These sorts of skeptical questions are based on the perception that we have a different kind of epistemic access to other people's experience than we do to our own. In my own case, I know that my tears, smiles, speech, and gestures, are all only outward m anifestations of my inner life. This inner life is, as it were, "hidden" from everyone but myself. There are certain things that no one but myself can know about myself.

Wittgenstein sets about disintegrating this sort of skepticism in a number of ways. One of his more powerful observations is that I do not actually "know" my own inner life. The things we talk about knowing are the same things we talk about finding out, s uspecting, believing, or doubting. There is no process of "finding out" whether I am in pain. How would we set about determining whether or not I know I am in pain? This investigation would be confounded in the same way that an investigation as to wheth er a rose has teeth would be confounded: we do not even know how to look. The idea that "a rose has teeth in the mouth of a beast" is a peculiar, but sly, solution to the question of whether a rose has teeth. Because there is no obvious mouth on a rose to look into, we might as well look for these teeth anywhere. Our investigation had no clear direction from the outset, so we are as justified in claiming the rose's teeth are in the cow's mouth as anywhere else.

The push toward skepticism relies on the contrast between first-person and third-person knowledge, in pointing out that people have clearer knowledge of their inner lives than we do, and concluding that our knowledge is therefore lacking. If this contrast is false, there is no foundation for our claim that our own knowledge regarding other people's feelings is lacking. The obvious objection to saying that there is no distinction between first- and third-person knowledge is that we lack knowledge of other people's states. I can think someone is in pain who is just faking it: there is a fact of the matter here that I can be wrong about. Wittgenstein is not trying to assert the plainly false here, that we have clear access to other people's lives. Rather, he is showing us that there is no higher degree of certainty that we can aspire to. There is no fact, no item of knowledge, that exists only in the subject's mind, which would settle the matter for us if only we could have access to it. Wittgenstein careful ly shows us how we construct our language-games regarding other people's feelings. When we discuss things like knowledge, uncertainty, doubt, and conviction, our attention is directed exclusively toward outward behavior. All the criteria for judging on th ese matters are before our eyes. Because I cannot know someone's inner state (nor was there ever any question of knowing it), this inner state does not factor into my discussion of how I know what the person is feeling. This is not to say, in a behavioris t vein, that outward pain-behavior is the pain. Pain is pain, and not pain-behavior, but knowledge of pain is knowledge of pain-behavior, and not knowledge of inaccessible inner sensations.

Wittgenstein anticipates the further objection that, surely, our certainty regarding other people's inner states is less complete than our certainty regarding mathematical results. True enough, but this assertion just highlights the way language-games fun ction differently in different forms of life. If there were no fixed rules for solving mathematical equations, or if the ink and paper mathematicians used often morphed to shift the results that had been written down, our concept of mathematical certainty would no longer be the same. It is not so much that our knowledge regarding other people is less certain than our knowledge of mathematics; it is that certainty functions differently in this context. My certainty regarding someone's inner life is an expr ession of conviction. This expression can be questioned, disputed, and proven wrong in different ways than expressions of conviction regarding mathematical results, but in the language-games dealing with other people's feelings, there is no higher degree of certainty that I could aspire to that I am now somehow missing.

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