About this topic

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was an Austrian philosopher whom many regard to have been the most important philosopher of the twentieth century. His work is often divided into two distinct periods, early and later, with the division occurring at some point shortly after his return to Cambridge in 1929 following a period of self-imposed exile as, among other things, a village school-teacher, monastery gardener, and architect. Wittgenstein wrote extensively on many topics including the philosophy of language, logic, mathematics and mind though he published little during his lifetime. His work is distinctive particularly for his claim that philosophy is for the most part nonsense, his aim being to bring to light the confusions that give to it the appearance of sense.

Key works Wittgenstein’s most important works are the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (first published in English in 1922) and the Philosophical Investigations (first published posthumously in 1953). The nature and extent of the continuity between these two works is a matter of great controversy, with one extreme representing them as offering fundamentally opposed philosophies and another treating the differences as largely stylistic. Among the many other works produced from his manuscripts and notebooks, Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, compiled from notes made in the two years before his death, is sometimes regarded as his third “masterpiece”.
Introductions There are many good introductions to Wittgenstein's thought. Monk 2005 and Hacker 1999 are both short and accessible. More in-depth, but still engaging, are Child 2002, Kenny 2006, and Sluga 2011. Dean Jolley 2010 contains a good selection of essays on central topics. McGinn 2006 and McGinn 2013 provide in-depth introductions to the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations, respectively.
Related categories

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  1. added 2019-02-17
    Schopenhauer, Husserl and the Invisibility of the Embodied Subject.Yaoping Zhu - 2018 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy 10 (2):353-372.
    For such refined idealists as Schopenhauer, Husserl and Wittgenstein, the correlation between the world and the subject must be recognized. Furthermore, the three commonly emphasize the distinction between the transcendental subject and the empirical subject as well as the distinction between the subject and object’s mode of being. They all realized that the confusion of the transcendental subject and the empirical subject causes the paradox of that the subject as one part of the world is at the same time the (...)
  2. added 2019-02-17
    "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus": A "Poem" by Ludwig Wittgenstein.David Rozema - 2002 - Journal of the History of Ideas 63 (2):345.
  3. added 2019-02-12
    Augustine's Pretence: Another Reading of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations 1.Margaret Urban Walker - 1990 - Philosophical Investigations 13 (2):99-109.
  4. added 2019-02-11
    Do Your Exercises: Reader Participation in Wittgenstein's Investigations.Emma McClure - 2017 - In Michael A. Peters & Jeff Stickney (eds.), A Companion to Wittgenstein on Education: Pedagogical Investigations. New York: pp. 147-159.
    Many theorists have focused on Wittgenstein’s use of examples, but I argue that examples form only half of his method. Rather than continuing the disjointed style of his Cambridge lectures, Wittgenstein returns to the techniques he employed while teaching elementary school. Philosophical Investigations trains the reader as a math class trains a student—‘by means of examples and by exercises’ (§208). Its numbered passages, carefully arranged, provide a series of demonstrations and practice problems. I guide the reader through one such series, (...)
  5. added 2019-02-05
    Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s Sceptical Paradox: A Trilemma for Davidson.Ali Hossein Khani - forthcoming - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism.
    Davidson’s later philosophy of language has been inspired by Wittgenstein’s Investigations, but Davidson by no means sympathizes with the sceptical problem and solution Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein. Davidson criticizes the sceptical argument for relying on the rule-following conception of meaning, which is, for him, a highly problematic view. He also casts doubt on the plausibility of the sceptical solution as unjustifiably bringing in shared practices of a speech community. According to Davidson, it is rather success in mutual interpretation that explains (...)
  6. added 2019-02-02
    The Concept of Color as a Grammar Problem in Wittgenstein's Perspective of Language.Luca Nogueira Igansi - 2019 - Philia 1 (1):121-139.
    This essay aims to provide conceptual tools for the understanding of Wittgenstein’s theory of color as a grammar problem instead of a phenomenological or purely scientific one. From an introduction of his understanding of meaning in his early and late life, his notion of grammar will be analyzed to understand his rebuttal of scientific and phenomenological discourse as a proper means for dealing with the problem of color through his critique of Goethe. Then Wittgenstein’s take on color will become clear (...)
  7. added 2019-02-01
    ‘Wittgenstein’: Mind, Meaning and Metaphilosophy, Edited by Pasquale Frascolla. [REVIEW]Manuel Pérez Otero - 2011 - Disputatio 4 (31):289-295.
  8. added 2019-01-31
    Groundless Grounds: A Study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger, by Lee Braver: Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The MIT Press, 2012, Pp. Xvi + 354, £27.95. [REVIEW]Jonathan Lewis - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (1):206-207.
  9. added 2019-01-31
    Popper Versus Wittgenstein on Truth, Necessity, and Scientific Hypotheses.Victor Rodych - 2003 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 34 (2):323-336.
    Most philosophers of science maintain Confirmationism's central tenet, namely, that scientific theories are probabilistically confirmed by experimental successes. Against this dominant conception of experimental science, Popper's well-known, anti-inductivistic Falsificationism has stood, virtually alone, since 1934. Indeed, it is Popper who tells us that it was he who killed Logical Positivism. It is also pretty well-known that Popper blames Wittgenstein for much that is wrong with Logical Positivism, just as he despises Wittgenstein and Wittgensteinian philosophers for abdicating philosophy's true mission. What (...)
  10. added 2019-01-31
    The Role of Thoughts in Wittgenstein's Tractatus.Christopher Gilbert - 1998 - Linguistics and Philosophy 21 (4):341-352.
  11. added 2019-01-30
    Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy, by Paul Horwich: Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2012, Pp. Xv + 225, US$85.00 , US$29.95. [REVIEW]Joachim Schulte - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (1):194-197.
  12. added 2019-01-28
    Chon Tejedor, The Early Wittgenstein on Metaphysics, Natural Science, Language and Value.Peter Hanks - 2017 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 5 (1).
    New York and London: Routledge, 2015. 208 pages. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-41-573039-6. Reviewed by Peter Hanks.
  13. added 2019-01-28
    El cuerpo sutil del lenguaje y el sentido perdido de la filosofía.Victor Krebs - 2002 - Areté. Revista de Filosofía 14 (2):41-54.
    Este artículo desarrolla la idea que subyace a la obra filosófica de Wittgenstein, por lo menos desde las Investigaciones, del lenguaje como “algo animal” y de nuestras palabras como principalmente expresivas. A partir de esta idea, se propone empezar a mostrar cómo los problemas filosóficos son para él, en última instancia, producto de una desconexión de la dimensión sensible de la cual derivan su sentido nuestras palabras. Se sugiere que el propósito de Wittgenstein es, por lo tanto, propiciar una reconexión (...)
  14. added 2019-01-22
    What is the Locus of Abililties?Felipe Morales - 2019 - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio 2 (12):19-30.
    Loughlin’s (2018) uses Wittgenstein’s remarks in Philosophical Investigations to motivate his ‘wide’ view of cognition. In opposition to other accounts of extended cognition, his view presents a negative solution to the location problem. Here, I argue that, if we consider Wittgenstein’s remarks on the notion of ability, the support for the wide view is not as straightforward. The criteria for using the concept of ability are highly context-dependent, and there is not a single account for them. This shows that at (...)
  15. added 2019-01-18
    The Case for a Feminist Hinge Epistemology.Natalie Alana Ashton - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):153-163.
  16. added 2019-01-18
    Making Ourselves Understood.Constantine Sandis - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):241-259.
  17. added 2019-01-18
    Möchte Chomsky erklären, was Wittgenstein beschreibt?Melanie Uth - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):105-123.
  18. added 2019-01-18
    The Brown Book of Alice Ambrose.Enzo De Pellegrin - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):1-36.
  19. added 2019-01-18
    Temptation and Therapy.Sofia Miguens - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):227-239.
  20. added 2019-01-18
    Die Gewissheit der Orientierung.Werner Stegmaier - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):37-71.
  21. added 2019-01-18
    A Brief Update on Editions Offered by the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen and Licences for Their Use.Alois Pichler - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):139-146.
  22. added 2019-01-18
    Wittgenstein on Thinking as a Process or an Activity.Francis Y. Lin - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):73-104.
  23. added 2019-01-18
    The Myth of the Thinking Brain.Michel Le Du - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):201-209.
  24. added 2019-01-18
    Farbe und Raum.Timo-Peter Ertz - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):125-137.
  25. added 2019-01-18
    Experience and Religious Belief.Vicente Sanfélix Vidarte & Chon Tejedor - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):279-293.
  26. added 2019-01-18
    Special Section: Wittgenstein and Applied Epistemology.Nuno Venturinha - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):147-151.
  27. added 2019-01-18
    Knowing Our Own Body?Marco Brusotti - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):183-199.
  28. added 2019-01-18
    Hinges, Prejudices, and Radical Doubters.Anna Boncompagni - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):165-181.
  29. added 2019-01-18
    Wittgenstein and Scientific Representation.Andrew Lugg - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):211-226.
  30. added 2019-01-18
    How Threatening Are Local Sceptical Scenarios?Genia Schönbaumsfeld - 2019 - Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (1):261-278.
  31. added 2019-01-11
    Współczesna analityczna filozofia języka: wybrane zagadnienia.Piotr Stalmaszczyk - 2018 - Diametros 56:131-141.
    This is a review article of a recently published guide to the philosophy of language, Przewodnik po filozofii języka, Wydawnictwo WAM, Kraków 2016). The article presents this publication against a background of other monographs and guides devoted to the topic of the contemporary philosophy of language which have been published in English. It aims at highlighting the main issues discussed by this philosophy, as well as its relation to linguistics.
  32. added 2019-01-07
    Epistemology Without Intuition.Manhal Hamdo - 2018 - International Journal of Innovative Studies in Sociology and Humanities 3 (10):49-53.
    From Plato to present, intuition plays a central role in epistemology. My concern in this paper is with the nature and epistemic status on intuition. To that end, I will be reviewing both Bealer’s and Wittgenstein’s accounts of intuition. I will be arguing that by ‘intuition’ Bealer understands modal intuition that has Platonic and metaphysical roles. Subsequently, I shall also show that although Wittgenstein’s view avoids these two issues, it amounts to the idea that intuition is a normative activity with (...)
  33. added 2018-12-31
    Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy, [Edited] by José L.Zalabardo. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, Viii + 274 Pp. ISBN 978-0-19-969152-4 £31.50. [REVIEW]Michael Price - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (S1):e9-e14.
  34. added 2018-12-29
    This New Yet Unapproachable America: Lectures After Emerson After Wittgenstein. [REVIEW]Daniel Sportiello - 2015 - American Political Thought 4 (2):340–343.
  35. added 2018-12-28
    Criticizing Forms of Life: Weighing Wittgenstein's Role in Political Theory.Bastian Reichardt - 2018 - Zeitschrift Für Ethik Und Moralphilosophie 1 (2).
    One branch of practical philosophy in whichWittgenstein’s writings might be fruitful, is political philosophy. The concept “forms of life” gives rise to a pluralistic interpretation of society. However, the question arises how societal conflicts in such a pluralistic view con be solved. We will develop a method of criticism which relies on Wittgenstein’s later work and which combines the normative demands of practical philosophy with methodological standards from ethnology and cultural anthropology.
  36. added 2018-12-19
    On the Nature of Hinge Commitments.Eros Carvalho - forthcoming - Sképsis 19.
    This is a critical commentary on Pritchard's book Epistemic Angst. In Section 2, I present the closure-based radical skeptical paradox. Then in Section 3, I sketch Pritchard’s undercutting response to this paradox. Finally, in Section 4, I put forward two concerns about Pritchard’s response and I also propose a reading of hinge commitments, the ability reading, that might put some pressure on Pritchard’s own reading of these commitments.
  37. added 2018-12-09
    Disclosing the World: On the Phenomenology of Language.Andrew Inkpin - 2016 - MIT Press.
    In this book, Andrew Inkpin considers the disclosive function of language—what language does in revealing or disclosing the world. His approach to this question is a phenomenological one, centering on the need to accord with the various experiences speakers can have of language. With this aim in mind, he develops a phenomenological conception of language with important implications for both the philosophy of language and recent work in the embodied-embedded-enactive-extended tradition of cognitive science. -/- Inkpin draws extensively on the work (...)
  38. added 2018-12-03
    Ludwig Wittgenstein.Patrick K. Bastable - 1969 - Philosophical Studies 18:258-258.
  39. added 2018-11-26
    Wittgenstein and the Mystical.Cyril Barrett - 1996 - International Philosophical Quarterly 36 (3):377-379.
  40. added 2018-11-26
    The Illusion of Technique a Search for the Meaning of Life in a Technological Age.William Barrett - 1979
  41. added 2018-11-24
    “A Small, Shabby Crystal, yet a Crystal”: A Life of Music in Wittgenstein’s Denkbewegungen.Eran Guter - forthcoming - In B. Sieradzka-Baziur, I. Somavilla & C. Hamphries (eds.), Wittgenstein's Denkbewegungen. Diaries 1930-1932/1936-1937: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Innsbruck, Austria: StudienVerlag.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein's life and writings attest the extraordinary importance that the art of music had for him. It would be fair to say even that among the great philosophers of the twentieth century he was one of the most musically sensitive. Wittgenstein’s Denkbewegungen contains some of his most unique remarks on music, which bear witness not only to the level of his engagement in thinking about music, but also to the intimate connection in his mind between musical acculturation, the perils (...)
  42. added 2018-11-12
    Begriffe und Eigenschaften – Versuche eines Pragmatisten.David Hommen - forthcoming - In David Hommen & Dennis Sölch (eds.), Philosophische Sprache zwischen Tradition und Innovation. Berlin: pp. 291–320.
    There are striking similarities in the ways philosophers use to speak about concepts and properties. For example, it is commonly said that concepts and properties are ‘predicated’ of things – which, in turn, are said to ‘exemplify’ those concepts or properties. Concepts as well as properties are assumed to have ‘instances’ and ‘extensions’ and to be the semantical values of adjectives like ‘red,’ ‘round,’ and so on. Even metaphysically, concepts and properties seem to have much in common. Thus, both have (...)
  43. added 2018-10-26
    The Concept Horse Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations.Kelly Jolley & Kelly Dean Jolley - 2007 - London, UK: Routledge.
  44. added 2018-10-26
    A Philosophical Education and Philosophical Investigations.Kelly Dean Jolley - 1999 - Modern Schoolman 76 (4):293-301.
  45. added 2018-10-26
    Walden: Philosophy and Knowledge of Humankind.Kelly Jolley - 1996 - Reason Papers 21:36-52.
  46. added 2018-10-26
    Discussion.Kelly Dean Jolley - 1993 - Philosophical Investigations 16 (4):327-332.
  47. added 2018-10-23
    Wittgenstein on Rule-Following.Roderick Long - 2010 - In Kelly Dean Jolley (ed.), Wittgenstein: Key Concepts. Stocksfield NE43, UK: pp. 81-91.
  48. added 2018-10-23
    Grammatical Investigations.Roderick Long & Kelly Dean Jolley - 2010 - In Kelly Dean Jolley (ed.), Wittgenstein: Key Concepts. Stocksfield NE43, UK: pp. 169-174.
  49. added 2018-10-23
    Rule-Following, Praxeology, and Anarchy.Roderick T. Long - 2006 - New Perspectives on Political Economy 1 (2):36-46.
    JEL Classification: B41, B53, B31, B2, P48, A12 Abstract: Wittgenstein’s rule-following paradox has important implications for two aspects of Austrian theory. First, it makes it possible to reconcile the Misesian, Rothbardian, and hermeneutical approaches to methodology; second, it provides a way of defending a stateless legal order against the charge that such an order lacks, yet needs, a final arbiter.
  50. added 2018-10-23
    Anti-Psychologism in Economics: Wittgenstein and Mises.Roderick Long - 2004 - Review of Austrian Economics 17 (4):345-369.
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