I'm currently interested in Hegel's Dialectic and Wittgenstein works. I'm mostly looking for things related to logic, language and the foundation of mathematics.

  1. What do you think I should read from them ? Should I read Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus from Wittgenstein or should I directly start with Philosophical Investigations ?

  2. I was also wondering if anyone has other related recommendations, maybe something more friendly since I don't have a strong background in philosophy ? (I don't know if Hegel's and Wittgenstein works are difficult to read).

  • 3
    Hegel did not write much about logic, language and mathematics (unless we take Logic in the old sense which is very different from the modern one), and he is notoriously hard to read, so I'd start with secondary literature, e.g. Beiser's Hegel. If you insist on first hand try Hegel's Introductions first.
    – Conifold
    Dec 14, 2016 at 1:10
  • 1
    For Wittgenstein, I think it helps to start in the middle. 'The Blue and Brown Books' are unpublished (by W himself) lectures from the period between the two published works. If you just read both published works, it is like reading two unrelated people, so it does not matter what the order is.
    – user9166
    Dec 14, 2016 at 2:27
  • Lakatos' Proofs and Refutations is short and cute, and worth reading for a more modern perspective on how math really works historically, and the resulting messiness proper to the subject, as an anodyne to people who have a carefully thought-out agenda.
    – user9166
    Dec 14, 2016 at 2:31
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    @Conifold maybe it was a wrong interpretation. Jean-Yves Girard, who founded Linear Logic sometimes talk about Hegel's negation and it looked like the involutive negation of linear logic but I don't have any reference in english
    – Boris
    Dec 17, 2016 at 2:33
  • 1
    @Conifold something I just found : nforum.ncatlab.org/discussion/5629
    – Boris
    Dec 17, 2016 at 2:39

4 Answers 4


1/ You could just go right to Wittgenstein's "Foundation of Mathematics" but "Philosophical Investigations" is also a good read.

2/ You could do a lot worse than starting off with Russell's "Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy"

Also, I highly recommend this course by Professor Keith Devlin if you are just getting started with university level math: https://www.coursera.org/learn/mathematical-thinking

Harry Gensler's book "Introduction to Logic" is an adequate start - as well, there is his "LogiCola" software.

Lastly, I would strongly recommend that you sit down with Professor John R. Searle and listen to his three free course lectures from philosophy of mind, language and society. They are on iTunes as well as YouTube.

That said, Hegel is a poet, not a philosopher.

  • 2
    Thanks for you answer. Why do you consider Hegel as a poet ?
    – Boris
    Dec 14, 2016 at 13:34
  • @BorisEng Hegel never advanced a single knowledge claims nor the means to state a knowledge claim. Like all poets, he proffers weltanschauung and solicits agreement or disagreement with his sentiment, not rational assessment of truth value. youtu.be/w0shWISKpNA
    – MmmHmm
    Dec 14, 2016 at 18:38
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    Ok ! But I'm still interested in his ideas (especially dialectic). Learning about beautiful ideas is fine too.
    – Boris
    Dec 14, 2016 at 20:36

Well there is a link between these two philosophers. I first read about it in a book on Wittgenstein by Robert Fogelin on Wittgenstein. Probably this book, but it's been so long ago I don't exactly remember. Title: Wittgenstein Author: Fogelin, Robert J., Publication Date: 1976. So you may want to start with the Phenomenology of Spirit, which Fogelin mentions, I believe. https://www.amazon.com/Wittgenstein-Arguments-Philosophers-Robert-Fogelin/dp/0415119448

Here are some notes of J.N. Findlay on the The Phenomenology of Spirit: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/findlay1.htm

Brandom has done some work on the two: http://www.pitt.edu/~brandom/hegel/downloads/Hegel%20Seminar%20Notes%20for%20Week%201%2010-9-7%20b.docx

Beyond the Phenomenology, a general book by W.T Stace on Hegel, and it is perfectly fine to start with Stace. https://archive.org/details/W.T.StaceThePhilosophyOfHegelDoverPress1955

Also, there are works by Hegel himself on Internet Archive, including the Encyclopedia translation by Wallace.

Another interesting work and with good scholarship: "The Communist Ideal in Hegel and Marx", by David MacGregor. https://www.routledge.com/The-Communist-Ideal-in-Hegel-and-Marx/MacGregor/p/book/9781138892378

This old, old book by the German professor H.M. Chalybaus gives a flavor of the time: "Speculative Philosophy From Kant to Hegel". Which is available in English on Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/historicalphilo00chaluoft

This quote by Findlay is worth remembering I think:

"Hegel's thought, properly understood, has a place for all the nominalisms, pluralisms, formalisms, materialisms, subjectivisms, mechanisms, structuralisms, and so forth, to which it might seem opposed, so that there is indeed some sense, and not mere absurdity, in identifying it with philosophy itself, rather than with a special philosophy".

JN Findlay, in Hegel The Essential Writings by F. Weiss.


I can recommend Logicomix to get started. It's fun.


Hegel and Wittgenstein are difficult to read. Some people seem to take this as a sign of profundity. It's actually a sign that you haven't thought through your ideas well enough to write them down clearly. In addition, Wittgenstein makes many substantive and false philosophical claims about language and philosophy. These claims include the idea that philosophy is about correcting flaws in how people use language, and that many philosophical questions can be easily solved by refusing to say stuff. For criticisms of these claims, and of a load of bad methodology that goes along with them and is still popular among philosophers, see "Words and things" by Ernest Gellner and "Conjectures and Refutations" by Karl Popper Chapter 2.

For good philosophy books about logic and maths see "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Hofstadter and "The Fabric of Reality" chapters 3 and 5-10 and "The Beginning of Infinity" chapters 5-8 by David Deutsch.

  • Thanks for your answer. I will take that into consideration.
    – Boris
    Jan 4, 2017 at 17:10

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