Talking (non)sense

"Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given." Proverbs 25.11


Ludwig Wittgenstein identified the Logical Positivists' achilles heel when subjecting the movement to a dose of its own medicine: how can something that doesn't exist be verifiable according to the "verification principle". That insight liberated Wittgenstein's thinking so that he could appreciate how language is so much richer than simply being a metaphorical tool for describing real things or events. Context is key! Sentences are meaningful according to the situation in which they are used and not because they measure up against some arbitrary rule.


Antony Flew tried a different approach, positing a "falsification principle", whereby a statement is assessed according to whether the opposite could be true. To say that the weather on Skye is beautiful today might not appear significant to someone who doesn't know the west coast of Scotland. But, through providing many examples of more typical weather, that impression might change...


Yet the "falsification principle" also has its weak spot: when talking about God. If God exists it is impossible to apply the "falsification principle" because to imagine a situation which denies God is not only absurd, it is impossible. So, either the theory falls or talk about God - theology - deserves a category of it own, when it comes to assessing how we can talk meaningfully about The Divine.

8 views
Archive