Critically assess Wittgenstein’s belief that language games allow religious statements to have meaning.

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Critically assess Wittgenstein's belief that language games allow religious
statements to have meaning (35)
Wittgenstein's language games are shown when different types of language can be used in different
situations. He suggested that if one cannot understand the rules of the game, such as religion, then
one cannot talk about it, as they cannot understand the language behind it.
Using Ayer's verification, Wittgenstein's language games can be shown to be meaningless, as it
cannot be verified that people cannot understand statements, however according to Wittgenstein
he suggested that if one is an atheist or an agnostic they cannot understand the language behind it,
so they cannot talk about it. Verification foes not state this, as religious statements are not a
tautology, but they can be proven through weak verification, as there are some records. If people
did not play the religious language game, then there would be no conversion or for people to have
open views about religion, thus meaning that debates are meaningless. The verification principle
allows claims to be meaningfully made about the world, even if they don't believe in the statement,
but using language games this theory does not allow statements to become meaningful, but only if
the person can understand the language behind it. According to Flew's falsification principle,
propositions can only be meaningful if they are factually significant. Some things to people may have
meaning, but are not factually significant, but language games only suggest that things are factually
significant if they mean something in different contexts. Wittgenstein believed that statements can
only have meaning through language games, but according to verification and falsification,
statements are still meaningful if the person making the claim about the world does not understand
it.
According to Flew and Ayer, statements have to be about something in the real world in order for it
to be meaningful, as they can then be proven true or false. Ayer would suggest that things can be
verified if they make genuine claims about the world, if they are a tautology or if they cannot be
proven false; this criticises Wittgenstein's theory, as this would not be meaningful in the language
games, as it depends on whether statements are meaningful as long as they are understood by
other language users in a specific context. Wittgenstein would therefore believe that things such as
morality, art and poetry are all meaningful, which is unlike Ayer, as they are all language games.
Religious statements are meaningful according to Wittgenstein, as they form part of the religious
language game, but anything that cannot be talked about, as they don't understand the rules of the
game, the game is meaningless. However, contradicting Ayer and Flew's view, language games
suggests that religion is meaningful, even though it is not factually significant. People need to share
beliefs in order for people to understand religious statements; otherwise they cannot be
understood and therefore are meaningless. Wittgenstein suggested that religious statements should
be looked at from a non-cognitive approach, as it doesn't attach meaning to truth and falsity. Things
according to his theory do not have to be discussed about the real world, as it is a language game
which people can learn and understand the rules of.
For Wittgenstein, language is so rich and varied than only cognitive statements and he believed that
it was ridiculous for philosophers such as Ayer and Flew to rule out the meaning of language because
it couldn't be true or false. One can only live by playing the language games, as there are many ways
in which language can be meaningful to describe statements. Wittgenstein said that "The meaning of
a word is its use in the language", which means that as a word can be applied in different situations
and have a different meaning, this allows people to play games and be able to apply language to
subjects such as God. However, this theory is flawed as one cannot use a word unless they can apply
Kelsey O'Donnell

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As Wittgenstein said in his chess board analogy, one cannot
play chess if one does not know the rules, as it is meaningless to them. For Wittgenstein, language
games are the only games to understand language, as this theory is not a `game', but is serious with
its rules to govern language, which vary from context to context.…read more

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This restricts discussion and statements should be applied to the real
world, as they are a reflection of God's work.
Religious believers are involved in other language games because they are involved in other aspects
of life. This means that religious language is not isolated and that there will be common ground
between religious language and other `language games'. This means that non-religious believers are
also able to understand the meaning of them.…read more

Comments

SJ:)

Does anybody know what grade this essay is?

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