have to believe them. They are not infallible. While there are things that "in normal circumstances" (OC 26)
we do not think we can be wrong about, it does not follow that knowledge entails certainty. On this point I think we are in agreement. Whether a claim to knowledge requires an objective standard is something that is, as Wittgenstein shows, problematic.

When Wittgenstein says, as you quote:
That he does know remains to be shown. (OC 14)
he is refers to OC 13:
For it is not as though the proposition "It is so" could be inferred from someone else's utterance:
"I know it is so". Nor from the utterance together with its not being a lie. - But can't I infer "It is so"
from my own utterance "I know etc."? Yes; and also "There is a hand there" follows from the
proposition "He knows that there's a hand there". But from his utterance "I know..." it does not
follow that he does know it.
That he does know is something that must be shown. But:
94. But I did not get my picture of the world by satisfying myself of its correctness; nor do I have it
because I am satisfied of its correctness. No: it is the inherited background against which I
distinguish between true and false.


Is this "inherited background" an objective standard?
95. The propositions describing this world-picture might be part of a kind of mythology. And their
role is like that of rules of a game; and the game can be learned purely practically, without learning
any explicit rules.
It is an objective standard only if a mythology is an objective standard. It is an objective standard only if whatever is generally taken to be true at any particular historical place and time is an objective standard.
I think we are in agreement with much of this. I wouldn't say that the "inherited background" is an objective standard, that might be pushing things too far. One's world-picture might give one a set of implicit rules based on a mythology that allows them to play the game in a certain way. However, their "objective standard," as you say, would be based on a mythology. An objective standard can change, it's not necessarily absolute, this of course is seen in Wittgenstein's riverbed analogy.

Some of this might get ironed out as I continue. Hopefully.

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