A Beginner's Guide to the Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein

A Beginner's Guide to the Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein

Seventeen Lectures and Dialogues on the Philosophical Investigations

By Peter Hacker

Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

In this Beginner’s Guide, Peter Hacker introduces the later philosophy of Wittgenstein in a lively and engaging combination of lectures and dialogues that presupposes no philosophical knowledge. He examines such topics as the nature of language and linguistic meaning, the analysis of necessity and its roots in convention, the relation of thought and language, the nature of the mind and its relation to behaviour, self-consciousness, and knowledge of other minds. This unique form of introduction will capture the interest of all readers with an enquiring mind.

Hardback, 326 Pages


April 2024

£80.00, $110.00

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About This Book

Wittgenstein is acknowledged as one of the towering intellectual figures of the twentieth-century, but he is often considered to be difficult to read, let alone to understand. In this Beginner’s Guide, Peter Hacker, a leading authority on the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein and author of a dozen books on the subject, introduces a selection of the leading ideas in Wittgenstein’s masterwork, the Philosophical Investigations. The Guide presupposes no philosophical knowledge, only curiosity and a willingness to shed prejudices. It presents a magisterial understanding of the Investigations in an accessible and witty form.

The approach is bold: the seventeen chapters alternate between authorial lecture and dialogue between the author and an imaginary interlocutor. It is both dialectical and didactic. The interlocutor challenges Wittgenstein’s ideas as presented by the lecturer, and his questions are answered, his qualms resolved, and his challenges rebutted. Innumerable objections are canvassed and patiently refuted or dissolved by comprehensive argument.

Nothing comparable to this exists in the literature on Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein’s revolutionary ideas are presented for the widest possible audience in all their profundity in a style that is both intellectually stimulating and entertaining.


“This is an introduction to one of the greatest philosophers, Wittgenstein, written by the leading ex-pert on him, Hacker. It doesn’t get much better than that. Buy it, read it, learn from it how to do phi-losophy.”— Dr. Edward Kanterian, University of Kent

“For decades, Peter Hacker has been a forceful interpreter and expositor of Wittgenstein’s later work. Now he presents this work in a series of introductory lectures and dialogues that are as entertaining as they are instructive and that will serve as an excellent guide for those encountering the work for the first time.” — Adrian W. Moore, Professor, University of Oxford

“Only those with profound and thorough knowledge of a subject can present it to beginners with the clarity, intelligibility, and charm needed, without compromising subtlety and sophistication. Peter Hacker has been a pole of reference for decades for Wittgenstein’s philosophy and, with this book, he continues to educate, enlighten, and entice not only beginners but anyone interested in Wittgenstein’s masterful work.” — Vasso Kindi, Professor of Philosophy at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, Dept. of History and Philosophy of Science

“A beautifully lucid and philosophically stimulating introduction from the world’s leading authority on Wittgenstein.” — John Cottingham, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Reading

Author Information

P.M.S. Hacker is the leading authority on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. He has specialized in philosophy of cognitive neuroscience. He has written a tetralogy on human nature.


Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

Table of Contents

Preface; 1 Introduction; 2 Augustine’s Picture of Language and the Referential Conception of Linguistic Meaning; 3 Names and Their Meaning, Sentences and Descriptions; 4 Meaning and Use, Understanding and Interpreting; 5 Ostensive Definition and Family Resemblance: Undermining the Foundations and Destroying the Essences; 6 Metaphysics, Necessity and Grammar; 7 Thought and Language; 8 The Private Language Arguments; 9 Private Ownership of Experience; 10 Epistemic Privacy of Experience; 11 Private Ostensive Definition; 12 My Mind and Other Minds; 13 The Inner and the Outer – Behaviour and Behaviourism; 14 ‘Only of a Human Being and What Behaves like a Human Being …’: The Mereological Fallacy and Cognitive Neuroscience; 15 Wittgenstein’s Conception of Philosophy - I; 16 Wittgenstein’s Conception of Philosophy - II; 17 Wittgenstein’s Conception of Philosophy - III; Abbreviations; Further Reading; Index


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