Simple Objects of Comparison for Complex Grammars: An Alternative Strand in Wittgenstein's Later Remarks on Religion

Philosophical Investigations 35 (1):18-42 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The predominant interpretation of Wittgenstein's later remarks on religion takes him to hold that all religious utterances are non-scientific, and to hold that the way to show that religious utterances are non-scientific is to identify and characterise the grammatical rules governing their use. This paper claims that though this does capture one strand of Wittgenstein's later thought on religion, there is an alternative strand of that thought which is quite different and more nuanced. In this alternative strand Wittgenstein stresses that religious utterances and beliefs can come in both scientific and non-scientific varieties. More than that, he claims that the grammar of religious utterances, and the logic of religious beliefs, is often complex – in that individual utterances and beliefs will often be mixed between, indeterminate between, or fluid between being scientific and being non-scientific. This complexity means that it will often be unhelpful to try to pin down one particular grammar or logic for a given utterance or belief. Wittgenstein therefore suggests a new method of grammatical and logical investigation, which is less likely to distort complex grammars or logics by being overly simplistic or rigid. This method is to use simple examples of utterances and beliefs as objects of comparison, so as to illuminate the different aspects of the more complex actual utterances and beliefs under examination. This alternative strand in Wittgenstein's later remarks on religion is a manifestation of a broader strand of Wittgenstein's later thought as a whole, which was first described by Friedrich Waismann, and later developed by Gordon Baker and Oskari Kuusela. The paper concludes by providing examples of religious beliefs which are logically mixed, indeterminate, and fluid, and showing how simple objects of comparison can be used to illuminate them

Similar books and articles

Wittgenstein and Religion.Michael Kober - 2006 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 71 (1):87-116.
Wittgenstein and religion.Michael Kober - 2006 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 71 (1):87-116.
Religious 'doctrines' and the closure of minds.Michael Leahy & Ronald S. Laura - 1997 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 31 (2):329–343.
Religious ‘Doctrines’ and the Closure of Minds.Michael Leahy & Ronald S. Laura - 1997 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 31 (2):329-343.
Religious ‘Doctrines’ and the Closure of Minds.Michael Leahy & Ronald S. Laura - 1997 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 31 (2):329-343.
Wittgenstein, Non-Factualism, and Deflationism.James Connelly - 2013 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 21 (4):559-585.

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-12-20

Downloads
557 (#36,049)

6 months
103 (#56,082)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Gabriel Citron
Princeton University

Citations of this work

Can God forgive our trespasses?N. Verbin - 2013 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74 (2):181-199.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Zettel.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1967 - Oxford,: Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe & G. H. von Wright.
Philosophical grammar.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1974 - Oxford [Eng.]: Blackwell. Edited by Rush Rhees.
Culture and value.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1977 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by G. H. von Wright & Heikki Nyman.

View all 30 references / Add more references