, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 349-358

Wittgensteinian Foundationalism

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Abstract

The idea that there is such a thing as Wittgensteinian foundationalism is a provocative one for two reasons. For one thing, Wittgenstein is widely regarded as an anti-foundationalist. For another, the very word ‘foundationalism’ sounds like the name of a theory, and Wittgenstein famously opposed the advancing of theories and theses in philosophy. Nonetheless, in his book Moore and Wittgenstein on Certainty, Avrum Stroll has argued that Wittgenstein does indeed develop a foundationalist view in his final work, On Certainty. On this basis, Stroll goes on to argue against a number of contemporary views, including forms of relativism and scientism. In what follows I will examine what Stroll calls Wittgenstein's foundationalism (in Section 1) and argue that Stroll's reading of Wittgenstein, though original and interesting, is misguided in important ways and so cannot be used against the views he opposes (in Section 2). Finally, in Section 3, I offer a brief summary of the reading of Wittgenstein that I recommend.