Philosophy | 20th C Analytic Philosophy
P532 | 26358 | 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 goals
and procedures of philosophy itself.  In particular, Wittgenstein’s
later work largely aimed to undercut 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 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 the first 300 or so sections of
Wittgenstein’s posthumous masterpiece, The Philosophical
Investigations, along with important background material and recent
discussions of Wittgenstein’s work.
The course will be taught seminar-style and will emphasize
close readings of Wittgenstein’s notoriously difficult texts.
Students will be expected to make two or three in-class
presentations and will have the option of writing a substantial
seminar paper or two ten page papers.  Graduate students in fields
other than philosophy are welcome but should be prepared to grapple
with difficult issues at the heart of Twentieth Century Analytic
Philosophy.  Background experience in Analytic Philosophy and some
knowledge of its history will be presupposed.