On Certainty
Wittgenstein (Ludwig), Anscombe (G.E.M.), von Wright (G.H.), Eds.
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  1. What we publish here belongs to the last year and a half of Wittgenstein's life. In the middle of 1949 he visited the United States at the invitation of Norman Malcolm, staying at Malcolm's house in Ithaca. Malcolm acted as a goad to his interest in Moore's ‘defence of common sense', that is to say his claim to know a number of propositions for sure, such as "Here is one hand, and here is another", and "The earth existed for a long time before my birth", and "I have never been far from the earth's surface". The first of these comes in Moore's ‘Proof of the External World1'. The two others are in his ‘Defence of Common Sense2'; Wittgenstein had long been interested in these and had said to Moore that this was his best article. Moore had agreed. This book contains the whole of what Wittgenstein wrote on this topic from that time until his death. It is all first-draft material, which he did not live to excerpt and polish.
  2. The material falls into four parts; we have shown the divisions at § 65, p. 10, § 192, p. 27 and § 299, p. 38. What we believe to be the first part was written on twenty loose sheets of lined foolscap, undated. These Wittgenstein left in his room in G. E. M. Anscombe's house in Oxford, where he lived (apart from a visit to Norway in the autumn) from April 1950 to February 1951. I (G. E. M. A.) am under the impression that he had written them in Vienna, where he stayed from the previous Christmas until March; but I cannot now recall the basis of this impression. The rest is in small notebooks, containing dates; towards the end, indeed, the date of writing is always given. The last entry is two days before his death on April 19th 1951. We have left the dates exactly as they appear in the manuscripts. The numbering of the single sections, however, is by the Editors.
  3. These were not the only things Wittgenstein wrote during this period. He wrote inter alia a fair amount on colour-concepts, and this material he did excerpt and polish, reducing it to a small compass. We expect to publish a volume containing this and other material written after the completion of Philosophical Investigations Part II.
  4. It seemed appropriate to publish this work by itself. It is not a selection; Wittgenstein marked it off in his notebooks as a separate topic, which he apparently took up at four separate periods during this eighteen months. It constitutes a single sustained treatment of the topic.
    … G. E. M. Anscombe
    … G. H. von Wright.

In-Page Footnotes ("Wittgenstein (Ludwig), Anscombe (G.E.M.), von Wright (G.H.), Eds. - On Certainty")

Footnote 1: "Moore (G.E.) - Proof of an External World".

Footnote 2: "Moore (G.E.) - A Defence of Common Sense".


Harper Torchbooks, 1972. German text with English translation by Denis Paul & G.E.M. Anscombe.

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