Guy Bennett-Hunter
University of Edinburgh
The ways in which Wittgenstein was directly influenced by William James (by his early psychological work as well his later philosophy) have been thoroughly explored and charted by Russell B. Goodman. In particular, Goodman has drawn attention to the pragmatist resonances of the Wittgensteinian notion of hinge propositions as developedand articulated in the posthumously edited and published work, On Certainty. This paper attempts to extend Goodman’s observation, moving beyond his focus on James (specifically, James’s Pragmatism) as his pragmatist reference point. It aims to articulate the affinity between Wittgenstein’s thought on the topic of certainty and that of the neglected pragmatist thinker, George Santayana. -/- The paper draws on Duncan Pritchard’s recent reading of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty in order to articulate the concept of certainty involved in the notion of hinge propositions. It identifies two important and related points of affinity between this Wittgensteinian line of thought on certainty and the line of thought on the same topic articulated in Santayana’s Scepticism and Animal Faith. The paper argues, firstly, that, both lines of thought reflect a pragmatist concept of certainty, according to which our most fundamental certainties are not conceived as purely theoretical objects of belief or knowledge but rather as thearational presuppositions of beliefs and practical action. Secondly, it examines the way inwhich the pragmatist concept of certainty functions, for the two thinkers as a response to scepticism. It argues that although the two thinkers’ responses are very different, they are mutually compatible and, together, point towards the possibility of a distinctively pragmatist response to scepticism, which involves an anti-epistemological model of the intimate relation of the human self to the world.
Keywords Wittgenstein  Pragmatism  Certainty  Doubt  Epistemology  Santayana
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.4000/ejpap.728
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

References found in this work BETA

Wittgenstein on Scepticism.Duncan Pritchard - 2011 - In Marie McGinn & Oskari Kuusela (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein. Oxford University Press.
The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Geneaology of Pragmatism.Cornel West - 1990 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 26 (3):373-384.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Certainty is Not a Mansion.Elly Vintiadis - 2006 - Journal of Philosophical Research 31:143-152.
Wittgenstein's Scepticism' in on Certainty.Norman Malcolm - 1988 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):277 – 293.
Moore and Wittgenstein on Certainty.Avrum Stroll - 1994 - Oxford University Press.
Wittgenstein and Basic Moral Certainty.Nigel Pleasants - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (4):669-679.
The 4th Dimension. Wittgenstein on Colour and Imagination.Tine Wilde - 2002 - In Christian Kanzian, Josef Quitterer & Edmund Runggaldier (eds.), Persons. An Interdisciplinary Approach. Papers of the 25th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. pp. 284-286.
Was Wittgenstein an Epistemic Relativist?Annalisa Coliva - 2010 - Philosophical Investigations 33 (1):1-23.


Added to PP index

Total views
223 ( #36,860 of 2,344,480 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
20 ( #33,273 of 2,344,480 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes