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Durham e-Theses
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Communication and Conversion in Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'

BUCKHALTER, JAMES,MATTHEW (2013) Communication and Conversion in Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty'. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis argues that Wittgenstein’s investigation into the concept of certainty did not begin with On Certainty. The origins of his analysis can be found in Philosophical Investigations. Although it was responding to Moore’s A Defence of Common Sense and Proof of the External World that produced Wittgenstein’s most sustained treatment of the topic, this thesis suggests that On Certainty should still be seen as a development of Philosophical Investigations in a particular direction, rather than a wholly separate interest in epistemology. In particular it is argued that Wittgenstein’s use-based conception of linguistic meaning cannot be put to one side when considering his remarks on certainty. Whilst there has been a burgeoning interest in On Certainty over the past two decades, only very limited efforts have been made at charting the relationship between the two texts, especially as to whether On Certainty can be taken to inform our reading of Philosophical Investigations. Thus far the available literature has neglected the relationship between the concept of the form of life and that of the world-picture. I propose that the concepts are distinct from one another but related, and that properly differentiating them first and then considering the way they can work in conjunction strengthens our understanding of Wittgenstein’s later work. This thesis seeks to make further contributions to the relationship between the two texts, examining whether concepts found in On Certainty such as certainties, the world-picture, and the emphasis on non-rational persuasion and conversion ought to force us to reassess the conception of language set out in Philosophical Investigations. In arguing that they do, the thesis aims to acquire a deeper understanding not only of On Certainty, refining some of these concepts and pushing them beyond their original presentation, but also of Philosophical Investigations and its more familiar concepts of rule-following, language-games, and the form of life. I conclude that, in light of the reading of On Certainty developed here, a more sophisticated conception of linguistic meaning can be developed.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Dec 2013 15:50

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