Michael Bavidge

Wittgenstein's Child

18th April 2023

@ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Aout the Speaker

About the Speaker



Michael Bavidge was a lecturer in philosophy at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Newcastle University. After his retirement he taught on the Philosophical Studies Programme at the university. He has written on psychopathy and the law, pain and suffering, and animal minds.

He is the President of the Philosophical Society of England which brings together academic and non-academic philosophers who believe in the importance of exploring philosophical ideas and their relevance to our social and personal lives.

In his his collection of essays - Philosophy in the Borders - , Michael Bavidge gives us a glimpse of large philosophical issues centring round a number of key ideas – experience, expression, and language. Written with insight, humour, and clarity, and underpinned by a great intellectual empathy, these essays are powerful examples of philosophy embedded in the fabric of everyday life

“The borders I have in mind are not lines of demarcation (not walls, checkpoints or lines on maps). They are stretches of territory – spaces of transition, trade and uncertainty – between more self-contained and settled regions. The main topics I address all have the character of being in-between: they are all in some sense about something other than themselves. Philosophy itself is a sort of critical reflection that takes place in these disputed areas.”




Bavidge, M. (1998). Mad or Bad? Cite
Bavidge, M. (2019). Philosophy in the Borders. Bigg Books. Cite
Bavidge, M., & Ground, I. (1994). Can We Understand Animal Minds? St. Martin's Press. Cite



Children are ours; they are all around us, crawling all over us, all hours of day and night; once we were one of them. How familiar. But down the ages, philosophers have had difficulties accommodating childhood as a phase of human life; they are uncomfortable with the provisional, the temporary, the on-its-way.

During childhood the world becomes available; it is made available. The fundamental structures of our experience are put in place. Rethinking childhood encourages us to re-examine how we become and remain embedded in the world; it brings home to us how dependent we are on others, not just for survival, but for the way we think and act.

Wittgenstein mentions children throughout his philosophical writing. Some of the references are casual, but some play a key role and indicate a significant development in his thought. This critical discussion aims to throw light both on philosophical issues about childhood and on the development of Wittgenstein’s thought.

Topics: Training, teaching and upbringing; expression, conversation and description; the acquisition of language through participation; the depth of play; the dynamics of language - the vocative and expectancy.





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