Religious Language 2

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  • Religious Language
    • Language Games
      • Did not like approaches such as the Logical Positivists as it was too limitng. Instead, he argued we should "look for the use".
      • Argued language operates according to rules e..g Checkmate in chess but not in Basketball.
      • Religious e.g. = “God allows suffering to develop our character and we’ll be rewarded with heaven” would be approved by a Christian interpretation of the world. But not necessarily with an atheistic one. THEREFORE, it works in the Christian game and not in the atheist game. Each LANGUAGE GAME has its own set of rules that operate within the game.
      • Strength
        • +Allows RL but also explains why it makes no sense to the atheist.
        • + Distinguishes RL from other types of language.
        • + DZ Phillips - Shows RL is meaningful for those invovled.
        • +Shows RL is not challenged by science..
      • Weakness
        • - Leads to exclusive clubs.
        • - Doesn't allow debate
        • - Prevents philosophy of religion
        • - Some religious people argue it shuld be true for everyone not just those in the group.
    • Via Negativa
      • Via Negativa V.N suggests that people can only talk about God in negative terms, or ways he is not rather than what he is. God is transcendent so you cannot say what God is.
      • Plotinus: used this way to describe the Form of Good.
      • However you can clearly say what God is not: God is not a human being because God is transcendent, so God cannot have a body.Example: God does not have a body.
      • Making positive statements about God = anthropomorphism of God. e.g. to say that God is Good limits his goodness because it puts a human idea of goodness into our minds.
      • Pseudo-Dionysius: used same method: God = ‘beyond assertion’ (beyond description). This is because he is the “perfect and unique cause of all things”.
      • Moses Maimonides: making positive statements about God brings him down to human level. Only positive statement to be made is that he exists! Describe God through the negative.
      • Strengths
        • +Prevents anthropomorphism
        • + Supports many views that God is ineffable.
        • + + God is totally transcendent
      • Weakness
        • -Not a true reflection of how religious people speak
        • - Limited knowledge of God
        • - Davies: Describing God like this does not actually tell us anything about God.
    • Analogy (Aquinas)
      • Analogy is the only option as other language is either equivocal or uni vocal. So does not do God justice. We use every day language and 2 types of analogy.
      • Aquinas distinguished between two different types of analogical language:
      • Analogy of Attribution: we ascribe a quality to one thing because it is caused by another e.g.human wisdom is a reflection of divine wisdom. EXAMPLES: Davies: baker. Aquinas: Bull’s urine.
      • Analogy of Proportion: we ascribe a quality to one thing because it points towards another thingwhich has that quality e.g. human love points beyond itself to divine love or “Obama is powerful”points to God’s power.
      • Example: ;My nan is kind & gives us information about God.
      • Evaluation :
        • Ramsey: Supported analogy 'used “models' qualifiers”. We use terms everyday, but when we use them to understand God we qualify them e.g. good dog ? infinitely good (God).   It avoids anthropomorphism of God.
      • Analogy is too vague and leaves us unable to understand God and his actions .Does analogy tell us anything? – we cannot fully know what a word means for God. E.g. if we cannot know what God being Just means this suggests that ‘God being just’ is actually meaningless.
      • It cannot be verified (VP). It all depends upon the existence of a God anyway, otherwise it would bemeaningless!
    • Symbol (Paul Tillich)
      • Tillich started by distinguishing between a symbol & a sign.
      • A Sign simply points us towards something else whereas a Symbol participates on that to which it points and it communicates something more powerful.
      • All religious language is symbolic except for 'God is the ground of all being' Examples of SL are 'the lord is my shepherd'
      • WHen we make statements we do 3 things: Negate (deny), Affirm (confirm) and transcend (it is on such abigger scale, it goes beyond that original meaning). .
      • 'The lord is my shepehrd'= not a literal shepherd, but he is like a shepherd, on such a GRANDER scale.
      • Evaluation :
        • Surely this cannot be cognitive? How can I verify God is the Father!!! (-)His arguments are vague; what does it really mean for a ‘symbol to participate in something or show a higherreality ’?
      • If religious statements are not literal then its hard to see what meaningful content they may have. (-)Surely this cannot be cognitive? How can I verify God is the Father!!!
      • Paul Edwards: symbols don’t convey any facts, Tillich said that they are supposed to, and therefore they cannot be verified or falsified using empirical evidence.
      • Christians: Not all of their language is symbolic. They would hold certain things to be literal e.g. Jesus. (-)Randall: They do open up the divine, but not cognitive. So should take a non-cognitive approach.
      • Again, depends upon the very existence of a God in order for them to be meaningful! (-)Symbols are too subjective e.g. For some the symbol of communism is a good thing, for others it is fearful. Some argue he captures what it means to be religious (+)
    • Is a cognitive approach (Aquinas) more successful than a non-cognitive approach (Wittgenstein)?
      • Yes
        • Believers will be happier with beliefs said to be facts
        • Analogy is used regularly by believers
        • Does not limit God in any way & avoids anthropomorphism (to some degree)
        • LG is too pluralistic and subjective
        • LG allows anything to be meaningful
        • Analogy may allow moredebate.
      • No
        • Although Analogy is said to be cognitive, it cannot be verified atall! (technically)
        • Analogy requires faith. Whereas LG is just about what works
        • Analogy requires God to be creator which cannot be verified and if it was proven wrong the whole theory would fall apart.
        • LG allows all religions to be true
        • LG also explains why there are differences in religious beliefs
        • LG explains why the VP has issues with religion (don’t understand the rules)

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