Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wittgenstein and Religion 1

I've been reading, here and there, parts of Culture and Value, and just got another book on Wittgenstein's lectures and conversations on a variety of topics. I thought I would focus my thinking on some of his remarks on religion. I come to it with the thought that Wittgenstein, kind of a mystic, would not apply standard empirical blahblahblah to religious thinking, but would focus on parts of religious practice, language games, and emotions.

One remark that has me thinking is when he wrote that when a believer in God asks "where did it all come from" s/he is NOT asking for a causal explanation, but is expressing an attitude toward ALL explanations.

I think he is on to something here. In my religious periods I would have agreed with that. This suggests that a Wittgensteinian gloss on religious talk is that there are language games that practitioners engage in, the features of those games are different than other types of games; but, and this is what I would add and maybe he thought or maybe he didn't, the fact that these games are not like math or science or history, does not mean we should necessarily denigrate all of them.

I read a book by Lawrence Krauss, A Universe From Nothing,  and, interesting though the book was, I felt like Krauss was missing the whole point of 'why is there something rather than nothing?' And I feel like Wittgenstein is pointing at part of my dissatisfaction with the book.

At another place he says that if Jesus did not resurrect, then he could help (italics in original). He said we would be trapped down here in 'hell'. Again, it's something I understand in some way, otherwise how to explain my love of Dante?

I've also been re-reading Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You (Wittgenstein was very moved by Tolstoy) and I want to agree with him so much but I can't.

This is the how I am responding to this so far, we'll see where it goes. In further posts I will have my copy of Culture and Value with me, so the posts will be better, I hope.


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