Tuesday 10/9

Philosophical Investigations, 1-36

Discussion Questions

First Question: Wittgenstein Early and Late

Compared to his comments in the preface to the Tractatus, what picture do you have in your mind of the late Wittgenstein given his comments in the preface to the Investigations? How does the early Wittgenstein compare to the late Wittgenstein, in your view?

Second Question: Of Slabs and Pillars

What points is Wittgenstein making with the example of the builders' primitive language? Is he correct?

Third Question: Tool Boxes

At 11, Wittgenstein evocatively invites us to

Think of the tools in a tool-box: there is a hammer, pliers, a saw, a screw-driver, a rule, a glue-pot, glue, nails and screws.—The functions of words are as diverse as the functions of these objects. (And in both cases there are similarities.)

Of course, what confuses us is the uniform appearance of words when we hear them spoken or meet them in script and print. For their application is not presented to us so clearly. Especially when we are doing philosophy!

What are some examples of the same words being used in strikingly different ways? How are words like tools? Does a hammer differ from a ruler, or not?

Fourth Question: Language Games

What is a language game, for Wittgenstein? Specifically, what should we say in response to his request, in 23, to "[r]eview the multiplicity of language-games in the following examples"?

Fifth Question: Ostensive Definitions

Why does Wittgenstein focus at such length on ostensive definition? What is the point of his discussion?