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Philosophical Investigations [Paperback]

Ludwig Wittgenstein , P. M. S. Hacker , Joachim Schulte
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Book Description

6 Nov 2009 1405159294 978-1405159296 4th Edition
Incorporating significant editorial changes from earlier editions, the fourth edition of Ludwig Wittgenstein′s Philosophical Investigations is the definitive en face German–English version of the most important work of 20th–century philosophy The extensively revised English translation incorporates many hundreds of changes to Anscombe’s original translation Footnoted remarks in the earlier editions have now been relocated in the text What was previously referred to as ‘Part 2’ is now republished as Philosophy of Psychology – A Fragment , and all the remarks in it are numbered for ease of reference New detailed editorial endnotes explain decisions of translators and identify references and allusions in Wittgenstein′s original text Now features new essays on the history of the Philosophical Investigations , and the problems of translating Wittgenstein’s text

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 4th Edition edition (6 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405159294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405159296
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent presentation of a philosophical classic 10 July 2011
By Alestor
"Philosophical Investigations" is one of the most important philosophical books I've come across. As a recent graduate, I can testify that the time I spent studying Wittgenstein was some of the most interesting on my degree. Wittgenstein has a very common-sense approach in this book (unlike his earlier Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, in which he attempted to make logical atomism answer everything) and the majority of the book consists of breaking down philosophical problems and exposing them as not really being problems at all. In a sense, Wittgenstein's philosophy is the erasure of philosophy and a caution to other philosophers.

In the foreword, Wittgenstein writes that he would "hate for his writing to save people the trouble of thinking" and he certainly acheived his wish. Many people find Wittgenstein very difficult to understand even when they've been studying philosophy for years, so this is definitely NOT a book for someone who is unfamiliar or unconfident in reading philosophical texts.

Nevertheless, for someone interested in philosophy, I think this book is a must. And this particular edition is well worth owning. The translation is excellent - it feels easy and natural and full of personality. Plus, the original German is printed opposite each translated page. This is particularly helpful for a student wishing to fully engage in the text and deconstruct the work, since naturally some terms in English may be ambiguous, whereas in the original German the meaning is clear (take the two senses of "meaning", for example - "meinen" and "Bedeutung").

So if you love philosophy or consider yourself a philosopher, I would recommend you this text, especially in this edition. If not, steer clear. You won't get much out of it except frustration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
" But I did not get my picture of the world by satisfying myself of its correctness: nor do I have it because I am satisfied of its correctness. No: it is the inherited background against which I distinguish between true and false."(OC 94).

"Superstition is nothing but belief in the causal nexus." TLP 5.1361

"Now if it is not the causal connections which we are concerned with, then the activities of the mind lie open before us." "The Blue Book" p6 (1933)

"We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched. Of course, there are then no questions left, and this itself is the answer." TLP 6.52 (1922)

"Nonsense, Nonsense, because you are making assumptions instead of simply describing. If your head is haunted by explanations here, you are neglecting to remind yourself of the most important facts."
Z 220

"Philosophy simply puts everything before us and neither explains nor deduces anything...One might give the name `philosophy' to what is possible before all new discoveries and inventions."
PI 126
"The more narrowly we examine actual language, the sharper becomes the conflict between it and our requirement. (For the crystalline purity of logic was, of course, not a result of investigation: it was a requirement.)"PI 107

"The wrong conception which I want to object to in this connexion is the following, that we can discover something wholly new. That is a mistake. The truth of the matter is that we have already got everything, and that we have got it actually present; we need not wait for anything. We make our moves in the realm of the grammar of our ordinary language, and this grammar is already there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and highly eccentric book 25 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an unusual and highly eccentric book, so much so indeed that it is hard to describe it. In places it reads like a treatise on logic, in others like the poems of Rumi and still others like a thesis on the merits and demerits of language. Basically Wittgenstein is arguing in his own "sui generis" way that conceptual confusions surrounding language use are at the root of most philosophical problems. Challenging but wholly enjoyable read.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By michael
" But I did not get my picture of the world by satisfying myself of its correctness: nor do I have it because I am satisfied of its correctness. No: it is the inherited background against which I distinguish between true and false."(OC 94).

"Superstition is nothing but belief in the causal nexus." TLP 5.1361

"Now if it is not the causal connections which we are concerned with, then the activities of the mind lie open before us." "The Blue Book" p6 (1933)

"We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched. Of course, there are then no questions left, and this itself is the answer." TLP 6.52 (1922)

"The more narrowly we examine actual language, the sharper becomes the conflict between it and our requirement. (For the crystalline purity of logic was, of course, not a result of investigation: it was a requirement.)"PI 107

"The wrong conception which I want to object to in this connexion is the following, that we can discover something wholly new. That is a mistake. The truth of the matter is that we have already got everything, and that we have got it actually present; we need not wait for anything. We make our moves in the realm of the grammar of our ordinary language, and this grammar is already there. Thus, we have already got everything and need not wait for the future." (said in 1930) Waismann "Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle (1979)p183

"Here we come up against a remarkable and characteristic phenomenon in philosophical investigation: the difficulty---I might say---is not that of finding the solution but rather that of recognizing as the solution something that looks as if it were only a preliminary to it. `We have already said everything.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a significantly revised translation 17 Nov 2009
By George Wrisley - Published on Amazon.com
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., talk of a "no stage-setting" interpretation of the failure of the private ostensive definition in 258, based on the remarks about stage-setting in 257, is now problematic, since the new translation does not make use of the expression "stage-setting." This is a small problem, however.

While I respect Hacker's work, I do not agree with how easily he attributes substantive views to Wittgenstein; so I worry about how Hacker's methodological assumptions about Wittgenstein influence his input on the revisions. Nevertheless, I do not have a similar worry about Schulte, and I know that both Hacker and Schulte took into consideration the suggestions of other Wittgenstein scholars when making the revisions.

It is too soon to tell now, but I am excited to see what kind of an effect this new edition has on Wittgenstein studies.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a substantial revision 18 Mar 2011
By Michael Morse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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
43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative Investigations 22 Mar 2010
By Jake Le Master - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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. To understand a linguistic expression in a given context describe the way(s) in which that expression functions in that context. Context is, in the last analysis, social context because languages that communicate, i.e., languages that are languages, cannot be private. This is not an empirical hypothesis but a statement of logical necessity. In the philosophy of psychology, this thesis is usually called logical behaviorism. Another way of putting Wittgenstein's general therapeutic prescription is this. To learn the "proper" meaning of a linguistic expression, investigate the ways in which we would learn or teach the use of the expression in specific contexts. We must pay particular attention to the ways in which the learner could get the wrong ideas about how to use the expression. We must also remember that the same utterance may function in many different kinds of contexts. Wittgenstein takes great pains to show the rich variety of usages. Clarifying meanings can be done only within an already existing language. This principle relates not to the ways in which language comes into existence but rather to the ways in which it functions as a means of communication.

The question of meaning in a way underlies every other question in the book. Here is a partial list of the many philosophical problems discussed: meaning, use and understanding; logical behaviorism and its consequences for the conception of philosophical analysis; thoughts, things and words; states of mind and conduct (as against involuntary action); sameness and difference of meaning, induction, deduction, memory. One would have to write such an extensive article even to begin exploring the method and cogency of Wittgenstein's philosophizing on these questions.

When one mentions philosophical analysis nowadays, Russell, Moore and Wittgenstein come to mind as the three fountainheads of three important 20th-Century styles of philosophical analysis. Wittgenstein's influence on Oxford philosophers and through them, and also directly, his influence on some 20th-Century American philosophers is enormous. These philosophers have used, though by no means slavishly, the Wittgenstein way of doing philosophy and their work is very suggestive. One need not agree with one's philosophical colleagues in order to admire the quality of their work. Suggestive philosophical processes and products, even if alien to our own ways of doing philosophy are, unless prima facie absurd, oftentimes more stimulating than agreement. For this reason, if for no other, Wittgenstein and the Wittgensteineans deserve serious attention.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Excuse for Reading the Investigations Again 29 July 2012
By Doctor Moss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.

Like most great philosophical texts, no matter how many times I read the Investigations, it's different each time, and I feel foolish for having understood so little the previous time. The new translation offers a great excuse to give it another read.

There are many themes to pick up, including the great variety of linguistic behavior (as contrasted with naive views of language as representing or naming, or with Wittgenstein's own view in the Tractatus), the illusions of distinctive mental activities (such as "meaning" a word while uttering it, or translating the inner to the outer or public), and the general theme of philosophical problems arising when "language goes on holiday".

It's the last that continues to grab my attention, persistently through readings, with different remarks jumping out of the text each time. The simple view is that Wittgenstein thinks ordinary language (what we all say and do in practical contexts every day) is fine as it is, but that it's when we detach ordinary language from those practical contexts that we get in trouble. We fall into perplexing philosophical quandaries, supposing ourselves to really wonder whether the external world or other minds exist, or whether objects are material or ideal.

But philosophical exercises of language are exercises of language, after all. It's not as though we can simply say, "Don't do that" when philosophers speak, and point out that they've left the "ordinary" behind. It's not a simple mistake, and the line between the "ordinary" and the "philosophical" is crossed sometimes without special notice. And it's not even the exclusive province of professional philosophers (amateurs seem even more impressed than the professionals sometimes by their own metaphysical musings).

Certainly, there is more to say about the mistake that philosophers, amateur and professional, make. In particular, there is Wittgenstein's distinction between empirical remarks (remarks about facts in the world) and grammatical remarks (by contrast, remarks about how we speak or are to speak about those facts in the world). The philosopher mistakes the one for the other, thinking that, for example, by adopting what we call an idealist grammatical position (when we talk of objects in the world, we are really talking of mental or ideal objects) we have really discovered something about the objects and not just made a statement about how we should speak of them. Much more to say on this, of course -- which is why a short review is so presumptuous. In fact, it's Wittgenstein's thoughts on why we fall victim to such a misunderstanding that I puzzle most about.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definition of Food for Thought: Wittgenstein's Masterpiece of Language and Mind 9 Jun 2012
By Donald A. Planey - Published on Amazon.com
It is, of course, somewhat silly to review a classic work of philosophy, but after finishing "Philosophical Investigations," I felt compelled to write a few words about the experience.

I'd always heard that Philosophical Investigations was one of the most important works of philosophy of all time. Naturally, I thought that the task of reading it would be daunting, and in certain ways, it definitely is. However, I was also surprised at the strict dedication to clarity Wittgenstein displayed throughout this book. Wittgenstein's goal in this book is to undermine the tradition within Western philosophy which attempts to describe language as a set of innate, unchangeable categories. Earlier in his career, Wittgenstein was an enthusiastic participant in this tradition, but with Philosophical Investigations, he sought to call the entire project into question. More immediately, he's responding to his former mentor, Bertrand Russell. In a broader sense, he's challenging a tradition that started with Aristotle and continued through Descartes and Kant.

In one famous story about Wittgenstein's inspiration for pursing this project, Wittgenstein was conversing with the Italian economist Alfonse Sraffa. When Wittgenstein tried to explain the logical categories of language to Sraffa, Sraffa gave Wittgenstein the Italian chin flip, basically meaning "f-you," and asked Wittgenstein to explain the logical form of the gesture. I have no idea exactly how profound this encounter really was for Wittgenstein, but Philosophical Investigations is full of ruminations such as this one, which may seem innocuous on first glance, but have important implications for Western philosophy when thought through to their end. He subjects our assumptions about the logic of language to the ambiguous nature of the human mind and will through such thought-experiments.

Out of these experiments, he concludes that the nature of language usage is determined by context, and by implication, culture and history. Basically, his mentor Russell provided an understanding of language where language possessed an objective structure, which is then "filled-in" with historical and cultural experience. Wittgenstein attacks the notion that language is safe from the influence of culture and history. Our conception of what "red" is will ultimately be determined by what color-experience our vocabulary associates with red. Even our conception of what constitutes an object is determined in this way. A lever wouldn't be a "lever" to an individual who had no understanding of the way in which that object is supposed to be used as a lever. In one of the few instances where he quotes another philosopher, Wittgenstein refers to Frege's claim that a word is meaningless outside of a sentence. This may sound odd at first (I can yell "rain!" and it obviously means something), but Wittgenstein points out that at the end of the day, it's still pretty much true. Does a single word in a language you don't understand mean anything? Even if you knew the language, you would also have to have a thorough understanding of the way in which the word "rain" is supposed to be used, and to know how to distinguish between these usages.

Wittgenstein takes these various smaller observations and brings them to what is perhaps his most controversial position, which is that this contextualism applies to grammar itself. In turn, Wittgenstein argues that there can never be a "meta-language," a vocabulary which provides an objective understanding of what language itself is. Meaning will never truly be separated from grammar, even as we attempt to study grammar itself.

This is all, naturally, difficult subject matter. However, these subjects, in conjunction with Wittgenstein's exemplary use of the aphoristic style, makes for an enlivening reading experience. Nietzsche's influence on Wittgenstein is readily apparent- and not just in his philosophical positions. Philosophical Investigations is split into two parts: One part which primarily concerns itself with problems of language, and the other with problems of human consciousness. Both are made up of hundreds of aphorisms, few of which are longer than a paragraph. Although Philosophical Investigations is a well-crafted set of arguments, the aphorisms feel light-footed and easily quotable. The aphorisms, in their direct context, don't form a strict chain of thought. Rather, their relationship is more thematic, and the arguments arise out of their totality. In using this style, Wittgenstein seems as if he is walking along with the reader, showing them around the cityscape of our language and vocabulary. He is comfortable admitting when he himself feels confused about a certain point. Language is a thing which lives, and Wittgenstein, through his style, encourages the reader to "feel" its liveliness.

On a more practical note, this style allows Philosophical Investigations to be unusually clear for a major work of 20th century philosophy. Analytical philosophy prides itself on its ability to construct arguments which supposedly (and that's a big "supposedly") do not require cultural or historical reference to understand. Unfortunately, this can lead to its own sort of obscurantism, where the only vocabularies allowed expression are highly convoluted and technical in order to make up for its self-imposed limitations. Philosophical Investigations avoids this by refraining from stylistic absolutism, and as a result, Wittgenstein's thoughts float freely, held together by their natural momentum.

This is one of the few works of 20th-century philosophy that I would recommend beyond a philosophy-reading audience. Philosophical Investigations has inspired historians, anthropologists, fiction writers, sociologists, and all manner of people who are concerned with the nature of language. Really, despite its difficult subject matter, intellectual curiosity is the only thing you need in order to gain from reading Wittgenstein. In fact, having a literary disposition may help with reading it!
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