Belief, Change and Forms of Life by D. Z. Phillips

By D. Z. Phillips

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This is why the invoking of the task facing Kierkegaard is so instructive. Stanley Cavell has explored the philosophical complexities involved in the task. Kierkegaard, in the essay Cavell discusses, 5 is faced with the problem of showing those who represent the dominant religious traditions of his day that they had lost an understanding of faith. Cavell says that Kierkegaard's task was different from that of Luther: 'Luther's success was to break the hold of an external authority and put it back into the individual soul, but what happens when that authority is broken?

It may be said, however, that there is one kind of criticism of religious beliefs and practices which Wittgenstein will not allow, namely, the kind of criticism one finds in Frazer. He would also reject the kind of request for foundations and verifications found in Nielsen, Hick and others. Neither could he regard religious belief as an ideology or illusion awaiting explanation in the styles of Marx or Freud. Therefore, it may be said, he does not leave all criticism where it is. Even if this were true, it would not be because it is criticism, but because it is bad philosophy, bad philosophy concerning logic.

Kierkegaard, in the essay Cavell discusses, 5 is faced with the problem of showing those who represent the dominant religious traditions of his day that they had lost an understanding of faith. Cavell says that Kierkegaard's task was different from that of Luther: 'Luther's success was to break the hold of an external authority and put it back into the individual soul, but what happens when that authority is broken? ' 6 If the matter rested there, however, no philosophical issues would be involved.

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