"The Mother-tongue of Thought": James and Wittgenstein on common sense: A Língua-mãe do Pensamento: James e Wittgenstein sobre o senso-comum

Cognitio 13 (1):37-59 (2012)
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Abstract
“Our later and more critical philosophies are mere fads and fancies compared with this natural mother-tongue of thought”, says William James in his lecture on common sense. The deep bond connecting language, common sense and nature is also one of the main concerns of the later Wittgenstein. The aim of this paper is to compare the two philosophers in this respect, particularly focusing on James’ Pragmatism and on Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. Similarities, but also differences, will be highlighted. A further element will be offered by the analysis of a fragment of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass, which anticipates his image of the river-bed of thought through the critique of James’ stream of thought. By means of this comparison, I will question Wittgenstein’s explicit refusal of pragmatism. I will argue that his late philosophy can be said to be even more pragmatist than James’, in that it delineates a conception of the common sense certainties which shape our Weltbild (world-picture) as practically, and not merely epistemically, connected to our life.
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