Main Article Content
In one of his late notebooks containing remarks on the philosophy of psychology, Wittgenstein states in passing: ‘If someone can believe in God with complete certainty, why not in Other Minds?’ (MS 137, 67a). In this paper, I introduce and explain some of the assumptions and observations behind this remark. In doing so, I give an example of what I describe as an ‘indirect or derived philosophy-of-religion reading strategy’, which highlights some of Wittgenstein’s very late thoughts on the grammar of religious belief and language. The crucial observation in Wittgenstein’s remark is the existence of a family resemblance between ‘the foundation’ of the religious attitude and belief on the one hand, and the complex ‘pattern of our experience that is hard to describe’, and which forms the basis of our reactions to and understanding of other persons’ behaviour and psychical states (MS 174,2) on the other. Thus this paper draws attention, firstly, to the fact that, in his late work, Wittgenstein emphasises that our use of concepts to determine other people’s feelings and states is comparable to certain religious uses of language, and secondly, to some of the familial connections between these uses of language.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
NWR uses the Creative Commons license CC-BY.
Vol. 1-3 used CC-BY-NC-SA. The collected works copyright ownership for Vol. 1-2 were shared by Nordic Wittgenstein Society and ontos Verlag/De Gruyter.
Clack, Brian R. 1999 An Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Religion, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh.
Glebe-Møller, Jens & Westergaard, Peter K. 1993 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Forlaget Anis: Frederiksberg.
Keller, Gottfried 1982 “The Lost Smile”, in: Gottfried Keller: Stories, Continuum: New York, 190-270.
King, John 1984 “Recollections of Wittgenstein”, in: Rush Rhees (ed.): Recollections of Wittgenstein, Basil Blackwell: Oxford, 68-75.
Rilke, Rainer Maria 2008 The Book of Monkish Life, in: Rainer Maria Rilke: The Book of Hours, Boydell & Brewer: New York, 3-93.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1953 Philosophical Investigations, Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (PI)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1967 Zettel, Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (Z)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1969 On Certainty, Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (OC)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1980 Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, Vol II, Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (RPP II)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1982 Wittgenstein’s Lectures. Cambridge 1932-1935, Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (AWL)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1984 Culture and Value, Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (CV)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1992 Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology. The Inner and the Outer, Vol. II, Basil Blackwell: Oxford. (LWPP II)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1993 “Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough”, in: Ludwig Wittgenstein. Philosophical Occasions 1912-1951, Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis. (RFGB)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 2000 Wittgenstein’s Nachlass. The Bergen Electronic Edition, University Press: Oxford.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 2003 Movements of Thought: Diaries 1930-1932, 1936-1937, in: Ludwig Wittgenstein. Public and Private Occasions, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers: Lanham. (MOT)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 2009 Philosophical Investigations, Revised 4th edition, Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford. (PI)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 2013 The Big Typescript TS 213, Blackwell Publishing Ltd: Oxford. (BT)