Research

a picture of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Below you can find a complete list of my books, edited collections, published articles, selected reviews, and unpublished articles and talks.

My favorite philosopher is Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951). Most of my research since 1990 has been about him. Time magazine, in 1999, named him one of the top 25 thinkers of the Twentieth Century. A poll of philosophers in 2009 named him the “most important philosopher of the past 200 years.” At right is a rather poor picture of him, taken in 1939 in the Fellows Garden of Trinity College, Cambridge. In the right column of this page I trace my life with Wittgenstein.

Books

  • Wittgenstein in Exile, MIT Press, 2011; Kindle Edition, September 2011; second printing, with corrections, February, 2013; paperback edition, January 2014. Persian edition: ویتگنشتاین در تبعید , translated by Ehsan Sanaei including interview with author, نشر ققنوس (i.e. Phoenix Publishing), September 2015.
  • Simply Wittgenstein, Simply Charly Books, Kindle Edition June 2016, paperback edition July 2016, and audio edition March 2017.

 

Edited Collections

  • Methods of Interpreting Plato and His Dialogues, Oxford University Press, 1992: Supplementary Volume to Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, co-edited with Nicholas Smith.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Occasions: 1912–1951, co-edited with Alfred Nordmann, Hackett Publishing Co., 1993 (2nd printing, with corrections, 1994; Spanish translation, 1997; French translation, 2000–2005; Chinese translation, 2003; 3rd printing, with corrections, 2010. This 3rd printing contains important improvements to the editing of Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Frazer, based largely on comments from Andrzej Orzechowski and Alois Pichler).
  • Wittgenstein: Biography and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Public and Private Occasions, co-edited with Alfred Nordmann, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003. (The original understanding with R&L was that they would publish an affordable paperback edition of just the “Movements of Thought” diaries once the hardback was in print. I am sorry to say that they decided to drop that ball in 2007, and have refused to pick it up again since 2016.)

Published Articles

  • Convention T Regained,” Philosophical Studies, November, 1977, pp. 377–381.
  • An Alleged Difficulty Concerning Moral Properties,” Mind, July, 1984, pp. 370–380; reprinted in Meta Ethics, edited by Michael Smith, The International Research Library of Philosophy Series, Dartmouth Publishing Company, 1995.
  • Marx's Realms of 'Freedom' and 'Necessity',” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, December, 1986, pp. 769–777.
  • Supervenience: Perspectives vs. Possible Worlds,” Philosophical Quarterly, July, 1987, pp. 312–315.
  • Moral Realism and Dummett's Challenge,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, March 1988, pp. 545–551.
  • Supervenience: Ontological and Ascriptive,” Australian Journal of Philosophy, December, 1988, pp. 461–470; reprinted in Supervenience, edited by Jaegwon Kim, The International Research Library of Philosophy Series, Ashgate Publishing Company, 2002.
  • Wittgenstein and Neuroscience,” Synthese, March, 1989, pp. 319–343.  (This reappears in much fuller form as Chapters 7 & 9 of Wittgenstein in Exile.)
  • The Good Old Days,” in Technological Transformation: Contextual and Conceptual Implications, edited by J. Pitt and E. Byrne, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989. (I never liked the subtitle the editors added to this, so I have deleted it.)  This paper reflects on the difficulties created by having too many choices.
  • Davidson's Troubles with Supervenience,” Synthese, November, 1990, pp. 339–352.
  • “Rationalism, Supervenience, and Moral Epistemology,” Southern Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume, 1991, pp. 25–28.
  • Editor's Prologue,” Methods of Interpreting Plato and His Dialogues, 1992, pp. 1–12.
  • Supervenience: Model Theory or Metaphysics?” in Supervenience: New Essays, eds. U. Yalcin and E. Savellos, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • An Unexplored Concept in Wittgenstein,” History of Philosophy Quarterly, October, 1995, pp. 469–486.  (The hitherto unexplored concept was "Besteht darin/Consisting in", which I proceed to explore.)  
  • When Are Ideologies Irreconcilable? Case Studies in Diachronic Anthropology,” Philosophical Investigations, July, 1998, pp. 268–279.  (This reappears in much fuller form as Chapter 5 of Wittgenstein in Exile.)
  • “Wittgenstein's Community,” in Metaphysics in the Post-Metaphysical Age: Papers of the 22nd International Wittgenstein Symposium, vol. VII (1), eds., U. Meixner and P. Simons, Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, 1999. (The main points of this were used in Simply Wittgenstein, pp. 69-71.)
  • Wittgenstein on Non-Mediative Causality,” Journal of the History of Philosophy, October, 1999, pp. 653–667.  (This reappears in much fuller form as Chapter 8 of Wittgenstein in Exile.)
  • “The Wittgenstein Lectures,” in Public and Private Occasions, co-edited with Alfred Nordmann, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003. (This paper documents my survey as of 2002 of Wittgenstein’s lectures. I have learned, and continue to learn, much more about his lecturing in the years since then. A 2019 updated and expanded version is linked here.)
  • The Puzzle of Goethe's Influence on Wittgenstein,” in Goethe and Wittgenstein: Seeing the World's Unity in Its Variety, eds., F. Breithaupt, et. al, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2003.
  • Wittgenstein in Exile,” in Religion and Wittgenstein's Legacy, ed. D.Z. Phillips, Ashgate, 2005.  (This reappears in much fuller form as Chapters 4 & 6 of Wittgenstein in Exile.)
  • Das erloesende Wort,” Wittgenstein, Language and World, Part Two: Signs, Minds and Actions, eds. V. Munz, K. Puhl, and J.Wang, Frankfurt: Ontos-Verlag, 2010.  (This reappears in much fuller form as Chapter 10 of Wittgenstein in Exile.)
  • “U.S. Power after 9/11: The Metaphor of Exile,” Spectra (on-line journal), vol. 2, no. 1, November 2012: https://spectrajournal.org/articles/10.21061/spectra.v2i1.276/.
  • Wittgenstein and His Audience: Esotericist or Evangelist?” in The Textual Genesis of Wittgenstein's Investigations, ed. N. Venturinha, Routledge, 2013.
  • “Wittgenstein, Frazer and Temperament,” in Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Frazer: The Text and the Matter, edited by Lars Albinus, Josef G. F. Rothhaupt and Aidan Seery, de Gruyter Verlag, 2016.
  • Wittgenstein, Science and the Evolution of Concepts,” in Wittgenstein and Scientism, edited by Jonathan Beale and Ian James Kidd, Routledge, 2017. (The editors at the last minute introduced errors in some of the references in the endnotes, which I have corrected in the pdf posted here.)
  • Wittgenstein and von Wright on Goodness,” in Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 41, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 291-303..
  • “Wittgenstein and His Students: 1929–1933,” in Wittgenstein in the 1930s: Between the Tractatus and the Investigations, edited by David Stern, Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Selected Reviews

  • Review of R. Hursthouse, et. al., Virtues and Reasons: Philippa Foot and Moral Theory, Essays in Honour of Philippa Foot, in Ethics, July, 1997. (A review which has gained some notoriety for its comments on the essay by Wiggins, and in which I express some concerns about the process of editing book collections. In a blog post of April 10, 2006, about the meanest philosophical book reviews Kieran Setiya wrote: “I still think the funniest philosophical mean review is this one; see the paragraph on Wiggins at the end.” The offending paragraph is on p. 745 of my review.)
  • The Difficulty Here is: to Stop”: Essay-Review of David Bloor, Wittgenstein, Rules and Institutions, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Fall, 2000, pp. 551–557.
  • Review of Eugen Fischer, Philosophical Delusion and Its Therapy: Outline of a Philosophical Revolution, co-authored with Walter Ott, British Wittgenstein Society BookNOTES, posted January 2014, 10pp.  
  • Review of Wittgenstein: Lectures, Cambridge, 1930–1933, From the Notes of G. E. Moore, edited by David G. Stern, Brian Rogers, and Gabriel Citron, Cambridge University Press, 2016, and Wittgenstein’s Whewell’s Court Lectures: Cambridge, 1938–1941, From the Notes by Yorick Smythies, edited by Volker Munz and Bernhard Ritter, Wiley Blackwell, 2017, Philosophy: Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Vol. 93, No. 365, July 2018, pp. 471-475. .

Unpublished Papers and Talks

  • From the Meaning of Life to a Meaningful Life,” presented to student groups multiple times beginning in 1985.  The version posted here was drafted in the 1990's.  Reza Hosseini, in his book Wittgenstein and Meaning in Life, devoted several pages to discussing my account.  
  • Virtue: Aristotle or Kant?,” first presented at Eastern Division Meeting, American Philosophical Association, Atlanta, Georgia, December, 1989, and then again at the William H. Williams Memorial Conference, VA Tech, Blacksburg, VA, January, 1995.
  • Eliminativism and the Mental,” original English version of a paper written in 1990 that was much later published in Russian in Epistemologiia & Filosofiia Nauki, Spring, 2010.
  • "Ethics, Economics and Posterity," presented to the Virginia Tech Worldwatch Symposium, November 8, 1991.  The symposium series was started in response to the Worldwatch State of the World Report in 1990 that gave us 40 years to put earth on an enviromentally sustainable basis.  It seems to have been right on target, as a 2018 UN report gives us only 12 years, and wonders if it is now too late.  This paper constitutes my response to the economist's view of the world.  
  • Competing Preferences: Politics and Morality,” VA Tech Philosophy Department, Spring Conference: “Caring About Nature,” Blacksburg, VA, April 2001.  (A shortened version was presented as "Ethics and Democracy," VA Tech Philosophy Department, Spring Conference, March 20, 2010.)  I consider the difficulties that moral considerations create in democratic deliberation.
  • “Beyond Your Board's Code of Ethics,” National School Boards Association Convention, San Francisco, CA, April 8, 2003 (and delivered again at the Virginia School Boards Association Conference, Williamsburg, VA, November 2003). PDF file of presentation handout. “Cub Scouts on the SB” handout.
  • Ludwig Gets a Job: A Short Story,” posted as a comment on January 11, 2007, on the Leiter Reports blog, here: http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2007/01/the_wittgenstei.html  Here I imagine how Wittgenstein might have fared in the contemporary academic job and tenure process.
  • Philosophy and Life,” Virginia Philosophical Association, invited address, Norfolk, VA, October 2007  Since my research has focused on the relationship between Wittgenstein's life and his philosophy, I took this opportunity to reflect on that relationship more generally.  I end with some anecdotes about Marjorie Grene, who was a colleague at Virginia Tech for the last 20 years of her long life.  
  • Supervenience: from Synchronic to Diachronic,” first presented at Pacific Division Meeting, American Philosophical Association, Pasadena, CA, April, 2008. Audio recording from presentation at Wittgenstein Archive at Bergen, University of Bergen, Norway, March 2012 (http://wab.uib.no/agora-wab/article/view/3172).  Later presented at Masaryk University, Brno CZ, November 2014.  This may well be the last echo of my early work on supervenience.  
  • Socrates vs. Wittgenstein,” presented at Wittgenstein Archive at Bergen, University of Bergen, Norway, March 2012. Audio recording: http://wab.uib.no/agora-wab/article/view/3171 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=27&v=ZOuLLAPhyvw  This made for an interesting topic, since Socrates and Wittgenstein are my two favorite philosophers, yet quite opposed in many ways. 
  • Interview with Prof. James C. Klagge, by Ehsan Sanaei,” 2013. This e-mail interview was done in English in 2013 by the Persian translator of Wittgenstein in Exile, and published in Persian in 2015 as an Afterword to the Persian edition of the book.  I elaborate on some of the themes in my book.