Religion Within the Limits of Language Alone: Wittgenstein on Philosophy and Religion, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Religion Within the Limits of Language Alone

Wittgenstein on Philosophy and Religion, 1st Edition

By Felicity McCutcheon


224 pages

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Hardback: 9780754614425
pub: 2001-07-11
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Religion Within the Limits of Language Alone provides a critical examination of the Wittgensteinian philosophers of religion who claim that the word 'God' cannot be understood as referring to a metaphysical being who may or may not exist. McCutcheon traces the arguments offered by these philosophers of religion back to Wittgenstein's own criticisms of speculative metaphysics, arguing that in its religious usage the concept of God does not fall under Wittgenstein's anti-metaphysical gaze. In presenting a detailed account of Wittgenstein's own philosophical method, including his criticisms of metaphysics, McCutcheon shows that it is possible to accept Wittgenstein's criticisms of metaphysics whilst retaining the metaphysical content of religious language. This book offers a fresh understanding of Wittgenstein's philosophical method and a new critique of religious discourse for those studying philosophy and religious studies.


'This book expounds a range of familiar Wittgensteinian themes with particular focus on Wittgenstein's account of 'grammar' and the grammatical status of religious belief. However, McCutcheon interestingly diverges from most other accounts of this material by virtue of the special attention she gives to the question of realism…' Ars Disputandi

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Ambition: The pursuit of perspicuity; The goal of the Tractatus; The transition; The goal of the Philosophical Investigations (the elimination of philosophical puzzles); Objectivity and the limits of language; The struggle with language; Perspicuity, Justice and Peace: Philosophical explanations and justice; Seeing connectionsnot causes; Parallels between aesthetics, psycho-analysis and philosophy; What perspicuity achieves; Grammar: Wittgenstein on grammar - exegetical; The development of the concept of grammar; The autonomy of language; Language-games, rules and meaning; Training and Augustine’s infant; Training and the giving of examples; Forms of life and the possibility of meaning; Language as both arbitrary and necessary; Agreement in conventions and agreement in behaviour; What then is meaning?; Grammar, rules and reality; The positivists on grammar and reality; Carnap on meaning and ontology; Wittgenstein on the connection between language and reality; Grammar as the connection between word and world; Wittgenstein on the accountability of grammar to reality; Wittgenstein and ontology; Religious Language as Grammar: Some preliminary remarks; Self-evidence and logic; The nature of basicality; Basicality and truth; World pictures and pictures of the world; The reality of God; Conflating grammar and beliefs; Expressivism: Section One: The cognitive/non-cognitive distinction; The nature of cognitivity; What motivates non-cognitivism or expressivism?; Speaking for oneself; Section Two: Expressive as primitive; Language and reality: some preliminary remarks; Language as expressive behaviour; Concept-formation, behaviour and beliefs; Language, beliefs and reality - concluding remarks; Section Three: Wittgenstein and expressivism; Grammatical differences and substantive disputes; Conclusion; Some Concluding Remarks; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

Heythrop Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, Religion and Theology

Heythrop Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, Religion and Theology
Drawing on renewed willingness amongst theologians and philosophers to enter into critical dialogues with contemporary issues, this series is characterized by Heythrop's reputation for openness and accessibility in academic engagement. Presenting volumes from a wide international, ecumenical, and disciplinary range of authors, the series explores areas of current theological, philosophical, historical, and political interest. The series incorporates a range of titles: accessible texts, cutting-edge research monographs, and edited collections of essays. Appealing to a wide academic and intellectual community interested in philosophical, religious and theological issues, research and debate, the books in this series will also appeal to a theological readership which includes enquiring lay-people, clergy, members of religious communities, training priests, and anyone engaging broadly in the Catholic tradition and with its many dialogue partners

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General