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Severin Schroeder

ISBN: 978-0-745-62616-1 March 2006 Polity 288 Pages


This book offers a lucid and highly readable account of Wittgenstein's philosophy, framed against the background of his extraordinary life and character. Woven together with a biographical narrative, the chapters explain the key ideas of Wittgenstein's work, from his first book, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, to his mature masterpiece, the Philosophical Investigations.

Severin Schroeder shows that at the core of Wittgenstein's later work lies a startlingly original and subversive conception of the nature of philosophy. In accordance with this conception, Wittgenstein offers no new philosophical doctrines to replace his earlier ones, but seeks to demonstrate how all philosophical theorizing is the result of conceptual misunderstanding. He first diagnoses such misunderstanding at the core of his own earlier philosophy of language and then subjects philosophical views and problems about various mental phenomena understanding, sensations, the will to a similar therapeutic analysis. Schroeder provides a clear and careful account of the main arguments offered by Wittgenstein. He concludes by considering some critical responses to Wittgenstein's work, assessing its legacy for contemporary philosophy.

Wittgenstein is ideal for students seeking a clear and concise introduction to the work of this seminal twentieth-century philosopher.



Chapter 1: Between Vienna and Cambridge.

1.1 The Wittgensteins.

1.2 Vienna.

1.3 Moral Solipsism.

1.4 Aviator or Philosopher.

1.5 Logic.

1.6 Norway and the War..

Chapter 2: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

2.0 Logic and Sins.

2.1 Foundations: Referentialism, Analysis, Determinacy & Bi-polarity.

2.2 Logical Atomism.

2.3 Pictures: Language & Thought.

2.4 Logic.

2.5 Whereof One Cannot Speak.

(a) Sense, logical syntax, internal properties and formal concepts.

(b) The logical form of reality.

(c) Solipsism.

(d) Ethics.

(e) The Tractatus Paradox..

Chapter 3: Schoolmaster, Architect and Professor of Philosophy..

Chapter 4: Philosophical Investigations.

4.0 Only an Album.

4.1 The Dissolution of Logical Atomism.

(a) Referentialism.

(b) Determinacy of sense.

(c) Logical analysis.

(d) Bi-polarity.

(e) Essentialism.

(f) Meaning through meaning.

4.2 The Nature of Philosophy.

4.3 Meaning and Use.

4.4 The Philosophical Problem about Mental Processes and States.

4.5 Understanding and Meaning An instructive misinterpretation.

4.6 The Inner-Object Conception of Sensations.

(a) The Ascribability Argument.

(b) The Idle-Wheel Argument.

(c) Knowledge of other minds.

(d) The No-Criterion Argument.

(e) An understandable use.

(f) The grammar of a sensation word.

4.7 Actions and Reasons.

(a) Voluntary action.

(b) Acting for reasons..

Chapter 5: The final years.

Chapter 6: After Wittgenstein.

6.1 Oxford Philosophy & American Philosophy.

6.2 Challenges to Wittgenstein's Philosophy.

(a) Attacks on the distinction between conceptual and empirical statements.

(b) Attacks on the common-sense view of linguistic meaning.

(c) Putnam's criticism of 'logical behaviourism'.

Further Reading.


"This is an excellent new introduction to Wittgenstein. It is highly recommendable for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. It is also highly recommendable for professional philosophers, since Schroeder is likely to challenge one's current conception of Wittgenstein."
--Brian Armstrong, Grazer Philosophische Studien

"This book is a truly impressive achievement … What is particularly striking is the combination of three elements that have rarely if ever been combined in such a forceful way: a well-informed and succinct presentation of the biographical and cultural context of Wittgenstein’s work, an exposition of his central texts which combines lucid introduction with novel scholarship, and a dialectically astute discussion of the substantive philosophical issues."
--Hans-Johann Glock, University of Zurich

"Dr Schroeder has written an excellent introduction to Wittgenstein's philosophy. He surveys the Tractatus and the Investigations with exemplary clarity and sweeps away recent misinterpretations with decisive arguments. His careful and methodical elucidations of the major themes in Wittgenstein's work will greatly benefit students."
--Peter Hacker, St John’s College, Oxford

  • Clear and concise introduction to the work of one of the twentieth century’s most influential philosophers
  • Discusses the development of Wittgenstein’s ideas against the background of his extraordinary life
  • Focuses on Wittgenstein’s major works ‘Tracatus-Logicus-Philosophicus’ and ‘Philosophical Investigations’
  • Explores Wittgenstein’s central contention that all philosophical theorizing is the result of conceptual mistunderstanding