"I should have liked to produce a good book. It has not turned out that way"

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Peter Hacker


Wittgenstein wrote in the Preface to the Investigations that he would have liked to write a good book, but it didn’t turn out that way. This may superficially seem to be false modesty, given that what he wrote is a masterpiece. This paper argues that it is not false modesty, and attempts to pin down various flaws in the book, some structural and others not. These include the opening quotation from Augustine, the thin character of language game 2, the rule following considerations, the private language arguments, and the poorly located, well-disguised and over-compressed discussion of the pictoriality of the proposition and critique of the picture theory of meaning in §§428–65.

Invited Paper
Author Biography

Peter Hacker

P. M. S. Hacker is Emeritus Research Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford, where he was a Tutorial Fellow in philosophy from 1966 to 2006.  He was an undergraduate at the Queen’s College, Oxford, a graduate student at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford. He has held visiting chairs in North America, and both British Academy and Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships. He is the author of twenty-six books and over a hundred and seventy papers.  His main interests lie in the philosophy of Wittgenstein, the history of analytic philosophy, philosophy of mind, and philosophy and cognitive neuroscience.  His work in recent years has been dedicated to a tetralogy on human nature: Human Nature: the Categorial Framework; The Intellectual Powers: a Study of Human Nature; The Passions: a Study of Human Nature; The Moral Powers: a Study of Human Nature all published by Wiley/Blackwell.


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