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Philosophical Investigations 4th Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1405159289
ISBN-10: 1405159286
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Immediately upon its posthumous publication in 1953, Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations was hailed as a masterpiece, and the ensuing years have confirmed this initial assessment. Today it is widely acknowledged to be the single most important philosophical work of the twentieth century.

In this definitive new en face German-English edition, Wittgenstein experts Peter Hacker and Joachim Schulte have incorporated significant editorial changes to earlier editions of Philosophical Investigations in order to reflect more closely Wittgenstein's original intentions. Notable revisions include the placement of Wittgenstein's notes – Randbemerkungen –  into their designated positions in the text, some corrections to the originally published German text, and the numbering of all the remarks in what was Part 2 and is now named Philosophy of Psychology – A Fragment. Extensive modifications and corrections have also been made to G. E. M. Anscombe's original English translation. Detailed editorial endnotes have been added to illuminate difficult translation decisions and to identify references and allusions in Wittgenstein's original text.

About the Author

Peter Hacker is the author of the four-volume Analytical Commentary on the Philosophical Investigations (Blackwell, 1980-96) the first two volumes co-authored with G. P. Baker (Second Editions, 2003, 2009) and of Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth-century Analytic Philosophy (Blackwell, 1996). He has also written extensively on philosophy of mind, including Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (Blackwell, 2003) and History of Cognitive Neuroscience (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), co-authored with M. R. Bennett, and Human Nature: The Categorial Framework (Blackwell, 2007), the first volume of a trilogy on human nature.

Joachim Schulte edited the authoritative critical-genetic edition of Wittgenstein’s Philosophische Untersuchungen (2001). He is author of  Wittgenstein: An Introduction (1989), Chor und Gesetz: Wittgenstein im Kontext (1990), Experience and Expression: Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Psychology (1993), and of many dozens of philosophical papers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 4 edition (October 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405159286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405159289
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George Wrisley on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though Wittgenstein's German is nothing like Kant's, providing a good translation of his work is a challenge given all that one must bring into consideration. Anscombe's original translation had its merits, but it also had a number of frustrating flaws.

One of the many problems with Anscombe's translation of PI is her translation of both "hinweisende Erklärung" and "hinweisende Definition" as "ostensive definition," where the former is more literally read as "ostensive explanation" and the latter as "ostensive definition." See, e.g., §§27 and 28 of an earlier edition. And as one can see from Wittgenstein's discussion, there are times when he uses "hinweisende Erklärung" to mean "ostensive explanation" as opposed to actually ostensively defining a word, e.g., §31. And sometimes he uses them together almost interchangeably, e.g., the last two lines of §28. One of the most glaring cases of Anscombe ignoring the distinction is in §6 where the German reads, "Dies will ich nicht `hinweisende Erklärung', oder `Definition', nennen...." and the English translation reads simply "I do not want to call this `ostensive definition'...."
One way this difference, and Anscombe's failure to track it, is important is that giving an explanation is a much more open ended activity than giving a definition in a somewhat similar way as the German word for "game," "das Spiel," is more open than the English word, since "das Spiel" can also mean the more open concept of play.

One small "problem" presented by the updated translation is that the changes make past expressions no longer so apt, e.g.
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This new edition of the classic posthumous work of Wittgenstein is worth it even for those who have known and worked with the book for years in its earlier incarnations. For non-German speakers, it presents a very carefully and responsibly rethought translation, addressing everything from minor bits of orthography (the archaic anglicism 'shew' in the older editions, for instance) to fairly serious conceptual rethinking ('ostensive definition' becomes now, and correctly, 'ostensive explanation'). The index has been revamped, and a series of helpful notes added connecting the pieces here to elements of LW's mss. and other works. Already famously, part II has been integrated into the text, quite genially and reasonably in my estimation.

This is editorial practice at a very high and commendable level, and will prove invaluable to students of this work old and new. Enthusiastically endorsed!

MW Morse
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This is Wittgenstein's posthumous book. The original German is given side by side with the English translation by G.E.M. Anscombe, which has undergone many corrections for this edition. Philosophical Investigations, like the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus of 1918, is unconventionally organized. There are no chapters and no subheadings. Each numbered paragraph tells its own story. Large blocks of paragraphs deal with a single topic. For instance, the first thirty-eight paragraphs of Part I deal with the question of meaning. A given theme is treated at some length, dropped and is picked up again later on and in connection with another problem. This, plus Wittegnstein's unorthodox views may make the book difficult reading.

Wittgenstein's chief philosophical principle is that there are no philosophical problems. There are only philosophical muddles engendered by inattention to the proper uses of linguistic expressions. All of his main discussions in the book are general questions about language; not that language is the subject matter of philosophy but rather that an important, but not the only, function of philosophy is to clear away philosophical puzzles by tracing them to their source in linguistic muddles. Beyond the therapy lies the possibility of proposing different ways of talking, each of which, insofar as it is free of linguistic puzzles, may be a profitable way of looking at things analogous to "a new way of painting..." (p. 128, paragraph 401).

Wittgenstein's therapeutic method is best understood by seeing it in use. However, an inadequate idea of it may be conveyed by means of a general characterization. In the space allotted, I can do no more.
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It's more than a little presumptuous to attempt a short review of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. After all, it's one of the few most important philosophical works of the twentieth century. This edition is sorely awaited by some, after years of close examination and criticism of the Anscombe translation.

First, the geeky stuff on the translation and editing. Like the Anscombe translation, this one with Hacker and Schulte joining their efforts to Anscombe's, presents the original German and the English translation on facing pages. As a reader with a spotty knowledge of German, this gives me the opportunity to refer to the original where the English seems obscure, ambiguous, or just plain impenetrable. If you're a student of Wittgenstein, Hacker and Schulte have helpfully addressed numerous, controversial aspects of Anscombe's translation -- many of these, such as the difficulty with the German "Satz" (translated relative to context by "sentence" or "proposition", two very different English words) and "Seele" ("soul" sometimes but "mind" others by context in English), are discussed in their Preface.

If you are a quasi-casual reader, many of these points of translation are probably less important than overall readability. And I think Hacker and Schulte have improved readability, updating the feel of Wittgenstein's writing, which is often colloquial, to something more modern.

They've also added over 20 pages of sometimes helpful footnotes, where additional information about the translation or about Wittgenstein's thoughts are enlightening. And they've recast "Part II" of the Investigations itself as "Philosophy of Psychology -- A Fragment" -- their reasoning for that is given in their Preface.
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