History of Philosophy Workshop: John Schwenkler


Location: Maritain Library (Geddes 437) (View on map )

G E M Anscombe

Please join us this Friday for this semester's first lunchtime workshop in the history of philosophy! 

Each workshop will consist of a presentation by a visiting scholar, graduate student or faculty on a project that he/she is working on in the history of philosophy, followed by a period of comments/questions from the other participants. The workshop is designed to give the presenter the opportunity to develop ideas and receive helpful feedback on projects/papers in a friendly and low stakes environment. 

Here's the info about this week's meeting: 

Who: John Schwenkler--Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University, Faculty Fellow, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Studies
What: "I do what happens: Anscombe on Wittgenstein on the will" (see below for an abstract)  
Where: The Maritain library (Geddes hall, room 437) 
When: Friday, Jan 21, 12:00-1:00

An abstract is included below. For more information about the workshop, please email Dylan MacFarlane (dmacfarl@nd.edu). We hope to see you there!


This chapter analyzes several pages of handwritten notes in which G. E. M. Anscombe explores her disagreement with Wittgenstein’s view of the will and of moral value. The notes, which are contained in a large notebook in the Collegium Institute’s Anscombe Archive, are undated, as are all the entries preceding them in the notebook. There is, however, strong textual evidence for thinking that these notes date at least to the mid-1950s, since elements in them parallel what Anscombe wrote about Wittgenstein in a pair of letters to The Tablet in 1954, and lines from the notes are mirrored in the first edition of Intention, which was published in 1957 and derives from lectures that Anscombe delivered in Hilary Term of that year, and in An Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, published in 1958 and deriving from lectures delivered in the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms of 1957-1958. Since Anscombe never published what appears to have been a planned paper deriving from these notes, in addition to their philosophical interest they also shed important light on the background to her conception of the will and of voluntary and intentional action as she develops it in Intention—including on the inspiration for her infamous formula, “I do what happens”,  which appears verbatim in these notes. After some historical stage-setting, the bulk of my chapter aims to construct this planned paper on the basis of Anscombe’s notes and an outline she made for it. Following this, I explore the light shed by these notes on the development of Anscombe’s position in Intention.