AQUINAS VS WITTGENSTEIN - someone please help me understand their different views Watch

hira.naz
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Hi guys,

In the specification one of the discussion points is "how far Aquinas’ analogical view of theological language remains valuable in philosophy of religion"
But I just don't understand how this is related to anything I've learnt and I don't know how to compare Aquinas to Wittgenstein.
Basically if anyone can help me compare Aquinas to Wittgenstein would be really helpful.
My exam is on Tuesday (ahhh) so any help would be really appreciated,
thank youuuu
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I AM GROOT 1
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What exam board are you with?

I doubt you will need to compare the 2 only whether they argue a strong case for religious language being meaningful perhaps
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hira.naz
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OCR? I just don’t really think I could write a whole blumming essay if that came up, so I’m just gonna pray it doesn’t
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I AM GROOT 1
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(Original post by hira.naz)
OCR? I just don’t really think I could write a whole blumming essay if that came up, so I’m just gonna pray it doesn’t
If its on religious language the question will simply be 'religious language is meaningless' assess this claim. With the philosopher such as Wittgenstein and Aquinas and others you have looked at you will just argue no its not, or yes it is using perhaps verification and falsification theory (or what other philosophers you have looked at) and other arguments which suggest it is-- you just need to be able to evaluate these arguments and say whether they are effective essentially.

This might help:
https://mrlivermore.com/2011/06/04/religious-language/
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blobgamage
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If you're on OCR then I think you're getting 2 topics mixed up. Aquinas' analogy is from the religious language topic and Wittgenstein is from 20th century perspectives on religious language, I don't think you compare across topics, but I could be wrong.
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Joe312
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You need to do criticisms of Wittgenstein and Aquinas' theories separately and then debate them together with something like this:

Wittgenstein vs Aquinas

Both Aquinas and Wittgenstein think religious language can be meaningful and that it has to be understood in a particular way. Wittgenstein thinks religious language is non-cognitive in that it relates not to facts but to social rules.

If Wittgenstein is right, it means that when a religious person says ‘God exists’ they aren’t actually claiming that in a scientific sense that there objectively exists a God. Really, they are just speaking in a certain way based on how they have learned to speak by internalising a set of behavioural rules developed in a culture over centuries.

However most religious people would object that they really do mean that there objectively exists a God. This point is most salient when considering the works of Aquinas who attempted to argue for the existence of God. Aquinas believes the proposition ‘God’s goodness is analogous to ours’ to be cognitively and objectively true. He doesn’t think he’s just following a social convention in saying so.

It’s true that religious people claim to be describing reality when they say God exists, however perhaps their concept of ‘reality’ is also determined by their language game and when they say God exists, it is really for the purpose of adding psychological force to their attitude to the world.

Aquinas thinks religious language is cognitive and meaningful.

Flew and Ayer would criticise this however since even if religious language is cognitive they think it needs to be verifiable or falsifiable to be cognitive and meaningful.

The criticisms of Ayer and Flew then apply here.

Wittgenstein criticises Flew and Ayer for claiming religious language is meaningless, but only by claiming it is non-cognitive.



To what extent is Aquinas’ analogical view of theological language valuable in philosophy of religion?

Many Christians, especially Catholics, find it useful to think of their claims about God as cognitive even if our limited minds cannot fully understand it.

This question just requires an evaluation of Aquinas by critically comparing him to the other theories of meaning:

Ayer’s Verification. Ayer would regard analogy as unverifiable and so meaningless.

Flew’s falsification. Flew would regard analogy as unfalsifiable and so meaningless.

Mitchel responds that religious belief based on faith is still meaningful.

Hare would claim religious language is meaningful, disagreeing with Ayer and Flew but not find Aquinas’ reasoning valuable as he regards religious language as expressing a blick, not a cognition.

Wittgenstein would also disagree with Aquinas.

If these critics of Aquinas are right, then he is not valuable. If they are wrong and he is right, he is valuable.
Last edited by Joe312; 8 months ago
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hira.naz
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(Original post by I AM GROOT 1)
If its on religious language the question will simply be 'religious language is meaningless' assess this claim. With the philosopher such as Wittgenstein and Aquinas and others you have looked at you will just argue no its not, or yes it is using perhaps verification and falsification theory (or what other philosophers you have looked at) and other arguments which suggest it is-- you just need to be able to evaluate these arguments and say whether they are effective essentially.

This might help:
https://mrlivermore.com/2011/06/04/religious-language/
Thank youuu
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hira.naz
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Annoyingly because they're both just different topics of religious language you're expected to compare them as is says on the specification. Frankly I think it's a bit of a nasty thing to make us do, I'm just gonna have to prayyyyyy it doesn't come up on Tuesday because they asked a religious language question last year so I'm hoping they won't this year but we'll see.
(Original post by blobgamage)
If you're on OCR then I think you're getting 2 topics mixed up. Aquinas' analogy is from the religious language topic and Wittgenstein is from 20th century perspectives on religious language, I don't think you compare across topics, but I could be wrong.
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hira.naz
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THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!! God that has helped out a lot thank you, I think the wording of the question just really threw me off but I guess it is just evaluating Aquinas' view... now sure how I over complicated it that much haha. Seriously thank you though, I think you've saved my A-level there
(Original post by Joe312)
You need to do criticisms of Wittgenstein and Aquinas' theories separately and then debate them together with something like this:

Wittgenstein vs Aquinas

Both Aquinas and Wittgenstein think religious language can be meaningful and that it has to be understood in a particular way. Wittgenstein thinks religious language is non-cognitive in that it relates not to facts but to social rules.

If Wittgenstein is right, it means that when a religious person says ‘God exists’ they aren’t actually claiming that in a scientific sense that there objectively exists a God. Really, they are just speaking in a certain way based on how they have learned to speak by internalising a set of behavioural rules developed in a culture over centuries.

However most religious people would object that they really do mean that there objectively exists a God. This point is most salient when considering the works of Aquinas who attempted to argue for the existence of God. Aquinas believes the proposition ‘God’s goodness is analogous to ours’ to be cognitively and objectively true. He doesn’t think he’s just following a social convention in saying so.

It’s true that religious people claim to be describing reality when they say God exists, however perhaps their concept of ‘reality’ is also determined by their language game and when they say God exists, it is really for the purpose of adding psychological force to their attitude to the world.

Aquinas thinks religious language is cognitive and meaningful.

Flew and Ayer would criticise this however since even if religious language is cognitive they think it needs to be verifiable or falsifiable to be cognitive and meaningful.

The criticisms of Ayer and Flew then apply here.

Wittgenstein criticises Flew and Ayer for claiming religious language is meaningless, but only by claiming it is non-cognitive.



To what extent is Aquinas’ analogical view of theological language valuable in philosophy of religion?

Many Christians, especially Catholics, find it useful to think of their claims about God as cognitive even if our limited minds cannot fully understand it.

This question just requires an evaluation of Aquinas by critically comparing him to the other theories of meaning:

Ayer’s Verification. Ayer would regard analogy as unverifiable and so meaningless.

Flew’s falsification. Flew would regard analogy as unfalsifiable and so meaningless.

Mitchel responds that religious belief based on faith is still meaningful.

Hare would claim religious language is meaningful, disagreeing with Ayer and Flew but not find Aquinas’ reasoning valuable as he regards religious language as expressing a blick, not a cognition.

Wittgenstein would also disagree with Aquinas.

If these critics of Aquinas are right, then he is not valuable. If they are wrong and he is right, he is valuable.
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jonolethaby
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Some further criticisms of Aquinas.

Analogy works kind of well if we are talking about God, and his charactersitcs (God loves us like a Father loves his children; the Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1)). Yet, there are some aspects of religious language - and fundamental statements of belief, that aren't descriptive, but objective claims: ie "God Exists", therefore Aquinas' analogy can't really help us there, apart from some vague and blik-like statment "God exists like the Sun exists". At least theories of verification and falsification are set up to deal with these cognitive claims.

Even more, we have to be careful not to use faulty analogies. (Think about the design argument). HUME: We analogise Gods creation of the universe with the watchmaker, without having any knowledge of universe design. Can we create an analogy about things outside of human understadning/experience/knowledge?
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hira.naz
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That's a very clever way to think about it, thank you so much for you're help
(Original post by jonolethaby)
Some further criticisms of Aquinas.

Analogy works kind of well if we are talking about God, and his charactersitcs (God loves us like a Father loves his children; the Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1)). Yet, there are some aspects of religious language - and fundamental statements of belief, that aren't descriptive, but objective claims: ie "God Exists", therefore Aquinas' analogy can't really help us there, apart from some vague and blik-like statment "God exists like the Sun exists". At least theories of verification and falsification are set up to deal with these cognitive claims.

Even more, we have to be careful not to use faulty analogies. (Think about the design argument). HUME: We analogise Gods creation of the universe with the watchmaker, without having any knowledge of universe design. Can we create an analogy about things outside of human understadning/experience/knowledge?
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