Philosophy | Special topics in Philosophy
P470 | 28251 | Leite

Topic: Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy

Ludwig Wittgenstein was one of the greatest philosophers of the
Twentieth Century.  Like many great philosophers, Wittgenstein aimed
to overcome the approaches to philosophy dominant in his day, but his
work is distinguished by unprecedented attention to the nature of
philosophy itself.  In particular, Wittgenstein’s later work largely
aimed at undercutting large bodies of philosophical theorizing by
carefully scrutinizing the nature and sources of the philosophical
problems which motivated that theorizing.  Many people have found in
this work the keys to dismantling the entire edifice of Western
philosophy as it has developed since Descartes.  While such grandiose
claims are likely overblown, there is much to be learned from
Wittgenstein’s treatment of philosophical problems relating to
language, the nature of the mind, sensory experience, knowledge, our
knowledge of our own minds and of other people, linguistic
understanding, and rule-following.  We will pursue these topics (and
others) through a careful reading of Wittgenstein’s posthumous
masterpiece, The Philosophical Investigations, along with important
background material and recent discussions of Wittgenstein’s work.

The course will emphasize close reading of Wittgenstein’s
notoriously difficult texts and class discussion.  Several short
writing assignments, a midterm, final exam, and final term paper will
be required.  Prerequisite:  6 credit hours of Philosophy.