Cavell and Philosophical Vertigo
My interest is the kind of philosophical vertigo that is a theme of Cavell’s work on scepticism. This describes the anxiety that is elicited via philosophical engagement with certain kinds of sceptical questions (e.g., rule-following, other minds, external world scepticism). There is a standing puzzle about this notion of vertigo, however, forcefully pressed, for example, by McDowell. Why should a resolution of the sceptical problem, one that putatively completely undercuts the motivation for scepticism in that domain, nonetheless generate vertigo in this sense? I aim to resolve the puzzle, in a way that I believe underwrites this Cavellian notion, via consideration of Wittgenstein’s remarks on the structure of rational evaluation in his final notebooks, published as On Certainty.
Allen, Richard, 2006. “Hitchcock and Cavell.” In Thinking Through Cinema: Film as Philosophy, edited by Murray Smith and Thomas E. Wartenberg, pp. 43–54. Oxford: Blackwell.
Austin, J. L., 1961. “Other Minds.” In Philosophical Papers, edited by J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock, pp. 76–116. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
———, 1964. Sense and Sensibilia, edited by G. J. Warnock. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bax, Chantal, 2013. “Reading On Certainty through the Lens of Cavell: Scepticism, Dogmatism and the ‘Groundlessness of our Believing’.” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 21: 515–53.
Cassam, Quassim, 2007. The Possibility of Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cavell, Stanley, 1969. Must We Mean What We Say?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
———, 1972. The Senses of Walden. New York: Viking.
———, 1979. The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
———, 1988. In Quest of the Ordinary: Lines of Skepticism and Romanticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
———, 1996. Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
———, 2000. Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clarke, Thompson, 1972. “The Legacy of Skepticism.” Journal of Philosophy 69: 754–69.
Coliva, Annalisa, 2010. Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty, and Common Sense. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
———, 2015. Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Conant, James, 1998. “Wittgenstein on Meaning and Use.” Philosophical Investigations 21: 222–50.
Crary, Alice and Sanford Shieh, eds., 2006. Reading Cavell. London: Routledge.
Egan, David, 2013. “The Authenticity of the Ordinary.” In Wittgenstein and Heidegger, edited by David Egan, Stephen Reynolds and Aaron James Wendland, pp. 66–81. London: Routledge.
Fosl, Peter S., 2015. “Cavell and Hume on Skepticism, Natural Doubt, and the Recovery of the Ordinary.” Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies 3: 32–48.
Gendler, Tamar S., 2008. “Alief and Belief.” Journal of Philosophy 105: 634–63.
Gutschmidt, Rico, 2016. “Skepticism, Metaphors and Vertigo: Wittgenstein and Cavell on the Human Condition.” Wittgenstein-Studien 7: 131–48.
———, 2020. “Beyond Quietism. Transformative Experience in Pyrrhonism and Wittgenstein.” International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 10: 105–28.
Heidegger, Martin, 1962. Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell.
Macarthur, David, 2014. “Cavell on Skepticism and the Importance of Not-Knowing.” Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies 2: 2–23.
Malcolm, Norman, 1949. “Defending Common Sense.” Philosophical Review 58: 201–20.
McDowell, John, 1979. “Virtue and Reason.” Monist 62: 331–50.
———, 1981. “Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following.” In Wittgenstein: To Follow A Rule, edited by S. Holtzman and Christopher M. Leich, pp. 141–62. London: Routledge.
———, 1995. “Knowledge and the Internal.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55: 877–93.
———, 2009. “Wittgenstein’s ‘Quietism’.” Common Knowledge 15: 365–72.
McGinn, Marie, 1989. Sense and Certainty: A Dissolution of Scepticism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Moore, G. E., 1925. “A Defence of Common Sense.” In Contemporary British Philosophy, 2nd Series, edited by J. H. Muirhead, pp. 191–224. London: Allen & Unwin.
———, 1939. “Proof of an External World.” Proceedings of the British Academy 25: 273–300.
Moyal-Sharrock, Daniele, 2004. Understanding Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
———, 2017. “Too Cavellian a Wittgenstein: Wittgenstein’s Certainty, Cavell’s Scepticism.” In Wittgenstein and Modernism, edited by Anat Matar, pp. 92–112. London: Bloomsbury.
Mulhall, Stephen, 1994. Stanley Cavell: Philosophy’s Recounting of the Ordinary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pritchard, Duncan H., 2014. “Sceptical Intuitions.” In Intuitions, edited by Anthony Robert Booth and Darrell P. Rowbottom, pp. 213–31. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
———, 2015. Epistemic Angst: Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
———, 2017. “Wittgenstein on Hinge Commitments and Radical Scepticism in On Certainty.” In Blackwell Companion to Wittgenstein, edited by Hans-Johann Glock and John Hyman, pp. 563–75. Oxford: Blackwell.
———, 2019a. “Wittgensteinian Epistemology, Epistemic Vertigo, and Pyrrhonian Scepticism.” In Epistemology After Sextus Empiricus, edited by Justin Vlasits and Katja Maria Vogt, pp. 173–91. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
———, 2019b. “Wittgenstein’s On Certainty as Pyrrhonism in Action.” In Wittgensteinian : Looking at the World From the Viewpoint of Wittgenstein’s Philosophy, edited by Newton da Costa and Shyam Wuppuluri, pp. 91–106. Dordrecht: Springer.
———, 2020. “Epistemic Vertigo.” In The Philosophy and Psychology of Ambivalence: Being of Two Minds, edited by Berit Brogaard and Dimitria Electra Gatzia, pp. 110–28. London: Routledge.
———, 2021. “Ignorance and Inquiry.” American Philosophical Quarterly 58: 111–23.
———, Forthcoming. “Pyrrhonism and Wittgensteinian Quietism.” In Ancient Scepticism and Contemporary Philosophy, edited by Luigi Perissinotto and B. R. Cámara. Milan: Mimesis International.
Putnam, Hilary, 2006. “Philosophy as the Education of Grown-Ups: Stanley Cavell and Skepticism.” In Crary and Shieh (2006), pp. 119–30.
———, 2012. “Skepticism and Occasion-Sensitive Semantics.” In Philosophy in an Age of Science: Physics, Mathematics and Skepticism, edited by Mario De Caro and David Macarthur, p. ??. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Schönbaumsfeld, Genia, 2016. The Illusion of Doubt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shieh, Sanford, 2006. “The Truth in Skepticism.” In Crary and Shieh (2006), pp. 131–65.
Stroud, Barry, 1984. The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Travis, Charles, 1981. The True and the False: The Domain of Pragmatics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
———, 1989. The Uses of Sense: Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
———, 2001. Unshadowed Thought: Representation in Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
———, 2005. “A Sense of Occasion.” Philosophical Quarterly 55: 286–314.
———, 2006. Thought’s Footing: A Theme in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
———, 2008. Occasion-Sensitivity: Selected Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Williams, Michael, 1991. Unnatural Doubts: Epistemological Realism and the Basis of Scepticism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1953. Philosophical Investigations, edited by G. E. M. Anscombe and Rush Rhees. Oxford: Blackwell.
———, 1969. On Certainty, edited by G. E. M. Anscombe and G. H. von Wright. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wright, Crispin, 2004. “Warrant for Nothing (and Foundations for Free)?” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 78: 167–212.
The Public Knowledge Project recommends the use of the Creative Commons license. The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy requires authors to agree to a Creative Commons Attribution /Non-commercial license. Authors who publish with the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC license.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.