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Philosophical Method in Wittgenstein‘s On Certainty DISSERTATION submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in Philosophy by Brian Bruce Rogers
Dissertation Committee: Distinguished Professor Penelope Maddy, Chair Professor David G. Stern, University of Iowa Professor Emeritus Alan Nelson Assistant Professor Jeremy Heis
UMI Number: 3460827
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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF TABLES LIST OF SYMBOLS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS CURRICULUM VITAE ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1: The Right Frame of Mind for Doing Philosophy CHAPTER 2: The Final Manuscripts Source Manuscripts for Wittgenstein‘s Final Publications Selected Pages from the Final Manuscripts CHAPTER 3: On Certainty and Wittgenstein's 'Works' CHAPTER 4: Therapeutic Readings CHAPTER 5: Theory and Therapy in On Certainty CHAPTER 6: The Reception of On Certainty BIBLIOGRAPHY iv v vi vii viii xi 1 19 46 76 77 82 94 125 162 179 iii .
p. 79 Figure 6: MS 176. 46v 47 48 53 63 77 78 79 80 81 85 iv . 24r Figure 10: MS 176. 78r Figure 3: MS 171. Front Cover Figure 4: MS 173. 34v Figure 8: MS 176. p.LIST OF FIGURES Page Figure 1: MS 169. p. 19v Figure 9: MS 176. p. p. 81r Figure 2: MS 169. 31v Figure 5: MS 175. p. p. 22r Figure 7: MS 175. p. p.
LIST OF TABLES Page Table 1: Source Manuscripts for Wittgenstein's Final Publications 76 v .
Blackwell. Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. Anscombe & von Wright. ed. 1969. Blackwell. Hacker & Schulte. Philosophical Investigations. vi . 1992. Anscombe. II. Oxford. Remarks on Colour. eds. von Wright & Nyman. Oxford. eds.LIST OF SYMBOLS The following abbreviations for Wittgenstein‘s philosophical publications are used in this work: BT LWPP2 OC PI RoC The Big Typescript. On Certainty. Luckhardt & Aue. vol. Blackwell. Oxford. TS 213. 2005. 2009. Berkeley.. Blackwell. 4th Ed. 1977. eds. eds. Oxford. University of California Press.
and keen criticism over the years. Jeremy Heis. and Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California. I‘m especially grateful for Pen‘s support. David Stern. encouragement. Financial support was provided by the Graduate Division. Cambridge for permission to include selected images from the Bergen Electronic Edition of Wittgenstein‘s Nachlass in my dissertation. Joseph Wang at the Brenner Archive at the University of Innsbruck. and Johannes Brandl at the University of Salzburg. the University of Bergen. Alan Nelson. and Josef Rothhaupt. Irvine. I thank Oxford University Press. Kai Wehmeier. Cambridge. vii . School of Social Sciences. Work on the first three chapters of this dissertation was carried out in Europe while participating in an exchange program with the University of Salzburg. The work of David and Josef has served as an ideal toward which I have strived. Alois Pichler at the Wittgenstein archives at the University of Bergen. I would like to recognize the assistance provided during this time by Jonathan Smith at the Wren Library in Trinity College. and the Wren Library at Trinity College.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My thinking on Wittgenstein‘s philosophy has benefitted from discussions with Pen Maddy.
). University of California. Wang (eds. Early Modern Philosophy. V. Easton (ed.A. Jeremy Heis. Munz. Philosophy of Science DISSERTATION Theory and Therapy in Wittgenstein’s On Certainty Committee: Penelope Maddy (chair). P. David Stern (Iowa). of Toronto Press (forthcoming). Philosophy.). Philosophy of Language. Irvine Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science EDUCATION Ph. University of Northern Iowa. K. 2009 B. Puhl. Alan Nelson (North Carolina. viii .. U. Descartes’ Logic and the Paradox of Deduction (with co-author Alan Nelson) Gods and Giants in Early Modern Philosophy. 2011 M. Philosophy (minor in Religion) (Summa cum Laude). Irvine. Chapel Hill) ARTICLES Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Methods in On Certainty Language and World. & J.A. 360-362. Wittgenstein AREAS OF COMPETENCE Logic (through Incompleteness).Brian Rogers Curriculum Vitae University of California. University of California. 2004 AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION History of Analytic Philosophy. Kirchberg am Wechsel 2009: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. pp. Epistemology.. Irvine. Philosophy.D. Philosophy of Logic.
Department of Philosophy. CA. June 2009 ‗Cognition and Inference in Descartes‘ (presented by second author Alan Nelson) Yale University History of Philosophy Series.E. October 2010 ‗Wittgenstein‘s Philosophical Methods in On Certainty‘ 32nd International Wittgenstein Symposium. Austria. April 2011 ‗Tractarian First-Order Logic: Identity and the N-Operator‘ (with co-author Kai Wehmeier) Southern California History & Philosophy of Logic & Mathematics Group.BOOKS Wittgenstein’s Lectures. Irvine. Dept. August 2009 ‗Wittgenstein‘s N-Operator and the Question of Expressive Completeness‘ University of Salzburg. April 2011 ‗Propositional Functions and the N-Operator‘ University of California. Cambridge 1930-1933. of Logic & Philosophy of Science. from the Notes of G. Kirchberg. April 2009 ix . Moore (with co-editors David Stern and Gabriel Citron) Cambridge University Press (forthcoming) WORKS UNDER REVIEW Tractarian First-Order Logic: Identity and the N-Operator (with coauthor Kai Wehmeier) PRESENTATIONS ‗Propositional Functions and Expressive Completeness of Tractarian Logic‘ American Philosophical Association/Association for Symbolic Logic. San Diego.
(Spring 2007) Logic and Philosophy of Science Summer Fellowship for research. (2010. Norway. 2006) Social Science Merit Fellowship for graduate study. February 2009 Visitor at the Wittgenstein Archives in Bergen. University of Cambridge.RESEARCH ACTIVITIES August 2009 Research on Wittgenstein‘s correspondence at the Brenner Archiv in Innsbruck. (2004-2009) x . 2007. Trinity College. (Spring 2011) Social Science Associate Dean’s Fellowship for research. Moore archive at the Cambridge University Library. Austria. February 2009 Research at the G. 2008.E. 2008-2009 UC Irvine/Salzburg University exchange program participant. February 2009 Research at the Wittgenstein archive at the Wren Library. (Fall 2010) Social Science Pre-Dissertation Fellowship for dissertation research. University of Cambridge. AWARDS Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship for dissertation research.
His goal is to enact this ‗therapy‘ without advancing controversial philosophical theories himself. The implementation of this new methodology distinguishes the late Wittgenstein from the early Wittgenstein of the Tractatus. Irvine. Chair In Philosophical Investigations. 2011 Distinguished Professor Penelope Maddy. including those published in On Certainty. until xi .ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION Philosophical Method in Wittgenstein‘s On Certainty by Brian Bruce Rogers Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy University of California. Wittgenstein continued to write philosophical remarks. Wittgenstein aims to demotivate philosophical theorizing by examining the conditions under which philosophical puzzlement arises. After completing work on the Investigations.
In this dissertation I challenge the idea of a ‗third Wittgenstein‘ by arguing that Wittgenstein retained his therapeutic aims in On Certainty – although he was not always successful in fulfilling his methodological goals. while the second half was written during his final weeks of satisfactory work. Wittgenstein reported that he had regained his philosophical capacities and was doing his best work in years. Later in the book Wittgenstein implements a more therapeutic. some interpreters have called for the recognition of a third phase of Wittgenstein‘s career associated with On Certainty. Recently. Yet in the spring of 1951. during which Wittgenstein purportedly lost interest in the therapeutic goals of his second phase and adopted a systematic approach to classical epistemological problems. The results of philological investigation show that the first half of On Certainty was written during Wittgenstein‘s self-critical phase. The early remarks of the book contain a response to G. less dogmatic method in his treatment of Moore. just weeks before his death.E. A survey of Wittgenstein‘s correspondence reveals that he consistently criticized the quality of his writing throughout the year 1950.his death in 1951. Moore‘s attempt to refute skepticism that is based on a theory of ‗hinge propositions‘. These fluctuations in Wittgenstein‘s assessment of his writing correspond to the dates he underwent cancer treatments that affected his cognitive abilities. By exploring the ways that Moore‘s philosophical xii .
xiii .assertions can be used in everyday contexts. Wittgenstein wishes to lead us to question whether we fully understand what Moore is trying to say. I argue that Wittgenstein was satisfied by this latter response to Moore because it fulfilled the therapeutic and anti-theoretical aims of his later philosophy.
All quotations from Wittgenstein‘s correspondence in this work are from (Wittgenstein 2004). Apart from a certain weakness which has constant ups & downs I'm feeling very well these days. I'm indoors most of the time. too. while I was ill. – I saw Moore twice recently & had discussions with him. I like to think of her. One very bad one. so far I've only worked for about 5 weeks & it may be all over by tomorrow. An extraordinary thing has happened to me. It's the first time after more than 2 years that the curtain in my brain has gone up. but it bucks me up a lot now. Affectionately Ludwig Remember me to Dr Mooney. 1 . But now that I'm up the whole day I prefer it here. but I can go out for short strolls. I had been absolutely certain that I'd never again be able to do it. Miss Anscombe sends her good wishes. all the more as the weather is pretty rotten & very cold. About a month ago I suddenly found myself in the right frame of mind for doing philosophy.4. I was responsible for the bad one's being bad. My room here is much more agreable than the one in Oxford. – Of course. Thanks for sending me the book Kon-tiki. I've often heard of it & it's bound to be interesting. & I was very happy there. The spelling and grammatical errors occasionally encountered in these letters have been reproduced without correction in the quotations.Introduction 76 Storeys Way Cambridge 16. – I want to go to Oxford before long to visit Smythies & Bouwsma if all goes well with me. the other fairly good. Dear Norman. Give my love to everybody. 1 1 Letter written by Wittgenstein to Norman Malcolm on April 16. 1951. Not that anyone could possibly be kinder to me than Miss Anscombe was.51. Thanks for your letter.
The prognosis was now dire. ―Here is one hand…and here is another‖ (Moore 1939. Selections from this material were published posthumously in Culture and Value.E. Wittgenstein then goes on to consider the epistemological concepts of doubt. 2 . Wittgenstein was told he only had a few weeks left to live. Remarks on Colour. One might naturally assume from this letter that Wittgenstein had completely abandoned philosophical activity for some time. p. Moore‘s famous attempt to prove the existence of the external world by remarking. 166). Vol. He wrote it just two weeks before his death. Wittgenstein had recently moved into the home of his personal doctor in Cambridge to receive constant medical attention. Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. Over the previous eighteen months Wittgenstein had composed a significant number of philosophical remarks. he had completely lost his ability to do philosophy. He had suddenly found himself in the finest mental condition for engaging in philosophy that he had been in for two years. and On Certainty.This is the final known letter of Ludwig Wittgenstein. As Wittgenstein reports in his letter to Norman Malcolm. but this is not the case. The remarks published as On Certainty begin by addressing G. II. given his age and state of ill health. in March of 1951 something ―extraordinary‖ happened to him. During that time he had remained convinced that. Just over a year earlier he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
certainty, and knowledge, as well as the variety of uses that the terms for these concepts are put to. Since its publication in 1969, themes from On Certainty have received a good amount of attention from Wittgenstein scholars in numerous articles and a handful of book-length treatments. A new surge of interest in the book over the last decade is largely due to Danièle Moyal-Sharrock. She has advocated for assigning On Certainty a special place in the Wittgenstein corpus, arguing that it marks a final phase in his career that should be distinguished from the phase associated with Philosophical Investigations. When this book was published shortly after his death, the thematic and methodological differences between the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations were so striking to readers that it became commonplace to figuratively speak of two Wittgensteins: the early Wittgenstein, whose work finished with the publication of the Tractatus and a move to rural Austria to become a schoolteacher, and the late Wittgenstein, whose career began in the early thirties in Cambridge and culminated in the publication of Philosophical Investigations.2 Work on the typescript for Part II of the Investigations was completed in 1949, but as mentioned above, after this point Wittgenstein continued to produce new
The appropriateness of sharply dividing Wittgenstein‘s career into these two phases has in recent decades become the subject of scholarly debate, though the terminology of ‗early‘ and ‗late‘ remains entrenched. See (Stern 2005) for a survey of this literature.
philosophical writing until his death in 1951. The phase consisting of these final writings has thus come to be known as the third Wittgenstein:3 the development in Wittgenstein‘s thought is such as to warrant the distinction of a post-Investigations, a third Wittgenstein, from the indiscriminate assemblage of what is referred to as the second or the later Wittgenstein. This demarcation would…indicate not only a new phase in Wittgenstein‘s thinking, but also that Wittgenstein was the author of three, not two, philosophical masterpieces. (Moyal-Sharrock 2004, p. 1) The introduction of this distinction in Wittgenstein‘s career has been lauded and adopted by several interpreters, most notably Avrum Stroll, who describes the recognition of a third Wittgenstein as a deep and original insight…I am in agreement with MoyalSharrock that we should divide Wittgenstein‘s career into three phases: the First Wittgenstein of the Tractatus, the Second of the Investigations, and the Third of On Certainty.4 (2004, p. 22)
In the present work I adopt the following terminology for the phases of Wittgenstein‘s career. ‗The second Wittgenstein‘ will refer to the phase beginning with a return to Cambridge in 1929 and finishing with the construction of the typescript now known as Part II of Philosophical Investigations in 1949. (For simplification, I include what some have called Wittgenstein‘s ‗middle‘ or ‗transitional‘ period – approximately 1929-1933 – in the ‗second‘ Wittgenstein.) I designate the notebooks composed between 1949 and 1951 as the ‗final‘ writings. I mention the ‗third‘ Wittgenstein when referring to the particular interpretation of Wittgenstein‘s project in the final writings espoused by Moyal-Sharrock et al. Finally, I associate the ‗later‘ Wittgenstein with all of the writings after 1929. The ‗later‘ phase thus includes both the ‗second‘ and ‗final‘ phases. 4 Moyal-Sharrock demarcates the ‗third Wittgenstein‘ corpus as ―essentially [the] post-1949 (post-PI) work; for the most part, notes that have been divided into what we know as: Remarks on Colour, the second volume of Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology and On Certainty‖ (Moyal-Sharrock 2002, p. 294 fn. 2). In a later characterization of the third Wittgenstein (Moyal-Sharrock 2004, 2), the demarcation is expanded to include all of the writings from 1946 onward. In addition to the publications previously mentioned, this expansion also includes remarks published as Part II of the Philosophical Investigations, most of the remarks in Zettel, both volumes of Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, volume 1 of Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology, and a selection of remarks from Culture and Value. In this dissertation I focus on the earlier, narrower characterization of the third Wittgenstein as comprised only of the 1949-1951 notebooks. (See the beginning of chapter 3 for the justification of this choice.) For an account of Wittgenstein‘s writings from 1946 to 1949, see (Schulte 1993).
The case for distinguishing a post-Investigations phase of Wittgenstein‘s career rests on three major claims. 1) The philosophical importance and quality of On Certainty is of comparable stature to the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations; indeed, ―Wittgenstein was the author of three, not two great works: On Certainty is Wittgenstein‘s third masterpiece‖ (Moyal-Sharrock and Brenner 2005, p. 1). 2) After 1949 Wittgenstein‘s thought moves in new directions: ―On Certainty is a highly original work, in many ways quite different from the Investigations‖ (Stroll 1994, p. 7). The philosophical issues in On Certainty are confronted by Wittgenstein for the first time, for ―the theme of this work [is] different from anything that Wittgenstein produced earlier‖ (Stroll 2004, p. 22). 3) Wittgenstein‘s post-Investigations writing reveals a shift in philosophical method. One of the most salient differences between the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations concerns the apparent methods applied in the texts. While in the Tractatus Wittgenstein is primarily concerned to answer fundamental questions of metaphysics and philosophical logic5, in Philosophical Investigations he adopts a new
This is at least Wittgenstein‘s aim according to standard readings of the Tractatus. Such readings have in recent decades come under attack by interpreters who argue that Wittgenstein employs a therapeutic methodology in this book as well. In the present work I will not enter into this debate about the Tractatus, for my argument relies merely on an understanding of Wittgenstein as being driven by deflationary and therapeutic intentions in
deflationary, therapeutic method that seeks to make ―philosophical problems completely disappear‖ (PI 133) and ―not advance any kind of theory‖ (PI 109). The transition from Wittgenstein‘s second career phase to his third is also characterized by a methodological break, for ―the third Wittgenstein…somehow lost interest in the therapeutic enterprise in his last years‖ (Moyal-Sharrock 2004, p. 5).6 Wittgenstein abandoned his therapeutic goals in his final years, instead attempting to answer traditional epistemological questions in a theoretical and systematic manner: the highly therapeutic thrust of the Investigations is much diminished in On Certainty. Wittgenstein is himself caught up in relatively straightforward, classical philosophical concerns about the nature of certainty and its relationship to human knowledge. (Stroll 1994, p. 7) The goal of this dissertation is to present what could be called a ‗therapeutic reading‘ of On Certainty. In using this terminology I am not, however, claiming to give an interpretation that is analogous to recent therapeutic readings of the Tractatus.7 Such a reading would require an understanding of On Certainty as a carefully planned and executed text that consistently works towards a therapeutic goal. On the contrary, I will argue that Wittgenstein did not consistently satisfy his therapeutic ideals in his
Philosophical Investigations, and such a position is well established in the secondary literature. 6 A similar opinion is held by Frongia and McGuinness, who suggest that there is ―a pronounced change in Wittgenstein‘s attitude towards constructive and systematic ways of doing philosophy. Certainly there seems to be a loss of interest in the ‗therapeutic‘ aim of removing ‗mental cramps‘‖ (1990, p. 35). 7 Thus I will provide an interpretation that differs from what Moyal-Sharrock and Brenner identify as ―the ‗therapeutic reading‘ approach[ing] On Certainty in the spirit of ‗New Wittgenstein‘ commentators‖ (2005, p. 3).
lectures. for. and discussions from the thirties and forties. 8 (van Gennip 2008) 7 . I will not contest this evaluation. My interpretation directly challenges the third claim made by the authors above. Those remarks that some readers take to indicate a change in Wittgenstein‘s later methodology should instead be understood as indicating periods during which Wittgenstein was not successful in satisfying his metaphilosophical goals. but rather argue that it is not sufficient to warrant the recognition of a distinct phase in Wittgenstein‘s philosophical development. tracing the development of themes addressed in On Certainty in writings. But this does not mean that he abandoned the methodological goals of the Investigations in his final years. The case for recognizing a third phase in Wittgenstein‘s career is severely destabilized when its third pillar – the claim that Wittgenstein changed his philosophical methodology in On Certainty – is removed. has also undermined the second pillar concerning the supposed uniqueness and separability of On Certainty with respect to the rest of Wittgenstein‘s Nachlass. as I will show.final writings. namely the claim that ideas attributed to Wittgenstein by certain readers are of high philosophical value. Wittgenstein was most satisfied with work during this time when it succeeded in meeting these ideals. The recent work of Kim van Gennip. In his final years Wittgenstein did not adopt a new philosophical method.8 This leaves only the first pillar.
―which he apparently took up at four separate periods during this eighteen months‖. In particular. The satisfaction of these conditions is what legitimates common interpretive techniques in the history of philosophy such as rational reconstruction. a ‗work‘ is generally taken to systematically develop a theme. I will argue that the conception of On Certainty as one of Wittgenstein‘s works is unwarranted. to reconstruct the purported underlying epistemological theory not explicitly stated in the text of On Certainty. including the attempt. The conception of On Certainty as a self-standing work was enabled by its editors. This assumption makes it possible for them to afford the book a status similar to that of Philosophical Investigations and the Tractatus – the two publications widely agreed to be works of Wittgenstein. and be conceived by the author to form a cohesive unit. particularly by advocates of the recognition of a third Wittgenstein. for the notion of a ‗work‘ is bound together with a number of suppositions concerning the writing‘s internal structure and the author‘s attitudes about this writing. 8 . who in their preface claimed that it ―constitutes a single sustained treatment of the topic‖ of Moore‘s attempted proof. consist of a carefully planned structure. The question of whether this title is appropriately assigned to a piece of historical writing is of real importance to interpreters.A fundamental assumption held by most interpreters who advocate for the recognition of a third phase of Wittgenstein‘s career is that On Certainty is one of Wittgenstein‘s works.
In the first two chapters of this dissertation I will show that these editorial claims are very misleading. For the editors to call the book a ―sustained treatment‖ invites the reader to assume that Wittgenstein had already worked out its fundamental ideas before beginning composition. Such an investigation might be considered by some to be merely of historical interest and irrelevant to a strictly philosophical interpretation of a historical text: a philosophical historian of philosophy … [is] someone who postpones until the very last moment the abandonment of belief in the reasonableness of the views of the philosophers she studies. indeed. a piece of philosophical history of philosophy is an 9 . and the degree to which its structure is a result of editorial construction. advocates for the recognition of a third Wittgenstein have cited these very editorial claims as evidence that On Certainty is one of Wittgenstein‘s works. I believe that an interpretation of On Certainty can benefit from being informed by details relating to the conditions under which it was composed. and that his eighteen-month process of composition was one of continually developing a single theme. by carefully investigating the biographical and philological details of the composition of On Certainty.These claims have had a real effect on how commentators have come to understand the nature of these final notes. the relation of its source manuscripts to contemporaneous items in Wittgenstein‘s Nachlass. Yet a preliminary defense of this extended investigation of historical circumstances may be called for. This will result in a more accurate understanding of the nature of the book.
the legitimacy of submitting a historical text to the technique of argumentative reconstruction depends on very basic assumptions about the nature of that text and the author‘s relation to it. the revised understanding I provide of the status of On Certainty in the Wittgenstein corpus will serve as the foundation for my account of the methodologies applied in those remarks. A non-philosophical intellectual historian. colleagues. as well as the relation of his philosophical productivity to the major events of his final years. 9) As declared earlier. a historical investigation into the composition of a text can in some cases serve as preparation for better philosophical interpretations which account for what kind of text the book actually is. by contrast. p. the evidence I will provide shows that they are unfounded with respect to On Certainty. will be happy to appeal to non-justificatory explanatory factors at a much earlier stage in her account of a view. Indeed. Thus. While such assumptions are satisfied in the large majority of cases. or of a change of view. Special emphasis is placed on Wittgenstein‘s own assessment of the quality of his work during this time. particularly the treatment he underwent for 10 .attempt to reconstruct the justification for a philosophical view. (Morris 2008. and family members. This means that an investigation into the very nature of the text itself is necessary to inform an appropriate reading of the book. Chapter 1 of this dissertation constructs an account of Wittgenstein‘s philosophical activities during the final two years of his life from extant letters written to friends.
and these letters show that Wittgenstein was consistently critical of his work throughout 1950 and the beginning of 1951. They should also be acknowledged and accounted for by Wittgenstein‘s interpreters. and suggests that a better reading should characterize On Certainty as composed of multiple parts. a state he had not achieved for the past two years. In the six weeks following this event his pace of work greatly accelerated. By March of 1951. Wittgenstein subsequently reported that he was finally mentally capable of doing satisfactory work in philosophy. However. when this change happened to Wittgenstein. for they show that he judged the final remarks in On Certainty to be of higher quality than those at the beginning of the publication. as seen in his final letter to Malcolm quoted above. and he succeeded in penning the remarks that constitute the final half of the book.prostate cancer. After returning home he maintained a correspondence with Malcolm. working until April 27. Since Wittgenstein was more 11 . or systematic work less attractive. Wittgenstein was prompted to consider the topics discussed in On Certainty during a visit to his former student Norman Malcolm in the fall of 1949. he had already composed the remarks that make up roughly the first half of On Certainty. for it coincides with the commencement and cessation of hormone treatments for prostate cancer. This change in Wittgenstein‘s attitude should not be written off or ignored by biographers. This makes interpretations which characterize On Certainty as a cohesive. two days before he died of complications due to his illness. well-developed.
Wittgenstein‘s early literary executors attempted to date these materials. The first step in providing such a reading. philological and biographical research can be utilized to estimate their dates of composition. by delving into the large Nachlass of notebooks.satisfied with some of these parts than others. and typescripts that were left behind after his death. in order to understand how his various phases of self-assessment relate to the entirety of his final writings. The goal of this chapter is to describe and date all of the items in Wittgenstein‘s Nachlass from the last two years of his life. a reading of the text should account for this by showing what properties are to be found in the final sections of On Certainty that are missing from the initial remarks. This task is simple for the few notebooks that were dated by Wittgenstein himself. For these manuscripts. Chapter 2 takes on the task of determining which individual remarks in On Certainty are associated with Wittgenstein‘s optimistic phase. Some estimates of composition dates can now be 12 . but most were not dated. is to determine exactly which remarks were composed during Wittgenstein‘s period of optimism and which were penned earlier. though these estimates were not always accurate or precise. interspersed with other remarks concerning mostly color concepts and philosophical psychology. manuscripts. of course. The remarks that make up On Certainty are spread out among a series of notebooks composed during the last two years of his life. and which are associated with his pessimistic phase.
The previous biographical and philological investigations are shown to refute a number of claims made by Wittgenstein‘s editors – and advocates for the recognition of a third 13 . was originally thought to have been composed during Wittgenstein‘s optimistic phase. and the text. but evidence from letters and memoirs suggests that these remarks were in fact penned in America during his visit to Malcolm. Two significant corrections deserve mention here. respectively – by which the status of a piece of writing may be evaluated.narrowed (at least to the degree that the evidence allows). providing three independent scales – concerning the author. The investigative results of these two chapters allow for an informed consideration of whether the posthumous publications culled from Wittgenstein‘s final writings should be considered to count among his works. evidence from letters and notebooks is presented that indicate this material was actually written during the pessimistic phase. the reader. and a few corrections can be made to the executors‘ initial attempts at dating Wittgenstein‘s final notebooks. before Wittgenstein began to consistently pan the quality of his work. Second. printed as part 1 of Remarks on Colour. First. however. In chapter 3 I argue that Joachim Schulte provides a good framework for approaching this question. a manuscript containing the first 65 remarks of On Certainty was deemed by the executors to have been composed during Wittgenstein‘s pessimistic phase. a revision of material on the topic of color.
thereby leading to the conclusion that this piece of writing fails to be a work according to the first and third criteria. A central component of my reading of On Certainty is the claim that Wittgenstein‘s final optimistic writing phase is characterized by a therapeutic approach. Though some readers feel that On Certainty is an ‗intense‘ and ‗sustained‘ effort – and for this reason ought to be considered one of his works – I counter that these impressions are only possible because On Certainty is a constructed artifact not of Wittgenstein‘s making. I conclude that even though On Certainty fails a number of tests for counting as a work. For provided that readers are given an accurate account of the manuscript sources of On Certainty and their relation to contemporaneous notes on other topics. the editorial decision to publish these text-fragments together in a single volume was not a mistake. Wittgenstein compares his philosophical method to psychotherapy and denies that he intends to advance any kind of theory. This leaves the second criterion. 14 .Wittgenstein – concerning the composition of On Certainty and Wittgenstein‘s attitudes towards it. concerning the reader‘s impressions of a text. In preparation for that conclusion I present a characterization of the late Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project in chapter 4. the book can provide them with an insight into one facet of Wittgenstein‘s thought in his final years. In a number of wellknown passages. the result of his editors splicing together segments of text from various sources.
One reason for a reluctance to take Wittgenstein‘s antitheoretical claims seriously may be his frequent use of multiple voices in dialogue. That perspective should be distinguished from what I call the 15 .This shows that Wittgenstein does not subscribe to a traditional conception of the aims and methods of philosophy. even some of those who give a central place to the remarks on therapy. Instead. I argue that if we take Wittgenstein‘s remarks on therapy at face value as descriptions of his metaphilosophical goals. Wittgenstein tends to see philosophical bewilderment itself as a problem which stands in need of treatment. many of which do indeed appear to advance philosophical theses. yet still leave open for evaluation the degree to which he succeeded in meeting these goals. Such a critique is made from a perspective which I call the observer. which are usually taken to include the construction of theories in the service of answering philosophical questions. it is then possible to take Wittgenstein seriously as a therapist without thereby sacrificing grounds for legitimate critique. On the other hand. describe. Wittgenstein‘s most sympathetic readers sometimes appear to use his stated desire not to advance any kind of theory as a means for deflecting any principled criticism of his philosophy. many of his readers tend to attribute philosophical theses to him in their textual interpretations. this person‘s task is to monitor. and evaluate Wittgenstein‘s methods. Despite the familiarity of Wittgenstein‘s metaphilosophical remarks.
patient - someone who attempts to personally undergo Wittgensteinian therapy. This distinction helps to ease a current debate in the Wittgenstein literature over whether interpreters should read the Philosophical Investigations in a ―text-immanent‖ manner, limiting themselves only to the remarks printed in the book, or whether they should approach the book in a ―contextual‖ manner, helping themselves to Wittgenstein‘s earlier drafts, lecture notes, correspondence, and other outside material that could shed light on the text. The results of chapters 1-4 are put to use in chapter 5, where I present a therapeutic reading of On Certainty that is informed by my account of the book‘s structure. I follow the strategy of taking Wittgenstein seriously as a therapist outlined in Chapter 4 by distinguishing between Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic goals and the degree to which he succeeded in satisfying them. My thesis is that the final half of On Certainty, written when Wittgenstein expressed satisfaction with his work, exhibits the qualities that Wittgenstein desires in a therapeutic philosophy to a greater extent than the book‘s earlier remarks, which he consistently panned as unsatisfactory. This contrast can most clearly be seen by comparing Wittgenstein‘s reactions to G.E. Moore in the two halves of the book. In the earlier remarks, Wittgenstein tends to react to Moore‘s assertions of having basic items of knowledge, e.g. ―I know this is a hand‖ or ―I know this is a tree,‖ by saying that these assertions are inappropriate because they lack sense. The 16
notion of having ‗sense‘ is given what appears to be a theoretical foundation in these early sections, based on the characterization of what have come to be known as ‗hinge propositions.‘ In what at points reads like a theoretical treatise, Moore‘s statements are deemed meaningless for failing to satisfy these criteria for sensical utterances. However, in the later sections of On Certainty, Wittgenstein personally engages with G.E. Moore, thereby shifting his focus from solving a philosophical problem to resolving a particular case of philosophical bewilderment. Rather than declare Moore‘s claims meaningless at the outset, Wittgenstein imagines a series of situations in which it might be natural to make one of those claims, situations in which they would indeed ―make sense‖ (where this phrase is given an everyday meaning rather than a theoretically loaded one). These are opportunities for Moore to give his statements a determinate everyday sense, but if he continually rejects these options as not truly capturing the elevated philosophical sense he intends to convey, at some point he may question whether he really does have a determinate meaning in mind, and thus decide to cease making these statements. This can be understood as an administration of Wittgensteinian therapy, which proceeds not by advancing arguments, but rather seeks to allow the patient to once again function in the linguistic community through the dissolution of the grip that a philosophical problem formerly had over him.
In the later sections of On Certainty Wittgenstein also submits his earlier pronouncements about hinge propositions to critical scrutiny. These statements are now criticized as being ‗suspicious‘ and ‗too general‘, as well as for apparently having different meanings when uttered in an everyday context rather than a philosophical one. Here Wittgenstein appears to realize that his earlier hinge-theoretical response to Moore‘s utterances involves the same kind of peculiar philosophical uses of language committed by Moore. Thus, the later sections of the book exhibit both therapeutic and antitheoretical elements, as required by Wittgenstein‘s metaphilosophy. I discuss the main trends of On Certainty interpretation in Chapter 6, pointing out that most readings do not account for the book‘s internal structure or explain how its remarks might serve a therapeutic end. Both of these considerations are central to my interpretation of the book. After identifying a number of competing pieces in the secondary literature in which these two considerations are also addressed, I conclude by specifying some advantages my interpretation has over these rivals.
Chapter 1 The Right Frame of Mind for Doing Philosophy
In the fall of 1946, when he was 57 years old, Wittgenstein began to seriously consider retiring from his position at Cambridge, expressing doubt to colleagues about the effectiveness of his teaching and frustration over not being able to focus on completing Philosophical Investigations, which he had worked on for over a decade (Malcolm 1984, p. 53). By the summer of 1947 he was nearly resolved not to return the next year: I am almost certain that I shall resign my professorship in Autumn....I'ld like to be alone somewhere & try to write & to make at least one part of my book publishable. I'll never be able to do it while I'm teaching at Cambridge. (August 27, 1947; letter to Malcolm) Wittgenstein did indeed submit his resignation of his chair before the Michaelmas Term of 1947, but was told that he still had an available term to take for sabbatical. He did so, and during the fall of 1947 dictated a typescript of material he had worked on for the past few years. This typescript was published posthumously as Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, Vol. 1 (Monk 1990, p. 518).1 After completing his sabbatical term and officially resigning his chair in December of 1947, he moved to Ireland, hoping to find a peaceful place to work in solitude:
In this chapter I mention some uncontroversial dates of composition for manuscripts in order to orient the reader. In the next chapter I investigate the dating of Wittgenstein‘s final manuscripts in detail.
p. 153-154) At times the inspiration came so intensely that a neighbor is reported to have seen Wittgenstein. While he suffered from bouts of physical ill health. letter to Rhees) He soon found a small farmhouse where he could stay as a guest. say anything about my work . Wittgenstein reported the good news: Sometimes my ideas come so quickly that I feel as if my pen was being guided. p. p. Wittgenstein then decided to move into an empty cottage in Rosro. Upon returning to Dublin in October. 521). This is now published as Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. so far. 1947.. Vol. I could never have got this work done while I was in Cambridge. Wish me luck! (December 9.. an even more secluded location on the west coast of Ireland. He stayed there until August. 535). Around Easter his work stopped for a few weeks due to insomnia. he stopped off in Cambridge to have a typescript made of his work over the past year.I can't. when he left to visit his dying sister Hermine in Vienna. for a few months he was able to do satisfactory work. (Drury 1981. writing furiously.. oblivious of anything going on around him‖ (Monk 1990. I now see clearly that it was the right thing for me to give up the professorship. 528).. pp. Wittgenstein found himself once again in a good state for working. Upon returning. ―sitting in a ditch. out on one of his regular walks with notebook in hand. Rather than risk the harsh winter at the 20 . II (ibid. There he was able to find solitude and once again do some work (ibid. When his friend Drury came from Dublin to visit.
Drury reports that he ―seemed. 1948. (December 16. his work was going pretty well. for he was now considering what title to use. p. letter to Malcolm) Wittgenstein found a room in Ross‘s Hotel and was able to visit with his friend Drury nearly every day.cottage where he had been the previous summer. & as I'm anxious to make hay during the very short period when the sun shines in my brain I've decided not to go to Rosro this winter but to stay here where I've got a warm & quiet room..to be writing copiously. lately he had preferred ―Philosophical Remarks‖ (ibid. Some of these writings have since been published in Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. Vol. Over the winter Drury had frequent discussions with Wittgenstein. letter to Moore) 21 . I. letter to Rhees) I am well & working pretty hard. on the whole makes me feel well. When I came here I found to my surprise that I could work again. 156). The conditions for writing were excellent.S. For the next four months Wittgenstein reported to various colleagues that. (December 12. despite some occasional physical illness. when I went up to his room he was nearly always working and would continue to do so for some time before we went out‖ (Drury 1981. (November 6. 1948.. He appeared to be making progress towards finishing the book. he decided to stay in Dublin: I arrived here about 3 weeks ago after staying in Cambridge a fortnight & dictating some M...2 This fruitful period came to 2 As seen in the following: I can still work moderately well & that. p. 160).S. and he would sometimes talk about what he was currently writing. 1948.
That‘s partly due to the fact that I‘ve been a bit ill. 1949. – Money is not one of them. but I‘ll have enough for another 2 years. but I can't write. Perhaps a holiday of a couple of months would make me fit again. Auch meiner Arbeit geht es nicht schlecht. was why I resigned my professorship. or so. when weakness exhausted both his physical and mental strength: My work went fairly well. 1949.. I was ill for a while with an intestinal infection. aber sie ist vorüber & ich werde wieder kräftig. & also that a number of things are really worrying me. I think. My work isn‘t going badly. either. (January 28. as I do when I take a walk. This doesnt necessarily mean that I couldn't discuss philosophy. after all. & now I'm completely incapable of thinking about philosophy. 1948. letter to Moore) I had a pretty good turn of work in the last 3 months. 1949. for by then I could get a good chunk of work done. letter to Malcolm) I can still work fairly well though not as I did a month ago. 542). God knows if I'll ever be able to work again. letter to Malcolm) I am doing well. which gradually helped him improve physically (Monk 1990. Ich war einige Zeit krank mit einer Darminfektion. though not as well as.Of course it hasn‘t done my work any good. too. my ideas petered out. say. 6 weeks ago. the ‗curtain in his brain‘ had been up. letter to Malcolm) 22 . letter to Koder) My work is still going fairly well. (February 18. During that time. The letters leading up to March 1949 thus confirm part of Wittgenstein‘s claim in his final letter to Malcolm in April of 1951 (quoted in full in the introduction): for several extended periods after his retirement from Cambridge. 1949. in all this time. but I feel that I'll certainly not be able to work soon. I am. but about a fortnight ago I almost suddenly became exhausted. letter to Rhees) The cause for Wittgenstein‘s exhaustion was later diagnosed as anemia by a Dublin doctor. I had to interrupt it completely for a week & after that it just crawled along. & that. p. of course. (December 31. (Translation of: ―Mir geht es gut. I‘ll get some work done. allowing him to do I. (December 31.an end in March. & sometimes even very well.―) (February 17. but it is over and I‘m getting strong again. but I fell ill with some sort of infection of the intestines about 3 weeks ago & it hasn‘t yet cleared up.. I was too ill to work for only 4 or 5 days. 1948. am working a fair amount & still moderately well. these days. God being willing. (March 16. spending rather a lot. I wish my luck could hold for another 6 months. He was prescribed iron and liver extract.
but this nevertheless shows how much confidence Wittgenstein placed in Malcolm to comprehend his writings. As Wittgenstein explained to Malcolm. he was excited about and satisfied with. He already had a particular vacation in mind.work that. The personal and professional friendship was further strengthened when Malcolm visited Cambridge during the 1946-1947 academic year. Over the next two years Wittgenstein‘s reports to colleagues about the state of his work were consistently negative. Wittgenstein thought that a holiday might help him get back to working. he was considering a trip to America to visit Norman Malcolm. Wittgenstein‘s correspondence between March 1949 and his final letter to Malcolm also confirms his other claim in that letter. ―the reason I am doing this is so there will be at least one person who will understand 23 . namely that during this time he was unable to do any particularly satisfactory philosophical work and despaired that this situation would not change before his death. The two got along very well and began a correspondence after Malcolm took a position at Princeton in 1940. After a time these discussions began to move away from the text of the typescript. on the whole. In addition to sitting in on Wittgenstein‘s final year of lectures on the philosophy of psychology. As we will now see. Malcolm also met with him once a week to discuss the latest version of Philosophical Investigations. As mentioned in the above letter to Rhees. Malcolm had come to Cambridge to study under Moore in 1938. and while there he attended Wittgenstein‘s lectures.
That only happened 3 weeks ago. Wittgenstein finally committed to the visit and booked a ticket for July on a transatlantic ocean liner. My mind is tired & stale.my book when it is published‖ (Malcolm 1984. (June 8. hoping to cure his anemia. After some initial reluctance. He hoped that visiting his old friend might spur him back to doing philosophical work: I have booked a passage to New York on the Queen Mary for July 21. 1949. I haven't been able to work for over three months. partly. I think because I'm a bit exhausted. Wittgenstein made frequent visits to his doctor. partly because lots of things worry me terribly just now. who he came to Vienna to visit in April. I'd been feeling lousy for a long time before they made a blood test & found what was the matter. What he especially hoped for was to be able to participate in philosophical discussions with Malcolm by the time he arrived 24 . After returning to Dublin in May. though he still was in no shape to do philosophical work: I'm taking iron & liverextrat. (April 1. The prescribed medications slowly had a positive effect on his physical health. letter to Malcolm) Some of the things worrying him included the health of his eldest sister. 44). I think I could still discuss philosophy if I had someone here to discuss it with.. 1949. but if I'm getting better at all it's a very slow process.I haven't been doing any work at all for the last 2-3 weeks.. p. letter to Fouracre) Wittgenstein nevertheless was optimistic that his health and mental capacities would improve. but alone I can't concentrate on it. Malcolm now had a position at Cornell and had invited Wittgenstein to come to Ithaca for an extended stay.
but unfortunately I'm still not the same I was before I got ill. I intend to go to Cambridge in about 2 weeks & to dictate some stuff if I feel strong enough. 1949. On July 21. But of course it's possible that by the end of July I may have recovered sufficiently for my brain to work again. 1949. letter to Malcolm) Fortunately. The trip seemed to provide just the refreshment that Wittgenstein was seeking. and thus planned to have a typescript of this work made up before he departed: At present I am quite unable to do any philosophy & I don't think I'd be strong enough to have even a moderately decent discussion. Part II. This was eventually published as Philosophical Investigations. upon his arrival in America Wittgenstein was vigorous and energetic.in America. Wittgenstein hoped to show Malcolm the fruits of his labors the past winter.‖ 25 . letter to Malcolm) Wittgenstein then went to Cambridge for a short time to prepare his typescript. as Malcolm saw when he picked up Wittgenstein at the dock: When I first saw him I was surprised at his apparent physical vigour. (July 8. In fact at present I'm sure I couldn't do it. by the time he was about to leave for Cambridge and then proceed on to Ithaca. (June 4. he reported to his friend Koder The passage is very smooth and physically I‘m doing quite well. letter to Koder) Indeed. the medications had succeeded in alleviating many of his physical ailments: My anaemia is as good as cured.3 (July 24. 1949. That will show me where I stand & I'll let you know the result. En route to New York. 3 Translation of: ―Die Überfahrt ist sehr glatt & es geht mir körperlich ganz gut. He was striding down the ramp with a pack on his back. the Queen Mary set sail for New York.
and thus that they constituted a misuse of language. As Wittgenstein had brought along copies of both typescripts now known as parts I and II of Philosophical Investigations. Malcolm had sent an offprint of the article to Moore. (Malcolm 1984. with striking accuracy and expressiveness.a heavy suitcase in one hand. He was in very good spirits and not at all exhausted and he would not allow me to help him with his luggage. 68) For the first six weeks of his stay. though again these soon fell through.4 It was Malcolm‘s contention that Moore had not used these words in their ordinary sense. thereby failing to serve the purpose of defending common sense. My chief recollection of the long train ride home is that we talked about music and that he whistled for me. for they stimulated thoughts that would eventually be published in On Certainty. including Frege‘s essay ―On Sense and Reference‖ and the Tractatus. This allowed him to actively participate in a number of philosophical discussions with faculty members and graduate students at Cornell. cane in the other. Malcolm had recently published an article in Philosophical Review criticizing Moore‘s use of ―I know‖ in his papers ―A Defence of Common Sense‖ and ―Proof of the External World‖. who then composed a critique of the paper and defense of his own position. p. A range of topics were covered. he attempted once more to explain his book to Malcolm in private sessions. One set of discussions was of particular importance for Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein‘s health remained stable. some parts of Beethoven‘s 7th Symphony. Moore agreed that he had used these words in circumstances in 4 (Malcolm 1949) 26 .
He worked in spurts. There were times when he was so dull that he could scarcely believe he 27 .. brought along a selection of his recent notebooks (Drury 1981. but that he had given them his own slant. p. and. the concepts of knowledge and certainty. He had..he spoke. Bouwsma‘s recounting of a discussion from August 5 suggests that Wittgenstein had recently attempted to start writing again: . 168).. more generally. Malcolm sent a long reply to Moore. because their truth-conditions are identical.which they are not usually uttered. This reply Moore sent off to Malcolm on July 21. If Moore composed a response it has not been preserved. claiming that most of the ideas were due to Wittgenstein. 30). There is evidence to suggest that Wittgenstein may have composed some philosophical remarks during his visit to America. Malcolm was eager to hear Wittgenstein‘s take on Moore‘s reply. the same day that Wittgenstein‘s ship set sail for New York. he further argued that his use of the words ―I know‖ was the very same as their ordinary sense. These took place in August. after all. p. This prompted a series of discussions on Moore‘s papers. presumably in the hope of making additional entries while on vacation.. but it is clear from the notes he wrote in the margins of Malcolm‘s letter that he was not convinced.of the way he worked. Bouwsma was also in attendance at a discussion that began with consideration of Moore‘s ―I know that this is a hand‖ on August 20 (Bouwsma 1986. On September 2. but disagreed that this constituted a misuse of the words.
Malcolm arranged for him to have a brief stay in the hospital. ‗When a person has only one thing in the world – namely. and now for the first time since. I have discussions with Malcolm & some other people. Wittgenstein reported: I'm doing some philosophy. & sometimes they (the discussions) aren't too bad. 10) By the end of August. 76) This was typical of the pessimism about his prospects of doing good work again that he would repeatedly express over the next eighteen months in letters to colleagues. p. Despite this attempt to get back to writing. he was beginning to do something. (August 31. with 28 . letter to Rhees) This letter does not definitively prove that Wittgenstein was writing new remarks. where he was seen by a Dr. a certain talent – what is he to do when he begins to lose that talent?‘ he asked. (Bouwsma 1986. Mooney (mentioned in the letter in the introduction). p. aside from the many discussions he was taking part in while in Ithaca. And he had been ill since March. During the latter part of Wittgenstein‘s trip he became ill once again. Wittgenstein was not satisfied with the results. since by ―doing some philosophy‖ he might have only been referring to his philosophical discussions. But his mention of ―my work‖ strongly suggests that he was also attempting to do some of his own philosophical work.had written what he had written. Wittgenstein said to me that it was a problem for him as to what to do with the remainder of his life. 1949. as he often mentioned to Malcolm: More than once. after the discussions on Moore had taken place. but my work's no good. (Malcolm 1984.
in a way. who was a friend of Drury‘s and also happened to be von Wright‘s family physician. Bevan was able to make a diagnosis: Wittgenstein was suffering from prostate cancer. who did not want to undergo treatment in America. as had been his intention before going to America: My health is bad and I must lie down for a large part of the day and can‘t work. aleviate the symptoms of the disease. because I had no wish to live on. The doctor even tells me that I may be able to work again. His condition was terminal but it would be possible to prolong his life for a few years with hormone therapy. and immediately fell ill with the flu. But I cou[l]dn't have my wish. so that I can live on for years. I was in no way shocked when I heard I had cancer. I have cancer of the prostate. but I was when I heard that one could do something about it. Wittgenstein was not overly pleased about prolonging the inevitable: The doctors have now made their diagnosis. so that he could undergo several examinations by Dr. Edward Bevan. Dr. No diagnosis of his condition was able to be made.whom Wittgenstein got along quite well. But this sounds. for there is a drug (actually some hormones) which can. This prevented him from doing any philosophical work. He returned to England at the end of October. I am treated with great kindness by 5 Translation of: ―Meine Gesundheit ist schlecht & ich muß einen großen Teil des Tages liegen & kann nicht arbeiten. which was actually a relief to Wittgenstein. and also from returning to Dublin. much worse than it is. as I'm told.‖ 29 . 1949: letter to Koder) Wittgenstein instead stayed for several weeks in Cambridge with his former student Georg Henrik von Wright. but I can't imagine that.5 (November 25.
There I'll just do nothing & let the hormones do their work.. letter to Malcolm) Knowing that his days were numbered. He wrote to his sister Helene: I‘m considering the idea of coming to Vienna not long from now. Meine Gesundheit ist recht schlecht & ich kann daher nicht arbeiten. and spend time with his ailing sister.‖ 30 .).. Though he 6 Translation of: ―Ich überlege den Gedanken. but optimistic that this might change after the treatments were given some time to have an effect: I am getting slowly better & the doctor tells me that after some months I may be well enough to work. Even though his sister Hermine was suffering from cancer herself.every one & I have an immensely kind doctor who isn't a fool either.I‘m taking a medication which the doctor says will help me..Ich nehme ein Mittel.I think of going to Vienna for some time as soon as possible. mir helfen wird. in nicht langer Zeit nach Wien zu kommen. letter to Salzer) Wittgenstein did not want to give the details of this medication.6 (November 28.. For the next two months Wittgenstein was able to relax. 1949. 1949. (December 2. letter to Rhees) On December 24th he flew to Vienna and spent the holiday season with his family. welches. 1949. Over the next two years he repeatedly implored his friends and acquaintances in correspondence not to reveal his diagnosis to members of his family. not succeeding in getting any work done.. lest his family learn of his cancer. Wittgenstein decided to make an extended trip to visit his family in Vienna.. (undated. My health is quite bad and thus I can‘t work. He stayed in Cambridge another month. wie der Arzt sagt. (Though I can't imagine that I'll ever work again. November 28. play music with his old friend Koder. ca. Wittgenstein vowed to keep the real extent of his ill health a secret from his family.
& I've been thinking about it & even written down some weak remarks. Despite the fact that his physical health had somewhat improved... I'm not writing at all because my thoughts never sufficiently crystallize. (January 16. in February his sister Hermine finally succumbed to the cancer and passed away. After having been sick for some time. as well as participate in discussions with Anscombe (who was in Vienna working to improve her German skills) and Feyeraband. 1950. Goethes Theory of colour which. he did report some intellectual stimulation coming from an attempt to read Goethe: I am very well indeed now & am anything but depressed. (January 22.If we could meet you'd find me pretty slow & stupid. he decided to turn down the offer: 31 . and found he had received an invitation from Ryle to give the John Locke lectures in Oxford.. letter to Malcolm) A week later he reported that he had finally attempted to begin writing again. e. and he was able to do some more writing.g. I'm reading various odds & ends. I've only got very few 'lucid moments'.My brain works very sluggishly these days but I can't say I mind. At the end of March he returned to Cambridge to visit Dr. 1949. letter to Rhees) These remarks now form the first part of the posthumous publication Remarks on Colour. Over the next month Wittgenstein‘s health slowly improved.. with all its absurdities.had not been writing any new remarks. has very interesting points & stimulates me to think. I have been reading again parts of Goethes "Farbenlehre" which attracts & repels me. though he was far from satisfied with the results: My brain is mudled & sluggish but I can't say I mind. It's certainly philosophically interesting. Bevan again.
d) My health is in a somewhat labile state owing to a constant slight anaemia which inclines me to catch infections. it seems to me likely that my mind will never again work as vigorously as it did. 14 months ago. & there mustn't be any discussion during the lectures.My health at present is pretty good. I'm doing some work but I get stuck over simple things & almost all I write is pretty dull. Wittgenstein thought hard about the offer. though not quite as good as I did in Vienna. This further diminishes the chance of my doing really good work. which he explained in detail: The truth is this.I had a letter from Oxford the other day. I don't think I can give formal lectures to a large audience that would be any good. Wittgenstein received an offer from the Rockefeller Foundation for a research grant..a) I have not been able to do any sustained good work since the beginning of March 1949. Malcolm had contacted their director in the hope of securing funds for his mentor to focus on his work. e) Though it's impossible for me to make any definite predictions. I haven't yet given them any definite answer but I think I'll reply in the negative. letter to Malcolm) A week later. but decided that he could not in good faith accept the grant unless the Foundation understood his current state of his health and philosophical work. that I'd have to expect a large audience. & I'm very dull & stupid. I was told. The lectures are called John Locke lectures & I'd get £ 200 for them. however.. – I feel fairly well. letter to Malcolm) 32 .. 1950. f) I cannot promise to publish anything during my lifetime. c) As I'm getting older my thoughts become markedly less forceful & crystallize more rarely & I get tired very much more easily. (April 17. say. There are to be lectures of that sort every year by people outside Oxford. inviting me to give 6 lectures on philosophy. 1950. over 200 students. b) Even before that date I could not work well for more than 6 or 7 months a year. (April 5..
but he had not been able to regain his mental vigor or philosophical ability that had last left him over a year ago. He soon moved into the home of Anscombe in Oxford. he was never satisfied with the results. manchmal weniger. letter to Koder) 33 . Ich denke viel weniger scharf & klar als früher. Despite his efforts. where he would stay for the next five months.7 Later in the summer he hoped 7 As shown by the following: I‘m working. Dr Bevan in Cambridge wrote to a London specialist about me. though as just seen.. but not really well. sometimes more.Wittgenstein continued to attempt to work. aber nicht wirklich gut. II. (May 7. Nice prospect! Another year of this half-life would have been ample. he consistently reported dissatisfaction with what he was producing. The medications were keeping him in relatively stable health. as well as some passages that would eventually appear in Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. His work continued to be disappointing. my work only mildly interests me. I think much less sharply and clearly than I used to. manchmal mehr.‖) (May 22. – I'm moderately well.. Wittgenstein spent the summer trying his best to continue his work. 1950. and Wittgenstein soon became depressed with the thought of continuing on with such an unfulfilling state of being: I'm working a bit but my work's no good. (Translation of: ―Ich arbeite. letter to Rhees) During this time Wittgenstein continued working on the remarks on color concepts that he had begun in Vienna earlier that spring. Vol. sometimes less. giving him the history of my case up to the present time & the expert replied that I might easily live for five more years.I'm just not in the right frame of mind. 1950. & you can imagine what under these circumstances the stuff is like I'm writing down.
. I could see students if I wanted. Das ist keine Klage. (July 30.. letter to Malcolm) By the end of the summer whatever ability Wittgenstein had to work was slowly draining: My health is good. for quite a time.‖) (July 13. 1950.‖) (May 29. 1950. letter to Hänsel) I'm well & getting more & more stupid every day. aber meine Arbeit wird mehr & mehr wertlos. but I don't want to.‖ 34 . That‘s no complaint.‖) (June 23. I get tired soon. but various things are troubling me.. He does not seem to have been any more enthusiastic about these writings than the ones on color he had produced earlier in the summer: I'm pretty well.8 (August 26. 1950. & das wird sich auch wahrscheinlich nicht mehr ändern. letter to Hänsel) A couple weeks later he had all but abandoned more attempts to continue working: I did some work. In the intervening time Wittgenstein revisited the epistemological topics he had discussed one year ago with Malcolm. besonders meine schrecklich geringe Arbeitsfähigkeit. & I'm working but not particularly well. (June 23. That makes the rest of life more difficult. though not good work.to spend some time in Norway with his friend Richards. Die erschwert das ganze übrige Leben. I've got all sorts of unclear thoughts in my old head which perhaps will remain there for ever in this unsatisfactory state. letter to Fouracre) I‘m working poorly & that will probably no longer change. außer daß ich langsam & schlecht arbeite. (Translation of: ―Es geht mir recht gut. but I've hardly done anything for the last 3 weeks. letter to Koder) 8 Translation of: ―Meine Gesundheit ist gut. but this was delayed for a few months. but my work is getting more and more worthless. & anyhow my Physically I‘m quite well. I think there must be a leak somewhere in my head & my brain is slowly running out. (Translation of: „Ich arbeite schlecht. letter to Hänsel) I‘m doing quite well. 1950.I have hardly any philosophical discussions. 1950. Even now when I bump my head on anything it sounds like a kettledrum. (Translation of: ―Mir geht es körperlich ganz gut. except that I‘m working slowly and poorly. aber verschiedenes bedrückt mich. 1950. especially my terribly small ability to work.
letter to von Wright) Wittgenstein‘s writing ceased on September 23. (September 6. determined to give an attempt to resume working his best shot. Richards. fell ill with bronchitis twice and had to spend time in the hospital. The trip was fraught with difficulties. Of course it's possible that I'm no longer able to do any decent research. His health rapidly deteriorated in January. Since he spent a good deal of time caring for Richards he was not able to do any of his own work.. 35 . I may possibly go back to Norway before long & try to work. Around the same time. letter to Malcolm) Wittgenstein booked a ticket to return to Norway at the end of the month.. He was again staying with Anscombe in Oxford. Wittgenstein fell ill once again and had to spend Christmas at Dr. but it's certainly worth while finding out if I am or not. because the host he had intended to stay with had notified him that space would in fact not be available. 1950. it's the only place I know where I can have real quiet. after which he prepared for what was hoped to be a relaxing and refreshing vacation in Norway. The plan unfortunately fell through. for Wittgenstein‘s travel partner.ability for philosophical work seems to have practically vanished. Still. the peaceful surroundings of Norway made Wittgenstein optimistic that he could work again during a future visit: I had intended to do some work but I didn't do any. 1950. who called Bouwsma on the 10 th to tell him that Wittgenstein had fallen ill. Bouwsma was visiting Oxford to give the very John Locke lectures that Wittgenstein had declined several months earlier. (December 1.My health is not too bad but I am very dull & stupid indeed (as this letter shows). Bevan‘s home.
who was now in severe pain and hardly eating. These remarks were. and then I write another – just the opposite. Wittgenstein refused a second time. 73).. the Rockefeller Foundation provided funding for his literary executors to catalog his papers and publish selections from them. responding. 9 But Wittgenstein did not feel that much of it was worth publishing. who had offered Wittgenstein a grant in the spring of the previous year. ―But see. 1951. 36 . On the 16th Bouwsma again visited Wittgenstein.. during which he had regularly complained of the low quality of his work. nevertheless. visited to once again offer research funds. The same day Bouwsma heard Wittgenstein say ―something about the rot people publish.The next day the director of the Rockefeller Foundation. telling the director that . against all probability & hope. published posthumously side by side with other notes that Wittgenstein considered to be of higher quality (as we will see was the case with On Certainty). that the money might be used to publish some of his papers. I'd write to him. They don‘t know when to quit. I write one sentence. And which shall stand?‖ (Bouwsma 1986. but I said that if. I should one day find that I could again do worthwhile work in philosophy.in my present state of health & intellectual dullness I couldn't accept a grant.). going on writing after they‘ve stopped thinking. p. letter to Malcolm) It was suggested that if Wittgenstein was not capable of working right now. (January 12. Russell!‖ (ibid. and at times 9 After Wittgenstein‘s death. This suggests that Wittgenstein was uncomfortable with the thought of publishing the remarks that he had written in the past year.
(It was half empty already when I was in Ithaca. letter to Malcolm) Wittgenstein had a year earlier expressed a desire not to die in an English hospital. At the beginning of February Wittgenstein moved into the Cambridge home of Dr. Bevan... Bevan had said that Wittgenstein could spend his final days at the doctor‘s home. Bevan so that he could be under constant supervision and undergo frequent radiation treatments at the hospital.. if only I don't live too long! I'm not depressed though. but I don‘t feel unhappy about that.appeared to be welcoming the prospect of approaching death (ibid..). These changes had a positive effect. and Dr. But in the middle of February Wittgenstein was still holding out hope that his lodging situation would only be temporary. During this time Wittgenstein had to travel frequently to Cambridge to see Dr. but Wittgenstein still was not able to do any philosophical work: As you see I'm in Cambridge. – I haven‘t been working any for months. which added further hardship to his already poor condition. I have very little pain & discomfort. But even if I could be with you you'd find that my head was empty.I wish I could have a talk again with you. & it doesn't matter. I've had a pretty bad time at Oxford but am feeling much better now (for reasons no one knows). this time for my spine. I'm staying with my doctor who is an extremely kind man & an excellent doctor.I can't even think of work at present. I‘m now living 37 .. 1951. if his health would improve: I‘m being treated with X-rays now and it is possible that this will bring about a quick improvement..) (undated. February 8. Doney & Nelson. I also saw a speciallist here & I'm to have deep X-ray treatment again. approx.
I am not depressed in the least. – The other day I saw a laudatory review of two philosophical books in the "New Statesman". Ich wohne jetzt für einige Zeit im Haus meines Arztes hier. One was by a man Toulmin. A few weeks after the cessation Wittgenstein wrote to Malcolm about his condition and mentioned something troubling that he had read recently: I'm feeling much better now than I did a month ago.. I'd like to see a review some day 10 Translation of: ―Ich werde jetzt mit Röntgenstrahlen behandelt & es ist möglich. I hardly think that I'll be on this earth when you come to Cambridge in Autumn '52. The improvement is probably due to the deep xray treatment I took for a few weeks.10 (February 19. But it was no good because I was far too dull & hazy. it ―came as an enormous relief to him‖ (Monk 1990.I am of course very weak & there seems no doubt that this isn't going to change for the better as time goes on. Wittgenstein‘s mood and mental clarity improved. the other seemed to contain articles by Wisdom. 1951. Bevan concluded that the hormone and X-ray therapies were no longer going to be of help and thus should be terminated.... letter to Koder) At the end of February Dr. one doesn't know.‖ 38 . I think. The review I read particularly praised one remark of Waismann's which came straight out of my lectures. 577). Still.. – Ich habe schon seit Monaten nichts mehr gearbeitet. Ryle & other charlatans. in March. I have hardly any pain..here in my doctor‘s house for a while. he was able to take strolls around Cambridge and visit friends. who come to my classes while you were in Cambridge. though he continued to be quite weak physically. Remarkably. Waismann. Still.. by the way. fühle mich aber darüber nicht unglücklich. soon after the cancer treatments had come to an end. p. When he was told that he would not live for more than a few more months. When I'm alone I am sometimes a bit brighter. daß das eine rasche Besserung bewirken wird..I saw Moore yesterday & we talked philosophy.
/This doesn‘t excuse the theft by those who have adorned their publications with my unpublished ideas for years. letter to Malcolm) The review article in question handed out praise to certain ―linguistic philosophers‖ such as Waismann for ―illustrating the influence of language on our thoughts‖ (McGuinness 2008.This is no way excuses the theft from my ideas that is being committed today by some university professors./ 12 (MS 175 pp. 476-7). he will prosper. 39 .‖ . however.. What is especially interesting about this episode. his reaction is not particularly deserving of prolonged consideration. The editors of that book chose not to publish the very first passage that Wittgenstein wrote that day. For even though I attach little value to what they are able to take away. Since Wittgenstein was throughout his career known to be hyper-sensitive to anyone making use of ideas he considered to be his own. This book review was published on March 10. 34v-35r) 11 Wittgenstein sent a letter to Rhees criticizing the same article on March 14.11 (March 19. but if he sins. is that it apparently served as a goad for Wittgenstein to begin writing again for the first time in over five months. they themselves consider it valuable. on the same day Wittgenstein began writing a series of notes which now appear as the second half of On Certainty.which debunks these people.. pp. 1951. then he will perish. & it is indeed better than what they can think up themselves. immediately before proceeding on to what now appears as remark 300: Suppose a poet said: ―If this character in my tragedy lives a pious and good life.
so wird es ihm gut gehen. the sense of injury that Wittgenstein felt from this incident is apparently what sparked him to final put pen to paper once again. Wittgenstein was often in relatively stable physical condition. which indeed coincides very closely with the time that he read this book review and began composing new remarks. it was revived from time to time. was sie davontragen können. ein Dichter sagte: ―Wenn dieser Charakter in meiner Tragödie fromm und gut leben wird./‘ The final sentence surrounded by slash-marks is one of several variants in the text for the second quoted sentence.Wittgenstein apparently was upset that his former students and colleagues were receiving praise for advancing what he considered to be watered-down and poorly-understood versions of ideas that he had first arrived at during his lectures. but the consistent ink color before and after the date (see Figure 7 in Chapter 2). were in circulation. mainly because I could not help noticing that the results of my work (which I had conveyed in lectures.― . All the same. the preface to Philosophical Investigations: ―Until recently I had really given up the idea of publishing my work in my lifetime. Wittgenstein says that he regained his ability to work about five weeks earlier. Cf.3. als was sie selbst erdenken können. as well as the dependence of the content of the second sentence on that of the first. This stung my vanity.‖ 40 . it is very likely that these lines were composed together. wenn ich auch. After his cancer diagnosis. der von manchem Universitätslehrer heute an meinen Einfällen begangen wird.. 13 This was actually not the first time that Wittgenstein was motivated to write after feeling that his ideas were being mishandled by members of the philosophical community. wird er sich aber versündigen. frequently misunderstood and more or less watered down or mangled.Damit ist der Diebstahl. so halten sie selbst es doch für wertvoll.51‘ actually occurs after the first sentence. and thereby managed to feel plagiarized and mischaracterized at the same time.― /Damit ist der Diebstahl derer nicht entschuldigt die seit Jahren ihre Publikationen mit meinen unveröffentlichten Einfällen schmücken. After many month of producing no writing whatsoever. The date ‗10. The last few weeks of his life stand in contrast to the eighteen months before them. but almost never was he 12 Translation of: ‗Denke. durchaus nicht entschuldigt. typescripts and discussions)..13 In his final letter to Malcolm on April 16. so wird er unkommen. Denn. & es ist auch besser. and I had difficulty in quieting it. gering achte.
pretty well. p. This thought of carrying on this ―half-life‖ with a dead mind but a body that continued to survive was depressing.satisfied with his mental state. visiting Moore for philosophical discussions. over the next six weeks Wittgenstein wrote enough remarks to fill over half of On Certainty. 577). 1951. shopping for his favorite recordings of Bach to send off to his sister. When his friend Drury came to visit in mid-April. Bevan. as well as a short set of remarks included in a section of Last Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. but always took great pleasure in trying to covertly pour out his beer into a plant (Monk 1990. he was still committed to working. & occasionally having very mild pain. At the time when ‗the curtain went up‘ he said to Mrs. and developing a friendship with Mrs. he committed to completing as much work as possible: Wittgenstein was feeling extremely well and working furiously. even while his body was deteriorating: I am. where Wittgenstein never drank. The two would walk to the pub each evening. in face of his surely approaching death: 41 . letter to Rhees) Wittgenstein enjoyed the next few weeks and took advantage of his newfound mental vigor. on the whole. Bevan: ‗I am going to work now as I have never worked before!‘ (Malcolm 1984. 80-81) Indeed. I have no cause to grumble! (March 30. pp. Now that he was in the right frame of mind for doing philosophy. II. Yet in his final six weeks he was energetic and optimistic. rather weak of course. Vol.
Isn‘t it curious that. Richards. Later that night. Wittgenstein‘s energetic spirit and philosophical capacities were restored. at no time did he express any satisfaction with them to colleagues. 169) This is surely how he had hoped to live out his last days: spirited and lively. The final remark of On Certainty was composed on April 27. However. on the contrary. After March of 1949 he did not have another satisfactory productive working phase for two years. allowing him to work fruitfully and produce writing that was to his satisfaction. although I know I have not long to live. Wittgenstein fell very ill. 42 . I never find myself thinking about a ‗future life‘. (Drury 1981. p. All my interest is still on this life and the writing I am still able to do. Mrs. he continually criticized these writings for their low quality. Between November 1949 and March 1951 he was never able to ‗lift the curtain in his brain‘. Bevan phoned Anscombe. Even though he managed to write some remarks during this period. He passed away on April 29. By the next day it was clear that the end was near. Drury. The report that Wittgenstein gave to Malcolm about his mental health over his final two years is thus borne out by an investigation of his correspondence over this period. he consistently complained that his mind was not functioning well and he worried that this situation would never change. and Smythies to stand by his bedside. from March 1951 until his death at the end of April. rather than vegetative and depressed. and his burial the next day was also attended by Moore and von Wright.
Bevan. a friend of Elizabeth Anscombe. p. 2004). recalls ―her story of how unable to think Wittgenstein had been under the influence of his anti-cancer drugs‖ (Paul 2007. How could Wittgenstein‘s capacities to work suddenly improve. and he regained many of the capacities that had surely been dampened by the hormones. as well as Wittgenstein himself. Denis Paul. Between November 1949 and March 1951 he appeared to constantly suffer from clouded cognition and possibly even depression. (Monk 1990.14 Soon after Wittgenstein stopped taking these medications. While taking them he found the intense concentration required to write philosophy difficult to achieve. This explanatory hypothesis gains further support from the fact that two of his closest friends appear to have held it to be true.A reader of this correspondence might naturally be incredulous that such a dramatic change at the end of Wittgenstein‘s life could be possible. 566) 14 See (Chen and Petrylak 2005) and (Salminen et al. 297). both of which are symptoms associated with the use of estrogen therapy in prostate cancer patients. even as he was nearing death? It is likely that this change was in part due to the termination of the hormone treatments by Dr. and thus be inclined not to assign particular significance to the final letter to Malcolm. 43 . The biographer Ray Monk claims that Wittgenstein also believed that the hormones were having an effect on his mental capacities: He attributed his ‗intellectual dullness‘ in part to the oestrogens that he was taking to alleviate the symptoms of his cancer. the curtain began to lift.
are undermined. and the interpretive assumptions that go along with such a status. For if Wittgenstein believed that the first half of the text was ―mostly dull‖. Wittgenstein did not reappraise his previous judgment that his earlier work was of low quality. but rather. as he wrote to me.15 The clear shifts in Wittgenstein‘s evaluation of his work are not merely biographical curiosities. but events that are relevant to an exegesis of On Certainty and need to be accounted for by its readers. ‗letting the hormones do their work‘. 225) It should be noted that this hypothesis is only meant to explain how such dramatic. p. shifts in Wittgenstein‘s philosophical capacities could even be possible. because even in April of 1951. and thus that Wittgenstein‘s criticism should not be taken at face value. But this suggestion is not persuasive. Thus the status of On Certainty as one of Wittgenstein‘s works. then it is difficult to construe On Certainty as being a unified. with the ‗curtain lifted from his brain‘. a ―single sustained treatment‖ (OC Preface).Rush Rhees concurs. He recovered his power of mind when he left off the hormones. the end of February 1951. he was. roughly. while the second half was composed ―in the right frame of mind‖. Whether or not this explanation is convincing remains independent of the significant amount of evidence provided in this chapter that such a dramatic change indeed took place. The text should be 15 It might be suggested that the pessimism about his work during the hormone treatments can be written off as a symptom of depression. (Rhees 1984. and more often than not he felt that he could not write anything worth putting down. coherent text. further adding that the change in philosophical ability was due to the cessation of the estrogen treatment: From the end of November 1949 to. and perhaps initially unbelievable. 44 . confirmed it. or in its editors‘ words.
The following chapters carry out a project of comparing the remarks in On Certainty written during Wittgenstein‘s final fruitful period in spring of 1951 with those written earlier. It is also necessary to determine when Wittgenstein‘s other late writings which were not selected for inclusion in On Certainty were composed. The forthcoming interpretation identifies characteristics that are to be found in the final half of On Certainty that are lacking in the earlier material. for remarks that now appear in Remarks on Colour and Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. and interpreters should give some account of the unequal status of these parts. Thus. this is a significant philological task.understood as a collection of parts rather than a unified. in order to identify what characteristics the later material possesses that the earlier material lacks. The next chapter takes up this task. It is then necessary to date. Vol. Since Wittgenstein often did not date the remarks that he composed in his notebooks. as precisely as possible. The first step in such a project is simply identifying when the remarks of On Certainty were written. all of Wittgenstein‘s writings from the last two years of his life. these differences should also be seen in comparing these additional remarks written after March of 1951 to those written before that time. and then explain why Wittgenstein would consider the later work to be of higher quality. 45 . II were penned at the same time. consistently developed treatise.
3562). He gave the source manuscripts for these final publications the labels MS 169 through MS 177. This naturally suggests an investigation to determine exactly which parts of those writings. Remarks on Colour. is that these notebooks were not actually completed in a simple linear sequence. II. 46 . and Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. G. and he may have even written in multiple 1 A small selection of remarks from MSS 169-171 was also included in Culture & Value. but most of these entries are undated. in what he took to be their sequential order. There is also a handful of remarks from the final notebooks that have not been published.H. in which remarks go back and forth between various subjects.1 were considered to be of high quality and which were not.Chapter 2 The Final Manuscripts As shown in the previous chapter. The three publications named above are each the result of Wittgenstein‘s editors splicing together selections from his final notebooks. pp. which are now published as On Certainty. A further complication of this investigation. though. Such an investigation would be straightforward if Wittgenstein had dated all of his notebook entries during this time. von Wright greatly facilitated research into Wittgenstein‘s Nachlass by cataloging its contents (von Wright 1982. Vol. Wittgenstein would sometimes write new remarks in notebooks next to others written significantly earlier. for as we will see. Wittgenstein did not consider all of the writings from the last two years of his life to be of equal value.
von Wright and Nyman conclude that it likely constitutes a preliminary study for MSS 137 and 138. I. The first. which appears in its entirety as the first part of LWPP2. 81r Wittgenstein must have purchased this notebook during his stay at Ross‘s Hotel in Dublin from November 1948 to April of 1949. It was purchased in Dublin. MS 169 is a small pocket notebook. which they conjecture was written during Wittgenstein‘s time in Dublin. p. In the preface to LWPP2. p. 369) agrees with this conclusion.manuscripts simultaneously. von Wright and Nyman describe the notebook as having two parts. published posthumously as Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. Rothhaupt (1996. Due to the terse and abbreviated style of the remarks occurring in the first part of MS 169. as indicated by a sticker inside the back cover: Figure 1: MS 169. contains a number of remarks that have similar counterparts in MSS 137 and 138. vol. This makes the task of dating Wittgenstein‘s final manuscripts a considerable undertaking. arguing that part one of MS 169 was composed between November 1948 and February 1949 since its 47 . The precise dating of this notebook is controversial.
130) cites the same evidence in support of her claim that the notebook was composed after the summer of 1949. 1948. Van Gennip (2004. In contrast. rather than a preparation for them. p. A note written in the penultimate page of the book provides further dating information: Figure 2: MS 169.counterparts in MSS 137 and 138 appear in dated entries between December 1. p. 138 fn. 46) date the composition of the entire notebook to late 1949 in Cambridge. 117) and Nedo (1995. 78r 48 . p. 1949. and February 27. p. They thus take part one to be a further extension of the remarks in MSS 137 and 138. In support of this contention Pichler points out that several remarks in MS 169 appear to be excerpts or summaries of their counterparts in MSS 137 and 138. Pichler (1994.
a task that is beyond the scope of the present work. I could travel towards the middle. it is more developed stylistically and closely related in content to the other 49 . if I booked 2nd class. and van Gennip. Wittgenstein must have made this entry in the back of an empty notebook and then waited several more months to enter the first philosophical remark in its pages.If I booked a 3rd class passage right away I couldn‘t get a birth before the middle of July. These are surely notes taken by Wittgenstein while visiting a travel agency to look into the cost of traveling to New York to visit Malcolm: I went to a travel agency to enquire about going to America. The dating of part two of MS 169 is equally challenging but more relevant to our concerns here. I thus suggest that part one of MS 169 was completed by the spring of 1949. According to the dating hypotheses of Pichler. ―2nd end May‖ and ―£5‖ at the top of the crossed-out section. A more plausible supposition is that Wittgenstein wrote these lines in the back of MS 169 because it was the notebook in which he was currently working in March of 1949... Stronger confidence in this tentative conclusion would need to be supported by a thorough investigation of the series of manuscripts leading up to Wittgenstein‘s dictation of part II of Philosophical Investigations in the summer of 1949..I‘m not allowed to take with me more that £5. which is much more expensive. Nedo. (March 19.. since according to von Wright and Nyman.Notice the lines ―3rd middle July‖. letter to Malcolm) Wittgenstein thus had this notebook in his possession while in Dublin at the end of March 1949. 1949. or end of May.
there does not seem to be a discernable difference between the pencil used in the March 19 note and the surrounding remarks. Rothhaupt (1996. after Wittgenstein‘s return from America. and is continued. p. 50 . p. written mostly in pencil. Since a philosophical remark begins at the bottom of the left-hand page opposite this note. suggesting that even the final remarks of MS 169 may have been composed 2 The fact that von Wright and Nyman are unable to determine a precise demarcation point between the two parts complicates matters.2 Even small sections of remarks thematically related to those occurring in On Certainty and Remarks on Colour appear in the final pages of the notebook. Indeed. Rothhaupt (1996. which means that the remarks at the end of MS 169 were written after March 19. However. Wittgenstein‘s March 19 notes from the travel agency bear on this investigation as well. van Gennip (2004. due to thematic similarities between some of the remarks in the latter part of MS 169 and topics that were discussed between Wittgenstein and Malcolm in Ithaca (see Malcolm 1984). pp.remarks published in LWPP2. Wittgenstein probably made this entry before either of these pages contained any other remarks.. mid-sentence. 130) argues that these entries must have been composed either during or shortly after Wittgenstein‘s trip to America. and may count as evidence against the appropriateness of dividing MS 169 into different sections. 369 fn.‖ above). immediately below the note (see ―das Physikalische.. because of similarities between this material and some of the remarks concerning color concepts from the spring of 1950. 3) identifies two possible locations that may be construed as indicating breaks in the text. were actually composed one year later in Vienna. 370-372) argues that the final 30 pages. Similarly.
1950. On the other hand. This suggests that MS 170 may have also been purchased. contemporaneous with MS 169. part two was composed. and thus presumably also used for composing remarks. the available evidence is insufficient to precisely determine when. size. Rothhaupt (ibid. 373-374) speculates that MS 170 may come from spring or summer of 1950. Only the first 10 of the 80 pages of MS 170 contain remarks. They are now published as part 2 of LWPP2. The date of composition of these remarks is uncertain and controversial. All three of the major themes of Wittgenstein‘s last writings – psychology. while Wittgenstein was in Dublin in the winter and spring of 1949. as no dates appear in the notebook. Based on the relation of its content to certain remarks on color in MS 173. Von Wright dates it to early 1949.in the spring of 1949.. which was purchased in Dublin. and certainty – are addressed in this handful of remarks. Some pieces of evidence speak in favor of this hypothesis: the binding. The relevance of one the remarks in MS 170 to the discussions of Moore in On Certainty prompts van Gennip to assign this notebook‘s date of composition to Wittgenstein‘s time in America or shortly thereafter. and number of pages of MS 170 appear to be the same as MS 169. MS 170 does not include the same sticker inside the back cover 51 . 372) does however show that the notebook was completed no later than April 24. between spring 1949 and spring 1950. p. color. the rest are left blank. Thus. Rothhaupt (1996. for the final remarks in MS 169 appear again in revised form in MS 174 under this date.
that is found in MS 169. like MSS 169 and 170. Of course. xi). thus lowering somewhat the probably that the two notebooks were purchased together. Only 14 pages contain remarks. It has a unique appearance. The entirety of MS 171 appears as part 3 of LWPP2. A note on the front cover mentions that the design of the notebook is covered by a United States patent: 52 . while a note now attached to the notebook (by one of Wittgenstein‘s literary executors) indicates that the remarks are from ―early 1950‖. Von Wright dates the volume to either 1949 or 1950 in his catalog. establishing that MSS 169 and 170 are contemporaneous cannot serve to fix a precise date of composition for MS 170 when the dating of MS 169 remains uncertain. Its editors von Wright and Nyman claim that ―chronologically [it is] probably closely connected to MS 169 and [was] written in the year 1949‖ (LWPP2. unlike Wittgenstein‘s other notebooks from this time. spiral-bound at the top. p. as none of the remarks are dated. MS 171 is a reporter‘s notebook. presents a challenge. and the same number of blank pages is also to be found at the end. which have a standard binding on the left side. MS 171. Von Wright‘s contention is further supported by the similarity between Wittgenstein‘s alternating use of pencil and dark black pen in MS 170 and the final pages of MS 169.
53 . indeed he may have been comfortable ripping these pages out of the notebook precisely because he was no longer using it. 3 This was verified by an inspection of the documents at the Wren Library in Cambridge. respectively. Like some of the final remarks in MS 169 mentioned earlier. color. all of which are topics that he wrote on in 1950. this is at least prima facie evidence that Wittgenstein purchased this volume during his trip to New York in early fall 1949.Figure 3: MS 171. 374). 1950 is written on pages ripped from this notebook. suggesting that MS 171 was composed before then (Rothhaupt 1996. A letter to Malcolm from December 1. some passages from MS 171 are very similar to others appearing in MS 174 under the date April 24. for the last three remarks in the notebook concern inner/outer. and certainty. p. Front Cover While it is certainly possible that such a notebook might have been sold in Europe.3 though we cannot conclude from this that Wittgenstein was still using MS 171 in December to pen new remarks. The content of the some of the remarks is also consistent with the hypothesis that this notebook was used for composition sometime during or after Wittgenstein‘s time in America. 1950.
54 . and thus cannot be definitively associated with a particular phase of the development of Wittgenstein‘s evaluation of his own work.We thus see that there is a lack of evidence available for precisely dating the composition of MSS 169-171. the fact that remarks concerning various topics are mixed together and not clearly delineated in the manuscripts undermines the common impression that Wittgenstein consistently marked off these topics in his late notebooks. each of which are folded in half to produce four pages (somewhat misleadingly described in von Wright‘s 4 While it is uncertain exactly when these notebooks were composed between 1948 and 1950. an interpretation for these remarks will not be attempted in later chapters. Nevertheless. MS 172 is also a unique document. since they lack the physical characteristics consistently exemplified in those final writings.4 For this reason. but were not included in those publications. it is important to note that these manuscripts include a few remarks that clearly are related to the content of On Certainty and Remarks on Colour. it consists of six loose large format sheets of foolscap. it is clear that they were not composed during Wittgenstein‘s final fruitful phase beginning in March 1951. This undermines the common belief that these publications contain all of Wittgenstein‘s writings concerning the topics of certainty and color during his final years. Like MS 171. which will be fully described later in the chapter. but rather were completed piecemeal over a span of a year of more. It may be the case that these notebooks were not filled during relatively continuous writing sessions. and thus that he understood himself to be working on three self-standing works in his final years. Further.
catalog thusly: ―Manuscript on loose sheets...24 pp.‖ (1982, p. 46)). Four of the pages contain writing on the subject of color; these now make up part 2 of the publication Remarks on Colour. The other 20 pages contain remarks on Moore and knowledge; these now form the first 65 remarks of On Certainty. Wittgenstein‘s literary executors did not know of the existence of these pages when they originally planned on publishing his remarks on epistemological concepts and terms. As reported by Paul (2007, p. 297), these were discovered in Anscombe‘s home ―shortly before...early in 1967‖, two years before the publication was to finally appear in print. Since MS 172 was found in Anscombe‘s home, this means that Wittgenstein did not bring it with him when he moved into Dr. Bevan‘s home in Cambridge at the beginning of February 1951, and thus that its remarks must have been composed before that date. It is unknown whether Wittgenstein intentionally left this manuscript at Anscombe‘s home. Since they weren‘t discovered until 16 years after his death, it is possible that Wittgenstein had already misplaced or forgotten about this manuscript before moving to Bevan‘s home. The pages of MS 172 are undated, but Anscombe speculates that they were written in early 1950: These [sheets] Wittgenstein left in his room in G.E.M. Anscombe‘s house in Oxford, where he lived (apart from a visit to Norway in the autumn) from April 1950 to February 1951. I (G.E.M.A.) am under the impression that he had written them in Vienna, where he stayed from the previous Christmas until 55
March; but I cannot now recall the basis of this impression. (OC Preface) Von Wright comes to the same conclusion in his catalog: These manuscript pages – dealing with the topics of colour and of certainty – were probably written by Wittgenstein during his last visit to Vienna in the early months of 1950. (1982, p. 54) Both of these descriptions invite the assumption that even though MS 172 addresses two different subjects, its parts were composed as a single document at one time. A note attached to MS 172 by one of the executors says that ―the first 4 pages are on colours,‖ further suggesting that the pages together constitute a single document. But the manuscript does not in fact have a first page, for none of the folio sheets are dated and they are not bound together to provide a definite sequence. Nevertheless, from inspection of the pages one can determine the page sequences for the individual sections on color and certainty (though see Rothhaupt 1996, p. 379 for an alternate sequence of the color pages). This still does not determine whether the color material comes before or after the remarks on certainty, because the remarks on color are isolated to the four pages produced by a single portfolio sheet, so no sheet contains remarks on both subjects, which would be helpful in determining a sequence. There is evidence from Wittgenstein‘s correspondence that appears to confirm Anscombe‘s impressions about the dating of MS 172, at least with respect to the portion on color. In fact, from his letters we can pinpoint almost the precise date that these remarks were composed. I will argue, 56
however, that further evidence suggests that the remarks from MS 172 on certainty were composed at a different time. Recall from the last chapter that after having spent 3 weeks with his family in Vienna, Wittgenstein reported that he was not doing any writing: I'm reading various odds & ends, e.g. Goethes Theory of colour...I'm not writing at all because my thoughts never sufficiently crystallize. (January 16, 1950; letter to Malcolm) Three days later he also mentioned to von Wright that he was reading Goethe‘s work on color, but did not make any mention of writing: The last two weeks I read a great deal in Goethe‘s ―Farbenlehre‖. It‘s partly boring and repelling, but in some ways also very instructive and philosophically interesting. (January 19, 1950; letter to von Wright) Another three days after that, Wittgenstein says that his reading of Goethe has prompted him to finally attempt some writing: I have been reading again parts of Goethes "Farbenlehre" which attracts & repels me. It's certainly philosophically interesting, & I've been thinking about it & even written down some weak remarks. (January 22, 1950; letter to Rhees) Thus Wittgenstein must have written these remarks sometime between January 19 and January 22. That‘s not much time to write, especially for someone who hasn‘t picked up a pen in months and claims that his ―brain is mudled & sluggish‖ (ibid.). The four pages of MS172 on color are about the length one might expect, and Goethe is indeed mentioned in these remarks. Thus I conclude that the section of MS 172 on color was composed at this time.
McGuinness argues in the most recent bound edition of Wittgenstein‘s Cambridge correspondence that his claim to have ―written down some weak remarks‖ in the above letter to Rhees ...is in slight contradiction to...the letter to Malcolm above: ―I‘m not writing at all.‖ That remark throws some doubt on the hypothesis that Part II of Remarks on Colour was composed in Vienna since the remarks in it are inserted in a longer set of reflections, mostly on themes to do with certainty. (2008, p. 458) I find it hardly a contradiction, but rather evidence for the precise dating of these remarks: on January 16, the date of the letter to Malcolm, Wittgenstein had not yet begun to write, but by January 22 he had completed these remarks. McGuinness‘ reasoning is based on the false belief (encouraged by misleading descriptions of MS 172 by various editors) that the color remarks are ―inserted‖ in the remarks on certainty. But even though these two sets of remarks are written on the same type of paper and were discovered together, the fact that they are written on separate sheets leaves open the possibility that they were not composed together and do not constitute a unified document. In fact, the information from Wittgenstein‘s correspondence above suggests just this, for he never mentioned that he was thinking about Moore or certainty – just Goethe and color, and the fact that he described what we had written in at most three days as ―some weak remarks‖ makes it unlikely that he was referring to all 24 pages of what now constitute MS 172.
the day after he returned to England from Vienna. Since these remarks were likely composed in autumn 1949. 1949. One might then think that it was written in Vienna sometime after January 22.So when was the section of MS 172 on certainty written.5 for they mention subjects that we know he had been discussing at the time. and thus. and Moore‘s response contained in the letter he wrote on July 21. before he began to consistently criticize the quality of his work. There is evidence to support the contention that the first 65 remarks of On Certainty were written during Wittgenstein‘s stay in America. It response to Moore. then? Since on January 16 Wittgenstein said he was ―not writing at all‖ it could not have been written in Vienna before that date. this means that Part 1 of On Certainty was written before the commencement of Wittgenstein‘s hormone treatments. I read your letter to him and we have had a great many discussions of 5 This conclusion influences the interpretation of On Certainty presented in Chapter 5. he started composing additional dated entries on color. Malcolm‘s recent criticism of these papers. making it unlikely that his thinking about color was interrupted by a period of writing on Moore and certainty. But this is also doubtful for two reasons: 1) Wittgenstein did not mention that he was thinking or writing about Moore or certainty in his letters during this time. Malcolm mentions in his memoir that he and Wittgenstein met several times to discuss Moore‘s papers. 59 . and 2) on March 24. Malcolm wrote: It was very fortunate for me that Wittgenstein is here. rather than in February 1950 (as Wittgenstein‘s editors have claimed). 1950.
71). 30). letter from Malcolm to Moore)6 Bouwsma was also in attendance for one of these discussions. and this sentence was of particular interest to Malcolm. 1948. 60 . (September 2. as well as the roles that mathematical propositions can play in language (ibid. e. 1) Part of a discussion with Malcolm.. 2) The statement ―I know that this is a bit of paper‖ is mentioned at OC 60. Bouwsma.. and McManus 2003). Moore‘s statement that ―here is one hand‖ is mentioned in the very first remark on On Certainty. Almost a year prior. this statement is mentioned at OC 10. Malcolm recalls that in these discussions Wittgenstein investigated the relationship between claiming to know something and being able to make sure of it (Malcolm 1984. Both of these subjects are also mentioned in the opening sections of On Certainty. p. Further thematic connections between these remarks and topics discussed in Ithaca can be identified. letter from Moore to Malcolm) 6 Quotations from the Malcolm-Moore correspondence come from (Rothhaupt. p.‘ And the background was Norman‘s article and Moore‘s letter‖ (Bouwsma 1986. which he dates to August 20: ―The subject was Moore‘s: ‗I know that this is a hand. Seery. Moore had used this sentence in correspondence: I do know in particular cases that I have conclusive evidence for so-and-so.g. 14). p. 72). (November 20.it and your philosophical papers. 1949. now that I am writing on a piece of paper (perception). and Max Black on August 4 concerned Moore‘s sentence ―I am here‖ (Bouwsma 1986.. p.
Wittgenstein brought up Newman in conversation with Bouwsma: Later he asked me. (Bouwsma 1986. He. 118). Newman)‖. Kingsley accused him of insincerity. But Newman was sincere. had I read Newman? He was much impressed by Newman. letter from Malcolm to Moore). is a reference to the Cambridge mathematician Max Newman. How a man of such learning and culture could believe such things! Newman had a queer mind. That was puzzling. Malcolm later sent Moore an offprint of this article. whose contents he later discussed with Wittgenstein in Ithaca.‖ (January 18.. had read Grammar of Assent too..‖ found in MS 117. p. 34) 7 The only other mention of ―Newman.. 3) The first remark of On Certainty begins with Moore‘s statement ―here is one hand‖.7 On August 22. This is the only mention of Newman in Nachlass.Malcolm responded that this sentence was representative of the statements that he thought Moore was misusing. p. and then ends with the parenthetical remark ―(On this a curious remark by H.an article which I have written about your philosophical practice of making assertions like ―I have conclusive evidence now that I am writing on a piece of paper‖ (which you said in your letter to me). 61 . whose apologetic work Grammar of Assent had interested Wittgenstein over the past few years. It is thus likely that Malcolm mentioned this sentence in conversation with Wittgenstein. a reference to Cardinal John Henry Newman.. and that he would soon send Moore . W. as shown by Kienzler (2006. two days after the discussion prompted by consideration of Moore‘s ―here is a hand‖. 1949..
and as argued above. Thus. and appears to have purchased a new notebook in Ithaca (MS 171). I find it even more unlikely that they would have been composed after March 1950. were written during or shortly after Wittgenstein‘s discussions of Moore with Malcolm.‖ wrote to Rhees that he was ―doing some philosophy‖ on August 31. since it is doubtful that Wittgenstein would remember the content of his earlier discussions in such detail some eight months after the fact. 62 . which attempts to draw a connection between Moore and Newman.‖ Thus it is likely that the first remark of On Certainty. sometime between August and October of 1949. constituting part 1 of MS 172. was composed around this time in late August 1949 when Wittgenstein was reflecting on both thinkers. it is unlikely that the remarks in question were written in February or March of 1950 while in Vienna. I conclude that the opening remarks of On Certainty. Given the significant thematic overlap between these remarks and the discussions held in Ithaca.This shows that Wittgenstein was puzzled about Newman‘s ―curious‖ apologetic remarks right around the same time as he was also thinking about Moore‘s statement ―here is a hand. As mentioned in the previous chapter. After he returned to England he wrote to friends that he was not working. there is some evidence that Wittgenstein was writing while in America: he said to Bouwsma on August 5 that he ―was beginning to do something.
There is certainly good reason to think of this line as demarcating a border between different texts. 63 . p. The editors chose to split the material because of lines that Wittgenstein occasionally used in his final manuscripts: Figure 4: MS 173. It contents appear split up in different posthumous publications. 31v The writings from 1949-1951 focus primarily on three themes: certainty and knowledge. This line from p. and the ‗inner‘ and the ‗outer‘ in psychology.MS 173 is a large notebook completely filled with remarks on both sides of its 100 pages. while those after the line are not. 31v of MS 173 seems to indicate the end of material on the subject of color and the beginning of remarks on the philosophy of psychology. color. for all of the remarks preceding this line are crossed out with a vertical line (indicating that Wittgenstein had finished going through them for the purpose of revision).
no indication was made that Part 4 is actually the result of splicing together two texts separated by 80 pages in the notebooks.Because of lines like these in the manuscripts. plus pp. not all of the places where the editors made breaks in the manuscripts were marked off by Wittgenstein with a horizontal line. Again. but near the end of the notebook some of the remarks also seem to be relevant to the philosophy of psychology. 87r-100r (a portion of section 3) as Part 4 of LWPP2.e. The editors thus decided to publish section 2 of MS 173 (i. On p. after which the remarks move back to the topic of color. the editors of On Certainty claimed that the book ―is not a selection. 47v there is another line. The entries in the first section are dated. Section 3 of MS 173 clearly starts out with remarks on color. Wittgenstein marked it off in his notebooks as a separate topic‖ (OC Preface). The rest of the notebook does not 64 . so this editorial claim requires further scrutiny. They were written between March 24 and April 12. The first and third sections (i. 1950.e. the material between the two horizontal lines). As will be discussion in the next chapter. and consist of remarks on the topic of color that Wittgenstein began working on the day after arriving back in England from his final visit to his family in Vienna. the material before the first line plus the material after the second one) appear as Part III of Remarks on Colour (the editors do not indicate that Part III is the result of splicing sections 1 and 3 together). nor were all of Wittgenstein‘s horizontal lines interpreted as manuscript breaks.
just a few pages from the beginning – April 24. In MS 174. section 1. and then decided to mark off the remarks in MS 173 with a horizontal line so that he could continue his work on the philosophy of psychology in a new 65 .contain dates. These remarks now appear as Part 5 of LWPP2. so MS 173 must have been completed before then. MS 174 is a large notebook. only 32 pages. on color. Wittgenstein may have thus composed section 2 of MS 173 between April 12 and April 24. MS 173 must have been completed by September 1950 at the latest (though in the sequel I argue that it was probably completed even before September. marked off by a horizontal line. only the first 40 of its 88 sheets contain remarks. Only one date occurs in this notebook. is dated and ends on April 12. Since Wittgenstein‘s correspondence indicates that he did no writing between September 1950 and March 1951. A plausible story about the relationship between the two sections from MSS 173 and 174 on the philosophy of psychology can be constructed from this date. After a horizontal line comes section 2 on the philosophy of psychology. also on the philosophy of psychology. von Wright dates the entire notebook to 1950 in his catalog. It is not particularly long. The first 28 pages constitute section 1 and deal with the philosophy of psychology. has April 24 as its first date. because the material on color appears in revised form in MS 176. along with the revision found in MS 176). which is surely correct. which was composed no later than March 1951. It contains two sections. in the first section. 1950. Section 1 of MS 173.
This contention is at least supported by the few occurrences of dates in these notebooks: section 2 of 66 . and then later continue his work on color in MS 173. It is uncertain when section 2 was composed. but definitely distinguishable).e. These appear then to be Wittgenstein‘s final writings of 1950. Section 2 of MS 174 contains remarks on certainty. It is also unclear why nearly half of the volume is left blank. one natural hypothesis is that this is the sequence in which they were written. The relationship between the remarks in section 1 of MS 175 and those in section 2 of MS 174 is unclear. von Wright dates the entire volume from 1950 in his catalog. This section is now published as OC 66192. namely MS 174.notebook. on April 24. Only one date appears in the section – September 23. likely the first time Wittgenstein revisited this topic since MS 172 (dated to autumn 1949 earlier in the chapter). MS 175 is a small pocket notebook with 80 sheets. Since the editors of On Certainty placed the remarks from section 1 of MS 175 after those of section 2 of MS 174 in the book. 1950 – a few pages from the end. The material from the first 68 pages now appears as remarks 193-299 of On Certainty. though not all composed together. It consists of two sections (not divided by a line. i. all filled with remarks on certainty. that MS 175 was begun after MS 174. since he traveled to Norway in October and didn‘t do any more writing until the spring of 1951. especially when considered in relation to the next manuscript. so this section was composed before that date.
Thus one may suspect that the two sections were written sometime between April 24 and September 23. This would at least explain why. while the latter is quite small and can fit in one‘s pocket. They start on March 10. while section 1 of MS 175 lists September 23 as the final date of composition.MS 174 has no dates. An alternative hypothesis that may account for the blank pages in MS 174 is that these two sections were not written sequentially. Unlike 67 . in late September. with Wittgenstein switching from MS 174 to MS 175 at some point during this span. and continue with remarks on certainty until the pages of the notebook are exhausted on March 21. But this hypothesis cannot account for why the second half of MS 174 is blank. It may be that Wittgenstein was writing remarks on certainty in both volumes concurrently. MS 174 and MS 175 are different types of notebooks: the former is fairly large and would have likely been kept in Wittgenstein‘s room. with Wittgenstein‘s paranoid comment about the theft of his ideas (quoted in the previous chapter). both volumes were only half-filled. so that he could immediately write down remarks when he found inspiration. though the section preceding it begins with April 24. Wittgenstein was known to bring a pocket notebook along with him on strolls. Wittgenstein did not switch from MS 174 to MS 175 because he had filled all of the pages in the first volume and needed to move on to a new one. Section 2 of MS 175 consists of the first remarks written after the improvement of Wittgenstein‘s mental faculties in March of 1951.
68 . The first fills pp. these remarks are all consistently dated throughout the remainder of the notebook and entries are included almost daily. The larger sized MS 176 consists of 4 sections. The dating of this section will be addressed shortly. All of the remarks from p. except for a short group of remarks on the philosophy of psychology that are marked off with horizontal lines. after which Wittgenstein returned immediately back to his remarks on certainty. The material between these dividing lines – section 3 of MS 176 – is now printed as Part 6 of LWPP2. 81. These were composed between April 14 and 15. 22r to p. concern certainty. all of the entries from March 10 to the end of Wittgenstein‘s life are dated. Like those at the end of MS 175. not alerting the reader that they are interrupted by a short set of remarks on the philosophy of psychology. Section 2 is a direct continuation of the remarks on certainty that ended on March 21 at the end of MS 175. the final page of the notebook. The entries in section 2 of MS 175 now constitute remarks 300-425 of On Certainty. in which only sporadic dates appear in the manuscripts. since remarks are composed nearly every day during this time.in 1949 and 1950. and they show that he indeed had an intense and fruitful stretch of work. The remarks on either side of this brief interruption together form remarks 426-637 of On Certainty. 1r-22r and is a revision of the sections on color from MS 173. These remarks on certainty continue until the end of MS 176. Like in other cases. the editors seamlessly splice together the remarks separated from sections 2 and 4 of MS 176.
on April 29. In his remarks on color. 69 . The final remark in the notebook. is a challenge. presented in Chapter 5. he passed away two days later. i. was written on April 27. the final 39 remarks of the book. in order to know what opinion Wittgenstein held of it. It is thus important to determine when section 1 of MS 176 was composed. MS 177 is published as remarks 638-676 of On Certainty. then they are part of the writings that he considered to be of low quality. and not during his final optimistic phase in 1951. and MS 176 also includes remarks 8 I will argue that this section was actually written during Wittgenstein‘s pessimistic phase in 1950. and in the Wittgenstein Nachlass. that the writings of Wittgenstein‘s final phase are characterized by their therapeutic character. as claimed by Anscombe. But if they were composed before this time.e.the final date to appear is April 24.‖ If true this would mean that the final remarks on color were written after Wittgenstein had regained his faculties for doing philosophy. the first section of MS 176.8 Anscombe‘s belief that the revision of the color remarks was written in March of 1951 may stem from its location in the manuscript sequence: MS 175 ends with remarks in March of 1951. The dating of the revision of the remarks on color. when he claimed that he was doing his best work in years. That evening Wittgenstein became very ill. Wittgenstein immediately continues these remarks at the beginning of MS 177 on April 25. so it is important for my reading of On Certainty that that section 1 of MS 176 was not written during Wittgenstein‘s final weeks. as it contains no dates. This conclusion is crucial for my contention. Wittgenstein appears to be engaged in the theoretical task of providing philosophical analyses of color concepts. For three days he continues to write and fill the first 21 pages with remarks. In the preface to Remarks on Colour Anscombe claims that it was ―written in Cambridge in March 1951.
claimed by Nedo: ―On February 8 Wittgenstein is back in Cambridge. p. the day that new remarks on certainty began to be entered in MS 175 (see Figure 7). But it cannot be the case that MS 176 was begun after MS 175 was completed. The certainty remarks from MS 9 As. That leaves a small window of time for the revision to have been completed during Wittgenstein‘s final productive phase.9 The last remark of MS 175 was written on March 21 (see Figure 5 below). this makes it very likely that the beginning of his last fruitful phase began on March 10. since the final section of MS 175 contains dated entries from March 10 to March 21. Bevan. for example. 22r (Figure 6). Evidence from the notebooks undermines the veracity of this hypothesis. 47). In his final letter to Malcolm of April 16 he says that he has been working for about 5 weeks.from March. and starting MS 176 around 21 March‖ (Nedo 1995. after the revision of the remarks on color. Assuming it were true. with Dr. it must have been composed between March 10 and March 21. which means that they must have already been completed no later than March 21. But the characters of these two texts – section 1 of MS 176 and section 2 of MS 175 – are quite different. The very same day. Wittgenstein continued his remarks on certainty in MS 176 on p. 70 . it would have to be the case that Wittgenstein wrote the revision of the color remarks in MS 176 while he was at the same time writing new remarks on certainty in the end of MS 175. If the hypothesis that the revision of the color remarks was completed during this final phase is true. continuing his work on MS 175.
Further. rather than on a new page or even in a new notebook. Figures 8 and 9).175 are all dated. only to then cut off the possibility of extending the revision of the color remarks on March 21 by writing new remarks on certainty immediately after them in MS 176. 6. 6. The revision is written with a generally steady hand. and others are dark black (see Figures 6 and 8). It is also remarkable that the notes on certainty in MS 176 from March 21 begin immediately after the revision of the color remarks. Section 1 of MS 176. all of the dated material from March and April is written in a blue pen (see Figures 5.e. sections 2. while the revision of the color remarks is written in a variety of inks – some remarks are in blue. along with all the other certainty remarks from March and April. as well as the remarks on the philosophy of psychology from April 14 and 15. Also noteworthy is the difference in handwriting between the revision of the color remarks and the dated material from March and April 1951. Anscombe‘s hypothesis would then require that for 11 days Wittgenstein simultaneously wrote material he thought to be of high quality in two notebooks. i. and 4 of MS 176 and all of 177 (cf. and 7). while the remarks on certainty from 1951 are written somewhat sloppily and hastily (cf. and 9). does not contain any dates. including dates and using a consistent blue ink in one but no dates and a variety of inks in the other. 3. Figures 5. 7. on the other hand. A more likely hypothesis is that the revision in MS 176 had already been completed sometime prior to March 10. others are light black. and thus during the period in 71 .
while he was staying at Dr. he wrote to Rhees. It also can help explain why the certainty remarks on March 21 were put immediately after the remarks on color in MS 176. at the very latest. he may have had no intention of continuing it further. he wrote to Koder that he hadn‘t done work in months. then when was it written? One possibility might be that it was written sometime between February 8 and March 10. Bevan‘s home he wrote to Malcolm. the day before reading a book review would prompt him to begin writing again.which Wittgenstein thought his work to be of low quality. Soon after arriving at Dr. and thus had no qualms about cutting off the revision with the introduction of new remarks. because Wittgenstein did not do any work from 72 . Bevan‘s house but before the hormone treatments had been terminated and Wittgenstein had found himself in the right frame of mind for doing philosophy. About ten days later on February 19th. If the revision of the color remarks was not written during Wittgenstein‘s fruitful phase. This all suggests that the revision of the color remarks was already completed before he moved into Dr. This would make the differences in ink and dates more plausible. This too seems doubtful. based on his letters from this time. for if the revision had already been completed during Wittgenstein‘s unsuccessful writing phase. and didn‘t mention any developments in his work. ―I can‘t even think of work at present‖. and on March 9. the end of September 1950. ―I‘m very weak physically and mentally‖. Bevan‘s house. Thus it must have been completed by.
One hypothesis that may explain this would be that after Wittgenstein reached the end of MS 173. since the remarks on the philosophy of psychology in section 2 of MS 173 stop abruptly and appear to be continued at the beginning of MS 174. The last section of MS 173 is not dated. it is plausible that the color remarks in section 3 began around this date. it of course must have been begun after their completion. Remarks 66-299 of On Certainty. and everything included in Remarks on Colour were all composed during the time when Wittgenstein was undergoing hormone treatments and consistently declared the quality of his work to be subpar. Parts 4 and 5 of LWPP2.the time of his trip to Norway in October 1950 until his stay at Dr. Bevan‘s home. It is noteworthy that the remarks on color in section 3 of MS 173 go until the end of the notebook but are not continued further in another volume. In his letter to 73 . so we do not know exactly when it was completed. he thought it an appropriate place to stop writing new remarks and begin a revision of the material on color in MS 173 in the fresh volume MS 176. which is dated April 24. Thus I suggest that section 1 of MS 176 was composed in the summer of 1950. However. But since it is a revision of the remarks on color in MS 173. and may have been completed within a month or two. This excursion into dating the final manuscripts has led to the following conclusions: the writings from Wittgenstein‘s last fruitful phase consist of remarks 300-676 of On Certainty and the short section of remarks included as Part 6 of LWPP2.
when he began undergoing hormone treatments. with which Wittgenstein was somewhat dissatisfied. and in his letter of April 17. although ―it was half empty already when I was in Ithaca‖ in the fall of 1949. There is thus a period of interest. but was dissatisfied to a lesser extent than during his hormone treatments. 1951 lends support to associating this period with moderate dissatisfaction: he can‘t participate in philosophical discussions right now because. ―my head [is] empty‖. though clearly it was not written after their cessation. he reports. though not as intensely as he criticized the quality of his work after November 1949. The remarks forming the first two parts of LWPP2 are undated but appear to have been written before this date. 1950 he says that he has ―not been able to do any sustained good work since the beginning of March 1949‖. This research suggest that On Certainty be conceived of as consisting of three parts: 1) remarks 1-65. Wittgenstein likely composed the first 65 remarks of On Certainty. Our results further support the conclusion of Chapter 1. between March 1949 and November 1949. 74 .11 These conclusions are summarized in the table below.Malcolm of April 16. This may be considered a period in which Wittgenstein was not satisfied with the quality of his work. and during which he did not speak well of the quality of the work he was doing. 1951. I have argued.10 During this time. namely that On Certainty should not be thought of as a unified work. Wittgenstein says that the curtain in his brain has not gone up for over two years. 11 It remains unclear whether MS 171 was composed before the start of hormone treatments or afterward. in which Wittgenstein claims to not have done any ―sustained‖ good work. 2) 10 Wittgenstein‘s letter to Malcolm of February 8.
remarks 66-299. and 3) 300-676. 75 . This division of On Certainty into parts will be utilized in the sequel. which he considered to be of better quality than other writings he had produced over the past two years. Chapter 5 will present a reading of On Certainty that is informed by its division into multiple parts with very different characters. with which he was very dissatisfied. and Chapter 6 will show that most readers of the book do not appreciate that Wittgenstein did not consider all of its remarks to be of equal value.
1949 LWPPv2 2 pp. prob. 61-71 3 87r-100r undated.September 23. 1-20 March 24 . 1950 LWPPv2 4 pp. 1949 LWPPv2 3 pp. prob. 1951 OC 3 rem. Summer 1950 RoC 1 rem. prob. prob.April 14. 193-299 2 34v-79 March 10 . 638-676 Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. 1-65 174 2 14v-40 undated. prob. 81-90 176 3 46v-51v April 14 . 2-49 170 1r-5v undated. 638-676 76 . 51-53 171 1-14 undated. 300-425 undated. 131-350 On Certainty MS Part MS Pages MS Dates Publication Section Remarks/Pages 172 1 1-20 undated. prob Summer 1950 OC 2 rem.early 1949 LWPPv2 1 pp. prob. 1951 OC 3 rem. 71-79 April 24 .early 1949 LWPPv2 1 pp. 131-350 undated. 193-299 March 10 .Table 1: Source Manuscripts for Wittgenstein's Final Publications MS Part MS Pages 169 ii-81r 170 1r-5v 171 1-14 172 1 1-20 2 21-24 173 1 ii-31v 2 31v-47v 3 47v-100r 87r-100r 174 1 1r-14v 2 14v-40 175 1 1r-34v 2 34v-79 176 1 1r-22r 2 22r-46v 3 46v-51v 4 51v-81 177 1r-11 MS Dates Publication Section Remarks/Pages undated. prob.April 24.April 27. 1949 LWPPv2 2 pp. prob. 1951 LWPPv2 6 pp. prob. 2-49 undated. 61-71 undated. 81-90 undated. 1950 RoC 2 rem. 1951 OC 3 rem. prob.) Summer . late 1948 . 300-425 176 2 22r-46v March 21 . 1950 RoC 3 rem. Feb. 1950 LWPPv2 4 pp. prob. 1951 OC 3 rem. 92-95 MS Part MS Pages 176 1 1r-22r 172 2 21-24 173 1 ii-31v 3 47v-100r Remarks on Colour MS Dates Publication Section Remarks/Pages undated. 1951 LWPPv2 6 pp. prob. 426-523 April 14 . 1950 LWPPv2 4 pp.April 12 1950 RoC 3 rem. 66-192 175 1 1r-34v (prob.? (prob. late 1948 .? (prob. 1950 OC 2 rem. 1950 LWPPv2 4 pp. 51-53 undated. vol. 1950 RoC 2 rem. 426-523 4 51v-81 April 15 . 524-637 April 25 . late 1949 or early 1950 LWPPv2 3 pp. 2 MS Part MS Pages MS Dates Publication Section Remarks/Pages 169 ii-81r undated. 1-88 March 21 . Late Spring 1950) LWPPv2 5 pp. prob.April 15. 1950 OC 2 rem. 1950 RoC 3 rem. prob.April 27.April 15. 1-20 March 24 . autumn 1949 OC 1 rem.April 14.April 12 1950 RoC 3 rem.March 21. 71-79 174 1 1r-14v April 24 . Late Spring 1950) LWPPv2 5 pp. 1-130 undated. 1951 OC 3 rem. 92-95 April 15 . 1-88 undated. 55-59 173 2 31v-47v undated.) Summer .April 24. 524-637 177 1r-11 April 25 . 1-130 undated. 1951 OC 3 rem. prob Summer 1950 OC 2 rem. prob. prob. prob. Summer 1950 RoC 1 rem. prob. Feb. 1951 OC 3 rem. autumn 1949 OC 1 rem. 55-59 undated. 1-65 undated. 1951 OC 3 rem.March 21.September 23. 66-192 (prob.
p.Selected Pages from the Final Manuscripts Figure 5: MS 175. 79 (the last page of MS 175. written March 21) 77 .
22r (end of color revision and continuation of certainty remarks) 78 .Figure 6: MS 176. p.
Figure 7: MS 175. 34v (Wittgenstein‘s initial remarks after reading the book review. written on March 10 in blue ink) 79 . p.
p.Figure 8: MS 176. 19v (steady and clean handwriting from the color revision in a variety of inks) 80 .
24r (page from the final certainty notes. written in consistent blue ink with unsteady handwriting) 81 .Figure 9: MS 176. p.
Chapter 3 On Certainty and Wittgenstein‘s ‗Works‘
The investigations carried out in the previous two chapters now enable us to effectively assess whether On Certainty qualifies as one of Wittgenstein‘s works. The claim that it does, as we have seen, is central to the case for recognizing a third Wittgenstein, which is claimed to be definitively characterized by On Certainty in just the way that the first and second phases of Wittgenstein‘s career achieve their definitive expression in the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations.1 In response to the possible objection that On Certainty shouldn‘t count as a work because its remarks were not revised, Moyal-Sharrock offers a defense for applying this term to the book. While recognizing that the criteria for what counts as a work is debatable, she notes the use of the term by Wittgenstein‘s own editors,
As Stroll argues, ―we should divide Wittgenstein‘s career into three phases: the First Wittgenstein of the Tractatus, the Second of the Investigations, and the Third of On Certainty‖ (2004, p. 22). The central place given to On Certainty in the third Wittgenstein is why I consider only Moyal-Sharrock‘s initial characterization of this phase as made up of the 1949-1951 writings (cf. footnote 4 of the introduction). For while most of the early material from the first Wittgenstein can be seen as developing towards the Tractatus, and similarly for the writings of the second Wittgenstein in relation to Philosophical Investigations (though there are good reasons for recognizing a middle Wittgenstein), the work on philosophical psychology from 1946-49 does not have this relation to On Certainty. Thus, On Certainty cannot be definitive of the years 1946-1951 in a way that is analogous to how the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations relate to their associated phases of Wittgenstein‘s career.
Anscombe and von Wright, and cites their descriptions of the notes as evidence of their unique status.2 In the preface to On Certainty, after telling how Wittgenstein began to think about the issue of Moore‘s controversial statements when he visited Malcolm in fall of 1949, Anscombe and von Wright state that ―this book contains the whole of what Wittgenstein wrote on this topic from that time until his death.‖ They go on to justify their decision to publish the notes as a single volume: It seemed appropriate to publish this work by itself. It is not a selection; Wittgenstein marked it off in his notebooks as a separate topic, which he apparently took up at four separate periods during this eighteen months. It constitutes a single sustained treatment of the topic. In a subsequent essay, also quoted by Moyal-Sharrock as evidence of On Certainty‘s status as a work, von Wright claims that ―during the last year and a half of his life Wittgenstein wrote almost exclusively about knowledge and certainty‖ and refers to the book as a ―treatise‖ (von Wright 1982, p. 165). On the basis of these editorial statements, advocates for recognizing a third Wittgenstein have claimed that On Certainty is an ―autonomous collection‖ (Stroll 1994, p. 9) and ―not…a compilation effected by someone other than Wittgenstein‖ (Moyal-Sharrock 2005, p. 2), representing ―an astonishingly intense treatment of a topic over a period of 18 months‖ (ibid., p. 3). They have thus concluded that On Certainty, as well as the other two
(Moyal-Sharrock 2002, p. 294 fn. 3)
publications culled from contemporaneous notes – Remarks on Colour and LWPP2 – are ―wholly self-standing works‖ (Moyal-Sharrock 2004, p. 2). These editorial claims deserve close scrutiny, because they have been heavily influential in how interpreters have come to conceive of the notes comprising On Certainty. They are revealed to be misleading when we consult Wittgenstein‘s correspondence and Nachlass. When told that the discussion of Moore and certainty was marked off as a separate topic, one naturally suspects that Wittgenstein utilized a notation in his notebook identifying whether a remark belonged to his investigations of certainty, color, or psychology. This then gives rise to the notion that he saw himself as concurrently composing three books, and that the editors were following Wittgenstein‘s own editorial directives when they cut and spliced his final notebooks to create the publications On Certainty, Remarks on Colour, and LWPP2. If this were the case then indeed it would be true that the responsibility for compiling the materials for On Certainty does not rely primarily with the editors. The claim that Wittgenstein ‗marked off‘ distinct investigations in his notebooks must surely be a reference to the horizontal lines3 that are occasionally used by Wittgenstein, such as this one from MS 176, p. 46v:
The following discussion of Wittgenstein‘s use of horizontal lines in the final manuscripts relies on a number of observations made in (van Gennip 2004) and (van Gennip 2008).
Figure 10: MS 176, p. 46v
These lines are not accompanied by any labels or instructions, though in many cases it is pretty clear that the line is intended to separate material on different topics. 10 pages after the line shown above, another line occurs on p. 51v, thereby marking off a section of remarks from its surrounding context. The editors took these lines to indicate that the marked-off section should be published separately, in LWPP2, from the surrounding remarks, which appeared in On Certainty.4 Inspection of the notebooks shows this to have been a reasonable decision by the editors, but it should still be noted that Wittgenstein nowhere explicitly indicates that the remarks above p. 46v and below p. 51v are part of the same investigation. A similar line occurs on p. 14v of MS 174, which the editors took to also mark a separation between LWPP2 and On Certainty. Lines just like the one above occur at several points in the final manuscripts where their purpose is not so clear, and in these cases the
No indication was given in the published text of On Certainty that this splice, which occurs between remarks 523 and 524, had occurred.
These pages include five horizontal lines. Thus they clearly did not take these lines to demarcate separate investigations. ―it is equally probable that these lines have no particular purpose at all‖ (2008. An identical line occurring on p. replacing the horizontal lines with square brackets. Van Gennip speculates that they may ―signify the importance Wittgenstein attached to each of these remarks. 53).editors did not take them to indicate that distinct investigations were being marked off. 22r of the same manuscript was not interpreted as specifying a demarcation. yet the editors of that publication (including von Wright) did not reproduce any of the 6 horizontal lines occurring in the former manuscript or the nearly 20 lines occurring in the latter. #93. since none of them were reproduced in sections 60-65 of On Certainty. p. extended lengths of time between the composition of remarks. on p. since it was simply passed over without indication on the next page of Remarks on Colour between remarks 95 and 96. the complete contents of MSS 171 and 169 appeared in LWPP2. 86 . Maybe they indicate the completion of work performed at one sitting. For example. Rather than include this remark in On Certainty. none of which were taken by the editors to indicate a demarcation. We now see that the horizontal lines in Wittgenstein‘s 5 Similarly. or alternatively. apparently separating this statement concerning the terms ‗know‘ and ‗believe‘ from the surrounding material on Goethe‘s reflections on color. the editors chose to publish it in its original context as Remarks on Colour section III.‖ though she concedes. A striking case occurs on the last two pages of MS 172 included in On Certainty.5 It is not clear what Wittgenstein intended these lines in MS 172 to indicate. 21r of MS 173 a pair of lines occurs around a single remark.
31v to produce what is published as part 4 of LWPP2. devoid of any indications that a splice has occurred. p.late manuscripts do not all serve a clear and consistent purpose. even though no such demarcation symbol occurs in the manuscript. It is thus clear now that the horizontal lines do not by themselves serve to clearly demarcate separate investigations and that the editors in most cases did not in fact take them to serve such a function. reproduced as Figure 7 in the previous chapter. 87 . Indeed. as van Gennip describes the situation. As seen in Figure 6 in the previous chapter. which the editors splice together with the line at p. and thus that they cannot simply be taken for granted as marking off a separate topic without further interpretation. The break between remarks from 1950 and those from 1951 are represented by a horizontal line in the published text of On Certainty below section 299. 129). Nothing separates the remarks on color and those on certainty in MS 172 apart from the fact that they occur on distinct loose sheets. Wittgenstein‘s editors also separated a number of notebooks at points which were not characterized by the occurrence of a horizontal line. Nor does any line occur on p. Wittgenstein does not explicitly distinguish between the remarks on color and those on certainty on p. 87r of MS 173. but the editors applied their own demarcations in the notebooks as well‖ (2004. ―not only are Wittgenstein‘s ‗marks‘ ambiguous. 22r of MS 176.
we still need to consider what criteria for a work are most appropriately applied to Wittgenstein‘s writings. and the extent to which they are satisfied by On Certainty.It is clear from these considerations that On Certainty is a compilation of texts selected not by Wittgenstein himself but by his editors. which bear upon the themes addressed in the book but were not selected by the editors for inclusion. The notion that the composition of these remarks was an intense and sustained task must also be corrected. While many editorial statements used by Moyal-Sharrock and Stroll to argue for On Certainty‘s status as a work have been challenged. and even reported that he was unable to work at all for stretches of several months. 54-58). 88 . From Wittgenstein‘s correspondence we also see that he repeatedly complained of his inability to produce good work in 1950. His philosophical activities in 1950 then cannot be accurately described as ‗sustained‘. as well as others from over a decade earlier. so Wittgenstein was clearly not committing his undivided attention to Moore‘s remarks for 18 straight months. since the strings of remarks comprising this book were neither consistently marked off from other discussions nor expressly indicated to count as a single investigation. Joachim Schulte provides possibly the most extended discussion 6 The characterization of On Certainty as a ‗single sustained treatment‘ is also challenged by van Gennip (2008. pp. who draws attention to remarks from MSS 169-171.6 This description would perhaps only be appropriately applied to the final six weeks of Wittgenstein‘s life in which he expressed satisfaction with the state of his work. The remarks on certainty are interspersed with extended discussions of color and psychology.
and so on (Schulte 2005. the reader‘s perceptions.7 He points out that the standards one applies in evaluating this question should be shaped by an understanding of Wittgenstein‘s writing process. 7 See (Schulte 1992). reasons. and the form of the text itself that ―must be weighed against each other because they may (but need not) conflict‖ (Schulte 1999. p. Wittgenstein would often identify a selection of these remarks. After filling notebooks with first-draft remarks. This revision process was performed to greater or lesser degrees on a number of texts. objections. supplemented by examples. (Schulte 1999).in the secondary literature of the notion of a work in Wittgenstein. Rather than lay down a number of necessary conditions that must be fully satisfied for a piece of writing to count as a work. rearrange them. and (Schulte 2005). and then edit them individually in an attempt to product an organic text. These do not together form a set of conditions that must all be satisfied. 361). as well as the extent to which we the readers can discern a line of thought. 83). for Schulte also suggests that a text can be considered a work to the extent that Wittgenstein himself deemed it to count as an organic whole. 89 . Schulte suggests that one consideration we should take into account is where a text is situated within a range of texts that are revised to different degrees. but rather are three fairly independent scales concerning the author‘s attitudes. This is not the sole criterion to be considered. p.
But section 2 may satisfy the author criterion to a lesser degree than section 1. even if it does not fulfill all the criteria to the fullest possible extent. in which many readers have found a welldiscernable train of thought. We should now evaluate the text of On Certainty with respect to these criteria. the remarks from spring 1949 to spring 1951 (including the revision of the color remarks) clearly rank very low.Schulte shows how these criteria may be used by applying them to three sections of Philosophical Investigations. remarks 1-188. that text surely deserves the title of ‗work‘. makes it certainly rank much lower on the reader scale than section 2 (containing the discussions of rulefollowing and private language). Since no other text from the Nachlass satisfies the three criteria in a comparable way to Philosophical Investigations. Surely these remarks rank very low on the textual scale since they underwent no rearrangement or significant revision. indicating that Wittgenstein was probably satisfied with the organization and presentation of this material. save possibly for the remarks on color in MS 176 that underwent a first stage of revision. which ―survived several stages of revision in nearly unchanged form‖ (ibid. All three sections rank high on the textual scale by having undergone significant revisions. viz. All the writings form 1949-1951 have a similar status. 362).). since their quality was 90 . 189-421. With respect to the criterion of Wittgenstein‘s satisfaction with the form of his writing. p. The relative obscurity of the third section. and 422-693 (Schulte 2005. however.
Perhaps the remarks from the final half of On Certainty rank somewhat higher on this scale since Wittgenstein indicates some satisfaction with them. I do want to suggest that a text certainly does not need to qualify as a work in order to contain important philosophical ideas. 164) While I am not concerned to contest the value of the philosophical solution that is attributed to Wittgenstein. appears to be the fundamental consideration driving MoyalSharrock‘s claims about the status of the book: I believe that On Certainty should be recognized as one of Wittgenstein‘s three great works – if only because it gives us the key to one of philosophy‘s most intractable problems: the problem of skepticism about the external world.‖ though he points out that the criterion concerning the reader‘s ability to trace a line of thought in the text ―may lead us to think very highly of this book‖ (Schulte 2005. 363). we are still able to find value in these texts without thereby distorting our picture of his intellectual development. indeed. 91 . p.consistently panned. When we separate our evaluation of the ideas found in Wittgenstein‘s writings from the mostly historical task of determining whether it qualifies as one of his works. though they still constitute first-draft material that surely would have satisfied him to a greater extent if they had been able to undergo revision. the criteria just considered ―are clearly not satisfied at all. This. (2005. p. Schulte agrees that with respect to On Certainty.
but our historical investigations have made clear that perceptions of On Certainty as a ‗sustained‘ or ‗intense‘ effort. say. if one were to collect all of the remarks from Wittgenstein‘s Nachlass concerning. p. but it surely would not count as one of his works. concentrated and contiguous‖ (Moyal-Sharrock 2009. Had the final notebooks all been published sequentially as a single volume.8 This suggests that even if our evaluation of On Certainty‘s contents lead us to deem the book a work. the concept of negation. rather than split up by content into separate publications. 92 . one might indeed produce a text that achieved a striking thematic homogeneity and concentration. 447). even though I take it 8 Stern argues that ―there is a good case‖ for producing such a volume. As a comparison.The reader‘s perceptions are nevertheless an important consideration in determining the status of a piece of Wittgenstein‘s writings. it should not be considered one of Wittgenstein’s works since those perceptions are very much dependent on a misleading picture of how and what Wittgenstein actually wrote. I do not believe that the editors‘ choice to publish On Certainty was a mistake. since ―there is a sense in which the 1949-51 manuscripts form a relatively self-contained epilogue to the Wittgenstein papers‖ (1996. the descriptions above would not apply to such a book. 559) than Philosophical Investigations are possible precisely because the structure of the book is due to its editors. Such a text could very well serve to illuminate certain aspects of Wittgenstein‘s philosophy. or even as ―thematically more homogenous. Despite all of the considerations given here. p.
129). 170. even if Wittgenstein did not mark them off as a distinct or unified discussion.to be an editorial compilation that does not constitute one of Wittgenstein‘s works. When one reads through Wittgenstein‘s final notebooks. The writings from Wittgenstein‘s Nachlass that deserve to be published are not restricted to just his works. On Certainty gives us an illuminating perspective on Wittgenstein‘s final thoughts. For I agree with van Gennip that ―surely the choices of the editors [were] not unreasonable or illogical‖ (van Gennip 2004. It should thus be welcomed as a posthumous Wittgenstein publication. but one can understand the editors‘ reluctance to include these in On Certainty since they tend to be less distinguishable and detachable from their surrounding contexts. 93 . and it is sometimes unclear where they fit in the sequence of remarks published in the book. the remarks selected by the editors certainly appear to be thematically related. so it is not incumbent on his editors to prove that the texts they produce achieve this special status. as long as readers are not led to believe that it offers a privileged or authoritative perspective on Wittgenstein‘s final thoughts by having been constructed according to editorial intentions clearly indicated in his notebooks. 171.9 By isolating these remarks. p. 9 There are a handful of remarks from MSS 169. and 173 that also strike one as related.
In this chapter I argue for a particular therapeutic reading of Philosophical Investigations. the central text of the second Wittgenstein. for they seem to undercut the possibility of applying the usual methods of philosophical 94 . In these passages Wittgenstein denies an intention to advance theses or make controversial assertions and instead claims that his philosophical approach is comparable to a therapeutic procedure. When we take Wittgenstein as seriously engaged in this therapeutic project. to lay the groundwork for my claim in the next chapter that Wittgenstein does not in fact abandon these therapeutic methodological goals in his final writings.Chapter 4 Therapeutic Readings A central component of the case for recognizing a third phase of Wittgenstein‘s career is the claim that his final writings are characterized by a shift from a therapeutic methodology to one that seeks systematic theoretical solutions to traditional philosophical problems. Incorporating these metaphilosophical remarks in an interpretation of Wittgenstein‘s writing can prove difficult. Many of the selections from the Wittgenstein oeuvre that are most quoted and discussed in the literature involve descriptions of the goals and methods of his philosophical project. unfamiliar yet fascinating modes of criticism reveal themselves to be appropriate for evaluating his philosophy.
Second. many interpretations from therapeutic readers nevertheless appear to involve a number of controversial philosophical theses. A significant number of interpreters of Wittgenstein‘s later philosophy discount the seriousness of these remarks by describing Wittgenstein as constructing theories. presenting arguments. readers may reason that if Wittgenstein‘s work really does contain no arguments. if Wittgenstein‘s talk of therapeutic 95 . First. then his writing offers nothing that can be subjected to philosophical critique. or controversial theses. reasons. despite insisting that Wittgenstein‘s work cannot be criticized for advancing faulty arguments (for it purportedly contains no arguments at all). or that his readers are using his metaphilosophical statements to shield their own philosophical commitments from criticism. A smaller group of ‗therapeutic‘ readers has argued that Wittgenstein‘s interpreters should take his methodological statements at face value and read his work as advancing no philosophical theories. Many interpreters have not found this option promising. either by assuming these themselves or by attributing them to Wittgenstein. This can give the impression that either Wittgenstein‘s descriptions of therapy are an attempt to deflect legitimate criticism of his work. arguing with other philosophers.critique. Construing Wittgenstein‘s work as advancing arguments then sets the groundwork for these readers to apply familiar forms of philosophical critique such as argumentative analysis. and solving philosophical problems. Thus. for two main reasons.
I begin by giving a reading of Wittgenstein‘s methodological statements and then applying them to one set of remarks in the Investigations. as in the first case. For these reasons. A brief comparison with Freud suggests two perspectives that one might adopt in relation to Wittgenstein‘s therapy: the patient and the observer. In this chapter I offer a way to take Wittgenstein seriously as a therapist while still allowing his work to be subject to legitimate critique. then it serves merely as a roadblock to rational philosophical critique. if the methodological claims are true. and finally some of the observer‘s possible modes of critique are explored. Even though familiar modes of philosophical criticism are inappropriately applied when we take Wittgenstein seriously as a therapist. Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic methodology stems from his unique description of philosophical problems: A philosophical problem has the form: ‗I don‘t know my way about‘. The project of identifying multiple voices in Wittgenstein‘s writing is then presented as one of the observer‘s descriptive tasks. Wittgenstein's metaphilosophical statements often don‘t influence how his readers interpret the rest of his philosophical work. I argue that new methods of critique are possible if we attempt to evaluate Wittgenstein‘s therapy on its own terms. then it appears that philosophical critique of his work is not even possible.methodology isn‘t really serious. on the other hand. (PI 123) 96 .
His own project characterizes philosophical problems as symptoms of a philosopher‘s state of confusion. then. we might ask. does this formulation characterize a particular person‘s situation.e.1 The goal of his philosophical project.This strikes one immediately as an unusual way of formulating a problem. Of course. but rather to treat them. By focusing his attention on philosophers in the grip of a problem rather than the abstract characterizations of those problems themselves. Yet Wittgenstein characterizes a philosophical problem as a statement which essentially expresses the speaker’s own confusion and disorientation. ―I don‘t know my way about‖ is not what the philosopher actually says when discussing a philosophical problem. Why. Wittgenstein is surely engaged in something quite unlike the traditional philosophical enterprise. and responses to such problems typically come by way of philosophical theories or explanations of the notions in question. to attempt to cure the philosopher of the unease which reveals itself in the symptom of obsession over certain philosophical problems: 1 For detailed elaborations of the notions of ‗illness‘ most appropriate for Wittgenstein‘s project. but this is Wittgenstein‘s description of what a philosopher‘s concerns about a philosophical problem display about the philosopher himself. rather than describe a logical or conceptual difficulty that anyone is free to reflect on? For that is the form that philosophical problems are ordinarily taken to have. is not to solve philosophical problems. 97 . i. see (Fischer 2004) and (Kuusela 2008).
For example. the ideal. The philosophical problems of concern to Wittgenstein often arise. ―signs‖. instead he is prescribing how his unique philosophical project is to proceed. And when struggling with conceptual problems in philosophy. the greater becomes the conflict between it and our requirement. as it were. (PI 107) 98 . indeed it can put us on the road to wondering how our radically insufficient language could at all possibly succeed in serving the needs of communication and representation: When we believe that we have to find that order. revealing the true natures of these concepts through a process of analysis. we often attempt to resolve our difficulties by. This roadblock can lead to intense frustration with the crudeness of natural language. from our making unreasonable demands upon our concepts and languages. Yet we discover that the terms of our everyday language are ill-suited for this analytical task due to their indeterminacies. (PI 255) Wittgenstein is not here offering a radical reinterpretation of what philosophers have been doing for thousands of years.The philosopher‘s treatment of a question is like the treatment of an illness. (PI 105) The more closely we examine actual language. we become dissatisfied with what are ordinarily called ―sentences‖. he claims. concepts and their logical interrelations are often taken to have an absolute fixed structure or ―crystalline purity‖ (PI 107) that admits of no vagueness or indeterminacy. ―words‖. in our actual language.
the natural philosophical response to a problem will be an attempt to solve it by advancing new theories. (PI 133) 99 . and thereby ―bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use‖ (PI 116). and one might think that Wittgenstein‘s resolution of these dilemmas would involve articulating a theory of language. 300). Under a traditional conception of philosophical problems. 307) If the goal of Wittgenstein‘s project is not to try to convince a philosopher of the truth of particular propositions. Yet surprisingly he claims that taking care of a philosophical problem is not a matter of pronouncing new truths about the subject of the investigation. (PI 132) So naturally. Strikingly. as it were. but rather ―the difficulty of a change of attitude‖ (BT p. but in making it go away: Philosophical problems should completely disappear. divorced from the contingencies of how their corresponding terms are put to use in particular circumstances: The confusions which occupy us arise when language is. one way of resolving these problems is to draw our attention to the details of how language manages to function in our everyday activities. not when it is doing work. then the ―difficulty of philosophy‖ is not that of changing our opinions.We are particularly apt to run into these problems when we attempt to reflect on conceptual essences. (BT p. idling. success in this endeavor is not found in answering a question.
rather than on a problem understood abstractly: Suppose someone said ‗My craving is to get a general comprehensive picture of the universe. 109) Thus a philosophical problem is solved when the philosopher is simply no longer captivated by it. not satisfy the craving. (Ambrose 1989. but make you cease to have it. pp. and not to solve philosophical problems. for they aim to eliminate the problems of philosophers. Wittgenstein‘s person-specific therapeutic endeavor is thus most appropriately evaluated by the degree to which it succeeds in helping particular philosophers let go of particular philosophical obsessions. Can you satisfy this craving?‘ I would say ‗No‘…Let us see whether doing such and such. or thinking such and such a way will. I claim then that Wittgenstein‘s philosophical goals truly are best characterized as therapeutic and anti-theoretical. This technique is performed on a philosopher. and not when he comes to achieve a certain insight – not even an insight about the nature of the previously captivating problem. 97-8) Wittgenstein‘s project is thus successful to the extent that philosophical problems are dissolved away.This result is to be achieved by ―marshalling recollections for a particular purpose‖ (PI 127). (Wittgenstein 1979. which once removed it seems impossible that it should ever have had power over us. drawing our attention to general facts about the functioning of our language that are obvious but not often reflected upon due to their mundaneness: One can be obsessed by a certain language form… A philosophical trouble is an obsession. It seems trivial. p. 100 .
he will suppose that ―two‖ is the name given to this group of nuts! —– He may suppose this. the name of a point of the compass. and so on. And he might equally well take a person‘s name. of a race. the name of a material. and thus ―that learning language consists in giving names to objects‖ (PI 26). In teaching language to children we usually convey these names through pointing. (PI 28) 101 . the name of a colour. ―That is called ‗two‘‖ – pointing to two nuts – is perfectly exact. Yet reflection on the idea of ostension may lead us to worry that it is not sufficiently precise to securely fix the meanings of our terms: Now. When learning a foreign language the first words one tends to begin with are simple nouns such as ‗house‘. i.e. Upon reflection. but perhaps he does not. or ‗book‘. a number-word. – But how can the number two be defined like that? The person one gives the definition to doesn‘t know what it is that one wants to call ―two‖. That is to say. or even of a point of the compass. we notice that these names are also the kinds of words first learned by children in their native language. one can ostensively define a person‘s name. He might make the opposite mistake: when I want to assign a name to this group of nuts. ‗car‘. he might take it to be the name of a number. an ostensive definition can be variously interpreted in any case. We may thereby come to believe that ostensive definition is the fundamental act on which the words of our language depend for their meaning. which I explain ostensively. The definition of the number two.We can see Wittgenstein putting this method into practice in his discussion of ostensive definition in the early remarks of Philosophical Investigations. as that of a colour. We may then come to think that names are the fundamental components of any language. via ostension.
The clever philosopher will notice a way to eliminate the ambiguity of ostension. since it seems that any act of pointing can be misinterpreted. Yet further reflection reveals that this added term may be just as ambiguous as the one it is being used to clarify: Perhaps someone will say. – The word ―number‖ in the definition does indeed indicate this place – the post at which we station the word. Explain. And we can prevent misunderstandings by saying ―This colour is called soand-so‖. ―This length is called so-and-so‖. and we may begin to think it miraculous that successful communication is even possible.The possibility that this particular case of ostension might not succeed led us to question whether ostension is determinate at all. misunderstandings are sometimes averted in this way.‖ For the word ―number‖ here shows what place in language. But does one have to take the words ―colour‖ and ―length‖ in just this way? – Well. by means of other words! And what about the last explanation in this chain? (Don‘t say: ―There isn‘t a ‗last‘ explanation. Thus the potential confusion resulting from saying ‗round‘ while pointing to a balloon. we‘ll just have to explain them. Suddenly ostension appears to be an extremely poor foundation for our language. we can make our meaning precise by indicating the category of thing being named.‖ That is 102 . We may then come to think of this as how ostension truly works – the act of pointing accompanied by a name and a category-determination. When pointing to an object and giving a name. in grammar. can be prevented by using either the phrase ‗this shape is round‘ or ‗this color is red‘. That is to say. But this means that the word ―number‖ must be explained before that ostensive definition can be understood. then. and then saying ‗red‘ while pointing to the same object. and so on. ―two‖ can be ostensively defined only in this way: ―This number is called ‗two‘. we assign to the word.
After all. a mental act like intention. We may then valiantly try to save ostension by coupling it with some other process of determining meaning. and on the person I give it to. (PI 29) The philosopher intensely caught up in this metaphysical problem might find such a response surprising.g. And that will depend on the circumstances under which it is given. And how he goes on to use the word I‘ve just taught him will show if he has 103 . Right where we would expect Wittgenstein to solve this problem by proceeding with a thorough investigation of the foundational mechanisms that determine the meaning of our terms. but this too will likely leave us unsatisfied.just as if you were to say: ―There isn‘t a last house in this road. And how he ‗takes‘ the explanation shows itself in how he uses the word explained. we instead find the following reply: Whether the word ‗number‘ is necessary in an ostensive definition of ‗two‘ depends on whether without this word the other person takes the definition otherwise than I wish.‖) (PI 29) We thus appear to be forced into the head-spinning conclusion that our language may be entirely indeterminate since it rests on such feeble foundations. one can always build an additional one. e. what Wittgenstein says here is so obvious that one wouldn‘t usually think to even utter it. Whether I need to clarify my attempt at ostension with a category-term of course depends on a number of mundane considerations such as the external circumstances surrounding the act and the other person‘s ability to understand me.
If the therapy is successful. This may lead me to have a low opinion of his intellect. e. and we will have to evaluate it according to its results. but rather tries to effect a change in attitude in the philosopher. This may be because Wittgenstein‘s readers 104 . that compels the philosopher to abandon his interest in the metaphysical problem. Wittgenstein‘s therapy will either work or it will not. If he has misunderstood. That is. no deductive argument. then I will make further attempts to clarify my utterance.understood correctly. then after being confronted with these mundane facts about how our language actually works. Therapeutic readings like the one outlined above have encountered a certain amount of resistance.g. The philosopher will thus not come to a stage of enlightenment after encountering some philosophical insight imparted on him by Wittgenstein. if the therapy is successful. Wittgenstein thus does not attempt to solve this metaphysical problem by articulating a philosophy of language. but it certainly won‘t make me question whether the words of my language have any determinate meaning whatsoever. There is nothing in Wittgenstein‘s remarks. but rather brought back to a healthy state of mind in which one does not even recognize the problem. the philosopher will probably consider the problem to be so illconceived and uninteresting that it deserves no further attention. but if a number of further attempts are unsuccessful I may simply come to the conclusion that he isn‘t able to understand me.
He made clear why he did not give way to these objections: having asserted nothing at all (even about how ‗think‘ is used). (2007. One certainly gets the impression of this possibility from certain passages in Gordon Baker‘s later work: …Wittgenstein was fully aware of the inclination among philosophers to dispute the correctness of ‗identifying‘ thinking with operating with signs. There is literally nothing to attack – as being incorrect. for they appear to prohibit any potential critical engagement with Wittgenstein‘s texts: If one reads Wittgenstein as Baker did in his last writings. 116) The fact that interpreting Wittgenstein as engaged in a therapeutic project can easily lead to shielding his work from all criticism (whether intentionally or not) makes such readings even more suspect when one considers that 105 . p. 276) Peter Hacker finds such passages concerning. (ibid..have been suspicious of his claims to not be advancing any controversial theses.most of the discussions that try to refute or rebut Wittgenstein‘s ‗theory‘. he had nothing to surrender or withdraw…. p. Such claims might be read as an attempt to place a set of philosophical commitments beyond dispute. To engage in these controversies is already to take Wittgenstein‘s philosophical investigations in the wrong spirit.. (Baker 2004..his slogan [‗Belief is calculating with signs‘] (like his strategy) is logically immune to refutation. p. are misconceived. as well as most of those that try to defend it against attack. And nothing to defend – as being an accurate description of the grammar of our language. the figure that emerges is indeed secure from criticism…His philosophical position is completely immune to counter argument. 169) .
They endorse the austere conception of nonsense‖ (2007. many readers who are critical of Wittgenstein tend to read him as advancing theses. Wittgenstein‘s description of his philosophical project as advancing no controversial theses and resulting in the complete disappearance of problems and cravings should not be read as describing what his efforts have in fact achieved. Certainly some such instances should be able to be found.most therapeutic readers are also advocates of Wittgenstein‘s project. At the same time. but instead as describing what he hopes they will be able to achieve. 2 106 . exempt from critique. Such a stance is possible if we take Wittgenstein‘s metaphilosophical statements not to be true descriptions of how his project fares in all cases. That is. p. for Wittgenstein once confessed to Rush Rhees that he was not meeting one of his philosophical ideals: ―In Indeed. This dichotomy needs to be broken. and Read and Hutchinson (2010) all attempt not just to explain and illuminate Wittgenstein‘s later method. 56). ―the New Wittgensteinians not only ascribe [therapeutic] views to Wittgenstein. but rather as standards and goals that he hopes his best efforts will meet. Fischer (2011). The observer will then have the latitude to criticize Wittgenstein in those instances when these ideals aren‘t met. Peterman (1992). they also subscribe to them. which often appear to include a number of controversial philosophical theses. Savickey (1999). but also advocate a therapeutic conception of philosophy. And as Glock notes of one group of therapeutic readers of the Tractatus.2 This imbalance creates a conflict of interest by which therapeutic readers can make their descriptions of Wittgenstein‘s project. It must be possible to take Wittgenstein seriously as engaging in therapy and still leave open the possibility for legitimate critique of his project.
3 Other commentators have argued that Wittgenstein‘s claim to not be advancing theses is merely an attempt to avoid criticism. 3 4 See e. Wittgenstein sometimes suggests that this is simply due to the nature of the philosophical problems.4 Such commentators assign themselves the job of locating the actual philosophical theses lurking beneath the roundabout language of the Philosophical Investigations: Wittgenstein‘s writings seem to me not only summarizable but in positive need of summary…it [is not] true that Wittgenstein‘s writings contain no systematically expressible theories. 311) Despite this remark. When reading Wittgenstein‘s writing one is often unsuccessful in trying to discern and follow a train of thought or an argument. But that‘s a lie. which can be discerned. (BT p. pp. for indeed they do. hence its result must be simple. I can‘t‖ (Hallett 1977. 107 . for the complicated confusions of philosophical obsession require complicated resolutions: Philosophy unravels the knots in our thinking. but its activity as complicated as the knots it unravels. It is the difference between what Wittgenstein says and the way he says it which is relevant here. the fact that his later writings are unsystematic in style does not mean that they are unsystematic in content. many readers view the complicated structure of Wittgenstein‘s Investigations as a symptom of his failure to compose a philosophical treatise in the standard fashion. (Glock 2007). 230).g. In both his ‗early‘ and ‗late‘ work Wittgenstein puts forward certain key theses. 69-70). with relations of logical dependence between them. p. For example (Kripke 1982.my book I say that I am able to leave off with a problem in philosophy when I want to.
stated. we are likely to find some of his answers disappointing. and thus misleading us about his project‘s real goals. A therapeutic reading. (Grayling 1988. The 108 . (Grayling 1988. If we take Wittgenstein as a systematic philosopher advancing theses in response to traditional philosophical questions. can give us a more plausible understanding of Wittgenstein‘s methods and intentions. p. or violating them unwillingly. pp. And a good deal of the difficulty with Wittgenstein‘s work is that this theory is not presented as such. and therefore being seriously deluded about the actual nature of his project. in an ad hoc way. 342) Such an approach to Wittgenstein‘s work is unsatisfactory. and explained just as with any philosophical theory. even if neither. (Hacker 2001. v-vi) The theory has an identifiable structure and content. p. since we are bound to find few or no arguments given in their support. in contrast. 111). since it is not officially meant to be there at all – it emerges in bits and pieces. are as transparently stated and as fully spelled out as they might be. in their turn. and therefore its crucial conceptions are left unclear and often unargued. After studying Wittgenstein‘s works in this manner. one commentator laments that ―Wittgenstein‘s later philosophy is not as it stands persuasive‖ (Grayling 1988. even if his aphoristic style and method of exposition was not linear. But Wittgenstein claims that his goal is not to persuade others to adopt particular positions. for it requires that we characterize Wittgenstein as either systematically violating his metaphilosophical standards willingly. 118) Wittgenstein was no less systematic than Kant. p.
I now suggest that we instead critique Wittgenstein by his own standards – that we evaluate the degree to which he succeeds in achieving his stated goals. This therapy. Sometimes I describe its use if you have forgotten it. even when it appears that Wittgenstein is advancing theses: We are interested in language only insofar as it gives us trouble. but rather in a form of therapy that attempts to rid us of certain philosophical inclinations. p.purpose of Wittgenstein‘s project is to cure. in order to remind you of its use in our own language. see (Maddy 2011). 97) Wittgenstein frequently states that he is not engaged in traditional theorydriven philosophy. I only describe the actual use of a word if this is necessary to remove some trouble we want to get rid of. Thus we may make use of the facts of natural history and describe the actual use of a word. he claims. then we must apply the interpretive principle of charity to the text in an unfamiliar manner. Since this principle admonishes us to characterize the philosopher in question as For an example of how to take Wittgenstein‘s methodological statements seriously and still engage in legitimate and responsible critique of his therapeutic project.5 When we take Wittgenstein‘s descriptions of therapy seriously as criteria for the success of his philosophical project. does not advance theses. 5 109 . nor would it make any difference if I could. The whole point is that I cannot tell you anything about the natural history of language. (Wittgenstein 1979. Carnap. which also includes critiques of the therapeutic philosophies of Kant. but aims to change the attitude of the patient. or I may make up a new game for the word which departs from its actual use. and Austin. Sometimes I have to lay down new rules because new rules are less liable to produce confusion or because we have perhaps not thought of looking at the language we have in this light. Having just seen the results of applying familiar modes of philosophical critique to Wittgenstein‘s project.
believing that his project is therapeutic when it is actually of a very different character. for we would quite uncharitably characterize Wittgenstein as constantly failing in his attempt to abstain from advancing arguments. administering this policy with respect to a philosophical text usually involves reconstructing arguments that lack clarity and rectifying enthymematic reasoning. To take Wittgenstein seriously as a therapist is to apply the principle of charity in such a manner that 1) he is not characterized as being intentionally misleading. 477). 110 . p.having the strongest and most reasonable possible defense of his position. and must be. But this manner of applying the principle cannot be appropriate if we understand Wittgenstein‘s philosophical project as guided by therapeutic standards.6 Peter Carruthers has argued that ―in interpreting Wittgenstein – as any great philosopher – the principle of charity is.e. and 2) he is not characterized as being deluded. however. willfully using therapy as a smokescreen to protect his philosophical commitments from criticism. i. i. entail that his therapeutic endeavors must always be characterized as fully succeeding in achieving 6 Recall Morris‘ claim (quoted in the introduction) that to abandon this interpretive maxim is to forgo a philosophical history of philosophy. the fundamental principle of interpretation‖ and that following this principle leads to an ―obligation…to attempt to supply arguments that might explain why he says the things that he does‖ (Carruthers 1984.e. Applying the principle of charity to a therapeutic reading of Wittgenstein‘s project does not.
While Wittgenstein did write in the early 30s that ―we can only prove that someone made a mistake if he (really) acknowledges this expression as the correct expression of his feeling‖ (BT p. 303). neither the psychoanalyst nor Wittgenstein intend to state opinions or assert theses in the process of their treatment. This is not the critique of a positive philosophical system. (PI 133) While Wittgenstein certainly didn‘t model his procedure on psychoanalysis. p. This is where the observer is able to find legitimate grounds to critique Wittgenstein‘s work. 111 . like different therapies.their desired goals or adhering to their ideal methodology. though the legitimate avenues of criticism sharply differ from that of traditional philosophical critique. 9). The psychoanalyst treats the patient‘s neuroses by questioning the patient about how he feels and thinks. Wittgenstein suggests that his approach to philosophy can be thought of as something like psychotherapy: There is not a philosophical method. aspects of his philosophical project can be illuminated through comparison with some of Freud‘s descriptions of the therapeutic process. not by telling the patient what he thinks or should think: 7 Read and Hutchinson argue for a closer analogy between Wittgenstein‘s method and Freudian psychoanalysis than I do. but rather the critique of Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project as therapy. though there are indeed methods. since Wittgenstein there claims not to offer any explanations or to request assent to any controversial statements. 7 For example. p. highlighting Wittgenstein‘s observance that ―a psychoanalysis is successful only if the patient agrees to the explanation offered by the analyst‖ (Moore 1955. There are several modes of evaluation open to the observer. 21) and claiming ―Wittgenstein held that the same was true of philosophy‖ (Read and Hutchinson 2010. I think that the above statement about Freud isn‘t exactly analogous to the procedure in Philosophical Investigations. 158 n.
This issue is addressed later in the chapter. While the presence of arguments can certainly be detected in the Investigations. and it disagreed with one of your opinions. for ―this sort of investigation is…very much against the grain of some of you‖ (Wittgenstein 1975. they are intended to serve as an instrument of therapy. I would at once give it up for the sake of argument because it would be of no importance for our discussion. pp. 123) Likewise. (Freud 1920. p. even when arguments are identified one cannot thereby automatically attribute them to Wittgenstein himself. And due to Wittgenstein‘s use of multiple voices in dialogue.8 but instead provokes him. which opposes it and of which…critical objections are manifestations. and if I had. Wittgenstein‘s treatment does not consist in suggesting an answer to the question that is puzzling the philosopher: On all questions we discuss I have no opinion. (Freud 1920. 103). rather than a vehicle for convincing one to assent to a conclusion. patients aren‘t always willing to be entirely forthcoming in the therapeutic process.Psycho-analysis follows the technique of getting the people under examination so far as possible themselves to produce the solution of their riddles. Thus Wittgenstein does not argue with the philosopher in his treatment. (Wittgenstein 1979. too. indeed ―one could teach philosophy solely by asking questions‖ (ibid. 97) Rather. Some even come to resent the therapist and his methods: The work of interpreting dreams is carried out in the face of a resistance. p. understands that philosophers will resist his technique. 141-2) Wittgenstein.). his treatment involves probing the philosopher to reveal the nature of his own captivation with a philosophical problem. Yet as Freud realized. p. 8 112 .
One adopts the perspective of the patient by directly engaging with the text of Philosophical Investigations. his methods for diagnosing them.I contend that if we take Wittgenstein‘s philosophy to be therapeutic. where Descartes‘ pedagogical procedures in the Meditations are described and evaluated. and Wittgenstein as the therapist. Her focus is on what techniques work. and his techniques for treating those illnesses.9 The perspectives of patient and observer are quite different. Applying the comparison between Wittgenstein‘s philosophy and Freud‘s therapy. Another perspective is that of an outside observer of the dialogue between Wittgenstein and the patient. Wittgenstein‘s most developed attempt to make 9 An interesting related investigation is found in (Cunning 2010). Her reports resemble what a therapist‘s superior might produce in an employment evaluation: she describes what the therapist takes to be illnesses. 113 . we can understand the target of Wittgenstein‘s philosophy as the patient. i. The patient is the intended reader of the Philosophical Investigations. The observer reports on what the therapist says and how the patient responds to these treatments. Due to the unusual nature of Wittgenstein‘s project. The observer‘s task is to accurately describe Wittgenstein‘s project and methods. She also evaluates the effectiveness of his therapeutic method and provides suggestions for improvement.e. these perspectives are quite different from our usual understanding of the philosophical commentator and critic. two perspectives open themselves for approaching Wittgenstein‘s work. what therapeutic methods cause the patient to exhibit fewer symptoms.
Neither of these perspectives resemble the stance of a traditional philosophical commentator. whose customary job is to explicate or reconstruct a philosopher‘s arguments. If Wittgenstein is truly a therapist. 10 114 . as it were. one adopts the standpoint of the observer when one wishes to describe and evaluate Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project. This approach is developed extensively in (Baker and Hacker 2005) and subsequent volumes of the series. However. they might trace the development of a particular passage through its earlier versions. but to. since he claims to ―not advance any kind of theory‖ (PI 109). the patient is not particularly concerned to reconstruct Wittgenstein‘s thought or characterize its development. ‗Contextual‘ readers often utilize outside sources in the interpretation of Wittgenstein‘s texts. or consult notes from Wittgenstein‘s lectures to better determine his intentions. Unlike a historian of philosophy. then one can only become acquainted with Wittgenstein‘s philosophy either by experiencing the therapy first-hand as a patient or by describing it as a neutral observer. participate in a direct discussion with Wittgenstein by working carefully through his text.his work accessible to the public. This distinction between the patient and the observer may help to resolve a current debate in the Wittgenstein literature over what methods should be used in the interpretation of the Investigations. If no theses are available for explication. then such an approach is not applicable to his work.10 Defenders of a ‗text-immanent‘ method have argued that we should limit our sources only to the text itself. for example.
for Wittgenstein only rarely announces what methods are being applied (for indeed he is usually attempting to administer therapy.13 This descriptive project is certainly not straightforward. Further discussion of the relative merits of contextual and text-immanent readings. (Glock 2007). since Wittgenstein‘s intentions. (Glock 1990). For the patient.11 Our distinction shows that both methods can be appropriate. 13 Recent works that have taken on this descriptive project include (Savickey 1999) and (Kuusela 2008). the immanent approach is certainly the most appropriate. because he needs to have the therapy administered to him. see (von Savigny 1990). goals. and variety of methods are the target of her investigation.and thus that Wittgenstein‘s extra-textual intentions and the contexts of his writing are irrelevant to the interpretation of the Investigations. and not to learn new truths about Wittgenstein‘s project. but it is generally difficult to determine what characters these voices are to be associated with. But the contextual approach is right for the observer. and (Pichler 2007). how they are intended to work).12 Part of the observer‘s task is to describe Wittgenstein‘s techniques for dissolving various philosophical problems and explain how they work (or at least. and particularly The most fully-developed example of this approach is (von Savigny 1994-1996). not to give instruction on therapeutic method). While reading the text one often gets the sense that a change in voice has taken place. 11 12 115 . depending on one‘s reason for approaching the Investigations. One open project for the observer is to describe the apparent use of multiple voices in the Investigations and to explain how they are to contribute to Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project.
In one such reading the patient is thought to identify herself with the voice expressing philosophical theses. a careful reader must be aware that These two approaches do not exhaust all the possibilities of locating voices in the Investigations. On the one hand we have the voice of Wittgenstein‘s narrator – who does argue for positive philosophical theses – and on the other hand we have Wittgenstein‘s commentator…who dismisses philosophical problems and compares his way of doing philosophy to therapy. David Stern has challenged the two-voice reading. At the very least.difficult to determine which voice. thus. and so fail to take account of the overall character of the book. and that Wittgenstein‘s actual voice is rarely heard: Two different voices…are usually lumped together as ‗Wittgenstein‘s‘. this reading characterizes therapy as consisting of a direct dialogue between Wittgenstein and the patient. 5) Readers are too ready to identify the author‘s viewpoint with whatever conclusions the reader attributes to Wittgenstein‘s narrator. 23-4) On this reading the two voices are those of the patient and Wittgenstein themselves. Pichler (1997) argues for a ‗polyphonic‘ reading of the Investigations that identifies a large number of unique voices. 14 116 . suggesting that the Investigations has three voices14. and to identify Wittgenstein with the voice expressing dismissal of such theses: The interlocutor‘s voice…expresses our desire for explanation and succumbs to the traps that our language presents. p.…while the therapeutic voice works against these inclinations by examining concrete examples as a means to achieving a new way of looking at things. (2004. if any. pp. Some readers suggest that two voices appear in the Investigations. (McGinn 1997. is Wittgenstein‘s own.
and partly of platitudes about language and everyday life they have both overlooked. yet some of the voices of the Investigations certainly appear to be engaged in proposing. Thus an open and interesting question for the observer is to explain how Wittgenstein utilizes voices in his therapeutic project. pp. provides an ironic commentary on their exchanges.the author‘s use of certain arguments does not amount to an endorsement of them. refuting. (ibid. not the therapist. 117 . 186) Stern brings up an important problem that must be addressed: Wittgenstein claims to not be asserting philosophical theses. with the result that they are unable to reconcile the trenchant and provocative theses advocated by the narrator and the commentator‘s rejection of all philosophical theses. p. This tension can be relieved by recalling that Wittgenstein claims to have no opinion on the judgments that he puts forth. So the observer needs to account for the interesting fact that Wittgenstein intends to relieve the patient of his desire to philosophize by engaging him in something that looks very much like a philosophical discussion. 22-3) Perhaps Wittgenstein engages the reader in philosophical argument only to later bring her to see that this very discussion is in certain ways problematic. Stern‘s three-voice interpretation provides one way of resolving such a tension: This third voice. The point is for the patient to take the claims as serious judgments. which is not always clearly distinct from the narratorial voice. (Stern 2004. a commentary consisting partly of objections to assumptions the debaters take for granted.. Most readers treat both of these voices as expressions of ‗Wittgenstein‘s‘ view. but instead that the patient‘s experience of witnessing the various voices interacting is intended to somehow be therapeutic. and adopting theses.15 15 Another unexplored possibility might be that the patient isn‘t to identify with any of the voices in the text.
i. And then. p. such an inevitable and simple key to unlock so many doors so long battered against in vain. But eventually a transformation took place: At first one didn‘t see where all the talk was leading to.. One of Wittgenstein‘s former students recalled the following therapeutic experience: The considerable difficulty in following the lectures arose from the fact that it was hard to see where all this often rather repetitive concrete detailed talk was leading to – how the examples were interconnected and how all this bore on the problem which one was accustomed to put oneself in abstract terms. one did. the student experienced an abrupt change in attitude 118 . One wondered how one could possibly fail to see it. All at once. sometimes. was confused about where Wittgenstein‘s investigations were going.. seemed so simple and obvious. long story. interested in solving traditional philosophical problems. But if one tried to explain it to someone else who had not seen it one couldn‘t get it across without going through the whole long. suddenly.One important question the observer must answer is: Does Wittgenstein‘s therapy work. or saw only very vaguely. are patients really cured from philosophical impulses after undergoing Wittgenstein‘s treatment? There is certainly evidence that his therapy has at times been successful. 51) This much we should expect. The student. and found looking at tedious details to be philosophically irrelevant and unsatisfying. After suffering through Wittgenstein‘s confusing technique. once seen. sometimes.e. p. (Gasking and Jackson 1951. (ibid. 52) This experience appears to meet some of the standards that Wittgenstein sets for his therapeutic project. One didn‘t see. the point of the numerous examples. the solution to one‘s problem became clear and everything fell into place…The solution.
(notice that Wittgenstein did not convince the student to change his attitude – the student simply experienced the change). the student could have simply told his friends the answer. This might be seen as a natural result of the personspecific character of Wittgenstein‘s methods: in conversation Wittgenstein can address the specific concerns of his interlocutor. abstract. deep philosophical problem now seemed simple. while in print he can‘t 119 . What had once appeared to him as a complex. for he was incapable of explaining his change in attitude to other philosophers. If the result of the therapy had been a philosophical thesis. This is a nice example of how Wittgenstein‘s therapy can work. The student‘s resolution did not result from having received a philosophical answer to his question. But he instead found himself needing to recount the entire experience. Relatively few philosophers have undergone the transformations that Wittgenstein sought to effect in his patients while reading the Investigations. and superficial. rather than successfully effect such a change in attitude in the reader. but the last half-century of the history of philosophy has shown that such experiences are uncommon. obvious. but that his therapy is less effective when performed in print. Perhaps this is evidence that Wittgenstein was sometimes a successful therapist in person. To many Wittgenstein‘s text has seemed to only insist that one should not be concerned with particular philosophical problems.
to return language to its everyday context in a philosophy book? … Is it possible to de-textualize our understanding of language-use in a text? These questions and difficulties may help explain why Wittgenstein‘s later methods allow him to teach well but not to write a book‖ (ibid. 489) As Wittgenstein taught us…being rational or reasonable is not merely a matter of thinking in a certain manner but also a matter of thinking certain things. but it should also leave our everyday practices as they are.take the each patient‘s specific cravings into account and thus must deal with problems that not all readers suffer from. p. for example. the meaning of language is determined by social speech habits…and not by the things which 16 Savickey argues that in Wittgenstein‘s methodology. p. Is it possible.. 123). (Kazepides 1989. and thus that his therapeutic procedure is not well-suited for the medium of a printed book: ―Part of Wittgenstein‘s methodological difficulty. 120 . 119). p. 16 Wittgenstein states that his therapy involves no theses. p. (Arrington 1985. and part of his struggle in writing a philosophical book. and they certainly should not hold new philosophical commitments as a result. indeed all meaning activity. So patients successfully coming out of therapy should hold fewer significant philosophical commitments than before the therapy began. involves whether or not it is possible to do what he is attempting to do in words and in writing. A simple internet search reveals a trend among some thinkers who have engaged with Wittgenstein‘s writings: Wittgenstein taught us that all linguistic behavior. established intuitions. and consensual standards exist. and that the result of his therapy should be the abandonment of certain philosophical attitudes. 392) As Wittgenstein taught us. We can then evaluate whether Wittgenstein‘s therapy meets its own standards by observing whether his treatment results in patients asserting new philosophical theses. ―emphasis is placed on the speaking of language as part of an activity or form of life‖ (1999. presupposes a social context in which common practices.
then by Wittgenstein‘s own lights his treatment has not succeeded. and later explicitly 17 121 . (Munz 1990. The observer is then tasked with explaining how such theses manage to find their way into Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic procedure. p.language can at best be made to refer to obliquely. The principle of charity dictates that we not attribute to Wittgenstein the intention to pass on these theses to his patients. (High 1981. Perhaps some of the arguments presented during therapy manage to be convincing to the patient. p. 262) Wittgenstein has taught us that meaning and use are not separate things. despite his desire to avoid them.17 Another possibility may be that the The possibility that Wittgenstein may have unwittingly been committed to some philosophical theses. rationality. But they might surface in more subtle ways during the therapeutic process. and belief as a result of their interaction with Wittgenstein‘s work. for these thinkers all appear to hold new substantive philosophical theses about language meaning. is suggested by Stroud: ―Wittgenstein from the very beginning of his work in the Tractatus was suspicious of. (Kavka 1974. despite the therapist‘s intention not to use them to advance any theses. 137) Wittgenstein has taught us that religious belief is indigenous to the religious community and can only be understood and seen as meaningful from inside that distinctive or isolated languagegame and/or form or life. p. 1472) If these thinkers have truly undergone Wittgensteinian therapy. and he unwittingly transmits these theses to the patient. the meaning of a word is compounded out of its uses. reference. Or maybe Wittgenstein doesn‘t realize that some of his beliefs really are controversial philosophical theses.
is itself underwritten by a number of controversial philosophical commitments. while not intended to advance any theses in its application. implying that those who assert ―meaning is use‖ have misunderstood Wittgenstein‘s intention: The question has been raised how far my method is the same as what is called description of meaning by exemplification. That sounds as if I had invented a method. When we ask on what occasions people use a word. 79). 18 In a recent interpretation and defense of Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project. This reading thus identifies a controversial philosophical commitment as the foundation of Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project. such as the following from Wittgenstein‘s lectures.. 3) and that ―Wittgenstein characterizes the failure to distinguish between these two kinds of sentences as the central confusion and unclarity of philosophy‖ (ibid. and how exactly it should be characterized (or indeed if such a distinction should be made at all) is a matter of philosophical controversy. what they are right to substitute for it. p. The point of examining the way a word is used is not at all to provide another method of giving its meaning. One could cite quotations. One natural response to cases of patients leaving therapy with new philosophical commitments. might be to argue that these thinkers did not undergo Wittgenstein‘s therapy correctly. 96-7) Such thinkers might very well be misunderstanding Wittgenstein‘s intention in associating meaning and use. 122 . and in reply try to describe its use. the whole idea of a philosophical theory of a philosophical proposition. a means of giving a meaning which is just as good as definition.entire therapeutic project. But patients who come away from therapy set against. p. pp. what they say about it. 294). (Wittgenstein 1979.18 This remains an open question for the observer. of course‖ (1982. That alone does not mean that he managed to avoid them completely. we do so only insofar as it seems helpful in getting rid of certain philosophical troubles. Kuusela argues that ―the roots of Wittgenstein‘s conception of philosophy might be said to lie in his emphasis on the difference between true or false factual statements and expressions of exceptionless necessity‖ (2008. p. But this distinction is a philosophical one that is rarely drawn in everyday contexts. like those mentioned above.
likewise. A psychotherapist does not preface the administration of her therapy with a lesson on psychological theory. the patient can‘t and shouldn‘t be expected to know this or any other piece of information on how Wittgenstein intends for his method to function.with this misunderstanding can‘t be faulted for coming to this belief. While Wittgenstein claims not to hold substantive theses. Such a criticism would confuse the independent perspectives of the patient and the observer. p. it is assumed and not argued for. 19 123 . While Wittgenstein‘s above methodological justification for attending to word use is available to the observer. 59). Hintikka (1996) argues that Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project is based on a controversial assumption that language cannot represent itself. knowledge about how Wittgenstein‘s procedure is supposed to function cannot be required for a successful application of the therapy.19 One might also legitimately employ a moral critique of Wittgenstein‘s choosing to adopt the role of a therapist in the first place. But this conception is not up for critical evaluation. Finally. For this reason Glock accuses Wittgenstein of succumbing to ―the myth of mere method…the illusion that one can fashion philosophical methods in a presuppositionless manner‖ (2007. Otherwise. it is clear that his method is based on a certain conception of what counts as a philosophical illness. Certainly Freud and his descendants of psychoanalysts have received plenty of legitimate Similarly. only observers could be successful patients. the observer may legitimately criticize Wittgenstein for his views about therapy and his decision to be a therapist in the first place.
124 . This might be a particularly fruitful task for those readers who identify themselves as ‗Wittgensteinians‘ and wish to carry on his legacy. Rather than constructing defenses of Wittgenstein‘s work as actually practiced. these philosophers might best serve his legacy by doing his work – and better. One final task of the observer we have not discussed is to suggest improvements on Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic methods. or determine that any patient who displays ‗resistance‘ is in denial. then our job as critics should not be to describe and evaluate a body of philosophical theses. one might likewise criticize Wittgensteinian therapy. for one can then view Wittgenstein‘s work as a resource of attempted therapies – some successful. To the extent that Wittgenstein‘s project has these characteristics. but rather to describe the methods of his therapy and evaluate their effectiveness. and the above concerns are legitimate. We have identified a number of new and interesting modes of critique available to the observer of Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic project. thus preventing the patient from being able to critically evaluate the therapeutic process.criticism over the years. If we take Wittgenstein seriously as a therapist. some not – that can be learned from and improved upon. A therapist can diagnose the patient‘s illness and engage in therapy without keeping the patient informed about what he is doing. refuse to honestly give his opinion if the patient requests it.
The composition of Part 2. comprised of remarks 1-65. a time when Wittgenstein repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the results of his attempts at philosophical writing. were all written in the spring of 1951.Chapter 5 Theory and Therapy in On Certainty From our investigation in Chapter 1 of the fluctuations in both Wittgenstein‘s capacity for philosophical work in his final years and his evaluation of those attempts. The first part. when Wittgenstein expressed renewed satisfaction with his work and optimism about its future development. According to the editors‘ preface to On Certainty. and 299. 192. each associated with distinct phases of Wittgenstein‘s self-assessment. Anscombe 125 . Remarks 300-676. as well as the effort in Chapter 2 to date his writings with respect to these fluctuations. making up Part 3. ―the material falls into four parts‖. deemed in hindsight to have been less successful than his final weeks. was dated to the fall of 1949. we were able to conclude that On Certainty divides itself into three parts. with divisions after remarks 65. though they still belong to the two years between the springs of 1949 and 1951. was dated to 1950. during or shortly after Wittgenstein‘s visit to Norman Malcolm in Cornell. Wittgenstein‘s writings from the fall of 1949 precede his cancer diagnosis and the subsequent decline in his work. comprised of remarks 66-299.
and then explain why Wittgenstein himself would be satisfied or disappointed with the respective exhibition or lack of these qualities in his work. Thus I believe that my consistent division of parts according to their association with distinct phases of composition has better support. and only partially or unsatisfactorily exhibited in the Part 1 of the book. consistent development. in this chapter I treat the book as a 1 While the editors‘ placement of the entirety of the MS 175 remarks in On Certainty after those from MS 174 gives one the impression that the latter remarks were composed after the former. but a datum that calls for explanation by interpreters of Wittgenstein‘s writings. because it lacks the cohesion. Consequently. MSS 174 and 175. and author‘s intention normally associated with this notion. That is. since they count material from MS 175 as comprising two different parts.and von Wright thus consider two parts to be included in what I have called ‗Part 2‘. I believe that a successful interpretation of On Certainty should point out what characteristics are lacking in Part 2. and thus that the temporal sequence of composition may be more complicated than initially thought.1 Yet their divisions are not consistently determined by the distinct source manuscripts. The structure of the book and its relation to Wittgenstein‘s phases of working is not merely a philosophical or biographical curiosity. as shown in Chapter 3. This cannot be accomplished if we read On Certainty as a work. while the final part is comprised of four distinct blocks of continuous text drawn from three separate manuscripts. exhibited in Part 3. 126 . This is because these remarks come from two separate notebook sources. I argued in Chapter 2 that it is also conceivable that Wittgenstein drafted remarks in these notebooks concurrently.
My thesis is that many of the remarks in Part 3 of the book exhibit qualities that Wittgenstein desires in a therapeutic philosophy.‘ Although in Part 1 Wittgenstein announces his intentions to give a therapeutic response to Moore. Indeed. thereby providing a reading of On Certainty that accounts for the variety of its component parts. that Part 2 often fails to achieve these characteristics by providing what appears to be a theoretical response to the philosophical problems in question. Yet even when we attribute therapeutic goals to Wittgenstein. In chapter 4 I argued that the metaphilosophical goals of the second Wittgenstein should be understood as therapeutic and anti-theoretical in character. he tends to argue in Part 2 that Moore‘s statements are 127 . for Wittgenstein did not always succeed in fulfilling his methodological ideals. it is important to distinguish between his methodological ideals and his actual practice. and that Part 1 displays these qualities only to a limited extent.collection of thematically related texts spanning a series of composition phases. The considerations of all the preceding chapters bear upon the reading of On Certainty given here. This contrast is seen particularly when comparing Wittgenstein‘s reactions to Moore‘s assertions of having basic items of knowledge such as ‗here is a hand‘ or ‗I know that that‘s a tree. this is the key to taking Wittgenstein seriously as a therapist while still leaving room to critically evaluate his project on its own terms.
However. according to the theory presented there. lack sense. For no matter what characteristics interpreters believe that Wittgenstein hoped his most polished writings would achieve (and there is a wide range of opinions on this subject). and explaining why they believe Wittgenstein would think that the later work was of higher quality.inappropriate because they are among a special class of propositions that. Many of the well-known declarations of Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic intentions were first formulated in the early thirties. In these latter remarks Wittgenstein also begins to call his own prior theoretical claims from Part 2 into question. a therapeutic response to a problem that succeeded in allowing one to relinquish prior obsessions without taking on new theoretical commitments was an achievement that was sought but not always fulfilled in actual practice. in Part 3 Wittgenstein personally engages with Moore.2 For Wittgenstein. I believe that their readings of On Certainty would benefit from comparing the remarks written in 1950 with those from 1951. during the so-called ‗middle period‘ when he returned to Cambridge to begin philosophical work once again. even though some of the theories or proto2 This reading relies on my characterization of Wittgenstein as pursuing therapeutic methodological ideals. But I want to leave open the possibility of other readers using the structure of On Certainty to develop alternative interpretations of the book. trying to determine what characteristics the later material has that the earlier material lacks. A number of these methodological statements persisted through the thirties and found their way into the text of Philosophical Investigations. wondering if – like Moore‘s statements – the too in fact lack the determinate senses provided by everyday contexts. attempting to lead Moore to a frame of mind in which he does not feel compelled to make these philosophical assertions by exploring a number of ways in which his statements could be given an understandable non-philosophical use. 128 .
see (Stern 1995) on Wittgenstein‘s adoption of an analogy between language and a system of rules. he often found himself caught up in metaphysical theorizing. 129 . Since this voice finally makes an extended 3 E. The muddled and sluggish cognition of which he complained after undergoing hormone treatments for his cancer may have contributed to his inability to move beyond his theoretical considerations in 1950 and find that therapeutic voice he constantly sought. additional voices would be added to the text – often therapeutic voices attempting to undermine or deflate Wittgenstein‘s own earlier dogmatic statements. Achieving a therapeutic resolution to a philosophical problem was often the result of working through theoretical considerations.theories adopted during this middle period were themselves submitted to therapeutic treatment in that text. for despite his oft-stated goal of bringing words back to their everyday use.g.3 Philosophical Investigations thus did not become a therapeutic text because Wittgenstein planned from the very beginning for it to have the dialogical structure that it does. This description of the development of Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic writings and his personal struggles with theory-avoidance may help to explain why he was disappointed with the remarks in Part 2 of On Certainty. prompted either by himself or by other philosophers who were to be subjected to treatment. and his subsequent attempts to undermine this idea. During multiple stages of revision. 4 For this reason. therapeutic readings that portray the Tractatus as a book whose theories Wittgenstein had always intended to become destabilized by the end of the text do not in fact treat the book as having a structure comparable to Philosophical Investigations.4 Wittgenstein thus often became his own therapeutic patient.
It is equally important not to treat the individual parts of On Certainty as if they were self-standing theoretical or therapeutic works. All of the remarks in the book constitute first-draft material. for Part 2 was not intentionally written to serve as a setup for Part 3. the interpretation presented here might be called a ‗therapeutic‘ reading of the book. while Part 3 is characterized by the emergence of questions that bring the stability of these theories into question. It is certainly not the case that nothing of a therapeutic character can be found in Part 2 and that Part 3 is devoid of all theorizing. the remarks in Part 2 taken together lend themselves to a theoretical reading. (OC 1) 130 . so we should not expect Wittgenstein‘s philosophical explorations to have either the thematic consistency or structured organization of a revised text. as having a structure that was planned an implemented. But it is important to note that this is not a reading of On Certainty as an intentionally therapeutic ‗work‘.appearance in the final part of On Certainty. The text of On Certainty begins with a direct challenge to one of G. Moore‘s most famous claims: If you do know that here is one hand. But according to my reading. we‘ll grant you all the rest.E. i. as well as a new approach to Moore‘s knowledge-claims that is oriented around the speaker of those utterances rather than an abstract characterization of the peculiar class of propositions that they represent.e.
that he claimed to know with certainty. p. and was thus a misuse of language. ‗the earth had existed for many years before my body was born. Most philosophers concerned with the problem of skepticism found Moore‘s solution to be entirely unsatisfactory. he thereby claimed to have established the existence of external objects and thus that of the external world. concerning the existence of a particular external object. constituted a refutation of external world skepticism. See (van Gennip 2008) for a discussion of several philosophical encounters between Moore and Wittgenstein. which Moore‘s utterances failed to satisfy. however. had just recently published a unique criticism of not only the premise of Moore‘s proof also a number of other common sense propositions that he had claimed to know with certainty.‘ 7 In this essay Malcolm charged that Moore‘s use of the expression ‗I know‘ in making these assertions was ―contrary to ordinary and correct use‖ (Malcolm 1949. 203): 5 6 (Moore 1939) It was not. Wittgenstein‘s extensive consideration of this and similar claims was prompted by discussions with Norman Malcolm in the fall of 1949. Three necessary conditions for the correct use of the expression ‗I know‘. p. e.6 Malcolm. 202). 7 (Moore 1925) 131 . This. were identified by Malcolm (ibid. a former student of Moore‘s.g.5 By giving a statement. charging him with begging the question by simply reasserting a premise already challenged by the skeptic and providing no additional proof of its truth. the first time that Wittgenstein thought seriously about Moore‘s writings or attempted to form a response to them. he contended.This was the crucial premise of Moore‘s attempt to prove the existence of the external world.
and McManus 2003. Therefore. I was using it in the sense in which it is ordinarily used – was using it to make the assertion which it is ordinarily used to make. Seery. who returned a critical response in a letter that arrived around the same time that Wittgenstein made his visit to Cornell. and it also requires these rules to be systematically catalogued.1) There is a question at issue and a doubt to be removed. Under this understanding of senses as 132 . 266) The assertion made by a sentence. and participated in several discussions with Malcolm on their contents. if. is characterized by the necessary and sufficient conditions under which it is true (ibid. 3) The question at issue could be settled by carrying out some investigation. though this was so. Malcolm‘s response can be characterized as a theoretical one. 2) The person asserting a knowledge claim is able to give supporting reasons. p. Moore argued. which Moore here identifies with its sense. p. (Rothhaupt. Wittgenstein read the article and Moore‘s response. for it attempts to alter Moore‘s behavior by getting him to assent to the controversial thesis that sensible uses of language are determined by adherence to a number of precise rules. Moore protested against Malcolm‘s charges: You wanted…to say that my use of that expression was a ―misuse‖ & ―incorrect‖ … But that I used it under circumstances under which it would not ordinarily be used is no reason at all for saying I misused it or used it incorrectly. Malcolm sent a copy of his article to Moore. a consideration of the conditions in which a statement is uttered should be entirely distinct from a consideration of its sense. 265).
not when it is doing work‖ (PI 132): The propositions which one comes back to again and again as if bewitched--these I should like to expunge from philosophical language. (OC 31) Thus we expunge the sentences that don't get us any further. By claiming of his utterance that he ―was using it in the ordinary sense. In these early remarks Wittgenstein states a goal that is consistent with his desire in Philosophical Investigations to eliminate ―confusions which occupy us arise when language is. as it were. or incorrectly be put. Moore was thus relying on an understanding of language that distinguishes meaning (or sense) from use. In these early remarks we see both theoretical and therapeutic elements at work. though not under ordinary circumstances‖ (ibid.determined by truth-conditions. (OC 33) This objective of getting philosophers to abandon those propositions that entrance us and thereby prevent progress in our endeavors should certainly 133 . Wittgenstein wrote Part 1 of On Certainty with these discussions about Moore in mind.. correctly. 266). the few constructive attempts he makes end up sharing some of the characteristics of Malcolm‘s theoretical response. the meaning of a proposition is independent of the uses to which it may ordinarily. idling. While he declares his intentions here to provide a therapeutic treatment of the problems raised by Moore‘s statements. and this is associated with Wittgenstein‘s retrospective moderate dissatisfaction with the content of Part 1.
be understood as a therapeutic one. but simply because they aren‘t useful and don‘t get us any further in our investigations. and the formation of concepts different from the usual ones will become intelligible to him‖ (PI Part II. Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic statement of purpose to expunge 8 Cf. Likewise. while others become important. Wittgenstein does not claim to be interested in a class of propositions with a peculiar logical status. the procedure laid out in Part II of Philosophical Investigations for making alternative conceptions intelligible: ―…if anyone believes that certain concepts are absolutely the correct ones. (OC 63)8 This non-theoretical technique of leading a philosopher to new perspectives and ways of using language is described but not put into practice in Part 1. for it is aimed at ―clearing up the ground of language‖ (PI 118) that houses many philosophical stumbling blocks. And they should be removed from philosophical language not because they display our ignorance of the structure of language games. Notice that Wittgenstein‘s own characterizations of his goals don‘t conform to the standard accounts of On Certainty. certain language-games lose some of their importance. And in this way there is an alteration – a gradual one – in the use of the vocabulary of a language. he is interested in certain propositions to the extent that they tend to bewitch philosophers. A therapeutic procedure for bringing about this change in philosophical language is also sketched in Part 1: If we imagine the facts otherwise than as they are. 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. 366). 134 . He wishes not to characterize these propositions. but rather to expunge them.
for when Moore tries to refute this skepticism by holding up his hands. but only realized later in the remarks of Part 3. In these early remarks Wittgenstein briefly attempts to clarify the nature of external-world skepticism. is not doubting the existence of any particular object. where Wittgenstein highlights the influence of context and use on the meaning of an expression in particular circumstances. but there is a further doubt behind that one. such as one‘s hands: "Doubting the existence of the external world" does not mean for example doubting the existence of a planet. then a reasonable man will not doubt that I know. This goal is not achieved in the brief set of remarks constituting Part 1 nor in Part 2. Nor will the idealist.bewitching propositions is merely programmatic. The skeptic (or ‗the idealist‘ as Wittgenstein calls him in Part I). If I claim to know that my hands or other ordinary objects exist. rather he will say that he was not dealing with the practical doubt which is being dismissed. But this idea is not fully developed until the later remarks. in wanting a proof of the external world. (OC 19) 135 . it appears that he does not fully appreciate just how radical his opponent‘s position really is. which later observations proved to exist. The beginning of a challenge to Moore‘s conception of an expression‘s sense as independent of the variety of ways that it might be employed is also articulated: ―…a meaning of a word is a kind of employment of it‖ (OC 61). (OC 20) The skeptic‘s doubt is placed on a different level than ordinary doubt about the existence of certain objects.
Moore is even aware that ―what they really want is…something like a general statement as to how any propositions of this sort may be proved‖ (ibid. a number of Wittgenstein‘s early remarks in On Certainty invite a theoretical reading and indeed appear to be comparable to the theoretical treatment of Moore‘s remarks in Malcolm‘s article.Wittgenstein wants to bring out into the open the demands of the skeptic – he does not want to know that a particular thing exists. he does. after all conclude his proof by admitting. ―I am perfectly well aware that.9 Notwithstanding the expression of programmatic statements of therapeutic intentions in Part 1. I believe not. Like Malcolm. in spite of all that I have said. he does not want particular knowledge claims to be demonstrated but demands a proof of how any knowledge at all is possible.g. Wittgenstein attempts to explicitly articulate some of the necessary conditions for the proper use of this phrase: If e. is inclined here to accuse Moore of using language incorrectly: Now. For Wittgenstein. (OC 6) This illegitimate employment of ‗I know‘ results from a misunderstanding of the rules regulating that expression. – This possibility of satisfying 9 It is debatable whether Moore was actually ignorant of the radical nature of the skeptic‘s demands. p. but wants to be shown how anything can exist. many philosophers will still feel that I have not given any satisfactory proof of the point in question‖ (1939. 149). p. 136 . can one enumerate what one knows (like Moore)? Straight off like that. too. for ―we just do not see how very specialized the use of ‗I know‘ is‖ (OC 11). – For otherwise the expression ―I know‖ gets misused. someone says ―I don‘t know if there‘s a hand here‖ he might be told ―Look closer‖.. 148).
I am looking attentively into his face. specific instances of hinge propositions are given and declared to have a special status: ―… ‗There are physical objects‘ is nonsense‖ (OC 35). In a few passages from Part 2.. the product of these initial efforts is mostly theoretical and in fact reminiscent of Malcolm‘s own published critique of Moore. and hence even where the expression of doubt would unintelligible. We can thus see from these initial remarks in On Certainty why Wittgenstein referred to the fall of 1949. which actually preceded the beginning of the hormone therapies associated with his regular reports of clouded cognition.‖ are always in place where there is no doubt.. then. to which these propositional attitudes don‘t apply: I know that a sick man is lying here? Nonsense! I am sitting at his bedside. according to which both parties fail to make sense by claiming to either know or doubt so-called ‗hinge propositions‘. For even though he announces his intentions to develop a therapeutic response to Moore‘s unusual attempts at knowledge claims. (OC 10) Finally. Wittgenstein appears to continue Malcolm‘s project of identifying rules governing the correct use of the 137 . that there is a sick man lying here? Neither the question nor the assertion makes sense . one thinks that the words ―I know that. Is one of its essential features.. (OC 3) In these early remarks he also provides hints of the theoretical response to both Moore and the skeptic that is regularly associated with his work in Part 2. as nevertheless a period when the ‗curtain in his brain‘ had not gone up. – So I don‘t know..oneself is part of the language–game.
Methodological remarks in this part lend credence to such a reading: Naturally. The propositions.. this group of remarks has received particular emphasis by his interpreters to draw conclusions about the theoretical nature of his endeavors in On Certainty. (OC 137) The focus of Part 2.‖ lies in his regarding it as an utterance as little subject to doubt as ―I am in pain‖..expression ‗I know‘: ―One says ‗I know‘ when one is ready to give compelling grounds‖ (OC 243). however. tends not to be on confusions specific to particular philosophers.. he accuses Moore of misusing language by violating these rules: The wrong use made by Moore of the proposition ―I know. which Moore retails as examples of such known truths are indeed interesting. Like Malcolm. As we will see. then. but rather with the special status of the propositions that he tends to utter: Moore‘s assurance that he knows.. (OC 178) But Wittgenstein makes it clear that he is not particularly concerned with Moore himself in these remarks. my aim must be to give the statements that one would like to make here. does not interest us. but cannot make meaningfully [sinnvoll]. (OC 76) 138 . but rather on abstract philosophical problems surrounding the meaning of certain propositions. For these reasons many of Wittgenstein‘s remarks in this part lend themselves to be read as forming the basis of a theoretical response to both Moore and his skeptical opponent.
139 .Here we see an apparent shift from Wittgenstein‘s stated intentions in Part 1. The various propositions that Moore asserts. that is. Wittgenstein gives several metaphorical descriptions of these sorts of propositions: as the solid river-banks supporting our rivers of investigation (OC 99).10 Moore‘s assertions are actually claims to know those propositions that we give at the end of such a series. which have a peculiar logical role in the system of our empirical propositions. we are told. are in fact all members of a special class: When Moore says he knows such and such. as the propositions that 10 Cf. but justification comes to an end‖ (OC 192). to now wanting to show that Moore‘s knowledge claims are in fact nonsense. He does this by delimiting a certain class of propositions and determining their semantic status. propositions. merely to eliminate troublesome expressions from philosophical language. As Wittgenstein reminds us. he is really enumerating a lot of empirical propositions which we affirm without special testing. (OC 136) The propositions presenting what Moore ‗knows‘ are all of such a kind that it is difficult to imagine why anyone should believe the contrary. (OC 93) The propositions forming this class are thus distinguished by their justificatory roles and their status of nearly universal acceptance. and for which we can produce no further grounds. any series of justifying the grounds for our assertions by giving further grounds must come to an end at some point: ―to be sure there is justification. OC 110.
and as the ―hinges‖ around which our disputes turn (OC 341). that we know our own names. and that we cannot be mistaken about our hands being our own. Wittgenstein says that there are ―countless‖ such hinge propositions. This is not due to our disinterest in making such inquiries. p. They cannot be given any grounding or justified by further evidence and thus ―must be regarded as…beyond question and beyond validation‖ (Strawson 1985. they ultimately determine what counts as evidence in our investigations and are constitutive of our contexts of giving reasons 11 Stroll (2004) brings attention to the variety of metaphors employed by Wittgenstein in On Certainty. By serving as the stoppingpoints of all justification. We are certain that the world existed before our birth. that we can rely upon induction. and readers of On Certainty have gone on to clearly identify various examples: Our investigations rest upon many kinds of foundations. ―general empirical propositions that count as certain for us‖ (OC 273).11 Though the term ―hinge‖ only occurs three times in On Certainty (at remarks 341. and 654). (Morawetz 433) These statements have the appearance of being normal empirical propositions. the members of this class have come to be known as ‗hinge propositions‘ in the secondary literature. but instead an essential feature of the role these propositions play in our system of judgments. 25). 343. 140 .―stand fast for me‖ by serving as an axis for rotation (OC 152). but they differ from empirical propositions and acquire their special status by the fact that ―we don‘t … arrive at any of them as a result of investigation‖ (OC 138).
141 . since one can lay down such a proposition and turn it from an empirical proposition into a norm of description. rather they define truth with regards to the epistemological aspects of a language-game‖ (1996. 13 Kober explicates remark 205 by describing the status of hinges in the latter way: ―Certainties are like the rules of games and belong to the constitutive rules of a (discursive) language-game. also be used as a foundation for research and action? (OC 87) …the same proposition may get treated at one time as something to test by experience. their constitutive properties make them function more like logical propositions or rules.12 So while hinge propositions may appear to be empirical. p. As a result hinge propositions cannot be falsified or confirmed. Certainties are neither true nor false. We are free in fact to form new contexts of evaluation by taking an empirical proposition and turning it into a hinge proposition.and evidence. we will soon see that it is brought into question in the later remarks of On Certainty. 12 Yet in the next remark Wittgenstein admits that ―if someone asked us ‗but is that true?‘ we might say ‗yes‘ to him‖ (OC 206). not yet false‖ (OC 205). in fact the concepts of truth and falsity do not apply to them at all: ―if the true is what is grounded.13 Some propositions might serve a foundational role in one context. at another as a rule of testing. yet be available for evaluation in others. then the ground is not true. (OC 167) While this assertion is made repeatedly in Part 2. which was capable of functioning as an hypothesis. 424). Wittgenstein makes such a claim multiple times in Part 2: Can‘t an assertoric sentence. (OC 98) It is clear that our empirical propositions do not all have the same status.
14 Hinge propositions. are responsible for the very possibility of that activity. And this system is not a more or less arbitrary and doubtful point of departure for all our arguments: no. The extent to which these claims rely on remarks in Part 2 is striking. Wittgenstein alternatively describes this system as ―our frame of reference‖ (OC 83). As Wittgenstein frequently emphasizes. it belongs to the essence of what we call an argument. (OC 88)15 The scope of hinge propositions is immense. The system is not so much the point of departure. and ―the whole picture which forms the starting-point of belief‖ (OC 209).The entire collection of hinge propositions forms a system that is internally structured (OC 102). (OC 105) It may be for example that all enquiry on our part is set so as to exempt certain propositions from doubt. For example. He stresses that this system serves a foundational role by providing evidential support for empirical inquiries. by serving as the ultimate foundation of our reasoning. if they were ever formulated. all confirmation and disconfirmation of a hypothesis takes place already within a system. after quoting eight remarks – all from Part 2 – Buchanan concludes: ―It is clear from these remarks that Wittgenstein envisions Moore type propositions as forming a ‗system‘ which plays a foundational role in determining the course of all enquiry and assertion about how things are in the world‖ (2000. Not only do they condition empirical enquiry. 142 . as the element in which arguments have their life. Like with his vivid descriptions of hinge propositions. p. 216) 15 See also OC 103 and 253. ―the scaffolding of our thoughts‖ (OC 211). they condition and are constitutive of a number of human practices: All testing. They lie apart from the route travelled by enquiry. they also apparently lie at the very foundation of all our 14 Many readers take the foundational role of this system to be one of the central theses of On Certainty.
nor do I have it because I am satisfied of its correctness. 214). or at least attempting to engage. Rather. p. you cannot be certain of the meaning of your words either‖ (OC 114). in an evaluation of the truth of particular hinge 16 See also OC 150. i.e. No: it is the inherited background against which I distinguish between true and false. it is actually impossible to simultaneously bring every proposition into doubt. Both parties attempt to engage in practices that aren‘t licensed by our conceptual system by engaging. (OC 94) These propositions are then not available for me to doubt.16 Wittgenstein‘s account of hinge propositions and the constitutive roles they play in our practices of expressing belief and doubt provide the means for convicting both Moore and the skeptic of ―overstepping the boundaries of sense‖ (Buchanan 2000. Since ―the game of doubting itself presupposes certainty‖ (OC 115). This makes the skeptic‘s attempt to doubt absolutely everything self-undermining.linguistic practices by fixing the meanings of our words: ―if you are not certain of any fact. Our systems of hinge propositions is not the result of inquiry. 143 . hinges are not adopted because they are believed to be correct. for bringing them into question would topple my very system of judgments. for the act of doubting itself (just like the act of believing) is constituted by a framework of hinge propositions. they serve as the standards of truth: But I did not get my picture of the world by satisfying myself of its correctness.
p. Crucially. But it is important to see that this response to skepticism does not satisfy Wittgenstein‘s conditions for a successful therapy. They suffer from the ―misunderstanding‖ that language games. But the skeptic undercuts the very ground that makes doubting possible by trying to doubt hinge propositions. but the account of hinge propositions sketched here is certainly comparable to a number of grand metaphysical schemes encountered in the history of philosophy (and commentators have been quick to point this out). ―and the criteria of relevant evidence implicit in them. One might be inclined to characterize Wittgenstein‘s treatment of this dispute as a therapeutic one. Wittgenstein insists that he is not interested in advancing philosophical theories. and Moore cannot possibly have any grounds for his claim to know them because they form the foundation of our practice of giving reasons. at getting both of them to lose interest in defending their respective positions. i. Both parties in the dispute between Moore and the skeptic engage in nonsense because of their ignorance of the true structure of our linguistic activities.propositions. Wittgensteinian therapy does not aim 144 . ought to be grounded in reality in the way true propositions are grounded in the facts corresponding to them‖ (Brenner 2005. because it aims at ultimately changing the behavior of both the participants. 124).e. Wittgenstein‘s philosophical explorations in Part 2 thus allow for one of the great philosophical debates between skeptics and realists to be dissolved.
sentences couched in quotation marks or set off by dashes in order to indicate that multiple characters or voices are interacting with one another. Thus. Wittgenstein is telling himself) to imagine that a speaker utters a certain sentence in specific circumstances. and this new style is more conducive for achieving the qualities that Wittgenstein desires in a therapeutic philosophy. or makes some general observations on what is taking place. how the speaker is standing in relation to the circumstances of his utterance. For example we are often told (or rather. The remarks in Part 3 exhibit a shift in style from Part 2.e. formulates what he might want to say in such a situation. where the reader is generally only asked to consider the truth of the statements asserted and the cogency of the reasoning used by the author.to get the patient to achieve an insight into the essential nature of things. e.g. Wittgenstein‘s response to Moore‘s knowledge claims in Part 2 of On Certainty must be classified as theoretical. the demands are 145 . These latter remarks are particularly characterized by the frequent introduction of voices. afterwards Wittgenstein either attempts to respond to this hypothetical speaker. Yet the treatment in Part 2 requires the participants in the skeptical debate to realize that their positions are nonsensical by first being convinced of the truth of a theory specifying the conditions under which propositions make sense. i. The experience of reading such a text differs from that of reading a philosophical treatise. When reading a Wittgenstein text involving multiple voices.
who is constantly trying to determine what identities or characters should be assigned to the voices encountered. So Wittgenstein is returning to the project of treating the philosopher‘s condition. are encountered to a considerably lesser extent in the earlier parts of On Certainty. In Part 2 Wittgenstein articulated the basis for a theory of hinge propositions that could be put towards questioning the sense of both radical skepticism and the attempt to refute it. and unfamiliar uses of language. There the focus tends to be more on characterizing the essential features of language games by identifying the distinctive characteristics of hinge propositions. The impersonal and abstract character of this investigation makes the realization of Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic goals unlikely. as well as other familiar techniques of Wittgensteinian philosophical investigation. unusual cultures.in some ways greater on the reader. particularly the reader‘s own identity and that of Wittgenstein. Moore represents a 146 . not the resolution of a problem considered in isolation. since they call for the treatment of a philosopher in the grip of a problem. such as the consideration of imaginary scenarios. The use of multiple characters and voices. The need to encounter and adopt new standpoints can facilitate the change in perspective that Wittgenstein‘s therapy strives for. for while in fact practically no one actually is a radical skeptic. Yet in Part 3 he almost entirely ignores the skeptic and focuses his attention on Moore.
to just those cases in which the expression has an established use in ordinary speech (i. one must always ask oneself: is the word ever actually used in this way in the language in which it is at home? – What we do is to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use. (PI 116) The procedure for dealing with a philosopher intending to speak metaphysically is thus to consider the use of the expression in question. ―object‖. and that this is shown in his insistence on using it in very peculiar ways.significant number of philosophers who devote considerable energy to developing a satisfactory refutation of the imaginary skeptic‘s position. This is what Wittgenstein does in the later remarks of On Certainty by considering a number of everyday uses of ‗I know‘. For example. ―proposition/sentence‖. by the word "know".e. as one might possibly assume. At the outset of On Certainty Wittgenstein stated the desired outcome of his notes about Moore‘s unusual claims: to expunge from philosophical language those bewitching propositions that don‘t get us anywhere. Now in Part 3 Wittgenstein has a particular phrase in mind: One is often bewitched by a word. ―I‖. ―being‖. ―name‖ – and try to grasp the essence of the thing. (OC 435) Wittgenstein apparently thus believes that Moore has been ‗bewitched‘ by this word. a procedure is spelled out for dealing with cases when philosophers are captivated by certain language forms: When philosophers use a word – ―knowledge‖. In Philosophical Investigations. the cases typically 147 . ‗Everyday uses‘ are not restricted.
for example. i.‖ As if the meaning were an aura the word brings along with it and retains in every kind of use. don‘t you? Well then – I‘m using it with the meaning you‘re familiar with. cases in which it is actually used (or could conceivably be used) towards a practical end. We can imagine then that Moore would not expect that the consideration of various uses of an expression could in any way resolve confusions surrounding its meaning. As we saw in his response to Malcolm‘s critical article. then he should ask himself in what special circumstances this sentence is actually used. Wittgenstein realizes that an interlocutor with this dubious picture of meaning might insist that one of his peculiar uses of an expression ‗made sense‘ simply by considering the proposition and not its employment: I am told: ―You understand this expression. even ones that are completely contrived. and thus lose interest in attempting to use it in curious 148 . Moore takes the meaning of an expression to be fixed independently of the various uses to which it might be put in linguistic interaction. but rather include any situation in which the expression could conceivably be put toward some practical end. By confronting a series of examples like this.studied by ordinary language philosophers).e. it is hoped that the philosopher will lose his grip on the idea that he understands the expression in isolation. (If.) (PI 117) The treatment Wittgenstein offers to such a philosopher is just to consider special circumstances in which the expression makes sense. There it does make sense. someone says that the sentence ―This is here‖ (saying which he points to an object in front of him) makes sense to him.
Rather than focus on general characterizations of an entire class of propositions. hopefully leading Moore to the consideration that his own use of this expression does not fit naturally in this class. After recognizing that he sometimes wishes to respond to Moore with a theory of language games (as he did frequently in Part 2). in the later remarks Wittgenstein engages in a lengthy consideration of a particular knowledge claim by made by Moore: ―I know that that‘s a tree‖. So in Part 3. in Part 3 we also see Wittgenstein in the beginning stages of applying this same treatment to his own urges to speak metaphysically. Wittgenstein then considers what practical consequences actually follow when one utters these philosophical claims in everyday situations. Wittgenstein deflates much of the theoretical punch from these propositions. i. presenting him with a series of examples in which the propositions he wishes to assert make sense.e. This is in fact the procedure that Wittgenstein follows with Moore in Part 3. Malcolm describes the context behind this real-life example: 149 . as he did with hinge propositions in Part 2. that his own attempt to make sense may not be successful.philosophical contexts. Wittgenstein‘s attempts to ―bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use‖ (PI 116) even involve the attempt to deflate his own apparently metaphysical locutions about hinge propositions and their constitutive roles in our linguistic and epistemic practices. Interestingly. By bringing them into normal contexts.
Moore mentions a meeting on April 14 (in his letter of April 30). and on April 16 Wittgenstein mentions two recent meetings. wanting to give an example of something he knew for certain.17 It is very likely that their discussions involved Moore‘s utterance of this very assertion. 18 The tone of some remarks in On Certainty also strongly suggest that Wittgenstein was not simply considering the possibility of Moore making such a claim.18 This personal interaction with Moore may have contributed to the conversational style of Part 3. We are only doing philosophy. ―I know that that’s a tree‖. one of which surely was the one on April 14 reported by Moore. would point to a tree a few feet away. Moore. Wittgenstein was able to make several visits to Moore‘s home and participate in philosophical discussions. one suddenly understands those who think that that has by no means been settled. but rather that he was reporting on his actually having witnessed such an event: I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden. It is as if Moore had put it in the wrong light. He would claim that he had made an assertion that was perfectly meaningful (as well as true). or that the external world exists. and I tell him: "This fellow isn't insane. While writing the remarks constituting Part 3 of On Certainty in Cambridge in the spring of 1951. in support of his attempts to prove either that there are some things we can know with certainty. (Malcolm 1984. Someone else arrives and hears this.When we sat in the back-garden of his home on Chesterton Road. in discussion with fellow philosophers. and I would dispute this claim. (OC 467) When one hears Moore say "I know that that's a tree‖. arguing over the concepts of knowledge and certainty. Wittgenstein mentions a meeting on March 18 (in his letter of March 19). The matter strikes one all at once as being unclear and blurred. 217218) This was then a real assertion that Moore would make. with emphasis. pp. (OC 481) 150 . since it plays such a prominent role in the notes that Wittgenstein was composing at the time. for the earlier remarks tend 17 The occurrence of at least three such meetings can be inferred from these two philosophers‘ letters to Malcolm. in person. and say. he says again and again "I know that that's a tree". pointing to a tree that is near us.
I take it. Moore likely responded to Wittgenstein‘s confusion in the same way as he did to Malcolm – namely by insisting that he was using the expression in its normal sense. (OC 351) The suggestion. Wittgenstein no longer presumes to know what Moore is intending to do with this statement (nor what he is actually doing with it). In prior remarks. This response stems from his conception of the meaning of an expression as being fixed despite its various possible uses. it‘s a hammer. that Wittgenstein is making here is that something isn‘t a hammer simply by having certain internal properties.to read like a response to Malcolm‘s impression of Moore. say. a far cry from his previous philosophical response about the proper conditions for using the word. based on Moore‘s articles and letters. for example." Why does it strike me as if I did not understand the sentence? though it is after all an extremely simple sentence of the most ordinary kind? It is as if I could not focus my mind on any meaning. Here his reaction in the face of unusual uses of ‗know‘ is now confusion. or a conductor‘s baton? Now make the application yourself. but rather that 151 . Wittgenstein brings this picture into question: Isn‘t the question ―have these words a meaning?‖ similar to ―Is that a tool?‖ asked as one produces.‖ But what if the thing that any of us would take for a hammer were somewhere else a missile. a hammer? I say ―Yes. (OC 347) Wittgenstein starts anew with a fresh response to Moore‘s statement. Now he responds quite differently: "I know that that's a tree. He is sincerely puzzled. Wittgenstein‘s reaction to Moore‘s assertions was to categorize their status.
Likewise. though true. An English sentence. 152 .‖ Is that really just a superfluous. Wittgenstein wants to challenge whether we can really understand what is actually going on when Moore makes such an assertion. Suddenly I say: ―I knew all along that you were so– and– so. ―I know that that‘s a tree‖ I may answer: ―Yes. we would not just say that they were using language abnormally. (OC 464) Wittgenstein would be more likely to consider this a meaningless utterance than merely something superfluous if it were not possible to discern the speaker‘s purpose in saying it. remark? I feel as if these words were like ―Good morning‖ said to someone in the middle of a conversation. what an expression means cannot be entirely divorced from the way that it is used in our linguistic interactions. Why one would actually say such a thing in those circumstances is not clear: If someone says. While Moore claimed that he was using his expression in its normal sense but admittedly in unusual circumstances. And what is it supposed to be doing?‖ Suppose he replies: ―I just wanted to remind myself that I know thing like that‖? – (OC 352) If someone was constantly making knowledge claims like these for no apparent reason. that is a sentence.it can become a hammer if we put it to such a use. but possibly that they hadn‘t really mastered the technique of using language at all: My difficulty can also be shown like this: I am sitting talking to a friend.
it is quite possible for ‗I know that that‘s a tree‘ to be given a determinate sense. – and not because they are superfluous. though this is achieved most readily by giving it a non-philosophical use.Moore‘s statements aren‘t declared to be essentially nonsensical. If he does so. 153 . its meaning becomes clear and ordinary‖ (OC 347). but later I realize that these words connect up with his thoughts about me. Even superfluous utterances have a role in our language. yet stands in need of such determination. And now they do not strike me as meaningless any more. (OC 348) Wittgenstein is inviting Moore to clarify how the meaning of his assertion is made determinate by some particular conditions in which it is stated. he will thereby make his meaning clear. As Wittgenstein notices. So Moore is not being set to an impossible task. and not when I say them to someone who is sitting in front of me and sees me clearly. What is at issue is that nothing in the surrounding context of the utterance has been called upon to help fix a precise meaning of this statement at all: Just as the words ―I am here‖ have a meaning only in certain contexts. someone says to me out of the blue: ―I wish you luck. but because their meaning is not determined by the situation.‖ I am astonished. whenever he tries to ―think of an everyday use of the sentence instead of a philosophical one. however. Wittgenstein points out that a proposition with no clear meaning can suddenly become meaningful to him if its place in a larger context is clarified: In the middle of a conversation. (OC 469) The problem is not simply that Moore‘s claim to know that that‘s a tree is superfluous or obvious.
that I had been thinking of my bad eyes again and it was a kind of sigh. then there would be nothing puzzling about the remark. I repeat it while looking at the tree.e. One doesn‘t make sense merely by uttering a sentence associated with determinate truth conditions under any circumstances whatsoever. and I add ―I mean these words as I did five minutes ago‖. ―I know that that‘s a tree‖ – this may mean all sorts of things: I look at a plant that I take for a young beech and that someone else thinks is a black–currant. Someone wants to test my eyes etc. – We see something in the mist which one of us takes for a man. For how a sentence is meant can be expressed by an expansion of it and may therefore be made part of it.‖ – Let us even suppose I had made this remark in the context of a conversation (so that it was relevant when I made it). But what when we express ourselves more precisely? For example: ―I know that that thing there is a tree. He says ―that‘s a shrub‖.Wittgenstein imagines a variety of understandable ways that this sentence could be used. out of all context. (OC 349) This is then a demonstration to Moore of how to – literally – make sense. I say it is a tree. The meaning of a proposition is left indeterminate without a surrounding context. and the other says ―I know that that‘s a tree‖. If I added. and one can make sense of a previously unclear statement by expanding it. by giving further information related to why we are using it.etc. I can see it quite clearly. he is demonstrating for Moore how one can make an utterance clear: by connecting its purpose with the surrounding circumstances of its utterance. for example. Each time the ‗that‘ which I declare to be a tree is of a different kind. and now. though 154 . Wittgenstein imagines even far-fetched possible uses of this statement that. – etc. By doing so. i.etc.
might be a kind of joke and as such have meaning. (OC 387) As yet. There Moore was accused. That phrase has a variety of legitimate uses as well as many potential ones that are as yet unconceived. when no one could doubt it. of using language in ways that produced outright nonsense. if he meant something quite particular by it. by adding additional information that helps clarify its purpose. and thereby to clear up the confusion. Wittgenstein is not specifying a list of conditions that must be satisfied for ‗I know‘ to be used correctly. But it is entirely possible to give this statement a clear a determinate meaning. Moore‘s statement is not being assigned a final semantic status. The response here also differs from that provided by Wittgenstein‘s earlier account of hinge propositions. (OC 463) The possible ways that this sentence can make sense are thus countless and unforeseeable. This distinguishes Wittgenstein‘s response to Moore from that of Malcolm. Wittgenstein freely admits that it has the possibility of becoming completely meaningful: I want to say: it made sense for Moore to say ―I know that that is a tree‖. 155 . the meaning of Moore‘s statement is not fully determined. without qualification.unusual and certainly not established in common practice. A joke of this kind was in fact made once by Renan. that the information "That is a tree". Here in Part 3. could nevertheless be made meaningful by attendant circumstances: This is certainly true. resulting in confusion when one hears the utterance.
I do not know what ―I know that I am a human being‖ means. What will hopefully become apparent to Moore is that every time his utterance is given a determinate sense. and there is no question but that it makes sense. But even that might be given a sense. (OC 622) 156 .) For each one of these sentences I can imagine circumstances that turn it into a move in one of our language-games. He is in fact being presented with multiple examples of how his utterance can be given sense.‘ is intended to serve the therapeutic end laid down at the beginning of On Certainty. and by that it loses everything that is philosophically astonishing. There Wittgenstein stated his wish to expunge from philosophical language the propositions that bewitch us and prevent us from making progress. it no longer produces the philosophical conclusions that he was seeking to establish with it: Every one of us often uses such a sentence. realize that his statements are nonsensical under this theory. The treatment of Moore‘s statement in Part 3 succeeds in fulfilling the antitheoretical goals of Wittgenstein‘s metaphilosophy much more than the theory of hinge propositions advanced in Part 2. (Indeed. and for that reason choose to stop making them. But does that mean it yields any philosophical conclusion? (OC 388) But now it is also correct to use ―I know‖ in the contexts which Moore mentioned. and urged to engage in this attempt himself.The response in Part 3 to Moore‘s claim. ‗I know that that‘s a tree. and Moore‘s assertion is an example of such a sentence. Moore is not here being urged to adopt a philosophical theory of meaning. at least in particular circumstances.
Wittgenstein is certainly not free of the urge to speak metaphysically in Part 3. in these later sections. but because he has lost all confidence that he really means anything definite at all by it. The method of PI 116 is thereby applied to some of the central tenets of his 157 . non-metaphysical use. Moore may come to have the same observation as Wittgenstein. it will have succeeded in causing a shift in a philosopher‘s point of view without having done so by advancing any controversial philosophical theories. yet only producing sentences that are philosophically impotent. he follows these philosophical claims by immediately questioning their sense. The therapeutic method of Part 3 is not only applied to Moore. especially when he feels compelled to repeat the theoretical conclusions of his investigation on hinge propositions in Part 2. but sometimes to Wittgenstein himself. not because he has been definitively convinced that his utterance is nonsense. Of course. the success of this therapeutic response will depend on whether Moore in fact reacts in this way to repeated failure to make sense. ultimately.After repeatedly giving various definite senses to his utterance. This may lead Moore to then question if he really does mean anything definite with his use of this statement. Recurrent failure in producing a statement with the metaphysical strength that he seeks may lead him. But if he does. but for the first time. namely that this sentence seems to only become clear once it is given a practical. to simply give up his attempt to make such an utterance.
Recall that in Part 2 Wittgenstein repeatedly claimed that an empirical proposition can always be treated as uncontestable and thus become a hinge proposition. but what does ―theoretically‖ mean here? It sounds all too reminiscent of the Tractatus.theory of hinge propositions. be transformed. he often questions what practical uses those propositions can be put to. 158 . in keeping with his stated intention not to produce any new truths. One almost wants to say ―any empirical proposition can. The sentence is too general. And when he does this. 19 Wittgenstein had already compared his thinking in Part 2 to the Tractatus at OC 203. (OC 321)19 So Wittgenstein is now shying away from some of his previous remarks that have the appearance of philosophical theories. he realizes that they too don‘t have the philosophical strength that he intends them to have.‖. (OC 319) Yet immediately after formulating these statements he expresses his dissatisfaction with them. because they are too theoretical for his sensibilities: Isn‘t what I am saying: any empirical proposition can be transformed into a postulate – and then becomes a norm of description. theoretically.. that there is no sharp boundary between propositions of logic and empirical propositions? The lack of sharpness is that of the boundary between rule and empirical proposition. But I am suspicious even of this. for after stating these metaphysical doctrines in Part 3. At the beginning of Part 3 he is apt to repeat these claims again: Is it that rule and empirical proposition merge into one another? (OC 309) But wouldn‘t one have to say then..
like Moore. rather than consider the ways in which it can be used: There is always the danger of wanting to find an expression‘s meaning by contemplating the expression itself. He was earlier making this statement in a philosophical context. or is rather a kind of exaggeration which perhaps is used only with a view to persuasion. (OC 638) He now begins to consider the practical uses and consequences of this sentence that he was earlier prone to give a metaphysical emphasis: What practical consequences has it if I give a piece of information and add that I can‘t be making a mistake about it? (OC 668) The sentence ―I can‘t be making a mistake‖ is certainly used in practice. but now it is implied that such a use was questionable: ―I can‘t be making a mistake‖ is an ordinary sentence. and the frame 159 . In these later sections.Another important feature of hinge propositions that Wittgenstein had previously wanted to emphasize was that one cannot be mistaken when uttering them. it really tends only to be a kind of exaggeration aimed at persuading someone. rather than the strictly metaphysical proposition that he intended to utter in Part 2. But we may question whether it is then to be taken in a perfectly rigorous sense. (OC 669) When this expression in used in practice. may at times be susceptible to the urge to want to think of the meaning of an expression as something fixed. he sees. Wittgenstein realizes that he too. And only in its everyday use it is justified. which serves to give the certainty–value of a statement. This may lead him to question the sense of his original utterance.
and quickly move to an investigation of use. But what consequences has it? (OC 437) He is now starting to more promptly catch himself after making metaphysical statements.of mind in which one uses it. which is a practice that takes place only within a system.‖ That is interesting. In his critique of Moore and the skeptic in Part 2. Wittgenstein described hinge propositions as being constitutive of our epistemic practices. He therefore holds to the position that no experience can possibly force us to revise these foundational beliefs. The urge to speak metaphysically was something that Wittgenstein continually struggled against. Wittgenstein calls this statement into question soon after formulating it: But might it not be possible for something to happen that threw me entirely off the rails? Evidence that made the most certain thing unacceptable to me? Or at any rate made me throw over 160 . and thus not even eligible for doubt. (OC 601) Noticing himself wanting to speak metaphysically. he immediately replies by considering the use of the phrase in question: I am inclined to say: ―That cannot be false. That is just what their being ‗fundamental‘ is. for that would show that they weren‘t really serving as the foundation of our inquiry: Isn‘t the question this: ―What if you had to change your opinion even on these most fundamental things?‖ And to that the answer seems to me to be: ―You don‘t have to change it. but here in Part 3 we see him succeeding in resisting that urge more successfully than in Part 2.‖ (OC 512) Once again. instead of always thinking of the practice.
If Wittgenstein no longer knows how to respond to these questions in Part 3. We thus see Wittgenstein at the beginning stages of submitting his own metaphysical utterances to a therapeutic treatment in Part 3 of On Certainty. 161 . Had he lived longer. Yet an important part of the treatment in Part 2 is that hinge propositions provide the foundation that makes all judgment possible. then he probably is no longer comfortable with the strong theoretical account of language games seen in the earlier remarks.) (OC 517) Wittgenstein does not come to a definite conclusion on whether it would be possible for our most fundamental judgments to be overturned by new experience. continued to work on these remarks. how we would react to such an experience. For the theoretical characterization of hinge propositions and language games in Part 2. we may have been presented with a book with a much different structure than the one published posthumously by his literary executors. and if it were.my most fundamental judgements? (Whether rightly or wrongly is beside the point. and been able to revise them with a view to publication. which has attracted the most attention from Wittgenstein‘s interpreters. may have itself been subjected to a therapeutic treatment.
(Fielding 2004). (Williams 2004b). 1 Book-length treatments of On Certainty include (McGinn 1989). Some readers focus on the semantic status of hinge propositions. (Cook 1980). (Löffler & Weingartner 2004). (Fogelin 1987). (Williams 2004b). (Morawetz 1978). 2 See e.1 This is surely a result of the perception that Wittgenstein addresses a variety of topics of contemporary philosophical interest in the work. (Rudd 2005). then it must be nonsense to utter them. Anthologies that substantially address On Certainty include (Kölbel & Weiss 2004). (de Pierres 1996). 3 (Ashdown 2001). Chapter-length treatments can be found in (Ayer 1985). (Wright 2004a). (Malcolm 1988). 162 . (Moyal-Sharrock 2005). (Kenny 2006). (Moyal-Sharrock 2002). and (von Wright 1982). (Glock 2004). (Orr 1989). and (Moyal-Sharrock 2004). (Orr 1989). (Buchanan 2000). (Stiers 2000).Chapter 6 The Reception of On Certainty On Certainty has received a significant amount of attention in the recent philosophical literature. aiming to showcase the wide variety of readings currently available for consideration. (Rhees 2003). (Williams 2004a). (Fronda 2004). (Fogelin 1981). (Moyal-Sharrock 2003).2 Standard interpretations see Wittgenstein as condemning both the skeptic and Moore for not realizing that certain hinge propositions are exempt from doubt because they serve as norms for claims concerning knowledge or doubt. and (Stroll 1994).g.3 Such discussions focus on whether hinge propositions are true or whether they instead lack a truth value altogether. Accounts of Wittgenstein‘s treatment of skepticism are the most common. Interpreters of On Certainty have found various projects within its pages. (Conant 1998). (Moyal-Sharrock & Brenner 2005) is a unique collection. (McManus 2004). (Kober 1994). If they are neither true nor false. (Bogen 1974).
4 shares some similarities with current disputes on the sense of tautologies in the Tractatus. (Soles 1982). (Stock 2007). (Koethe 2004). (Stroll 2005).some have argued.8 Regardless of what aspects of the book have drawn the interest of interpreters. as some commentators have remarked. (Pritchard 2005). most of these readings share two common characteristics: 1) They take Wittgenstein to be engaged in a familiar theoretical philosophical activity. yet as hinges they are unable to be confirmed or disconfirmed.6 Some interpreters have found in On Certainty a more systematic characterization of Wittgenstein‘s concept of a ‗language-game. (Caraway 2004). This debate. (Hertzberg 1976). (McGuinness 1972) (Ellenbogen 2003). (Luckhardt 1978). and thus don‘t appear to be contingent. attempting to 4 5 (Conant 1998). (Winch 1988). 5 Hinge propositions such as ‗the world has existed for many years‘ appear to be empirical. (Stroll 2002). (Garavaso 1998) 6 (Brenner 2005). (Kober 1996). (Morawetz 1974). (Hutto 2004). (Garver 2004).‘7 while others have investigated the consequences of the work on the theory of knowledge. (Wright 2004b) 163 . The affinities between this account of Wittgenstein‘s hinge propositions and Kant‘s conception of the synthetic a priori is apparent. (Wolgast 1987) 8 (Bouchard 2004). Hinge propositions thus seem to occupy an interesting middle ground between logical and empirical propositions. (Stroll 2004). such as specifying the conditions for knowledge. Another group of readers has focused on the implications of On Certainty for the distinction between logical and empirical propositions. (Stroll 2002). (Williams 1990) 7 (Haller 1988). as several commentators have noted.
In the preceding chapters I aimed to show that these two assumptions are unfounded. 2) They treat On Certainty as a work by citing remarks from various parts of the book indiscriminately and assuming that Wittgenstein‘s philosophical goals and methodologies remain constant throughout the text. Many of Wittgenstein‘s remarks in On Certainty invite theoretical interpretation. they offer theoretical interpretations of the book. but sufficient evidence has now been presented to conclude that On Certainty is actually a collection of thematically related texts that Wittgenstein did not consider to be continuous or of equal status. in order to 9 Orr (1989) and Buchanan (2000) have explicitly pointed out this tension. I identify items from the secondary literature that take the two factors of therapeutic method and textual structure into consideration. with a particular focus on identifying Wittgenstein‘s therapeutic goals and procedures. 164 . In doing so. Yet in associating these theoretical remarks with Wittgenstein‘s overall goals in the book. readers come to an understanding of On Certainty that is in tension with his repeatedly stated intentions to avoid theories and engage in therapy. and thus that a satisfactory reading of the text should be based on an account of that book‘s structure. In what follows. or characterizing the class of necessary or a priori propositions.9 The editorial preface to the book also encourages it to be read as a work.refute skepticism. developing a general account of language.
seeks to develop a reading of the book that does not focus on characterizing the status of hinge propositions. For this reason his piece is included as an example of the ‗therapeutic reading‘ in Moyal-Sharrock and Brenner‘s anthology. Part 1). 255). Two leading interpretations of On Certainty are briefly considered: the ‗propositional‘ approach of McGinn (1989). hinges.establish the context in which my interpretation is best situated. which identifies hinge propositions and explains their semantic and normative status. Minar contends. world pictures and frameworks is absent‖ (ibid. which are ―relatively continuous notes from a single manuscript in which direct mention of such things as propositions which ‗stand fast‘. are not only unsuccessful in refuting skepticism. Edward Minar‘s essay. but they also misinterpret Wittgenstein as intending to advance a philosophical theory: Wittgenstein is not offering a theory of hinges that shows the limits of inquiry. p. Then I show that each of these readings faces an interpretive dilemma that is avoided or overcome in my account of On Certainty.e. thought or language (with the intended 10 (Moyal-Sharrock & Brenner 2005) 165 . which seeks to transition from talk of abstract propositional entities to consideration of how certainty is manifested in a way of acting. Both of these approaches.. ―On Wittgenstein‘s Response to Scepticism: The Opening of On Certainty‖ (2004). and the ‗nonpropositional‘ account of Stroll (1994).10 The focus of his reading is on the first 65 remarks (i.
the purported stance outside all of our practices from which the skeptic wishes to make his challenge is seen to be illusory. 254) This treatment also aims at Moore. So the attempt to refute skepticism is misguided. It is 166 . for if it is incoherent to doubt the legitimacy of all our practices simultaneously. He places himself among the relatively small number of readers who acknowledge some kind of internal structure in On Certainty by noticing that most of the resources for constructing a theory of hinge propositions occur in Part 2 of the book. 260) The skeptic emphatically holds to ―the notion that knowledge has a real.. Wittgenstein‘s is a strategy for responding to both scepticism and the impulse to refute it. practice-transcendent structure‖ (ibid.consequence that the sceptic shall see that his questions lie beyond the limits). Minar‘s reading has several advantages. 266). p. The anticipated result is that the sceptic will no longer find his questions natural or mandatory. for the skeptic ends up undercutting his own grounds for critique when he brings into question the legitimacy of our practices in toto. Ultimately. then it is likewise impossible to defend them wholesale. then. p.. This demonstration should help the skeptic to abandon his radical doubts: Wittgenstein‘s reminders prod the sceptic to account for his sense that something is amiss in our dealings with the world. (ibid. Wittgenstein is read as trying to undermine the grip of this false picture by calling upon the skeptic to explain why our epistemic practices are suspect. What he does instead is to provide reminders for the purpose of undoing the confusions that lie behind the quest for philosophical accounts of such limits. p. (ibid..
167 . I believe. though Minar is described by Moyal-Sharrock and Brenner as a therapeutic reader.g. It is difficult to see how an attempt to demotivate skeptical urges could have been prompted by discussions with Malcolm about his recently-published article. This reading. e. looking at one‘s hands in a well-lit room. however. rather than Moore. Most troublesome. And he appears to be accurately picking up the aim of one strand of the remarks in Part 1. explicit talk of therapy does not actually enter in to his discussion. is that Minar seems to avoid attributing theories to Wittgenstein simply by avoiding the large number of remarks in Part 2 that invite such a reading. As it stands. It is also not entirely evident what makes this treatment a therapeutic one. though. puts Wittgenstein‘s focus on the skeptic. While I agree that Wittgenstein uses some of these early remarks to show that the skeptic is posing an ‗external‘11 question. for Moore’s benefit. namely that of clarifying just how radical skepticism really is by showing how it rules out the possibility of a response that relies on any of our normal epistemic methods. whose aim was to criticize the manner in which Moore went about trying to refute skepticism. this reading offers no explanation of the relationship between Part 1 and the remaining remarks 11 Stroud (1984) uses this term to characterize the peculiar character of the skeptic‘s demands in his discussion of Moore‘s proof.also wise for him to avoid attributing philosophical theories to Wittgenstein. this is being done. to help him see how no skeptic could possibly accept his purported refutation.
86). but actually nonsense. for the intended result of 168 .g.. he takes one aim of Wittgenstein‘s to be the demonstration of just how radical the skeptic‘s demands are. p. as human institutions.in On Certainty.. Michael Williams also limits his focus to just the remarks of Part 1. In a nicely structured presentation. 88) of the presentation. sense-data) is epistemically basic. Williams thus operates with a much different conception of ‗therapy‘ than the anti-theoretical one I have attributed to Wittgenstein in these chapters. p. thus unsuitable for formulating the empirical hypothesis the sceptic or idealist would like to express‖ (ibid. On this point I believe my interpretation proves more successful by acknowledging and accounting for the variety of remarks found in On Certainty. and thus provides us little understanding of that book as a whole. but like me he sees this as being done mostly for Moore‘s benefit. 95). In what is called the ―therapeutic phase‖ (ibid. Like Minar. are subject to change‖ (ibid. Wittgenstein shows that the skeptic is assuming a very questionable stance that experiential knowledge (e. The alternative to this view is a ―pragmatic‖ one. p. according to which ―the normative structure of doubting and justifying is implicit in practices of enquiry which. Williams then argues that sentences such as ―there are physical objects‖ are not examples of hinge propositions that need to be appropriately characterized.. In ―Wittgenstein‘s Refutation of Idealism‖ (2005). since ―‘physical object‘ is a piece of logical or semantic vocabulary.
As Conant understands them.. Conant is especially interested in Wittgenstein‘s use of the term ‗nonsense‘. These readers take the theory of hinge propositions to underwrite Wittgenstein‘s use of ‗nonsense‘ as a term of criticism. James Conant (1998) offers one of the most developed therapeutic readings of On Certainty in the literature. in that particular context. these readers treat Moore‘s (or the skeptic‘s) propositions as if they already are fully meaningful. Conant aims to criticize those who attribute a theory of hinge propositions to Wittgenstein. and wants to clarify what Wittgenstein is doing when he accuses Moore of speaking nonsensically. but cannot be meaningfully uttered in these particular circumstances: McGinn. Like some of the readers we‘ve already encountered. such as McGinn. His presentation focuses on the therapeutic encounter with Moore (beginning at OC 347) that was of considerable interest to us in the last chapter.this therapeutic encounter is for us to adopt something like a contextualist theory of knowledge. though he also draws connections to other thinkers and texts. cannot be meaningfully asserted. who ―understand Moore-type propositions to belong to a special class of judgements: those that are immune to doubt‖ (ibid. in effect. has Wittgenstein saying that there isn‘t any problem about what claim the skeptic want to make – there isn‘t 169 . 224-5). nonsense results from asserting something which. pp. including Frege and the early Wittgenstein of the Tractatus.
to sentences only having sense in the context of a languagegame (ibid. as it were. In contrast to this reading. (ibid. 241). Conant argues. 239). additional (pragmatic) constraints on assertibility.. The later Wittgenstein generalizes this principle. 226) This. and Wittgenstein is claimed to already have put this principle to work in the Tractatus in his declaration that a sign only has sense if we recognize it as a symbol – i. Conant claims that Wittgenstein is accusing Moore of failing to mean anything in particular with his words. Wittgenstein‘s criticism of Moore is not that he has used a particular phrase in the wrong context. p. and not with meaning something that it can‘t make sense to assert in these conditions. concerning the intelligibility of asserting these propositions in particular contexts... p. moving from words only having sense in the context of a proposition. The basis for this line of criticism is traced to Frege‘s context principle.e. what is being said – if anything‖ (ibid. concerning the meaningfulness of sentences themselves. implies that there are two kinds of nonsense: one. p. 170 . when these words are called upon in this context. as having an application. and another. as we saw in the last chapter. This understanding of sentences as acquiring sense through their employment in particular circumstances is.any problem about what his proposition means – … the problem just is that these claims run into conflict with various. but rather that ―it is not clear.
Despite these similarities. Conant‘s reading has a number of affinities with the one presented in the previous chapter. Since Wittgenstein claims that the meaning of this proposition is. but at Moore himself for not providing a context for his sentence to acquire a meaning – not giving it anything to do.contrary to Moore‘s belief that a sentence retains a fixed meaning independent of its use: The philosopher takes there to be something which is the thought which the sentence itself expresses. not determinate.) Wittgenstein‘s criticism of Moore‘s statement as ‗nonsense‘ is thus not directed at the sentence. he calls upon the remarks at §§ 347 ff. Similarly to how Minar and Williams focused solely on the remarks in Part 1. this shows that he is opposed to Moore‘s view that the meaning of a sentence is fixed once and for all by the meanings of its internal components. Conant‘s interpretation suffers from a number of problems that my reading is able to avoid or rectify. Wittgenstein‘s stated confusion at OC 347 about what the sentence ‗I know that that‘s a tree‘ means in this particular context (if anything) is sincere and not feigned. In particular. for Moore has yet to provide that sentence with a particular context or use. (ibid. Instead he is claiming that Moore‘s statements have not yet been given a sense at all. in this article Conant limits his attention to the handful of remarks around OC 350 171 . to argue that Wittgenstein is not presenting a theory of sense and then accusing Moore (and the skeptic) of overstepping those bounds. or now at least.
and PI 117. so it is not necessary to distort the historical picture of Wittgenstein‘s development to justify reading On Certainty to that end. there is relatively little explanation of how this encounter is supposed to be therapeutic. Further. I explain why this is the case by investigating the conditions under which its manuscript sources were composed. 172 .13 Although Conant emphasizes the lack of a substantial theory of hinge propositions underwriting Wittgenstein‘s critique of Moore. all of which are given a central place in the interpretation in the previous chapter. OC 33. That is already an entirely legitimate way of approaching the text. I then provide grounds from Wittgenstein‘s correspondence for favoring one of these possible readings – namely the therapeutic one – over the others as most approaching what Wittgenstein intended for his best writing. that of course does not mean that his readers need to reach the same conclusion. Without having an account of those passages. some of them highly theoretical. as well as the editorial decisions involved in turning those manuscripts into a book. 13 Just because there are grounds for believing that Wittgenstein preferred the therapeutic remarks in On Certainty over the theoretical ones. Conant‘s reading becomes just another voice competing for attention in the shouting match of On Certainty interpretation.that are particularly susceptible to a therapeutic reading.12 remaining silent on the rest (and the majority) of the book. One may still think that hinge propositions are of philosophical interest and look to Wittgenstein‘s text for insights concerning them. into his reading. We don‘t see Wittgenstein attempting to bring about a change in Moore‘s 12 He also brings OC 31. clusters of remarks in other parts of the book invite other kinds of readings. Yet as we have seen. I believe that my reading improves on Conant‘s by recognizing that there are multiple sections of the book that invite different readings.
is to get Moore to at some point give up and just move on to those sentences that actually help him get further in his endeavors (OC 33). Moore is set upon the task of working through a number of examples. instead. a therapy is found. The intent of this activity. I claim. he is mostly trying to combat particular philosophical positions according to this reading.behavior. not for him to reach an insight into the nature of languages and practices. and then connect them to the many instances in which Wittgenstein does give Moore‘s proposition a sense. or to become clear on the conditions for making sense and thereby understand why his utterances failed to meet those conditions. The background for what Wittgenstein is doing can be clearly found in his later conception of therapy. Finally. in Conant‘s interpretation the waters are muddied by controversial readings of the Tractatus and the works of Frege. When this is coupled with the observation that these successful attempts at making sense are immediately followed by a loss of everything that is philosophically interesting (OC 622). each resulting in the satisfaction of making sense and the dissatisfaction of failing to establish a philosophically interesting point. The attempt to ground Wittgenstein‘s actions in Frege‘s theoretical writings makes the therapeutic endeavors in On Certainty look to be theoretically tinged. But the way that sentences are given 173 . In contrast I take the discussions of confusion and of the failure of words to be given particular meanings in context.
for Wittgenstein. ―A Gesture of Understanding: Wittgenstein. Meyer is suspicious of the attempt to extend the ―austere interpretation of the role of nonsense in the Tractatus…to account for the project of Wittgenstein‘s later writings as well‖ (ibid. Moore. yet seem ―perfectly justified and everyday‖ if they are uttered when there is some need for them (OC 553). and second. Meyer makes similar criticisms of Conant in his article.. it is entirely ―queer‖ and surprising that certain statements strike him as ―unjustified and presumptuous‖ when they are uttered without any occasion. the positive search for sense after the negative declaration of its lack suggests there is an internal structure to the book. p. Wittgenstein does not merely state that Moore‘s propositions are nonsensical. Wittgenstein seems to be discovering this remarkable fact right along with Moore. 236). such that 174 . or that he is a human being. and ‗Therapy‘‖ (2004).determinate meanings in contexts is not a well-known theoretical insight that Wittgenstein is trying to pass on to Moore. but also attempts (and succeeds) in giving them a sense. After granting to Conant that Moore is accused of speaking nonsense in some early remarks of the book. might be able to have.) Meyer makes two important observations that we can concur with: first. (ibid. Thomas A. Wittgenstein instead appears to search for a way of capturing the sense that Moore‘s references to knowing he has hands. Meyer rightly notes that On Certainty does not appear to rest with its conclusion that Moore‘s epistemology advances nonsense.
Meyer doesn‘t clearly specify the joints of this structure as I do in the previous chapters. Since Conant devotes much of his attention to what is involved in accusations of nonsense. that Moore speaks a language 14 Moyal-Sharrock & Brenner‘s claim that ―the ‗Therapeutic reading‘ approaches On Certainty in the spirit of ‗New Wittgenstein‘ commentators‖ (2005. Conant‘s frequent interpretive opponent. Meyer takes the occurrence of these successful attempts to refute the therapeutic reading of On Certainty. p. As I have attempted to show in these chapters. 175 .14 Meyer wishes to stake a middle ground between the therapeutic reading of Conant and the theoretical reading of Hacker. it is possible to give a therapeutic reading of On Certainty that is not an extension of a resolute reading of the Tractatus. at least possibly. for this is not generally recognized. but it is nevertheless noteworthy that he recognizes On Certainty to be a heterogeneous text. Yet his description of the result of making sense with Moore-type propositions as illuminating the grammar of our language puts him quite close to Hacker‘s account of Wittgenstein‘s philosophy as attempting to identify grammatical rules: The notion that Wittgenstein does find a sense for Moore‘s remarks makes it difficult to maintain that these ‗do not say anything‘ according to Wittgenstein‘s more developed account: what they say is. and little to Wittgenstein‘s successes in actually producing determinate senses for Moore‘s propositions.Wittgenstein is not always engaged in the same activity at every point. 3) invites the impression that this is the only way that a therapeutic interpretation can be given to the book.
Thus the vague demarcation he makes between earlier and later remarks isn‘t specific enough to separate the remarks of Part 2 and Part 3. especially since ―§ 300 onwards (starting 10. p. Initially.51) is certainly written more fluently than the rest‖ (ibid. One reader who has recognized phases in Wittgenstein‘s thinking in his final years. Yet he later decides that he had ―been over15 Even though the evidence Meyer cites when observing that Moore‘s statements can be given a sense comes from Part 3 of On Certainty. Paul tells about hearing Anscombe‘s ―story of how unable to think Wittgenstein had been under the influence of his anti-cancer drugs‖ in 1950 (2007..). For when Meyer sees these propositions being given a sense. the theoretical-sounding conclusions about what results from this activity are drawn from remarks in Part 2. He was a friend of Anscombe‘s and was granted access to some pieces of the Nachlass after Wittgenstein passed away. he argues that philosophical conclusions concerning grammar can be drawn. 237)15 A difficulty for this reading is accounting for how success is sometimes achieved in trying to give Moore‘s propositions a sense. is Denis Paul. nothing of philosophical interest remains. (ibid.within which certain statements characterize the grammar and can be regarded as true. who was responsible for translating a portion of the book‘s remarks from German to English. and even taken this information into consideration when discussing the structure of On Certainty. and that when he does so. Yet this is in tension with Wittgenstein‘s observations that he generally only succeeds in giving a proposition sense when he puts it in an everyday context.3. he took this to indicate that Part 3 of On Certainty had a special status. p. 176 . 297).
noting that ―§ 66 onwards … reads fluently enough‖ (ibid. and furthermore that the ideas he was able to produce were not deemed to be of high quality.. Paul appears to presume that the anti-cancer drugs were at most affecting Wittgenstein‘s ability to write flowing and readable prose. but also that he could not even think clearly. and Wittgenstein is better able to sustain a train of thought over multiple remarks and even multiple days of writing (this may be what Paul has in mind when he speaks of these later remarks as reading ―fluently‖). he is thus inclined to disregard the cessation of Wittgenstein‘s cancer treatments as marking a significant phase in the final writings. But from our comprehensive survey of Wittgenstein‘s correspondence in Chapter 1. The individual remarks also tend now to be longer. p. to which §§ 1-65 are only a prelude‖ (ibid. Finding Part 2 to be sufficiently readable. As indicated in the previous chapter. I agree with Paul that there is a noticeable shift in style at the beginning of Part 3 of the book.impressed by [Anscombe‘s] story‖ of Wittgenstein‘s diminished capacity to work in 1950. Thus the ‗curtain lifting from Wittgenstein‘s brain‘ in the spring of 1951 does mark a significant break. multiple voices are now more frequently introduced. so the remarks from Parts 2 and 3 should not be lumped together as a single 177 . But it is not merely the style of Part 3 that is noteworthy. 298). we saw that he did not simply complain of being unable to write clearly during 1950. This leads him to conclude that ―§§ 66-676 form a unit.. 297-8). but the content and method as well. pp.
178 . we should examine not just Wittgenstein‘s writing style when trying to ascertain the structure of On Certainty.unit. At the least. but also the content of its remarks and the philosophical methods at work in them.
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