Epistemology of Religious Belief: Wittgenstein, Grammar and the Contemporary World

 

 

FCT Project: PTDC/FER-FIL/32203/2017

 

Grant: € 208.623,07

 

Period: 1.9.2018-31.8.2021

 

Summary

This project explores a Wittgensteinian framework in epistemology by focusing on religious belief. In particular it concentrates on uses of the concepts of belief, certainty, conviction, doubt, holding for true, knowledge, opinion and proof as they are dealt with in the author’s later thought. Although Wittgenstein himself claimed not to be “a religious man” (yet having a religious point of view upon the world, which most of the times he identified with ethics), he offers us plenty of conceptual instruments for dealing with religious belief. We have selected some specific themes for understanding his grammatical approach as well as its sources and implications. Our starting point is the idea that philosophy of religion is a privileged field to observe the complex relations between Wittgenstein's early and later thought. From a Tractarian view of epistemology as philosophy of psychology to the remarks on hinge propositions in On Certainty, Wittgenstein’s views of epistemology changed and so did his approach to religious belief. If in the Tractatus Wittgenstein tried to formulate a mystical approach, which he connected with a peculiar form of transcendental solipsism, the mature view on religious belief that we find in the post-1929 writings reveals an author concerned with language as it is employed in our daily lives. In order to understand such change we will consider the idea of a “natural religion”, which exposes, with no theological apparatus, essential aspects belonging to human nature. This is exemplified in the robust criticism of J. G. Frazer’s intellectualist descriptions and interpretations of the rituals of primitive societies. We will also consider the question whether the notion of “form(s) of life” in the Philosophical Investigations, a key for understanding “culture”, is meant as a single one, proper to humanity, or rather as a diversity of “forms of life”. Since the rejection of historicity defended by Wittgenstein in matters of religion is strongly reminiscent of J. H. Newman’s Grammar of Assent, we will look at this text as a possible source for Wittgenstein’s conception of grammar. On Certainty is clearly very rich in implications for an epistemology of religious belief and Duncan Pritchard’s “quasi-fideism”, anchored to the work of the later Wittgenstein, has important implications for understanding the nature of religious disagreements, something that is vital in our contemporary world. Existential scepticism as a threat, from a Wittgensteinian standpoint, will also be explored taking Ernest Sosa’s virtue perspectivism as a reference. Since naturalizing approaches to religious belief carried out under the banner of “naturalism” raise the question of its meaning, we will finally assess how they relate to Wittgenstein’s viewpoint on cultural phenomena. One wider ambition of the project is to defend a Wittgensteinian approach to religion, epistemologically informed, that may open the way to interfaith dialogue. 

 

Team

Nuno Venturinha, Lisbon (PI)

Sofia Miguens, Porto (Co-PI)

Modesto Gómez Alonso, Edinburgh

Alberto Arruda, Lisbon

Alexandra Dias Fortes, Lisbon

Duncan Pritchard, Irvine

Vicente Sanfélix Vidarte, Valencia

Robert Vinten, Lisbon

 

Consultants

Prof. Martin Kusch, Vienna

Prof. Alois Pichler, Bergen

Prof. Charles Travis, London

 

Associated PhD Student

Ricardo N. Henriques

 

Latest News

PhD seminar in Epistemology of Religion is offered by the IFILNOVA in Fall 2018.

Vicente Sanfélix Vidarte gives an intensive PhD seminar in Epistemology of Religion at the IFILNOVA from 14 to 16 November 2018.

Nuno Venturinha speaks on Philosophy, Religion and Society at the Annual Conference Series of the Gil Vicente Library, Lisbon, on 23 November 2018. 

Nuno Venturinha is one of the invited speakers at the international conference New Perspectives in European Philosophy of Religion hosted by the University of Maribor from 28 to 29 November 2018.

Nuno Venturinha is one of the invited speakers at the international workshop WAB’s and FIBA’s Wittgenstein Editions: An Inventory hosted by the University of Siena from 13 to 15 December 2018.

A call for a Postdoctoral Contract is launched by the project on 10 December 2018. 

Maria Filomena Molder gives the 1st ERB Project Lecture on 10 December 2018. 

Wagner Teles de Oliveira gives the 2nd ERB Project Lecture on 14 January 2019.

A call for a Research Fellowship is launched by the project on 22 January 2019.

PhD seminar in Epistemology of Religion is offered by the IFILNOVA in Spring 2019.

 

Publications

Vidarte, Vicente Sanfélix (with Tejedor, Chon), Experience and Religious Belief: Wittgenstein's Epistemology of Religion, in Venturinha, Nuno (ed.), Special Section: Wittgenstein and Applied Epistemology, Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (2019): 279-293. (Preprint version)

 

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Events

All Events

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Erich Rast, "How to accept the transitivity of better than"

January 23, 2019

2nd ERB Project Lecture

Wagner Teles de Oliveira

January 14, 2019

1st ERB Project Lecture

Maria Filomena Molder

December 10, 2018

3rd NOVA Doctoral Conference in Epistemology

Knowledge, Morality and Society

December 05, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Filipe Faria, "The New Darwinian Naturalism in Political Theory"

November 21, 2018

Intensive PhD Seminar in Epistemology of Religion

Vicente Sanfélix Vidarte (University of Valencia)

November 14, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Pedro Abreu, "Deliberation and agreement"

November 07, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Javier de Prado Salas, "Moral Testimony"

October 24, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Schedule for the 2018/2019 sessions

October 10, 2018

Political Identity on the Threshold

International Conference

September 10, 2018

O Euro e a soberania económica

Conferência internacional

June 22, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Giovanni Damele, "Another Italian thought: elite theory and political realism"

June 21, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Erich Rast, "Value Disagreement and Two Aspects of Meaning"

May 24, 2018

Rules, normativity and values: revisiting the Kantian perspective and its critics

EpLab Conference

May 14, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

John Gibbons, "Things That Make Things Reasonable"

May 10, 2018

EPLAB Masterclass Series

Santoni de Sio

May 04, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Gilbert Harman, "Moral Realism is Moral Relativism"

April 19, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Berit Brogaard, "Moral Contextualism and Moral Relativism"

April 05, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Ronald de Sousa, "Moral Emotions"

March 12, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Uriah Kriegel, "Moral Phenomenology: Foundational issues"

February 22, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Introduction to "A Treatise of Human Nature", D. Hume

January 18, 2018

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

"The Force of Law", F. Schauer

December 13, 2017

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

"The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy", R. Rorty

November 30, 2017

EPLAB Masterclass Series

Terry Eagleton - Marx and Morality

November 13, 2017

Institutions

IFILNOVA
Faculdade de Direito Universidade Nova de Lisboa
FCSH
UNL
FCT