A Religious Point of View

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The purpose of this paper is to show connections between Wittgenstein's approach to philosophy and the writings on religion of two authors whom we know Wittgenstein read and admired: William James and Leo Tolstoy. Wittgenstein stresses certain attitudes toward philosophical ‘problems’ which resemble the attitudes that James and Tolstoy connect with religious faith. There are also similarities of phrases and expressions.

It is not possible to say that these writers influenced the way Wittgenstein regarded philosophy, but it suggests that he recognized the similarities between their approaches and his despite the differences in subject. Consequently it helps to clarify why he would speak of his approach to problems as being from ‘a religious point of view’ even though its orientation is not specifically religious.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9205.2004.00218.x

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Calif. State University, Hayward, California

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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