Detalle Publicación

Are Wittgenstein's hinges rational world-pictures? The groundlessness theory reconsidered

ISSN: 0167-7411
Volumen: 42
Número: 1
Páginas: 35 - 45
Fecha de publicación: 2023
Some philosophers have argued that Wittgenstein's hinges, the centrepiece of his book On Certainty, are the "ungrounded ground" on which knowledge rests. It is usually understood by this that hinges provide a foundation for knowledge without being themselves epistemically warranted. In fact, Wittgenstein articulates that hinges lack any truth-value and are neither justified nor unjustified. This inevitably places them wholly outside the categorial framework of JTB epistemology. What I call the "groundlessness interpretation", inspired by OC 166, understands the fundamental pieces of our cognitive scaffolding this way. The view has been largely successful. I argue that this interpretation is incomplete for two basic reasons: first, it is not based on undisputed evidence; second, by assuming that hinges are committed to reality by epistemic fiat, it looks as if Wittgenstein is asking us to blindly trust them regardless of their actual content. Contrary to this, I argue that Wittgenstein describes hinges as illuminating world-pictures that reflect reality and are answerable to facts in a derivate way. As the book shows, hinges originate in our engagement with reality and, while considered unquestionable, could be challenged, reassessed, and replaced by new ones. This indicates that hinges are both the result of knowledge-acquisition and somewhat continuous with one's set of beliefs. It follows that hinges are ultimately rational, and so, apt instruments to confront scepticism.