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Alfred Jules Ayer, in a conference where he exposes the achievements of Moore, starts it by saying:

"It is true that Moore diminishes the force of his position by adding that no one knows the correct analysis of these propositions of which we all know the truth, and still more by admitting as possible analyses interpretations of the propositions in question that one would suppose him to have ruled out of court, but I shall ignore this complication in the present context" --Ayer, Alfred Jules. ‘A Defence of Empiricism’. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement; London 30 (1991): 1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1358246100007645.

In what text, or conference, or where, does George Edward Moore confess that we do not really know those sentences that he so much defended that we knew?

I guess that in his mind he always thought about it, I am quite sure that he could not believe that his reply to skepticism was truly valid, but I have not found a place where he accept it.

  • I think the criticism regards G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica of 1903: "Moore's non-naturalism comprised two main theses. One was the realist thesis that moral and more generally normative judgements are objectively true or false." And the so-called "“paradox of analysis”: that any definition of a concept will, if successful, appear uninformative. If an analysis does capture all its target concept's content, the sentence linking the two will be a tautology; but this is hardly a reason to reject all analyses. " – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jul 8 at 14:23
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    Wherever Moore said it, the quote only ascribes to him that we do not know the correct analysis of these propositions, not that we do not know the propositions themselves. We all know that we have minds, but who knows what "mind" really is. Perhaps it should be analyzed into brain states, as physicalists insist, or perhaps not, as dualists do. – Conifold Jul 9 at 6:19
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In what text, or conference, or where, does George Edward Moore confess that we do not really know those sentences that he so much defended that we knew?

There's a confusion here about what Ayer is saying. Ayer--in the quote you provide--says that Moore doesn't know the correct analysis of the propositions. He does not say that Moore doesn't know the propositions to be true. Moore held that we can solve philosophical problems by paying attention to the logical forms of sentences involved in formulating the problems. So Moore's task as Moore saw it was to accept that we know common-sense propositions and then to investigate how we (can come to) know them. This involved trying to get a clear view on what it is that we know, i.e., on what logical form these propositions take and what is or is not logically entailed by these propositions, a fact one can come to know clearly only by providing the correct logical analysis.

Moore can, on this view, claim to know that there are things external to our minds, yet not be sure about what the correct analysis of the relevant propositions is. That is, Moore can accept that his argument against skepticism is sound and yet have doubts about whether he ever found the correct analysis.

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