“Evaluate the Claim That Religious Language Is Non-Cognitive and Therefore Meaningless”

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  • Topic: Analytic philosophy, Logical positivism, Logic
  • Pages : 3 (997 words )
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  • Published : January 2, 2013
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In the debate about religious language, it is important that broadly speaking, there are two types of language, cognitive and non-cognitive. Cognitive language conveys facts i.e. things that we can know or be cognisant of. Non-cognitive language conveys information that is not factual; feelings and emotional claims. Those who believe that religious language is non-cognitive and so meaningless stem their beliefs from the Logical Positivist. The Logical Positivists were a group of philosophers who were primarily concerned with the truth contained in statements we can make, or in other words, with what can be logically posited, or stated. The group began in Vienna, Austria in the 1920s and gathered around a philosopher called Moritz Schlick. The group was heavily influenced by a philosopher called Ludwig Wittgenstein and in turn, the group influenced many philosophers of religion. One such Philosopher was AJ Ayer who later came up with his theory of verification. Within this, he came up with the verification principle which essentially states that ‘A statement which cannot be conclusively verified cannot be verified at all and so is simply devoid of any meaning’. Verificationists believe that there are only two types of statements that are meaningful; Synthetic and Analytic statements as a result of this, Verificationists hold the view that non cognitive, metaphysical statements are meaningless as we have no way of verifying whether or not the statements are true. Ayer went on to discuss two forms of the verification principle; strong and weak verification. Strong verification is the view that that an assertion only has meaning if it can be verified according to empirical information. Anything else is meaningless. Weak verification is the view that for an assertion to be true one simply has to state what kind of evidence would verify its contents; it requires us to state what kind of evidence would be enough to make a statement meaningful. This theory sparked much...
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