The Explication and Criticism of Philip’s Viewpoint toward the Nature of Religious Language

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Department of Islamic Philosophy, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran


Philips is a scholar with a non-cognitivist view toward religious beliefs. Suggesting the fallacy of the sublimity of religious language, he believes that this language is non-referential and non-descriptive, and separates the true being from the rational being in its statements. This article shows that in his thought system, for the religious language to be descriptive it should never try to prove the existence of God and other religious parameters independently from the religious context, because it is the religious lifestyle that gives suchlike beliefs their meaning and existence. From Philip’s viewpoint, discussions about God and other religious topics entail allusions to their referents, although these referents are not external phenomena, but rather, are realized in Faithful’s lifestyle. He accepts the descriptive and referential nature of the religious language within the boundaries of the religious lifestyle, and this, of course, is what distinguishes him from other analytical philosophers of religion. As a result, some discourse analysis philosophers in the domain of the philosophy of religion have put forth the following criticisms against his viewpoint: the inaccuracy of making a distinction between the logical existence and the true existence of God; the rejection of the reality of religious elements based on Philip’s positivistic principles; and the failure to prove the inability of the ordinary language to talk about the metaphysical issues.


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