Beyond realism and non-realism: Religious language-games and reality

Hermen Kroesbergen


This article attempts to take up Wittgenstein’s challenge “Not
empiricism and yet realism” (1991:vi 23). Language deals with reality. But we are
also aware of the importance of the context with its own rules for the use of
language. In trying to do justice to both sides, theology and philosophy of religion
have been going back and forth between realism and non-realism. Two recent
appraisals of the Wittgensteinian approach in philosophy of religion by Labron and
Burley suggest that there is a way to avoid this dynamic. After analysing Labron and
Burley’s suggestions and their own failures to live up to the task they set
themselves, this article presents an interpretation of D.Z. Phillips’s concept of
‘ordinary realism’ to help us to stay clear from the deadlock between realism and
non-realism. Our different perspectives should be regarded as viewpoints within the
same reality. Taken up in our many different and diverse language-games are our
primitive dealings with reality.


Realism; Non-realism; Language-games; Wittgenstein; D.Z Phillips; Philosophy of religion; Realisme; Nie-realisme; Taal-speletjies; Wittgenstein; DZ Phillips,; Filosofie van godsdiens

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ISSN 2226-2385 (online); ISSN 0028-2006 (print)

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