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Wittgenstein's Tractatus


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation History and Philosophy of the Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural sciences, or Philosophy of Psychology


Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is one of the most influential philosophical works in the 20th century. Its overall structure and general doctrine are relatively easy to grasp, but its details can be frustratingly difficult. The course aims at a thorough, and reasonably close reading of the work, tracing its background in the great works of Frege and the writings of Bertrand Russell, as well as in Schopenhauer, Tolstoy and Hertz. Readings, and sometimes other assignments are given each week.

Course objectives

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

  • the main tenets of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and its background in the works of Frege and Russell.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • elucidate the main logical doctrines of the Tractatus and relate them to issues in metaphysics and epistemology

  • present their ideas orally (in a class presentation and discussion) and in writing (in an essay).


The timetable is available on the MA Philosophy website
MA Philosophy 60 EC, or MA Philosophy 120 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending classes (14 × 3 hours): 42 hours

  • Study of texts (14 × 7 hours): 98 hours

  • Solving/preparing assignments (14 × 5 hours): 70 hours

  • Formulation of topic and search for literature etc: 30 hours

  • Writing final paper: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • Active engagement with weekly assignments

  • Presentation of some sections of the TLP

  • Final paper on some aspect of the TLP or its relation to other parts of philosophy (100%)


Active engagement with weekly assignments and the presentation is a mandatory requirement for being admitted to the exam / final paper (100% of the final grade) or the resit.


One resit will be offered, consisting of the final paper. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests (presentation, assignments). The mark will replace all previously earned marks. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used:

  • as a message board for assignments

  • for the posting of texts and references.

Reading list

  • Required readings will be made available through Blackboard.


Enrolment for courses and exams through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for and exams in the column under the heading “uSis-Actnbr”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm


Not applicable.