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The University of Southampton

PHIL3037 Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy

Module Overview

Wittgenstein is the most important philosopher of the twentieth century. He offers a sustained critique of many of the most common assumptions underlying much contemporary philosophy of mind and language. He explores, among other things, the questions of how meaning and rule-following are possible, whether I can know even those things that are normally taken for granted – such as that I have hands – and whether there can be such a thing as a 'private language'. This module aims to introduce you to some of the central ideas in Wittgenstein's philosophical writings.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the main themes of Wittgenstein’s writings in his key writings and the issues he addresses.
  • the development of Wittgenstein’s philosophy and the relationship of the issues he discusses to other areas of philosophy.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • present and debate ideas, both orally and in writing, in an open-minded but rigorous way.
  • defend your views with cogent arguments, taking into account possible criticisms.
  • to interpret, synthesise and criticise complex texts and positions.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake, with appropriate supervision, independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • extract key information from difficult texts.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • take notes effectively from talks and written materials.


The syllabus may vary from year to year. Topics might include: - The nature of philosophical inquiry - The limitations of philosophical and logical analysis - The method of language-games - The attack on `the Augustinian picture of language’ - Rule-following - Private languages - Intentionality - Seeing aspects - Scepticism

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Lectures - In class discussion - One to one consultation with the module coordinator Learning activities include: - Attending lectures - Participating in class discussion - Doing research for and completing assessment tasks

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

L Wittgenstein (2009). Philosophical Investigations. 

L Wittgenstein (1969). The Blue and Brown Books. 

M. McGinn (1997). Routledge Guidebook to Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations. 



Draft essay


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 50%
Timed Assignment 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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