Comments

  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    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.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    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?
  • Wittgenstein's Blue & Brown Books [Open Discussion]
    I'm working on another thread, analyzing On Certainty.
  • C.S. Lewis on Jesus
    Many Christians believe that there is strong evidence to support the conclusion that Jesus rose physically from the dead. What do you think?
  • Wittgenstein's Blue & Brown Books [Open Discussion]
    These are interesting points, good job.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    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)."
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    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.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    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.

    So, for purposes of this thread and this discussion we will concede the idea that basic propositions like 2+2=4 can be said to be true. I'm strongly leaning toward this idea, and that I was incorrect in my assumption that these basic mathematical propositions were hinges.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    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 mention in 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.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    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’."
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    So, you don't think there are mathematical hinges? No one is saying that there are instances where one can doubt a mathematical proposition. Just as there are instances where you can doubt that "This is a hand." Let's say I'm in the context that Moore is in, and I say, "It's true that 2+2=4." Isn't it just as out of place as, "I know this is a hand?" A doubt in that situation is just as silly.

    Of course if you change the context you make sense of the doubt. The point is that there is an inherited background that allows you to distinguish between true and false.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    If it were the result of Wittgenstein's philosophy that hinge propositions are neither true nor false, have you considered that this might not be because they are indubitable, but because they are usually non-propositional (except for W's exposition of them)? If memory serves, I believe that Daniele Moyal-Sharrock regards hinges as non-propositional.Luke

    I do think of hinges as basic beliefs, and that they are non-propositional. I said this earlier in my posts. It might be that indubitable is the wrong word. I very seldom use the word indubitable, but on occasion I have. It seems to me that any system of belief, must have basic beliefs, including mathematics.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Ya, I was a bit harsh on Fooloso4.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Of course it is true that 2+2=4. No one here doubts that.Banno

    I do hold to the idea that if a proposition is basic or hinge, then to say that it's true is just as mistaken as saying "I know this is a hand." So yes I'm saying that Banno. My interpretation of OC is not unique, there have been many papers written on this subject. However, I'm not saying there aren't instances where it makes sense to say that 2+2=4 is true. The thing about hinges is that they depend on context. If I'm teaching someone how to use the word hand in English, then I might say "I know this is a hand," i.e., I've learned that this is what I call a hand. So, in this case "I know..." means that I have learned how to use the word hand. The same can be said of 2+2=4, in some contexts it can makes sense to say it's true, other contexts not so much. I don't know what Wittgenstein would say about this. OC 10 doesn't give enough information. Moreover, Wittgenstein never edited his thoughts in OC, it's just a rough draft.

    The fact that it doesn't make sense to doubt Moore's propositions, seems to also hold for the mathematical proposition 2+2=4. Can I doubt that it's true that 2+2=4. It seems senseless to doubt it.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Obviously your interpretation is the correct interpretation. And yes, 2x2=4 is not an interpretation, but whether it's a hinge or not is. It seems to be more about ego with you than getting to the truth about what Wittgenstein is saying.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    I could say the same thing, but it gets us nowhere.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    We disagree and that's fine, but I'm moving on to continue the analysis.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"


    Let me try a different approach. It probably won't help, but that's life.

    If Moore's propositions or hinges cannot be known, it follows that there are no grounds/justification or reasons/evidence to say they are true. If it's nonsensical to claim that Moore can know "This is a hand," then it follows that it cannot be true either. It follows also that these basic beliefs cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed, i.e., they are arational beliefs or hinges.

    If we know X, then at the very least we know they're true, but Wittgenstein is claiming that Moore's statements have no grounds to secure their truth, and thus they cannot be known. Hinges are fundamental arational beliefs that ground any talk about epistemology. They are a given, part of the reality around us. They are not ordinary propositions or statements.

    Yes, I know I'm repeating myself.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Is there somewhere in the text where Witt states that hinge propositions, or indubitable propositions, are neither true nor false?Luke

    No, but I think it follows from his ideas.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    The negation of 2+2=4. Maybe you haven't been following everything that's been said. I've been pointing out that these basic mathematical propositions are hinges, so that generally we don't say that they're true or false, except in particular contexts.

    Wittgenstein points out that one of the ways we can see how unclear the sense of Moore's proposition is, is to point out its negation. I think we can do this generally with all hinge-propositions, which is why I said to consider its negation. It's false that 2+2=4.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Hi Luke,

    One thing is for sure much of this depends on context, even Moore's proposition "I know this is a hand," has a use on particular occasions, Wittgenstein stipulates this. This seems to be what he's saying in OC 10 when he says, "'2x2=4' is a true proposition of arithmetic--not 'on particular occasions' nor 'always,'"
    although, to be honest, I'm not sure. Again, though, consider its negation.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Wittgenstein found Moore's common sense approach as a reply to the sceptic interesting, as it had similarities with his own nascent thoughts about hinge propositions. However he disagreed with Moore's use of the word "know".RussellA

    My interpretation and the interpretations of others who agree is that Wittgenstein found Moore's statements interesting because he found something special about them, not because there were similarities in their thinking. In fact, Wittgenstein goes to great lengths to point out the contrast between the way Moore is responding to the skeptic, and the way he might respond, or the way we should respond to the radical skeptic. It is true that Wittgenstein disagreed with Moore's use of the word know, this we know for sure.

    Moore could have said "here is one hand", meaning that ontologically in the world there is an object "one hand". For Wittgenstein, "here is one hand" is a fact in the world, it is not an interpretation, it has no truth value right or wrong, is therefore not open to doubt, is therefore not open to the sceptic and therefore a hinge proposition.RussellA

    For Wittgenstein, even the statement "There are physical objects (OC 35)," is nonsense. He goes on to ask, "Is it supposed to be an empirical proposition?" Moore did say "here is one" in the sense that you put forth, but that still would have failed (if I'm following your point). Moreover, Wittgenstein isn't saying that "here is one hand" is a fact in the world. Do you see somewhere where he says that?
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    We do not question their truth we accept it.Fooloso4

    It's true that we accept hinge-propositions, but we don't accept them because their true, truth has nothing to do with it. In fact, they're not even propositions in the true sense of the word, which is why Wittgenstein refers to them in many different ways. If Moore had said "It's true that I have a hand," it would have been just as unintelligible. In order to see how unclear the statement is, consider it's negation (as Wittgenstein points out in OC 4), "It's false that I have a hand," and here we see just how senseless the statement is. Only in certain contexts would these statements make sense, just as in certain contexts Moore's statements would make sense, but generally to utter these kinds of statements is a misfiring attempt to say what cannot be said.

    And, most, if not all of the quotes you give that you think lend support to your position, don't. However, I'm not going to go through each quote when all that is needed is to look at the beginning of OC. He spells out the problems with these kinds of statements.

    I may later address some of these quotes, but not at the moment.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Hinge concepts are indubitable. That is, they are not to be subject to doubt; hence, they are "outside our epistemological concepts of true and false"... I don't think Sam is overdoing it here. That 12x12=144 is not subject to doubt; it could not be false, and hence is outside our considerations of true and false... that's how I am reading Sam, and I think WItti thought along similar lines.Banno

    This is correct. As soon as you allow true and false to enter the picture it destroys the idea of what a hinge is supposed to be. It allows the doubt to enter the picture. If I ask how you know it's true, or how do you know it's false we are back to Moore's mistake. Hinge-propositions are what support our language of epistemology. They provide the foundation to epistemology.

    A bit of personal information before I go: I have more than a passing acquaintance with this text. I did my dissertation on Wittgenstein. It is gratifying to see that in the years since I presented a new generation of scholars have come to see things as I do.Fooloso4

    That's great that you did your dissertation on Wittgenstein. I too welcome you to the discussion. I also have more than a passing interest in OC and Wittgenstein. I've been studying W. off and on for over 40 years. Moreover, I can cite plenty of scholars who agree with how I'm interpreting W. However, this doesn't mean that either of us can't be wrong. There are many scholars who have misinterpreted W., the universities are littered with them. To be honest though, in all my readings, I've never encountered your interpretation, that's not to say that others haven't interpreted W. the way you do. I just have never encountered it in my readings.
  • Self Evidence
    I don't believe QM violates the law of non-contradiction either. I suspect that most physicists don't believe it, but I'm not sure. Much of this depends on how one interprets QM, and/or what theory of QM you believe. None of us are experts in QM, so I think we're a bit out of our depth.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    I'm going to back up a bit and try to clarify. Why is it that Wittgenstein writes OC? It's specifically in response to Moore's papers (Proof of an External World and A Defense of Common Sense).

    I'm going to reference Ray Monk's book The Duty of Genius because it's probably one of the best researched books ever written on Wittgenstein's life.

    "Wittgenstein's own view of scepticism remained that succinctly expressed in the Tractatus: 'Scepticism is not irrefutable, but obviously nonsensical, when it tries to raise doubts where no questions can be asked.' And it is in connection with this view of scepticism that he found something philosophically interesting about Moore's 'common sense propositions'. They do not give examples of 'certain knowledge', but, rather, examples of cases in which doubt is nonsensical. [This is the hallmark of a hinge-proposition.] If we could seriously doubt that Moore was holding up two hands, there would be no reason no to doubt anything else, including the trustworthiness of our senses. And in that case the whole framework in which we raise doubts and answer them would collapse: 'Certain propositions belong to my "frame of reference". If I had to give them up, I shouldn't be able to judge anything.' One such proposition might be the statement: 'That's a tree', said while standing in front of a tree:...

    "The idea that there are certain judgements (among them, some of Moore's statements of common sense) that belong to our frame of reference [another hallmark of a hinge-proposition], and as such cannot sensibly be doubted, was developed by Wittgenstein in the work written during the eighteen months left of his life following his visit to the United States [referring to On Certainty] (pp. 557, 558, Duty of Genius)."

    In OC 1 Wittgenstein comments that "If you do know that here is one hand, [taken from Moore's two papers] we'll grant you all the rest." So, Wittgenstein is challenging Moore's use of the word know in Moore's statement. However, keep in mind that the idea of a hinge-proposition doesn't even come up until later, he hasn't yet developed the idea, but if you read OC carefully you'll see how the idea immerges from Wittgenstein's thinking.

    In OC 2 we again see one of the hallmarks of a hinge-proposition, "What we can ask is whether it can make sense to doubt it." Doubt what? Doubt Moore's proposition, given in OC 1. In OC 4 Wittgenstein gives another example of this kind of statement, i.e., a statement like Moore's. "I know that I am a human being." In order to see how unclear the sense of this proposition is, consider it's negation." Considering the negation of a hinge-proposition is a way of seeing how unclear it is to doubt the statement.

    OC 6 asks, "Now can one enumerate what one knows (like Moore)? Straight off like that, I believe not.--For otherwise the expression "I know" gets misused." The point is that we don't know what Moore claims to know in these statements, they are unusual to say the least, and Wittgenstein points this out as he tries to figure out the nature of Moore's propositions.

    So, there is a reason Wittgenstein doesn't call Moore's propositions hinges, he hasn't yet developed the idea fully. In fact he dies before ever developing the idea fully.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    Most interpetations of OC include Moore's propositions as hinge-propositions. I just don't see how you can read OC without coming to that conclusion. It seems rather obvious. I've read a good deal on this subject and it seems to be the consensus.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    I'm not asking you to leave, I'm just saying that maybe you have something important to say, and that might be done in a different thread. You can continue making comments makes no difference to me.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    I think that you have grossly inflated the significance of what is nothing more than a statement of the obvious. More importantly, this traditional picture of foundations is rejected by Wittgenstein. He reverses the order:Fooloso4

    Maybe you should start your own analysis in another thread.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    OC 66 begins the second of four divisions in W. notes.

    "I make assertions about reality, assertions which have different degrees of assurance. How does the degree of assurance come out? What consequences has it (OC 66)?"

    In the language-game of epistemology, which is what OC is concerned with, we make assertions about reality. For example, Moore's statement that "This is a hand," his own hand that is, is just such a statement. However, let's consider other such statements in different contexts. For instance, I'm in a room that isn't well lit, and I think what I see is a hand, I say, "I think that's a hand," as you strain to see what it is you're looking at. Another instance might be seeing what a magician presents as his hand while doing a magicians illusion. You're not sure what it is you're looking at. These kinds of statements give us differing degrees of assurance based on context. Much of what we think we know is based on "degrees of assurance," i.e., it's probability based.

    One way that different degrees of assurance comes out is based on context. Are there good reasons to doubt in both of my examples. Yes. In my first example there is insufficient light, which gives rise to the doubt. In the second example we're watching the performance of a magician, whose is purposely misleading you. Again, good reasons for the doubt. However, in Moore's example one wonders what a doubt would look like. The case for a doubt in Moore's presentation seems lacking, to say the least, which is probably why Moore uses the example. "[A]re we to say that certainty is merely a constructed point to which some things approximate more, some less closely? No. Doubt gradually loses its sense. This language-game just is like that (OC 56)." This is just the way we describe what we mean by hand in English, it's part of the logic of language. It's part of linguistic training. How do you know this is a hand? It's what we mean by hand. When we teach a child how to use the word hand correctly a doubt might arise about whether the child has learned to use the word properly.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    The radical skeptic seems to think that his doubts can take place in a rational argument, but the truth is that this kind of doubting undermines all arguments, especially the ones put forth by the skeptic. When the doubts reach this level, you can't even be sure of the meaning of your words. It's self-defeating. The doubt loses all meaning. There are rational doubts, but these must be distinguished from the doubts of the radical skeptic.

    Is it even possible that the world around us doesn't exist? Is it possible that we've miscalculated in all of our calculations (OC 55)?" The answer is obvious with a little thought.
  • Is it possible to prove you know something?
    The fact that you are doubting your existence, shows your existence. The question, in a Wittgensteinian way lacks sense.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    As you know, the only example of a hinge proposition is a mathematical proposition. To exclude mathematical propositions from what is true or false is problematic to say the least.Fooloso4

    I'm going to make one more comment before moving on, because I don't want any confusion about what I'm saying. It's not true that the only example of a hinge proposition is a mathematical proposition. There are mathematical hinges, such as, 1+1=2 or 2+2=4 and so on. However, I'm not sure why you would say these are the only examples of hinges. The reason the book is written is because Wittgenstein is saying that there is something special about Moore's proposition, viz., "I know this is a hand," which is by definition, given the context, a hinge-proposition. Moreover, there are many other hinge-propositions. For example, the rules of chess are hinge-propositions.

    I didn't exclude mathematical propositions from being true or false, only hinge mathematical propositions. Only propositions that are hinges (mathematical or otherwise) are excluded from truth or falsity.

    We do not doubt hinge propositions because they are somehow beyond doubt, but rather because of everything that hinges on them. To call them into question would be to call everything that revolves around them into question. It is fundamental to the logic of our investigations that certain propositions stand without question. It is fundamental to our way of life that certain propositions are not called into question. "If I want the door to turn, the hinges must stay put (343)."Fooloso4

    I agree with some of this, but not all of it. It's the first sentence of this paragraph that is problematic.

    If a proposition by its very nature is a hinge, then it's not doubtable. The hinge stands in a certain relation to the reality around us (the objects or things that make up the world), and to all the other propositions that connect to hinge-propositions. It's the hinge that stays put (which is why it's not doubtable), just as the reality around us stays put, at least generally, and it's because of this unique status that hinges cannot be doubted. They're bedrock, i.e., they allow the door to swing. The door being all the other propositions that are not hinges.

    Two things must remain solid in order for most of the propositions of language (including mathematical propositions) to function. First, reality itself (the door frame), second, the hinge-proposition (hinge connecting to the door frame), these two remain fixed, which in turn allows the door of our life of language to function. If these things were not fixed, then no linguistic culture, no language-game of epistemology.

    Maybe this clears some things up, but I'm not hopeful.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    "The Earth revolves around the Sun" is a hinge proposition. But at one time "the Sun revolves around the Earth" was a hinge proposition. It was not simply a matter of correcting a mistake. The fate of man hinged on it.Fooloso4

    I think this misses the point of what a hinge-proposition is. What makes something a hinge is not what people accept as true or false, which are epistemological ideas, but they are concepts that lie outside our epistemological concepts of true and false, and what it means to know. This is the whole point of Wittgenstein's challenge. If hinges can be said to be true or false, then it makes sense that we can doubt that the proposition is true or false. This idea allows Moore's problem (the problem as W. sees it) to creep back into our thinking.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    An important part of Wittgenstein's analysis is how he looks at Moorean propositions. Propositions like "This is a hand," "There are physical objects," and "The Earth has existed for longer than five minutes," these propositions seem to have the form of an empirical proposition. "The wavelength of light is around 700 nanometers," is an example of an empirical proposition, and it is capable of being verified or nullified. However, Wittgenstein points out that a proposition like, "There are physical objects," is nonsense (OC 35). These kinds of statements form the logical structure that supports language, which seems to be why Wittgenstein refers to them as logical concepts. They are a kind of bridge between the world and our thinking, and language itself. They are the logical bedrock from which language gains its foothold, without which the language of knowing and doubting would have no meaning. It would be like playing the game of chess without the rules that govern the game.

    "I know this is a hand," "...is a misfiring attempt to express what can't be expressed like that (OC 37)"
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    I can't imagine Moore responding to the skeptic in terms of just his conviction. Obviously he thought it was more than that. However, W. says that this is ultimately what Moore's propositions seem to be, viz., a conviction of sorts. W. probably wouldn't have responded to Moore's papers if they were just expressing a conviction. At least that's my guess. There is something special about Moorean propositions, but not what Moore thinks, and this is what prompts W. response.

    Ya, the skeptic would still get the same treatment as far as I can tell. OC probably wouldn't have been written if Moore expressed his argument in some other way.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    If Moore was using "I am certain..." as a synonym for "I know.." it wouldn't make any difference (see OC 8).
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    The radical skeptic doesn't seem to understand the limiting use of the language-game of doubt. Both Moore's use of know, and the radical skeptic's use of doubt have limitations, just as all words do. Wittgenstein is pointing out these limitations by showing how the words break down, how they can lose their sense. He shows how the logic behind their use is lost. It's as if I've removed the bishop from the chess board and I'm playing on some other surface. It may look familiar because it seems to be moving diagonally, but it's deceiving because although it looks like a game, it's not. At least it's not a chess game. We've removed the bishop from its natural setting where it functions, into an unnatural setting where it isn't functioning. I'm making moves that lack coherent sense.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    The radical sceptic makes a valid point in pointing out that whilst Wittgenstein argues that each language game has its own set of hinge propositions, he did not justify why one set of propositional hinges should be more exempt from doubt than others.RussellA

    First, hinge-propositions, or what I call basic beliefs or foundational beliefs (foundation carries other baggage though), are outside any of our epistemological considerations (I think this is an accurate interpretation of W.), so they (the hinges) don't require any justification, nor can they be said to be true or false. The only kind of epistemological connection they have is that they're beliefs, but even this falls away when considering non-linguistic beliefs.

    Second, the nature of these basic beliefs, is that they're all exempt from doubt for the reasons he gives throughout OC. One being, if we are referring to Moorean propositions, the doubt lacks sense, or as W. points out "what would such a doubt be like?, and don't understand this straight off (OC 24)." All basic beliefs (or hinges if you will) have this characteristic. If they don't, then they're not basic. Moreover, if it makes sense to doubt "This is a hand," in a particular context, then it also follows that, it's not basic. I think Wittgenstein gives good reasons why all basic beliefs are exempt from doubt.

    but I would also agree with Grayling that the biggest philsophical problem with On Certainty is OC 2, in that the framework within which propositional hinges operate are themselves relative, and hard to resist against radical scepticism.RussellA

    I think Grayling is incorrect about this. While it's true that basic beliefs are relative to the reality we find ourselves in, it's also true that the skeptic finds himself in the same reality, so their use of the word doubt is also dependent on that reality. The use of relative here needs to be clarified.
  • An Analysis of "On Certainty"
    One use of "I know..." that I find particularly problematic in our culture is the tendency to think that only science can give us a firm footing when it comes to epistemology. This tendency limits the use of "I know...," and stifles what it means to have knowledge. No doubt, science is an important tool in gaining knowledge, but obviously it's not the only tool. However, the tendency is for people to use science as a cudgel, as if you don't really know until science investigates it. I don't need science to tell me there is an apple tree in my backyard, at least not generally, I can see it. I don't need science to tell me the orange juice is sweet, I can taste it. Much of our testimonial evidence is not backed up by science. For example, a friend comes back from a trip to England (assuming the friend is trustworthy), and tells me that he saw this and that, I take it as good evidence that what he said is accurate, unless there is a good reason to think otherwise. There are many other examples, but I think you get the point.