Book Tip: Wittgenstein and the Possibility of Discourse

by Rush Rhees

I have made mention of this book before. The book played a central role in the journal entry, "To Understand You Need to Be Part of The Conversation".  In short, Rush Rhees emphasises that the learning of language is much more than the mastering of techniques. Instead, becoming a language speaker involves a commitment to the discourses (e.g. the concerns, the topics, the discussions) that occupy communities of speakers.

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Book Tip: Taking Wittgenstein at His Word

A Textual Study by Robert J. Fogelin

Taking Wittgenstein at His Word closely examines three concepts in Wittgenstein's philosophy: rule-following, private language and the philosophy of mathematics. The book is divided into two sections: rule-following and private language are examined in Part One, and the philosophy of mathematics is examined in Part Two. In particular, Fogelin stipulates that he is conducting a close textual reading, and - therefore - chooses not to engage at length with the vast secondary literature. The result is a book that asks, "what does Wittgenstein actually say on these topics?"

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Book Tip: Wittgenstein's Later Theory of Meaning

Imagination and Calculation by Hans Julius Schneider

I must admit that Chapters 2 - 5 of this book are a bit hard going for someone who is not immersed in the philosophical debates around language and meaning. That might sound like an odd way to begin a book review/recommendation. That said, Schneider's early sections set up a suitable platform to engage in a compelling argument fom Chapters 6 - 13. At its core, this book asks two simple questions, "can we have a suitable theory of meaning? and, can Wittgenstein's later philosophy contribute to such a theory?" The two are barriers to a comprehensive theory of meaning are as follows.

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Book Tip: Wittgenstein by Hans Sluga

Wittgenstein by Hans Sluga is part of the Blackwell Great Minds series. Sluga writes an excellent introduction to Wittgenstein's philosophy, and is committed to a text that is fresh and applicable to contemporary discussions. Whilst there are a plethora of books of its sort, this is by far the first secondary text that I turn to when exploring new ideas and seeking clarity on Wittgensteinian themes presented throughout his career.

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Book Tip: Becoming a Reader: The Experience of Fiction from Childhood to Adulthood

by J.A. Appleyard

For the first time, I have selected a book that makes no mention of Wittgenstein. So, you may ask, "why feature it on a site titled Wittgenstein on Learning?" Well, the official subtitle of the site is a Wittgensteinian View of Language, Literacy and Learning. Something that is Wittgensteinian does not need to be by or about Wittgenstein and his writing. It just needs to be in the spirit of Wittgenstein. In this case, Appleyard writes a fascinating book that posits the argument that an individual's reading behaviours, interests and needs change as one grows from childhood to adulthood.

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Book Tip: Wittgenstein's Tractatus: An Introduction

By Alfred Nordmann

In these past two weeks, readers of the journal may have discovered that I have a certain "soft spot" for the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, even if it is a flawed masterpiece. I enjoy the fact that Wittgenstein seeks to explore how spoken and written language can express anything at all. There is a certain compelling fascination or amazement in the ability of language to convey observations and thoughts. As far as introductions go, there are quite a number of books on the Tractatus, and I cannot claim to have scoured through the catalogue of available options. I have read a few, though. I do enjoy Alfred Nordmann's introduction.

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Book Tip: Wittgenstein Flies a Kite: A Story of Models of Wings and Models of the World

by Susan G. Sterrett

Susan Sterrett present a highly readable, compelling narrative that parallels Wittgenstein's early philosophy in the Tractatus with the engineering developments of the early twentieth century, particularly in aeronautical research. Sterrett presents Wittgenstein as one who is compelled by the image of sentences as models (or pictures) of states of affairs. He is presented as one who is struck by the idea that propositions can construct models of reality, which can focus our attention on the most salient aspects of the world.

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Book Tip: Showing and Doing: Wittgenstein as a Pedagogical Philosopher

By Nicholas C. Burbles, Paul Smeyers, and Michael A. Peters.

Burbles, Smeyers and Peters have collected an excellent series of essays which are directly applicable to an educational perspective of Wittgenstein's philosophy. The premise of the book "Showing and Doing" reflects the ways in which individuals are brought into knowledge and practices, including technical as well as ethical domains. The book's chapters probe cognitive aspects of learning (e.g. imagination and concept-constructing) as well as social factors (e.g. communities of practice and apprenticeships).

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