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Wittgenstein on Certainty


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Philosphy of Knowledge

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology

Knowledge of Analytical Philosophy or Philosophy of Language is required.


During the course we read Wittgenstein’s last writings, where he focuses on how we say things concerning topics such as knowledge and certainty. Language brings in a form of life, a connected whole of concepts by which we think and act, thereby forming our basic certainties. Can we only speak of truth within a form of life? Can we have knowledge? Can these basic certainties change?

Wittgenstein’s On Certainty is often characterized as presenting Wittgenstein’s third phase of his philosophy, but during the course we will also note some similarities with the earlier Tractatus, especially regarding the method of philosophy.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • topics in philosophy of language and epistemology.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • question standard methods of philosophy as they are confronted with Wittgenstein’s special way of dealing with philosophical questions;

  • present a reading of Wittgenstein in class;

  • ask philosophical questions;

  • discuss central topics in theoretical philosophy;

  • write a paper on an advanced level developing an independent position in relation to other philosophers or readers of Wittgenstein.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Paper

Active participation in class is required for admission to the exam.


  • Paper: 100%


The resit covers the entire exam (100%) and consists of of paper.
Active participation in class is required for admission to the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Wittgenstein, On Certainty, Anscombe & Von Wright (eds.), Blackwell publishing.

  • Wittgenstein, Über Gewissheit, Suhrkamp.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.