McGinn has written a startlingly clear book which focuses on the main themes in the Philosophical Investigations. It does not cover all the text of the PI. It concentrates on those sections which, once mastered, will enable the reader to tackle Wittgenstein and the secondary literature with confidence. McGinn takes seriously Wittgenstein's description of his own methods, in contrast to other writers such as Kripke and Grayling. They turn Wittgenstein into a system builder, rather than the anti-philosopher he claimed to be. For the first time, Wittgenstein's enterprise makes sense to me in its own terms & I have been stimulated to read more of his works. A MUST for anyone trying to come to terms with Wittgenstein's work. I add that, to my mind, McGinn has been very wise to keep this book as a guide to reading the PI rather than letting it become her evaluation of Wittgenstein's ideas. The text says it was written to introduce students to the PI. This it does admirably.
Another excellent volume in the 'Routledge Guidebook' series (see especially Morris's book on the Tractatus, Gardner on the Critique of Pure Reason). It provides an extremely clear and well-supported interpretation of the text which is subtle and sophisticated (and actually, at points, highly original) -- a perfect introduction for undergraduates. As with many of these Routledge Guidebooks, the book is extremely sympathetic to Wittgenstein (perhaps overly so), but as long as it is supplemented by other (more critical) interpretations -- as it should be regardless -- then there is little harm in this. In fact, its sympathetic reading really allows the beginner to 'think their way into' Wittgenstein's work. E.g. it really encourages the reader to take Wittgenstein's notion of grammar extremely seriously, and shows how this idea can be borne out with some success (if there's one phrase that summarises McGinn's own interpretation, it's *grammatical investigation*).
The book mentions some of the contemporary critical debates surrounding Wittgenstein's later philosophy (with useful chapter-by-chapter bibliographies), but I think it should be applauded for being primary concerned with the primary text itself (rather than a guide through the secondary literature -- we are reading about *Wittgenstein*, not Kripke's Wittgenstein, Hacker's Wittgenstein, or McDowell's Wittgenstein)
Excellent all in all --- I very much look forward the second edition.
Marie McGinn has done an excellent job on a very hard topic. This book will defineatly appeal to those with an interest in the main themes of Wittgenstein's later philosophy, without having much previous philosophical background. As a student I found this book a very useful companion to my lectures and to a philosophy of language or mind module in general. Two parts of the book particulary stand out for me. Firstly the sections on "privacy and private language" and "the inner and the outer" (chapters 4 and 5) I felt covered what can be a confusing topic, in a very lucid and understandable way. But what I felt was particulary outstanding was the general theme of the book outlined in the first chapter "Wittgentstein's style and method." McGinn points out that Wittgenstein's concept of a "grammatical investigation" is important in understanding the Philosophical Investigations and she reminds us of this throughout the book. This is important as it presents an interpretation of Wittgenstein that conflicts with many other commentators, such as Saul Kripke, who McGinn criticises in chapter 3. The only criticism I would have of this book would be the lack of critical comment on Wittgenstein's view. I feel McGinn takes a one sided view and does not present many objections to Wittgenstein's arguments. Also some areas of the Philosophical Investigations are skimmed over or ignored completely particularly sections 33-137 which was a disapointment. Other than that a very clear and helpful book