14 September 2017

Wittgenstein: Language & the Philosophy of Religion

Wittgenstein’s philosophy continues to generate a great deal of interest, and his name is frequently cited in connection with new developments in theology and the philosophy of religion. Via an exploration of the various accounts of language and meaning he presents in both his early and later work, this course will focus on his thought as it relates to religious belief and commitment in particular. Beginning with the enigmatic Tractatus-Logico Philosophicus, we will examine how Wittgenstein’s understanding of language and meaning developed over the course of his career. In doing so, we will pay special attention to the implications that Wittgenstein’s thoughts about language have for specifically religious uses of language. Beyond this exploration, however, we will also explore the existential motivations of the man, Wittgenstein, himself. What was the character of his peculiar fascination with religion and the religious? What might have prompted him to proclaim that “‘Wisdom is grey.’ Life on the other hand and religion are full of colour”? This last question cannot be answered unless one attends to Wittgenstein’s fiery and enigmatic personality, over and above his rather cold and technical philosophy.

ICS 120503/220503 F17
Dr. Ron Kuipers
Thursdays 1:45pm-4:45pm