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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert C Coburn
PHIL 439
Seattle Campus

The Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein

Detailed study of topics in the later philosophy of Wittgenstein, with particular attention to the Philosophical Investigations.

Class description

This course will focus on Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, with some attention given toward the end to On Certainty. The body of the course will fall under the following topic-headings: (1) Language and the World, (2) Philosophy: Its Nature, Sources, and Methods, (3) The Doctrine of Private Objects, (4) More on Philosophical Psychology, and (4) Groundless Certainty and Skepticism. Under (1), we shall examine various of Wittgenstein's remarks about language-games, the use(s) of words and sentences, meaning and sense, grammar, criteria, rules, and natural agreement. Under (2), we shall consider what he says about the sort of enterprise philosophy is when it is improperly pursued and when it is properly pursued, as well as the roots of philosophical views and problems. Under (3), we shall look at his account of "private objects" and his discussion of (what he takes to be) the philosophical misunderstandings that this notion gives rise to. In this connection, we shall examine the things he says that bear on what is commonly called "the private language argument." Under (4), we shall attend to some of the remarks designed to shed light on a variety of psychological phenomena, including intentional action, seeing and seeing as, belief, emotions like fear, anger, and grief, remembering and remembering dreams, and thinking. Under (5), we shall turn to some of the fundamental ideas presented in On Certainty. There will be a midterm and a comprehensive final. In addition, a journal will be required that consists of responses to questions and projects posed throughout the quarter.

TEXT: Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein, On Certainty, Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (German-English version optional).

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Beverly A Wessel
Date: 02/12/2003