Flashcards in Religious language: twentieth century perspective and philosophical comparisons Deck (47)
What is a analytic statement?
is a statement of definition; it tells us how words are being used. It does not need any experience to support it.
What is a synthetic statement?
A synthetic statement adds something to our knowledge, and experience can be used to support it.
what is a cognitive use of language?
A cognitive use of language involves things that can be known and that could be either true or false.
What is a non- cognitive use of language?
Non- cognitive use of language 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 are there questions about in religious language regarding both cognitive and non cognitive use of language?
Whether statements should be understood as cognitive or non cognitive.
What is logical cognitivism?
It began in the early twentieth century, with discussions amongst the Vienna circle.
What is the Vienna circle?
The Vienna circle wanted to clarify the kinds of statements that have meaning, and the kinds which only sound meaningful but are in fact 'empty'.
The logical positivists presented what challenge?
They presented a challenge to religious believers by claiming that religious language is not true no false but meaningless.
Aj ayer led the challenge in his book language truth and logic (1936)
According to logical positivists a proposition is only meaningful if it is what?
If it is analytic, or if it is capable of being tested using the five sense (empirical testing). This rule is known as the verification principle.
Religious language is dismissed as what by logical positivists?
Dismissed as meaningless by logical positivists because claims such as 'God made the world' cannot be tested empirically, and are not analytic.
why may many people reject the verification principle?
Because it fails its own test- It cannot be tested for meaningfulness using the five senses.
The verification principle classifies as meaningless a lot more than religious language- ethical statements, for example, cannot be verified empirically.
Who was Wittgenstein?
He 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 I which language can have meaning.
His earlier work inspired the Vienna circle .
what did Wittgenstein think?
He thought that we can understand how language can be meaningful if we think of it using the analogy game.
Wittgenstein said language is meaningful for who?
Language is meaningful to people who use it when they are participating in a shared ' language game' such as chess or train driving.
what does Wittgenstein mean by a 'Lebensform' or ' form of life'?
It is a context in which language might be used. Language has meaning in context, and people outside that context might not understand it so easily.
within 'Lebensform' there is what?
There are rules for language usage and everyone understands them.
Propositions are not simply what?
They are not simply ' meaningful' or ' meaningless' to everyone, they can be meaningful to some but not to others. Meaning is subjective.
Religious language can therefore be meaningful to those who are in Lebensform of religion, even if they are meaningless to those outside it.
Later thinkers have adopted what?
Aspects of Wittgenstein's theory thought to suggest that religious language could be non- cognitive.
What is flew and the falsification principle?
Antony Flews ideas were presented at a symposium in Oxford In a paper called 'theology and falsification' in 1950. He wanted to take the debate about meaningfulness of religious language to a new territory.
What did Flew use to illustrate his argument?
He used a parable by John Wisdom to illustrate his argument. A sceptic and a believer have different views about the existence of a gardener who visits a clearing in a jungle, because the gardener cannot be detected using the five senses.
Nothing the sceptic offers as evidence against the existence of the gardener, will convince the believer, why is this?
The believer in response to the sceptic keeps qualifying his statements about the characteristics of the invisible gardener to accommodate each challenge.
Flew argues that religious believers behave in what way?
Flew argues that religious believers behave in the same way, refusing to accept any counter- evidence to their claims about God.
Flew says that religious truth- claims end with a ' death by a thousand qualifications'. The assertions are modified until they assert nothing.
Flew says that a statement needs to be in what to be meaningful?
That a statement needs to be in principle falsifiable if it is to be meaningful. We have to know what evidence, if any, would count against our assertions if they are to be meaningful assertions at all.
R.M Hare is a response to flew, what does he say?
He said that we all have unfalsifiable 'bliks'. 'blik' was a word he made up to mean a way of framing a understanding to the world. Theism is unfalsifiable but so is atheism.
Hare gave what story in order to illustrate his argument?
He gave a story of a paranoid 'lunatic' in order to illustrate his argument and show that we all have subjective ways of understanding the world.
Hare is suggesting that religious belief and religious claims are non- cognitive expressions of preference.
How did Basil Mitchell respond to Flew?
He responded to flew by saying that we have to make commitments to trust and believe in things even when the evidence is ambiguous or lacking.
What story did Mitchell tell to illustrate his point?
Mitchell told a story of a partisan in wartime to illustrate his point and to show that sometimes it is necessary to have faith despite the existence of some counter- evidence.
Mitchell argues that religious language is what?
That it is cognitive even if people do not have readily available facts to support their beliefs.
What do both Aquinas and Wittgenstein demonstrate?
Both take a position that does not dismiss the possibility that religious language has meaning.