Quine and Wittgenstein : Similarities and Common Misconceptions

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Filosofiska institutionen

Author: Hakim Svanberg; [2019]

Keywords: Wittgenstein; Quine; Holism;

Abstract: Quine and late Wittgenstein have often found themselves being compared for similarities and dissimilarities, we can attribute the allure of this subject to both philosophers being similar advocates of holism and epistemological relativity despite taking on different subject matters. Pieranna Garavaso attempted an inquiry of this type, where she compares Quine’s view on holism, relying mainly on “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”, with Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. Garavaso shows in her essay that there is a high level of correspondence between On Certainty and “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” but ultimately concludes that despite any actual agreement between Quine and Wittgenstein, their views end up ultimately incompatible. I will argue that this is wrong; Quine’s conception of holism, and Wittgenstein’s conception of holism found in On Certainty are compatible, and even complementary. I will begin my text by giving a short presentation of Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”. I will then raise the similarities, and dissimilarities between the two texts before giving my final argument against the supposed conflict between them.

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