FAH/PHIL Guest Lecture – ‘“A Misleading Parallel” ”: On two topics in Wittgenstein‘s late remarks on the philosophy of psychology’ by Prof. Stefan Majetschak, University of Kassel, Germany


Prof. Stefan Majetschak, University of Kassel, Germany


27 Nov 2018


10:00 - 12:00





After the Philosophical Investigations, except for details, were largely finished in 1945, Wittgenstein, in his final years, undertook an intensive study of the grammar of our psychological concepts and the philosophical misinterpretations we often assign to them. Anyone looking through these extensive collections of philosophical remarks will probably quite often find it difficult to understand which questions Wittgenstein was addressing with individual remarks or groups of remarks and where the philosophical problems lay for which he was trying to find a solution, whether therapeutic or otherwise appropriate.

In my talk I do not claim to fathom the full range of Wittgenstein’s thoughts on the philosophy of psychology even in the most general way. Rather it is my intention to shed some light on a diagnosis which Wittgenstein in a well-known remark made for the psychology of his time. It comes at the end of what used to be called Part II of the Philosophical Investigations and expresses his basic dissatisfaction with the state of it. “The confusion and barrenness of pychology” , he wrote,

“is not to be explained by its being a ‘young science’; its state is not comparable with that of physics, for instance, in its beginnings. […] For in psychology, there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion. […]

The existence of the experimental method makes us think that we have the means of getting rid of the problems which trouble us; but problem and method skew-whiff pass one another by.”

In part 1 of my talk I would like to provide a brief sketch of what Wittgenstein considered to be the conceptual confusion prevalent in psychology and to suggest why he did not expect the methods of an experimental (natural) science to be successful in solving the problems that concern us in psychology. In part 2 I’ll attempt to analyze how psychological concepts, according to Wittgenstein, might be construed in order to avoid any type of conceptual confusion.


All are welcome




Philosophy and Religious Studies Programme
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