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Compare Wittgenstein and Aquinas

- both address problems of religious language
-take a position that does not dismiss the possibility that religious language has meaning.


Difference Aquinas-addressing problems of religious language

-Aquinas tackled issues in the thirteenth century of how religious language could be meaningful without making God seem too small.
- proposed thinking in terms of analogy
- took a cognitive approach to religious language, believing that religious language refers to factual truth.


Wittgenstein- addressing problems with religious language

-Wittgenstein tackled issues in the twentieth century of whether religious language could be meaningful without being empirically verifiable.
- he proposed thinking is terms of religious games.
- took a non- cognitive approach to religious language- how it is used in context.


Influence of non- cognitive approaches to religious language on the interpretation of sacred texts.
What has become popular in the twentieth century ?

Non-cognitive approaches to religious language


Non-cognitive approaches to religious language suggests what?

-instead of interpreting texts- bible as factual, historical accounts- More helpful to understand them in other ways-tools for learning and coming to a decision about spiritual matters.


Rudolf Bultmann suggested what ?

Demythologising the Bible- (eliminate all mythical elements from the bible)- he meant looking into past stories with magical or miraculous content and seeing the Bible as calling people to make a personal decision.


Other thinkers suggested what about the bible?

Seeing the bible in other non cognitive ways, empathising the decisions and attitudes people might take in their lives.


what books support non- cognitive approaches

‘As honest as God’ and ‘the myth of God incarnate’ caused controversy in their suggestions that ideas such as Jesus as God incarnate need not to Be understood as factual true.


Cognitive approaches to what have continued to be popular?

Cognitive approaches to biblical texts have continued to be more popular amongst Christians that non- cognitive approaches.


Cognitive use of language involves what?

Involves things that can be known and that can either be true or false.


Non- cognitive use of language involves what?

They are not about things that can be known, but instead work in other ways- for example they might express emotions, ask questions, give commands or make associations.


What is logical positivism ?

It began in the early twentieth century, with discussions amongst the Vienna circle .


The Vienna circle wanted to clarify what ?

Wanted to clarify the kinds of statements that have meaning, and the kinds which only sound meaningful but are in fact ‘empty’


Logical positivists presented what?

Presented a challenge to religious believers by claiming that religious language is not true nor false but meaningless.
Aj Ayer led the challenge in his book Language, truth and logic 1936


Logical positivist- a proposition is only meaningful if what ?

If it is analytic or if it is capable of being tested using the five senses( empirical testing). The rule is known as the verification principle.


Religious language is dismissed as meaningless by logical positivists, why?

Because claims such as ‘God made the world‘ cannot be tested empirically, and are not analytic.


Many people reject the verification principle, why ?

Because it fails its own test- it cannot be tested for meaningfulness using the five senses.


The verification principle classifies as what?

As meaningless a lot more than religious language- ethical statements, for example cannot be verified empirically.
Weak versions of the verification principle have been suggested.


Who was Ludwig Wittgenstein?

Was a twentieth century philosopher who aimed to work out the limits of what can be known, conceptualised and expressed in language.
He explored ways in which language can have meaning.
Earlier work-inspired the Vienna circle .


Wittgenstein thought that we could understand how language can be what?

How language can be meaningful if we think of it using the analogy of a game.


Wittgenstein- language is meaningful to people when they use it for what ?

Language is meaningful to people who use it when they are participating in a ‘shared game’ such as chess or triangle driving .


What is a ‘lebensform’ or ‘form of life’?

Is a context in which language might be used. Language has meaning in context, and people outside the context might not understand it so easily.
Within Lebensform there are rules for language usage and everyone understands them.


Wittgenstein- propositions are not simply what?

Meaningful or meaningless to everyone, they can be meaningful to some but not to others. Meaning is subjective.


Wittgenstein- religious language can therefore be what?

Can be meaningful to those who are in the Lebensform of religion, even are meaningless to those outside it.


Later thinkers have adopted what?

Have adopted aspects of Wittgensteins thought to suggest that religious language could be non-cognitive.


Analytic statement

Statement by definition it tells us how words are being used. It does not need any experience to support it.


Synthetic statement

Adds something to our knowledge, and experience can be used to support it.