PHIL 432.001 – The Beginnings of Analytic Philosophy

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Instructor: Alan Nelson. This course meets R 4:00 – 6:30 p.m. in CW 213.

This will be a course on the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein focusing on his later work. The prerequisites are two previous courses in philosophy and status as junior or senior Philosophy major or minor. This course requires more than ten pages of writing.

Wittgenstein is often regarded (in a recent poll of philosophers, for example) as “the most important philosopher in the last 200 years.” One reason for this assessment of his stature is the place he occupies in the “Beginnings of Analytic Philosophy.” The goal of this course is to learn enough about Wittgenstein’s philosophy so that you can form your own opinion. We’ll focus on his posthumously published masterpiece, Philosophical Investigations, but we will give some consideration to the context provided by his only published book, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and other philosophers such as Russell and Frege.

At the end of the course, we’ll apply what we have learned to examine some of Wittgenstein’s influence on contemporary thought.

Undergraduate students will write a number of short reaction papers, a take-home midterm, and a combination take-home/in class final.