Some Remarks on Wittgenstein’s Account of Religious Belief
Pupils’ notes of some lectures on religious belief which Wittgenstein gave in 1938 have recently been published,’ and what I have to say is set against the background of these lectures. My title may suggest that there is a distinctive and precise account of religious belief which can be extracted from them and stated clearly for consideration. But I do not think that this is so. It is evident from these lectures that, in the subject of religious belief, Wittgenstein’s prodigious capacity for puzzlement, in which Moore recognised the marks of genius, found full scope. But, at many points, it is not clear to me, at any rate, just how he is resolving — or would resolve — the puzzlement. So I am most certainly not setting myself up to explain ‘what Wittgenstein really meant’. However, like everything which we have from him, these lectures are fascinating, suggestive, provocative. And, at some hazard, I am going to offer a few observations on one or two of the points which he was, or appears to have been, making.
KeywordsReligious Belief Natural World Ordinary Language Open View Religious Person
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- 1.L. Wittgenstein, Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief (Oxford, 1966). Throughout this lecture the page-references enclosed in brackets are to that work.Google Scholar
- 1.See R. M. Hare, ‘Theology and Falsification’ in New Essays in Philosophical Theology (ed. Flew and Maclntyre) (London, 1955);Google Scholar
- D. D. Evans, The Logic of Self Involvement (London, 1963);Google Scholar
- P. van Buren, The Secular Meaning of the Gospel (rev. ed. London, 1965).Google Scholar