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Online course materials for PHIL30251

Special Author:Wittgenstein

Unit code: PHIL30251
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 3
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit?: Y



Additional Requirements

Pre-requisites: 40 PHIL credits at Level 2

40 PHIL credits at Level 2


The course aims to:
- give students a detailed understanding of some of the issues and themes found in the work of the early and later Wittgenstein;
- enable students to evaluate Wittgenstein's work;
- enable students to appreciate Wittgenstein's relevance to current issues in philosophy;
- enable students to think through the issues for themselves and arrive at well-argued conclusions.


The course examines some of the major themes from Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus (1921) and Philosophical Investigations (1953). Topics covered include:

- On the Tractatus: facts and things; the picture theory of meaning; the nature of logic and necessity; the distinction between saying and showing.
- On Philosophical Investigations: the relation between the Investigations and the Tractatus; the Augustinian picture of language; meaning as use; understanding; following a rule; private language; the nature of mind and mental phenomena

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a two-hour lecture/discussion class each week and a one-hour tutorial.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

- an incisive critical understanding of some of the crucial parts of Wittgenstein's Tractatus and Investigations;
- a grasp of the extent, and importance, of Wittgenstein's contribution to contemporary philosophical debates;
- an ability to write concisely, relevantly and analytically, and to construct independent lines of argument, both in an essay and under exam conditions.

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 67%
  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 33%

Recommended reading

David Pears, Wittgenstein (Fontana, 1971)
P. M. S. Hacker, 'Wittgenstein', in A. Martinich and D. Sosa (eds.), A Companion to Analytic Philosophy (Blackwell, 2001)
Michael Beaney, 'Wittgenstein on Language: From Simples to Samples', in Ernest Lepore and Barry C. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language (Oxford, 2006)

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student’s work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 2 hours
  • Lectures - 20 hours
  • Tutorials - 10 hours
  • Independent study hours - 170 hours

Teaching staff

Michael Crawford - Unit coordinator

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