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Wittgenstein´s Tractatus


Admission requirements

Admission to the following programme is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Philosphy of Knowledge


Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (1921) has been a turning point in philosophy of logic, with a focus on the relation between language, thought, and the world. What are the necessary conditions for language to express a thought about the world? What are the limits of thought and language? In what sense is logic a logic of language and the world? In the seminar we work by means of a close-reading of this difficult but intriguing text, but we also engage with the literature on the Tractatus in order to get a better understanding of it.

It is now agreed upon that a logical-positivist reading of the Tractatus neglects important elements of the text. Are we to read Wittgenstein as a Kantian philosopher, instead? Is the influence of Russell and Frege only a negative one? What is the meaning of Wittgenstein’s thesis at the end of the Tractatus that the book consists of nonsense? What is the method of philosophy? What is the role of logic if logical propositions do not have any content?

Course objectives

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

  • the central questions in philosophy of logic;

  • a classical text in philosophy;

  • the history of early analytic philosophy;

  • philosophical method.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • read closely a classical text in philosophy;

  • ask critical, philosophical questions in a group;

  • evaluate secondary literature;

  • write a substantive, well-argued paper with a central research question, an original thesis ,an independently developed structure, and a balanced evaluation of some of the secondary literature (partly from the class, partly found by the student).


The timetables are avalable through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Paper


  • Paper (100%)

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


A student admitted to the resit will write a final paper (100% of the grade). 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

  • L. Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921 (we are going to use the original German as well as English translations; a translation in your mother language may also be helpful)


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

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


Not applicable.