## An Analysis of On Certainty

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Thank you for your response. Perhaps I ought to restrict the scope of my previous claim about sensory deprivation. Whilst it is most certainly impossible for those without any sensory access to have any knowledge in the closest possible world — again, I avail myself of such language for convenience — one can easily construct a science-fiction case in which an agent can. It may be far-fetched, but like all thought experiments, its the logical consistency that counts.

Take an agent who spends her poor life in complete sensory deprivation. She isn't unconscious though: she can "think to herself", "mull things over" and so on. Akin to the numerous "brains in a vat" cases, let's further suggest her mental life is somehow tampered with. An evil genius, or Cartesian demon, supplies her with false memories at relevant times. Note that this differs at least in principle from being supplied with illusionary sense-data, though it might seem to the subject like she has enjoyed some sensations in the past. Nonetheless, not once has she actually undergone what we recognise as sensory experience.
It isn't implausible that the subject gradually acquires, albeit from unreliable means, some sort of linguistic and logical agency. At some point, she may consider the following proposition to herself: that if $p \rightarrow q$ and $p$, then $q$, for arbitrary propositions $p$ and $q$. An odd thing to consider given her circumstances, but perfectly within her means. Perhaps some of her pseudo-memories were of introductory sentential logic lessons. My claim is that she knows the inference rule of modus ponens. Certainly, she cannot justify what she has said by appeal to the lessons she remembers having, for knowledge cannot follow from false beliefs. She needn't do this though: the justificatory warrant of her belief in modus ponens is self-providing, for it is hard to see how anything aside an awareness and belief of the inference rule is requisite for knowing it. Furthermore, to counteract Gettier-style objections, there is no possible world in which modus ponens is false.

Now, I expect you'll object to this. You may claim that, for various contingent matters of biology and psychology, humans cannot learn anything under such circumstances. Perhaps so; perhaps our subject is a sentient organism of a different kind. Perhaps, you say, conciousness is not possible under full sensory deprivation. The latter is a more interesting claim, though I am in want of a demonstration of this that covers fanciful thought experiments. You may see my contentions as being somewhat trifling here, but considerations of this vein are what one will face if one endorses what appears to be classical empiricism in the Lockean tradition.

I must admit this, unfortunately. I continually fail to see the merit of noting that the correspondence theory of truth is not established by means of correspondence, whatsoever this would be, and is pro tanto flawed. That an inference to the best explanation of a theory admits to the possibility of error is, extra-theoretically, nothing that worries me: I fall short of saying that the correspondence theory is perfect; most philosophically interesting positions aren't. There are perhaps reasons to doubt that truth is simply correspondence, but the suggestion that this modesty itself is pertinently grave to such a position is something I do not grasp.

The regression you accuse me of might make for interesting reading, given that it is presumably more substantial than I take it to be. I would like to see a formalism of it if possible, though I would warn that, because the meaning of 'fact' has been called upon, any such attempt should ideally be neutral with respect to theories of meaning.

As a miscellaneous note, it is not quite charitable to accuse David Lewis of borderline madness. Most are not convinced by modal realism — the consequences are hilariously odd — but his position is consistent within its own terms. (And unlike Wittgenstein, Lewis was a very clear writer.)

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Zin5ki wrote:My claim is that she knows the inference rule of modus ponens. Certainly, she cannot justify what she has said by appeal to the lessons she remembers having, for knowledge cannot follow from false beliefs. She needn't do this though: the justificatory warrant of her belief in modus ponens is self-providing, for it is hard to see how anything aside an awareness and belief of the inference rule is requisite for knowing it. Furthermore, to counteract Gettier-style objections, there is no possible world in which modus ponens is false.

How can she rule out the possibility that modus ponens is actually illogical but the evil genius has manipulated her mind so that it has an appearance of logicality? Even without mind manipulation, how can she rule out the possibility that modus ponens is an inherently deceptive idea, which true instruction would disprove by pointing out some subtle flaw?

With regard to the latter possibility, an analogy is the false idea that the measured speed of light depends on the speed of the observer. A person might reasonably hold this idea to be true on purely logical grounds if she were unfamiliar with relativity theory. Due to the limitations of human thought, some propositions may appear necessarily true (at least to some people) when in fact they are not.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Thank you for your objection, Positor. It is true that the subject may in certain cases worry that she has been deceived into believing that modus ponens holds—indeed, its causal origin is deceptive—though I chose this example on the grounds that such an issue doesn't undermine her knowledge of the proposition in question. Unlike the example of the speed of light, a mere awareness of the content of modus ponens, along with a belief thereof, is all that is required to know it to be true. Lewis Carroll's dialogue aside, I'm unaware of any cases in which a formal proof of modus ponens has ever been considered requisite. Given that there is no risk of the proposition being false, our deprived subject has all she needs for knowledge in each possible world in which she believes that modus ponens holds. Of course, in possible worlds in which the subject doesn't believe the proposition she will not know it, but this holds for all known propositions and so is of no cause for concern.

I hasten to add that I remain silent on whether the subject can know that she knows that modus ponens holds, perhaps due to her worries regarding deception, but to this end I do not advocate the KK-thesis.

(One could, following Williamson, make the tentative suggestion that knowledge of modus ponens is luminous.)

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

I haven't been in this forum in a while. I'm still working on Wittgenstein's On Certainty. I've actually started re-writing parts of my exegesis. I've also been working on a theory of knowledge based on Wittgenstein's ideas.
Sam26
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Lately I've been thinking about how Wittgenstein's private language remarks relate to what it means to know.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Here's something I posted on Quora in answer to the following question: "What can be said about Wittgenstein's later philosophy?"

What people seem to forget is that Wittgenstein, in his later philosophy, is giving us a method, that is, Wittgenstein invented a method of doing philosophy that is more of an art than a science. He is not presenting theories that put forth dogmatic ideas, in fact, one could argue that Wittgenstein’s philosophy is fighting against dogmatism, and deemphasizing general theories of meaning.

It is the uniform nature of our words that lends itself to theorizing about the general use of meaning. This can be seen clearly in the study of epistemology, namely, what it means to know is not some clearly defined idea without shades of gray. What we get are a variety of uses that do not give us the clarity we are striving for, especially as philosophers. For the most part language hinders our desire for exactness, and our desire for absolute meaning. Instead what we see are words that have a variety of meanings, largely dependent on how they are used in a variety of language-games. The tendency, though, is to draw arbitrary lines of meaning in order to provide clarity. Where we draw these lines of meaning depends on how we view a particular use or definition, that is, what we are stressing. As we stress a particular view of meaning we naturally form an arbitrary boundary that causes more confusion. We tend to get tunnel vision when looking for exactness.

The logic of use that Wittgenstein fosters is one in which the logic is elastic, not given to mathematical precision; and this is seen in the contrast between the exactness of the Tractatus, versus the more elastic view of meaning shown in his later philosophy. His later view is not saying there is no precision, only that we tend to want precision where none can be found. Meaning is not always clearly delineated, but spans a wide variety of uses given in a host of language-games.

However, there is still another problem, and it is seen by those who think they understand Wittgenstein (including yours truly). The problem is in the application of use as meaning, that is, we find ourselves over emphasizing a particular use that is not in the spirit of Wittgenstein’s enterprise. We tend to push a particular use that is too restrictive, that is, a use that does not allow for the expansive nature of uses, due to the wide variety of language-games. Thus, we fool ourselves into thinking we are doing what Wittgenstein suggests, but in the final analysis we are using a distorted view of use as meaning to perpetuate the very thing Wittgenstein is trying to steer us away from.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

I believe there is a kind of foundationalism in On Certainty, that is, Wittgenstein’s identifies propositions of a certain kind, he calls them hinge-propositions. However, one wants to be careful with associating Wittgenstein’s ideas with traditional epistemological foundationalism.

Classical epistemic foundationalism gives some propositions special epistemic status. The point is that traditional foundational propositions remain within our epistemic constructs. Thus, the question often asked is, “What justifies these basic propositions?” Various answers (foundational theories) were given to answer this question. However, Wittgenstein’s foundational ideas (if you want to call them that, and I do) are that these basic beliefs (bedrock beliefs, or hinge-propositions) are not within our epistemological language-games. Their status as beliefs are such that they cannot be known or doubted, i.e., they do not fit within the traditional language-games of knowing and doubting.

My contention (not necessarily Wittgenstein’s) is that these beliefs are prelinguistic, and as language develops they find there way into our language. As such, they provide a foundation for our epistemological language. The fundamental nature of these beliefs is that they show us something basic about the nature of beliefs. That the nature of these beliefs is closely related to the relationship between the mind, our sensory perceptions, and the world. This relationship forms the backdrop that allows for the development of language, and thus our epistemological language-games.

Think of it in same way you might think of a chess game, that is, the board and the pieces (the backdrop) allow the game to be played. The backdrop is arbitrary, but the moves in the game have a logic to them (a justification), but the board and pieces need no such justification, at least in terms of how the game is played, the rules do that. The rules (if one continues the analogy) of our language-games of epistemology are layered on top of the backdrop of reality, just as the rules of chess are layered between the backdrop of the board and pieces and the actions of the game itself.

The beliefs about the backdrop are basic, fundamental, bedrock, etc., they need no justification, they allow for epistemological language-games. Without them there would be no knowing or doubting. Just as without the belief that there is a board or pieces in chess, there would be no chess game.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Might I suggest "Certainty" is more primal, it is more instinctual than a philosophical/mental decision. Consider placing your hand in a fire and getting burned, then imagine if when you come back to a flame and you are in doubt about the effect of the flame, you would continually re-injure yourself.

"Certainty" is built into the Survival mechanism, but it is adopted by and used within us psychologically inappropriately in our need to be "right". The Fear of being wrong, looking stupid, looking ignorant, is exaggerated into "psychological death", and so we cultivate "Certainty" as a psychological defense mechanism.

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Brent696 » November 21st, 2018, 1:43 pm wrote:Might I suggest "Certainty" is more primal, it is more instinctual than a philosophical/mental decision. Consider placing your hand in a fire and getting burned, then imagine if when you come back to a flame and you are in doubt about the effect of the flame, you would continually re-injure yourself.

"Certainty" is built into the Survival mechanism, but it is adopted by and used within us psychologically inappropriately in our need to be "right". The Fear of being wrong, looking stupid, looking ignorant, is exaggerated into "psychological death", and so we cultivate "Certainty" as a psychological defense mechanism.

For me the most primal thing is the belief, i.e., prelinguistic beliefs. These beliefs would be observed in the actions of prelinguistic man, but they are also observed in us, in our everyday lives. For example, when I turn the doorknob to open a door, or I sit in a chair, these actions show that I have beliefs about doorknobs and chairs. This is so quite apart from any linguistic formation of the belief.

There are philosophers who want to say that these beliefs reflect subjective certainties (so you're not alone in this), but the problem with being certain, is that it also conveys the idea of not being certain. If this is the case, then we're back to square one. It's the same problem that Wittgenstein is criticizing when Moore uses the word know. Part of the language-game of knowing is that you can be wrong about your claim, i.e., it doesn't follow from your claim to know, that you indeed do know. It also doesn't follow from being certain, that you are indeed certain. Besides what would certainty look like apart from the language-game of certainty, other than a very basic belief. It seems to me that being certain presupposes a certain conceptual framework, a linguistic framework. Especially the framework of being right and wrong, or correct and incorrect; and this is done necessarily within a social context.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Some thoughts on Wittgenstein's view of grammar.

Very basically, Wittgenstein view of grammar, is such that the rules of grammar determine meaning, that is, the rules constitute meaning (PG, 133). Wittgenstein generally holds to the view that meaning is determined by use, but it is grammar that gives us the rules. One can think of the rules of grammar in the same way one thinks of the rules of a game. The rules govern the way we use concepts in language-games, just as the rules of baseball govern how the game of baseball is played. Grammar governs the way linguistic moves are made, and in the same way, the rules of baseball governs the activity between the players on the field.

One can also think of the rules of grammar as allowing certain linguistic moves, and ruling out other linguistic moves. However, the rules of grammar are not always explicitly stated, but in many cases are implicitly implied, that is, there is a built in vagueness to how many words are used. And it is precisely these vague uses that give philosophers and others so many headaches.

The rules of grammar also give us a way of judging correct usage, just as we can judge whether one is moving a piece in chess correctly. The rules are not judged in private though, rules happen between and amongst others. This is very closely related to why you cannot have a private language.

Finally, it must be noted that the implications of grammar in Wittgenstein’s thinking goes much deeper than what you would find in our thinking about standard grammar. Its consequences have implications that influence our thinking in ways you have never considered.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

The idea of showing a belief, as opposed to asserting a belief can be seen in following quote from OC. This idea is central to the idea that there are prelinguistic beliefs, or any nonlinguistic belief.

“People have killed animals since the earliest times, use the fur, bones etc. etc. for various purposes; they have counted definitely on finding similar parts in any similar beast.

“They have always learnt from experience; and we can see from their actions that they believe certain things definitely, whether they express this belief or not.

“If someone is looking for something and perhaps roots around in a certain place, he shows that he believes that what he is looking for is there (OC 284,285, my emphasis).”

Showing has always been part of Wittgenstein's thinking, even as far back as the Tractatus. It's a way of pointing out that which is separate from what can be said. However, in this case, hinge beliefs can be both shown and asserted. It seems that there are also a variety of hinge beliefs, and that they serve different purposes. For example, a primitive tribe may hold that certain beliefs are hinges, that is, they are hinge for them. In other words, sometimes we may accept certain beliefs as bedrock when in actuality they are not. Here we have in mind linguistic hinges. For instance, some might think of their religious beliefs as hinges. However, what determines real hinges from those that are not, is whether they can be known or doubted in Wittgenstein's sense.

The hinges I'm mainly referring to, are those beliefs that are hinges for every human. These hinges are the one's that allow us to perform very basic bodily actions within the world. Such as the hinges Wittgenstein mentions in the quote above.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Sam26 » November 21st, 2018, 6:28

For me the most primal thing is the belief, i.e., prelinguistic beliefs. These beliefs would be observed in the actions of prelinguistic man, but they are also observed in us, in our everyday lives. For example, when I turn the doorknob to open a door, or I sit in a chair, these actions show that I have beliefs about doorknobs and chairs. This is so quite apart from any linguistic formation of the belief.

We started out with "Certainty" and now we are speaking of beliefs, not quite the same thing in my opinion. "Beliefs" belong to the mind alone, they are part of the intellectual body, as such philosophers can "believe" many things. With "Belief" comes the possibility of being wrong, since such a "belief" was decided upon at some time.

With "Certainty" it is a whole body, whole Being function. Try to stick your hand in the fire again, you hesitate, perhaps start to shake, someone grabs your hand and tries to force it in the fire, you writh, twist, kick and scream, you are certain to get burnt.

So I guess the question is, in the mind alone can we be certain of anything. (No doubt people believe they are certain ;-)

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

It is interesting to note that doubt plays an essential role in the trial of a criminal case. The law requires that a defendant in such a case cannot be convicted unless the finder of fact (a jury or a judge) concludes that there is no reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt. This does not necessarily mean that the defendant is innocent but only that he is “not guilty”—that is, that the evidence does not support his guilt.

Notice that the expression “doubt” is limited by the expression “reasonable.” It is said in the law that certainty is not required to convict for nothing is free of all doubt, and further that an unreasonable doubt is not sufficient to acquit.

To say that a verdict is reasonable is to say that the evidence justifies it. This in essence means that it is the best and simplest conclusion based upon all the evidence presented. In other words, a verdict of guilt or innocence is a matter of abduction.

It can properly be said that a criminal trial is a “language game” according to Wittgenstein, in that it is a kind of social interaction through language according to the rules of law.

However, the question arises: Are language games the source of all knowledge. The answer fairly springs to mind. We may gain knowledge through direct sensory experience without the need of social interactions of any sort, including language games.

For example, a witness may testify at trial that, at a certain time and place, he saw Jones point a gun at Smith’s head and fire a shot and that Smith immediately fell to the ground motionless with blood flowing from his head. Because no member of the jury actually saw this event, they must decide whether or not to believe the witness.

The judge gives them the “rules of the game.” That is, he explains to them what factors may be considered to determine the credibility of the witness.

[These are common sense considerations such as: Did the witness give a prior inconsistent statement? Was he in a position to observe Jones’ face? Does he have poor vision? Was he corroborated or contradicted by other evidence in the case? Does he have a motive to lie? Does he have a bad reputation for truthfulness? Was he ever convicted of a crime involving falsehood? Was his demeanor indicative of truth or falsity?]

Now suppose that you are the witness. Unless you are mad, you would know beyond all doubt whether or not you are telling the truth. That is, you would have knowledge superior to that of the jurors because your knowledge would be direct. Knowledge is direct when it depends upon the senses and not upon social interaction through language.

In fact, all knowledge, except for knowledge of one’s own existence, is derived ultimately from the senses. Indeed, without the senses, one would know nothing except that he exists, and language would be impossible.

Further, one may gain knowledge through language without need of rules of a game. For example, most people believe that Napoleon once lived but is now dead. They know this through the historical record even though they never actually saw or spoke with him. Yet, no one would now know about Napoleon unless someone did actually see him and speak with him. So that knowledge of Napoleon is ultimately derived through sensory experience.

Knowledge may not be obtained by means of the unbridled imagination. Thus, no one can properly say that he knows that god exists, any more than he can properly say that he knows that unicorns and the tooth fairy exist.

The mere fact that one can always conjure up some sort of doubt as to any claim of knowledge does not mean that it is impossible to know anything.

For example, many philosophers believe that our senses provide no real knowledge of the world. But, if this were so, the senses would be entirely useless and could not serve to preserve us from danger. In other words, the senses would have no evolutionary value whatsoever. Significantly, no one acts as though the senses are useless, not even the philosophers who make that claim.

On the other hand, many people know a lot less than they think, and a healthy skepticism should always a part of critical thinking.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

The importance of the language-game cannot be overemphasized. As in any game there are rules, whether explicit as in most games, or implicit as in some children's games (those that are made up on the spot).
----------

Part of understanding some of these ideas is wrapped up in Wittgenstein’s idea of a language-game, which was mentioned by Wittgenstein as early as 1933 in the Blue Book. However, in the PI the language-game comes into its own as a major part of his thinking.

An example of a simple language-game is given at the beginning of the PI, and it is a very primitive example. There is a builder A, and an assistant B. The builder is using various building-stones called, blocks, pillars, slabs, and beams. The purpose of the assistant is to pass the stones to the builder, so the assistant must come to understand what the builder is asking for when he calls out block, pillar, slab, or beam. Therefore, in order for the assistant to properly understand the builder, he has to know the difference between a call for a block, as opposed to a call for a slab. If the assistant is able to distinguish between the calls, then the assistant is able to follow the (implicit) rules of the language-game; and just as there are many different games (football, baseball, chess, checkers, marbles, etc) with varying rules, so too, are there many different types of language-games with various rules.

Another way of thinking about language-games is that they are a form of life, that is, observing two people building something using simple calls (a basic form of life), as in Wittgenstein's example. However, in their more complex forms you will observe cultures developing various language-games for more complex activities, such as mathematics, physics, philosophy, sports activities, acting, teaching, computers, etc. All of these forms of life are rule-governed, just as the more primitive example given above is rule-governed. Understanding the language-game is important if one wants to understand Wittgenstein's analysis of language, and the concepts we use. Moreover, it is important if one wants to understand his analysis of knowing and doubting.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Brent696 » November 22nd, 2018, 4:39 pm wrote:
Sam26 » November 21st, 2018, 6:28

For me the most primal thing is the belief, i.e., prelinguistic beliefs. These beliefs would be observed in the actions of prelinguistic man, but they are also observed in us, in our everyday lives. For example, when I turn the doorknob to open a door, or I sit in a chair, these actions show that I have beliefs about doorknobs and chairs. This is so quite apart from any linguistic formation of the belief.

We started out with "Certainty" and now we are speaking of beliefs, not quite the same thing in my opinion. "Beliefs" belong to the mind alone, they are part of the intellectual body, as such philosophers can "believe" many things. With "Belief" comes the possibility of being wrong, since such a "belief" was decided upon at some time.

With "Certainty" it is a whole body, whole Being function. Try to stick your hand in the fire again, you hesitate, perhaps start to shake, someone grabs your hand and tries to force it in the fire, you writh, twist, kick and scream, you are certain to get burnt.

So I guess the question is, in the mind alone can we be certain of anything. (No doubt people believe they are certain ;-)

Actualy OC starts with examining Moore's claims to knowledge, which by definition is a certain kind of belief, namely, one that is justified and true. Moreover, when one expresses one's certainty of X, one is expressing that one is certain, at least in this case, of what one believes. So beliefs are central to Wittgenstein's analysis, and he is examining these beliefs across a wide spectrum of language-games.

It is also crucial that one understands that although beliefs reflect mind states, those mind states are only understood in reference to one's actions. Otherwise one would not know there were mind states. So generally how do we know that one has a belief, it is not by pointing to something in the mind, but by observing the actions of individual. These actions can be only physical (opening a door), or they can be expressed verbally as statements.

With some beliefs comes the possibility of being wrong, that is true, but we are also looking at beliefs that fall outside the confines of correct and incorrect. This is the purpose of Wittgenstein's examination of Moore's claims, that is, Moore claims to know that he has hands. Wittgenstein demonstrates rather forcefully, and correctly in my opinion and others, that these Moorean statements are of a different sort or kind. That they have a special place within our system of epistemic beliefs.

Your last question is important, namely, "...in the mind alone can we be certain of anything?" To understand this idea involves understanding several of Wittgenstein's ideas, and those are the following:

Language-games
Rule-following
Private language
Grammar (in Wittgenstein's sense)
knowing and doubting
etc
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Neri » November 22nd, 2018, 4:42 pm wrote:It is interesting to note that doubt plays an essential role in the trial of a criminal case. The law requires that a defendant in such a case cannot be convicted unless the finder of fact (a jury or a judge) concludes that there is no reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt. This does not necessarily mean that the defendant is innocent but only that he is “not guilty”—that is, that the evidence does not support his guilt.

Notice that the expression “doubt” is limited by the expression “reasonable.” It is said in the law that certainty is not required to convict for nothing is free of all doubt, and further that an unreasonable doubt is not sufficient to acquit.

To say that a verdict is reasonable is to say that the evidence justifies it. This in essence means that it is the best and simplest conclusion based upon all the evidence presented. In other words, a verdict of guilt or innocence is a matter of abduction.

It can properly be said that a criminal trial is a “language game” according to Wittgenstein, in that it is a kind of social interaction through language according to the rules of law.

This is an excellent example of the language-game of knowing and doubting, especially as it relates to court proceedings. Notice how knowing almost always plays off of the skeptics rejoinder - are you sure, what is your evidence, I doubt that, etc. If this wasn't the case, then we could simply infer that one has knowledge simply by one's assertion that one knows, but we generally want to know how it is that you know. Sometimes, though, we understand that some people are in a position to know. For example, based on their first-hand experience, or they have studied the appropriate materials, etc, thus we accept their testimonial reports. This is often true in a court of law where the appropriate expert is brought in to testify.

However, the question arises: Are language games the source of all knowledge. The answer fairly springs to mind. We may gain knowledge through direct sensory experience without the need of social interactions of any sort, including language games.

I think it is correct to say that all knowledge is dependent on language, that is, the concept of what it means to have knowledge, is necessarily dependent on how the concept is developed within the social construct of language.

For example, a witness may testify at trial that, at a certain time and place, he saw Jones point a gun at Smith’s head and fire a shot and that Smith immediately fell to the ground motionless with blood flowing from his head. Because no member of the jury actually saw this event, they must decide whether or not to believe the witness.

I contend, as I believe Wittgenstein does, that sometimes we restrict knowledge to the uses we find applicable to our particular view of what it means to have knowledge. Knowledge spans a wide variety of uses, and one of those uses, as you pointed out, is knowledge through sensory experience. We generally find that we can trust our sensory experiences, and whether it is knowledge depends on whether doubting one's claim to knowledge makes sense. So I may make a claim to knowledge based on what I felt, seen, heard, tasted, or smelled, and it is perfectly sensible to do so. You may ask, "How do you know the orange juice is sweet?" My reply, "Because I tasted it." The justification is sensory.

However, someone else may not be convinced, so although you may know it, and it is perfectly reasonable for you to make the claim that you know, it may not be enough to convince others. This is what happens to many claims to knowledge, whether it is sensory experience, deductive and inductive arguments, testimonial evidence, linguistic training, etc, the skeptical rejoinder is always lerking in the background. This is an important point in understanding the language-game of knowing in reference to the rules of the langauge-game.

[These are common sense considerations such as: Did the witness give a prior inconsistent statement? Was he in a position to observe Jones’ face? Does he have poor vision? Was he corroborated or contradicted by other evidence in the case? Does he have a motive to lie? Does he have a bad reputation for truthfulness? Was he ever convicted of a crime involving falsehood? Was his demeanor indicative of truth or falsity?]

These are important considerations when examining testimonial evidence, that is, the rules that apply.

Now suppose that you are the witness. Unless you are mad, you would know beyond all doubt whether or not you are telling the truth. That is, you would have knowledge superior to that of the jurors because your knowledge would be direct. Knowledge is direct when it depends upon the senses and not upon social interaction through language.

I would say that although your knowledge of what you saw is sensory, it is necessarily dependent upon how the concept is used in the social settings. You did not come to understand what it means to have knowledge in isolation, but in concert with others. You learned how to use the concept, and applied it to your specific situation. It is similar to applying the rules of mathematics privately. You learned how to do mathematics socially, and as a result are able to do mathematics on your own. However, even here, that you have knowledge is always subject to the social rules of the game. Knowledge is never a private language-game, and that is true necessarily.

In fact, all knowledge, except for knowledge of one’s own existence, is derived ultimately from the senses. Indeed, without the senses, one would know nothing except that he exists, and language would be impossible.

Part of this thread is to make the claim that there are certain beliefs outside our language-games of knowing. This is also Wittgenstein's claim in OC. It is my further claim that there is no knowledge of one's self. That belief is part of what is bedrock to the whole system of knowledge. Like the board and pieces of a chess game - which are bedrock to the very act of playing the game within a system of rules. It may seem strange to say that one does not know that one exists, but to emphasize the point, one must consider if it would make sense to doubt your existence? Obviously not. This is crucial to understanding what it means to have knowledge, as opposed to having a hinge belief, upon which all our concepts rest. It is a belief, there is no doubt, but it is a special kind of belief, one that is beyond the concepts of knowing and doubting. Beyond our linguistic constructs.

Further, one may gain knowledge through language without need of rules of a game. For example, most people believe that Napoleon once lived but is now dead. They know this through the historical record even though they never actually saw or spoke with him. Yet, no one would now know about Napoleon unless someone did actually see him and speak with him. So that knowledge of Napoleon is ultimately derived through sensory experience.

One can be justified in believing the testimonial evidence of history. In fact, much of what we believe comes to us via testimonial evidence, and as you stipulated above, there can be rules that apply to our language-games of testimony, and there are. While it is true that those who had knowledge of Napoleon, and much of it was sensory knowledge, we cannot have such knowledge, that is, our knowledge comes from the testimonial evidence of those who did.

Knowledge may not be obtained by means of the unbridled imagination. Thus, no one can properly say that he knows that god exists, any more than he can properly say that he knows that unicorns and the tooth fairy exist.

The mere fact that one can always conjure up some sort of doubt as to any claim of knowledge does not mean that it is impossible to know anything.

Our imagination can be used to help us on our way to knowledge. For example, Einstein used to imagine what it would be like to ride alongside a photon, that is, what would he see (if I remember Einstein's story). I do agree that imagination is not a suitable means to make a claim to knowledge. Although, using your example of sensory experience in the court case above, it would seem to follow that if a person actually seen God, then they could properly make the statement that, God exists. However, one's claim is subject to many counter-arguments, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility, namely, that someone could have such knowledge, and neither you or I would know. Our knowledge of God would need further grounding. Thus, it would be quite reasonable for us to doubt this claim.

I agree, that just because you can conjure up a doubt, that it does not mean that it is impossible to know. Doubting must be reasonable, and this holds true of knowledge, they work hand-in-hand. As Wittgenstein points out, satisfying oneself is part of the language-game of knowing (OC 3).

For example, many philosophers believe that our senses provide no real knowledge of the world. But, if this were so, the senses would be entirely useless and could not serve to preserve us from danger. In other words, the senses would have no evolutionary value whatsoever. Significantly, no one acts as though the senses are useless, not even the philosophers who make that claim.

On the other hand, many people know a lot less than they think, and a healthy skepticism should always a part of critical thinking.

I agree with your final statements.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

To make a little clearer the idea of how knowing and doubting go hand-in-hand, one might look at it in terms of correct and incorrect. If one makes a claim to knowledge, that claim is seen as either correct or incorrect, that is, one's claim to knowledge is not equivalent to having knowledge. One's claim is subject to whether, for example, one is making the proper inference based on the evidence. Moreover, there are a variety of ways of attaining knowledge, and each of these are subject to certain rules (explicit or implicit). The implicit rules are the most difficult to discern, that is, it takes a bit more analysis to root them out.

Part of the problem with Gettier's supposed counter-examples of JTB, is that they do not make the distinction between claims of knowledge, and what we mean by knowledge, they are not the same. Just because one thinks one is justified, it does not follow that one is justified. They are two different things. I bring this up because claiming to know is always subject to social rules. Because one thinks one sees a red barn in the field, it does not follow that there is a red barn in the field. Another way to say it is, thinking one is correct, is not the same as being correct. If later it turns out that what you thought was a red barn, was indeed something else, then you were not justified. Thus, it was not an example of JTB. Note how knowledge is, again, subject to verification, the doubt, as it were.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Kripke's account of Wittgenstein ("Kripkenstein") is interesting. I think it came up in a thread a couple years ago but cannot find it ATM.

Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language is a 1982 book by philosopher of language Saul Kripke, in which the author contends that the central argument of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations centers on a devastating rule-following paradox that undermines the possibility of our ever following rules in our use of language. Kripke writes that this paradox is "the most radical and original skeptical problem that philosophy has seen to date" (p. 60). He argues that Wittgenstein does not reject the argument that leads to the rule-following paradox, but accepts it and offers a "skeptical solution" to alleviate the paradox's destructive effects....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittgen ... e_Language

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Braininvat » November 22nd, 2018, 10:02 pm wrote:Kripke's account of Wittgenstein ("Kripkenstein") is interesting. I think it came up in a thread a couple years ago but cannot find it ATM.

I don't agree with the paradox. Let me explain the paradox as I see it. A child learns to do addition, i.e., to apply the rule (learnt within the community) of addition up to a finite set of numbers, and this same rule includes the ability to do addition ad infinitum. After the child has done X number of problems correctly, we say that they "grasp the rule (again done within the community)." However how do we know that the child really did grasp the rule, since the child has only done a finite number of addition problems? Moreover the child could've learned a different rule (Kripke's quus), and thus given the solution of "5" instead of "125." In fact, the child could've learned many different rules which don't conform to the original, i.e., the child could also have a rule called "vuus," which gives an answer of "6," and another rule which gives an answer "7," etc. Thus we never know if anyone has learned this rule or any rule because there are an infinite number of applications that have never been performed; and an infinite number of rules that might make us look like we're following a rule, when in reality we have a slightly modified version. So, the skeptic believes there is no way of knowing if someone has grasped a rule.

Kripke offers two ways of solving the problem, viz., there really is no paradox (which is my solution), or that the skeptic is correct and it's not solvable. I believe the latter to be incorrect. What does it mean to follow-a-rule? It means that you are able to go on in the "same way." Moreover, this is done by observation (within the community), and it's done within a finite number of situations. The essence of rule-following is not can someone follow the rule in every possible situation (although it's implied). No, it's have they followed the rule correctly in the situations presented to them - a finite number of times.

This reminds me of the notion of "knowledge," i.e., that given that I can only be, say, 99% sure (inductive reasoning) of my conclusion, then I can't be said to have knowledge, since at some future point I could be incorrect. This is not how we use the word "knowledge," and it's not how we say or know that someone has conformed to the notion of rule-following. Kripke's example, I believe, breaks down at some point because given the number of rules, and the number of people applying those rules, it seems to me that if people were creating rules like the one Kripke gives (the addition e.g.), we would be observing some really strange examples of rule-following.

So, I don't find Kripke's second premise to be intelligible, and I don't believe that his interpretation of Wittgenstein's thoughts to be congruent with what Wittgenstein is saying. I hope I have not mischaracterized Kripke.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

I'm currently working on a theory of knowledge to be presented in a book I'm writing. It's a theory of knowledge based on Wittgenstein's thoughts in OC. I'm not claiming that the theory is what Wittgenstein is claiming in OC (although he never completed his thoughts in OC), that would be the height of arrogance, but most of my thoughts on this theory are based on my interpretation of some or much of his thinking. My claims are what I think follows from his thoughts on hinge-propositions. Many of these thoughts are similar to what other philosophers have concluded, and some are not.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Sam26 » October 26th, 2011, 5:27 am wrote:How is it that a music tech undergraduate is able to capture part of the essence of what Wittgenstein is saying in this short (rhetorical) question? I like it.

How is it that ad hominem attacks can be used for compliments?

Is this an under-handed compliment to Lomax, or an over-handed service to Wittgenstein?

What if Lomax's exception to the foregoing are his or her own, and not a corollary Lomax deduced from Wittgenstein's statements?

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Braininvat » November 22nd, 2018, 10:02 pm wrote:Kripke's account of Wittgenstein ("Kripkenstein") is interesting. I think it came up in a thread a couple years ago but cannot find it ATM.

Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language is a 1982 book by philosopher of language Saul Kripke, in which the author contends that the central argument of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations centers on a devastating rule-following paradox that undermines the possibility of our ever following rules in our use of language. Kripke writes that this paradox is "the most radical and original skeptical problem that philosophy has seen to date" (p. 60). He argues that Wittgenstein does not reject the argument that leads to the rule-following paradox, but accepts it and offers a "skeptical solution" to alleviate the paradox's destructive effects....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittgen ... e_Language

The paradox can be solved another way.

I understand the paradox (wrong expression, btw; more likely an inherent self-contradiction or non-self congruence of meaning) as the problem of a word getting different meanings assigned to it, robustly or subtly.

One can take a statement and apply all the meanings, subtle and robust both, to each word, and then 1. hone in on the most likely meaning, eliminating the robustly different meanings and then 2. Take into consideration all the subtleties without exception and reply to the statement in kind.

The robust differences can be eliminated by applying the clean-up effect of Aristotle-defined equivocation. The subtle differences can be ignored if the reply of a statement applies to any situation arising from the subtle differences in the "meaning paradox".

-----------

Wittgenstein's greatness, as I see it reading parts of the foregoing posts in this thread, is that he atomizes the understand-process; he discovers minute differences between subtle shifts of meaning. From there, he proceeds in building meaning-molecules, and identifies meaning isotopes; that is, the same words put together in the same sequence, yet behaving differently in the realm of understanding, much like two isotopes containing the same number of the same elements behave differently.

This is a work of a genius, no doubt, but in my view it is completely superfluous and it produces redundant work, because the precise same conclusions can be reached both with applying the atomization process and with not applying the atomization process.

In other words, I don't think philosophical inquiry can use Wittgenstein's genius; maybe in the future there will be some applications for it, but at present time it is no more than a mere toy for the intellectually curious.

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Maybe I used the wrong word, but i can't think of the right one. By "isotopes" I meant the different configuration of elements as they bind with each other in a molecule, when it is possible. But perhaps isotopes means same element, different number of Neutrons in its nucleus. I don't know; I apologize for my ignorance. In the previous post I meant to mean the word, when I said "isotopes", and which word escapes me now, that means "different chemical properties due to different bonding sequences of the same elements in two or more molecules".

Thanks.

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

-1- » November 23rd, 2018, 5:00 am wrote:
Sam26 » October 26th, 2011, 5:27 am wrote:How is it that a music tech undergraduate is able to capture part of the essence of what Wittgenstein is saying in this short (rhetorical) question? I like it.

How is it that ad hominem attacks can be used for compliments?

This is a good example of someone using a word/s incorrectly. Ad hominem is applied to arguments, not to statements. People do this all the time, especially in reference to the words ad hominem. The tendency is to think that anything that can be deemed offensive is an ad hominem attack. Again, ad hominem is related to a fallacy in logic.

What I think is interesting is how much language has been distorted with the advent of social media. People tend to use language in very imprecise ways, and we get ourselves into even more of a muddle. I notice this all the time in various threads in philosophy and science forums. In one discussion I noticed people referring to consciousness as an illusion because it doesn't fit their materialistic world view. Or, Christians using the term soul in a way that's equally confusing, as if the word soul gets its meaning by some internal thing. In fact, there are groups of people starting their own language-games with these words. Now I don't want to turn this thread into a discussion of the words illusion or soul, I'm just giving examples.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Sam26,

I think that we are in general agreement. However, at the risk of
quibbling, I should like to put forward a few minor points of clarification.

Your observations regarding a fact witness and an expert witness are not fully developed. The former sort of witness states as a fact that he actually saw, heard or otherwise perceived something that happened at a certain time and place. This is called direct evidence. The latter sort of witness gives a conclusion as to some issue in the case. This is called opinion evidence. For example, in a murder case, a medical examiner may opine that the manner of death was homicide. The law regards opinion evidence, quite correctly, as an inferior grade of evidence; for it is often the case that so-called experts disagree on the same issue.

The distinction between a declaration of fact and an opinion is a crucial one. For example, the CIA recently gave to the president their opinion that the ruling prince of Saudi Arabia was complicit in the murder of a Saudi journalist in Turkey. The president quite correctly pointed out that there was no definitive evidence that established this as a fact and that consequently the opinion of the CIA cannot be taken as irrefutably true (or words to that effect).

A declaration of fact is true if it corresponds to a fact. The latter refers to that which exists in the real world quite independently of what anyone believes. It requires no great development “within the social construct of language.” If, for example, someone actually sees a bear in the woods, he is aware of what he sees. This means that he knows it. Thus, if he reports linguistically, “I saw a bear in the woods,” this means no less than “I know that I saw a bear in the woods.”

I agree that knowledge may be derived in different ways.

One may infer a fact that he did not actually experience from facts that he did experience. For example, if one enters a windowless theater on a beautiful sunny day and later leaves the theater to find an overcast sky, wet streets and people closing umbrellas, he may properly infer that it rained while he was in the theater, even though he did not actually see it rain. If one had no senses, he could neither directly experience the shower of rain nor the wet streets or closing umbrellas. Thus, a person without senses would be incapable of knowledge of the outside world.

Without the senses there could be no science, for no one would be capable of knowing the natural events about which science concerns itself.

Without the senses, there could be no such thing as language.

Accordingly, it is my contention that all knowledge ultimately rests upon the senses.

Convincing others that you actually saw something is quite different from actually seeing it yourself. If one experiences an event as it happens, he needs no convincing.

Doing mathematics requires the social conditioning known as education, which teaches the axioms of that discipline and how they are applied to the solution of certain problems. Mathematics concerns itself with perfection, something that does not exist in the real world. Seeing a bear in the woods does not require any particular education or social conditioning. However, some of this is required to understand the meaning of the expression, “bear.”

It is quite true to say that if one does not exist, he is not in a position to make claims of any sort. Knowledge depends on the existence of one’s self. The same may be said of language, for it depends not only upon the existence of one’s self but also upon the existence of others. These are matters that leave no room for doubt.

Imagination as used in science is not unbridled imagination, for the validity of any scientific postulate depends upon confirmation by available data—that is by observed facts. This gives science its foothold in reality. This is what is meant by saying that without the senses, there would be no science.

Religion does not depend on sensory experience of god but rather on unbridled imagination—by which I mean imagination not rooted in sensory experience. This is why religion tells us that we must take the existence of god as a matter of faith. This means that one must believe in god just because he should, even though god cannot be experienced through the senses.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Agree that Kripke's paradox isn't one. Much like the problem of induction, our rule-following in language isn't a real problem. We know that gravity will not be cancelled next Tuesday.

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Sam26 » November 23rd, 2018, 7:19 am wrote:
-1- » November 23rd, 2018, 5:00 am wrote:
Sam26 » October 26th, 2011, 5:27 am wrote:How is it that a music tech undergraduate is able to capture part of the essence of what Wittgenstein is saying in this short (rhetorical) question? I like it.

How is it that ad hominem attacks can be used for compliments?

This is a good example of someone using a word/s incorrectly. Ad hominem is applied to arguments, not to statements. People do this all the time, especially in reference to the words ad hominem. The tendency is to think that anything that can be deemed offensive is an ad hominem attack. Again, ad hominem is related to a fallacy in logic.

What I think is interesting is how much language has been distorted with the advent of social media. People tend to use language in very imprecise ways, and we get ourselves into even more of a muddle. I notice this all the time in various threads in philosophy and science forums. In one discussion I noticed people referring to consciousness as an illusion because it doesn't fit their materialistic world view. Or, Christians using the term soul in a way that's equally confusing, as if the word soul gets its meaning by some internal thing. In fact, there are groups of people starting their own language-games with these words. Now I don't want to turn this thread into a discussion of the words illusion or soul, I'm just giving examples.

Ad hominem means, literally, at the man, or to the man. Did I say ad hominem fallacy? No I did not. I said ad hominem, because I trusted that we all know that much Latin.

There was no argument presented anyway, by Sam26 in the part I quoted. I don't see any, anyway. So how could I have misused ad hominem as referring to a fallacy? Clearly I have not. Fallacies are applicable to arguments.

Then I get accused of being stupid, ignorant, and using words wrongly in a fashion of the unwashed masses.

I don't mind... this is my lot in life. Being misunderstood, my statements misrepresented, my persona debased. In a voice, in a tone that is condescending, a bit irritated, and altogether condemning me.

All, of course, in an interpersonal dynamic which I see so often recur in my life: being misunderstood, and therefore thought of as of an idiot.

Thank you very much.

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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Well it's a pretty good thread anyway.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

Hopefully what follows will clear up some of the responses above. Sorry, I couldn't get to all the comments.

I want to concentrate on what it means to know, and hopefully Neri this will answer some of your comments, although, not all.

The only way to get clear on what it means to have knowledge, viz., how we derive meaning, is to understand what Wittgenstein said in the PI. What's important about OC, is that it is a sustained treatment of his method (his method is unique in philosophy) on the subject of knowing. So, OC is an example of how to carry out the methods in the PI. I believe these methods are invaluable.

Moreover, if you disagree with Wittgenstein, that's fine, but this thread is about getting clear on what Wittgenstein said, at least as I, and other philosophers interpret him. Obviously, no one philosopher is correct about everything they assert, but there are some basic ideas in Wittgenstein's methods that will help clear up linguistic (conceptual confusions) confusions. These confusions are ubiquitous within philosophical thinking, and since all of us do philosophy to one degree or another, the subject has far reaching implications across a wide array of thinking.

I've already talked about some of what follows in earlier posts, but I don't think people are thinking about what's being said, at least not sufficiently. If they were thinking about what was said, it's sure not reflected in the posts. I don't believe I'm giving an opinion on this subject. I'm giving you facts about language that I believe Wittgenstein established. These facts are what is at issue, not what you or I think about our half-baked notions of epistemology. I'm talking about everyone who uses epistemological terminology, including myself. I'm trying to express how important Wittgenstein's thinking is to so many areas of thought. Your epistemology will affect everything you think you know, or more importantly, everything you claim to know.

Understanding Wittgenstein's idea of a language-game is really important. Now some of you have heard this term quite a lot, but if you don't understand it, and it's nuances, then your not going to follow the main points of OC. Moreover, you're not going to follow the main thrust of what I'm saying.

Most of you understand that a language-game reflects the logic of use of words, and we see this logic at play as we use words. We also see this logic at work in the way children learn to use words. The question that naturally arises, is, what determines the logic behind the use of a concept/word? The way to think of it is the following: What determines the logic behind the use of a piece in chess? There are two things, viz., the rules of the game (in chess they are explicitly enunciated), and the movement of the pieces on the board. They go hand-in-hand. Note also that even though the rules were arbitrarily decided, they have the force of necessity. What this means is, that if you want to play the game of chess, then you have to follow the rules, necessarily. If you don't follow the rules, then you're not playing the game of chess.

The problem is that the rules of use, in terms of knowing, aren't explicitly enunciated as are the rules of chess. This means that there are both explicit rules in terms of Wittgensteinian grammar (talked about in above posts), and implicit rules. The implicit rules are the most difficult to get clear on, and since they aren't spelled out, it requires a lot of work to bring these rules out of the shadows. Moreover, clarity is not something that happens as we discover one use, but clarity comes as we uncover the many uses of the word in a variety of contexts.

There is something else connected with the language-game that is also very important, and that's the idea of private rule-following, which is closely connected with the idea of knowing. By private we mean that one cannot learn to follow rules privately, not that you can't put to use rules that you've learned privately, but that rule-following is necessarily communal. This means that even if you do mathematics in private, i.e., follow the rules privately, those rules are only validated as part of a community. The only way to validate that you've done the math correctly is within the community.

Keep in mind that rule-following carries with it the idea of correct and incorrect, i.e., to say there is a correct way of following a rule, necessitates an incorrect way of following a rule. This can't be done privately, in some sense it is logically impossible, or maybe linguistically impossible. Why? Because privately (completely private, shut off from all connection with language) it's impossible to distinguish between following a rule, and not following a rule. This means that whatever you think following a rule entails, IS following a rule (Wittgenstein). Whatever you think being correct entails, IS correct. And by implication, whatever you think is knowing entails, IS knowing.

Here is something that also follows, and it too, involves a confusion, but it's difficult to see. A community can develop a language-game that misuses a concept/word. But one might ask, how is this possible, since the language-game within the community sets out the rules of correct use? For example, let's say that a community of language users, uses a word that violates an essential component of meaning within a language-game, viz., private rule-following. So, the community establishes a use of a word based on some privately held notion. For instance, by pointing to some privately held notion of knowing. If this is the case, then their language-game is senseless. This is difficult to understand, because their surface grammar is so similar to what we correctly use, but it violate something essential to meaning. Thus, the confusion is difficult to comprehend.

This is why not all language-games are created equal, and it's also why not all uses of words determine meaning. You might then ask, but I thought use is equivalent to meaning, yes and no, i.e., not all uses determine meaning. Wittgenstein also pointed this out.

Here's the point, a language-game must take into account that the rules of use cannot involve a private determination, even if a community of users allows such private determinations.

So, let me address Neri. Neri said, "Knowledge depends on the existence of one's self." Is this true? It depends on what he's trying to say. If he means that you can't get to language without minds (the self, and others), then yes, that is obvious. However, if he means that one can have knowledge of the self, privately, then no, this is not possible for the reasons I put forth above. The language-game of knowing, and the rules of the game (not private rules), necessitate a community of users correctly following the public rules.

If you agree with what was just said, then it also follows that you can't know something privately. For example, I don't know anything as a matter of some private understanding. I only know that which is a matter of what is known publicly. Can I have private beliefs? Yes! Because beliefs are not based on rules, i.e., prelinguistic beliefs. There is an awareness that is beyond knowing, beyond what can be stated as part of our knowledge. Here I'm talking about private awareness, private consciousness, but this is not a knowing. To understand this one must understand what was said previously about language-games and private rule-following. It may seem counter-intuitive, in fact, it is counter-intuitive.

Finally, what does this mean? It means that at the very core, at bedrock, there are just acts, not linguistic acts, but acts that reveal minds, and mind states. It's at the core of reality. It coincides with reality, and is foundational to all that follows within a linguistic environment. All of this happens as the mind through sensory inputs initiates contact with the world around us.
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### Re: An Analysis of On Certainty

He seems to have developed a social theory of knowledge which would be very useful to those in a field like anthropology. He defines knowledge very much as a group achievement, which fits well with the scientific worldview. Interested to see where you go with this.

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