Insight and Illusion by Peter Hacker

Have you ever wondered what could possibly be meant by the epigrams ‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world‘, or ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent’.

These are just two of a large number of utterances ( from celebrated Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein ( His contribution to the subject divided opinion hugely in his lifetime and still does. Renowned as dizzyingly difficult to fathom, he attempted to get right down to understanding the essence of language, meaning and the world.

Should you feel that you really must embrace this giant of a thinker your guide should be Peter (‘P.M.S.’) Hacker ( and At the end of it all you may have gained insight and shed not a few illusions.

As a warm up exercise for the grey matter, listen to the Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’ episode (45 minutes) on the life and thought of Wittgenstein. Available at the link  With Ray Monk, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton and author of Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius; Barry Smith, Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London; Marie McGinn, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of York. First broadcast Thursday 4 Dec 2003. Monk’s biography is to be especially recommended. It is held up as an example of good writing within the genre of philosophical biography. Enquire at your local library, or available at

Ludwig Wittgenstein                      Ray Monk

321 pages Oxford University Press paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0195198232

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