Wittgenstein’s (Misunderstood) Religious Thought


Wittgenstein's religious thought is not well understood. And Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion is charged with fideism, religious non-realism, and even crypto-atheism. These charges, however, are borne of misunderstandings that are a result of the critics' being oblivious of apophatic theology. This book is intended to help clear some of those misunderstandings and neutralize the above-mentioned charges. It argues that Wittgenstein's religious thought shares kinship with the thought of apophaticists in Christendom such as the Pseudo-Dionysius and St. Thomas Aquinas. What appear to be fideism, non-realism, or crypto-atheism to the critics appear differently to those who see Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion from the apophaticists' point of view--Wittgenstein's religious point of view.

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Earl Stanley B. Fronda, Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Wales, is Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Volume Foreword
List of Initials and Abbreviations Introduction

Chapter One Wittgenstein’s Religious Point of View
I. To take or not to take Wittgenstein’s remark at face value
II. Mysticism as Wittgenstein’s religious point of view
III. The merits of positing mysticism as Wittgenstein’s religious point of view

Chapter Two The Theology of the Early Wittgenstein
I. The mystical Wittgenstein
II. Wittgenstein’s apophaticism
III. The Pseudo-Dionysian theology
IV. Wittgenstein’s theology is Pseudo-Dionysian

Chapter Three The Mature Wittgenstein on (Religious) Language
I. On language
II. On the limits of language
III. The trouble with speaking of the unspeakable
IV. On Religious Language

Chapter Four The Mature Wittgenstein on seeing and (not) Speaking of God
I. Speaking of the mind
II. Speaking of God
III. Some objections
IV. Wittgenstein à la St. Thomas Aquinas
V. Seeing God

Chapter Five ‘God exists’ after Wittgenstein after St. Thomas Aquinas
I. ‘God exists’ after Wittgenstein
II. God exists as a grammatical hinge
III. St. Thomas Aquinas on ‘God exists’
IV. Wittgenstein à la St. Thomas

Chapter Six Wittgenstein on the (Supposed) Evidence for God’s Existence
I. On miracles as evidence of the divine
II. On religious experience as evidence of the divine
III. The orderliness of the universe as evidence of the divine
IV. Faith creates the evidence that justifies faith

Chapter Seven Wittgenstein’s Religious Realism with Attitude
I. Cupitt’s idealist Wittgenstein
II. From behaviourism to religious non-realism
III. Wittgenstein’s anti-realism and his realist attitude
IV. Realism/non-realism and Wittgenstein’s God
V. ‘God’ and ‘colour’
VI. Apophatic theology and God-universe bi-conditionality

Chapter Eight Wittgensteinian Philosophy of Religion is misunderstood
I. The criticisms against Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion
II. Two discursive traditions about God as (not) a being
III. Wittgenstein in line with the Plotinian tradition
IV. The criticisms are borne of nescience or obliviousness

Chapter Nine Concluding remarks: The difference it makes
in understanding Wittgenstein’s religious point of view
I. Wittgenstein’s religious point of view and other non-religious matters
II. Wittgenstein’s religious point of view and the conduct of philosophy of religion
III. Concluding remarks on non-realism, crypto-atheism and fideism

This book is useful to undergraduate and post-graduate students in Philosophy, instructors of Philosophy of Religion and Wittgensteinian Studies, and even to philosophically-inclined theologians.