9. Religious Language: Language Games

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  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 17-06-17 20:29
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  • 9. Religious Language: Language Games
    • Wittgenstein
      • Based argument on logical positivists, rejection of verification principle as too limiting
    • Philosophical Investigations
      • "to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or a form of life"
      • "do not ask me for the meaning, ask me for the use"
    • Words have a specific function performed in a specific group/society
      • A game with its own set of rules
      • People not in the game will not understand the use of language
    • Language is a self-contained game
      • Focused on use of language
        • Different uses have different rules
      • Every form of language is a self-contained game with own rule specific to group
    • Language can't exist in isolation
      • Individuals cannot create a private language as it is a social product to enable communication
      • "cogito ergo sum" challenged as any thoughts are in public language with socially agreed rules, not a private language
      • A private language cannot exist as an individual wouldn't know if they were using words correctly
    • Religious language is a language game
      • As the use of language is specific to groups, religious language is also a game
      • Problems in philosophy occur through misunderstanding of the game
        • Issue is not in the inherent meaning of the word
      • Rules aplly to people 'in the game', so to outsiders it is meaningless
        • This means religious language can be deemed as meaningless
      • However, an outsider cannot claim it is meaningless just because they're not in the game
      • Means it is difficult to discuss religion and religious concepts if different faiths have different religious languages
    • D. Z. Phillips
      • Religious language is a language game as religious language is not grounded or criticised in reason
        • It's a system of its own
      • Statements such as "God exists" are not grounded in belief
        • Instead they are expressions of belief
      • The reality of God is located in words used and the practices of religion
        • You can only make statements if you are  part of the circle
        • Outsiders make irrelevant claims
    • Criticisms
      • Religious language isn't totally isolated, so non-believers can also understand it and decide if it has meaning
      • Non-believers may be able to understand religious language better because they have an objective view
        • Rendering importance of the game useless
      • Suggests exclusive 'clubs' of language
        • However, language is communal and cannot be used as a secret code by a group
      • Religion makes universal claims, so it is not confined to a small community
      • Language games do not allow for beleiver's claims to be objectively true

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