can anyone recommend me a course on YouTube that explains the ideas of Ludwig Wittgenstein in an introductory manner. Thank you

  • The sort of introductory lecture courses that put videos online would have one, maybe two, periods spent on Wittgenstein, see e.g. CosmoLearning's History of Philosophy course. Specialized lecture courses on his philosophy will not be introductory and highly unlikely to be videotaped, let alone posted online.
    – Conifold
    Oct 10 at 5:05

Have you tried typing in 'Wittgenstein' into YouTube's search engine? It comes up with a number of suggestions. One is this, Wittgenstein in a Nutshell. It was published five years aho and has had 100k views.

It's worth placing his philosophy in context, which few courses do. This shows where he stands and what he puts in and what he leaves out. He's essentially a logical idealist and denies nous (intellect) in Plato's philosophy leaving only ananke (neccessity) which he identifies with logic and because of the logicist revolution initiated by Russell and others, which reduces mathematics to set/type theory and then to logic, it is another version of Mathematical Platonism and hence, as I have already pointed out, a severely truncated form of Plato's philosophy: he leaves half of it out, but since philosophies do not add or subtract arithmetically, he is in fact, leaving most of it out. Since he is focusing on ananke in it's guise of logic, this is why he says that the questions of life can be reduced to a logical analysis of sentence structure.

  • I tried, but all youtube results are not courses.
    – Amr
    Oct 10 at 3:25
  • "this is why he says that the questions of life can be reduced to a logical analysis of sentence structure." , is this related to the idea of synthetic vs analytic ? I just want to make sure I understand the difference between "analytic/synthetic" vs "necessary/contingent"
    – Amr
    Oct 10 at 3:36
  • @Amr: No, it's not. You should be asking these additional questions on the main thread. Oct 10 at 3:42

The whole scope of Wittgenstein's work is large. There are plenty of lectures on Wittgenstein's life giving broad-brush introductions that are easy to find, so I assume you arw looking for something with more depth, when you say 'a course'.

The Private Language Argument is a major topic for modern philosophy, but derives from only a few late remarks, just a couple of sentences primarily.

All of his writing was in highly compact form, taking substantial background and unpacking both to make basic sense of, & background to get why it matters - & also leading to substantial ongoing dispute about what he meant. Like whether he abandoned the stance of his 1st book (captured by dispute over whether the 'resolute reading' of the TLP is valid).

Because of the diverse applications of his work, the whole of it is generally not taught together (I checked various online MOOC platforms to verify this).

The full impact of Wittgenstein's provocations is in fact not settled in the way it broadly is for other philosophers; as a TLS article put it:

"If you ask philosophers – those in the English speaking analytic tradition anyway – who is the most important philosopher of the twentieth century, they will most likely name Ludwig Wittgenstein. But the chances are that if you ask them exactly why he was so important, they will be unable to tell you. Moreover, in their own philosophical practice it will be rare, certainly these days, that they mention him or his work"

I'd say pick a specific topic/s within his work, each of which are graduate level subjects. The SEP breaks down his contributions like this:

The Early Wittgenstein

2.1 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

2.2 Sense and Nonsense

2.3 The Nature of Philosophy

2.4 Interpretative Problems

The Later Wittgenstein

3.1 Transition and Critique of Tractatus

3.2 Philosophical Investigations

3.3 Meaning as Use

3.4 Language-games and Family Resemblance

3.5 Rule-following and Private Language

3.6 Grammar and Form of Life

3.7 The Nature of Philosophy

3.8 After the Investigations

Perhaps follow one of those threads.

You might begin with this this university lecture in a series on The Analytic Tradition from U of Texas. This long lecture about the TLP seems decent, but it's not clear who it's from.

This introduction to his later philosophy (not clear who us from).

Conference lecture from prof Conant on The Continuity Of Wittgenstein's Philosophy.

Prof McFarlane's UC Berkeley lecture on Kripke on the Private Language Argument + part 2, given as part of the Philosophy 135 course, which also has 2 lectures on Wittgenstein's later work in general.

Prof Conant on family resemblance.

Then, The Wittgenstein Initiative have lots of lectures on specific topics.

Another way might be to watch something that takes stock of his wider impact, like this UC of Dublin lecture discussion on The Plausibility of Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy, or Hilary Strawson's IAI discussion 'Wittgenstein's Argument , then read up on context needed to make sense of that.

Interpreting Wittgenstein is an absolute battleground, and disagreement about what he meant is very widespread, so expect highly partisan views on which interpreters specifically to listen to.

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