Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations

By William H. Brenner

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791442029, 200 pages, June 1999
Hardcover : 9780791442012, 200 pages, June 1999

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents




Chapter One


Thales to Wittgenstein


Chapter Two
The Philosophical Investigations


Philosophical Investigation
Pictures of the Essence of Language
Logic and Philosophy
Following a Rule
Aspect Perception
Concept Formation
The Concept of the Soul


Chapter Three
Sensation and the Soul


Sensations, Beetles, and "Private Language"
The Soulless Tribe


Chapter Four
Color and Number


Color Grammar
Arithmetic as Grammar


Chapter Five


Theology as Grammar
Religions, Language, and Ethics


Chapter Six


Philosophy and the Yearning for the Transcendent



Index to Sections in Philosophical Investigations


An imaginative and exciting exposition of major themes from Wittgenstein's mature philosophy.


An imaginative and exciting exposition of themes from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, this book helps readers find their way around the "forest of remarks" that make up this classic. Chapters on language, mind, color, number, God, value, and philosophy develop a major theme: that there are various kinds of language use—a variety philosophy needs to look at but tends to overlook.

William H. Brenner is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Old Dominion University. He is the translator, with John F. Holley, of Joachim Schulte's Wittgenstein: An Introduction, also published by SUNY Press, and the author of Logic and Philosophy: An Integrated Introduction.


"This is an admirable book in every way. As an introduction to the Philosophical Investigations it could hardly be bettered. " — International Studies in Philosophy

"William H. Brenner has written an introduction to Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations which will not easily be replaced. " — International Philosophical Quarterly

"Brenner shows excellent judgment in selecting which themes of Wittgenstein's work to emphasize—this is very important in a book of this sort. He gives his readers a very good idea of the range of Wittgenstein's concerns and how they hang together. The choice of topics is very balanced, including major topics in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind, and crucial themes like the relation between grammar and metaphysics. Brenner is particularly good at helping the reader grasp the kind of philosophical clarity at which Wittgenstein aimed, and he connects this aim beautifully with Wittgenstein's remarks about religion. Brenner is excellent at picking illuminating examples: his little dialogues should be particularly helpful to readers and will also be useful to teachers who want to stimulate discussion. Again and again, Brenner picks out exactly what is important.

"Brenner is outstanding as a commentator on Wittgenstein, combining a real sensitivity to the texts (and to Wittgenstein's aims) with an awareness of the needs of his audience. I would not have thought it possible to have combined real accessibility to non-specialists with such a firm and subtle understanding of Wittgenstein. There is simply no other work I know of that makes Wittgenstein accessible at this level. That it does so with such distinguished scholarship, and with such sensitivity, is really remarkable. " — Cora Diamond, University of Virginia

"Freshly and clearly written, it is accessible to laymen but also of great interest to experts. Brenner's choice of topics—imaginative and exciting—is the book's greatest strength. " — Jonathan Westphal, Idaho State University