• W. Donald Hudson
Part of the New Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (NSPR)


The best known exponents of verificationism are the logical positivists. They were deeply influenced by the Tractatus. There are good reasons to think that what they took it to be saying about metaphysics was quite different from what Wittgenstein intended it to show about the mystical, as we saw in the last chapter;1 nevertheless, there is no denying that in the development of their verificationism, the Tractatus played an important part. Some of Wittgenstein’s later writings seem to indicate that, in the late twenties and early thirties at any rate, he himself subscribed to a verificationism similar to theirs. The logical positivists had firm things to say about religious belief in the light of their verification principle and some of Wittgenstein’s remarks, in the years referred to, seem to echo these. Any consideration of the bearing of his philosophy upon religious belief must, therefore, give some account of the attack which verificationists — or falsificationists — have launched upon it, and assess how damaging that attack may have been.


Religious Belief Logical Positivist Vienna Circle Religious Believer Factual Proposition 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Reprinted in Logical Positivism, edited by AJ. Ayer (Glencoe, I11., 1959).Google Scholar
  2. 15.
    Cf. R.S. Heimbeck, Theology and Meaning (London, 1969) p.57.Google Scholar
  3. 16.
    A. Kenny, Wittgenstein (London, 1973) pp.134–5.Google Scholar
  4. 33.
    A.J. Ayer, The Central Questions of Philisophy (London, 1973) p.27.Google Scholar
  5. 47.
    See e.g. R. Otto, The Idea of the Holy (Pelican edition, London, 1959) p.74;Google Scholar
  6. and P. Tillich, ‘The Meaning and Justification of Religious Symbols’ in Religious Experience and Truth, edited by S. Hook (London, 1962) p.315.Google Scholar
  7. 51.
    Cf. LT. Ramsey, Religious Language (London, 1957) p.68.Google Scholar
  8. 55.
    Cf. e.g. J. Hick, Faith and Knowledge (New York, 1957)Google Scholar
  9. and K. Nielsen, Contemporary Critiques of Religion (London, 1971) chapter 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© W. Donald Hudson 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Donald Hudson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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