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Professor John Preston – University of Reading

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Professor John Preston

Professor John Preston
Job Title:



Departmental Director of Teaching & Learning.
Departmental Study Abroad Coordinator.

Part Two Teaching:
Convenor of the Ignorance, Doubt & Relativism modules.

Part Three Teaching:
Convenor of the Chinese Philosophy module.

Areas of Interest

Professor Preston is qualified in artificial intelligence, as well as philosophy, and his main research interests are in the history of philosophy (especially Ludwig Wittgenstein, and associated late nineteenth and early-to-mid-twentieth-century philosophers), Michael Polanyi, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, philosophy of science, epistemology, and Chinese philosophy.

He is the author of Feyerabend: Philosophy, Science and Society, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: A Reader's Guide, and editor of Thought and Language, Views into the Chinese Room, Wittgenstein and Reason, as well as the third volume of Paul Feyerabend’s Philosophical Papers.

Ongoing research:

Wittgenstein, Natural Science, and the Great Philosopher-Physicists (ongoing book project).

Ludwig Wittgenstein - A Chronology of his Life and Work (ongoing book project associated with my website: and Facebook page 'Wittgenstein Day-by-Day').

I have a collaborative and inter-disciplinary project, under construction, on the notion of nonsense and associated ideas (such as absurdity, incongruity, and gross falsehood).

PhD supervision:

I am happy to supervise doctoral research projects in the following areas: Wittgenstein, Michael Polanyi, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, late nineteenth and early-to-mid-twentieth-century philosophy, philosophy of science (natural, social and cognitive), epistemology, the extended mind and extended epistemology, and classical Chinese philosophy.

Undergraduate Teaching:

In my Ignorance, Doubt & Relativism modules, I discuss two incompatible challenges to the very idea that obtaining objective knowledge is possible, the challenge from subjectivists, and the challenge from relativists. But we also cover theories about the nature of knowledge and knowledge-claims, different views about knowledge (knowledge as justified true belief, knowing as an ability, causal theories, reliabilist theories, contextualism, etc.), and the two main accounts of justified belief, foundationalism and coherentism.

In my Chinese Philosophy module, we look at the ‘classical’ Chinese philosophers (Confucius, Mencius, Mozi, Laozi, Zuangzi, Xunzi, Han Feizi, etc.) and themes from their works, including human nature, the proper organisation of society, moral education, rituals, music, and the nature of heaven.

Research groups / Centres

  • University of Reading's Centre for Cognition Research.

Academic Work outside Reading University:

I was the first ever Secretary of the British Wittgenstein Society, from October 2007 until November 2010, at which point I accepted membership of their Honorary Committee. I was a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy from 2009 until 2017. I have served as external examiner for cohorts of undergraduate students at the University of Oxford and the University of Exeter, for MA cohorts at Oxford Brookes University, and for PhD or MLitt students at the Universities of Oxford, Manchester, Sheffield, Durham, Bristol, Düsseldorf, and King's College, London.


Jump to: 2019 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2012 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2004 | 2003
Number of items: 29.




  • Preston, J. (2015) Logical space and phase-space. In: Mind, language and action: proceedings of the 36th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Publications of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein society – New Series (N.S.) (22). De Gruyter, pp. 35-44. ISBN 9783110378795










This list was generated on Thu Mar 21 00:09:05 2019 UTC.


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