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Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) is probably the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. His later work, best known through posthumously published Philosophical Investigations, continues to influence contemporary thinking about language, mind, action, knowledge, ethics, religion, aesthetics, culture, and of course, philosophy itself. Understanding later Wittgenstein is thus vital for engaging in contemporary philosophy, but neither the interpretation nor the evaluation of his thought is straightforward or easy. Later Wittgenstein is a controversial, polarizing figure; but serious reading of his work is invariably intellectually enriching and fertile. This tutorial aims to provide students with the skills necessary for careful, serious and thorough reading of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. In the first part of the course, we will read Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, one of the greatest books ever written. In the second part of the course, we will read On Certainty, and selections from other of Wittgenstein’s posthumously published works: Zettel, Philosophical Grammar, Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, Culture and Value, Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, and The Big Typescript.
Throughout the course, we will consult and discuss the important secondary literature on Wittgenstein, and analyze different philosophical presuppositions and goals that motivate particular readings. The central topics of the course will be: meaning, rule following, human languages; private experiences and other minds; intention and action; knowledge and skepticism; and especially, the methods and nature of philosophy.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
tutorial attendance and participation; bi-weekly tutorial papers, each about 5 pages long (totaling 6 per student); bi-weekly oral responses to the paper of the tutorial partner
two Philosophy courses
preference will be given to students who already took a course on Wittgenstein, for example, PHIL 309
Students will write two short (about 800 words) seminar papers; five 5-7 pages long papers; five 2-3 pages long comments on their tutorial partner's papers; and a final paper (also 5-7 pages long) which will be a revision of one of the previously written papers. Students will get regular feedback from their tutorial partner and from the instructor on the substance of their work as well as on their oral and writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.
PHIL History Courses