PHIL 280
Frege, Russell, and the Early Wittgenstein Spring 2017
Division II
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The last line of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus famously reads: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” Are there things that cannot be put into words? What are the limits of language? What is the nature of language? How do logic and language relate? We will examine these (and other questions) in the context of the great philosophical revolution at the beginning of the last century: the linguistic turn and the birth of analytic philosophy. We will see how a focus on language affects our understanding of many traditional philosophical questions, ranging from epistemology and metaphysics to aesthetics and ethics. Our texts will include Gottlob Frege, The Foundations of Arithmetic, Bertrand Russell, Principles of Mathematics, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. While you’re debating whether to take this class, consider the following puzzle. There is a village where the barber shaves (a) all those and (b) only those who do not shave themselves. Now, ask yourself: who shaves the barber? You will see that if the barber does not shave himself, then by condition (a) he does shave himself. And, if the barber does shave himself, then by condition (b) he does not shave himself. Thus, the barber shaves himself if and only if he does not shave himself. See if you can figure out why this is sometimes called a paradox, and then ask yourself what this has to do with our opening questions.
The Class: Format: seminar
Expected: 12-15
Class#: 3801
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two short papers (5 pages) and one longer final paper (12-15 pages)
Prerequisites: at least two Philosophy courses, Phil 202 and 203 recommended
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors, then seniors and juniors of any major
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PHIL History Courses

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