The Earlier Wittgenstein on the Notion of Religious Attitude

Chon Tejedor

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I defend a new interpretation of Wittgenstein's notion of religious (or ethical) attitude in the Tractatus, one that rejects three key views from the secondary literature: firstly, the view that, for Wittgenstein, the willing subject is a transcendental condition for the religious attitude; secondly, the view that the religious attitude is an emotive response to the world or something closely modelled on this notion of emotive response; and thirdly, the view that, although the religious and ethical pseudo-propositions of the Tractatus are nonsensical, they nevertheless succeed in expressing the religious attitude endorsed by Wittgenstein. In connection to the first, I argue that the notion of willing subject as transcendental condition is abandoned by Wittgenstein in the Notebooks and is no longer a feature of his position in the Tractatus. In connection to the second, I argue that the religious attitude is dispositional rather than emotive for Wittgenstein: it is a disposition to use signs in a way that demonstrates one's conceptual clarity. Finally, in connection to the third, I argue that the religious or ethical attitude is strongly ineffable in that it cannot be described, expressed or conveyed by language at all.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-79
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


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