20th Century Perspectives (Key Ideas/Thinkers (AJ Ayer - The Verification…
20th Century Perspectives
Are Statements we make about god Meaningful or Meaningless? What exactly do statements like 'God Loves Me' really mean? Is Religious Language worthy of serious philosophical discussion?
- Statements about god can be true or false.
- Statements about God are not subject to truth or falsity
AJ Ayer - The Verification Principle
(Religious Language is meaningless)
Religious language is meaningless because it cannot be empirically checked. Statements are only meaningful if they can be verified by the senses.
The Vienna Circle
- A statement can only ever be meaningful if it can be verified by an actual experience. Scientific claims therefore are meaningful, but ethical claims are not
This definition would rule out discussion of historical statements , and claims about art and beauty
Statements are meaningful if they are
(saying the same thing twice over in different words) e.g Triangles have three sides. Or they are verifiable in theory/principle. The Vienna circle is more rigid as they say statements can only be true or false if we use the scientific method or logic
He is Influenced by Wittgenstein, but takes the meaning of his quotes to mean something different ''Whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent''
Ayer is more forgiving than
The Vienna Circle
. He argues a statement does not need to be completely provable, but should be accepted if we can prove them
beyond reasonable doubt
- Eschatological Verification
Supporter of the verification principle, however, he argues religious statements are statements that can be verifiable, Religious statements can be verified eschatologically. At the end of our lives, it will be possible to verify God's existence. Statements like ''There is life after death'' may not be verifiable in the moment but will be verifiable in the future
Antony Flew - The Falsification Symposium
(If a religious statement was false, how would we establish it was untrue)
Ludwig Wittgenstein - Language Games
Religious language is something that is non-cognitive (Not something that is able to be proved or disproved) It only has meaning within certain language games
''Philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday''
The Verification Principle
AJ Ayers version fails its own test ''Statements are only true if they are tautologies or verifiable in principle' is neither a tautology or verifiable in principle itself. AJ Ayer says the principle itself is not a statement but a theory, so does not need to pass its own test
Not all religious discussion can be rules out. E.g the resurrection or Jesus would be verifiable if it were true
Vienna circle is criticised for being too rigid, It seems absurd that some historical claims would be classed as meaningless.