Ludwig Wittgenstein’s On Certainty: The Specialized ‘I Know’

1 Sep

Wittgenstein’s proposition filled book On Certainty is a late work of his discussing many things, mostly discussing the many things about and against G.E. Moore’s Introduction of Sense Data/Proof of an External World. Moore discusses sense data among other things about the world ( I have 2 writings about Moore’s writings, in the G.E. Moore category to your right), and at the beginning of the book, as well as being the theme of the rest, Wittgenstein questions the claim to know something.

When Moore continuously began his statements with I know, Wittgenstein refutes not the exact propositions Moore has, but that he uses ‘I know’ with too much liberty. ” We just do not see how very specialized the use of ‘I know’ is” and “That [Moore] does know takes some [showing]” (Wittgenstein).  After reading this it is known that saying that one knows is quite a statement in that knowing something is a large feat to accomplish.

The feat of accomplishing the knowledge of any proposition is large and amazing because of how much doubt that one must go through to signify the knowledge of something. According to Descartes, one must take into consideration all possible doubts there are about something before declaring knowledge of truth or falsity about it. To go through the processes of coherence or correspondence about something to declare truth or falsity would be one thing that would eventually allow a person to use the specialized phrase I know. I think it must be established that if we claim to know something, and are asked to show how and why, that we should be able to produce evidence about why it is true. Wittgenstein states that if we know something, we should be able to maintain all evidence to show that it is evident. It is not my opinion, but according to Wittgenstein (and Descartes for that matter) and his solipsist values, one can know only one thing: that oneself exists.  With these solipsist values, Wittgenstein can easily be understood in the reason why he states that ‘i know’ should be reserved. With these solipsist values, the only thing he claims to know is that he exists and Moore throwing around I know for other propositions can only be leading to falsities unless it is for sure that something is true or false.

Wittgenstein in On Certainty goes further into further testing before saying ‘I know’ by stating that a hand outside him may or not be there based on sensory sight.  He goes on with the hand to discuss his feelings on the matter.For me, to know that my hand exists is to test how solid it is, find all its functions,  decide where it originates from, and where in the spatiotemporal continuum it exists.

So, it is my goal here to arrive at a conclusion as to whether this hand I have is true or false in its existence. I want to give evidence as to its existence, and then form a reductio to further prove the point. First, I want to note that this hand is a part of and not separate from me. Regardless as to whether the body, mind, self, and soul are existent in parts within me, the hand is something that is my own, and it is a part of me. One of the things that can be known in the universe to exist is oneself. I KNOW I exist (Wittgenstein and Descartes thought so too).  And if it is known that I exist, all parts of me exist too. My hand is a part of me, so given that I exist, and parts of me exist with I, including my hand, my hand has this evidence to exist. Secondly,  my hand performs functions that have little to some impact on the world around it. Right now, it types simultaneously with the other hand in a writing about philosophy that will be posted on a website for anyone to read at their leisure. Also, my hand does other functions like washing, eating, and performing a plethora of other functions. Regardless of the function that the hand performs, it puts an impact around the world around it and something changes to a degree. As I am about to say further down the road in this writing, things that do change and impact have hard evidence for existence. I could go further in looking for further evidence but these 2 things are enough for me to say I KNOW that my hand exists. Wittgenstein would not endorse my thought process and he would still think that my use of ‘i know’ would not be specialized enough and that it is to loose in use.

Another example of proving something to knowledgeable certainty is the proof of my friend Scott (he is imaginary, and may not even be a person if you humor me).  Scott is a part of the creatum, and was created by God (I have further things to know to exist later, including the creatum), and if this is so, he can be assured to exist almost to the point of I know. Also, Scott is a terrorist and  places bombs in buildings. Lets say Scott put a bomb in building Z in town X, and building Z explodes killing a quarter of the population of town X including those in large proximity to the exploding building. Scott affected the world with this bomb and killed a lot of people, and had an effect on the world. Between these two things, we can know that Scott exists.

The knowledge of existence of a thing is not what Wittgenstein limits full knowledge to. The justified and evident use of the specialized ‘I know’ can be applied to anything in question in progression to knowing it. I choose however to turn toward the somewhat knowledge and full knowledge of the existence of things because of how delicate the argument is.

After reading Wittgenstein’s thoughts on using ‘I know’ so limitlessly, I was sent into a storm of thought into the justification and evidence of the existence of the below 5 things. I apologize that this writing has gone from the proving with evidence on anything to just the existence of things. But this website is for unbounded thought about the cosmos regardless the setting.

1) Oneself We can know that oneself exists because we think, and we know we exist. We also can be aware of this because we are a thinking thing that are contemplating the issue in the first place. Second of all, oneself has an effect/affect on the world around it, and each person that defines oneself makes a difference. Third, God recognizes and embraces our existence.

2) God We can be sure that He exists because he causes 99.999% of the effects in the cosmos, and he has more impact than is conceivable. He created the cosmos, and each individual person. Because of His effects and creations, we can be sure that He exists.

3) Creatum God created the creatum with all of the living things and earth within it. All of the things inside the creatum cause things within the cosmos, and we can know it to exist. We are within it, so it exists.

4) Spiritual World God and His angels, nor Satan and his demons are here in full creatum form, therefore since we know of Satan’s deception and God’s love, they must exist somewhere.  These worlds have revealed themselves to us in other ways therefore these worlds can be known to exist.

5 Causing Things If something causes an effect, and creates a small to large domino effect, the causer can be known to exist. This overlaps upon all the other 4 things known to exist, and this is one of the justifications just as well as it is a fifth category.

Thanks for the support. The above 5 things were quickly justified and were not done in detail. My main aim was to discuss that saying that we know something is a bigger action than we think and we should not throw the phrase  around so much unless they overlap and reside within the 5 things known to exist, or unless you can come up with other justifications for existence.

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