PHIL 432.001 – The Beginnings of Analytic Philosophy

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Instructor: Alan Nelson. This course meets R 5:15 – 7:45 p.m. via remote only instruction.

This will be a course on the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein focusing on his later work. The prerequisite is two previous courses in philosophy. 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.” 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 early analytic philosophers such as Russell and Frege.

Depending on students’ interests, our study of the Philosophical Investigations might lead to an examination of additional writings by Wittgenstein or of Wittgenstein’s influence on recent philosophy.

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

For graduate students, this course will count toward the Ph.D. level Distribution Requirement in Modern History.

Recommended prerequisite: 2 PHIL courses other than PHIL 155.

Permission of the instructor is required to enroll in this course. PHIL grad students are exempt from this enrollment requirement.