Segments in this Video

Introduction: Ludwig Wittgenstein (01:52)


Author Bryan Magee describes Wittgenstein's early life. After studying with Bertrand Russell at Cambridge, Wittgenstein wrote the "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus."

The "Tractatus" and "Philosophical Investigations" (01:38)

Wittgenstein produced two influential and incompatible philosophies at different stages of his life. Both are concerned with language, human thinking and reality.

Picture Theory of Meaning (05:26)

Bryan Magee and Prof. of Philosophy John Searle discuss "Tractatus, " and the implications of picture theory on the demarcation of fact-stating language and nonsense.

Tool Use of Meaning (04:30)

Prof. Searle discusses Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations." Instead of the structure of reality determining language structure, the structure of language determines how we think about reality.

Family Resemblance of Word Meaning (02:19)

The meaning of a word is like family resemblance where there is no single feature but an interwoven set of features that determine the resemblance. Language and words can be used in different ways depending upon the discourse.

The Language Game (03:25)

Wittgenstein claimed that there is no foundation for the rules of language. The philosopher's job is to give a description of how the language game is played.

Impacts on the Conceptual Structure of Language (01:22)

Prof. Searle says language has become problematic in the 20th century if all human experience cannot exist apart from language.

Religious Language (03:25)

Magee and Searle discuss Wittgenstein's theory in relation to the religious language game which he separated from the scientific language game. Philosophical difficulties arise over a word's use out of its game.

Private Language Controversy (04:15)

Wittgenstein believed the rules were not final in language games and can be interpreted differently. The social character of the rules prevent a private language.

Social Context of Language Use (01:12)

Magee points out Wittgenstein's theory that a word's meaning depends upon the social context, or forms of life, where it is used.

Structure of Wittgenstein's Books (02:58)

Wittgenstein's books contain unconnected, numbered paragraphs. Searle says Wittgenstein wanted to be different; struggled to express his ideas and resorted to the German tradition of using aphorisms.

Influence Outside Philosophy (01:49)

Searle addresses Wittgenstein's influence on literary criticism and aesthetics, on social sciences and anthropology, and on political theory.

Philosopher Searle's Evaluation of Wittgenstein (04:16)

Searle criticizes Wittgenstein's rejection of a general theory for language or mind, but admires Wittgenstein's overturning of traditional theories of language and his assertion that language is a form of human activity.

Unique Anti-Cartesian Theory (01:54)

Wittgenstein's theory of the mind is an effective attack on traditional Cartesian ideas of duality. Wittgenstein examines the language games involving mind and body and finds situational interpretations.

Biological and Social Conditioning (02:11)

Searle notes the Western intellectual tradition dating from Plato that there must be an implicit theory for any meaningful human behavior. Wittgenstein says we respond as we are biologically and culturally conditioned, not theoretically. We just act.

Credits: Wittgenstein (7293) (00:45)

Credits: Wittgenstein (7293)

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or


Part of the Series : Great Philosophers
DVD Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



The two linguistic philosophies of Ludwig Wittgenstein are discussed in this program by world-renowned author and professor Bryan Magee and University of California Professor of Philosophy John Searle. Searle examines Wittgenstein’s earlier picture theory of meaning, in which reality, as perceived by humans, determines the structure of the language used to describe it. A revised theory views language as a tool that, depending upon its use, prescribes the reality. A BBC Production. Part of the series Great Philosophers. (45 minutes)

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL7293

ISBN: 978-1-4213-8730-7

Copyright date: ©1987

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.