Well-known examples are:

  1. Ordinary Language Philosophy (Austin, Ryle, Strawson, ...)
  2. Hacker and Baker (systematic commentary on Philosophical Investigations)
  3. Vienna Circle (highly inspired by Tractatus)
  4. The New Wittgenstein (Diamond, Crary, ...)

To be clear, I'm not interested only in different interpretations like this question but much broader. Kuhn, Rorty and Cavell are another good examples of philosophers, highly inspired by Wittgenstein.

I'm also looking for minor but interesting influences like Badiou's Wittgenstein's Antiphilosphy.

  • It is not a question of "schools": strictly speaking, Wittgenstein had no "disciples" nor were the leader of a "movement". Jul 4, 2017 at 8:39
  • 1
    For a recent overview, you can see Hans-Johann Glock & John Hyman (editors), A Companion to Wittgenstein, Blackwell (2017) Part X Philosophical Schools and Traditions. Jul 4, 2017 at 8:41
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Thank you for your recommendation and I agree with your previous comment. I didn't state that he was a leader of any school or movement just which were influenced by his thought.
    – a_z_s
    Jul 4, 2017 at 9:30
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    "What are some texts influenced by W" is a bit narrower and might lead to more useful resources such as you are indicating you might be after -- Kripke's reading of PI ("Kripkenstein") would be one I'd mention
    – Joseph Weissman
    Jul 4, 2017 at 12:32
  • How was Kuhn influenced by Wittgenstein ? Do you have any refs on that? I'm curious. Jul 5, 2017 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations indeed is a foundation for a school of thought in sociology, called social constructionism (or constructivism). One field in sociology is identity question, that is, "How do we identify who we are in terms of our gender, race, and ethnicity?" One popular answer is called social identity theory which asserts that social groups are real and exist prior to individuals. Self-identity, according to this view, obtains through social group realism.

Some sociologists however believe that this picture of self-identity is wrong since one's group identification tends to be fluid and under-determined. According to them, we identify where we belong not by virtue of pre-existing social groups, but by socialization (e.g., upbringing). To reject the social-group realism, these sociologists need theoretical backing, and they find it in Wittgenstein theory that the meaning of a word is its use in the linguistic community.

Consider 'Santa Claus'. Santa Claus does not exist, but talking about him has perfect meaning. To Wittgenstein, it does not matter what image of Santa Claus we have in our head. What matters is that we understand sentences that include 'Santa Claus' and know how to use the word properly in our linguistic behaviors. So long as people in the linguistic community understand sentences containing 'Santa Claus', they can be said to know what the word means. This idea of Wittgenstein is called meaning as use theory. Social constructionsts apply this theory to argue that the meaning of race or gender depends on how the linguistic group use the words, thus the outcome of the social construction.

  • -1 Does the question "How do we identify who we are in terms of our gender, race, and ethnicity?" actually occur in Wittgenstein's Philosophical investigations? — In this edition of the book, the search in the pdf does not yield any essential results concerning gender, race, ethnicity. Hence I do not understand why you mention Wittgenstein's text in this context. — Did you perhaps confuse it with one of his other books?
    – user26880
    Jul 5, 2017 at 23:16
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    Of course, Wittgenstein did not ask that q!!!!! it is a q for sociologists. there are two camps that answer the q: the social identity camp and the social constructionist camp. I am saying that Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations (where he asserts his theory of language-as-use) offers a theoretical foundation for SC. Just google Wittgenstein and SC if you want to know more about his influence on SC. By the way, Thanks, Zeus, for noticing my erratum! Jul 6, 2017 at 3:15
  • Nanhee Byrnes, My intuitive impression by occasional personal insight in his books (by skimming) was that Wittgenstein tries to destroy our identity by saying that everything is questionable without really having any talent to lead us to the central point of identity (which is anyway in danger, for instance, in Europe because of deep rooted religious constraints). So it is alarming that Wittgenstein has any influence on sociologists. …
    – user26880
    Jul 6, 2017 at 4:28
  • … It appears to me like a plan: Wittgenstein questions everything without leading us to the crucial central points of substance, and then sociologist taking over tell us that everything is socially constructed. I rather think that there is a social construct, which has an interest that we believe that we have no natural substance. Did you ever reflect about this?
    – user26880
    Jul 6, 2017 at 4:29
  • Yeah, while i am sympathetic with SC and Wittgenstein, I do find them not totally persuasive, and I do share some of your complaints toward them. But i do not imagine I will have time to explore why I feel that way. Jul 6, 2017 at 5:39

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