BRITISH WITTGENSTEIN SOCIETY
in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain and UCL Centre for Philosophy of Education
BWS 10th Annual Conference:
Wittgenstein and Education
UCL Institute of Education, 29-31 July 2018
Paul Standish and Adrian Skilbeck
Questions about teaching and learning, about the nature of knowledge, and about human being are unavoidable in education, and they surface in Wittgenstein’s work in multiple ways. This conference will seek to examine both the significance of these themes in his work and the bearing his thoughts have on education, understood not only in institutional terms but as a pervasive feature of human life.
Two recent works may help to set the context for the conference. Michael Peters and Jeff Stickney’s substantial 2017 edited collection, A Companion to Wittgenstein on Education: Pedagogical Investigations (www.springer.com/gp/book/9789811031342), provides a substantial sample of recent work in the field. Paul Standish’s 2017 BWS conference paper has been published in Philosophical Investigations under the title “Wittgenstein’s Impact on the Philosophy of Education” (onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/phin.12198).
We are delighted to welcome the following invited speakers:
Gordon Bearn (Lehigh University)
Alice Crary (Oxford University and the New School of Social Research)
Andrew Davis (Durham University)
Juliet Floyd (Boston University)
Michael Luntley (Warwick University)
Richard Smith (Durham University)
Jeff Stickney (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto)
BWS 2018 Conference Report BY Sasha Lawson-FROST
Education, learning, and training are all central themes in Wittgenstein’s approach to philosophical questions. Learning rules, teaching mathematical sequences, and language acquisition, are all examples used throughout Wittgenstein’s work to get to grips with philosophical problems. It perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the 2018 BWS conference on Wittgenstein and Education drew together academics working on Wittgenstein in a huge breadth of contexts; including the philosophy of technology, the philosophy of psychology, and moral philosophy.
The diversity of this topic resulted in a vibrant atmosphere throughout the conference. I felt that the conference highlighted the need for discussions across philosophical disciplines, including those engaged in understanding Wittgenstein’s texts, and those exploring the implications of Wittgenstein’s thought in other fields. Not only were there many interesting talks and discussions on how education and learning can shed light on philosophical issues, but also on how Wittgenstein’s ideas can shed light on the aims and practices of education in a variety of contexts. And, (as is often the case), the conversations had between and after speaker sessions emphasised even further how much discussion is to be had between these different fields and perspectives.
The first keynote lecture was given by Michael Luntley on The Fragility of Learning. This talk reflected on the use of examples in Wittgenstein’s pedagogical/philosophical method. On this account, giving examples is not merely an “indirect” way of pointing towards the “correct use” of terms, but rather this use forms the meaning of terms in the first place. This talk was followed by a lecture given by Richard Smith, Towards a Wittgensteinian Social Science, which discussed the implications of Wittgenstein’s philosophy for the social sciences, in particular for dealing with widespread attitudes of scientism.
On the second day we heard from Juliet Floyd on Wittgenstein: Teaching and Learning with Turing, which explored some of the connections between Turing and Wittgenstein’s approaches to mathematics. In contrast to Ray Monk, who presents Wittgenstein and Turing as mutually alien to each other, Floyd argued that the two share important foundational ideas about the nature of logic. After this, Gordon Bearn gave a talk on Wittgenstein: Spiritual Practices. This talk looked at transformative, spiritual experiences and activities through the lens of Wittgenstein and Cavell’s work on aspect perception.
On the third and final day, Jeff Stickney gave a lecture on Wittgenstein’s Language-Games of Education: Reading higher and lower registers of “learning” in On Certainty. Stickney looked at the way educational examples are used by Wittgenstein to reach conceptual understanding, and also offered some reflections on how we understand teaching, advertising, conditioning, preaching, and training as different concepts. The conference closed with a lecture from Alice Crary on the controversial topic of Race and Animals: Wittgensteinian Reflections on a Contested Comparison. This talk used Wittgenstein as a lens for looking at some of the problems and illuminations to be found in comparisons between moral atrocities, like the holocaust, and the slaughter of animals. Crary offered a radical rejection of the view that humans are inherently “higher” beings than other animals in terms of moral importance.
In addition to these keynote lectures, the conference also had a number of parallel sessions and symposia throughout the event. This is the first time the BWS conference has had an open call for abstracts for their annual conference. This meant there was a great mixture of graduate students, academics, and researchers presenting their work on Wittgensteinian themes. I think it was apt for the theme of this conference that such a variety of philosophers had the opportunity to present and discuss their work and to collaborate with each other. The topics of the parallel sessions included: the epistemology of education, ethics education, Wittgenstein’s naturalism, and the philosophy of film.
The three days of the conference were energetic, busy, and deeply engaging. This was well-balanced with the friendly and welcoming attitude I’ve always found with the community of the BWS. I think I speak for many of the participants when I say that I was left buzzing with ideas and hopes for peoples’ future work in this area.
Sasha Lawson-Frost is a graduate student at Oxford and organises the London Wittgenstein Reading Group.
The Conference Programme is available as a pdf here.
The abstracts of parallel papers are available here.
Sunday 29 July
13.30 Welcome and introduction
13.50 Keynote 1 – Michael Luntley (Warwick University): The Fragility of Learning
15.10 Coffee break
15.30 Parallel Group Session 1
1.1a Tom Eide Osa (University of Bergen) – Language games and grammars in music performance practices
1.1b Carla Carmona (University of Seville) – Overcoming the distinction between the inner and the outer in arts education: a close look at the case of dance education
1.2a Renia Gasparatou (University of Patras) – Science education and the tightrope between scientism and relativism: a Wittgensteinian balancing act
1.2b Magdalena Kersting (University of Oslo) – The role of imagination in the language games of the science classroom
1.3a Shannon Rodgers – Minding education
1.3b Ruth Heilbronn (UCL Institute of Education) – Stories well told: ethics education following Wittgenstein
1.4a Nuno Venturinha (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) – Wittgenstein and the epistemology of education
1.4b Cristiane Gottschalk (University of São Paulo) – Wittgenstein’s philosophical therapy on norms and descriptions for clarifying educational confusion
17.10 Keynote 2 – Symposium on social science:
Andrew Davis (Durham University), Can Wittgenstein rescue Educational Research from Science? Rules and social taxonomies, and Richard Smith (Durham University) Towards a Wittgensteinian Social Science
18.30 Drinks reception
Monday 30 July
09.00 Parallel Group Session 2
2.1a Casey Doyle (Oxford University) – Aiding self-understanding
2.1b Patrick Quinn (University College Dublin) – On Wittgenstein and learning as self-education
2.2a Ieuan Lloyd (Swansea University) – Education as a lifeless body
2.2b Antonio Scarafone (University of Reading) – What do we learn when we learn the meaning of words?
2.3a Stephen Burwood (Hull University) – Wittgenstein’s naturalism and conceptual change
2.3b Matteo Falomi (Essex University) – Conformity and attunement
10.50 Keynote 3 – Juliet Floyd (Boston University): Wittgenstein: Teaching and Learning with Turing
13.40 Two parallel symposia: Pedagogical Investigations
Symposium A: Religious Studies, Drama, and Imagination
Mikel Burley (Leeds University), Suzy Harris (Roehampton University), and Adrian Skilbeck (UCL Institute of Education)
Symposium B: Memory, Language Acquisition, and Instinct
Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (Hertfordshire University), Ian O’Loughlin (Pacific University), Paul Standish (UCL Institute of Education)
15.30 Parallel Session 3
3.1a Alexis Gibbs (Winchester University) – No such thing as a private education
3.1b Siu-Sing (Kenny) Huen (Fiji National University) – “Education as initiation into practices” reconsidered
3.2a Ian Munday (Stirling University) – Wittgenstein and the arrogation of philosophy
3.2b Edward Guetti (Universität Leipzig) – Possessions and losses: what Joyce displays about the Wittgenstein scene of instruction
3.3a Nimrod Matan (Beit Berl College) – Pedagogical influence in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations
3.3b Desiree Weber (Wooster College) – A pedagogic reading of Wittgenstein’s later work: an overview
3.4a Eran Guter (Max Stern Yezreel Valley College) and Craig Fox (California University of Pennsylvania) – Preserving the verifying phenomena
3.4b Lawrence Nixon (University of Sunderland) If ‘Nothing is hidden’ is there anything still to find? Wittgenstein and the education/further education of teachers
17.10 Keynote 4 – Gordon Bearn (Lehigh University): Wittgenstein: Spiritual Practices
19.45 Conference dinner (booking required)
Tuesday 31 July
09.00 Parallel Session 4
4.1a David Garner (University of the Arts London) – Aspect-seeing in art & design education
4.1b Britt Harrison (University of York) – Film: education for grownups?
4.2a Georgina Edwards (Oxford University) – Language games in the ivory tower: comparing the Philosophical Investigations with Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game
4.2b Rebeca Perez Leon (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) – On teaching a form of life
4.3a David Anderson (Texas A&M University) – Catching the snark: A Wittgensteinian overview of philosophy for children
4.3b Yasushi Maruyama, Yoshitsugu Hirata, Takahiro Sugita, Shinichiro Yamagishi and Fukutaro Watanabe – How Wittgenstein’s philosophy has impact on educational research in Japan
10.50 Keynote 5 – Jeff Stickney (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto) – Wittgenstein’s Language-Games of Education: Reading higher and lower registers of “learning” in On Certainty
13.40 Parallel Session 5
5.1a Mal Leicester (University of Nottingham) – Look and see
5.1b Christopher Joseph An – Learning as an intersubjective and joint attentional encounter
5.2a Peter Schloegl (University Klagenfurt) – About friends and ways in education
5.2b Patrik Kjaersdam Telléus (Aalborg University) – Wittgenstein, problem-based learning, and higher education
5.3a Emma Williams (Warwick University) – Wittgenstein and the ways of thinking: changing the case for humanities education
5.3b Matteo Rivetti (University of Padova) – Remarks on a Wittgensteinian education to ineducation
5.4a Jonathan Beale (Queen Anne’s School) – What we can learn about teaching from Wittgenstein’s time as a schoolteacher
5.4b Leon Culbertson (Edge Hill University) – “A psychological regularity to which no physiological reality corresponds?” – Some remarks on learning and understanding
15.30 Keynote 6 – Alice Crary (The New School, New York, and Oxford University) – Race and Animals: Wittgensteinian Reflections on a Contested Comparison
16.50 Closing remarks
The abstracts of parallel papers are available here.
Conference fees and Registration
The conference fees are: £125.00 (full cost) and £65.00 (for full-time students). For those unable to attend the whole conference, there is also a day-rate of £65.00. Tea and coffee will be provided throughout, and there will be a wine reception on Sunday 29 July. Lunches will not be provided, but the area has a wide range of restaurants and cafes within easy reach.
The site is now open for booking here.
On Monday 30 July, a conference dinner will take place at Antalya Restaurant (www.antalyarestaurant.co.uk/). This will be a set meal, including main dish choices and vegetarian options throughout. The cost for this will be £30.00 (to include drinks). Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.
No accommodation is provided but a preferential rate has been negotiated at the Imperial Hotel, Russell Square. The rooms will at the following rate: single £111.00. Rates are per room per night including English breakfast and VAT. These rates are being held until 15 June 2018. To make a booking, please contact the Central reservation office: 44+(0)207-278-7871, e-mail: ku.oc1556050036.slet1556050036ohlai1556050036repmi1556050036@ofni1556050036, quoting the reference “UCL – IOE”. Full credit card details will be required at the time of booking, i.e. card number, expiry date and security code. Cancellation policy is 24 hours prior to 11am on the day of arrival. “No shows”: one night’s charge will apply. Alternatively, reservations can be made directly via the website www.imperialhotels.co.uk, where any special and sometimes better offers are available. The rates quoted there at present are £10.00 per room per night cheaper.
UCL Institute of Education is in the heart of Bloomsbury, near Russell Square.
Address: UCL Institute of Education is located at 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H0AL
For videos of previous conferences, see:
Visit the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain at:
Visit the Centre for Philosophy of Education at UCL Institute of Education at: