prof. dr. M.R.M. (Michel) ter Hark

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Areas of Specialization
History of analytical philosophy, History of the cognitive sciences, Philosophy of Language

Areas of Competence
Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Art,  Aesthetics


  • University of Leiden, BA Philosophy, 1975
  • Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten Amsterdam, BA 1977-1980
  • University of Amsterdam, M.Phil. Philosophy, 1981
  • University of Amsterdam, BA Psychology, 1982
  • University of Amsterdam, Ph.D. Philosophy, 1989 (February)
  • University of Utrecht, M.Sc Psychology, 1994

Academic Positions

  • University of Amsterdam,  Faculty of Philosophy, Teaching assistant, 1977-1980
  • University of Groningen, Faculty of Philosophy, Assistant professor of philosophy (0.5fte),  1981-1987
  • HBO Jeugdwelzijnswerk Den Haag, Teacher of Philosophy (0.5fte), 1981-1987
  • University of Groningen, Faculty of Philosophy, Assistant professor philosophy (0.8fte) , 1987-1999
  • University of Groningen, Faculty of Philosophy, Professor of philosophy 1999-
  • VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Arts, Professor of philosophy of language, 2012- 

Administrative Functions

  • Member Faculty Board, 1984-85, 1995-97
  • Chair department history of philosophy, 1999-2010
  • Dean Faculty of Philosophy, 2000-2003
    2nd term 2003-2006
    3d term 2006-2010
    4th term 2010-2014
  • Prorector RUG 2008-2012
  • Director of education 2000-2010
  • Director of graduate school of philosophy 2006-2010
  • Chair of the RUG committee  Algemeen Vormende Vakken, 2005-2010
  • Chair of the RUG committee Major-Minor, 2006-2010
  • Member of the Reorganization Committee University Library, 2009-2010
  • Chair ‘projectgroep onderwijsruimtebeleid RUG’, 2010-
  • Chair of the Mutual Consultation Group for Philosophy of the VSNU, 2003-2010
  • VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Arts, Dean, 2012-


  • Chair of the ‘Vlaams-Nederlandse Filosofiedag’, 1995
  • Chair of the Lustrum Committee for the celebration of the 395th Anniversary of the University of Groningen, ‘Arts meet Science’, 2007-2009.


Courses Faculty of Philosophy

  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Art; Epistemology; Philosophy of Language; Wittgenstein
  • History of philosophy (18th century)
  • History of philosophy (20th century)
  • various research master courses and tutorials
  • Algemeen vormende Vakken/Minor: Kopstukken van de filosofie

Faculty of Gedrag- en Maatschappijwetenschappen

  • Philosophy of Psychology; Courses in foundations of psychology; Philosophy and AI.
  • Courses for research school of BCN

Faculty of Arts, (Kunst, Cultuur en Medi)a

  • Denken over Kunst

Ph.D Supervision

  • Esther Stiekema, On the Possible Cooperation between Symbolism and Connectionism in Cognitive Science, 2002 (2nd Promotor, prof. dr. T.A.F. Kuipers)
  • Casper Zijlstra, Descartes, 2005 (together with prof. dr. D. Paetzold)
  • Martine Prange, Nietzsche, 2007 (together with prof. dr. D. Paetzold)
  • Charlotte Vrijen, Gilbert Ryle, 2007 (together with 1th promotot prof. dr. L. Nauta)
  • Kim van Gennip, Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, 2009 (together with prof. dr. L. Nauta)
  • Johan Blok (Bolzano)
  • Nikki Haussen (Wittgenstein)

Member Phd Committees

Gaikis, Wittgenstein, Department of Philosophy UvA (2011). Montano, Beauty in Mathematics, Philosophy RUG, 2010. A. de Vries, De emergentie en evolutie van drie werelden. Tweede revisie van Poppers driewereldentheorie. Philosophy RUG, 2005; T. Wilde, Remodelling reality. Wittgenstein’s ‘uebersichtliche Darstellung’ and the phenomenon of installation in visual art. Philosophy UvA, 2005; C. Bax, Subjectivity after Wittgenstein, Philosophy UvA, 2005; S. Rispens, Machine Reason. A history of clocks, computers and consciousness. Psychology RUG, 2005.A. Pilatova, A User’s Guide to Proper Names, Phillosophy (RUG), 2005; B. De Ruyter, Myth or Necessity? Reductionism within the philosophy of mind. Philosophy RUG, 2005. R. Benschop, Unassuming instruments: tracing the tachistoscope in experimental psychology. Psychology RUG, 2002; S. Petri, Eignungsprüfung, Charakteranalyse, Soldatentum: Veränderung der Wissenschafts-und Methodenauffassung in der Militärpsychologie des Deutschen Reiches, Psychology RUG, 2002; Vogelsang, Oprecht veinzen over Kierkegaard, Philosophy (RUG, 1999).



  • Popper, Otto Selz and the Rise of Evolutionary Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Paperback Edition.
  • Popper, Otto Selz and the Rise of Evolutionary Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-521-83074-5, 264pp.
  • Beyond the Inner and the Outer: Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Psychology. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990.
  • Innerlijk en Uiterlijk. Een studie van Wittgenstein’s nalatenschap van psychologische begrippen. Academisch Proefschrift Amsterdam, februari 1989.

Journals and Chapters - International

In press

  • Wittgenstein on perception and the Necker cube, Australian Journal of Philosophy. 2012
  • Synaesthesia and Metaphor, Theoria et Historia Scientiarum 2012


  • Wittgenstein on the experience of meaning and secondary use. In: Marie McGinn and Oskari Kuusela (eds.) The Oxford Handbook to Wittgenstein. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011, pp. 497-518.
  • The philosophical relevance of Wittgenstein’s discussion of the experience of meaning. In: Image and Imaging in Philosophy, Science, and the Arts. Contributions of the Aus- trian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, edited by E. Nemeth, R. Heinrich and W. Pichler. Kirchberg am Wechsel 2010, pp. 119-122. ISSN 1022-3398.
  • Karl Popper: philosophy or psychology of science. Metascience 20 (2010), 6pp. Experience of Meaning, Secondary Use and Aesthetics. Philosophical Investigations 33 (2010): 142-158.
  • The Psychology of Thinking before the Cognitive Revolution: Otto Selz on Problems, Schemas and Creativity. History of Psychology 13 (2010): 142-158.
  • Coloured Vowels: Wittgenstein on Synaesthesia and Secondary Meaning. Philosophia 37 (2009): 589-605.
  • Popper’s Theory of the Searchlight: a historical assessment of its significance. In Rethinking Popper, edited by Z. Parusnikova and R. S. Cohen, Boston Studies in the Phi- losophy of Science, Springer, 2009, pp. 175-185.
  • Wittgenstein, the secondary use of words and child psychology. In Wittgenstein’s Enduring Arguments, edited by E. Zamuner and D.K. Levy, Routledge: London and New York, 2008, pp. 87-107.
  • ‘Tennis without a Ball’: Wittgenstein on Secondary Sense. In Perspicuous Representa- tions: Essays on Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Psychology. Palgrave McMillan, 2007, pp. 258-278.
  • Popper, Otto Selz and Meinong’s Gegenstandstheorie. Archiv fur die Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2007): 60-78.
  • Wittgenstein, Pretend Play and the Transferred Use of Language. Journal of the Theory of Social Behaviour 36 (2006): 299-319.
  • Unexpected Precursors of Popper’s World Three. In Gibt es sicheres Wissen? edited by M. Rahnfeld, Leipziger Universitaetsverlag, 2006, pp. 60-74.
  • The Historical Roots of Popper’s Theory of the Searchlight: a Tribute to Otto Selz. In: Karl Popper: a Centenary Assessment. Volume 1, Life and Times and Values in a World of Facts. Ashgate, 2006, pp. 37-57.
  • Patterns of Life: a Third Wittgenstein Concept. In The Third Wittgenstein: the Post- Investigations Works, edited by Daniele Moyal-Sharrock. Ashgate, 2004, pp. 125-144.
  • The Psychology of Thinking, Animal Psychology, and the Young Karl Popper, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 40 (2004): 375-393.
  • Searching for the Searchlight Theory: From Popper to Otto Selz, Journal of the History of Ideas 64 (2003): 465-487.
  • Between Autobiography and Reality: Popper’s Inductive Years, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 33 (2002): 79-103.
  • The Inner and the Outer. In Reading Wittgenstein, edited by H-J Glock, Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.
  • Wittgenstein and Dennett on Patterns. In Wittgenstein and Contemporary Philosophy of Mind, edited by S. Schroeder. Palgrave, 2001, pp. 85-104.
  • Uncertainty, Vagueness and Psychological Indeterminacy. Synthese 124 (2000): 193-220.
  • Critical Notice of P.M.S. Hacker, ‘Wittgenstein, Mind and Will’, Ratio 1999, XII, 99, no 1, 103-111.
  • Visual and psychological indeterminacy: a critique of physicalism. In The Role of Pragmatics in Contemporary Philosophy, edited by P. Weingartner, G. Dorn, G. Schurz. Kirchberg Am Wechsel, 1997, pp. 397-384.
  • Connectionism, Behaviourism and the Language of Thought. In Cognitive Patterns in Science and Common Sense, edited by T.A.F. Kuipers en A.R. Mackor, Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1995, pp. 393-413.
  • Wittgenstein und Russell über Psychologie und Fremdpsychisches. In Wittgenstein über die Seele, edited by Eike von Savigny und Oliver R. Scholz. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1995, pp. 84-107.
  • Wittgenstein, Memory traces and Gestaltpsychology. Philosophical Investigations 18 (1995): 113-139. (cited by P.M.S. Hacker 1996; discussed by J. Klagge, Journal of the History of Ideas 37 (1999)).
  • Cognitive Science, Propositional Attitudes and the Debate between Russell and Wittgenstein. In Analyomen: Proceedings of the 1st Conference Perspectives in Analytical Philosophy, edited by G. Meggle & U. Wessels, Berlin - New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1994, pp. 612-617.
  • From Behaviorism to the Rediscovery of the Mind. In Die britische Tradition in der Philosophie des 20. Jahrhundert, edited by J.Hintikka and K.Puhl, Die Österreichische Ludwig Wittgenstein Gesellschaft, 1994, pp. 201-207.
  • Wittgenstein and Russell on Psychology and Other Minds. Wittgenstein Studies, 2/94, file: 07-2-94, 1994. ISBN 3-211-82655-6. ISSN 0943-5727.
  • Problems and Psychologism: Popper as the Heir to Otto Selz. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 24 (1993): 197-203.
  • The Psychological Roots of Folk Psychology. In Philosophie und die kognitiven Wissenschaften, Die Österreichische Ludwig Wittgenstein Gesellschaft,1993, pp. 197-203.
  • The Development of Wittgenstein's Views about the Other Minds Problem’. In Wittgenstein in Florida, edited by J.Hintikka, Philosophical Studies Series, Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991.
  • The Development of Wittgenstein’s Views about the Other Minds Problem. Synthese 87 (1991): 227-253.
  • Wittgenstein’s Metaphysics of the Inner and the Outer. Revista de Philosophia 2 (1990): 139-150.
  • The Eye and the Ego. In Wittgenstein - Towards a Re-evaluation, Verlag Hölder-Pichler- Tempsky, Wien 1990, pp. 89-92.
  • Mind as Expression. In Philosophy of Mind, Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, Vienna 1985, pp. 391-394.

Sample list of Lectures

  • Invited lecture on Wittgenstein and Memory, The 5the International Conference on Memory, University of York, 2011
  • Invited lecture on Wittgenstein and the Tractatus, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Wittgenstein Workshop, 2011.
  • Invited lecture on Wittgenstein, Washington University St Louis,  The University of Maryland,  The University of British Colombia Vancouver May 2011.
  • Invited lecture, Wittgenstein and the Necker Cube, Department of Philosophy, Central European University Boedapest, March 2011.
  • ‘Brown Bag’ lecture, Wittgenstein and the Necker Cube, Faculty of Philosophy RUG, February 2011.
  • Lecture at Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, Kirchberg (The philosophical relevance of Wittgenstein’s remarks on the experience of meaning), August 2010
  • Keynote at the British Society for Ludwig Wittgenstein, London (Wittgenstein and the experience of meaning), June 2008.
  • Keynote at International Congress for Synaesthesia, Granada (Wittgenstein and synaesthesia), April 2007
  • Keynote at Institute for Philosophy, UNAM (Synaesthesia and the problem of consciousness), May 2005.
  • Keynote at EIPE Seminar Rotterdam, 2002 (Popper’s evolutionary theory of objective knowledge).
  • Keynote at Dutch Society for the Philosophy of Science, Amsterdam, 2002 (Popper en 10)
  • Keynote at Nederlands-Vlaamse Filosofiedag, Amsterdam, 2002 (Karl Popper: een eeuw filosofie en wetenschap)
  • Keynote at Karl Popper 2002 Centenary Congress, Vienna, July 2002 (The historical roots of Popper’s Searchlight Theory: a tribute to Otto Selz)
  • Keynote at Dutch Society of Psychology, November 2001 (The Error of Descartes?)
  • Invited lecture at the foundation of the journal Philosophical Occasions, Utrecht January 1998 (Some Remarks on Naturalistic Theories of Intentionality).
  • Invited lecture at Utrecht Conference human action and causality, Utrecht, April 1996 (Comments on prof. L. Baker)
  • Discussion with Daniel Dennett, Faculty of Philosophy RUG, October 1997.
  • Invited lecture at the congress Conceptual problems in the Study of Consciousness, Nijmegen, April 1996 (Phenomenal consciousness: empirical and conceptual problems).
  • Keynote at special congress on history of Psychology Bad Homburg, 1993 (Otto Selz and Karl Popper).
  • Keynote at Institut Néerlandais à Paris, Wittgenstein et Heidegger Congress. 1989 (Au de la sujet et de l’objet).
  • Studium Generale (12x) Internationale School voor Wijsbegeerte (8x) Open Universiteit (7x)

Refereeships and affiliations


  • Journals: Synthese, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophia Philosophical Explorations Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences Ratio Philosophy of Science Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte Philosophy of the Social Sciences,
  • Publishers: Kluwer Academic Publishers, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press
  • Research Councils: NWO (22x) FWO (7x) Austrian Science Foundation (8x) Norway Science Foundation (Bergen) (6x)

Editorial Board

  • Co-founder and member editorial board of the journal Philosophical Explorations.


  • American Psychological Association
  • Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Association
  • British Ludwig Wittgenstein Association