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Professor John Preston


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, Ernst Mach, and associated late nineteenth and early-to-mid-twentieth-century philosophers and philosopher-scientists, such as Ludwig Boltzmann and Heinrich Hertz), the Vienna Circle (Logical Positivists and their Logical Empiricist successors), Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, philosophy of science, epistemology, and classical 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 Interpreting Mach – Critical Essays, Thought and Language, Views into the Chinese Room, Wittgenstein and Reason, as well as the third volume of Paul Feyerabend’s Philosophical Papers.
  • See John Preston's personal page



  • In my Chinese Philosophy module, we look at several of the ‘classical’ Chinese philosophers (Confucius, Mencius, Mozi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi) and themes from their works, including human nature, partiality and impartiality, the proper organisation of society, moral education, rituals, and the nature of heaven.
  • In my other module, Worldviews in Western Philosophy, we look at fundamental questions about the concept of a worldview. We consider the history of that concept in philosophy and the natural sciences, the ways in which it was used by various twentieth century philosophers, and the reasons for which it was disavowed by others.


My Facebook page ‘Wittgenstein day-by-day’, which tracks the thoughts and activities of Ludwig Wittgenstein at exactly one hundred years distance, has been going since 2011.

Academic work outside the University

I was the first 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.


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