Fall/Winter Timetable

POL485H1F L0101

Graduate Course Code: POL2027H1F L0101

Topics in Political Thought II

Wittgenstein and Indigenous Politics in Canada


This upper level seminar discusses the philosophical thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein in the context of contemporary Indigenous politics in Canada. Students are introduced to the life and philosophical thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1899-1951) by focusing mainly on his later work in Philosophical Investigations (1953). To enrichen our understanding of Wittgenstein we will discuss selections from the writings of “Wittgensteinian” philosopher James Tully and Anishinaabe writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. The second part of the seminar examines and critiques, in light of our evolving discussions of Wittgenstein, Tully, and Simpson a number of the major legal and political touchstones in the relationship between the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the Canadian state. The purpose of the seminar is to show that a Wittgensteinian approach to meaning, language, and philosophical inquiry shares family resemblances with the Indigenous methodological approaches embraced by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada, and the Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.


James Tully, Strange Multiplicity, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Leanne Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, University of Minnesota Press, 2017.
K.T. Fann, Wittgenstein’s Conception of Philosophy, Partridge Publishing Singapore, 2015.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 4th Edition Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2009.

Format and Requirements

Weekly short reading response papers; 20-page independent research paper


POL200Y1/?POL200Y5/(POLC70H3, POLC71H3)