Friday, February 04, 2022

On Wittgenstein

 My dissertation advisor was Hugh Chandler, who did his own dissertation under Wittgenstein student Norman Malcolm. (Chandler admired Wittgenstein but as no disciple) I also took a Wittgenstein course from Wittgenstein disciple Peter Winch. But for a defender on naturalism, Wittgenstein is a double-edged sword. Winch applied the Wittgensteinian idea of language games to argue (and I think this really is consistent Wittgensteinianism) that the Genesis story and the Darwinian theory of evolution are not in conflict because they occur in different language games. Imagine what Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett would say about that! Naturalists invariably claim that while religious people are playing language games, we in science are nailing down reality, and that is precisely what Wittgenstein's position, taken to its logical conclusion, prevents you from doing. In fact, it's hard to see how far Anscombe could follow Wittgenstein. If she were to explain Catholic Eucharistic doctrine to Wittgenstein he would say "Yes, in the Catholic language game, the elements really are the Body and Blood of Christ, though that is not part of the Protestant language game." Anscombe would never be satisfied with that!

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