About Me

My name is Paul Johnston. I studied philosophy at university and did a D.Phil on Wittgenstein and Moral Philosophy. After that I left the academic world, initially to work as a journalist and then to do various other things. In my youth (!), I was what you might call an evangelical Wittgensteinian and as well as spending lots of time talking to people about Wittgenstein, I also ended up writing and publishing three books on philosophy.

My first book was based on my thesis and rather unimaginatively called Wittgenstein and Moral Philosophy. Despite being a very ethical individual, Wittgenstein never wrote or published any sustained comments on moral philosophy, so my thesis attempted to explore what the later Wittgenstein might have said in relation to the main problems of moral philosophy. Obviously, there is a lot of scope for arguing about what he might or might not have said. What matters is what he should have said, or rather how we should think about these issues. There is a lot I don’t like about this first book of mine, but I still agree with the fundamental ideas it sets out. I hope they had some influence with some people, but I am not aware that anyone has really built on them, which seems a shame if (as I still think) they point in the right direction.

My second book is the one I am happiest with as a book. It’s called Wittgenstein: Re-thinking the Inner and sets out Wittgenstein’s views on the mind and other aspects of our “inner world”. The book is based on the Philosophical Investigations and the other material from later part of this life that has subsequently been published. It is pure exposition, and I hope it is clear, readable and convincing.

My third book is a bit of diatribe. It’s called the Contradictions of Modern Moral Philosophy and is an attack on what I see as the superficial and misleading arguments of almost all contemporary moral philosophers. It was an attempt to express the ideas of my first book in a more compelling and relevant way, but I am not sure it fully worked and for my current tastes there is too much attacking other people!