Revisiting Wittgenstein on the Nature of Religious Language

Kevin Kimble


In his Lectures on Religious Belief, Wittgenstein presents us with a view of the nature of religious discourse according to which religious claims are non-cognitive and not verifiable or assessable for correctness by means of evidence. I argue that, contrary to what is implied in LRB, these features do not follow from an analysis of the language game of religion, given that such an analysis is carried out on Wittgenstein’s own terms. A natural suggestion is that his assessment of the status of religious language is guided in part by implicit acceptance of a verification criterion of meaning held independently of any analysis of language games. While Wittgenstein could thereby combine his view of language games and his use theory of meaning with this verification condition in assessing the meaning of religious statements, such a move comes at considerable philosophical cost. 

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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)

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