Public Programming

May 18-22, 2015

9:00 am- 12:30 pm

Location:  University of Iowa

Anyone is welcome to attend paper presentations, which will take place each morning from Monday May 18 to Friday May 22, and there will be no registration fee. However, as space is limited, papers will be distributed in advance, and presenters will only speak for a few minutes to open the discussion of their papers, pre-registration is required, so that we can provide advance access to the symposium papers, and plan accordingly. 
To pre-register, please contact the seminar director, Professor David Stern at by April 15.

Preliminary Program and Abstracts

Monday, May 18

Wittgenstein, Moore and Witgenstein’s influence

Thomas Baldwin, University of York, The impact of Wittgenstein’s lectures on G. E. Moore

As this volume indicates, during 1930-1933 Moore devoted a good deal of time to Wittgenstein’s lectures. He attended many of them, where he took these very full notes, and also attended the discussion classes associated with the lectures. This situation was, on the face of it, a little odd: Moore was by then nearly sixty years old; he had been editor of Mind since 1920 and a Professor of Philosophy since 1925. He was one of the most influential and highly regarded British philosophers, especially associated with the development of the ‘Cambridge School’ of analysis. Yet here he was, coming to Wittgenstein’s lectures as if he was a student again. As he says, he was motivated by his admiration for the lectures, for the new ways in which Wittgenstein approached philosophical questions, though he confessed that he was never sure that he understood what Wittgenstein was saying.

In my paper I aim to assess the impact of Wittgenstein’s lectures on Moore’s approach to philosophy. One obvious source for this are the papers on Wittgenstein’s lectures, based on these notes, which Moore published in 1954-55. But I also want to look at Moore’s extensive lecture notes and other writings from around this period, most of which have not been published. My aim is to identify some of the main themes from his lectures during the 1920’s, prior to Wittgenstein’s arrival; and then to see how far Moore’s approach to philosophy changes during the 1930’s, and consider how far these changes can be attributed to the impact of Wittgenstein’s lectures.

James Klagge, Virginia Tech, Wittgenstein and His Students: 1930-1933

In a recent paper (“Wittgenstein and His Audience: Esotericist or Evangelist?”) I contended that Wittgenstein’s interactions with students at his lectures was relevant to important changes in his approach to philosophy in the early 1930s.  Over the last several years we have gotten more information about the students who attended Wittgenstein’s lectures, and how Wittgenstein interacted with them.  In this paper I will use the newly available notes from G. E. Moore of lectures during this period, as well as additional knowledge about Wittgenstein’s students, to test and elaborate this contention.  In addition, I will make some comments about Moore’s full notes based on other information we have, including other available versions of these lectures.

Gabriel Citron, Yale University, Wittgenstein on Moore and the “Philosophical Virtues”

Wittgenstein made many candid remarks about contemporary philosophers, and they were often unflattering. They appear in his notebooks, letters, and records of his conversations with friends, and often give the impression that they are nothing more than a catty kind of academic gossiping. A paradigmatic example is F. R. Leavis’s recollection that Wittgenstein once retorted: “Moore? – he shows you how far a man can go who has absolutely no intelligence whatsoever”. Indeed, Moore was the butt of a large number of these barbed remarks.

In this paper I gather together many of Wittgenstein’s remarks on Moore’s character and talents, and show that they are not merely thoughtless gossip. Rather, when looked at side by side – and in the context of similar remarks made by Wittgenstein about other philosophers – the remarks allow us to piece together a consistent and coherent account of Wittgenstein’s understanding of the ‘philosophical virtues’. That is, I argue that Wittgenstein’s seemingly offhanded opinionated remarks about his contemporaries reveal a nuanced conception of not only the the principal vices that hinder the proper practice of philosophy but also the virtues necessary for its ideal practice.

David Stern, University of Iowa, Moore on Wittgenstein on Grammar

On  February 26, 1932, Moore presented a short paper in one of Wittgenstein’s discussion classes, which begins as follows: ‘I am in a very great muddle about the way in which Dr. Wittgenstein uses the expressions “rule of grammar” or “grammatical rule”. And all I have tried to do is to ask some questions, which puzzle me, about it.’ In this paper, I present and evaluate Moore’s questions in that essay and Wittgenstein’s response to them.  I also consider Moore’s later discussion of Wittgenstein on grammar in “Wittgenstein’s Lectures in 1930-1933.”

Tuesday, May 19

Wittgenstein on Tractarian Analysis

Tom Ricketts, University of Pittsburgh, The Color-exclusion objection

Wittgenstein’s discussion of attributions of degrees of brightness in “Some Remarks on Logical Form” provides important clues as to how the author of the Tractatus  viewed the elementary sentences and simple objects that are the bottom level of analysis.  Building on those clues, I attribute to the Tractatus a thoroughly holistic, top-down view of analysis.  I argue that the color-exclusion objection, as stated in “Some Remarks”, has no force against the Tractatus, when Tractarian analysis is so understood.  I consider whether Wittgenstein’s later, different presentations of the color-exclusion objection, both in Moore’s notes from Wittgenstein’s lectures, and  the final and most detailed presentation in The Big Typescript §100, do better on this score.

Brian Rogers, Stanford University, Generality in Wittgenstein’s 1930-1933 Cambridge Lectures

In his 1930-1933 Cambridge lectures, Wittgenstein provides an extended discussion of generality. These passages are of particular interest to interpreters of Wittgenstein’s early work, since he elucidates his analysis of generality in the Tractatus and also critiques his former position. Unlike in the Tractatus, Wittgenstein now identifies several kinds of generality, some of which may be regarded as logical products or sums, others of which cannot. This new analysis of generality appears to be tied to the movement of Wittgenstein’s post-Tractatus thought towards finitism.

Many of the comments in these lectures aid our understanding of Wittgenstein’s early thought on generality, e.g. by making explicit certain assumptions in the Tractatus regarding logical analysis. Yet certain passages in which Wittgenstein attempts to elucidate his earlier thought are difficult to reconcile with the text of the Tractatus. In this paper I explore the rewards and the challenges that these remarks provide for interpreters of Wittgenstein’s early work.

Mauro Engelmann, Federal University of Minas Gerais, The adaptation of the Tractatus in the Context of Wittgenstein’s Lectures, 1930-1931

A number of interpreters maintain that the philosophy of the Tractatus “collapsed” soon after Wittgenstein’s return to Cambridge in 1929. Hacker, Baker, Fogelin and Hintikka are among the leading proponents of this reading. Drawing on Wittgenstein’s lectures and writing from the early 1930s, I will argue that such a view is misleading. The context of Moore’s notes from Wittgenstein’s 1930-1931 lectures show that Wittgenstein was trying to save the main core of the book, namely its results, by making certain modifications to its conception of logic. Specifically, he placed his old logic inside the framework of a comprehensive notion of “grammar”, which presents the limits of sense by means of rules implicitly given in language. “Grammar” is an extended version of Tractarian logic. So instead of talking about the “collapse” of the Tractatus we should rather talk about its “adaptation”.

João Vergílio Gallerani Cuter, University of São Paulo, The harmony between thought and reality

The Tractarian view of language involves a very strong notion of “harmony” between thought and reality. Some of the main elements of that notion had to be modified or even abandoned during the intermediate period. Even so, the idea itself reappears in many passages of the notes taken by Moore of Wittgenstein’s lectures in the early 1930s — either directly or indirectly, through the question about the sense and the extent in which grammar is to be taken as “arbitrary”.  This is an excellent observation post to compare the Tractatus with Wittgenstein’s mature philosophy, since his views during the intermediate period are somehow midway between both. The old notion of “isomorphism” is clearly abandoned, but the idea of a non-arbitrary common element between thought and reality seems to be retained. The comparison of the notes taken by Moore with the manuscripts written during that same period may help us to understand the positions Wittgenstein was led to assume about these important issues.

Wednesday, May 20

Philosophy of Mathematics

Warren Goldfarb, Harvard University, Moore's Lecture Notes and Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy of Mathematics

An exploration of the illumination that the 1930-1933 Moore notes cast on the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics in his early middle period, particularly on its continuity with views that can be ascribed to the Tractatus.

Gregory Landini, University of Iowa, New Hopes for a Tractarian Analysis of Number

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus proclaims that Whithead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica must be done “afresh” because arithmetic consists of calculating outcomes of operations with numeral exponents.  Wittgenstein’s idea takes functions as primitive and permits recursively defined operations with numeral exponents.  Ramsey concluded in 1925 that this approach is hopeless and cannot even accommodate (∃n)(Nat(n) & 3+n = 5).  There are, however, some passages in the Moore notes taken in 1930-1931 that suggest that the Tractarian idea might be richer than anyone had previously thought. It may even be able to accommodate (∃n)(Rational(n) &  3+n = 1), if not also limits. The key is to use the  Tractarian N-operator to emulate quantification over operations and to speak of  outcomes of applications of rules governing arbitrary large repetitions of operations with numeral exponents.  Using the N-operator together with operators with numeral exponents we arrive at a new hope for a more fully Tractarian analysis of number.

Juliet Floyd, Boston University, Wittgenstein on mathematics in the 1930s: Moore's Cambridge notes

It is interesting to compare and contrast Wittgenstein's remarks on mathematics in Moore's notes of his lectures with the articulation of these issues at greater length in The Big Typescript.  I’m interested in the evolution of Wittgenstein’s talk of aspects and notations in connection with mathematics between 1930 and 1934, as well as the particular examples he treats.  The question is whether divergences between the presentation of examples and emphases in The Big Typescript and the lectures indicate difficulties with Wittgenstein’s conception that are intrinsic to it, and how such difficulties work themselves out later on in his presentation of his ideas.  The notion of Übersichtlichkeit, in particular, is present in The Big Typescript, though somewhat crudely applied to the idea of a “notation”.  Moore’s annotations, which tend to focus on the notion of “grammar”, question Wittgenstein’s way of construing possibility and necessity as notions, as well as the aspect-talk that he frequently uses.

A swatch of The Big Typescript that is especially important for me here is §134, “Seeing and Understanding a Sign in a Particular Way. Discovering an Aspect of a Mathematical Expression. ‘Seeing an Expression in a Particular way.’ Marks of Emphasis”.  Here we see Wittgenstein’s treatment of recursive proofs and Sheffer’s stroke tied in with aspect-talk.  The issues raised concern his treatment of generality and possibility, and the notion of a “space” of grammar, and his evolution away from the Tractatus.  The final two chapters of The Big Typescript, on inductive proofs and the infinite (the extensional viewpoint) are also important.  They illuminate Wittgenstein’s uses of examples from Euclidean geometry throughout the Moore notes, and these examples are especially telling within the context of Wittgenstein’s ongoing development of his remarks on irrational numbers.  This allows us to raise another question:  In the late 1930s and early 1940s, did Wittgenstein make any progress with presenting his ideas about infinity and “the extensional viewpoint”?

Mathieu Marion, Université du Québec à Montréal, Moore's Lecture Notes and Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy of Mathematics

The middle period is the fount of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, especially in the philosophy of mathematics, where hardly any new ideas and arguments originate after 1936. Moore's 1930-1933 lecture notes contains some very important passages in this respect. In this paper I shall focus on two important ideas as they occur there. First, I shall focus on Lecture 6, in May 1930, as it helps us understand the origin of Wittgenstein's surveyability argument in his critique of Ramsey's attempt to show, with help of his 'functions in extension', that mathematical propositions are tautologies. This argument has been much discussed in the secondary literature since the 1950s. Second, I will examine the introduction of a rule of uniqueness for functions defined by recursion as a replacement for mathematical induction. Although it has received very little attention, is probably Wittgenstein's most important idea in the foundations of mathematics. It is found in Lecture 4 in May 1930 and is very clearly stated in Lecture 5, on May 20, 1932.  This idea was developed while reflecting on Skolem's proof of the Associative Law of arithmetic; it is also found in The Big Typescript. It was taken up and developed by his student R. L. Goodstein, who stated in the 1970s that he got it from Wittgenstein's lectures. Moore's lecture notes provide us evidence for this, as Goodstein most probably attended Lecture 5 in May 1932. I shall use Moore's notes to reconstruct first the reasoning that led Wittgenstein to his surveyability argument, and, second, the reasoning that led him to the idea of a rule of uniqueness, drawing links with Goodstein's accurate account of Wittgenstein's lecture.

Thursday, May 21

The development of Wittgenstein’s philosophy

Alois Pichler, University of Bergen, The relationship between an anthropological approach to language and the conception of language as a calculus in Wittgenstein’s 1930-1933 lectures

Wittgenstein’s philosophy in the early 1930s as a whole, and The Big Typescript in particular, are often interpreted as an expression of Wittgenstein's calculus conception of language. My paper shows that matters are more complicated. Drawing on Moore's notes of Wittgenstein's lectures and the first chapter of The Big Typescript on "Understanding", I argue that they exemplify an enduring tension in Wittgenstein's work between a calculus conception of language, on the one hand, and an anthropological approach, on the other. This tension has been noted before, but the significance of the anthropological voice in the early 1930s has in my view not yet been sufficiently acknowledged.

Hans Sluga, UC Berkeley, From Moore's Notes to Wittgenstein's Blue Book

Moore attended Wittgenstein's lectures from January 20, 1930 to May 29, 1933. Wittgenstein dictated the Blue Book in his lectures from the fall of 1933 to the spring of 1934. The paper aims at exploring the continuity and further development of Wittgenstein's thought in the transition from the lectures Moore attended to those of the following academic year.

Philosophy of Mind: Wittgenstein’s Lent 1933 Lectures

Volker A. Munz, Alpen-Adria-University, Rules and the Mental

Throughout G.E. Moore’s lecture notes we find numerous remarks concerning the peculiar arbitrariness of grammatical rules. For instance, Wittgenstein remarks: “Is then grammar arbitrary? In a sense it is, in a sense not” (Lecture 3, Lent 1931). The idea of being arbitrary is thereby closely connected to the question of justification. In the context of first person statements such as “I have pain”, “I can’t have your pain”, “Only I can know that I am in pain”, the concept of a rule also plays a crucial role, particularly in contrast to metaphysical propositions. Therefore I will try to shed some light on the role of grammar in the context of propositions containing mental vocabulary, a subject that Wittgenstein discusses in some detail in early 1933 (see Lectures 5b-7b, Lent 1933).

Bill Child, Oxford University, “I have toothache” and “He has toothache”: Wittgenstein on Sensation Language, February-March 1933

In his published account of Wittgenstein’s lectures in 1930-33, Moore wrote that one of Wittgenstein’s chief topics was ‘the difference between the proposition which is expressed by the words “I have got toothache”, and those which are expressed by “You have got toothache” or “He has got toothache”, in which connection he said something about Behaviourism, Solipsism, Idealism and Realism’ (M 50).  Moore comments: ‘He spent a great deal of time on this discussion, and I am very much puzzled as to the meaning of much that he said, and also as to the connexion between different things which he said.  It seems to me that his discussion was rather incoherent, and my account of it must be incoherent also, because I cannot see the connexion between different points which he seemed anxious to make.’ (M 97).

My paper has two aims.  First, to reconstruct from the text of Moore’s notes the views about sensations, ownership, and sensation-language that Wittgenstein was offering in his lectures in February and March 1933, and which Moore found so puzzling; and to explain the connections between the different points he was making.  Second, to explore in the light of Moore’s notes the relation between the discussion of these topics contained in Wittgenstein’s 1933 lectures and his earlier and later treatments of the same topics in Philosophical Remarks and The Blue Book.

Friday, May 22

Richard Fumerton, University of Iowa, Wittgenstein on Memory

In two of his Lent 1933 lectures Wittgenstein raises interesting questions about memory.  In Lecture 5a, relying on the intelligibility of a thought experiment, he seems to allow that one might be able to make sense of a person’s remembering something that hasn’t yet happened.  And in Lecture 8b he seems to rule out the intelligibility of a thought experiment designed to show that massive error is possible with respect to what we seem to remember.  In this paper I’ll talk about both questions and explore potential tensions in Wittgenstein’s approach to answering them.

Aesthetics and Religion: Wittgenstein’s May 1933 Lectures

Hanne Appelqvist, University of Helsinki, What Kind of Necessity is the Necessity of Grammar?

Wittgenstein described Kant’s method as “the right sort of approach” in philosophy, according to King and Lee’s lecture notes (LWL[1], 73). During the same time, Wittgenstein connects “the Kantian solution of the problem of philosophy” to the idea of a limit of language, manifest in the impossibility of describing the fact corresponding to a sentence without repeating the sentence (CV 13). There is a long tradition of reading the Tractatus as a Kantian work in this very sense. For both Kant and Wittgenstein, the source of philosophical illusion lies in our failure to distinguish between the transcendental and the empirical viewpoint. Hence, the proper method of philosophy is reflection of the necessary (limiting) conditions of experience or sense. For the early Wittgenstein, this condition is logic. Logic is “transcendental” (TLP 6.13) in the full-blown Kantian sense of being (i) about the necessary a priori conditions for the possibility of sense (TLP 2.18, 5.4731); (ii) universal as the form of thought and of every imaginable world (TLP 2.022); and (iii) tied to the metaphysical subject which is described, like logic, as the “limit of the world” (TLP 5.61, 5.632).

In the lectures at hand, the distinction between empirical and grammatical still lies at the core of Wittgenstein’s thought (LWL 9–10). “Philosophical problems are not solved by experience” (AWL 3) as they concern language (LWL 1). “Grammar is not the expression of what is the case but of what is possible” (LWL 10, cf. M 60). The rules of grammar are necessary, without truth-value and sense (M 60–65). In these respects, then, the lectures still exemplify Kantianism. However, in the absence of assumptions (i) universality and (ii) metaphysical subject, there is no obvious explanation for the claim to necessity of grammar. Instead, grammar is characterized as arbitrary and self-contained (M 69–73; LWL 86–87). It is not justifiable by reasons (M 70) or by reference to facts about reality (LWL 86). Yet we treat it as “certain” (LWL 17). But if “rules are only responsible to rules” (M 52), how can they ground the possibility of empirical propositions?

I argue that Wittgenstein’s discussion of aesthetics (M 103–107; AWL 34–39), seemingly disconnected from the rest of the material, is intended to serve as an answer. Aesthetic judgment offers a model of a judgment that (i) is not empirical (e.g. psychological or statistical); (ii) cannot be justified by appeal to further expressions of a rule given that the aesthetic medium is as arbitrary as the system of language (M 51); (iii) still calls for justification, albeit one that requires subjective endorsement (M 105–106, AWL 38–39). It exhibits “exemplary necessity”, to borrow Kant’s term, in spite of resting on partly subjective, arbitrary grounds. That aesthetics is, in the lectures, treated on a par with grammar marks yet another point of continuity from the Tractatus where transcendentality is attributed not just to logic but also to ethics-cum-aesthetics (TLP 6.421).

Joachim Schulte, University of Zurich, Wittgenstein’s remarks on aesthetics and their context: May 1933

It is a striking fact that, in Moore’s notes of May 1933, Wittgenstein’s remarks on aesthetics occur in the context of his observations on Frazer’s Golden Bough and various writings by Freud. Some, but by no means all, of the subjects treated or touched on in these observations are mentioned in manuscripts of the early 1930s, and the same is true of certain concepts or contrasts that may be seen as helpful in our attempts at organizing this material. For example, one such contrast is the distinction between explanatory and descriptive approaches to philosophy — a distinction that re-occurs in many of Wittgenstein’s later writings as well as in notes of his later lectures. So, one question I want to deal with in this paper is, “Why are these remarks made in the context of topics taken from Freud and Frazer, and can this contextual embedding be seen as shedding light on the content of these remarks?”. My second question is, “Is the conceptual framework Wittgenstein brings to bear on the topics mentioned of a kind that may help us to gain a better understanding of the development of his philosophical thought?”.

Anat Biletzki, Quinnipiac University and Tel-Aviv University, “Now: use of such a word as ‘God’”

Wittgenstein’s few writings and lectures on religion have given rise to increasing interpretation and speculation, and have become a central Wittgensteinian interest. Conventional interpretations of the early Wittgenstein on religion placed it in the realm of the mystical. Similarly predictable interpretations of the later Wittgenstein on religion construe it as a language game, and now suggestions for “alternative” readings of Wittgenstein on religion are with us too.

In Moore’s early report (Mind 1954-1955) of the lectures of 1930-1933, religion – and God – garnered little more than a paragraph. Now his detailed notes from those lectures uncover the middle Wittgenstein on religion and pinpoint the move from the early to the later as residing in the inquiry into the use and grammar of religious words, in particular the word “God.” Moore’s qualms about ‘grammar’ itself only heighten the tension of the investigation. This paper will attempt to both clarify and explain middle Wittgenstein’s intricate thoughts on religion, God, theology (questionably different from religion), and, through these, the rules of grammar.


[1] I have used the following abbreviations: TLP: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, D. F. Pears & B. F. McGuinness (tr), London: Routledge, 1961; AWL: Lectures 1932−1933, A. Ambrose (ed), Amherst: Prometheus Books 1979; LWL: Wittgenstein’s Lectures, Cambridge 1930−32, from the notes of John King & Desmond Lee, D. Lee (ed), Oxford: Blackwell 1979; CV: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, G. H. von Wright & A. Pichler (eds), Peter Winch (tr), Oxford: Blackwell 1998; M: G. E. Moore, ‘Wittgenstein’s Lectures in 193033’, reprinted in J. Klagge & A. Nordmann (eds), Philosophical Occasions 1912−1951, Indianapolis: Hackett 1993, pp. 46−114.