ArgLab • Seminar

André Kfouri

Further affinities between Wittgenstein and Newman

The extent of John Henry Newman’s influence on Wittgenstein’s later works, and particularly on On Certainty, has been the topic of some debate in recent years. After a brief overview of the issue of direct influence, I will discuss some deeper affinities between both of both thinkers, going beyond epistemological anti-foundationalism and including a general orientation towards practice and an interest in the limits of philosophical language. While the epistemological aspect is evident in Newman’s concepts of real and notional assent, I suggest that the broader metaphilosophical points can be seen in his discussion of their correlate objects, the concrete and the abstract. Finally, I will discuss how these different issues come together in Newman’s conceptions of imagination, rationality and the ‘illative sense’, where the most immediate contrasts with Wittgenstein become apparent, and suggest some possible paths for compatibilizing the different views. With this, I hope to show how a deeper study of Newman in his own terms may be helpful interpreting Wittgenstein, or of interest to Wittgensteinian philosophers in general.

To join the session on Zoom, please contact Robert Vinten at for the details.

This is the second of a series of RIP seminars within the scope of the activities of the Lisbon Wittgenstein Group, coordinated by Nuno Venturinha (ArgLab/IFILNOVA).