CHAPTER VIII
IMPLICATIONS

I. RELIGION

WHAT IS THE relation of Linguistic Philosophy to religion? The answer is not, as it was in the case of Logical Positivism, a simple one. Logical Positivism was, inevitably, anti-religious. Proceeding from the simple model of two kinds of meaning, there was no room in the realm of meaningful discourse for the transcendental, or mystical, or avowedly unintelligible, or absolutely evaluative, prohibitive, etc., assertions which characterise so many religions. For the Logical Positivist proper, religious doctrines had to be ruled out.

Whereas Logical Positivism is necessarily the denial of religion, the matter is quite different with regard to Linguistic Philosophy. The general, semi-initiated public which tends to lump Logical Positivism and Linguistic Philosophy together tends, mistakenly, to attribute the inherent anti-religiosity of the former to the latter. Anyone doing this will be surprised to find religious believers among the linguistic philosophers. Yet there is no contradiction. The first connection is this: Linguistic Philosophy by demolishing reason makes room--not only for faith, but also for Faith. It demolishes reason in philosophy by depriving sustained reasoning not merely of any ontological, but also of all informative, critical and evaluative functions. Its job, it says, is to describe how language works, and not to prescribe, judge, or inform. It may indicate the limits of a kind of discourse, indicate the rules operative within it, indicate the concepts occurring in it and so on--but actually to pass judgments is something extra-philosophical. Still less may it abrogate a whole species of discourse.

This being so--philosophy being but a study of language which "leaves everything as it is"--the stage is set for him who places his religion at an altogether different and more fundamental level. A philosophy so emasculated and harmless can be no danger to it. Religion is safe in the background, for in

-220-

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Words and Things
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgements 7
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 13
  • Chapter I - Of Linguistic Philosophy 17
  • Chapter II - Of Language 27
  • Chapter III - Of Philosophy 57
  • Chapter IV - Of the World 99
  • Chapter V - Of Knowledge 120
  • Chapter VI - Structure and Strategy 159
  • Chapter VII - Assessment 193
  • Chapter VIII - Implications 220
  • Chapter IX - Sociology 229
  • Chapter X - Conclusion 263
  • Index 267
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