Indiana University Bloomington

Spring 2021: Schedule of the Reading Group

Convener: Joshua Kates (English)

The reading group usually meets Fridays, 2 - 3:30 pm. For the moment, the group meets via Zoom. To join, link to this site:

The following section numbers refer to Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Electronic access to The Collected Works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and others, is available via the IU Libraries.


January 29
Wittgenstein's "Preface," sections 1 - 27.

February 5
Sections 28 - 52.

Saturday, February 6, 11AM
Meeting with Sarah Beckwith.

February 12
Sections 53 - 87.

February 19
Sections 88 - 133.

February 26
Sections 134 - 171.

March 5
Sections 172 - 242.

March 12
Sections 243 - 315.

Saturday, March 13, 11AM
Meeting with Juliet Floyd.

March 19
Sections 316 - 390.

March 26
Sections 391 - 471.

April 2
Sections 472 - 546.

April 9
Sections 472-546

April 16
Sections 547-629

April 23
Sections 630-693 (End of part I)

Ludwig Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations


It is sometimes said that the humanities in the twentieth century are defined by their attention to language: the so-called linguistic turn. This hackneyed phrase arguably conceals more than it reveals. Though language was perhaps the implied meeting point of a sheaf of diverse research interests, it was never understood in one and the same way across the different quarters in which it was studied: philosophy, literary theory, information and communications theory, as well as linguistics itself. No single stable object was shared among these endeavors, and, in many, language and its proper parts emerged as problems, matters of open-ended questioning.

We will approach Wittgenstein’s Investigations with fresh eyes, having no confidence that there is a thing called “language” or that we know what it is, or how to grasp or understand it. Wittgenstein himself consistently views language in relation to the parts of the world and of life that appear in and with our expressions. In the Investigations we find detailed and often startling sketches of the different activities in which something like language may be involved. These snapshots convey one of the most profound and original views of what language may be and what could be implied by it.

Our path through Wittgenstein’s text starts from common assumptions about what language is and how it is learned, as articulated by St. Augustine, moving then to modelings of different possible uses of language—Wittgenstein’s language games—including meditations on being with others and on the perspective of the individual person, the “I.” Among the questions we will have to ask ourselves is what these new envisionings of language may yield for our own work in the humanities.

We will have access through IU Libraries to G. E. M. Anscombe’s beautiful translation of Wittgenstein’s text, though the particular e-edition available is somewhat difficult to navigate. The recent bilingual edition of the Investigations offers a somewhat more literal translation by P. M. S. Hacker and is useful for those with some German.

The reading group meets every Friday afternoon starting Jan. 29, from 2 till 3:30 ET, via Zoom. Like all Center activities, the reading group is open to the public. Graduate students may receive independent-study credit for taking part in the reading group (1 - 4 credits of CTIH-T700). Interested students should contact the convener, Professor Joshua Kates, to agree on a work plan and get permission to register.


The Reading Group constitutes the intellectual heart of the Center and predates the Center by many years. Here are some of the major texts the group has studied:

Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
Arendt, The Human Condition
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
Badiou, Being and Event.
Bakhtin, Art and Answerability.
Bergson, Matter and Memory.
Blumenberg,The Legitimacy of the Modern Age.
Cavell, The Claims of Reason.
Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.
Deleuze, Cinema I; Difference and Repetition.
Fink, Play as Symbol of the World.
Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject.
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Gadamer, Truth and Method.
Heidegger, Being and Time; Contriburtions to Philosophy (Of the Event).
Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences.
Lyotard, The Differend.
Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception; The Visible and the Invisible.
Plato, The Laws.
Rancière, The Names of History.
Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet.
Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf.