Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies

By E. D. Klemke | Go to book overview

22. Gods

John Wisdom

1. The existence of God is not an experimental issue in the way it was. An atheist or agnostic might say to a theist 'You still think there are spirits in the trees, nymphs in the streams, a God of the world.' He might say this because he noticed the theist in time of drought pray for rain and make a sacrifice and in the morning look for rain. But disagreement about whether there are gods is now less of this experimental or betting sort than it used to be. This is due in part, if not wholly, to our better knowledge of why things happen as they do.

It is true that even in these days it is seldom that one who believes in God has no hopes or fears which an atheist has not. Few believers now expect prayer to still the waves, but some think it makes a difference to people and not merely in ways the atheist would admit. Of course with people, as opposed to waves and machines, one never knows what they won't do next, so that expecting prayer to make a difference to them is not so definite a thing as believing in its mechanical efficacy. Still, just as primitive people pray in a businesslike way for rain so some people still pray for others with a real feeling of doing something to help. However, in spite of this persistence of an experimental element in some theistic belief, it remains true that Elijah's method on Mount Carmel of settling the matter of what god or gods exist would be far less appropriate to-day than it was then.

2. Belief in gods is not merely a matter of expectation of a world to come. Someone may say 'The fact that a theist no more than an atheist expects prayer to being down fire from heaven or cure the sick does not mean that there is no difference between them as to the facts, it does not mean that the theist has no expectations different from the atheist's. For very often those who believe in God believe in another world and believe that God is there and that we shall go to that world when we die.'

This is true, but I do not want to consider here expectations as to what one will see and feel after death nor what sort of reasons these logically unique expectations could have. So I want to consider those theists who do not believe in

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Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 9
  • Acknowledgments 11
  • Introduction - The Rise of Analytic Philosophy 15
  • Notes 20
  • The Pre-Analytic Tradition 21
  • Introduction 23
  • Idealism 31
  • Reality and Idealism 31
  • Selected Bibliography 53
  • Pragmatism 55
  • How to Make Our Ideas Clear 55
  • Notes 69
  • Pragmaticism 71
  • Selected Bibliography 78
  • American Realism 79
  • The Program and First Platform of Six Realists 79
  • Notes 86
  • The Approach to Critical Realism 87
  • Notes 104
  • Selected Bibligraphy 107
  • Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies 109
  • Introduction 111
  • Notes 119
  • Realism and Common Sense 121
  • The Refutation of Idealism 121
  • Note 137
  • The Subject-Matter of Ethics 138
  • Notes 162
  • A Defence of Common Sense 163
  • Proof of an External World 184
  • Note 201
  • Selected Bibliography 203
  • Logical Atomism 205
  • Facts and Propositions 205
  • Note 212
  • Particulars, Predicates, and Relations 213
  • Note 222
  • Excursus into Metaphysics What There Is 223
  • Note 232
  • Selected Bibliography 233
  • Logical Positivism 235
  • The Elimination of Metaphysics 235
  • Notes 246
  • The Futiction of Philosophy 247
  • Notes 252
  • The a Priori 253
  • Notes 264
  • Truth and Probability 265
  • Notes 270
  • Critique of Ethics and Theology 271
  • Notes 284
  • Selected Bibliography 286
  • Conceptual Analysis 287
  • Systematically Misleading Expressions 287
  • Wittgenstein's Lectures in 1930-33 307
  • Notes 319
  • Philosophical Perplexity 320
  • Notes 331
  • Philosophy, Anxiety, and Novelty 332
  • Notes 337
  • Gods 338
  • Notes 351
  • Descartes' Myth 353
  • Selected Bibliography 365
  • Logico-Metaphysical Analysis 367
  • Logical Positivism, Language, and the Reconstruction of Metaphysics 367
  • Note 377
  • On What There Is 378
  • Notes 390
  • Two Dogmas of Empiricism 391
  • Notes 409
  • Selected Bibliography 410
  • Linguistic Analysis 411
  • Performative-Constative 411
  • Notes 419
  • Intention and Convention in Speech Acts 421
  • Notes 436
  • What is a Speech Act? 437
  • Notes 451
  • Selected Bibliography 452
  • General Works on Analytic Philosophy 453
  • Sources of More Complete Bibliographies 454
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