Religious language

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  • Religious Language
    • Basic principle
      • Religious language talks about religious + spiritual concepts i.e. nature of G-d + afterlife (things outside senses)
      • Some argue - possible to speak meaningfully, truthfully + factually (e.g. Aquinas) and others argue not (i.e. Ayer)
    • Basic tools for debate
      • Inductive conclusion- based upon sense info
      • Deductive conclusion - based upon reason alone
      • Analytic statement - true by defintion
      • Synthetic statement - true according to evidence
        • Analogical - Same term is used not in the same but in a similar and/or related sense
        • Equivocal - Same words are used in two different senses
    • Against/opposed
      • Logical positivists
        • Vienna Circle - believed that only meaningful statement = analytic or synthetic. Rel lang = meaningless
      • Ayer
        • Verification principle
          • Truth of statement lies in method of its verification. Spin off emotivism: ethical statements - statements of emotion, not fact Analytic truth. Can be verified. Mathematical truth.
            • Strong (Verify by sense experience and observation)  and weak  (verified by others) verification
      • Flew
        • Falsification principle
          • Statement = open to challenge to be meaningful; rel people deny challenges to statements of G-ds existence; thus meaningless
          • Rel lang dies death of a 1000 qualifications
            • Parable of the gardener (john wisdom) (l‘Death by a thousand qualifications’), parable of the lunatic
      • Hare
        • Used his parable of a lunatic to introduce the concept of "bliks" – unfalsifiable beliefs according to which a worldview is established – which are not necessarily meaningless.
        • Bliks - Non-rational belief which could never be falisifed
          • Linked with Mitchell too
        • Falsification Rinciple
      • Mitchell
        • Rel statements can be falsified in principle but not in practice •Parable of resistance leader. Hare + Mitchell accept falsification principle to an extent
    • In favour/for
      • Aquinas
        • Analogy
          • Rejected univocal + equivocal lang, claimed analogical lang could be used meaningfully to refer to God.
          • 3 types of analogy - attribution, proper proportion + improper proportion
            • A of A: argued that it is possible to work out the nature of God by examining his creation. God was the source and cause of goodness and therefore connected with it. This is essentially Aquinas’ moral argument for the existence of God
            • A of P: States that beings have attributes in proportion to the kind of reality that beings possess. For example a cabbage has life in proportion to a cabbage. Thus God has goodness in proportion to his goodness just as humans have goodness in proportion to their goodness.
          • Has an empirical starting point: the world from which we can gain understanding of G-ds goodness
      • Hick
        • Eschatological verification
          • The truth of statements about G-d will be revealed at end of time/in afterlife
      • Tillich
        • Language as symbol
          • Rel lang operates in same way as symbols - it points to a spiritual reality. Can show meaning.
          • Symbolic lang has a profound effect upon people + opens new levels of understanding, like art + poerty
        • Ramsey
          • Myths
            • Model helps = understand original 'Models’ need to be qualified. ‘Qualifiers’ point to how we should understand the original in relation to the model
          • Bultmann - tries to demytholise  bible. people = foucused on myth rather than meaning. address rel truths - relevant to own age - new methods/
      • Braithwaite
        • Rel lang as moral assertion
          • Rel lang has meaning + can be verified - it results in a change of behaviour + moral commitment to live a certain kind of life. Rel lang = meaningful because of what it brings about
      • Ramsey
        • Myths
          • Model helps = understand original 'Models’ need to be qualified. ‘Qualifiers’ point to how we should understand the original in relation to the model
        • Bultmann - tries to demytholise  bible. people = foucused on myth rather than meaning. address rel truths - relevant to own age - new methods/
    • Language games - Wittgenstein
      • The meaning of words is determined by the language game of which the words are part of. Wittgenstein suggested that words perform a function in a language, they do not just signify an object.
      • Way that language works - compared to game of chess. In chess rules state how all the pieces can move. However to talk about how the Queen or Pawns should move only makes sense in the context of the game. The rules of syntax and grammer of a language could function like those of the game of chess. If you use words not in a particular way then you will be talking nonsense.
      • Wittgenstein didnt suggest that words must follow rigid rules instead words only make sense in the context of a certain background.
      • The language game doesnt refer to language as a whole! Words are like tools by which words can be used in the world and change it. Language however isnt private and can change, evolve and become invalid.
    • Via Negativa
      • Means you only talk about G-d negatively i.e. G-d =not human - G-d = not mortal - G-d = not subject to life /death
      • Pseudo-Dionysus - beyound assertion - saying G-d is good limits him to human goodness
      • BUT - doesn't tell us anything about what is is, only what he isn't
      • Moses argued that only positive statement you could make was that he exists. All others would be disrespectful
      • Supports claim of ineffability

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