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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

History 28702
Fundamentals 24301
Spring 2011
HM 130
MW 1:30-2:50

Constantin Fasolt
Office: HMW 602
Office hour: W 3:30-5:00
Phone: 702-7935
icon@uchicago.edu

WITTGENSTEIN'S PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS


Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is one of the most original works in the
history of philosophy. It addresses some of the most familiar questions philosophers have
kept asking across the centuries. (What is truth? What is meaning? What is consciousness?
What is the relationship between mind and body? What is the relationship between my mind
and other minds?) It is relatively short. Its style is as simple as it is beautiful. Its influence has
reached far and wide beyond the limits of philosophy. Yet its meaning is deeply controversial
and, by some accounts, has barely begun to be understood. This is in part because
Wittgenstein broke radically with some of the most common assumptions human beings,
especially educated human beings, like to make about themselves, their minds, and the
world. It is also because Wittgenstein's method shatters the traditional philosophical mould.
The purpose of this course is to give students with no prior training in philosophy
intellectual access to the Philosophical Investigations. It is founded on the assumption that, quite
apart from their standing in the philosophical tradition, Wittgenstein's teachings are
profoundly interesting in their own right and shed much light on some of the most vexing
intellectual problems encountered in history, religion, psychology, and other areas of
knowledge in the humanities and social sciences. More important, they hold out the promise
of liberation from some of the heaviest burdens placed on the shoulders of human beings by
what often passes for common sense.
The method of this course is simple. We are going to read and discuss the Philosophical
Investigations as carefully as is possible in ten weeks. That's all we are going to do. It's more
than enough. Though I recommend other readings below, only one of them is required. The
format will be flexible. I will focus on explaining what I take Wittgenstein to be saying, but I
will also try to leave room for questions and discussion.
In the first three weeks of the course we are going to give the entire book a quick readthrough. That will give you a minimal degree of familiarity with the Philosophical Investigations
as a whole, a preliminary sense of the way the book is organized, and an overview of the
many different themes it addresses. During those three weeks I will focus on the most basic
issues Wittgenstein raises, and the most fundamental ways in which his perspective differs
from others. That is not very difficult. But it is crucial, because the simplicity of
Wittgenstein's writing often prevents novices from grasping just what he is driving at.

Once we have completed our rapid overview of the book as a whole, we are going to go
back to the beginning and start reading from scratch, this time with a focus on delving more
deeply into some of the central issues Wittgenstein raises. We are going to read selected
passages with careful attention to detail and implications. We will read slowly, paragraph by
paragraph, but we will not necessarily follow the sequence of paragraphs that Wittgenstein
laid down for his readers. The book keeps circling around closely related themes and keeps
approaching them from different angles. Often we may therefore move forward to later
paragraphs, where a theme that has attracted our attention is considered in more depth, or
backwards, in order to retrace our steps and the steps of Wittgenstein's argument.
That is in keeping with the spirit of the Philosophical Investigations. As Wittgenstein put it in his
preface, "my thoughts soon grew feeble if I tried to force them along a single track against
their natural inclination.And this was, of course, connected with the very nature of the
investigation. For it compels us to travel criss-cross in every direction over a wide field of
thought.The philosophical remarks in this book are, as it were, a number of sketches of
landscapes which were made in the course of these long and meandering journeys."
We are going to follow Wittgenstein on these meandering journeys. We are not going to
force our reading and thinking to follow a single track against our natural inclination. We are
going to linger in some regions and we are going to hurry past others. We are not going to
read each part of the book with the same degree of attention. The direction and the speed of
our reading will depend on the difficulties we are going to encounter as we grapple with
particular issues. They will also depend on your preferences. I will ask you about your
preferences, and I will adjust my procedure accordingly. The point of the course is not to
compel you to spend the same amount of time on every paragraph, but to make you familiar
with the most basic ways in which Wittgenstein departed from the common wisdom and the
reasons why that matters.
Wittgenstein did not give his readers many clues to what they were going to find in different
regions of the terrain through which he traveled. He simply divided his book into successive
paragraphs of varying length without giving them any titles, headings, or subdivisions. That
is important. Wittgenstein was convinced that any subdivision of his book into "chapters" or
"sections" devoted to distinct "topics" would be artificial at best, and all too likely to conflict
directly with his fundamental purpose. But that makes it difficult for readers to orient
themselves in the Philosophical Investigations. In a course designed for beginners, some means
of orientation is needed. I have therefore appended a table of contents to this syllabus in
which the text is divided into sections according to topics. You will soon realize how
artificial these divisions are. But they may help.
Registration is limited to undergraduate students. There are no prerequisites other than a
willingness to read, think, write, and speak your mind in class.
A Note on the Text:
The text of the Philosophical Investigations has a complicated history. You do not need to know
that history, but there is one issue that deserves special mention.

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When G. E. M. Anscombe and Rush Rhees published the first edition of the Philosophical
Investigations in 1953, two years after Wittgenstein's death, they decided to divide the text into
two parts. The first part consisted of a typescript with 693 numbered remarks that
Wittgenstein had carefully revised over many years and completed no later than 1946. The
second part consisted of 372 unnumbered remarks Wittgenstein had selected from
manuscripts written from 1946 to 1949.
Ever since the publication of the first edition of the Philosophical Investigations, there has been
some doubt about the wisdom of the decision to include "Part II." It was written later than
"Part I," its subject matter is distinctly different from "Part I," and it was not nearly as
carefully revised and re-arranged as "Part I." The editors of the text we are going to usethe
4th edition, published only in 2009have therefore decided to restrict the title Philosophical
Investigations to the part that used to be called "Part I" and to treat "Part II" as an
independent piece of writing, which they have called Philosophy of PsychologyA Fragment.
There is little doubt that this way of presenting the text is more faithful to Wittgenstein's
view of his work. We are therefore going to follow the new edition in referring to "Part II"
as Philosophy of PsychologyA Fragment. But for more than half a century readers of
Wittgenstein have been familiar with the Philosophical Investigations as a single book divided in
two parts. Even the editors of the new edition could not bring themselves to exclude "Part
II" from their edition. Although they gave "Part II" a new title, their edition continues to
includes all of the material that was included in the first edition. Although they would like to
restrict the title Philosophical Investigations to the part that used to be called "Part I," they give
the same title to the whole volume. We are therefore going to read the whole book.
Required Readings:
I have asked the Seminary Co-op to keep these books available for purchase:
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen = Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.
E. M. Anscombe, P. M. S. Hacker, and Joachim Schulte, rev. 4th ed. (Chichester:
Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). ISBN: 1405159286.
Marie McGinn, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and the Philosophical
Investigations (London - New York: Routledge, 1997). ISBN: 0415111919. Also
available online through the Regenstein Library Catalog.
Recommended Readings:
For students who would like to read further, I have asked the Seminary Co-op to
keep the following books in stock as well:
Duncan Richter, Historical Dictionary of Wittgenstein's Philosophy (Lanham, Md.:
Scarecrow Press, 2004). This is a very handy tool for beginners. It includes a
chronology, an overview of Wittgenstein's life and thought, a bibliography, and short
articles on philosophical concepts and doctrines, people Wittgenstein knew,
philosophers who mattered to him, places he visited, works he never published, and

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so on. It also gives clear guidance on some of the fundamental issues on which the
most careful readers of Wittgenstein disagree with each other.
Hans-Johann Glock, A Wittgenstein Dictionary (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1996).
This is also for beginners, but written at a more technical level than Richter's
Historical Dictionary. It consists of a series of essays on key concepts in Wittgenstein's
philosophy, alphabetically arranged, with abundant cross-references, a good index,
and bibliographical guidance.
Gordon P. Baker and P. M. S. Hacker, An Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical
Investigations, 4 vols. (Chicago - Oxford: University of Chicago Press - Blackwell
Publishers, 1980-1996). There is no better single tool to gain a detailed
understanding of the Philosophical Investigations. Each of the four volumes consists of
two parts. In one part, the authors offer short, systematic essays designed to explain
Wittgenstein's treatment of particular topics. In the other part, the authors comment
in detail on each successive paragraph of the Philosophical Investigations. Throughout,
the authors do an outstanding job of placing Wittgenstein's views in a larger
philosophical and historical context, showing the relationship between different
passages, and explaining their place in Wittgenstein's thinking and the development
of his thinking over time. Hacker takes strong and often controversial interpretive
positions. But though one may disagree, one cannot but admire the depth and
thoroughness with which these volumes seek to clarify every possible question that
can arise in reading the Philosophical Investigations.
Ray Monk, Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books,
1991). This is widely regarded as the best biography.
I have asked Regenstein Library to keep all of these books on reserve.
Requirements:
1. Attendance and class participation. I will not keep formal track of attendance and
participation, and I will not weigh it as a specific percentage of your grade. But if I
have any doubts about which grade to give you for the course, I will rely on my
judgment of the difference your presence in class made to this course to make a
decision.
2. A paper of five to ten pages (plus a separate title page), double-spaced in a
standard font: 50% of the grade. Choose one of the following sections and explain its
meaning as thoroughly as you can:
Philosophical Investigations 25, 65, 81, 89, 90, 108, 109, 125, 198, 199, 201, 211,
219, 241, 242, 244, 246, 257, 258, 265, 293, 302, 304, 308, 339, 350, 352, 398,
402, 412, 415, 429, 442, 466, 485, 486, 527, 571, 583, 584, 591, 613, 636, 638,
693. Philosophy of PsychologyA Fragment 1, 90, 91, 92, 93, 348, 355, 360, 371
Turn in two hard copies of your paper. Do not send email attachments. The paper is
due in my office by 5 pm on Tuesday of seventh week (May 10). Papers that arrive in

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my office later than that will be considered late. The grade for late papers will be
lowered in steps. An A paper will get an A- if I receive it later than 5 pm on the day
the paper is due. If I receive it the next day, it will get a B+. If I receive it the day
after that, it will get a B, and so on. Papers that are not turned in at all will get an F.
3. A take-home final examination of five to ten pages (plus a separate title page),
double-spaced in a standard font, on a question to be announced in the final class of
the quarter: 50% of the grade. Turn in two hard copies of your final examination. Do
not send email attachments. The final is due in my office by 5 pm on Tuesday of
exam week (June 7). Late examinations will automatically get an F.
The following rules are elementary, but I state them anyway so as to be clear about them.
Your papers must be the result of your own independent work. You must cite page numbers
and/or book, chapter, section, and paragraph numbers for all quotations and references. In
the first note in which you refer to a book or article, you must identify the author, full title,
city of publication, publisher, date of publication, and relevant page numbers; in subsequent
notes you need to identify only the author, short title, and relevant page numbers. You do
not need to use any readings beyond those required for this course, but if you do use any
other source, cite it each time you use it with appropriate footnotes, endnotes, or
parenthetical notes. If you use someone else's words, you must use quotation marks. Do not
refer to the web unless you have no other choice. If you do refer to the web, identify not
only author and title, but also the address of the page to which you are referring and the time
at which you accessed it. Proofread your paper before handing it in. Using a spell-checker is
not good enough. Make sure that your paper has a title page and page numbers, and that you
have not omitted any necessary quotation marks or citations. If you have any doubts about
matters of style or formatting, look for the answer in the Chicago Manual of Style.
It is your responsibility to follow these rules. If you don't follow them, you will hurt your
grade you and you may run the risk of committing plagiarism. For more information, see
Charles Lipson, Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and
Achieve Real Academic Success (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).
If you have questions, ask.
Special note on Friday make-up classes
Because I will travel to Europe in early April, there will be no classes on Wednesday, April 6,
and Monday, April 11. The first make-up class will be on Friday, April 15, 1:30-2:50. The
second make-up class will be on Friday, May 6, 1:30-2:50. Both classes will meet in
Harper 140. Students who cannot attend the make-up classes because of a scheduling
conflict, but would like to arrange for some alternative way of dealing with the material
covered in those classes should get in touch with me.

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Schedule of readings:
PART ONE: OVERVIEW
During the first three weeks of the course, we will follow a fixed schedule of readings in
order to go at least one time through the whole text of the Philosophical Investigations, including
the part previously known as "Part II" and now called Philosophy of PsychologyA Fragment.
Week 1, Monday: Introduction to the course
Week 1, Wednesday: Philosophical Investigations, preface and nrs. 1-133 (pp. 1-57)
Week 2, Monday: Philosophical Investigations, nrs. 134-315 (pp. 57-111)
Week 2, Wednesday: no class
Week 3, Monday: no class
Week 3, Wednesday: Philosophical Investigations, nrs. 316-570 (pp. 111-159)
Week 3, Friday (make-up class, meets in Harper 140): Philosophical Investigations, nrs. 571693 (pp. 159-181)
Week 4, Monday: Philosophy of PsychologyA Fragment, sections i-xiv (pp. 182-243)
PART TWO: CLOSE READING
In weeks 4-10 our schedule will be flexible. We will return to the beginning of the
Philosophical Investigations, focus on passages of particular interest, and proceed in whatever
direction at whatever pace is most productive for the class.
At some point during the course you should read Marie McGinn's Guidebook to Wittgenstein
and the Philosophical Investigations. It is very clear, and it gives excellent advice on further
reading.Because our schedule is flexible, I will not assign specific readings for particular
weeks. You do not need to read the book all at once, and you should probably not read it
until we have completed the first part of the course. But I do expect you to read the whole
book at some point and to keep referring to it in order to clarify particular issues as they
arise, especially when you are writing your papers.
The following topics will occupy much of our attention:

The reality of language


Wittgenstein's critique of the Augustinian picture of language
Wittgenstein's conception of philosophy
The difference between understanding and interpretation
The mind and the external world (the inner and the outer)
The individual and society
Solipsism and relativism
Truth and knowledge
Intention and the will
Meaning
The asymmetry of persons

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations


(previously known as PART I of the Philosophical Investigations)
Sections

Topics

Pages

Preface

Origins and character of the book

1-4

nrs. 1-7

Introduction: The Augustinian picture and the fog it spreads; the reduction of
language to naming; language games

5-8

nrs. 8-88

The reality of language

8-46

nrs. 8-25

Use of language and forms of life & logic; the reality of language; its manifolds

8-16

nrs. 26-32

Naming: what is it really? It presupposes language

16-19

nrs. 33-36

Spirits; mental objects; essences: fictions of minds tied in knots

19-22

nrs. 37-64

The relation between names and things: it's not about essences, atoms, or simple
elements, but about meaning and use

22-35

nrs. 65-88

Family resemblance; the damage done by the need for exactitude; certainty and
doubt; language is not a calculus

35-46

nrs. 89-133

The task of philosophy

46-57

nrs. 89-90

The concept of a grammatical investigation

46-47

nrs. 91-107

The temptation to look for a crystalline, necessary, unchanging, logical essence

47-51

nrs. 108-115

Some of the reasons for the temptation

51-53

nrs. 116-133

How to conduct philosophy without giving in to the temptation

53-57

nrs. 134-242

What understanding is and what it is not

57-95

nrs. 134-142

The theory that propositions represent the world like a picture does not explain
anything; understanding presupposes the ability to apply the picture

57-62

nrs. 143-155

62-67

nrs. 156-164

Understanding a series of numbers in counting or a series of letters and words in


reading is not a mental process or a state of the brain
The case of reading shows that learning to follow a rule depends on context

nrs. 165-171

It doesn't help to say that reading is some kind of peculiar process

72-76

nrs. 172-178

It doesn't help to look for some kind of special experience

76-78

nrs. 179-184

Learning how to follow a rule consists of mastering a certain use

78-80

nrs. 185-197

80-86

nrs. 198-205

The use of a rule makes it possible to create definitions, but such definitions do not
predetermine the future. They merely seem to do so.
Following a rule is a custom. It is not an interpretation.

nrs. 206-217

The ability to follow rules is grounded in the shared behavior of humanity

88-91

nrs. 218-242

The illusion of compulsion created by rules and the reality of human agreement in
form of life and agreement in judgmentswhat Cicero called consensus iuris

91-95

nrs. 243-315

Arguments against the possibility of a purely private language

95-111

nrs. 243-255

Sensations aren't "private." One does not learn of them from observation

95-98

nrs. 256-280

Back to St. Augustine and the imaginary subjectivity in naming: there is no naming
without a public language; defense of objectivity

98-103

nrs. 281-288

Attack on Cartesian dualism

103-105

nrs. 289-315

Attack on Cartesian introspection. What seems to be the result of introspection is in


fact avowal in the first person, not description of a mental process

106-111

67-72

86-88

8
nrs. 316-570

Truth and knowledge

111-159

nrs. 316-362

Thoughts and their expression versus the experience of pain; identity and the law of
contradiction

111-121

nrs. 363-397

Images and imagination; reality, theology, words

121-127

nrs. 398-411

Self and self-reference; the visual room; solipsism and the distinction between self
and other

127-131

nrs. 412-427

The false "mystery" of consciousness

131-135

nrs. 428-465

Intentionality: the harmony between language and reality. Attack on dualism and the
correspondence theory of truth; wishes, orders, & expectations; negation

135-141

nrs. 466-490

Certainty; grounds for belief; the past; experience and justification by experience

141-145

nrs. 491-570

Language as an instrument: the flexibility of language and the varieties of meaning;


fact & fiction; negation
Philosophical psychology

145-159

nrs. 571-610

Psychology versus physics: hoping, believing, expecting, thinking; not "now," but
over time; context and surroundings; intention; familiarity & recognition

159-167

nrs. 611-628

The will: intending to do something; trying; acting

168-171

nrs. 629-660

Intending something; predicting something; remembering one's intention; history


and the past

171-176

nrs. 661-693

Meaning: the connection between words and things

176-181

nrs. 571-693

159-181

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophy of Psychology A Fragment


(previously known as PART II of the Philosophical Investigations)
Sections

Topics

Pages

Hope, grief, and fear are neither "sensations" nor "grounded"

183

ii

Meaning and reference

184-185

iii

Images

186

iv

On certainty and the soul

187

Behavior and doubt about its meaning

188-189

vi

The "feeling" or "atmosphere" accompanying words: how that happens

190-192

vii

Memories and consciousness

193

viii

Kinaesthetic sensations

194-195

ix

Grief & fear; the objectivity of descriptions

196-198

Belief: Moore's paradox

199-202

xi

Seeing, meaning, believing, and understanding: different ways of seeing are not
different ways of interpreting what is seen

203-240

xii

The relationship of concepts to nature

241

xiii

Memory

242

xiv

Psychology: an experimental method combined with conceptual confusion

243