Wittgenstein and the Limits of Language

September 8, 2016 - September 9, 2016
Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki

Vuorikatu 3
Helsinki 00014

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  • Academy of Finland
  • The Philosophical Society of Finland

Keynote speakers:

William Child
Oxford University
Hans-Johann Glock
University of Zürich


University of Helsinki
Sami Pihlström
University of Helsinki
Panu-Matti Pöykkö
University of Helsinki

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In the Preface of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein writes that “the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather – not to thought, but to the expression thoughts: for in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable” (TLP 3). The notion of a limit of language surfaces numerous times in the Tractatus, and it is not absent from Wittgenstein’s later work either. In 1931, Wittgenstein connects the idea of a limit of language to the “Kantian solution of the problem of philosophy” (CV 13). In Philosophical Grammar we find him stating that “The links of the chain of reasons come to an end, at the boundary of the game” (PG 97). In the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein mentions the “bumps that the understanding has got by running up against the limits of language” (PI § 119). How should we interpret these and other references to the limits of language in Wittgenstein’s published and unpublished manuscripts? What is the relation between Wittgenstein’s early and later use of the notion of the limits of language? What would it mean to overcome those limits? The purpose of this two-day conference is to provide a platform for Wittgenstein scholars to discuss these and related themes in Wittgenstein’s work.

For further information, please contact Hanne Appelqvist: hanne.appelqvist[at]helsinki.fi.

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