Insight and Illusion

Insight and Illusion

Themes in the Philosophy of Wittgenstein, 3rd Edition

By Peter Hacker
Foreword by Constantine Sandis

Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

Peter Hacker’s Insight and Illusion is a thoroughly comprehensive examination of the evolution of Wittgenstein’s thought from the Tractatus to his later ‘mature’ phase. This third edition is a reprint of the revised and corrected 1989 edition, with a new foreword by Constantine Sandis.

Paperback, 366 Pages


February 2021

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

Peter Hacker’s Insight and Illusion is a thoroughly comprehensive examination of the evolution of Wittgenstein’s thought from the Tractatus to his later ‘mature’ phase. This is a reprint of the revised and corrected 1989 edition, with a new foreword by Constantine Sandis. Hacker’s book is now widely regarded as the best single volume study covering both the ‘early’ and the ‘later’ Wittgenstein. Until this third edition, the book had been out of print for 25 years.

The portable guide takes the reader through the major themes and concepts in Wittgenstein’s works. In the name of exhaustiveness, these include: the so-called picture theory of meaning; the say/show distinction; the principle of verification; anti-metaphysics; anti-scientism; tautologies; the nature of mathematical propositions; ordinary language and nonsense; the law of the excluded middle; the Augustinian picture of language; knowledge and certainty; explanation and understanding; volition and the will; the relation of meaning to use; ostensive definition; ownership of experience; the first-person pronoun; the inner/outer; philosophical psychology; anti-solipsism; forms of life; the so-called private language argument; the autonomy of grammar; language games; and rule-following.

In so doing, Hacker gives us a picture of Wittgenstein's intellectual development: from his early conception of philosophy (influenced by thinkers as varied as the likes of Schopenhauer, Hertz, Boltzmann, Frege, and Russell), through the ‘middle period’, which began with his return to philosophy in 1929, to his later work—of which Hacker takes the Philosophical Investigations to be his masterpiece.


“To this day, the revised edition of Insight and Illusion is probably the best single book on Wittgenstein.” —Professor Hans-Johnann Glock, University of Zurich

“This book on Wittgenstein’s early to late thought is invaluable for anyone wishing to understand the ideas of this great philosopher.”—Professor Hanoch Ben-Yami, Central European University

Author Information

P.M.S. Hacker is the leading authority on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. He has specialized in philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. He has written a four-volume tetralogy on human nature of which three have been published.


Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

Table of Contents

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS; I. WITTGENSTEIN’S EARLY CONCEPTION OF PHILOSOPHY; 1. Background; 2. The ‘Preliminary’ on Philosophy; 3. Philosophy and Illusion 4. Philosophy as Critique and as Analysis; II. THE DIALOGUE WITH FREGE AND RUSSELL; 1. Agreements and Disagreements; 2. The Grundgedanke of the Tractatus; 3. The Laws of Logic; 4. A Prelude to Conventionalism; III. MEANING, METAPHYSICS, AND THE MIND; 1. The Picture Theory of Meaning; 2. The Metaphysics of the Tractatus; 3. Connecting Language with Reality: The Role of the Mind; IV. EMPIRICAL REALISM AND TRANSCENDENTAL SOLIPSISM; 1. The Self of Solipsism; 2. ‘I Am My World’; 3. ‘The Limits of Language Mean the Limits of My World’; 4. Later Years; V. DISINTEGRATION AND RECONSTRUCTION; 1. The Colour-Exclusion Problem; 2. Dismantling the Tractatus; 3. The Brouwer Lecture; 4. Moving off in Fresh Directions; 5. The Vienna Circle and Wittgenstein’s Principle of Verification; VI. WITTGENSTEIN'S LATER CONCEPTION OF PHILOSOPHY; 1. A Kink in the Evolution of Philosophy; 2. A Cure for the Sickness of the Understanding; 3. Philosophy, Science, and Description; 4. Philosophy and Ordinary Language; 5. The Phenomenology and Sources of Philosophical Illusion; 6. Systematic Philosophy; VII. METAPHYSICS AS THE SHADOW OF GRAMMAR; 1. Grammar; 2. The Autonomy of Grammar; 3. Grammar and Metaphysics; 4. A Note on Kant and Wittgenstein; VIII. THE REFUTATION OF SOLIPSISM; 1. Introduction; 2. From Transcendental Solipsism to Methodological Solipsism; 3. The Solipsist’s Predicament: A Restatement and Second Diagnosis; 4. The Refutation; IX. PRIVATE LINGUISTS AND PUBLIC SPEAKERS; 1. A Disease of the Intellect; 2. Following Rules; 3. Philosophical Investigations; 4. The Private Language; 5. The Epistemology of the Private Linguist; 6. Wittgenstein’s Criticism of the Private Language; 7. ‘Only I Know’ and ‘Only I have’; X. ‘A CLOUD OF PHILOSOPHY CONDENSED INTO A DROP OF GRAMMAR’; 1. Can One Know That One Is in Pain?; 2. Self-Consciousness: the Overthrow of the Cartesian Picture; 3. The ‘Inner’ and the ‘Outer’; 4. Experience and Its Natural Expression; 5. Avowals and Descriptions; 6. Objections and Deflections; XI. CRITERIA, REALISM, AND ANTI-REALISM; 1. The Origin of the Idea; 2. Plotting the Contour-lines; 3. Further Complications; 4. Red Herrings: Realism and Anti-Realism; INDEX.


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