FCT Project: PTDC/FER-FIL/32203/2017
Grant: € 208.623,07
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.
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
Prof. Martin Kusch, Vienna
Prof. Alois Pichler, Bergen
Prof. Charles Travis, London
Associated PhD Student
Ricardo N. Henriques
A 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.
A PhD seminar in Epistemology of Religion is offered by the IFILNOVA in Spring 2019.
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)
Erich Rast, "How to accept the transitivity of better than"
Wagner Teles de Oliveira
Maria Filomena Molder
Knowledge, Morality and Society
Filipe Faria, "The New Darwinian Naturalism in Political Theory"
Vicente Sanfélix Vidarte (University of Valencia)
Pedro Abreu, "Deliberation and agreement"
Javier de Prado Salas, "Moral Testimony"
Schedule for the 2018/2019 sessions
Giovanni Damele, "Another Italian thought: elite theory and political realism"
Erich Rast, "Value Disagreement and Two Aspects of Meaning"
John Gibbons, "Things That Make Things Reasonable"
Santoni de Sio
Gilbert Harman, "Moral Realism is Moral Relativism"
Berit Brogaard, "Moral Contextualism and Moral Relativism"
Ronald de Sousa, "Moral Emotions"
Uriah Kriegel, "Moral Phenomenology: Foundational issues"
Introduction to "A Treatise of Human Nature", D. Hume
"The Force of Law", F. Schauer
"The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy", R. Rorty
Terry Eagleton - Marx and Morality