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Wittgenstein's Language Games

3. The Nature of Religious Belief

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In this module, we reflect on the nature of religious belief, focusing in particular on (i) the theological conception of God’s essence equating with God’s existence, and Wittgenstein’s response to this (ii) the moral implications of belief in the existence of God (iii) the contrast between belief in religious and scientific truths (iv) cognitivist and non-cognitivist conceptions of religious belief (v) Wittgenstein’s comments on the nature of various religious beliefs and practices (vi) parallels between religious rituals and and symbolic gestures in ordinary life.


In this course Dr Rupert Read (University of East Anglia) explores Wittgenstein’s language games, with special reference to religious language and belief. In the first module, we introduce language games in the context of Wittgenstein’s philosophical method. In the second module, we examine the ways in which language games cast light on the nature of religious utterances. In the third module, we look at the nature of religious belief and practices. In the fourth module, we review some objections to language games and possible responses to these objections, before turning to the role of analogy in the fifth module. In the sixth module, we evaluate whether the position of ‘Wittgensteinian fideism’ holds true to Wittgenstein’s philosophical worldview, including his attitude to language games and religious belief.


Dr Rupert Read is an associate professor of philosophy at UEA. His research interests are in the philosophy of language, Wittgenstein, Kuhn, philosophy of Literature and film, philosophy of psychology, and eco-philosophy. He is an expert on Ludwig Wittgenstein, and has published numerous books on the application of his thought to a range of topics. His recent publications include Wittgenstein's Liberatory Philosophy and Beyond the Tractatus Wars: A New Wittgensteinian Debate

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Read, R. (2022, May 06). Wittgenstein's Language Games - The Nature of Religious Belief [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Read, Rupert. "Wittgenstein's Language Games – The Nature of Religious Belief." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 May 2022,

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