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On Moral Certainty

Varja Štrajn

Wittgenstein concludes Tractatus with a thought that we cannot express the fundamental questions of life in the natural language. Moral judgements indubitably address the most basic life questions, which we cannot utter and only show themselves at the linguistic margins. Therefore, ethical value statements only manifest themselves and cannot be conveyed in natural language sentences. In his late philosophy, Wittgenstein radically changes his philosophical position. He views inexpressible moral judgements differently in close connection to the concepts of certainty and knowledge. Accordingly, one can say that ‘A is certain of p’ does not entail saying ‘A knows that p’, as the idea of certainty does not presuppose the concept of knowledge and the other way around. For example, if one says that ‘It is not certain that James Bond is still alive’, that does not mean that ‘Nobody knows if James Bond is still active’, but that at least ‘Miss Moneypenny knows he is still alive’. Consequently, we can be certain of something without knowing and be in a state of knowledge without being certain.The paper will examine and compare divergent positions on ethics in Wittgenstein’s early and late philosophy with the concept of certainty.



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