Joyce's literary project has been presented as a so-called "high modernist" apotheosis of language, the opposite of linguistic skepticism. But this retrospective way of framing Joyce is to a large extent part of the contrastive background, rebelliously created by the subsequent, "late modernist" generation. This essay investigates this not entirely fair framing by examining the hypothesis that Joyce may actually have been setting the agenda for the late-modernist enactment of language skepticism. The entrenched, Cartesian way of regarding literature as an outward expression of an "inner" propositional content of thought is replaced by another, post-Cartesian paradigm that sees language as a cognition-enhancing tool. Joyce was not a philosopher; he did not write about this phenomenon. Instead, his literature enacts it.