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Wittgenstein and the concept of ‘Woman’: Perspectives from Ordinary Language Philosophy, Art and History


Wittgenstein and the concept of Woman: Perspectives from Ordinary Language Philosophy, Art and History 23-24 March 2023, Complutense University of Madrid Organized by Dr. Jasmin Trächtler, Dr. Isabel G. Gamero,
Prof. Sandra Laugier and Camille Braune

Under the title “Wittgenstein and the concept of ‘Woman’: Perspectives from Ordinary Language Philosophy, Art and History”, we would like to invite women* philosophers to use Wittgenstein’s philosophy to shed light on the troubled concept of “Woman”, linking conceptual, artistic and historical perspectives. This is the third event in the “Wittgenstein and Women” conference and workshop series, which aims, on the one hand, to make Wittgenstein’s philosophy fruitful for feminist thought and, on the other hand, to support Wittgenstein research by women.

The conference aims to broaden and diversify the scope of Wittgenstein scholarship, to challenge the supposed neutrality of philosophy along with its tendency towards androcentrism, by positioning ourselves from the perspective as woman* Wittgensteinians. Through this positioning, we hope to gain new insights into what it means to be a “woman”. Allowing for the complexity and diversity of investigating the concept of “woman” and taking also into consideration the recent debates in transfeminism, we want to combine (linguistic-) philosophical approaches with historical, artistic or aesthetic perspectives.

The idea of using Wittgenstein’s philosophy for feminist ideas is a development, that began about thirty years ago, and has shown that Wittgenstein’s writings can be a rich resource for feminist philosophy. There is a large body of literature that rethought moral and political philosophy as well as social science coming from and with Wittgenstein, thus preparing the ground for more recentattempts to link Wittgenstein’s philosophy with feminist theory (including, e.g., Diamond 1991, Crary and Read 2000, Mouffe 2000, Scheman and O’Connor 2002, Zerilli 2005, Laugier, Provost and Trächtler 2022, and many more). Among the earliest explicit attempts is Cressida Heyes’ study Line Drawings. Defining Women through Feminist Practice (2000), where she argues with Wittgenstein for an anti-essentialist, more inclusive conception of the category “women”. The question of the drawing of boundaries with respect to categories and species is also discussed in the anthology Re- Reading the Canon. Feminist Interpretations of Ludwig Wittgenstein edited by Naomi Scheman and Peg O’Connor (2002).

These alternative approaches to the conference theme will be complemented by a workshop with presentations of women graduate students, where they can present their academic or artistic ideas and in-progress work. The workshop will be supervised by Astrid Wagner (CSIC, Madrid). You can read more about the workshop here.

Keynote speakers:
Esa Díaz-León (University of Barcelona)

Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (University of Hertfordshire)

To participate in the conference, please submit abstracts of max. 300 words through this form by 15 August 2022. To participate in the workshops, please submit through this form by 15 AugustWe kindly ask you to respect our format of woman* speakers and to desist from submitting if you exclusively identify yourself as male.

In case you have any questions, please ask Isabel G. Gamero (), Jasmin Trächtler () or Camille Braune (- Read more on our series “Wittgenstein and Woman”.

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Detailed Conference Outline

We would like to discuss questions raised by this reflection on Wittgenstein and the concept of ‘Woman’ by bringing together perspectives from Ordinary Language Philosophy, Art and History.

Ordinary Language Philosophy

In the Blue Book, Ludwig Wittgenstein questions our “craving for generality”, which he defines as “the tendency to look for something in common to all the entities which we commonly subsume under a general term” (BB: 17). Starting from this postulation, ordinary language philosophy is defined as particular attention to the uses and practices of ordinary life, and to the way in which these uses and practices are expressed, and recomposed, in and by language.

Feminist theories have shown that ordinary language philosophy is fruitful for a new conception of ethics which marks “the necessity of bringing women’s voices into ordinary human conversation” (Laugier 2022). If from a Wittgensteinian perspective, we consider the concept of “woman” in its various uses, we would like to observe what they include and exclude, without necessarily succumbing to the idea that the term is essentially exclusive. We would like to ask again the question formulated by Toril Moi in 1999: What is a woman? by considering the perspectives that this question raises today, especially in trans-, inter- and non-binary gender debates.


To answer the question what it means to be a “woman”, we want to open up intersections between “purely philosophical” and artistic studies, following Stanley Cavell’s work. In Contesting Tears, he explores the figure of the unknown woman in classic Hollywood cinema. His work on the struggles and difficulties of women in Shakespeare’s tragedies serves him to review the philosophical problem of scepticism. How a woman might be known, listened or believed is one of the key questions in Cavell’s work that connects, moreover, with current issues in philosophy such as epistemic justice, which we do not want to leave out of this conference.

In a similar vein and with an interdisciplinary intention, we would like to explore artistic works that were inspired by Wittgenstein, such as Thomas Bernhard’s novels, Derek Jarman’s films or Luis Felipe Noé’s paintings; and ask if female artists have been inspired by this philosopher and how their work can contribute to answering our questions.


By opening the conference theme to a historical perspective, we would like to focus in particular on the philosophical positions, situations, and perspectives of the women who lived and worked in Wittgenstein’s historical and philosophical environment. Probably best known here, is the so-called Oxford Quartet, consisting of Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley and Iris Murdoch, who rebelled against a philosophy that was abstract, dominated by men, and detached from life. Other women philosophers, now largely marginalized, have been directly or indirectly influenced by Wittgenstein’s philosophy and made original contributions to analytic philosophy. These include the Cambridge philosophers Susan Stebbing, Alice Ambrose, Margaret Masterman and Helen Knight, the latter three of whom were also among the select group of students to whom Wittgenstein dictated his Blue Book and who wrote on logic, philosophy of language and aesthetics. Also to be mentioned is Susanne K. Langer, an American philosopher influenced by Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, who developed a comprehensive conception of logic as a study of symbols, while also addressing mythical female figures as well as specifically feminine symbols. By including these early analytic women philosophers, we would like to open the view for a philosophizing that moves beyond mainstream analytic philosophy.

Private Notebooks 1914-16

The publication of the first translation into English of Witttgenstein's Private Notebooks has attracted several reviews. A selection, some paywalled, here.

The Boston Review- Kieran Setiya

The Literary Review - Tom Sterne

The New York Times - Jennifer Szala

The New Yorker - Nikhil Krishnan

The TLS - Ian Ground (BWS Vice-President)

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: ’Saying and Showing - Wittgenstein’s Tractatus in the light of new interpretations’

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: ’Saying and Showing - Wittgenstein’s Tractatus in the light of new interpretations’

Institution: eikones - Center for the Theory and History of the Image, University of Basel 
Workshop Dates: 24 - 26 October 2022 
Deadline of Abstract Submission: 15 June 2022 
Format: In-person Workshop. The workshop addresses especially researchers in the early stages of their academic career (6-7 slots for pre-doc presentations and 3-4 slots for post-doc presentations). 
Key-Note Lecture: Jean-Philippe Narboux (Bordeaux)


Workshop description
The sentences of our language possess meaning in that they say something. But they have significance also in a quite different manner: they show something. The distinction between saying and showing is known as one of the most influential doctrines of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus logico-philosophicus. It has found an echo beyond the boundaries of philosophy in a variety of disciplines, such as art history, literature, and image theory.

The distinction between saying and showing has often been understood to be closely connected to the declared aim of the Tractatus to draw a limit of what can be said. In this view the contrast of saying and showing aims at the limitation of the sayable. What can only be shown lies beyond the limits of language.

According to this widespread interpretation the distinction of saying and showing leads immediately to the debate regarding sense and non-sense. The question what non-sense might be has dominated the reception of the Tractatus over the last decades and let the say-show-distinction fade into the background of interest.

More recent interpretations, however, have emphasized the importance of this distinction as a distinction in its own right. The workshop is dedicated to questions which have been raised by the renewed interest in Wittgenstein’s thoughts on Saying and Showing and aims to include a variety of perspectives. To mention just a selection of topics the workshop is going to explore: Is it necessary to understand the distinction between saying and showing in a contrasting way? Does what shows itself lie beyond the limits of what can be said? Or is “showing” a characterization of the specific way language itself is present to us? Does the concept of the phenomenon, as that “which shows itself”, allow for an elucidation of Wittgenstein’s idea of showing? Or does “Showing” hint at a yet unexplored concept of self-identification of symbolic expressions that leaves the philosophical paradigm of reflexion behind?

Besides the results of recent research on these questions, the philosophical-historical findings of ancestors of the saying-showing-distinction will be considered, as well as investigations of its possible legacy in Wittgenstein’s later work. Contributions are welcome which build bridges to other contemporaneous currents of Wittgenstein’s work, such as the phenomenological tradition, as well as to other disciplines, like symbolic theory and picture theory. In a joint enterprise we would like to address, among others, the following issues:

·       Proposition and picture. Wittgenstein holds in the Tractatus that a proposition is a logical picture. What does the pictoriality of propositions amount to in the context of the saying-showing-distinction? Does “Showing” signify a common ontology of a variety of symbolic expressions, pictorial as well as verbal?

·       Expression and reception. If Saying and Showing stand in for two fundamental forms of verbal expression, do they correspond to two fundamentally different forms of understanding?

·       Oratio obliqua and oratio recta. An ongoing cause of philosophical perplexity is the ability of language to take itself as its topic. An example for that is the debate on the appropriate analysis of indirect discourse. Can the saying-showing distinction bring a new aspect into this debate? How does it relate to the widespread distinction of “mention” and “use”?

·       Affirmation and negation. There are passages in the Tractatus which seem to imply an entanglement of the distinction between saying and showing, on the one hand, and Frege’s influential distinction of force and content, on the other. Is the saying-showing-distinction a variation of Frege’s principle, or is it its most fundamental revision?

Abstracts should be maximum 500 words (English or German) and sent to Joachim Rautenberg () by 15 June 2022.
For invited speakers, cost for travel and accommodation can be reimbursed up to a certain amount.

For further information please visit the website of the workshop.

Online talk by Sorin Bangu (University of Bergen): "Wittgenstein on irrationals" (joint work with Jeffrey Schatz)

Online talk by Sorin Bangu (University of Bergen): "Wittgenstein on irrationals" (joint work with Jeffrey Schatz)

June 30, at 11 am CEST, IHPST, Paris, France

This talk has two goals. First, we reconstruct Wittgenstein's views on what counts as a legitimate irrational -- since, as he repeatedly suggests, and in agreement with mathematicians such as Emile Borel, not just every infinite string of digits qualifies as one. Once his conception ('full-blooded intensionalism') is sketched out, and its specificity is highlighted by comparing it with two other cognate views ('extensionalism' and 'quasi-intensionalism'), our second objective is to examine how his type of intensionalism impacts his attitude towards Cantor's theorem. In this regard, the more general claim we argue for is that, despite appearances to the contrary, Wittgenstein was not a revisionist about set-theoretical practice. 

Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 989 7380 8434
Passcode: 178700

Organizers: Marianna Antonutti and Vincent Ardourel

IHPST, Paris, France

Wittgenstein Abecedarium

Wittgenstein Abecedarium is an experimental documentary film about the Austrian philosopher, architect, engineer, school teacher, gardener, and inventor, Ludwig Wittgenstein.  It premieres at Storey's Field Center in Cambridge, UK on June 30th, 2022 at 7:30 PM (reception at 7 PM)

Wittgenstein in Swansea: Ray Monk

I fell apart!

Wittgenstein’s newly translated notebooks, covering God, integrity and sex

By Ian Ground

Please note this article is paywalled.

The Tractatus after 100 Years

The 12th annual conference of the Nordic Wittgenstein Society, ”The Tractatus after 100 Years” marks the 100th anniversary of the pubication of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus logico-philosophicus.  The conference will be held May 29th to May 31st, 2022, in Skjolden, Norway, and it is arranged by the Wittgenstein research group at the University of Bergen.
The full program of the conference can be found

It will be possible to attend the conference on zoom, by joining this zoom meeting:
Topic: Tractatus centennial conference, SkjoldenJoin Zoom Meeting (recommended)

3rd Hinge Epistemology Conference: Hinge Epistemology and Religious Belief: Programme

3rd Hinge Epistemology Conference: Hinge Epistemology and Religious Belief

NOVA University of Lisbon – School of Social Sciences and Humanities – IFILNOVA

in collaboration with University of California, Irvine and University of Hertfordshire 


7 June 2022, CAN A224

9:30-10:00 – Welcome and Introduction 

João Constâncio, Director of IFILNOVA

Nuno Venturinha, PI of the Project “Epistemology of Religious Belief: Wittgenstein, Grammar and the Contemporary World”

10:00-10:15 – Opening Address: Hinges and Religious Beliefs

Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (University of Hertfordshire, President of the British Wittgenstein Society)

10:15-11:00 – You just believe that because ... it's a hinge

Annalisa Coliva (University of California, Irvine)

11:00-11:30 – Coffee Break

11:30-12:00 – Wittgenstein on the Difficulties of Beginning at the Beginning

Jakub Mácha (Masaryk University)

12:00-12:30 – A Stereotypical Hinge Framework

Rena Beatrice Goldstein (University of California, Irvine)

12:30-13:00 – Religious Exclusivism: the one real hinge versus the many fictitious ones

Cheung Wai Lok (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) online

13:00-14:30 – Lunch                                         

14:30-15:00 – Hinge Epistemology and the Problem of Evil 

Michael Wilby (Anglia Ruskin University)

15:00-15:30 – Wittgenstein, Deep Disagreements and Hinge Epistemology

Jordi Fairhurst (University of the Balearic Islands)

15:30-16:00 – Evidential Support under Hinges 

Luís Rosa (University of Cologne)

16:00-16:30 – Coffee Break                                           

16:30-17:15 – ‘Making it a Question of Science’: Wittgenstein’s Critique of Father O’Hara and Scientism in Religion

Genia Schönbaumsfeld (University of Southampton) online

17:15-18:00 – Moral Certainties: subjective – objective – objectionable?

Hans-Johann Glock (University of Zurich)

19:30 – Dinner

11th British Wittgenstein Society (BWS) conference,

Registration for the 11th British Wittgenstein Society (BWS) conference, dedicated to the theme of Wittgenstein and AI, is now open. The conference will be held in London, at the New College of the Humanities (Devon House), from the 29th to the 31st of July 2022, and will feature symposia, contributed papers, and keynote addresses from Anthony Grayling (NCH), Juliet Floyd (Boston), Ricardo Baeza-Yates (Northeastern), and Paula Sweeney (Aberdeen). For further information, and to register, please visit the Conference website.

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