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Philosophical Investigations was written by Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and published in 1953, two years after Wittgenstein’s death. The work delivers an extended criticism of the approach to philosophical thinking that focuses on creating metaphysical theories and deep explanations that cut to the core of the concepts that govern human life and reality. Wittgenstein argues that since there, in fact, are no concepts or explanations hiding beneath the surface of everyday phenomena, and because these metaphysical theories are built upon unwarranted assumptions or generalizations (often born out of the structure of our grammar), this approach is deeply flawed.

The purpose of Wittgenstein’s philosophy as presented in Philosophical Investigations is to lead us to recognize temptations toward metaphysical thinking and to learn to defeat them.

Read the overall summary, the overall analysis, and explanations of important quotes from Philosophical Investigations. Or, learn more by studying SparkNotes guides to other works by Ludwig Wittgenstein.

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