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Flashcards in Twentieth century religious language Deck (36)
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Define 'logical positivism'

A movement that claimed that assertions have to be capable of being tested empirically if they are to be meaningful


Define 'cognitive'

Having a factual quality that is available to knowledge where words are labels for things in the world


Define 'non-cognitive'

Not having a factual quality that is available to knowledge, words are tools to achieve something rather than labels


Define 'symposium'

A group of people who meet to discuss a particular question or theme


Define 'falsification'

Providing evidence to determine that something is false


Define 'demythologising'

Removing the mythical elements from a narrative to expose the central message


Philosophical discussion about meaning identifies two different ways in which a word or phrase means something, what are they?

Connotation: when the word carries other associations e.g. 'window' may be used to express an opportunity, they can convey unintended meaning and different meanings in different contexts
Denotation: when the words stands as something as a label taken at face value e.g. 'X-ray'


Who were the Vienna Circle?

A group of philosophers who met after the First World War at the University of Vienna until the 1930s, led by Moritz Schlick, discussions were varied from maths, science and philosophy


How could the Vienna Circle be described in terms of Enlightenment?

They believed 'God' was just an excuse to explain what people couldn't understand and it was time to move away to develop a greater scientific understanding


Describe the ideas of Auguste Comte

- Before the Vienna Circle he thought that people's thinking had passed through various stages over time
- Understanding science led people to adopt accurate and sophisticated ideas
- 'Theological era' of God has been replaced by 'metaphysical era' for science to 'fill in the gaps'


Describe Comte's idea of a positivist era

When the only useful form of evidence for investigation was empirical evidence and that which could be scientifically tested


How did Comte believe a statement could be meaningful? How did this impact the Vienna Circle?

It could be tested empirically, if not then it was meaningless - this view became known as logical positivism adopted by the VC


Who was A.J.Ayer?

A British philosopher who went to the University of Vienna after graduating Oxford and wrote a very influential book 'Language, Truth and Logic' aged 26 in 1936 to set down rules by which language could be judged


How did Ayer validate statements as meaningful?

The should be either analytical or empirical


Logical positivists decided synthetic statements are meaningful by empirical validation, what are they?

Information beyond definition e.g. 'Alex is allergic to shellfish'


What was the main focus of Wittgenstein's work?

To establish the limits of human knowledge and imagination, to work out where the line should be drawn between what people could know and what people could understand and what was beyond the grasp of human knowledge


What is the verification principle? (Ayer)

If a synthetic statement is to be meaningful it has to be able to be tested empirically, even if the statement is false, it is meaningful. Therefore religious statements are meaningless


Why could Wittgenstein not stay in Vienna during the war?

He had a Jewish descent and so spent most of his working life as a philosopher in Cambridge intrigued by the philosophical questions raised by maths and engineering


What Wittgenstein believe was very important to realise?

Reality is not completely intelligible to us as some aspects can be spoke about or verified empirically but there are other aspects beyond our understanding e.g. nature of infinity and timelessness


Give a quote from Wittgenstein

"Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must remain silent"


Name one of Wittgenstein's books and its aims

'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' 1921
Set out principles to demonstrate what could not be expressed through language to show the scope of human reason and philosophy but in later life he criticised his work and changed his theory


Describe Wittgenstein's later work

Explored how language had different meanings in different contexts, how words can indicate more than one idea and language is a process


Describe Wittgenstein's term 'lebensform'

'Form of life' to denote the context in which language might be used


Describe Wittgenstein's language games

- Not implying that language is trivial
- Non-cognitive approach
- Conversation is the game and the people talking are the players e.g. in a religious context 'God loves us' as you become more immersed in Christian life you will gain a deeper understanding of what this means in your life


What is the debate between logical positivists and those who want to defend religious language?

LPs think that religious language is meaningless and statements that sound like assertions were no more than 'utterances'. Defenders of religious belief disagreed but made no further progress on the conclusion


How did Antony Flew change the stalemate between logical positivists and defenders of religious language?

He raised newer issues and debates, in a symposium of Oxford philosophers in 1950, Flew presented 'Theology and Falsification'


Describe Flew's 'Theology and Falsification'

He suggested instead of insisting that a statement should be verifiable, it should instead be falsifiable so we do not have to provide evidence to prove a statement as true but we should know when making claims what we are ruling out as a result


Describe the parable of the gardener by John Wisdom

Two explorers come across agarden of flowers and weeds, the believer says their must be a gardener but the sceptic disagrees, the two explorers wait for the gardener but they never appear, the believer then says the gardener must be invisible so they set traps but this too doesn't show any presence so the believer says the gardener must be silent, invisible and intangible


Describe Flew's reaction to the parable of the gardener

If religious believers keep saying that God is different to us then the usual characteristics of a being don't apply to God until they are challenged to the point where the description of God has no content
"Death by a thousand qualifications"


Flew argues that when theists talk of God and his attributes, they refuse to rule out any state of affairs, what does he mean?

If asked 'under what circumstances would your statement that God loves us be false?' they wouldn't be able to think of any so in order to claim 'God loves us' we would have to know a world in which God didn't love us