This course will be devoted to a close study of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. We will study in some depth central themes in Wittgenstein’s later work – meaning, understanding, rule-following.
We will concentrate on a number of detailed areas of study to include such issues as:
- How does the text open?
- Does Wittgenstein criticise the role of ostensive definition and, if so, what is the argument?
- Does the Augustine passage provide an account of language learning that Wittgenstein opposes and criticises, or is it a source for investigations?
- What does Wittgenstein mean by training – in the opening sections (§6), in the passages on ‘game’ and family resemblance (§§65-71) and in the account of teaching concepts after the resolution of the rule-following paradox (§208)?
- What is the role of ‘natural expressions of sensation’ in dissolving the inner/outer distinction?
Interpretational issues covered will include assessing Wittgenstein’s methodology and the status of his prescription that philosophy should offer descriptions not explanations.
The following is a list of topics for this module in the 2015/16 academic year; precise seminar content may change from year to year.
- Augustine – language learning, names, ostensive definition
- Family resemblance and the teacher/pupil relationship
- Rule following
- Private language
Timing and CATS
This module runs in the Spring term and is worth 20 or 30 CATS depending on your programme of study.