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Epistemology of Religious Belief: Wittgenstein, Grammar and the Contemporary World

 

FCT Project: PTDC/FER-FIL/32203/2017

 

Grant: € 208.623,07

 

Period: 1.9.2018-31.8.2021

 

Summary

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. 

 

Team

Nuno Venturinha, Lisbon (PI)

Sofia Miguens, Porto (Co-PI)

Modesto Gómez Alonso, La Laguna

Alberto Arruda, Lisbon

Alexandra Dias Fortes, Lisbon

Duncan Pritchard, UC Irvine

Vicente Sanfélix Vidarte, Valencia

 

Project Fellows

Ricardo N. Henriques (Predoctoral Researcher)

Robert Vinten (Postdoctoral Researcher)

 

Consultants

Gorazd Andrejč, Cambridge/Maribor

Guy Axtell, Radford

Thomas D. Carroll, Hong Kong

Martin Kusch, Vienna

Alois Pichler, Bergen

Charles Travis, King's College London

Michael Williams, Johns Hopkins

 

Latest News

PhD seminar in Epistemology of Religion is offered by the project 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.

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. 

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.

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.

Alois Pichler gives a Masterclass on Wittgenstein's Epistemology of Religion at the IFILNOVA on 22 February 2019.

Ricardo N. Henriques joins the project team as a predoctoral researcher on 1 March 2019.

The project hires Robert Vinten as a postdoctoral researcher on 1 April 2019.

Nuno Venturinha speaks on Autobiographical Writing, Self-knowledge, and the Religious Point of View at the NYC Wittgenstein Workshop organized by the New School for Social Research in New York on 3 May 2019. 

The 1st ERB Project Workshop takes place on 28 and 29 June 2019.

Alexandra Dias Fortes and Ricardo N. Henriques contribute papers to the 42th International Wittgenstein Symposium of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society held in Kirchberg am Wechsel from 4 to 10 August 2019. 

A call for a Research Fellowship is launched by the project on 8 August 2019.

Sofia Miguens and Nuno Venturinha are invited respondents at the conference Culture and Value after Wittgenstein hosted by the Queen's College at the University of Oxford from 30 August to 1 September 2019.

A Summer Course on Wittgenstein's Remarks on Frazer's The Golden Bough is offered by the project within the NOVA Summer School from 2 to 6 September 2019. 

A PhD Seminar in Epistemology of Religion is offered by the project in Fall 2019.

 

Publications

Venturinha, Nuno, Wittgenstein e o Realismo Religioso de BeethovenRevista Portuguesa de Filosofia 74, no. 4 (2018): 1203–12. (Preprint version)

Dias Fortes, Alexandra, "A Method Has Now Been Found": Wittgenstein vs. FrazerContributions of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society 27 (2019): 46-47.

Gómez-Alonso, Modesto., Wittgenstein y la justificación de las proposiciones gozneEstudios de Filosofía 60 (2019): 159-182. (Final version)

Henriques, Ricardo N., The Impossible Religious Robot: A Wittgensteinian Approach to Religious Sensibility in Non-HumansContributions of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society 27 (2019): 102-104.

Sanfélix Vidarte, Vicente (with Tejedor, Chon), Experience and Religious Belief: Wittgenstein's Epistemology of Religion. In Nuno Venturinha (ed.), Special Section: Wittgenstein and Applied Epistemology, Wittgenstein-Studien 10 (2019): 279-93. (Preprint version)

Sanfélix Vidarte, Vicente (with Martorell Campos, Francisco), Pirronismo lógico: La metafilosofía del joven Wittgentein. In David Pérez Chico (ed.), Wittgenstein y el escepticismo: Certeza, paradoja y locura. Zaragoza: Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza, 2019, 235-60. (Preprint version

Venturinha, Nuno, Wittgenstein’s Religious Epistemology and Interfaith Dialogue. In Gorazd Andrejč & Daniel Weiss (eds.), Interpreting Interreligious Relations with Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. Leiden: Brill, forthcoming.

 

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Events

All Events

Gratuitous Violence & Free Will in a Nihilistic Age

International Conference on Gratuitous Violence & Free Will in a…

September 19, 2019

Workshop - Nihilism and Values

Encontros do grupo de estudo sobre Nietzsche

September 18, 2019

EPLab Masterclass Series

Jeff McMahan - "Future People, Climate Change, and War"

September 12, 2019

THE STATUS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM

International Conference THE STATUS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM

September 10, 2019

Seminário Nietzsche

Leituras Contemporâneas. Nietzsche na Espanha

September 09, 2019

7ª sessão do Seminário Permanente em Cinema e Filosofia

André Silva Santos apresenta Moses und Aron (Straub-Huillet, 1975) e…

July 23, 2019

Kant Reading Group

António Marques, "Kant against the Animals"

July 19, 2019

1st International Conference on Cinema, Philosophy and Children’s World

Co-organized by Ifilnova | CineLab - Laboratory of Cinema &…

July 09, 2019

1st Film Program on Lives in Transition: Exodus | Migrations | Exile

Co-organized by CineLab - Laboratory of Cinema & Philosophy, EPLab…

July 08, 2019

The Art of Feeling: Emotions Across Disciplines and Genres

Art of Living International Workshop/1

July 01, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Olivier Chassaing, "The Expressive Function of Punishment"

June 26, 2019

EPLab Masterclass Series

Nuria Sánchez Madrid, "Linhas de fuga da comunidade estética e…

June 21, 2019

Kant Reading Group

Nuria Sánchez Madrid, "Oeuvre de l'Art et Oeuvre d'Art"

June 21, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Per Algander, "Needing and Necessity"

June 05, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Regina Queiroz, "European Liberalisms: An Essay in Comparative Political Thought"

May 23, 2019

Art of Living

Culturelab Workshop 3/2019

May 22, 2019

O que é o Arquivo? Laboratório 3: cidade / arquivo

CultureLab | Arte, Crítica e Experiência Estética

May 15, 2019

Dina Mendonça, 15 May, 2019, 15.00h to 16.00h

Lisbon Mind & Reasoning RIP Seminar | Why Immersion is…

May 15, 2019

Figuras Conceptuais da Fragmentação e Reconfiguração | Bruno C. Duarte e Nuno Fonseca

CultureLab | Arte, Crítica e Experiência Estética

May 14, 2019

Nietzsche&Nihilism Project Seminar

Carlotta Santini, "Nihilism and Mithology The Case of Nietzsche"

May 13, 2019

Jorge Durán Solórzano, 7 May 2019, 16h

ArgLab Research Colloquium | "Competing narratives for change"

May 07, 2019

Ruas de Sentido Único - Programa de Rádio

CultureLab | Arte, Crítica e Experiência Estética

May 03, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Roberto Merrill, "Ethically justifiable? Free riding versus fair shares"

May 02, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Dina Mendonça, "Kant on the Moral Cultivation of Feelings"

April 17, 2019

Figuras Conceptuais da Fragmentação e Reconfiguração | Bartholomew Ryan e Gianfranco Ferraro

CultureLab | Arte, Crítica e Experiência Estética

April 11, 2019

4ª sessão do Seminário Permanente em Cinema e Filosofia

Sérgio Dias Branco apresenta “Os Lugares da Esperança”

April 10, 2019

EPLab Masterclass Series

Theory and Practice of global governance: topical issues

April 05, 2019

3ª sessão do Seminário Permanente em Cinema e Filosofia

Diego Hoefel apresenta "Reinvenções Dramatúrgicas do Melodrama no Cinema Contemporâneo:…

April 02, 2019

Catástrofe e deterioração

Culturelab Workshop 2/2019

March 27, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Luís Miguel Simões, "The Double Mouvement in Polanyi and Hayek:…

March 20, 2019

Seminário Permanente de Pensamento Antigo

CultureLab | Ars Vivendi

March 15, 2019

Frank Zenker, 12 March 2019, 16h

ArgLab Research Colloquium | "Why replication is your problem, too"

March 12, 2019

Robert Clowes, Postponed To be Re-Arranged

Lisbon Mind & Reasoning RIP Seminar | Postponed

March 07, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Jorge Gonçalves, "A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value"

March 06, 2019

Problematising reality - encounters between art, cinema and philosophy 6

with Jean-Gabriel Périot and Alain Brossat

February 28, 2019

Problematising reality - encounters between art, cinema and philosophy 5

with Albert Serra and Alexander Garcia Düttmann

February 21, 2019

Figuras Conceptuais da Fragmentação e Reconfiguração | 2. Arquivo e Atlas: João Oliveira Duarte e Nélio Conceição

CultureLab | Arte, Crítica e Experiência Estética

February 20, 2019

A catarse em Nietzsche

Aula/Palestra do prof. Ernani Chaves (Univ. Federal do Pará)

February 14, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Giovanni Damele, "On the Rationality of Democratic Choice"

February 06, 2019

Erich H. Rast, 5 Feb 2019, 16h

ArgLab Research Colloquium | "Multidimensional ‘better than’"

February 05, 2019

Arte e Tradução

CultureLab | Arte, Crítica e Experiência Estética

January 29, 2019

Ethics and Political Theory Reading Group

Erich Rast, "How to accept the transitivity of better than"

January 23, 2019

Figuras Conceptuais da Fragmentação e Reconfiguração | 1. Colecção e Memória: Maria João Gamito e Claudio Rozzoni

CultureLab | Arte, Crítica e Experiência Estética

January 22, 2019

2nd ERB Project Lecture

Wagner Teles de Oliveira

January 14, 2019

Book Symposium

Nuno Venturinha's Description of Situations

December 10, 2018

Seminário “Figuras da Subjectividade na Filosofia e na Literatura” | 9ª Sessão: Ana Falcato

CultureLab | Questões de Subjectividade: Filosofia e Literatura

June 06, 2018

International Symposium Cinema and Philosophy: Critical May 68

CineLab | IFILNOVA - FCSH / PhD Research Project of…

May 29, 2018

Seminário Nietzsche | Anthony Jensen

CultureLab | Lisbon Nietzsche Group

May 23, 2018

Seminário “Figuras da Subjectividade na Filosofia e na Literatura” | 8ª Sessão: Antonio Moretti

CultureLab | Questões de Subjectividade: Filosofia e Literatura

May 16, 2018

EPLAB Masterclass Series

Santoni de Sio

May 04, 2018

Seminário “Figuras da Subjectividade na Filosofia e na Literatura” | 4ª Sessão: Ana Kiffer

CultureLab | Questões de Subjectividade: Filosofia e Literatura

January 31, 2018

Seminário livre: “Figuras da Subjectividade na Filosofia e na Literatura”

CultureLab | Questions of Subjectivity: Philosophy & Literature

October 18, 2017

Institutions

FCT
FCSH