“A Spontaneous Following”: Wittgenstein, Education and the Limits of Trust



It is now commonly argued that trust is fundamental to numerous and varied sorts of human relationships and activities and that education takes place within a fiduciary framework: that a basic trust is essential to child development and the very possibility of initiate learning . It has also been suggested that Wittgenstein’s remarks in On Certainty describe a “fundamental attitude of trust”. I argue that accounts of a generalized, background attitude of trust misuse the term “trust” and that no such notion is to be found in Wittgenstein’s remarks. Rather, Wittgenstein’s soft naturalism suggests that the phenomenon described is better understood as ein spontanes Mitgehen (a spontaneous following), something that he appears to have relied upon in his own, idiosyncratic approach to teaching .


Basic attitude of trust Initiate learning On Certainty Soft naturalism 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy, School of Histories, Languages and CulturesUniversity of HullKingston upon HullUK

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