University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

Too Cavellian a Wittgenstein: Wittgenstein's Certainty, Cavell's Scepticism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Wittgenstein, Understanding Modernism
EditorsAnat Matar
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781501302442
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2017


My aim in this chapter is to show that Cavell's modernist Wittgenstein is too Cavellian. Wittgenstein's philosophy is not – as Cavell claims it is – permeated with (1) a nostalgia for metaphysics; (2) a dissatisfaction with language and criteria; (3) an ineluctable scepticism; all prompting (4) Existential devastation and angst. I will conclude that Cavell reads his own preoccupations into Wittgenstein and that this prevents him from seeing that Wittgenstein's certainty logically dismisses scepticism. Cavell's Wittgenstein is still a groundbreaking philosopher, but seen through Cavell's modernist glass darkly, his philosophy breeds disappointment, alienation and scepticism where it, in fact, sows enlightenment, community and certainty.


Daniel Moyal-Sharrock, 'Too Cavellian a Wittgenstein: Wittgenstein's Certainty, Cavell's Scepticism', in Matar, A. Ed., Wittgenstein and Modernism, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017, ISBN 9781501302442.

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