Extended Deadline: September 15th, 2021

Groundless Grounds and Hinges.
Wittgenstein’s On Certainty within the Philosophical Tradition
Topoi. An International Review of Philosophy Special Issue
Guest editors
Begoña Ramón Cámara (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and Jesús Vega Encabo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

Brief description of the issue
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s work On Certainty has raised an increasing interest in the last years. Many of Wittgenstein’s scholars have claimed that, although it is merely a set of notes, On Certainty can be considered, along with the Tractatus logico-philosophicus and the Philosophical Investigations, one of Wittgenstein’s three major “works”. A growing series of studies of an exegetical-interpretative nature have thus flourished, in which it is asked, among other things, whether there is a continuity between On Certainty and Wittgenstein’s previous work, or whether it rather reveals a new and unprecedented phase of his philosophy. This phase would show a turn with respect to Wittgenstein’s previous interests and his previous metaphilosophy, or philosophy of philosophy, in which he insisted almost exclusively on the therapeutic or critical-negative character of philosophizing. But it is not only Wittgensteinians and Wittgenstein’s scholars who have drawn attention to On Certainty. It has often been read and used by philosophers who are interested less in Wittgenstein’s work than in recovering his ideas for developing new positions in contemporary epistemology.
This volume will gather a set of papers that offer new readings of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, and seeks to address a series of questions that turn around the traditional problem of our search for grounds. The problem of the ground and the possibility of positing groundless grounds are at the core of On Certainty, a work that needs to be read anew by placing it in the broader context of the epistemological tradition and, in general, of the metaphysical and philosophical tradition. We do not envisage though this volume as a historical research on the sources of its thought nor on its influence. We rather seek to elucidate this fascinating set of Wittgensteinian remarks in the light of classical positions and long-range disputes in the history of philosophy.
The various articles that will be here included are concerned with making sense of the groundlessness that our practices of giving reasons seem to exhibit without losing their significance. As the interpreters of this dense set of notes have already pointed out, the search of immutable foundations gives way in the Wittgensteinian text to the postulation of ungrounded beliefs, of arational commitments, of groundless propositions, or of inescapable conditions provided by nature. A beginning must be provided, an anchorage, a point on which our epistemic practices, our research, and our justification can pivot. But this search for a proper beginning always clashes with the acknowledgement of a lack of ultimate foundation, be it of an empirical or transcendental order. Understanding how On Certainty embraces the inevitability of a beginning—but a beginning that does not act as an immutable and ultimate foundation—requires a return to debates that our philosophical tradition has been shaping in a slow work of thought and that can also be discovered in the careful and nuanced Wittgensteinian reflection.

Papers about the following topics among others will be welcome:

  • Wittgenstein’s On Certainty under the light of the philosophical tradition;
  • The dialogue of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty with the different skeptical schools and arguments;
  • Wittgenstein and the problem on the search for grounds, both in its metaphysical and in its epistemological strands;
  • On Certainty and the historical and philosophical significance of positing groundless grounds;
  • Wittgenstein’s hinge epistemology and the search for groundless grounds;
  • Wittgenstein’s conception of inquiry, epistemic practices and assumptions guiding research;
  • Wittgenstein and naturalism;
  • Contributions that place, re-read, interpret and understand Wittgensteinian themes within a broader philosophical and historical context.

Invited Contributors
Modesto Gómez Alonso (Universidad de La Laguna)
Andy Hamilton (Durham University)
Jakub Mácha (Masarykova Univerzita)
Kevin Mulligan (Université de Genève)
David Pérez Chico (Universidad de Zaragoza)
Luigi Perissinotto (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)
Nuno Venturinha (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Deadline for submission
September 15th, 2021

Submission process
Papers should be original contributions. They should not exceed 8000 words, and should follow the instructions for authors established by Topoi, available on the journal’s website:

Papers will be subject to double-blind peer review by at least two referees, following international standard practices. Papers will have to be submitted via Topoi’s editorial manager. Please, make sure to select the category “SI On Certainty (Ramón Cámara / Vega Encabo)” from the Article Type menu.

For further information, please contact:
Begoña Ramón Cámara () and Jesús Vega Encabo ()

Journal website: www.springer.com/journal/11245

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