PHH 4930  Wittgenstein  Spring 2014 Sample Midterm Questions

Copyright 2014 Bruce W. Hauptli

The examination will be an in-class objective essay exam.  It will be designed to assess the students’ understanding of the philosophical theories, positions, topics, and methodologies studied.  The following sample questions are examples of the kinds of questions I will be asking and they are distributed in advance of the exam so that you have an opportunity to organize your thoughts and integrate the readings and lectures around sample questions designed to indicate what your are expected to have mastered.  The list of questions is far longer than a reasonable examination could be, and I will ask between two and three such questions on the examination itself.  You will be asked to be as complete as you can in writing essays in answer such questions.  While there is no “length requirement” for the examination, the questions and exam will be designed so that the average student in this class should need to spend most of the allowed time actively writing.  Short answers are unlikely to be sufficiently detailed to earn high grades, and mere outlines or lists (of terms, principles, theories, etc.) do not provide sufficient explanation—they will not convince me that you understand the relevant material.  As the questions clearly indicate, I expect you to explain specific points in answering the questions, and an essay that does not address these points is inadequate.  The exam will be a closed-book, closed-notes exam, and you will not be allowed to consult dictionaries or other reference texts.  Please review the following link on the Course Web-Site for additional guidelines regarding my expectations for exam answers: Writing Essay Exams for Professor Hauptli. 

The exam will be on Friday, February 14.

1. Explain the “picture theory of meaning” in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.  In answering this question, make sure you discuss the following: simples, facts, truth-functions, names, propositions, logical scaffolding, and “the limits of the world,” and the role of the metaphysical self.

2. Explain the early Wittgenstein’s “saying and showing distinction.”  In answering this question indicate what does the picturing, what is pictured, and what cannot be pictured (and why it can not be pictured according to him).

3. Explain why tautologies “lack sense” according to the early Wittgenstein.

4. Explain why, for the early Wittgenstein, it is necessary that each proposition has a single definite sense (and one and only one complete analysis).  In other words: what would be wrong, according to the early Wittgenstein, with allowing contingent propositions to have more than one sense and more than one correct analysis?  In answering this question discuss his notion of “analysis.”

5. Explain the differences between the early Wittgenstein’s notions of “sensible propositions,” “logical propositions,” and “nonsensical propositions.” Also discuss what I have called “Wittgenstein’s propositions” (those of the Tractatus). In answering the question explain the differences between these "kinds of propositions."

6. If the early Wittgenstein’s intention in the Tractatus was not to teach his readers certain contingent facts about the world, what did he intend to teach his readers?

7. In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein says that “the subject does not belong to the world; rather it is a limit of the world” [5.632].  What does he mean by this, what does he mean by a “projective relation” between a proposition and the world, and what is requisite for such a relation (what does the “projecting”)?  In answering this question, explain the role of the self in his early philosophical system.

8. What does the early Wittgenstein mean when he says: “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”?

Return to PHH 4930 Home-page  

Last revised on: 02/03/2014