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Wittgenstein's Tractatus


Admission requirements

  • Students in the BA programme Philosophy: first year BA has been successfully completed, as well as the second-year course Philosophy of Science (Wetenschapsfilosofie).

  • Prerequisites for students from other departments (including contractstudenten): first year BA has been successfully completed as well as the BA courses Logic, Metaphysics, Epistemology and Philosophy of Science, or equivalent courses offered by another university.

This course has a limited number of places available for students from other departments.


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 Tratctatus 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).


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2014-2015, BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject or Standaardtraject), derde jaar.
See Timetables Philosophy 2014-2015 , Timetable Undergraduate Courses in English

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load (10 EC): 280 hours
Attending classes (14 × 3 hours): 42 hours
Studying of texts (14 × 7 hours): 98 hours
Solving/preparing assignments (14 × 5 hours): 70 hours
Fomulation 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

Active engagement with weekly assignments and the presentation is a mandatory requirement for being admitted to the exam (final paper).

One resit will be offered, consisting of the final paper. Any student who did not take the first examination cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used as a message board for assigments and the posting of texts and references.

Reading list

To be announced.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens
See Registration for courses and examinations

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the collegerooster in the column under the heading “”.

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs
Registration Studeren à la carte: not applicable


Prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm