Post-Analytic Theology: Wittgenstein and Barth?

Thinking Philosophically

ImageWittgenstein 3

For some years now, my interest in the relationship between philosophy and theology has haunted my thinking. The more I read, think, and write, the more surprised I become at the relation of reason and faith. Tertullian inquired, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” In other words, what do the philosophers have to do with the prophets? Hence, in this critical reflection, I ask, what does Ludwig Wittgenstein have to do with Karl Barth?

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), arguably the greatest philosopher of language in his time, brought about a revolutionary turn in Western philosophy. The early Wittgenstein was preoccupied with a picture (representational) view of language, yet the later Wittgenstein moved to a language-game (functional) view of language. Karl Barth (1886-1968), arguably the greatest theologian of his time, dropped a bomb shell in theological circles with his work. The early Barth developed a sophisticated dialectical theology, while the…

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