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Peirce and Wittgenstein and common-sense philosophy


It has been more than 50 years now since Richard Rorty indicated a certain proximity between the philosophies of Peirce and Wittgenstein. And since Rorty's first attempt, several others have dealt with the same subject, e.g., Jacques Bouveresse, Karl-Otto Apel, Christiane Chauviré, Christopher Hookway, Umberto Eco. But in Brazil this discussion is yet to be developed. This project aims at that. From Peirce's criticism to cartesianism, one can show how his concerns can be approached from a Wittgensteinian view-point. For Peirce, as for Wittgenstein, our common-sense beliefs are held as certain not because they are the result of an investigation, but because they serve as premisses for our inquiries. Their value comes from their being sure guides to our conduct, for they establish pragmatic habits. Common-sense certainties are not essentially undubitable, though, they are so only because it does not occur to us they can be doubted. As Wittgenstein says in an exemplar Peircean way, "the game of doubting itself presupposes certainty". We start with all our prejudices, and we cannot pretend to doubt in paper what we do not doubt in our hearts, as Peirce said. And even tough our common-sense beliefs help us maintain our actions, this does not mean they are completely justified beyond all doubt. They can nevertheless be publicly assessed and examined, in an analytical process one could call "linguistic" or "semiotical" (depending on which author one is based). But this is only a common starting point from which each philosopher came to adopt anti-intuitionistic, anti-dualistic, and anti-mentalist positions - close positions, for sure, but not exactly the same. The proximity identified cannot erase their differences, which are indeed remarkable. For instance, Wittgenstein on the one hand would say that common-sense certainties are not only uncritically indubitable, it is indeed absurd to doubt them, that is, it does not make any sense to doubt what we cannot doubt. On the other hand, Peirce would add that common-sense cannot be reduced to linguistically expressible propositional certainties, but it essentially is made up of inferences, that is, controlled processes of thought. The project will compare both philosophers' writings on the subject aiming at highlighting their differences, and from this hoping to reach a safer ground from where to understand their alleged similarities. (AU)

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