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Wittgenstein & Philosophy - PHI00097H

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Thomas Baldwin
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

Wittgenstein’s philosophical writings are among the most striking and influential contributions to philosophy from the 20th century. This module will provide an opportunity for students to engage in critical study of his most important writings.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aims of the module are to enable students to develop:

(i) A critical understanding of Wittgenstein’s major philosophical writings – especially Tractatus, Philosophical Investigations, and On Certainty.

(ii) An appreciation of the significance of Wittgenstein’s contribution to philosophy during the 20th century, especially to the development of analytic philosophy.

Module learning outcomes

Students will have the opportunity to engage with the work of the most creative and thoughtful philosopher of the 20th century whose ideas continue to enter into discussions in many central areas of philosophy, most notably philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. In the course of his writings Wittgenstein developed a distinctive conception of philosophy, and by the end of the module students should be in a position to assess this conception in the light of their own experience of studying philosophy.

Module content

Provisional programme

Week 2: Frege, Russell, and the programme of the Tractatus

Week 3: Logic and representation; modality, showing and saying

Week 4: Philosophy and analysis; the return to Vienna and Cambridge

Week 6: The new programme – the Big Typescript and the Blue Book

Week 7: Meaning, use and truth; Rule-following

Week 8: Sensations, 1st person priority and the critique of psychology

Week 9: On Certainty; Philosophy, Culture and Value

Note that although there are no prerequisites for the module, some familiarity with logic and philosophy of language would be helpful.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on a formative essay will be provided in a meeting during Week 5, and feedback on an essay plan will be provided during a meeting in Week 10. Feedback on the summative essay will be provided within four weeks.

Indicative reading

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Philosophical Investigations

On Certainty

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.