• RussellA
    1.6k
    Moore wrote that when he says "Here is one hand", it follows that "How absurd it would be to suggest that I did not know it, but only believed it, and that perhaps it was not the case!"

    Does this mean that ontologically there is a world in which there is the object "one hand" and the object "Moore" ?

    How does the object "Moore" know that in the world is another object "one hand" ? The only possible way that Moore could know there is another object in the world is through his sense impressions. Sense impressions such as the colour red, a sweet taste, a grating noise, an acrid smell or a silky touch.

    But there is no information within these sense impressions as to what caused them, in that there is no information within the sense impression of the colour red as to what caused the emission of 700nm. Therefore, Moore can never know the cause of his sense impressions, although he may have a belief about what caused them, and beliefs can be doubted

    But Moore said he did know that "here is one hand", which raises the question - how is it possible for Moore to know that "here is one hand".

    We can say for certain that Moore knows his sense impressions, even though he cannot know what is causing them. As Moore is only getting his information about any external world through his sense impressions, and as sense impressions carry no information as to what caused them, it follows that Moore's thought that "here is one hand" cannot be knowledge of a world outside of Moore's mind, but can only be knowledge of a state of affairs within Moore's mind.

    IE, when Moore says I know that "here is one hand", the true meaning of this is not that Moore knows what is in the outside world (even though he may believe what is in the outside world), but knows that within his mind is the concept ""there is a world outside me in which there is one hand".
  • magritte
    553
    But Moore said he did know that "here is one hand", which raises the question - how is it possible for Moore to know that "here is one hand".RussellA
    I know with certainty that I have a back even though I cannot see it. Furthermore, this is personal subjective knowledge that I cannot doubt. You or Witt could, but I cannot.

    It's important to distinguish this kind of personal certainty from Cartesian certainty of my mind, and also from personal sense-perceptual experience and opinion, and also from public scientific fact.

    The color red is innate to people with normal color vision, calling it red is a learned cultural convention. To a young child there are no shades of red. Adults, especially people like artists or winemakers, educate themselves to notice shades and to expand their vocabulary for finer distinctions. Scientific measurements are not part of common discourse at all. We cannot see electromagnetic waves and what colors we do see is through complex perception preconditioned by cultural experience.

    Wittgenstein's knowledge is different than Moore's I know. Empirical certainty for Witt is next to impossible, raising undeserved concerns about skepticism. However, in the reverse, if we had strong knowledge then we would be guaranteed certainty in the package.
  • RussellA
    1.6k
    personal subjective knowledgemagritte

    I am sure that it was the same for Moore, in that Moore knew with certainty that he had one hand, which was personal subjective knowledge that he could not doubt.
  • bongo fury
    1.6k
    The color red is innate to people with normal color vision, calling it red is a learned cultural convention.magritte

    Interesting theory. Do you mean that those people innately

    • respond to (or otherwise experience) in a distinct manner roughly the same set of external stimuli that we call red, independently of learning the word?

    or is it that they

    • respond to (or otherwise experience) in a distinct manner roughly the same set of internal sensations that we call red, independently of learning the word?

    Or both?

    Or is it some weaker claim about an innate ability to develop responses (or experiences) in such a way as to recognise a "rainbow" of distinct (and/or fuzzy) classes (of either stimuli or sensations) that may be different from our own rainbow? But independently of learning what to call them?
  • ernest meyer
    100
    The color red is innate to people with normal color vision, calling it red is a learned cultural convention.magritte

    it is not such a simple learned cultural convention. 3D rendering of 'red' objects encounters many issues, including different absorption, reflection, diffuse, and opacity spectra under different lighting conditions, and at different distances with different neighboring colors, both when seen during the day with the three rods and cones, and at night with visual purple when only the saturation is knowable and not the hue. We make an innate assumption of what 'color' an object is under 'typical daylight conditions,' which also vary geographically, and it's difficult to claim all that visual processing is purely learned, but rather a pre-existent part of the visual cortex. I'd also note that the visual spectra for color vision are centered on the color of plants, not blood, so the apparatus to see the colors we enjoy has been evolving for a very long time.
  • magritte
    553
    absorption, reflection, diffuse, and opacity spectra under different lighting conditionsernest meyer
    Science can only quantify instrumental readings. The readings are interpreted (guessed) to reflect some scientific aspect of nature. Personal experiences are very far from those instrumental readings because we are only presented learned useful perceptions that we can name and potentially act upon.
  • ernest meyer
    100
    I agree, and there are many social connections to color, for example red meaning stop, or santa claus. I was merely saying that color itself is not learned. Children do not need to have it explained to them that colors which look different in different lighting conditions do not mean the object's color has changed. We have an innnate sense of color permanence, like object permanence, that precedes learning.
  • magritte
    553
    At least all of the above.

    Color is not entirely out there for us to see even under fixed conditions. Color is an evolutionary theatrical interpretive production of our minds. With more colors we can better distinguish finer details in images. Twilight removes saturation and color from the world and we literally see less. That's why driving around in the evenings is more dangerous.

    Naming can only roughly cover subjective, therefore directly incomparable, ranges of colors. Can we see shades of burgundy or green without some agreed upon standard ostensive palette?
  • bongo fury
    1.6k
    At least all of the above.magritte

    One at a time, please.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    You've broken the thread, again.
  • Banno
    23.5k


    That should have been we've broken the thread, again.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    I've been doing some reading, and it may be that I haven't paid close enough attention to Wittgenstein's idea of grammar. I think this paper I'm reading has something important to add to how OC is interpreted. However, I haven't fully grasped the idea yet, so I'm going to continue reading.

    For those of you interested, I'll provide a link:

    http://www.kriterion-journal-of-philosophy.org/kriterion/issues/Permanent/Kriterion-mota-01.pdf


    A Plea for Rhees’ Reading of
    Wittgenstein’s On Certainty: is
    grammar conditioned by certain facts?


    Sergio Mota

    Abstract

    "This paper is more than a plea for Rhees’ reading of the work
    of Wittgenstein (particularly of On Certainty). My interest in
    Rhees’ interpretation lies on its resemblance with my own reading,
    on the one hand, and on its being (surprisingly) unmentioned by
    other interpreters, on the other. The two core aims of this paper
    focus on Rhees’ main ideas. First, I argue that although certain
    facts that are accepted beyond doubt belong to the method,
    which in turn is included in grammar, this does not mean that
    these facts are expressions of rules of grammar. Second, I argue
    that grammar is not conditioned by a certain class of facts (i.e.
    general facts of nature), but a language-game is possible because
    we do not call in question certain facts (i.e. grammar is not
    conditioned by something like ontology). The point is that those
    facts that are not called in question are beyond truth and falsity,
    but this does not mean that these facts must be true. The logical
    role these facts (and the sentences used to express them) play
    in a language-game is not that of being true or false. Moreover,
    grammar itself constitutes what is meant by ‘object’, ‘fact’, or
    ‘general fact of nature’."
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    This next part is taken from the introduction.

    A Plea for Rhees’ Reading of
    Wittgenstein’s On Certainty: is
    grammar conditioned by certain facts?

    Sergio Mota

    "Accordingly, the goal of this paper is twofold, as it were. On the one hand, it is my interest to show that the proposition ‘grammar is conditioned by certain general facts of nature’ has no metaphysical, absolute
    sense (i.e. that ontology does not condition grammar). By the expression “metaphysical sense” I mean expressions that refer to the essential, necessary, and universal features of reality. Thus, to say that grammar is conditioned by certain facts of nature may mean that there are essential and necessary features of reality such as general facts of nature, and that this is a truth about reality, which by way of different mechanisms, for instance by repeated exposure, condition our grammar. Furthermore,
    to say that grammar is conditioned by certain facts sounds as though there was an absolute conception of grammar, as though everything we call grammar was conditioned by facts. However, I do not read Wittgenstein as though he were relating a bit of language to a bit of the world. In other words, we are not relating a bit of grammar and a bit of the world as though they were ontological items. Rather, in the same sense that grammar tells us what kind of object a thing is, grammar tells us what is meant by fact. But this does not mean that facts condition our grammar, or that objects condition our grammar (see below for further discussion). So I am not rejecting that there is a relationship between grammar and facts, I am just saying that this relationship is not captured by speaking of facts as conditions.1 However, when it is said that grammar is conditioned by certain general facts of nature it seems that it is the grammar as a whole that is conditioned, without focusing on concrete language-games. It seems that it is claimed that this class of general facts of nature is that on which the possibility of language itself
    depends. I think that this is a metaphysical illusion produced by projecting onto reality what should remain within grammar (i.e. grammar tells us what is a general fact of nature)."

    As is mentioneded this paper Rhees' has something important to tell us. And, along with this, is must be mentioned that Rhees' had discussions with Wittgenstein on this topic. Therefore, his insights shouldn't be overlooked.

    So, there is a distinction according to this paper between the proposition that 'grammar is conditioned by certain general facts of nature,' and the idea that "grammar as a whole is conditioned, without focusing on concrete language-games" i.e., that a certain set of general facts of nature, gives us the possibility of language. So, language depends on reality in some important sense. The question arose, "How could language be conditioned by certain facts of nature?

    I'm not sure I quite understand this yet. Time to read on.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    Before going on I have to say that I'm reconsidering the idea that basic mathematical propositions are hinge-propositions. Although, with the caveat that there is a lot of debate on this issue. Moreover, it's not a simple issue to resolve. So, Moore's proposition, viz., "I know this is a hand," is not the same as 2+2=4 in terms of a hinge. The problem though, is that there are similarities between the propositions of mathematics and Moore's propositions, and Wittgenstein used mathematical propositions to bring out some point of comparison, or to clarify some point. The comparison of the two statements (Moore's propositions and basic math propositions) has given rise to the idea that basic mathematical propositions are hinge-propositions.

    If you are going to say that basic mathematical propositions are hinges, then you have to be consistent and say that they are not true or false in the same way that Moore's hinge-propositions are not true or false, i.e., not epistemological.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    A Plea for Rhees’ Reading of
    Wittgenstein’s On Certainty: is
    grammar conditioned by certain facts?
    Sam26

    The reason I'm bringing this up has to do with a particular interpretation of Wittgenstein that is probably incorrect. Moreover, I want to check my own interpretation against the points brought up in this paper.

    So, the question is, is language conditioned by certain facts of nature? First, what does it mean to say that language is conditioned by facts of nature? According to this paper conditioned by certain facts means something like "that there are essential and necessary features of reality such as general facts of nature, and that this is a truth about reality, which by way of different mechanisms, for instance by repeated exposure, condition our grammar (p. 78)." The question is, is this what Wittgenstein is saying? It's one thing to say that without reality there would be no language, but it's another thing to say that language is conditioned by certain facts of reality. Another way to say this, if I'm correct, is that language had to form in a certain way because of particular facts in nature or reality. It would be like saying that objects in nature condition our grammar (as pointed out in this paper).

    The paper isn't rejecting that there is some kind of relationship between the facts of reality and language. It's rejecting the notion that language is conditioned by these facts. "[T]his is a metaphysical illusion produced by projecting onto reality what should remain within grammar (i.e. grammar tells us what is a general fact of nature) (p. 78)."

    My idea has been that reality is foundational to language, i.e., that without reality there would be no language. This seems obvious.

    Finally, this paper is contrasting the IMoyal-Sharrock’s interpretation against the Rhees' interpretation. The Rhees' interpretation is important because of his association and discussions with Wittgenstein regarding OC.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    The problem that arises, is with the idea that since language is not completely independent of reality, it may lead to the incorrect idea that language is conditioned or determined by facts of nature. This does seem to fly in the face of how Wittgenstein viewed language, viz., that it is autonomous. That language is autonomous has nothing to do with language being completely independent of language, but rather that, it is not "...accountable (or answerable) to any reality in terms of correction; and it is, in an important sense, arbitrary (p. 80)."

    And also, "...language itself, grammar itself, constitutes what is meant by fact, and hence by reality. This is why grammar is presupposed when we speak of facts. In other words, in order to speak about facts
    we already presuppose a grammar that constitutes what is meant by fact (p. 79)."
  • Banno
    23.5k
    I'm still reading the article.

    Seeking continuity, I have in mind the notion of logical space from Tractatus when considering the relation between language and the world... as in, in logical space, anything consistent can be said; but only a small subset of what can be said gives us a picture of the world that is true. So I'm understanding the autonomy of language as somewhat analogous to logical space, but using use instead of mere reference; something like only a small subset of the possible things that might be said are actually useful...
  • j0e
    443
    Seeking continuity, I have in mind the notion of logical space from Tractatus when considering the relation between language and the world... as in, in logical space, anything consistent can be said; but only a small subset of what can be said gives us a picture of the world that is true. So I'm understanding the autonomy of language as somewhat analogous to logical space, but using use instead of mere reference; something like only a small subset of the possible things that might be said are actually useful...Banno

    Nice!
  • Banno
    23.5k
    Then...
    According to Rhees ([24, p.55]), there is nothing by which our grammar is determined. Here, Rhees is referring to what Wittgenstein calls in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (TLP, [28]) “logical syntax” or “logical grammar” (cf. 3.325). To think that our grammar is determined by something is, by the time of TLP, to think that a symbolism is deter- mined by ontology.

    p.83

    Yeah, seems I'm following Reece here.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    The arbitrariness feature, an aspect of the autonomy of grammar,
    does not mean that it is unimportant, capricious, or even discretionary;
    it means, and this point is crucial, that it cannot be said that grammar
    is correct or incorrect, right or wrong, by appealing to how things are
    in reality (cf. [5]).
    p. 80

    So, if I understand this correctly, when using the concept fact (state of affairs), it's not what's in reality that determines how we use the word fact, rather, it's the grammar involved in language that determines it's correct use. So, our grammar is isolated from reality in an important sense, and that sense seems to be how we use language in a culture, and it's arbitrary features. There is nothing in reality that tells me how to use the word fact correctly. The arrangement of things in reality (the state of affairs) is not what determines the correct use of the concept fact.

    In the same vein, Wittgenstein, in his Philosophical Investigations ([29], 1953, PI), claims that grammatical rules can be called arbitrary if that means that the purpose of grammar is the same as the purpose of language (cf. PI, §§372, 496, 497), and points out in Zettel (1967, Z) that cookery rules are not arbitrary because cookery is defined by its purpose, while grammar – or language – is not (cf.Z, §320). Thus, “[d]ifferent grammatical rules, unlike different cookery rules, are not right or wrong, but rather determine different concepts”([4, p.193]).3
    p.80

    It wouldn't be correct to say, it seems to me, that there is no correct or incorrect use of grammar, but that there is no correct or incorrect use as defined by something in reality. By comparison Wittgenstein points out "...that cookery rules are not arbitrary because cookery is defined by its purpose, while grammar - or language - is not (Z. 320)." So, the rules of bread making, for example, are correct or incorrect based on how the bread turns out, i.e., the outcome in reality determines the correct or incorrect recipe. It's in this sense that the recipe for bread making is not arbitrary. However, the rules of grammar are arbitrary, i.e., they are not dependent or determined by reality.

    The question, at least for me is, how does this affect what Wittgenstein means by hinge-propositions? Is epistemology completely determined by the rules of grammar, or is it akin to cookery rules?
  • Luke
    2.6k
    Thanks Sam. An interesting paper and I found myself agreeing with some of it. However, I think the main thesis of the article is undermined by the quotes presented by the author (on p.85 of the article) that get dismissed a little too easily, imo. The same quotes from Part II of PI:

    365. If concept formation can be explained by facts of nature, shouldn’t we be interested, not in grammar, but rather in what is its basis in nature? —– We are, indeed, also interested in the correspondence between concepts and very general facts of nature. (Such facts as mostly do not strike us because of their generality.) But our interest is not thereby thrown back on to these possible causes of concept formation; we are not doing natural science; nor yet natural history a since we can also invent fictitious natural history for our purposes.

    "If concept formation can be explained by facts of nature..." The main thesis of the article is the rejection of this possibility. But Wittgenstein does not appear to rule it out. He states only that it is not of philosophical interest, or is not a philosopher's goal/purpose to discover.

    366. I am not saying: if such-and-such facts of nature were different, people would have different concepts (in the sense of a hypothesis). Rather: if anyone believes that certain concepts are absolutely the correct ones, and that having different ones would mean not realizing something that we realize — then let him imagine certain very general facts of nature to be different from what we are used to, and the formation of concepts different from the usual ones will become intelligible to him.

    Here W rejects the idea that "certain concepts are absolutely the correct ones", as though nature carved herself at the joints for us and we just pinned labels within those ready-made contours. But I think the paper may go too far the other way in suggesting (if I recall it correctly) that our language is therefore independent from nature or self-contained. This would seem to undermine the author's references to "the method", or to comparing propositions with reality, because what difference could such a comparison make if our concepts were unaffected by reality?
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    As I read it, the author isn't saying that grammar is completely independent of nature. He makes this clear in the first part of the paper. Moreover, I haven't decided yet if I'm in complete agreement or not. Grammar does seem to have an arbitrary aspect to it though.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    I'm going to return, hopefully, to On Certainty, but I'm going to create videos for YouTube. This is all contingent on my health holding up, which is problematic. Some of you near my age know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I'll post my videos in here as I make them, but it may be a while before the first one is posted.

    Any thoughts?
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    I'm moving the revision of the paper on Bedrock Beliefs and Their Epistemic Importance back to this thread, where it belongs.
    Post 1

    3rd Revision
    06/06/2023 by Samuel Naccarato

    Bedrock Beliefs and Their Epistemic Importance

    (My Philosophic View of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty)


    Biographical Sketch:

    Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in Vienna, Austria in 1889. He was the youngest of eight children, five boys and three girls. His father, Karl Wittgenstein, was a remarkable man who became a leading industrialist in the iron and steel industry; consequently, the Wittgensteins were very wealthy. In addition, Ludwig’s mother, Leopoldine, had exceptional musical talents and passed her love of music to the children. As a result, all the Wittgenstein children were exceptionally gifted with artistic talent and superior intelligence.

    At a young age, Ludwig demonstrated an interest in machinery, which led to his interest in engineering. He was educated at home until the age of 14, then was sent to Linz in northern Austria to further his studies. After his education in Linz, Wittgenstein went to Berlin to study engineering (1906-1908). In 1908 Ludwig enrolled at the University of Manchester in England to study aeronautics. His research eventually led to the design of a jet reaction propeller, which was a mathematical endeavor. The mathematics of his research eventually led him to the philosophy of mathematics. Specifically to the Principles of Mathematics, published in 1903 and written by Bertrand Russell (not to be confused with the Principia Mathematica, published in 1910 and written by Russell and Whitehead). The main goal of thePrinciples of Mathematics was to establish that the propositions of mathematics rest on a few logical principles. Another mathematician from Germany named Gottlob Frege was also working on the same idea. Wittgenstein eventually meets with Frege to discuss some of his thoughts, and consequently, Frege recommends that he go to Cambridge to meet Russell. Russell sees talent in Wittgenstein, which encourages Wittgenstein to pursue philosophy.

    If you want a more in-depth biography of Wittgenstein, there are plenty of books to read (e.g., Ludwig Wittgenstein by Ray Monk and Ludwig Wittgenstein by Norman Malcolm).

    I will set out an epistemological theory that enunciates a particular set of propositions derived from Wittgenstein’s final notes called On Certainty, published in 1969. These bedrock beliefs (often called hinge propositions) were identified mainly by Wittgenstein in the final years of his life (1949-1951). I am not claiming anything original in my thesis except to point out that bedrock beliefs have an essential epistemological role that advances the subject of epistemology in ways that few philosophers, if any, before the writing of On Certainty, have considered. I am also not claiming that my thoughts necessarily agree with Wittgenstein’s, nor am I claiming that they disagree. Nevertheless, my thinking on this subject would not have gone in the direction it did without Wittgenstein’s keen intellect expressed in the Philosophical Investigations and in his final notes called On Certainty (hereafter referred to as OC).

    Wittgenstein begins OC as a response to G.E. Moore’s papers, A Defense of Common Sense (1925) and Proof of an External World (1939), in which Moore lists several propositions that he claims to know with certainty, such as, “Here is one hand” and “There exists at present a living human body, which is my body.” These propositions supposedly provide Moore with proof of the external world, and as such, they seem to form a buttress against the arguments of the radical skeptic, which is why Moore is making the argument.

    Moore says, “I can prove now, for instance, that two human hands exist. How? By holding up my two hands, and saying, as I make a certain gesture with the right hand, ‘Here is one hand’, and adding, as I make a certain gesture with the left, ‘and here is another’. And if, by doing this, I have proved ipso facto the existence of external things, you will all see that I can also do it now in numbers of other ways: there is no need to multiply examples. But did I prove just now that two human hands were then in existence? I do want to insist that I did; that the proof which I gave was a perfectly rigorous one; and that it is perhaps impossible to give a better or more rigorous proof of anything whatever. …(G.E. Moore, Proof of an External World, 1939).”

    It is undoubtedly the case that OC goes beyond Moore’s propositions, so it is not just about Moore; it is about knowing, doubting, making mistakes, reality, empirical statements, certainty, acting out beliefs, rule-following, etc., so it covers a range of topics about what we know, and how it fits into our language. It is important to note that not everything in OC should be seen as a response to Moore. However, Moore provides the impetus for Wittgenstein’s final notes and is mentioned throughout OC.

    Wittgenstein criticizes Moore’s use of the word know and the skeptic’s use of the word doubt, and he emphasizes the relationship between the use of these words as an essential part of the language-games of everyday epistemology.

    Bedrock beliefs provide the grounding for our language-games, which is analogous to how the rules, the board, and the pieces in chess function as the grounding (reality background) for the game of chess. In fact, without these beliefs it is hard to imagine how language would get off the ground. It would be like trying to imagine a game of chess without the rules, the board, and the pieces. For example, there would be no such thing as a bishop move without the rules, the board, and the pieces. Such a move would be nonsense. The same is true of our concepts, namely, knowing, doubting, making mistakes, rule-following, etc.; these would all be nonsense without the grounding of certain primitive or bedrock beliefs. Such beliefs are at the heart of a correct understanding of knowledge, directly affecting phrases like “I know that such and such is the case” and “I doubt that such and such is the case.”

    Although Wittgenstein criticizes Moore’s propositions, he is not entirely unsympathetic to Moore’s argument, which would look something like the following:

    1) Moore knows that he has two hands.
    2) Moore makes the inference from the fact that he has two hands to conclude that an external world exists.
    3) Hence, Moore knows that an external world exists.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    Post 2 continues...

    OC begins with the following statement:

    “If you do know that here is one hand, we’ll grant you all the rest (OC 1).”

    Wittgenstein grants that if Moore knows what he claims to know, then Moore’s conclusion follows. Nevertheless, Wittgenstein argues throughout his notes that Moore does not know what he believes he knows. However, I think we are all inclined to agree with Moore. After all, if we do not know this is a hand, then what do we know? This inclination to use the word know as Moore uses it sets in motion Wittgenstein’s response. Is Moore justified in believing his claims are true? The answer to this question directly affects Moore’s proof because he assumes that the propositions he identifies are typical, which they are not.

    Wittgenstein asks whether it generally makes sense to doubt that we have hands (OC 2). This question is crucial to Wittgenstein’s argument because it helps identify fundamental, bedrock, or primitive beliefs. Of course, there are situations where doubt about the existence of our hands would make sense, and Wittgenstein points this out (OC 23), but not in the context of Moore exclaiming, “Here is a hand, and here is another hand.” Nor would it make sense as given in a proof.

    There are at least two kinds of bedrock beliefs. First, those we observe apart from the use of language. For example, the belief (seen especially in animals and young children) that we have hands and the belief that we are a body separate from other bodies. This is why some philosophers refer to these beliefs as animal beliefs, because of their fundamental or primitive nature. The act of using a hand or moving through space in relation to other objects shows these beliefs. This is not only observed in nonlinguistic children and animals but is apparent in all of us, irrespective of language.

    The point of emphasizing the prelinguistic nature of these beliefs is to demonstrate their primitive nature. Bedrock beliefs prescind language. Thus, the ontology of bedrock beliefs gives them a unique standing in relation to our epistemic language. Wittgenstein points out the special status of bedrock beliefs in his opening remarks: does it make sense to doubt them (OC 2)? Again, their status (arational or non-epistemic status) is such that epistemic language would necessarily fail without them.

    The second kind of bedrock belief is foundational but not bedrock. If we think of the foundation of a building, it is layered, starting with bedrock. On top of bedrock are other foundational components not as firmly in place as bedrock, but part of the foundation nonetheless. In other words, our prelinguistic beliefs are the bedrock of language. They are the precursor beliefs that allow language and life’s actions to take root. So, although one can refer to certain linguistic beliefs as bedrock (I prefer to separate them from other foundational beliefs), they stand out because they are less susceptible to change. For example, the bedrock belief that I have hands or am a body separate from other bodies will remain fixed for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the rules of chess are foundational to the game, but they are a different kind of foundational belief; that is, they arise within language. The same is true of the rules of grammar, which are necessarily foundational to language use. However, although the rules in these two examples are foundational, they are not bedrock; that is, they are not as primitive or as fixed as there are objects (other people, trees, mountains, etc.) Many foundational beliefs can more easily change over time. For example, the rules of chess have changed over the years, and grammar rules have also changed.

    If we return to the example of a building’s foundation, nothing is more fixed than bedrock; it is the foundation’s most fixed point. And if we look at the construction of a building’s foundation above bedrock, some foundational elements are more fixed than others and less susceptible to change. Wittgenstein’s riverbank analogy suggests much the same thing in the following:

    “And the bank of that river consists partly of hard rock, subject to no alteration or only to an imperceptible one, partly of sand, which now in one place now in another gets washed away or deposited (OC 99).”
    _____________________

    This ends what will be in the first video.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    Bedrock Beliefs and Their Epistemic Importance

    (My Philosophic View of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty)

    Post 3


    Wittgenstein points out that Moorean propositions (hinge-propositions) do not have a clear sense when trying to fit them within an epistemological framework. Consider the following quote:

    “’I know that I am a human being.’ In order to see how unclear the sense of this proposition is, consider its negation (OC 4).”

    Why does Wittgenstein ask us in OC 4 to consider the negation of the knowledge claim? Because a knowledge claim always stands in contrast to a counterclaim. They are claims or beliefs that have the proper justification for their conclusion. However, if the sense of your claim (your justification) to know is not clear, then it would follow that the claim to not know would be equally unclear. For example, knowing how to play the game of chess is logically connected with what it means to not know how to play the game. Knowing and not knowing necessarily play off each other. This is why Moore’s propositions lack sense. He claims to know “This is a hand,” but exactly what would it mean in his context to not know? This seems to be Wittgenstein’s point in OC 4. If you want to know what a hinge-proposition is, one need only look at the relation between the claim to know and not know (questioning whether one knows brings in the doubt) and whether both lack sense in relation to the belief. This is exactly the problem with Moore’s propositions, which is why the use of these beliefs (hinge-propositions) is not generally epistemological. What makes it difficult to understand Wittgenstein’s point is that hinge-propositions often have a use within our epistemological language-games, which seems to be why he still refers to them as propositions. They have a special role in our language. They are not propositions in the normal sense. They have a dual role, functioning mostly as bedrock beliefs, but sometimes taking on the role of standard propositions.


    The epistemological use of “I know…” presumes a justificatory foundation for one’s conclusion. The nature of giving a justification is supposed to nullify a counterclaim, alleviate or remove the skeptic’s doubt, or demonstrate the objective certainty of your claim. A knowledge claim stands in contrast to its negation, and if the negation is not clear, then neither is the justification. This fits Wittgenstein’s point that “I know…” is very specialized (OC 11).

    What does it mean that a knowledge claim stands in contrast to its negation? It means that any epistemological claim to knowledge must be demonstrated, and if the claim does not stand up to one of the language-games of justification, then your claim to know is not valid. Hence, the response “You do not know,” or “I thought I knew,” or any other negation of the claim. Again, any claim to know stands in contrast to what it means to not know.

    The tendency is to use the phrase “I know…” as a sort of guarantee that you indeed know (a kind of inner state), does not guarantee anything. The epistemological use of “I know…” is not a reflection of one’s inner certainty or conviction. It reflects objective certainty based on a proper justificatory foundation. The correct epistemological use of “I know…” is often met with the questions, “How do you know (the doubt)?” What is your justification?

    Confusion often arises when using the phrase “I know…,” and Moore’s use of know reflects this confusion. It is a paradigm case. In Moore’s case, the confusion is more challenging because of our strong convictions about such beliefs. After all, Moore believes he is justified (at the very least, it is a sensory justification), and most would agree with Moore’s argument because it seems so evident that we know we have hands in Moore’s context.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    As I've pointed out before, Wittgenstein talks about two kinds of certainty in OC, subjective certainty and objective certainty (for e.g. OC 245). Wittgenstein believes that Moore's propositions amount to no more than a conviction of what he believes (subjective), as opposed to having objective grounds for his beliefs (referring to Moorean propositions). So Moore's language-game doesn't do what Moore thinks it does, viz., provide a proof of the external world. So Wittgenstein rejects Moore's language-game, and all such language-games that amount to a subjective knowing, i.e., the mistaken idea, common in many quarters today, that "I know..." is purely subjective (one's conviction). This idea has wrecked havoc on many belief systems. It's very destructive.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    For me, OC provides the best foundation for understanding epistemology, and should be used as our starting point for understanding epistemology. OC also provides the grounding for knowledge, i.e., the starting points which have no epistemological grounding. Witt demonstrates where knowing ends, or where justification ends. He ends the infinite regress of reasons, and the circular nature of many epistemological theories. In other words, Witt solved these two problems. More work needs to be done on the nature of these pre-epistemological beliefs (Moore's propositions) and their place in the epistemological landscape.

    We have to get away from our emphasis on the internal in relation to objective knowledge.
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    So Moore's language-game doesn't do what Moore thinks it does, viz., provide a proof of the external world. So Wittgenstein rejects Moore's language-game, and all such language-games that amount to a subjective knowing, i.e., the mistaken idea, common in many quarters today, that "I know..." is purely subjective (one's conviction). This idea has wrecked havoc on many belief systems. It's very destructive.Sam26

    Is it that Wittgenstein rejects Moore’s language-game or that he is showing Moore what a language game is? Does the idea of rejecting a language-game make sense?
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