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Author: BWS Vice-President (page 2 of 15)

BWS Occasional Lecture: Problems of Expression in the later Wittgenstein - Michael Campbell

April 22 @ 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm

New College of the Humanities, Bloomsbury, London

Problems of Expression in the later Wittgenstein

The concept of ‘expression’ recurs throughout the Philosophical Investigations. The expressive is important in part because it seems to straddle the categories of the logical and the psychological. These concerns meet in Wittgenstein’s discussion of Moore’s Paradox, where an expression of a state of mind and a description of the world collide. In this talk I will consider some of the points at which Wittgenstein finds problems in the category of the expressive, and will reflect on what philosophical lessons we might learn from them.

Michael Campbell is a Research Fellow in The Centre for Ethics at the University of Pardubice. He works at the intersection between theoretical and engaged ethics, with particular focus on conceptions of human nature and their role in moral thought. His articles have appeared in journals including the Journal of Value Inquiry, Asian Bioethics Review, Philosophical Investigations and the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. He is co-editor of Wittgenstein and Perception (Routledge, 2015) and Ethics Society and Politics: Themes from the Philosophy of Peter Winch (Springer, 2020).+ GOOGLE CALENDAR+ ICAL EXPORT


Date: April 22 Time: 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm


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Sad News

Very sad news. Roger Scruton was one of the strongest voices of our time to promote aesthetics as crucial to the human environment; indeed, to humanity. For all of his controversial views, Roger was a Renaissance man with a deep love of literature and a respect for Leavisian views of the importance of literature in our lives. He was a great supporter of the British Wittgenstein Society -- graciously accepting all our invitations despite his heavy commitments because he believed in the society's mission to encourage and disseminate Wittgenstein studies. I have deeply valued his friendship over the years, and will never forget this admirable man.

Daniele Moyal-Sharrock

BWS president

CFP: 2020 Wittgenstein and Traditional German Philosophy

Call for Papers

Title: 2020 Wittgenstein and Traditional German Philosophy

What can be done by comparing between one philosopher and another? We aim to create a new basis for discussion, and to bridge the gap between Wittgenstein and traditional German philosophers. ​

Two workshops have been held in Europe on ‘Hegel and Wittgenstein’. You can see the result in the collected papers ‘Wittgenstein and Hegel --Reevaluation of Difference’, where the experts of a particular philosopher explore the possibilities of a philosophical discussion beyond their professional frameworks. This Tokyo workshop can be called an extra edition of the workshops in Europe ( Feel free to join and create new connections between people, between a philosopher and another philosopher, and between words and words.
This workshop is not only about Wittgenstein and traditional German philosophy. It's also a partnership between Asian and European philosophers. From Japan, Professor Taiju Okochi (Kyoto University, Kyoto) will participate as an invited speaker. From Europe, Ph.D. Alexander Berg (Charles University, Prague), the organizer of the previous workshops, and Professor Jakub Mácha (Masaryk University, Brno), who worked with Alexander Berg to compile the collected papers. Let's share the reality of philosophizing with us in Tokyo.

The organizers of the workshop in Tokyo is Saori Makino (Chiba University, Chiba), a Wittgenstein researcher, and Shuhei Kimoto (Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo), a Hegel researcher. We will make every effort for the success of the workshop. Of course, your participation will make the workshop better.


Abstracts (under 400 words) should be send to  by 31th January 2020.

Abstracts should be ready for double-blind review, we thus ask to remove any identification detail from the abstract. We kindly ask to send the author’s name, paper title, and affiliation in the body of the email.

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 15th February 2020.

The workshop will be guided by Taiju Okochi and Yuji Kurihara

Organizers: Saori Makino and Shuhei Kimoto


E-mail Address for submission: 

Deadline: 31th January 2020

Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan University (Minami-Osawa campus)

Dates: 11th-12th April 2020

CFPOrganizing Institution: Tokyo Metropolitan University


I am deeply saddened by the news that Brian McGuinness, eminent Wittgenstein scholar and my very dear friend, is no longer with us. Brian was, for me, the incarnation of 'a gentleman and a scholar'. I met him at my first 'Kirchberg': he welcomed my request to join him at his table Unter den Linden, and quickly dissipated my nervousness upon learning who it was I had just joined for lunch. Brian's impeccable appearance and demeanour never hid his warm humanity and humorous spirit. His scholarship, just as impeccable, was compounded by a formidable memory, psychological acuity, incisive wit, and compelling honesty. Brian never failed to express his thoughts, never skirted the truth, whether it concerned you or himself. I will miss him enormously.

The last time I saw Brian was at a workshop organised in his honour by Alois Pichler in December 2018 near his home in Siena: Editing Wittgenstein’s Nachlass: A Workshop in Honour of Brian Francis McGuinness. The pictures below were taken on that occasion.

Brian McGuinness was a Fellow and Tutor at Queen's College, Oxford from 1953 to 1988 before becoming Professor at the University of Siena, Italy, from 1990 until his retirement. Best known for his translation, with David Pears, of Wittgenstein's Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus, McGuinness was also an incomparable historian of philosophy. His numerous publications include the universally-acclaimed Wittgenstein: A Life: Young Ludwig, 1889-1921, as well as Approaches to Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein in Cambridge: Letters and Documents 1911-1951; Cambridge Letters: Correspondence with Russell, Keynes, Moore, Ramsey and Sraffa; Wittgenstein's Family Letters (Bloomsbury 2018).

Daniele Moyal-Sharrock

PICT Honorary Lectures series: “Wittgenstein and the History of Philosophy”

We are thrilled to announce the fourth event in the PICT Honorary Lectures series: “Wittgenstein and the History of Philosophy,” a talk by the British philosopher and historian Jonathan Rée, co-founder of the influential journal “Radical Philosophy.” The event will take place on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH) and is co-sponsored by PICT and the Collège d’Études Mondiales / FMSH.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), one of the seminal thinkers of the 20th century, was famously hostile to the history of philosophy, always urging his students to think for themselves without worrying about what other people might have thought in the past. But can the history of philosophy really be dismissed so easily? Are there no fruitful ways for past thinkers to be read today? In this talk, Jonathan Rée will argue that indeed, there are approaches to the history of philosophy that even Wittgenstein would have supported. In addition, Rée will suggest that Wittgenstein’s own way of philosophizing was implicitly historical in ways the thinker may not have realized.

Note: On Tuesday, January 21, PICT will host Jonathan Rée at the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore to talk about his most recent work, Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English (Penguin, 2019) and to sign copies of the book. For further information, please visit this page:

The talk is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 19h00

Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme
Forum de la bibliothèque, 1er étage
54 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

A Tribute to Rom Harré

Special prices on Wittgenstein books from Palgrave: £9.99

Various aspects of Indian Philosophy and Wittgenstein 4th Wittgenstein Conference of Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Society

4th Wittgenstein Conference of Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Society

Date: 28th – 30th Dec, 2019
Organised by: Department of Philosophy
University of Lucknow

Various aspects of Indian Philosophy, viz. Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ethics, and Logic have their resemblances with the philosophy of Wittgenstein which have so far,to a great extent, remained unexplored. The resemblances between any two philosophies serve inputs for a comparative philosophizing. Even a cursory reflection on these resemblances shows that Indian Philosophy and Wittgensteinian Philosophy are closer, not only in their methodology, aphoristic style, but also in their approaches to various philosophical problems.

First of all we find that Wittgenstein’s life was like a rishi – not only in his preference to living an ascetic life but also his concept of living a happy life as espoused particularly in Tractatus and Notebooks 1914-16 and prescribed in Upanishads and Smritis.

Further, Ray Monk describes that Wittgenstein used to read Tagore’s mystical poems in the meetings of Vienna Circle which forced Carnap, Feigl and Waismann realize ‘the author of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was not the positivist they had expected.’ Next, in this context, Monk again registers an anecdote about Wittgenstein’s translation of Tagore’s drama The King of the Dark Chamber. Wittgenstein accepted that ‘there is indeed something grand here.’ Monk holds that, Wittgenstein’s translation of Tagore’s The King of the Dark Chamber need to be read along with his lectures on religious belief as ‘Tagore expresses Wittgenstein’s own religious belief.’ Here if we accept Monk’s view that ‘Wittgenstein’s denial of the necessity to have reasons for religious beliefs’ as the basic conviction of thoughts of these two thinkers, then several philosophical issues come on the surface. Among these, the conversation between the maidservant Surangama and the Queen Sudarshana in the The King of the Dark Chamber, which appearsas an essential element of its translation by Wittgenstein and Yorick Smythies, has to be looked into from new perspectives.

Next, we find that K J shah has written the similarities between the philosophy of language of Wittgenstein and Bhartrihari. This has been published in Sibajiban Bhattacharyya’s Word and Sentence; Two Perspectives:Bhartrhari and Wittgenstein.The basic issues, in this context, are: (1) the one to one relationship between language and reality, (2) use, context, and language-games, and (3) The Inexpressible and privacy of language. Bhartrhari’s thought, in which language can be explained as an enlightened lamp is similar to the picture theory of meaning. Moreover, like Wittgenstein, Bhartrhari also talks about ‘usage’ and ‘context’ of an 2 expression as determinant factors of meaning. Further, like the realm of ‘showable’ of Wittgenstein, Bhartrhari’s transcendental reality (Shabdadvaita) is beyond any expression. There is a possibility to show that Bhartrhari supports the idea of the rejection of private language, even though Wittgenstein denies any role of ‘a flash of insight’ in determination of meaning of an expression. Moreover, it would be enlightening to show as to whether Wittgenstein would supportAbhihitanvayavada or Anvitabhidhanavada?

Panneerselvam in The Problem of Meaning with reference to Wittgenstein and Shankar: A Study in the Philosophy of Language has shown the similarities between Shankara’s concept of meaning and that of Wittgenstein through notions such as Advaitic critique of Sphota theory, source of the knowledge of Brahman, ‘saying’ and ‘showing’ distinction, the ‘fly bottle’ and liberation.

Next, Chris Gudmunsen in Wittgenstein and Buddhism maintains that there are straightforward similarity between Buddhists’ and Wittgensteinian positions on meaning, ethics, metaphysics, etc. There is a need to critically evaluate the alleged similarities between Buddhism and Wittgenstein brought forward by Gudmunsen. For Gudmunsen: “What I am arguing is that since both had rejected realism about universals – and this, surely, is not dispute – they were led to a similar view about how words relate to each other. The realism which was rejected had involved the idea that that a word like ‘blue’ corresponds to or refers to a single something which constitutes its essential meaning, muddied perhaps in actual application of the word. Once this idea had gone, from where can words derive their meaning? Only from their position in a public language; from what use people make of them. To define ‘blue’, there is no single thing one can point out as that to which the word refers….Words are related in a language-game quite naturally and harmoniously. (For) the Buddhist logicians…A word derives its meaning by carving out a place for itself. It does not seem to me that there is any important logical difference between the two approaches. In avoiding a referential norm of meaning, they are both in agreement with Nagarjuna’s ‘insistence that the meaning of words, i.e. ‘names’ is derived from the relationship which one word has with other words, not from an intrinsic relationship with an existent objective referent.”

Undoubtedly, it is surprising that above remarks of Gudmunsen has gone unnoticed among Wittgensteinians on the one hand and Buddhist Philosophers on the other. In his zeal to establish own conclusions about the similarities between Wittgenstein and Buddhism on meaning and universals, Gudmunsen has undermined their differences and misinterpreted their philosophy of language. So there is a need to show as to how Gudmunsen’s position is superficial and need to be rejected or supplemented with differences in both positions, unless we risk getting contented with apparent similarities as the final ones.

Next, an exploration in the field of epistemology takes us to the resemblances between theories of pramanyavada (svatah/paratah) as espoused in various schools of Indian Philosophy and Wittgenstein’s view about conditions of the validity of knowledge as reflected in On Certainty. In this context, a debate between Nyaya and Wittgenstein could be established. Nyaya Manjari discusses against apparently Self-evident (Svatah Pramanya) cases. The propositions such as ‘my body’ seems to be known immediately, at the time when it arises, and we do not feel the need to verify it by successful activity. A question arises: Are such cases the cases of intrinsic validity? For NyayaManjari: “…the knowledge of truth in such cases is conditioned by familiarity. Therefore, it is not self-evident though it arises quickly.” The 3 authenticity of the knowledge of a new object is ascertained on the ground of practical success to which it leads, if it is true. “When a new object is cognized repeatedly, it becomes familiar and we need not test the truth of its cognition on subsequent occasions in the same way in which we tested it when it was new.” The cases of alleged self-evident truths or the instances of intrinsic validity of cognitions such as mentioned above, i.e. ‘my body’, ‘my hand’ etc. has not only been the point of debate among Indian epistemologies but also between contemporary western philosophers such as G. E.Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The issues raised in Moore’s essays ‘Proof of an External World’ and ‘A Defence of Common Sense’ has found its rebuttal in Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. It is enlightening to analyse the similarities and differences between various Indian theories of Pramanyavada and the epistemological position of Wittgenstein. In particular, it is debatable as to whether Wittgenstein in OnCertainty, as against G. E. Moore’s views on common sense and the proofs of the external world, would prefer svatah pramanyavada or paratah pramanyavada?

Finally, even a cursory reflection about the issue of living a happy/meaningful life reveals amazing similarities between the approaches of Indian culture and that of Wittgenstein. Wittgensteinian thoughts seem to be closer to the Indian form of life which has been left unexplored so far. This conference would aim at abridging this gap between Indian and Wittgensteinian ways of living and thinking. In this context, many Indian thinkers, which have not been described above, such as Sankardev, Tiruvalluvar, Jnaneshwar, Valmiki, Tulsidas etc. could also be interpreted from various perspectives of Wittgensteinian thinking.


Gandhi and Wittgenstein
Gandhi and Wittgenstein on the inexpressibility of religious belief
Gandhi and Wittgenstein on the Critique of Modern Western Civilization
Wittgenstein and The King of the Dark Chamber
Wittgenstein and Tagore
Mysticism in Tagore and Wittgenstein
Bhartrihari and Wittgenstein
Shabdadvaita of Bhartrhari and Wittgenstein
Philosophy of Language of Bhartrhari and Wittgenstein
Is language private?: Bhartrihari and Wittgenstein
Meaning: Bhartrihari and Wittgenstein
Bhartrihari and Wittgenstein on Meaning
Panini and Wittgenstein on Meaning
Abhihitanvayavada/Anvitabhidhanavada and Wittgenstein
Gudmunsen’s Wittgenstein and Buddhism
Nagarjuna and Wittgenstein
Buddhism and Wittgenstein
The Levels of reality in Buddhism and Wittgenstein
Metaphysics: Buddhism Wittgenstein
Ethics: Buddhism and Wittgenstein
Nyaya and Wittgenstein
Pramanyavada and Wittgenstein
Pramanyavada and On Certainty
Nyaya, Moore and Wittgenstein
svatah pramanyavada/paratah pramanyavada and Wittgenstein
Living a happy life: Indian Philosophy and Wittgenstein
Meaning of life: Upanishads and Wittgenstein
Metaphysics: Upanishads and Wittgenstein
Indian Ethics and Wittgenstein Advaita Vedanta and Wittgenstein
Sankardev and Wittgenstein
Tiruvalluvar and Wittgenstein
Jnaneshwar and Wittgenstein
Valmiki and Wittgenstein
Tulsidas and Wittgenstein
Indian Culture and Value and Wittgenstein’s Culture and Value
Indian Philosophy of Law and Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Society (LWPS)

The society was registered in 2015 at Lucknow. It has organized three conferences so far at University of Lucknow (2016), University of Imphal (2017), and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Mumbai (2018). It has published an anthology which will be inaugurated in the forthcoming conference. It is in the process of publishing second anthology soon.

Wittgenstein and Quine: Not such an odd couple - Andrew Lugg

Wittgenstein and Quine: Not such an odd couple - Andrew Lugg
December 9 @ 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm

Andrew Lugg


Wittgenstein and Quine are generally, if not universally, regarded as poles apart and their philosophical approaches deemed mutually exclusive. In opposition to this wisdom I argue that philosophers do not have to choose Wittgenstein over Quine or Quine over Wittgenstein or reject both. While acknowledging that Wittgenstein and Quine are temperamentally very different sorts of thinker, I provide reasons for taking their philosophies to be complementary, not opposed. I contend that when properly and charitably understood, Quine is wrongly dismissed by Wittgensteinians as scientistic and flat-footedly empiricist, Wittgenstein wrongly regarded by Quineans as a philosophical know-nothing, blind to the achievements of science.

December 9
6:15 pm - 8:00 pm

BWS Events


New College of Humanities
19 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3HH United Kingdom + Google Map

Ludwig Wittgenstein and his Tractatus

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