Philosophy and the Analysis of Religious Language

  • M. J. Charlesworth
Part of the Philosophy of Religion Series book series


In the three varieties of the philosophy of religion so far considered, the part of philosophy has become progressively attenuated, and its function with regard to religion more and more ‘negative’. In the fourth and final variety of the philosophy of religion we have now to discuss, this attenuation of philosophy’s role is carried to its ultimate extreme in that the task of philosophy with respect to religion is merely that of a ‘second-order’ or ‘meta-’ analysis of the ‘logic’ or ‘grammar’ of religious language. In this view, it has been said, philosophy cannot relevantly criticise religion; it can only display for us the workings, the style of functioning of religious discourse (1). No doubt this meta-inquiry does have some repercussions within the religious realm proper in that it attempts to give an account of how religious locutions may function meaningfully, and at the same time removes confusions about their logical status and their mode of verification. But if philosophical analysis thus makes a place for religion, this is so only in the most negative sense. For, so it is said, a philosophical account of the function of religious locutions has no more to do with religion in the concrete than a phenomenalist account of material objects in terms of statements about sense-data has to do with our ordinary beliefs about the existence of material objects, or than an account of the logic of moral discourse has to do with the formulation of particular moral rules (2).


Religious Belief Language Game Logical Positivist Vienna Circle Moral Language 
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Copyright information

© M. J. Charlesworth 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Charlesworth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MelbourneAustralia

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