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Thought and the Limits of Language


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Knowledge

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology

The second-year BA course Analytic Philosophy or Philoosphy of Language (or an equivalent) has been passed.


Does language picture reality? Or, is language a condition for the possibility of thought and reality? Does natural language mislead us in our asking philosophical questions? Would this means that the method of philosophy consist in clarifying what can and what cannot be said? Does this imply that we need an ideal, formalized language? Is it true that what is most important cannot be expressed in language?

These questions dating from the early period of analytic philosophy are still relevant. During the course we read (parts of) the Tractatus, and Frege and Russell insofar as they created the background for these questions in Wittgenstein. Today, philosophers are still struggling with these questions, and the course will also engage with the more recent literature on these questions and themes.

Course objectives

A student who has successfully completed this course will have:

  • advanced knowledge of some of the central issues in the history of analytic philosophy.

A student who has successfully completed this course will be able to:

  • engage with actual discussion in analytic philosophy regarding some central topics, and to relate these topics to their historical background;

  • do independent research, resulting in a paper on an advanced level.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Paper

Active participation during the seminar is a necessary condition for taking the exam.


  • Paper: 100%


A student admitted to the resit will write a final paper (100% of the grade).
Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A reading list will be provided at the beginning of the course.
All required literature will be available online or in the library.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.