PHL 810
Spring 1999
Seminar in the History of Philosophy

The Later Philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophy unties knots in our thinking; hence its results must be simple,But philosophising has to be as complicated as the knots it unties.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Zettel, 452
Martin Benjamin 353-4617
514 South Kedzie Hall benjamin@pilot.msu.edu
Office Hours: M W 3:00-4:00, F 2:00-3:00
and by appointment


TEXTS:

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (PI)
Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty (OC)
P.M.S. Hacker, Wittgenstein's Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy
Marie McGinn, Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations


TENTATIVE SCHEDULE:

Jan 12 Introduction

Jan 14


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Background
McGinn, 1-8
Hacker, ix-xi, 1-21
Jan 19 The Tractatus: Achievement and Impact
Hacker, 22-66

Jan 21

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Growing Doubts and a New Approach to Philosophy
Hacker, 67-103
Jan 26 Philosophical Investigations: An Overview
PI, skim cover-to-cover
Hacker, 103-36 

Jan 28


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Philosophical Investigations: Style and Method
PI, secs 89-103
McGinn, 9-32
Feb 2 Philosophical Investigations: The Critique of Augustine
PI, secs 1-33
McGinn, 33-72

Feb 4

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Philosophical Investigations: Ostensive Definition, Essentialism, and Family Resemblance PI, secs 34-88
Feb 9 Philosophical Investigations: Rules and Rule-Following (I)
PI, secs 134-242
McGinn, 73-111

Feb 11

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Philosophical Investigations: Rules and Rule-Following (II)
Same as for Feb 9
Feb 16 Philosophical Investigations: Privacy and Private Language (I)
PI, secs 243-275
McGinn, 113-142
Benjamin, "Language, Meaning, and Truth" (CP)

Feb 18

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Philosophical Investigations: Privacy and Private Language (II)
Same as for Feb 16
Feb 23 Philosophical Investigations: Pain (the "inner") and Pain Behavior (the "outer")
PI, secs 276-317, pp. 227-28
McGinn, 143-75

Feb 25

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Open Questions: A Discussion
No Reading Assignment
March 2 Philosophical Investigations: Seeing and Seeing Aspects
PI, secs 398-401; Part II, section xi
McGinn, 177-204

March 4

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Philosophical Investigations: "A Wide Field of Thought Criss-Cross in Every Direction" (I) PI, secs 318-533
March 9-11

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Spring Break -- No Classes
March 16 Philosophical Investigations: "A Wide Field of Thought Criss-Cross in
Every Direction" (II)
PI, secs 534-693, Part II, secs I-x, xii-xiv

March 18

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Wittgenstein's Impact on Post-War Analytic Philosophy and a Comparison with Quine
Hacker, 137-227
March 23 The Decline of Analytic Philosophy
Hacker, 228-73

March 25


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On Certainty: Introduction
G.E. Moore, "Proof of an External World," "A Defence of Common Sense" (CP)
OC, skim cover-to-cover
March 30 On Certainty (I)
OC, secs 1-192

April 1

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On Certainty (II)
OC, secs 193-485
April 6 On Certainty (III)
OC, secs 486-676
Benjamin, "Knowledge and Reality" (CP)

April 8







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Wittgenstein Lives!
Cressida Heyes, "'Back to the Rough Ground!' Wittgenstein, Essentialism, and Feminist Methods," (forthcoming in Naomi Scheman, ed., Re-Reading the Canon: Feminist Interpretations of Ludwig Wittgenstein [1999]) (CP)

Introduction and one or two selections from Carl Elliott, ed., Slow Cures and Bad Philosophers: Essays on Wittgenstein, Medicine, and Bioethics (CP)(1)


April 13 Work-in-Progress: Abstracts, Outlines, Drafts of (Parts of) Term Papers

April 15

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Work-in-Progress: Abstracts, Outlines, Drafts of (Parts of) Term Papers
April 20 Work-in-Progress: Abstracts, Outlines, Drafts of (Parts of) Term Papers

April 22

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Work-in-Progress: Abstracts, Outlines, Drafts of (Parts of) Term Papers
April 27 Work-in-Progress: Abstracts, Outlines, Drafts of (Parts of) Term Papers

April 29

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Work-in-Progress: Abstracts, Outlines, Drafts of (Parts of) Term Papers

WRITTEN REQUIREMENTS

1. Short Paper
Seminar participants are required to write "oneshort (5-8 page) paper. There will, however, be some choice with respect to topic and due date. A paper related to Philosophical Investigations will be due on March 18. A paper related to On Certainty will be due on April 13. Participants may submit either paper. The general assignment is the same for each. In your paper you are to: (1) identify an unresolved philosophical problem or issue raised in or by the readings and related class discussion; (2) indicate why this problem or issue is interesting, difficult, and important; (3) Propose and defend a resolution to the problem or issue; and (4) anticipate and respond to the strongest possible objections to your major claim(s) and argument(s).

Papers will be assessed on the author's ability to identify and explain an interesting, difficult, and important philosophical problem or issue as well as on his or her efforts to resolve it.

Papers are due at the beginning of class. Late papers will be accepted without penalty only in unusual circumstances and only if cleared with the instructor in advance. Late papers not arranged in advance will have their overall grade lowered by 0.5 for each 24-hour period for which the paper is late. The first such period starts at the beginning of class on the date that the paper is due.

Students may, if they wish, write both short papers, in which case the paper receiving the lower grade will be disregarded in calculating the final average.

2. Term Paper
A term paper (12-20 pages) addressing a course-related topic will be due in the Philosophy Department Office at 5:00 p.m. on Monday May 3. Like the short paper, the term paper must identify and attempt to resolve an interesting, difficult, and important philosophical problem or issue. The paper will be assessed, in part, on the philosophical depth and understanding reflected in the author's selection of the main topic.

The term paper should: (1) identify and explain an unresolved philosophical problem or issue; (2) indicate why this problem or issue is interesting, difficult, and important; (3) propose and defend a solution to the problem or issue; and (4) anticipate and respond to the strongest possible objections to your major claim(s) and argument(s). Seminar participants are encouraged to meet with the instructor to explore possible topics and the structure of the paper.

A one-page prospectus of the term paper is due in the Philosophy Department Office on Friday, April 2 by 5:00 p.m. The prospectus should include a brief statement of the problem, and indication of the position you are inclined to take on it, and a preliminary bibliography. You should submit multiple copies of the prospectus -- one for each other seminar participant and one for the instructor. Each participant will receive a copy of each other participant's prospectus. The instructor will return each prospectus to the author with written comments and suggestions in class on April 6. The last six meetings of the seminar will provide an opportunity for each participant to obtain comments and suggestions from the group on an abstract, aspect, or a complete or partial draft of his or her term paper.

The same policy for late short papers will be applied to late term papers.

3. Reflections Papers
Ten very short (no more than one double-spaced page in a font no smaller than that used in this syllabus) papers will be due in class once a week beginning the week of Jan 19. In these papers you will respond to two different questions.

(1) What, to your mind, is the most interesting or important unanswered question(2)raised in or by the seminar meeting before the day the paper is due -- and why?

(2) What, to your mind, is the most interesting or important point or question raised in or by the reading assigned for the day the paper is due -- and why?

These papers are due at the beginning of class. They will be read, evaluated, and returned at the following class meeting. Late papers will be accepted only in very unusual circumstances and only if cleared with the instructor in advance. Late papers not arranged in advance will receive a grade of 0.0. To do well on these papers, it is important that you answer the question being asked, paying close attention to the italicized expressions.

Seminar participants in the first half of the alphabet will submit their Reflections papers on Tuesdays for the first five weeks in which they are due and on Thursdays after this. Students in the second half of the alphabet will submit Reflections papers on Thursdays for the first five weeks in which they are due and on Wednesdays after this.

Reflections papers will not be due during the last three weeks of class. Since each student will eleven opportunities (during eleven weeks) to write the ten papers, there will be no make-ups for unexcused absences or having a Reflections paper due on the same date as a short paper. Those electing to write all eleven papers will, for purposes of the final grade, be evaluated only on their ten best papers.

 GRADING AND EVALUATION

The short paper counts for 20 percent of the final (raw) average. Each of the ten Reflections papers counts 3 percent, for a total of 30 percent. The term paper counts 50 percent. Adjustments (upward) will be made for informed, thoughtful, and fairly regular participation in discussion and steady and unmistakable improvement in written work. Except in the case of consistently excellent written work of near professional quality, participation in discussion will be necessary for receiving a final grade at the higher end of the scale.

Criteria employed in evaluating written work include the following:

1.

 

To what extent has the author identified (and clearly explained) at least one interesting, difficult, and important philosophical problem, question, or issue?
2.

 

How well does the author understand and appreciate the complexity of the problem(s) and issue(s) he or she is addressing? To what extent has the author made judicious use of the clearly relevant concepts, categories, distinctions, positions, arguments, etc. that have been included in the course readings and that have emerged in discussion?

3.

 

Is the paper clearly written? Are its claims precise? Does it have an explicit overall direction? Would it be intelligible to another student at this level who is interested in the topic, but not enrolled in the course?
4. To what extent has the author identified the assumptions or presuppositions underlying his or her position? And to what extent is he or she aware of possible difficulties with them?

5.

 

Are the author's claims and arguments supported by cogent arguments? Are claims and arguments included in different parts of the paper consistent with each other?
6.

 

Has the author been fairly thorough? Can the reader think of some fairly obvious objection to the author's position, raised in class or in the readings, that he or she has not anticipated and addressed?

1.This book is not yet published. Use of these materials is (at the time of drafting this syllabus) contingent on obtaining relevant permissions from Duke University Press and the relevant authors.

2. By "unanswered question," I mean a question that it important, but to which there is, at this point, no clear or obvious answer.